Sunday, March 22, 2015

Uli's Adventures - 9-11 Weeks Old

Our little Uli turned 12 weeks old today! He is learning and changing each day. Some of it we notice as it happens, but other changes happen subtly. Like how all of the sudden he is tall enough to see over the backseat of the car!

One thing that hasn't changed is his enjoyment of visitors.  We continue to have visitors to our house and he has started to make house calls, too! In the past few weeks he has been over to friend's houses, in stores, the vet's office, my office and to my knitting group in a yarn shop! I haven't been as completist as I would like to when it comes to documenting visits, but I did catch pictures of a few more!

Sally and Mike visited a few weeks ago when Uli still fit nicely in a cross-legged lap. That is, he fit until he got really comfortable and flopped over the edge. You can see a peak of Fanny coming over for affection, too!  She is getting a lot more confident around Uli.

Sarah and I biked home from work together one day last week so she could meet Uli. Yes, I said BIKED! That was possible last week.  Sadly, this week might be too wet to keep up the track record I was building. Not too sad, though, because our soil desperately needs the water.

They say that puppies should meet at least 100 people in their first 16 weeks of life.  Uli just turned 12 weeks and has met well over 100 people already. We are doing what we can to make sure he is a confident and sociable dog in a wide variety of situations. He seems to be a natural so far!

We have been working on lots of training with Uli, including trying to capture his attention in distracted environments.  So far the environments are more interesting than we are, so we need to find a high-reward treat to entice him. We found out he REALLY likes meat when Paul was prepping raw meat for a beef stew. I am going to go ahead and draw the line there. This vegetarian will not be walking around with a pocket full of raw beef.  I might have to have some kind of meat, though, because he isn't that smitten with our other offerings.  Maybe hot dogs?

Speaking of hot dogs...Uli still enjoys laying on the heating vent whenever the heat turns on.  He is quickly outgrowing his first and favorite vent, so he has been trying out other ones.

This one is too much in the middle of everything for him to really relax and soak up the heat. Keep looking, Uli!

This one is tucked out of the way in the bathroom but most of the time we don't let him in there.  When the door is open, he takes the opportunity to lay on that vent (and play with the garbage can lid that springs back when he noses it! Such fun! And, also the reason he is barred from the bathroom most of the time.). The vent is a little smaller, so you can't even see it when he lays on top of it. There is a better option to be found, but for some reason he hasn't tried that one yet. I vow to keep you posted on these important developments.

When he gets more used to the world and all of its crazy sights and sounds, I will really miss these head cocks. The photo above shows you what he looks like when puzzling out something new. The tilted head/wrinkly forehead combo is one of the major selling points of puppies, if you ask me.

Puppies are not all sweet, cuddly, cuteness, though.  Sometimes they are maniacs.

Example A: They play so intensely! They are made of sharp teeth and claws! They do not yet know how to control either of those weapons effectively!

This weekend, Uli sliced my lip open with one swipe of his claw. One second he was cuddly and sweet and the next he got a surge of energy and flailed in the direction of my face. My lip was in the way.

Just look at those eyes.  There is crazy in those eyes.

Example B: Puppies do not respect your bubble.

If you get low to the ground, BEWARE! Puppies will spot you...


And then they get tired and melt your heart with their grogginess.

When Uli gets really tired and/or overstimulated, he groans.  Repeatedly. We have learned that is his way of saying, "I am all set. Take me home to my bed, please!"

Since the weather has been a bit nicer, we have started to take Uli out to the front yard.  We live on a busy street, so one afternoon I took him out there to witness the hustle and bustle. While we were outside, he encountered, for the first time:

  • bicyclists
  • motorcycles
  • large trucks
  • city buses with noisy breaks
  • loud cars
  • pedestrians that pass by without petting him (he was really not sure how this could ever happen...according to his experiences thus far, all people exist to pet and play with him)
  • leaves blowing in the wind
  • and probably lots of other things I take for granted that are brand new to his eyes

He is growing bigger and bigger. He has graduated from his tiny collar and tiny tennis ball to a larger collar with a tag and can now fit a full size tennis ball in his mouth. Movin' on up!

His snout/face shape has also changed a lot in the last few weeks.  He is starting to lose the flat-faced puppy look and moving closer towards how he will look as a grown dog.

Paul has been doing a fabulous job as primary Uli-raiser/caregiver. Paul works from home a lot now so he has been the one to meet Uli's needs during the day (except for the small stints of alone crate time we are imposing so Paul can go into the office for meetings).  Paul has also been the one to get up for the overnight potty breaks.  Happily, those have all but disappeared recently.

They already have a pretty remarkable bond!

In order to shift some of the burden, give Paul more time in the office and even out the bonding time, I have been taking some time off of work to spend with Uli, too.  Even with that, I had some concerns at the beginning about not having an equal role and the impact that might have on behavior in the long term. One evening, Paul and I were talking about it while Uli was chilling out in Paul's lap.  At some point in the conversation, Uli got up out Paul's lap, walked over to mine and settled into it. Pretty comical timing! I took it as a sign that he is finding room in his heart for both of us even if I am not home as much as Paul.

photo credit to Paul
We try not to do a lot of comparing of Uli to Jack and Tchazo, but there is a tie that I feel between all of our dogs.  Especially when Uli plays with some of the toys Tchazo played with, lays on the pillow Jack and Tchazo shared and sleeps in the crate that used to be Tchazo's. Dogs have such a keen sense of smell, I know he knows he isn't the first dog in this house. I wonder what he can tell from the scents they left behind.

I hope this pup of ours gets to live a long, happy life because he has definitely taken up a spot in my heart next to Jack and Tchazo. Even though we have only shared our home with him for 5 weeks, he feels like family now.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Mullweiler Menagerie

We are acquiring quite the collection of pets!  Today marks 2 weeks having Uli at home. He is the current star of the show as we train and socialize him. Fanny is still trying to come to terms with Uli joining the family but is making great progress. The chickens are making it through their first winter and are all laying eggs regularly.  Things are going really well and we are so grateful and happy to care for this collection of creatures. They each contribute to our lives in their own wonderful ways.  On to the pictures!

Puppies need to chew and bite and chomp almost constantly. We have quite the collection of toys for Uli so that we can keep him engaged and chewing the right things instead of us or our things.

Even with nearly constant supervision and redirection to appropriate chew things, he still tries to sneak in bites on things he knows he shouldn't.  This fringed rug I knit is a very hard to ignore temptation.  It might have to go into storage until he gets a bit older and calmer.

In addition to exploring everything with his mouth, he also has a ton of energy for running and jumping, which also means lots of slipping and sliding on the wood floors.

We saw a lot of progress this second week when it comes to his comfort with being closed into his crate. The soft bed is a big draw!

Uli is also still taking visitors and was happy to snuggle up to Jason and Elise.

And to my mom, too! We really love that he can play hard and then settle down for some mellow, cuddling time.

He has also been going to puppy socialization classes and to puppy playtime sessions in order to make sure he remains friendly to other dogs. The first few minutes of his first class were kind of scary for him.  He moved around the perimeter of the room with his tail between his legs and seemed intimidated by all of the puppies and the new space.  And then, after he had taken it all in for a few minutes, he decided it was all right and he started wrestling and running with the other dogs.  Hooray for socialization!

All that play can make a puppy tired.  Uli's favorite napping spot is on top of this heating vent. This Minnesota dog is not a fan of the cold weather so far. I feel you, Uli.

For the first few days, Fanny hid upstairs.  We don't allow Uli on the 2nd floor yet, so she very much stuck to that safe zone for the first few days. She had her food, water, litterbox and plenty of places to sleep up there.   Even though her basic needs were met, she was peeking around the corner of the stairs and testing out the safety of the 1st floor before too long.  She doesn't like being left out of the action!

She has slowly started to lessen the distance from which she observes Uli and his shenanigans.

He can still be a bit overwhelming to her when he tries to elicit play.  Despite his comical attempts at engaging her through play bowing, growly flips and barking spins, she hasn't taken the bait.

We are optimistic that through a combination of our monitoring and calming of his behavior towards her and her growing confidence, we will be able to find a point where everyone has accepted each other.

And, the chickens!  Winter is boring for chickens. They have a pretty tricked out coop that keeps the temperature at 20 degrees F or warmer, a string of lights that supplements the darkness to provide about 14 hours of light and we open the door to their outside run whenever the temperature is 10 degree F or higher. When they are in the run, they have access to a dust (wood ash) bath, some things to perch on and we give them food scraps, grit and scratch.

They must be happy chickens because they all started laying eggs! And, as I was hoping, Petunia's eggs are blue!

The blue eggs are such a beautiful novelty.  The color of the shell makes no difference when it comes to the egg on the inside, but it makes me happy to have something so special looking.

Nellie and Camilla both lay brown eggs, but I have figured out how to tell them apart.  It helps to be able to know who is laying which egg so I can have a vague sense of the frequency each bird is laying at. Three egg days are not uncommon for us but not an everyday thing.

Nellie's eggs are a bit lighter in color than Camilla's and Camilla's are a bit pointier in shape. I have learned that each bird has a signature shape to their egg based on the shape of their body.  It makes total sense but I never knew that before!

We have been getting enough eggs that we have been able to start giving them away a half dozen at a time. It seems I am not the only one to be thrilled by the blue shells.  The recipients of our eggs have all remarked about the color.

We have also been receiving egg gifts from my Aunt Audrey. She has ducks and chickens and has been sharing her duck eggs with us.  Between her duck eggs and our chicken eggs, it is safe to say that we are rich in eggs!

It has been fun to make new recipes prompted by the need to use up some eggs.  For example, I have been making Mark Bittman's cornbread recipe.

Thus concludes the pet update! is one last puppy shot for the road:

PS "Mullweiler" in the title is a mashup of my last name and Paul's last name.  We decided not to pick which one to use for Uli but instead gave him this fun hybrid for his last name.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ramona Hat in Green

Apparently I like to make repeat projects right now! I guess if you find an awesome pattern, it makes sense that you want to make it more than once (see recent Lamb's Lace Cardi).  I made a Ramona hat two years ago and I love it except for the fact that it is super clashy with my winter coat.  The jewel purple of the hat looks horrible with the dark maroon of my coat.  Since I had another skein of Sheep Shop Yarn Company - Sheep 3 Yarn in my stash (it is sadly discontinued), I made the hat again in this more compatible green color.

I again made the hat a few repeats longer than the pattern calls for since I like it a bit slouchy. In my notes, I said I had done 3 extra repeats.  When I made it this time, I realized that it is only 2 extra repeats long.  I ended up having to rip back a repeat since I trusted my notes over what my eyes were seeing. Oops!

This mixup is a great argument for taking better notes in the future.  I haven't been diligent about recording adjustments I make to a pattern since I rarely repeat a pattern.  That seems to be changing, so maybe I should get in the habit of recording all of those penciled in notes I make as I work through a pattern.

Of course, there are things my notes can't fix, like a gauge that shifts slightly over 2 years.  This hat turned out a bit bigger than my purple one, despite using the same pattern, yarn and needles. Thankfully it still fits fine.

Since I was trying to make an exact replica of the purple version, I also used the channel island cast on again.  It makes for a really tidy and pretty edge.  I find it is well worth the small amount of extra fiddling.

Ravelry Project
Hat Pattern: Ramona Lace Helmet by Lorilee Beltman
Photo credits to Paul

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

He's here!

He's adorable. He's snuggly. He's a little tipsy on his feet and has loads of extra skin.  He's Uli!

The long awaited day finally came! We got to make that drive to Winona one last time to pick up our little pup.  We had been getting pictures from the breeder between when we met him, picked him and when we went to get him for real. With each new set of pictures, I was happy to see him again but was also worried he was getting too big too fast. When we got there on Saturday, we found out pictures are deceiving because he was way smaller than we expected! The collar and tag we brought for him were way too big! We were pleasantly surprised that we will still gets lots of itty, bitty puppy time to treasure before he grows up and is too big for the cradling kind of love.

When we got there to pick him up, we hung around for a while and watched him interact with his siblings and his environment. And, of course, we gawked and laughed at the cute trouble a pack of puppies can get into in a matter of a few seconds.

Like, this broom they dragged over to their pillow to gnaw on.

It seems Uli is not camera shy, nor are his siblings.

Our guy is in the front left of these photos.

Paul and I split the driving time on the way home so we could each have a turn holding our sleeping puppy. That was a great feeling. He wasn't keen on the cold bathroom breaks but gladly soaked up some sunshine for the first time.

After he got home and explored the smells in the house, he was tuckered out. It didn't take long until he figured out his favorite napping spot at home: Paul's lap. Fanny hasn't been too happy about the new addition, but is slowly acclimating to his presence.

Since Saturday, Uli has been busy cycling through a variety of activities.

A large part of his life right now is napping.  So. Many. Naps. It's awesome.

He has been learning how to have a "soft mouth" (not biting too hard).

He has been exploring the main floor of the house, including his crate. Since this photo, we have sweetened the deal with a soft bed and lots of toys to try to make it a more appealing place for him.

He has also had visitors and been on one adventure outside of the house.

His first visitors were our friends Cyrus and Meg, who were in town for a visit.

I took Monday off of work so I could spend time with him.  We went into work for a little bit to say hi to a few coworkers and try out the car without a lap to sit in.  The visit went well but the car ride did not.  We have some work to do there.  The only times we have heard his voice or any stress from him were this car ride and 1 other time when we closed him into his crate when he was awake. It is safe to say that Uli is not yet a fan of confinement.

My sister Jessy and her boyfriend Jeffrey also came over for some puppy playtime and snuggles.

We have also been teaching him his name and to come when called.  The "Uli! Come!" game is one everyone seems to enjoy, especially since it involves affection and food treats for Uli.

We chose Uli as his name because we liked the tie in with his breed (German Shorthaired Pointer) and because Paul and I both have German heritage in our family.  The internet tells us that Uli is a German name that means Noble Leader and we thought that was pretty cool, too.  Most of all we like the way it sounds and how it can be said short and clipped and serious or be drawn out for a playful recall.

Thanks for the picture, Jessy!
We are really excited for Uli's life. From the young, sleepy snuggly times to the athletic, adventurous years to the distinguished, elder dog. We are going to enjoy this ride together!
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