Pao at 8 weeks – some honest thoughts

Today Pao is exactly 8 weeks old. His weight has gone up from 1.3 kg to 3.8 kg in three weeks since he came to live with me. 

He’s definitely cute. Yesterday he rolled over in his back for the first time and seemed to really like it when I rubbed his tummy, as you can see here. 

And a video version…

Afterwards, though, we had a crisis when I decided to take out the Dyson vacuum cleaner. As soon as I turned it on he started screaming in terror, huddled in a corner of his fenced in area and, well, let’s just say I had to clean up a mess he couldn’t control that splattered in the corner and on the wall. Fortunately it only landed on easy to clean places and missed his bed. 

Afterwards he was pretty shaken for a couple of hours, refused all offers of treats, but then he let me hold him until he calmed down. Eventually he fell asleep on my lap (thanks to my diet I have a lap now.)

By evening he was back to normal.

Throughout the crisis, Monta basically took a nap. He’s seen it all.

Pao’s toilet training is “pretty good.” He gets his poo in the toilet about 98% of the time. Otherwise it’s right by it. With pee, he’s less good, doing it outside the toilet maybe 25% of the time. But it’s always right in front of the toilet, never in a random place. He’s never gone on me or anywhere in the house except in his area, by the toilet or in the toilet. I wonder how to make that better though. I guess it’s impressive that he’s that close to being perfect at just 8 weeks.

His needy whining does get to me though, to be honest. When I’m out, or sleeping, or quietly working he’s usually pretty quiet now. He’ll either be sleeping or playing with his toys. But if he hears or notices me then most of the time he’ll cry for attention. Sometimes when he’s quiet I’ll peer into the dining room to see what’s going on. Unless he’s fast asleep he notices me and starts squealing for attention again. He seems OK when I check on him via webcam during those times. 

If he hears me working he’ll also squeal for attention. He did that this morning during a work video call, so I brought him in to join the meeting. He was somewhat helpful.

Tao never did that squealing and whining. When I first got Tao I ran over to Kinokuniya and got a copy of Barbara Woodhouse’s, “No Bad Dogs.” I knew nothing about dogs, and until the day I impulsively took him home I never even thought about owning one. She said to expect the crying and suggested a ticking clock wrapped in a towel to calm the puppy. But Tao never cried, so I don’t remember this nervous feeling I’m experiencing now. I did get him a stuffed Pooh Bear at a baby shop at the mall. It plays music, mother’s heartbeats, and gentle water sounds. I don’t think it really helps much. He likes sleeping next to it though.

As much as possible I take him out of his corner, play with him, and let him run with a deranged amount of energy from room to room, under the stairs and back out, in circles, over and over again, wagging his tail the whole time. Tao went through a period when he did that as well. Puppies have a lot of energy.

My friend said I need to stop comparing Pao with what she called “the gold standard,” meaning Tao. 

Sometimes I think of the lobster scenes from “Annie Hall.” Remember those? Woody Allen broke up with Diane Keaton and later tried to reproduce a funny lobster cooking experience they had with his new date. But it came out forced and unnatural. I sometimes get the strange feeling that I’m trying to reproduce the lobster scene with Pao. But of course Tao and Pao are different beings. I shouldn’t expect Pao to have the same personality. Yet the question still in the back of my mind is whether something like a dog is ever replaceable.

Pao’s gnawing, teething, and biting is a bit nerve wracking. I don’t know the best ways of dealing with that. I don’t want him biting me. He really likes to go after my feet when I’m walking around. And I can’t seem to find a perfect chew toy he will spend time with. I give him just one bone-like chewing food every day. That seems to help with the teething stress. But it only lasts for about 10 minutes. And at his size I don’t want to overdo them because they aren’t really made for 8 week old puppies.

I got him a Kong toy for puppies, but no matter what I stuff it with (kibble, little round crackers he likes, cheese cream for puppies, peanut butter) he loses interest in it quickly. That was a disappointment.

One really nice thing is that I’ve gotten Pao to take small treats and kibble from between my fingers, and he’s super careful not to bite me then.  It’s actually very cute. He’s even started coming when I call him if he knows I have a treat for him and gently takes it from me. So I’m making some progress with “come” and “osuwari” (sit) at least. Sometimes he even sits when he expects a treat. Here he is eating from between my fingers.

Puppy command notes: In a bilingual household, should the commands be in English or Japanese? In our case it’s a mix. For example, I think “come” sounds clearer to a dog’s ears than does “oide.” On the other hand “ote” is probably better than “paw” because paw sounds too similar to Pao. And osuwari sounds better than attempting to pronounce “sit” for a Japanese person.

Are we bonding? That’s a good, serious question. And the answer is I’m not sure. Pao obviously feels safe with me, or he wouldn’t roll over and let his tummy be rubbed. I read somewhere that humans and dogs go through an actually physical bonding that’s strengthened by staring into each other’s eyes. Apparently during that time chemical changes take place in both the dog and the human. So I’ve been trying to stare into Pao’s eyes, but our periods of mutual staring are very short. Pao gets too easily distracted. I’m sure he feels safe around me. I’m not sure if he loves me yet. And to be honest, I’m not sure I love him yet either. Does that sound cold? I’m hoping our mutual feelings grow as time goes by.

Would I do it again if I know what I know now, after Pao has been here a little over three weeks? Again, it’s not easy to answer. When it’s stressful it’s super stressful. And my free time has disappeared. When he’s quiet, or playing gently with me, it’s relaxing and he is extremely cute. And when I come in from the cold he makes a great hand warmer! It’s still too early to tell what his personality is going to be like, I think. I’m hoping we get over the stress and that he becomes my close friend. In any case, the deed is done, and the next 15 or 20 years have been decided. I am interested in looking back on this post 5 and 10 years from now.

This evening when I got home from visiting Dave, Pao didn’t immediately go into shrill squeaks and whines. That was nice. Then I picked him up and played with him and we took this selfie movie together. I felt something warm in my heart during this, which is encouraging.

Then when I put him down so I could have dinner he started squealing again. Then he decided to let me have my dinner in peace and spent time playing with a stuffed animal. It’s back-and-forth.

After he gets his first vaccination on the 27th maybe it will be ok to take him out to walk around some, if it’s not too cold. That should be fun for both of us.

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