Betty’s been with us for 3 months now and already, it’s hard to remember what life was like before she moved in.
In the last two months she’s been spayed (LPT: cavaliers fit into 12 month baby grows, stops them getting at their stitches and the awkwardness of a lampshade!), had 11 teeth out, caught up with her jabs and settled into a routine.
It’s not the routine I had envisaged but that’s not how it seems to work with animals. The pony is the same – there’s no point in enforcing a routine or approach that doesn’t suit, it’s easier and less stressful for everyone if there is flexibility in system. On the whole it suits us:
- OH gets up and lets Betty out of her crate, gives her breakfast and makes tea
- OH uses Betty to wake me up, OH, Betty and I have tea in bed
- I get up and dressed
- Betty & I go for a walk
- Betty snoozes till lunchtime
- Betty & I go for a walk
- Betty plays with toys
- Betty snoozes until tea time
- Another short walk
- Betty and I go to the yard
is distracted from eating and rolling in horsepoo by kibblesrumages for kibbles in the Abbey’s stable while I muck out/fill haynets and water buckets
- Betty, Abbey and I walk to the field
is distracted from eating and rolling in horsepoo by kibbleshunts flies and looks for kibbles in the long grass while I poo pick field
- Betty uses big brown eyes to make food drop from the kitchen worktop as we prepare dinner
- Betty uses big brown eyes to plead for hooman food from table
- Betty audibly tries to inhale hooman food from table
- Sofa time! Snuggles and cuddles and belly rubs
- Short walk and toilet
- More snuggles and cuddles
- Kong (and crate) time!
There are a fair number of house rules we’ve already abandoned (no dogs in the bedroom, but that’s for another day!), some we’ve abandoned and then had to reinstate. Food, for example, is an obsession for Betty, and she did put on some weight.
Now, we measure out 3/4 of the recommended weight of dry food and give her half for breakfast, the rest we use as treats throughout the day. There is nothing that Betty won’t eat, except citrus fruit.
In a way it’s useful, she’s so motivated by food that she’s easy to train and in the last 3 months she’s learnt:
- roll over
- fetch (sort of)
- wait (1 second)
- stay (1 second)
She finds the commands where she has to control her impulses and ‘do nothing’ the hardest. The energy sort of leaks out of her through little squeaks and tail wagging. Sometimes the tail wags take over the whole of second half!
The fetch was a break through. I’d been trying for a while but she’d been reluctant to pick anything up and then one day she found a bag of treats in my jumper pocket on the bedroom floor.
Betty was picking it up and throwing it to try and get the treats out so I stole the moment. I took the bag off her and threw it less than a foot away and rewarded her (with treats!) when she picked it up. Once she’d the hang of that I encourage her to bring it back and made a big fuss when she did. Now she’s properly got the hang of ‘fetch’ and I’m trying (with limited success) to transfer it to other objects.
I’m guessing that she doesn’t mind the bag because 1) it smells of treats, 2) it’s light and doesn’t hurt her mouth and 3) it contains treats.
Her recall is pretty good. I do have to watch her around pigeons and poo. She doesn’t like baths and hasn’t worked out the link between rolling in stinky stuff and the inevitable bath that follows. On more than one occasion I’ve called her when she’s rolled only for her to stand up, look at me and get straight back down to plastering herself in liquid green poop!