It's exactly a year since Polly came to us as a gloriously curious, cheeky, chunky puppy girl. My oh my, how the time has flown!
Polly's first day at home with us: 7 weeks
When we brought her home for the first time, Polly made settled in straightaway ...
Making friends with Bugsy: 11 weeks
We introduced her to my sister's German Shepherd Bugsy as soon as she'd had her innoculations and she proved herself to be a very dog friendly girl. In fact, if she has any fault at all (aside from her gardening skills) it's her love of other dogs - she loves to play and will do just about everything in her power to halt our walk if another dog approaches, just so she can say hello!
Walkies: 13 weeks
By the time Polly was three months old, she was eager to explore the great outdoors, happy to trot along off lead, but never far from us.
Monster munch: 14 weeks
And then wham, by fourteen weeks Miss Polly Dog began to relish a monstrously mischievous phase! She hated the lead with a vengeance, attacking it whenever we attempted a walk, landscaped my poor garden, jumped and nipped at my daughter, dragged the living room rug by the corner ... you get the picture!
Cheeky girl: 5 months
By five months, it became quite clear it was time to send Polly to 'finishing school' to learn some manners!
Gawky teenager: 6 months
Polly grew at an alarming rate during her first six months and quickly turned from a cute puppy, into a rather challenging, very energetic, gawky teenager.
Reliable recall building: 9 months
I think it took about four solid months at obedience school before we began to cement a reasonably solid recall. By the time she was about 9 months old, we were finally able to enjoy carefully selected 'off lead' time in our local woods.
Polite Polly: 11 months
By eleven months of age, Polly had become not just our family pet, but also a genuine member of our family. She worked really hard on her training and was eager to please us, soon mastering how to be a polite girl on the lead and also in our home. Thankfully her monster mischief days didn't last too long.
Confident recall: 14 months
We've come a long way in the past year, all thanks to training. Polly has now worked out that she really doesn't want to lose us, any more than we want to lose her, so when we call these days she races back ... sometimes a little more promptly than others, but now I never worry about her running off and losing me, which is a big step forward in my confidence as a dog walker.
Besides the usual 'sit/stand/down/heel/stay/leave it/drop', Polly now also understands several less obvious commands, such as 'show me' (ie show me the cupboard where the chews live!) 'away', 'on the mat', 'head in' to have her harness on, 'hup' to get into the car and 'on the stool' if the postman is at the door. (Mind you, she still occasionally pretends not to understand 'off' when she wants to bark at someone outside the house from her stool!) She can also roll over both ways, beg on her hind legs, turn round and do her party piece, 'go to sleep' - this one always makes me giggle as it's meant to be a game of 'sleeping lions' but it always takes her a little while to stop wagging her tail and lay absolutely still! We can trust her to lay down politely on the rug if we eat from trays on our lap and know she will be gentle if young children visit ... she loves children!
Cheeky girl Polly: 14 months old.
So here we are, a year on and Polly is still cheeky and energetic, but no longer a mischievous monster. She has matured into the happy, polite dog I hoped for and give or take the odd spot of unwelcome gardening, is exactly the companion I needed to bring me out of the doldrums after losing my dad unexpectedly almost four years ago.
Polly, a year on.
The past year has been busy, challenging and to be honest, quite physically demanding, but all that has paid off ... Polly is now a beautiful, affectionate, lively, polite girl and I am extremely proud of all that she has achieved.