So, Knightley is 5 months old today. Time has gone so very quickly!! He has gone from a tiny fluffy thing to a quite large boisterous but promising teenager.
The first photo is of Knightley the first time we ever saw him. We had a very long drive up to where his breeder lives, about 7 hours from us, and did the trip over a weekend. We were there to temperament test the puppies of his litter, a big litter of 11, 8 of which were male - and I wanted a male for the extra size and strength. There was one other promising male, but he struggled quite a lot when picked up, whereas Knightley was curious and affectionate - although he didn't actually settle down either! It is only now he is able to jump onto the couch that he is discovering the snuggle! In all other aspects Knightley's temperament test went excellently (see my blog post from then titled I HAVE A PUPPY!!!!!!!). My husband and I were absolutely thrilled as we had been through the disappointment of a failed temperament testing on a small litter nearly four weeks earlier. The puppies in that litter were absolutely unsuitable as assistance/service dog candidates and it had been upsetting (read post Temperament testing over, a bit sad). However, we were overjoyed with Knightley and returned to Canberra in high spirits and in a frenzy to prepare for our furry whirlwind.
This next photo is of bringing Knightley home 5 days later. Thankfully we only had to travel about 3 hours to pick him up, and 3 back. The photo is of him asleep in the little crate we used for the first several weeks of his time with us. He had already traveled for three hours that morning, so was pretty much exhausted and barring a couple of toilet breaks, slept the whole way home. It was the lull before the storm! Those first couple of weeks were intense!! Taking him out every 45 minutes during the day, every 2 hours at night, feeding 4 times a day and trying to keep him from taking the house to bits and from taking the flesh on our hands to bits!! But oh my was he gorgeous. Looking back, it did pass too fast. (Read Knightley is home).
This was our first trip outside the home, he'd been with us three days at this point of time. What a tiny gorgeous fuzzball he was - now he has lost 99% of that fuzz - all that remains is a touch on is ears. Back then he was like a luxurious rug or something lol! We took him to the vet that first weekend too, and he was a good little puppy, and admired very very much. We have got used to having our 'rockstar' puppy - I suppose most attractive Golden Retriever puppies get the same treatment.... people just can't stay away from him. I expect it will start to lessen soon as he is looking less and less puppy-ish now.
This shows a very big jump in time to a week ago or so. He's promising to be quite a big dog - he was a slightly above average puppy when we got him, and a bit overly plump. I have tried to make sure he has stayed lean during his fast growing period in order to ensure good joint growth. This is extra important for Golden Retrievers.who do get quite a bit of hip dysplasia (read previous post My last dog and preventative healthcare for the coming one). Late de-sexing will also help with his joint development.
This next photo shows Knightley in a rather proud sit making good eye contact. His training has come a huge way in the slightly over three months we've had him in our lives (brought him home on the 22nd of September when he was 8 weeks old). At first I was quite worried at his lack of interest in food, but as he settles down into life and *things* become less exciting, food becomes more exciting. I am sure once he gets de-sexed - which won't happen until he is 18 months old or so - that will if anything complete the cure, if we are still having any issues. I give a lot of credit to how far Knightley has come in these three months to Sue Ailsby and her Training Levels (follow the so named link in the bar below the title banner). Also some credit must go to the clicker training community in general. I love how clicker work teaches your dog to really *think* and I love that moment when the dog just gets it! We were doing something new today where Knightley has to make eye contact no matter which way I turn, as part of his "watch me" command, and he was as pleased as punch when he figured it out. I love the fact that you don't just push your dog into a sit, but leave it to him to work it out! There are just so many more possibilities with clicker training.
These were some of Knightley's most recent adventures on Christmas day (see A great Christmas Day for Knightley, barking beginning to stop!) and I was thrilled by how confident my boy was. He is not a dog who worries about anything, or cowers away in a corner! He's always out there in the thick of things, charging ahead to meet the new people. I have seen him scared maybe twice in his three months with us - once when a big very noisy group of children all ran up to him, half on bikes, some on go-carts. He even hid behind me for a second! But once I asked them to speak more quietly and stop running, he recovered quickly and I have tried to ensure since then that his children encounters are all positive - and he does loooove the kids! The other time was fairly soon after he had got his last shots and we were starting to go for lots of walks. We met two rather large pointer type dogs who were rather exuberant and happy to just bowl into poor Knightley. That was the first time I saw his hackles come up, his tail was clamped between his legs and once again he turned to me for protection. But that's it, other than that, no more scared. Whenever he sees something he's hesitant about on his walks (rare, but has happened a couple of times), I get him to paw or nose touch the object after a few treats to get him closer, and then he always completely ignores it. I do hope he stays like this.
So, that was the beginning of our time together, and this is now. What a whirlwind. I can't wait to see what happens next. Each day brings further changes and I love seeing him mature. We've picked a truly lovely dog here.