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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2014, 01:47 AM Thread Starter
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Some Pictures and an Update on Benjamin

I haven't posted an update on Benjamin for a while, due to life being just too crazy busy. He will be two years old in April, which I find very hard to believe! I love the age he is at -- still very puppy-ish in some ways, but at least somewhat trained, (if imperfectly), a bit more chilled out than earlier but still loads of fun, and really just the nicest sweetest dog I could ask for. He can be headstrong and willful, and I admit that I have fallen by the wayside a bit in terms of his training, but fortunately his great temperament makes up for many of my lapses. It's not that I don't realize that ongoing training is essential. It's just that I neglected some aspects of my life that were very important to me during his first year, and am now trying to integrate that with working full time and still being a good dog mom.

OK, truth be told (this should probably go in the coffee shop area, but whatever, it's integral to what I'm trying to say) -- I am a martial artist I trained in traditional Japanese karate when I was younger, attained black belt level, left for many years, came back, had to start over and will be re-testing for my black belt 3 weeks from now. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the martial arts will know that it can be rather obsessive, and before I got Benjamin I was at the dojo almost every night, and on weekends as well. Work and train, that's all I knew. Then when I got him in June of 2012, I mostly put it on hold and devoted my life to him. It was so worth it! However, I guess I wasn't fully cognizant of how much he would change my life. Anyway, now I am back to training more regularly, and actually leave him alone a couple of evenings a week! He still doesn't like it much, but too bad, buddy, I have a life too, you know!

Also, I should say that I work as a therapist with older adults in a community mental health center, and am able to bring him to work with me every day. He helps me so much in my work! I am fortunate in that it's a rather casual arrangement, in that he is not a certified therapy dog or anything (due to a few lapses in my training of him he might not even pass), but he is such a sweetheart and mostly very obedient. Everyone just loves him, and he especially is very helpful in drawing out people who are depressed or have difficulty relating to people. In fact, I told my supervisor that B is so helpful that he should get his own paycheck, and he said he'd look into it. Haven't gotten a response yet, though.

Another thing is that just a couple of weeks ago I had to board him for the first time. Traumatic!!! For the both of us, I think, but I know it was torture for me so I can only hope it was not quite as bad for him. My parents are not doing too well and live far away (too far to realistically drive), Benjamin weighs almost 20 pounds, and I went to visit them for 6 days and left him in the care of some very nice people, in their home and with some sweet little dogs for him to play with, but we'd never been apart overnight since I got him! But we survived it, and the good part was the reunion! I was SO happy to see him again, he wagged his tail like crazy, licked my face like there was no tomorrow, and all was right with the world again! Next time I'm going to try to bring him with me, though.

These are a couple of pictures I took of my little buddy last September, when it was warm and sunny out. They are two of my favorite pics of him. The first one is his Zen Master look, "Just Being". In the second photo, I imagine he is saying "This Stick Just Makes Me Smile!", and I think captures his personality to a T.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Zen Master, Just Being.jpg (3.28 MB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg This Stick Makes Me Smile.jpg (2.41 MB, 4 views)


Eileen and Benjamin
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2014, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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Oh another thing, re: Benjamin's diet. There is so much that happens, and it's hard to keep up on forums! Basically, I had consulted w/Sabine, she designed a home cooked diet for him, and I had been feeding that to him for many months. He has always been very healthy (knock on wood) with no allergies and not too picky, but I just wanted to do right by him. Then a little while ago I realized that it was just too much for me to do all that cooking. I tried a few different alternatives, and it's still in flux. I'm giving him part of his daily calorie allotment in Nature's Variety raw frozen medallions, varying beef and lamb. He loves it to a ridiculous extent. I mean, I will put the bowl down, go to get a drink of water or something myself, and by the time I'm back it is gone. It's so freakishly expensive, though, that I am also feeding other things. For now, am continuing to cook Sabine's recipe, but a weeks worth lasts seven weeks, as I give him only a half recipe twice a week. Other days I add some kibble (NV) to his evening meal, or other supplementary items that are part of the Sabine designed diet. Anyway... I'll go into this more later, just to say, for any newbies, it can all be quite a bit of a process, but after all, we have to just enjoy the journey, right? I have to say, though... I do not know how people manage to survive the first year or two of raising dogs who are not Havanese, so do not have access to Havanese forums! Maybe there are other forums with as many knowledgeable people, but somehow I doubt it. I can't believe how much I've learned on here, and continue to learn. So, thanks everyone for being there, and even if I don't post all that regularly, I am still here!


Eileen and Benjamin

Last edited by emichel; 03-06-2014 at 02:08 AM.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2014, 07:05 AM
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So nice to hear an update on sweet Benjamin. He's gone from an adorable pup to a very handsome gentleman. You're so fortunate that you can take him to work. Keep up the good work, Elaine!

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2014, 08:21 AM
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Hi Eileen and Benjamin! It's hard to keep track of who's MIA, but I'm happy to hear things are going well for BOTH of you albeit with your busy schedule. I think it's great that you are following your passion the second time around seems to make it even more important. You'll get that black belt! Benjamin is a very lucky dog being able to go to work with you, I'm sure he's picking up on a lot of the things he'll need for passing a TDI test but you need to set your priorities. Maybe after you get your black belt you can switch gears with his training especially if he likes it as much as Tim does. Tim turned 2 in October and I agree that this is a great age, although I also got Miss Mae Mae the end of October so things have not been too calm around here but I wouldn't change a thing. Timmy had no idea what he was getting for his birthday but they have totally bonded and it warms my heart to witness their relationship. It's nice you found a option for Benjamin in case you need to be away, was he in someone's house? I am SO lucky to have found Karen and Linda from the forum to watch my pups, I trust them before my family plus it's like a puppy party. I too am feeding them both a raw diet that I purchase and it is SO expensive. I've been threatening about contacting someone that can work up a home cooked variation but I know I'll need a fall back in case I run out of home cooked. I'm fortunate that I don't have an underlying health issue that requires home cooked because that would be a whole different animal and a switch in the priorities department. Benjamin is so handsome, black and white parties so sweet. The pictures are great!

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2014, 12:03 PM
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Hi Eileen! I'm so glad you brought us up to date on Benjamin's and your lives! I think it's really important to find a balance that works for everyone... Dogs and humans alike. It sounds like you are doing that! Benjamin is looking great as usual!


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-09-2014, 01:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys. Jen, I have so much enjoyed your posts, first about the Timster and now about little Mae as well. I would love to get another dog, and I know that Benjamin would so much enjoy having a little brother or sister, but it's just not possible. So, I have been vicariously enjoying your journey with T and M. It must be so fun to notice their differences and to see their relationship develop.

Karen, of course your advice has been invaluable in helping me raise my dog, as I'm sure it has for many others, but there was one post of yours that helped me more than any other. It was a while back, and I think at that point I was feeling a bit inadequate in terms of how puppy training was going. You said something about differentiating between formal leash walking with Kodi, and then telling him, "OK, go be a dog!" At that point I realized that I wasn't neglecting training when I was letting Benjamin "just be a dog", and it enabled me to trust that I was on the right track in allowing him to do this. I think it's that he has to spend so much time during the day "being good" when we're at work, being quiet in his crate and patiently waiting for me to take him for a little walk, then back to the office again, when I know he'd like to be outside running and playing and sniffing all day. I tell him that I don't necessarily like being cooped up in that office all day either, but he is not impressed. When I do take him out, I tend to be rather permissive and rather than requiring good leash walking, I usually let him sniff around to his heart's, or nose's, content. Then I started noticing that he was beginning to lose his good leash walking skills, so I started practicing it with him more and he's getting it back. Although I do not have a goal of doing formal obedience with him, I do want him to be a polite dog! The big training issue I'm having with him, though, is teaching him to not jump up. We encounter so many people during the course of a day, including some clients in the same building as my program who are developmentally delayed, i.e. they do not learn quickly. I have concluded that it is going to be impossible to tell every person we meet to just turn away and ignore him when he puts his paws up on their legs to say 'hi'. When we're in a setting with experienced dog people it's great, because they usually do it right and after a little while of being ignored he remembers what he's supposed to do. But when 99% of the people say "oh, it's OK, he's so cute"... you get the picture. For now I have decided to just patiently keep telling people that I don't want him to do that because not everyone likes it, tell him "off" and etc, when I have the time, and other times just choke up on the leash when we're outdoors trying to maneuver through a crowd. I figure he'll either get to the point where he never does it any more, or else he won't, but I don't know what more I can do. If you (Karen or anyone) have any suggestions for how I might work with this in a way that would be transferable to when we encounter people who don't get it, I'd love to hear it! Other than that, he actually is pretty well trained, I think. Or at least well behaved, which is good enough for me.

Sorry about the rambling paragraphs, I do get going sometimes.


Eileen and Benjamin
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