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Puppy training

We got a Jack Russell Terrier about a year and a half ago. Her name is Jackie Blue ("Sausage", for short) and she's a great little dog - cute, good-natured, energetic and intelligent. She's also stubborn as hell. And lately she's started having allergy symptoms, which makes looking after her a full-time job. If we don't keep a sharp eye on her, she'll sneak off and lick her paws raw while we're not looking. It's frustrating and exhausting for everyone. We finally broke down and bought a "cone of shame" so we can leave her unattended for a few hours at a time, but she hates it so we use it as little as possible.

The frustrating thing about allergies is that it's so tough to identify the source of the problem. Is it something in her food, something in the environment, or some combination of the two? Our vet's best guess is that it's environmental but we're limiting her diet too in case it's a food allergy - which is tough for a dog who's always been fed some people food in addition to Husband's homemade dog good. If it's something in the environment, our hope is things will improve when the snow flies. In the meantime, we're treating the symptoms, keeping a close watch on her, ensuring she gets enough exercise, and trying not to get too discouraged.

The thing about dogs - and JRTs in particular - is that they like to learn new things and have jobs to do. That should make it easy to train Sausage, but the truth is it's mostly she who trains us. After more than a year and a half, we can still only count on her to obey a handful of commands, while she's taught us to interrupt what we're doing dozens of times a day in response to her every whim. She's hungry, she's thirsty, she wants to play, she wants to go out, she wants to come in, she's hungry again, she's thirsty again, she wants to walk, she wants to be carried, she wants a treat, she wants to go out again... You get the picture. The rhythm of our days is largely determined by what Jackie Blue wants.

And of course the allergy has made things worse because, in addition to all the usual services we provide, we have to bathe her feet, medicate her, watch her constantly, and find new ways to entertain her that don't involve walking or running on gravel paths, which are hard on her tootsies at the moment. It's bloody exhausting. And, to be honest, part of me wonders if it's all an elaborate ruse to motivate her humans to pay more attention to her.

Whatever. So long as she keeps looking up at us with that adorable face, I don't suppose we'll have much choice but to do as she commands.

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