Miss Destructive: Puppy On A Rampage

I don’t know about your puppy, but my 16-month-old terror, Lucy, has been on a binge of destruction, galloping like a wild Indian through my apartment, set upon chewing up anything she can get.

Yes, she has plenty of dog toys–an elk bone, a Nylabone, stuffed animals, kongs, rubber balls, torn socks–but why bother with those when she can eat Chinese grasscloth off the wall? Or my new sneakers? Or most recently, C A S H. Yes, I was in the bathtub reading a magazine and I heard Lucy contentedly chewing on something–which turned out to be my WALLET. Not only did she eat through the leather with gusto, but she also took $200 and efficiently tore the money in half with her nice white teeth.  By the time I got out of the tub, and almost broke my back slipping on the marble floor, she had my American Express card in her mouth, knawing on that as well.

She could be a custodian–as she also relishes going through the bathroom and kitchen waste baskets, excavating for watermelon rinds or used paper toweling. And when she can can work it into her schedule, a long doggie list of don’ts, she also has enjoyed eating through the silk backing of pillows. And in the evening, nothing makes her happier than finding Bazooka chewing gum. I recently found four pieces in her mouth, and she managed to blow a few bubbles.

Do you think she needs puppy Ritalin or Valium?

Mind you, while “her” room is untouched by chewing and totally intact with no damage done–her very own silk pillows still in pristine condition without a saliva stain on them–she doesn’t feel a bit of guilt about tearing into my space.

Today, she’s in “time out” in her room, stretched out on the beige couch, enjoying the air-conditioining, and watching the Food Channel, too hot to destroy anything else for the moment, but she will. The terrible twos really are pretty bad, but I’m hopeful that with proper

training, and lots of NO’s–she’ll understand that hers is a dog’s life, rather than my own.

All worn out and taking a nap after a rampage

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What To Do With A Puppy In Winter?

Posted January 10th, 2011 in Doggie Day Care, Exercising Dogs, Friendship, Puppies, Socialization of Dogs by Glenn Plaskin

My new puppy, Lucy, needs a ton of exercise.

At ten months old, she’s in full-blown adolescence–athletic, hyper and in chewing mode–a mischievous, energetic rascal.

Like any healthy pup, she wants to run, jump, wrestle, and race–not only ‘up and down’ our long hallway (as my previous dog KATIE did) but outdoors too.

In fact, nothing makes her happier than trotting along the Hudson River and nearby parks, chasing birds and squirrels, sniffing every tree and bush, and, of course, checking out any dog she meets.

And like  any cocker spaniel, she’s an active sporting dog who revels in the hunt, her long pendulous ears flying in the wind as she gallops along the river’s edge at home here in Battery Park City, looking for “action.”

More than anything,of course, Lucy craves the company of other dogs–big ones, little ones, she likes them all.

Recently, Lucy was tackling a 95-pound bushy-haired giant, getting a hold of his tail and being whirled around by him, literally lifted off the ground as she took a ride before the Husky put her entire head in his mouth. Lucy walked away exhilarated, her tongue hanging out of her mouth with pleasure.

In the summer and fall, giving Lucy enough exposure to other dogs was no problem.

On long hikes along our tree-lined Esplanade (described in the Introduction of Katie Up And Down The Hall) Lucy met literally hundreds of dogs of every shape and size.

And it was this daily exposure to other dogs, that created in her a hearty appetite for play.

Scenic but freezing!

Six months earlier, the 1.2 mile Esplanade just outside our door

Lucy’s Play Group

She also became a regular at our Battery Park City “breakfast club,” a super-friendly group of dogs (and people) that meets each morning in an enclosed dog run overlooking the Marina. There she started every morning with a full hour of running and socialization.

One of Lucy's pals, Cesare

But now that winter has come and temperatures have dropped, it’s not safe to walk a puppy outdoors for very long, especially in gusty winds that sometimes whip up to 50 mph.

Pit Bull Donny protective of his friend Lucy

So our dog run is now sadly deserted, with residents taking their dogs out for only very quick walks, then back inside again.

But for Lucy, a leashed walk around the block doesn’t cut it. She needs to explore, hike, and tumble with other dogs and clock in at least 3-4 miles daily.

Otherwise, she’ll gain weight and become destructive at home. (She recently starting eating the wallpaper off the dining room wall!)

Looking innocent, but watch out!

And THAT’S why I finally decided to send Lucy to Ciao Bow Wowa nearby, eco-friendly, state-of-the-art Doggie Daycare Center where dogs

Lucy can't wait to get through the door...

are pampered, exercised, and minded by a devoted staff. I love the idea of it because dogs here can interact with one another for hours, helping them to become calm and confident rather than aggressive or fearful.

Lucy loves it.

Like a successful dating mixer, she socializes with gusto, blending into the pack of 25-30 small-and-medium-sized dogs, all of them supervised by three dog-loving referees. (I don’t trust just anybody to take care of my dog–but I have total faith in the people at Ciao Bow Wow. It’s spotlessly clean, lively, and the dogs are all healthy and non-aggressive.)

When I drop Lucy off, she’s anything but insecure. No separation anxiety for this Alpha dog. As I’m saying:  “Bye Lucy…..” she’s already taken off into the pack without a glance backward, chasing her new friends, bouncing a rubber ball, leaping from one level of the room to the next, back and forth, I’m told, for five hours at a time.

So far, Lucy’s best friend is Jack, a 1 year old Corgi. She also spends a lot of her afternoons playing with Ramsay, a 1 1/2 year old Poodle Mix.

Amusingly, from 12-2 pm, all the dogs are put into individual crates or beds, the lights dimmed, with soothing classical music lulling them to sleep for their afternoon Siestas.

Lucy snuggling in for a classical music Siesta

And then it’s lights up again until check-out at 7 pm.

By the time Lucy returns home, she’s worn out and deliciously content, falling off into a deep sleep right after dinner, which only proves that a tired (and well-socialized) dog is definitely a happy one!

So Ciao Bow Wow, for me, is the perfect solution–and I know that doggie daycare is a growing industry with lots of contenders in the field.

Just be sure to check them out carefully, educate yourself on what to look out forand soon your dog is going to have a brand-new set of friends, and so might you!

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THE CUTEST LEGEND IN TOWN: Winning Friends And The Influence Of Puppies

Posted June 30th, 2010 in Cocker Spaniels, Dogs, Friendship, Getting A New Dog, Puppies, Socializing Dogs by Glenn Plaskin


Lucy Snuggles Up To A New Baby In Town


When I got my new puppy Lucy this past May,  I never imagined that she would, among other things, be a passport to a brand-new social life. But that’s exactly what happened. I have more new human and canine friends than I ever imagined I would, my social life expanding exponentially due the the incredible cuteness of my puppy and her outgoing, friendly disposition.

Living in Battery Park City and going in and out of dog runs and walking Lucy along the Hudson River 8 times daily!–we bump into big dogs and small ones, seniors and babies, plus a cavalcade of kids all day long–each of them walking (or trotting) over to check Lucy out. She is a love magnet.

Lucy and her boyfriend, Stanley


They want to hold her; chase her; feed her; play with her; be photographed with her. And everybody leaves us with at least one little gift–a kiss from Lucy, who has mastered licking not only her food bowl but every human (and canine ) she sees.

I read that the window of the socialization of a puppy closes at about 16 weeks, and now that Lucy is four months old and it’s officially closed, I can report that my dog is fully and happily socialized. Whether it’s the sound of traffic or heliocopters, the motion of elevators or circular doors, crying babies, overly-aggressive adolescents, horses, dogs, or skateboards–NOTHING bothers Lucy. She’s game for anything and everything and always read to play.

She especially loves HUGE dogs, jumping up on them to kiss or bite their ears, or getting a grip on their long bushy tails, never letting go as she gets whirled around. Like a gymnast, she somersaults effortlessly, laughing all the way, her tongue merrily falling out of her mouth, breathless with excitement for more…and more and more! I’m thinking of sending her to doggie day care a few days a week just to tire her out!

Lucy's new boyfriend, Donny


Cesare and Lucy, fast new friends


In any case, I’m so pleased to have a happy dog–one who has no fears. Two of her favorite playmates are pit bulls Angie and Donny–both big and muscular compared to Lucy’s 10-pound frame. And yet, they’re incredibly gentle and patient with her as she assaults them with her puppyness, knawing at their ears, jumping up against them, rolling under them, and otherwise doing her level best to seduce them into play. It’s a happy thing to see.

I hope you all enjoy seeing these pictures of Lucy with her many new friends, who never forget her name.

“Hi LUCY!” is the refrain I hear, over and over again, on every one of our walks. Just like my perspicacious dog KATIE, Lucy is quickly becoming a neighborhood fixture, the cutest legend in town.

Lucy likes horses too--especially police horse Lee


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Incredible Cuteness: The Secrets To Socializing One New Puppy (And Me!)

Posted June 15th, 2010 in Cocker Spaniels, Dogs, Friendship, New Puppy, New York, Puppies, Socializing Dogs by Glenn Plaskin

In early May, when I brought home my new cocker spaniel puppy, Lucy, there was one thing I was determined to do–socialize her the right way!

Why? Because the first 16 weeks of a dog’s life are crucial–the window of time in our puppy’s lives that determines who they will become as adults, how they react to strangers young and old, kids, all kinds of dogs, and the environment in which they live.

For me, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch of our little waterside community in Battery Park City–with its more than 700 dogs–is the perfect training ground for any puppy, a circus and dog show rolled into one.

In the Introduction of  KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL, I describe it this way:  “The Esplanade is jam-packed with bikers, joggers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, picnickers, volleyball and soccer players, and a cavalcade of baby carriages. This is Kid Central–with toddlers and school kids everywhere–their bikes, skateboards, frisbees, and kites filling the neighborhood with action.”

In short, it’s the ideal place to socialize a puppy, desensitizing a dog to all the stimulation of city life–traffic, garbage trucks, sirens, elevators, fountains, blaring music, fireworks, the sound of the waves, the hoofs of a police horse, golf carts, any and everything.

A neighborhood boy who can't get enough of Lucy

So, after four weeks on the job, Lucy isn’t bothered by any of it.  She loves watching the birds and squirrels and she doesn’t flinch at screaming babies or noisy kids. She’s intrigued by the grass and blowing leaves. And vitally important, she adores dogs of every shape and size. She rubs noses with majestic Great Danes and pint-sized pugs. She chases Golden retrievers and Labs. One German shephered in the neighborhood named Jake, renowned for his “singing,” croons to Lucy. She chases boxers, Yorkies, poodles, and Boston terriers.

Thinking back, there was a time when the heroine of my book, KATIE, was withdrawn from most other dogs, most interested in humans and I never understood why, until I read some articles about socializing dogs. Now I see that it was because I never actively exposed her to dogs during the first 16 weeks. So throughout her lifetime, she was somewhat aloof to all dogs except the few she knew.

So this time around, I am focused on making Lucy a bon vivant. Indeed, her social calendar is packed with people and dogs from morning to night during our 8 walks daily (until she gets a little older, this is my fate!)

I can tell you that she has been passed into the arms of countless strangers since she arrived here in the Battery. Anyone who stops to admire her incredible cuteness gets a hug and a kiss. She’s permiscuous to a fault and kisses anybody she meets. She’s had her picture taken with tourists lonesome for their own dogs; she crawls into baby strollers and snuggles with new-borns; she chases elementary school kids, attempting to undo their shoelaces; she tackles 90-pound dogs and playfully whacks them in the face with her paws, biting their ears. On one recent night, she found a huge dog and got a good grip with her mouth on his long bushy tail and wouldn’t let go! He gave her a wild ride, whirling around and around, and I’ve never seen her happier, her tongue hanging out with pleasure. The encounter ended with her putting her entire head in his mouth. Not a bruise.

Lucy and her boyfriend Stanley

And of course, she socializes daily with her “regulars,” our neighbor Mike and his pug Duchess, Brandon and his Bijon Frise Fred, Ben and his two Shih Tzus Mico and Sammy, Maria and her Wheaten terrier, Norma, and most important, Elisha and Raffi’s adorable dachshund STANLEY.

This has become a special connection. Lucy and Stanley, who both live on the same floor in our 35-story building, are in LOVE! Boyfriend and girlfriend, they adore adore each other and race up and down the hall just as Katie used to with blinding speed. Lucy is voracious for these whirwind runs. And when they play inside the apartment together, the action goes on for hours, until they both collapse for naps.

It gives ME such pleasure to see my puppy so happy, so healthy, so well-exercised and socialized.So while many dogs in our neighborhood are skittish and afraid of their canine compatriots, literally clueless about how to appropriately “play” with another dog, thankfully, my bouncy spaniel is filled with curiosity, eager to strut along the Esplanade–finding new canine pals wherever she goes–sniffing, licking, circling, jumping, racing around, eager to have some fun.

As for me, I’ve lost 12 pounds exercising. It just goes to show you what incredible cuteness can do for you.

And not least important, Lucy has helped socialize ME, as all dogs do. I’ve never had so many new human and canine friends. I’m virtually never alone when I’m outside, not for a minute. All kinds of people come up to me to talk and to pet my dog. Fellow dog owners have given me dog toys and books about training a puppy, late night visits for housebreaking tips, shared dinners out by the Hudson, you name it. One night, when I was in a panic about having bitten off more than I could chew training a puppy, two kind friends, Helen Lee, Mike and their pug, Duchess, stopped by to cheer me up and cheer me on. Who could ask for anything more? And it’s all because of one incredible cocker spaniel named LUCY.

For anyone who would like to meet Lucy in person, please join us on September 16 at Barnes & Noble Tribeca, a book signing for KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL, hosted by Liz Smith.

Incredible Cuteness

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