Adventures with Aster

Settling In: Life With Aster

I’m very happy to report that after a few months of Aster living with us, life around the Altitude to Adelaide household has settled, more or less, into a routine and Aster is turning into a very good girl.  

Four Months Old

May was an interesting month with some ups and downs.

We went to our first Bernese Mountain Dog Club of SA walk, which meant that Aster got to meet and socialise with other Berners. She also started Doggy Daycare, which she loved; it was another chance to socialise with other puppies and try some new things.  

We confirmed that Aster is very smart; she is a wiz at her feeding puzzle and figured out how to break into the automated feeder in about half an hour. (Thus, rendering the purchase of the feeder pointless.)

In May, we saw a sudden improvement in her obedience training. She became very good with the basic commands such as sit, drop and stay. Seeing an improvement in these skills really helped motivate me to keep working on her training because I learned that she will pick up skills eventually. May was also when her nipping habit slowly declined, which was a very welcome change!  

Despite these encouraging improvements we had a few vet visits in May.

I was becoming concerned with the frequency of her diarrhoea and she would occasionally have an upset stomach in the morning. After a call to the vet, I collected and delivered stool samples for testing (certainly something I never thought I would be doing before getting a dog). These discovered a bacteria which required a short course of medication to clean out of her system

While we were waiting for the results from her samples, she suddenly developed a terrifying cough coupled with retching. This was late on a Friday night when hubby was away on a work trip. She seemed uncomfortable and when I touched her stomach it seemed full of air. Not knowing what to do and concerned about bloat (a potentially deadly condition large breeds can be prone to) I took her to the after-hours emergency vet.

It turns out she had kennel cough (despite being vaccinated). While discussing her symptoms and the occasional morning vomit, the vet suggested that she had a sensitive tummy and needed to eat more often. The kennel cough and late-night vet visits were annoying, but the change in eating routine has been a game changer.

Finding a Routine

A bit of a routine certainly seems to help keep everyone calm, the household accident-free and helped with Aster’s upset stomach.  

Our day typically starts at 5:00 am with a toilet break and Aster’s breakfast. Then, I work out while her food settles for an hour before we go for a walk. Most days, hubby works from home, so she gets to spend the day with him. He feeds her lunch then she gets dinner as soon as I get home from work. One or both of us will walk her again in the evening before a bit of playtime and cuddles in front of the TV. At the end of the day, Aster gets a small supper just before going out one more time before bed.  

This schedule keeps her stomach from being too empty, which was apparently what was causing her to get nauseous some mornings. I’ve also noticed that she is calmer when she is fed more often; before this routine, we had several hangry puppy moments.

Five Months Old

June was a good month. 

She started to do better on walks, and we could finally walk for a bit longer. (The recommendation is five minutes per month of age, so six months equals a 30-minute walk.) Aster also passed Grade One of obedience training and, after five visits to Doggy Daycare, she passed their Puppy Pawgram. We also avoided any trips to the vet.

June was also when we took Aster on her first camping trip, which was very successful!

Six Months Old

Except for another vet visit, July has also been a good month. We had to visit the vet because Aster suddenly stopped eating (and it was very abnormal behaviour for her to lack interest in food). After a short stint on a bland diet and some medicated paste, she was happily back to normal.

In July, we increased her socialisation. We went to the dog park for the first few times, which she loves. I also took her to meet some friends at a café, and into the office one day. Both times she behaved very well, and everyone was very impressed. On these outings, she is happy and excited to meet new people, then settles onto a comfortable spot on the floor to wait for pats.  

Aster loves her pats and belly rubs and smelling the flowers (and the grass, leaves, sidewalk, bushes, poles of any description…..) on our walks. She is a loveable puppy that is probably going to turn into a teenager very soon, but I am prepared and looking foreword to the next part of the adventure.

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