September 30th is Athena’s Birthday – she turns 1 year old – and we’d like to share her characteristics after getting to know her for the last 9 months.
Athena is all get up and go. She loves to play, loves to run, loves to (play) fight, loves to get attention, and loves to give kisses. She can be a little much at first – she jumps up to your face to greet you with her tongue and can barely sit still waiting to be pet. She’s spunky and loving. She knows she’s cute and encourages your attention by resting her chin on your knee or even resting her head on her paws and looking lovingly at you.
Below are summaries of her attitude in different situations. I’ve tried to rate them as standard tamaskan traits (in my opinion), no effort traits (easier than typical tams), and struggle (more difficult than the average tam) areas. These are not necessarily good or bad traits. As you can see, general tamaskan traits require some effort – lots of socialization and lots of work to get them to be the well-rounded dogs they have the potential to be. This is part of the reason they are not recommended for first time dog owners, you truly need to change your life around to include them in your family. But without further adieu, Athena!
(Standard) House Break: Athena trained at about the same rate as Thorin. It took around 3.5 months of being at home (and being crate trained) for her to stop having accidents. Athena quickly learned to poo outside, so most of the time was learning that she needed to pee outside (Thorin was the opposite for this).
(Struggle) Car: Athena had a lot of car sickness at first. It definitely made us hold off on training her as much as we did when Thorin was younger, and you can tell that she needs more reinforcement in her commands. We tried many things to help her car sickness including keeping her in the crate vs in the back seat, giving her ginger snaps or ginger powder before the ride, and even Dramamine. None of these helped her drooling and ultimately vomiting in the car. She finally got completely over her car sickness around 10 months of age – there are some studies that state car sickness is caused by immature inner mechanisms that help with balance and equilibrium, which seemed to be her issue. Fortunately, she is now fully capable of handling car rides (and road trips!). So after 10 months this now requires no effort!
(Standard) Obedience Training: Athena loves food but sometimes isn’t in the mood to learn. This is mostly because she has a shorter attention span and gets frustrated when she doesn’t know what to do to get her treat. She easily is distracted by the other people and dogs around her and starts to completely tune you out. She also is normally quite excited which adds to her impatience to figure out new commands. She learns best in one on one short learning periods.
(No Effort) Other People: Athena is happy to meet anyone, anywhere. She loves attention and loves getting pets. She only struggles with containing her excitement and not being too obnoxious when she greets others, which we are working on with her.
(Standard) Other Dogs: Athena plays well with other dogs and likes to run around with a pack. She also sticks up for other dogs she thinks are being picked on and can be an instigator barking at the bullies.
(Standard) Food: Athena doesn’t really like kibble. She loves meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables, goat milk, yogurt, etc. And of course if you’re eating it, it must be good so she wants some too. She is not food aggressive. She usually lets Thorin eat before she does, unless they are both given meat. Then she makes sure to go to a far corner of the yard and make sure she eats as fast as Thorin so he doesn’t try to steal her food.
(Struggle) Separation Anxiety: This is our biggest obstacle with Athena. She has never truly been alone (Thorin has always been around) and she becomes unmanageable if she is left at home all by herself (even in the crate). She cries and howls and scratches and tries to work her way out. Even if she is in a separate room by herself and everyone else is home, she freaks out and could hurt herself. This is an issue only because she is in an intact dog home, which makes it even more stressful when she and Thorin need to be kept separated. I know Athena’s siblings also struggle with separation anxiety.
(Standard) Walking: Athena is a moderate puller when she is walked along with Thorin. Mostly she just wants to be a step and a half in front of him. If Thorin is on the other side of the street she pulls like crazy until we get next to him. Otherwise, on her own she walks more politely.
(Standard) Talking: Athena barks when she is excited and playing outside. She is noisy about play fighting and gets her roo-roos in when she is happy to get pets or happy to get a treat. Play fighting she is all about making her voice heard.
(Standard) Small Prey Animals: Athena has a fairly present prey drive. She loves chasing and jumping at squirrels. This does carry over to our cat as well. She likes to stalk the cat, hide around corners, and sneak attack and chase her around the house. We are trying to get her to stop this behavior.
(Standard) Puppy Destruction: Athena is still quite young and definitely has not hit a “mellowing out” stage yet. She requires a watchful eye in the house to make sure she isn’t chewing on something she shouldn’t be. It doesn’t happen too often, as she usually plays with Thorin to get her energy out, but she has chewed up shoes, trim around the house, and many stuffed toys. If she’s bored and Thorin won’t give her attention, she’ll go find something soft in the house, bring it out, and start gnawing on it. She has learned that the deck wood outside is NOT for puppies and unfortunately has gotten bark and wood slivers stuck in her mouth more than once.
(Standard) Play Style: Athena understands that she cannot play with humans the same way she plays with dogs. She loves to run around the yard and even likes to play fetch. She’ll only play tug of war until something more exciting comes her way.
(Less Effort) Shedding: Athena sheds a lot less than Thorin and doesn’t have quite as much thick butt fuzz. However, we haven’t had her throughout a full winter, so it is too soon to say for certain she will not get a massive winter coat.