The Puppy Who Battled On

We owe a debt of gratitude and thanks to Trupanion. This company was there for us during an emotionally difficult time, a time of heartbreak and high veterinary costs needed to save our new puppy’s life. We excitedly waited for the day we could bring our Westie puppy home. Lily was eight weeks old and […]

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Socializing Your Puppy: Meeting Something Scary

As I mentioned last week, we’re busy socializing our new puppy Bärli with a long list of activities and experiences to enjoy with him. We’re working on exposing him to many types of experiences, locations, and people.

Today we headed to the Texas Hill Country to see the bluebonnets and visit Inks Lake State Park to see people fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and RVing. On the way to the state park, we decided to make a quick potty stop in the town of Burnet at the downtown park. It’s a small, quiet park, and we just planned to get in a short walk.

Tiki has been to this park many times and was excited to see that we were back. She was ready to stroll the river walk and took right to the bridge over the river, with Bärli by her side:

And that’s when Bärli spotted the trouble…a goose

In all of Bärli‘s socialization trips and day-to-day experiences (where we’ve watched him as he’s heard sounds ranging from motorboats to gunshots), he has taken it all in stride…until the goose came along.

Bärli watched Tiki, who showed interest in the goose but was quickly distracted by something else (squirrel!). Not Bärli. He was very nervous about this new stranger.

I watched Bärli‘s body language; he didn’t want to turn around and so we continued, keeping our distance from the duck. We left the bridge and turned a different direction…but soon there were more geese…

I pulled out a handful of training treats, and we took a seat far from the geese (who had now been joined by some ducks). Barli was worried but not too nervous to enjoy the treats. He continued to watch Tiki’s reaction to the perceived threat; Tiki was ignoring the geese. Bärli started to relax and focused more on the treats.

Soon, we continued our walk. Bärli wanted to sniff the area where the geese had been walking so we spent some time exploring the goose droppings and fallen feathers.

On the way back, Bärli was curious and wanted to walk a bit closer to these once-scary creatures. He may not feel that they’re feathered friends…but they’re no longer frightening foes.

Socializing Your Older Rescue Puppy: Barli’s Checklist

Since Bärli’s adoption on March 13, we’ve been busy socializing him, exposing him to experiences that he might come across on future outings or in our daily life. Bärli, now five (and possibly six) months old, had been at the shelter for three months when we adopted him so, while he had experienced handling by the professionals at the shelter, he hadn’t had many experiences out in the world.

We’ve been busy trying to expose him to as many experiences as possible, even though he is beyond the 18 weeks when socialization become more difficult, just as learning a new language for a teen is more difficult than it is for a toddler. Every day, we’re getting out and exposing him to new situations, rewarding him with tasty treats and having a good time as we explore.

Our list, of course, is specific to our own life (in the country) and travels (to the lake and beach, into the city, visiting relatives at the nursing home, and enjoying car travel). Your list will reflect the activities you plan to experience with your dog. Our list continues to grow as we think of more and more situations that Bärli might experience!


  • adults of different ages
  • adults of different races
  • adults of different sizes
  • infants
  • toddlers and young children
  • teenagers
  • a person in a wheelchair
  • a person with a walker
  • a person with a cane
  • a child in a stroller
  • a man in a hat
  • a person carrying a backpack


We’re all set for coyotes and turkeys (and thunder thanks to today’s storm) but we’re still working on some of the city sounds. I took Barli and Tiki to my parents’ house and sat out in the yard with them; soon a fire truck went by. For other sounds, I’ve been playing sound effects on YouTube (you’ll find both long and short videos with great sound effects!)

  • thunder
  • fireworks
  • door bell
  • emergency vehicle siren
  • city sounds
  • honking car horns
  • motorcycles
  • loud trucks
  • delivery vehicles
  • crying baby
  • coyotes howling
  • wild turkeys calling
  • vacuum cleaner


  • walking on a sidewalk
  • walking on pavement
  • walking on a grate
  • walking on sand
  • walking on a marble floor
  • walking on a tile floor


  • visiting the vet
  • taking a bath
  • visiting a pet supply store
  • sitting at a coffee shop or restaurant patio
  • sitting quietly when a restaurant server comes to the table
  • riding an elevator
  • staying at a hotel
  • walking across a footbridge
  • watching children play at a playground
  • sitting beside me on a walk while I talk to a person in an idling car
  • sitting in the car while one of us fills the gas tank
  • greeting an unknown dog
  • watching a person cast a fishing line
  • seeing a person on a bicycle
  • seeing a cow
  • seeing a horse
  • walking through an automatic door
  • standing beside a vending machine
  • walking in an enclosed stairwell like a hotel emergency stairwell


We Have a New Puppy!!

I am SO excited to announce that we have adopted a four-month-old puppy! Named Baby Bear at the shelter, we’re now calling him Bärli (little bear). He was adopted from the Hill Country SPCA in Fredericksburg, a wonderful shelter with a home-like atmosphere. We took Tiki with us to meet this little fellow, who’s 4.5 months old. The shelter guesses he’s an Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix and might reach about 40-60 pounds when grown, but it’s anyone’s guess since he came in as a stray.

Described as a little shy at first, Barli came right out of his shell when he saw Tiki!

Barli’s shelter name was Baby Bear but, since all of our pets other than Inca have a name that ends in a Y sound, we wanted a name that would fit right in. It took some searching but we soon came upon Bärli, a German diminutive for little bear, seen in everything from gummy candies…

…to children’s books…

Barli’s hometown of Fredericksburg was settled by German immigrants and still has a strong German heritage in everything from its restaurants to festivals. Through the years, we enjoyed so many great day trips and overnight getaways with Irie and Tiki to Fredericksburg; the community holds many special memories for us.

Now we can’t wait to make new memories with little Barli! He is really helping to heal our hearts after the recent loss of our sweet Irie, and helping to cheer up Tiki. She’s already more active!

Barli is doing great, getting along wonderfully with the cats and really looking up to big sister Tiki. We look forward to bringing you so much more about this very special boy. Welcome to the family, Barli!