August 31, 2009
Banjo has been having some issues being quiet in his crate, so we moved his crate in the bedroom to be with us. Actually that's where we always start out the puppies. He will be transitioned to another room and eventually the basement when we feel he is ready.
His other reported issue is a weak or non-existent recall, basically not coming when called. We immediately started working on this. We loaded up our pockets with treats and called him to us any chance we got. Essentialy we became treat dispensers, getting him to COME and SIT in front of us repeatedly.
A new journey begins ...
August 30, 2009
Congratulations to Tino and Lilly. Friday Night was a graduation party in Johnson Creek for the newest CVCD team. All the humans had a good time. I got to see all my old friends there...Lilly and Moby and Deegan and Promise and Bodie plus some new pups I didn't know.
Everyone stood around and blah blah blah...boring for a while. Then they got to eat worms!!! Mmmmm but none for us. Then the lightening started. Everytime the people stood up and smiled...flash flash flash. Talk talk talk, flash flash flash, clap clap clap....yawn. Silly humans. Did I mention the humans also got cake!!
They took pictures of humans who donate dogs (Lilly)
Back at the racetrack for another day, Marley's first activity was working the crowd. To spice it up a bit we let our six year old niece, Jalyn, work the big brown dog through traffic. Both did well. Marley met a lot of people and even a few canines.
After getting our exercise, we took a tram ride around the one and a half mile track. It was a good break for us, but was more for Marley's experience. She rode without incident even when she spotted a few horses as we passed by.
Yesterday, we missed a few photo ops as we forgot the camera battery in the hotel. We remembered it today and had to get Marley's picture in front of NASCAR best active driver's car.
She was accompanied by her puppy raiser for the day. They were constant companions the entire day, except when Marley was resting in the portable crate.
The race didn't start until 9 o'clock PM. Marley's ear plugs were put in place as we discussed puppy raising, not puppy racing (but that might be a fund raising possibility), with another spectator.
By the time the race started Marley was tired from a long day of walking and working that she wanted to be left alone. Her exhaustion and hearing deprivation lead to a successful evening. She made it through the entire race, 200 laps, without "crashing".
August 29, 2009
Our first stop was the hotel to check-in. Never staying in a hotel before, Marley had to try out one of her new beds. It was much more spacious than her dingy crate at home. After unpacking and a short rest, we continued our journey to ChicagoLand Speedway.
Walking the grounds before the race we happened upon an autograph session for NASCAR racetruck drivers. The line was closed, so we stood and "people watched". It was a good chance to meet people, and we met many people. One of the drivers, Colin Braun, even left the table in the middle of the session and came over to say hello to Marley. My first thought was to have him sign her cape, but quickly reconsidered when I heard Marlene's voice saying "You Better Not."
Hours before the race started, we ducked into the track for a puppy conditioning session. Qualifying was underway with only one car on the track; Marley wasn't phased a bit. Phase one complete.
We took our seats for the first race without worry. Well, Marley made it through the roar of engines at the start, but on a lap five restart something happened and she melted. Tail between her legs and panicky, we hurried back to the car and contemplated how the rest of the weekend could be salvaged. Phase two failed.
The second race of the evening was two hours later. This time we settled into our seats and put Marley's ear plugs in early. She rested comfortably throughout the race, except when an earplug would fall out. She made it through all 150 laps and a ninety minute drive back to the hotel which was only six miles away. Phase two success.
Back in the luxurious hotel room with two beds, I told Marley to "Go To Bed" and she jumped up to her afternoon resting spot. She didn't understand that the afternoon nap was a one time photo opportunity.
She was not too happy to be spending her night back in the crate.
August 28, 2009
If you think puppies are a lot of work and don't want to start with an eight week old baby, you may be able to convince one of the current puppy raisers to trade their housebroken, well-mannered dream for one of these rascals.
Roxie's litter consisted of two black males and six black females, all eagerly awaiting their chance to be a guide dog.
Sadly two little ones have been casualties to illness; the rest are receiving treatment and doing well.
August 27, 2009
OK now humans. Figure dis one out. There we wuz, Me and Marley just coolin' our heels, relaxin' under a tent on Sunday, when all of a sudden, da Coppers shows up and starts grillin' some a my crew...Big Mikey, Fast Mama and Diamond Jeff. Sumpthen bout Me and Marley and some grass. Well I told him we wuz no potheads and to buzz off.
He don't believe me. Can youse believe dat? Me, an innocent pup wit a face of an angel thinkin' dis flatfoot got some bad 411. He heard it through da grapevine dat my brother wuz dealin'. Dey busted him, but when dey finally chased him down, he ate all da grass - no evidence right!!
Well riding in Boss Mar's paddy wagon he gives up da stash...again and again and tells da fuzz his bro Deegan is da mastermind of da Pack so here I sit....busted!
Well I finally gets my phone call and a course I makes it to my main man, Donny (the enforcer) Becker who is a miracle worker. He takes care a binness and tells em it was grass, green grass dat we was partakin' of, not dat other kind and soon I'm a free mutt, relaxin wit Donny and chewin' dat fat. He da man!!!
Well, gotta go on lamb wit my crew now so see yas later!
PS: Wow, what a dream :-)
August 26, 2009
So for her last week on the farm there was no puppy play time. We did stop to see the pigs before shopping, but Marley was not as enamored with the swine as usual and kept her distance. That might be because they nibbled on her ear and nose last week - she didn't seem to mind it then.
Marley was put in a DOWN STAY while we packed up our vegetables and chatted with an older customer about training her dog. Marley did have a few young visitors while we shopped. She maintained her usually calm demeanor. There was only a minimal amount of creeping when she was alone, sampling the different grasses.
The older woman was having an issue with her dog (husky, lab mix) pulling when on leash, otherwise he is well behaved. We tried to explain the virtues of a pinch collar, but she refused anything but a halter. Pulling in a halter, go figure.
After getting our share, we ventured out to the self pick garden. Again Marley had to DOWN STAY as we picked peppers and searched for the cilantro. Five minutes of activity, then I checked Marley's recall. She jumped up and sprinted to me and sat - Good Girl. This was repeated a few more times, until we saw the tilled remains of the cilantro crop.
Before we left we made one last stop to let Marley gaze at her piggy friends and say goodbye.
August 25, 2009
This afternoon Marley warmed up for her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test by playing on the stairs. She would carry her toy up the stairs, drop it down the stairs, and then slide down after it. Repeat until tired or bored.
Our Tuesday night OccuPaws session was at the Janesville mall. We met outside and worked through the daily guide dog skills refresher - SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, voice only. This should be done everyday to practice and warm up for the real work. As I mentioned last week we need to focus on these basics.
After warming up, we entered the mall. Seven dogs parading through the mall being led by a "blind" handler draws a lot of attention. After successfully navigating through the jewelry store maze, the dogs settled down and Marley began her CGC test. The test in the mall is more realistic for our dogs and with many more distractions. All the dogs behaved well and Marley successfully completed her test.
After we observed Reggie walking Chris into a few overhead signs, running her into a table, and trying to escape the building prematurely, we decided to call it a night. Of course he had to successfully lead us out of the building before he could quit and we could go home.
Congratulations to Marley and all who have assisted with Marley's training. She has passed her first milestone toward becoming an OccuPaws guide dog. It takes a pack to raise a guide dog.
Today was Jacob’s (age 9 months) last full day with us.
He stayed two nights and three days, while his mom and dad cavorted.
Jacob liked to crawl on me and occasionally pulled my tail (He liked the feel of it in his hands.).
Being 9 months old, the tail pulling was no worse than a slight puppy pull.
I also went out to breakfast and then to the Copp’s grocery store in Middleton. At Copp’s, I met some really neat kids, one of whom was visually impaired. I hope I get to see them again as they giggled a lot.
That’s all for now.
August 24, 2009
We practiced HEELing during our entire evening walk. Marley did pretty well with minor distractions, but with squirrels and dogs around subtle corrections proved ineffective.
Marley worked hard and near the end she seemed to understand that dogs are to be ignored. More practice is definitely required, but she should be ready for the CGC test tomorrow.
“A dog is not ‘almost human,’ and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such.” - John Holmes
August 22, 2009
Our "angel", along with Deegan, attended the 2009 Madison's Pet Corner Dog Fair as a representative of OccuPaws. As such their behavior was exemplary. As I exited the Ruffin' It Resort, a gentleman remarked "Why can't my dog behave like that. Oh that's why, she's a guide dog in training."
We met plenty of nice people and friendly canines. Mike and Deegan tipped us off to one potential adversary at 4 Paws Swim and Fitness. Not one to avoid a challenge, we decided to take a look for ourselves.
Marley spotted the puppy and s/he looked a tad suspicious. Her initial reaction was to bark and back away from this scary puppy. Eventually, Marley made friends with the ferocious beast and life was good for the rest of the event.
After a long day in the hot sun, we humans needed some refreshments and nourishment. A quick stop at Sonic for happy hour (half price drinks) was immediately followed by dinner at Jamerica where Marley slept quietly under the table.
Upon entering and exiting the restaurant, Marley observed another "stuffed & scary" puppy. This one did not elicit the fearful response. I think she just needs more repetitions and some maturing to overcome her fearfulness, but what do I know.
"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet." - Colette
This morning we gave Marley a new toy, actually a recyclable. Initially she didn't care for it, but eventually it became her favorite toy. Then her "devil" came out; you can see it in her eyes.
She completely destroyed the milk jug. This is the first and last time for this toy because it wreaked havoc with her digestive system - almost as bad as the wood chips.
After completing our outings for the day, a trip to the park was in order to get our Chocolate Marley a bit of exercise and have some fun. The walk exercises the mind and body.
Today the exercise was more mental than physical. It was a constant battle to get her to focus on me and ignore the rambunctious squirrels that claim the park as their home.
Marley's good behavior in the park earned her a trip to the playground. As she hopped up the steps, she wanted to turn left, but I turned right to cross the wobbly bridge. A left turn goes through a tunnel to the slides. After a couple bridge crossings, it was time to slide like an "angel".
Her multiple trips down the slide entertained us and the forty or so children and parents that we shared the playground with. Marley actually seems to enjoy the slide. I think she associates it with the slide at the Dawg Zone where she received treats for climbing and sliding.
Will the devil or angel show up at the pet fair?
I had a blast today. My friend Evan was over. He carried my bones for me all over the house.
He would pick them up for me, pile them up, and then carry them. Once in awhile he would let me have one (only if I was good).
He was a lot of fun.
Today Jacob comes over to spend 3 days here. I wonder if he is walking yet?
August 21, 2009
Slick left for a car ride last night without me and when Mom and Dad came home I was ready to play. I ran outside and no Slick...didn't he want to play with me any more??? Sniff. Oh well, time to attack the border collie.
At least we had a good breakfast together.
PS: Mom says he'll be back home after he has his "chickentest", whatever that is? Maybe he gets to chase some???
August 20, 2009
This is how Marley spends her day: always on alert, watching out the window, patrolling the yard for invaders.
Five days late for flea and tick medication, we were forced to make a trip to Farm and Fleet and walk the aisles. Being out and about and carrying a Mounds gift certificate from the Dog Den, we made a second stop and picked up more medication; we now have a six month supply.
Neither store was very busy with human or canine traffic, minimal visual distractions. However, Mounds is always a good test for scent and noise distractions.
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." - Unknown
August 19, 2009
Here are some up-to-date photos of our favorite seven month old puppy. She is quite photogenic.
Here Cinder is performing the very difficult STAND STAY with a major distraction. What a good girl.
Being a Labrador she likes the water, just not as much as most Labradors. She likes to walk through the water or stand in the water to cool her pads.
Since it was Wednesday, Marley made her weekly trip out to the farm to visit the pigs. Her canine pal Summer was in the house so they couldn't play. Nothing left to do but work. I put Marley in a DOWN STAY while we picked a bag full of tomatillos and various hot peppers for salsa. She did well even when another dog and owner stopped by to pick up their vegetables.
Being out and about, the farm was a pit stop before our final destination the grocery store. There are always plenty of distractions: smells, sights, and sounds. This evening there were a lot of excited kids walking/riding down the aisles with their parents. Most of the kids were not well behaved; I believe that Marley was more of a distraction for the kids than they were for him. A few of the well behaved children were allowed by their parents to interact with our big brown girl.
We need a bumper sticker or t-shirt that says "My guide dog in-training is better behaved than your child."
August 18, 2009
Our next puppy, Banjo attended. He will be joining our household in twelve days. He is spending the next few days at Camp Morga to, hopefully, resolve a disturbing noise issue - he cries in his crate when separated from people and other canines.
All puppies and puppy raisers "Rallied" tonight. This means that we performed the dreaded rally obstacle course. The hardest part is translation of the rally-ese to our standard commands.
After some more regular obedience work we retired to the house for some birthday cake. It was our formal harness trainer's birthday. She brought cake for the puppy raisers and the puppies' indoor manners were tested. They are always in-training.
After some very good puppy behavior and a lot of blah blah blah, as Slick would say, the capes were pulled and it was indoor puppy play time. Carmen, the resident German Shepard, tried to keep order as Reggie, Marley, Cinder, and Banjo chased and tugged. Occasionally Banjo and Cinder would stop to wrestle, then ambush Marley as she walked by.
My observation from tonight's work was that we need a lot of work on the basics: SIT, DOWN, STAY via voice. The outcome of tonight's session was some tired puppies. And a late dinner for canines and humans alike.
August 16, 2009
Literally, we have moved her crate to the basement for a couple reasons. First because it was time for a change and second because it's cooler down there.
The move downstairs coincided with her transition to a different dog food. Wellness Dog Food has donated at least sixty bags of dog food for the puppies. This saves each puppy raiser $35 per month.
And figuratively, due to the change in food we haven't been out and about much. Not sure how the big girl was going to react to the dietary change. We stayed home on Saturday. Lisa and I spent the day doing yard work distributing nine yards of wood chips throughout the yard while Marley provided supervisory support.
Marley was very sick; her digestive system was not functioning normally. Another, good reason not to be out in public. Our first thought was the stress of the changes, but this morning we determined the cause to be our lack of supervision. She had eaten some wood that must have irritated her digestive organs causing undesirable outcomes.
After fasting for a day and purging the undesirable objects, all systems working properly today. Her transition to the new food is complete tomorrow as is her prednisone treatment. Fingers crossed that the rash stays away.
"The disposition of noble dogs is to be gentle with people they know and the opposite with those they don't know...How, then, can the dog be anything other than a lover of learning since it defines what's its own and what's alien." - Plato
August 15, 2009
Did I have fun today!
I hung out at the Madison Farmer’s Market with my friends, Deegan, Canya, Geyser, Reggie, Marcie, Kathy, Theresa, Chris and my people Mark and Barb.
Mindy and Dan also stopped by with Jacob.
What could be better than be pet by all sorts of kids and adults, drink water, lay around and talk with my friends?