Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

December 29, 2010


Yesterday Monte discovered the sofa and that it provides a comfortable, warm place to rest. Unsure how long he had been there before he was unceremoniously dislodged. Although seemingly intelligent, his impulse control is in need of development because less than an hour later he was back enjoying "his sofa". A firmer correction was administered and no repeat performances have been observed.

As promised, we have stepped up our efforts expose Monte to the world. He spent portions of the last two days in the mall practicing "control in the crowd" and HEELing. He tends to want to walk with others; he needs to focus more on the handler.

The mall was very crowded and offered plenty of opportunities to meet people. His greeting with adults has improved, but he gets excited around children. A canine training trip to the mall would not be complete without feeling the vibration of escalator watching the steps disappear or patiently watching people eat.

December 28, 2010

Abbey Update

Abbey is missing her litter mates but doing pretty good.  Tonight she is going to get a visit from our puppy training mentors.  She is loved very much but has tended to be nipping and almost biting at some times.  We as new raisers have to get some tips to deal with her when she innocently misbehaves.  She loves to go outside and knows the command of come and sit very well.  She sleeps through the night and is great most of the time.  She always reminds me of a little black lamb when  she sleeps like you can see in the attached photo.  What a joy she is!

December 26, 2010

The Accidental Puppy Raiser

Well, one special event was all it took to get hooked on puppy raising.  Mary, my wife, and I attended Olivia’s graduation with Children’s Visual Companion Dog Harley at Quaker Steak and Lube on November 28, 2010.  We asked how to become an official raiser and were granted the opportunity to say “yes” right on the spot.

The following Sunday we attended the “puppy party” at the Schultze’s house in Cross Plains, WI.  While we were there, we met all nine of the little puppies born just six and a half weeks before.  We also met Roxie, their mother, and Ripley, their father.  Roxie is a beautiful female black Labrador Retriever while Ripley is a bigger-boned and handsome yellow lab.  All of the puppies were black like their mother and had been born over a three hour period on, Wednesday, October 13.  It was quite a sight to see all nine of them jumping and wiggling against their enclosure to reach us when we arrived.  We surveyed the puppies for a while and played with a few of them separate from the others.  We settled on two puppies, both female, as our favorites.  All of the puppies had a different colored collar and our favorites were Little Miss Red and Little Miss Pink.  There was a list of “A” names provided to us and we decided that whichever puppy we were going to train would carry the official Occupaws Guide Dog Association name “Abbey”.

The following week we received an email from the Schultze’s and Little Miss Red would be our puppy and her name would be “Abbey”.  So we were very excited.   Abbey had been the smallest of the litter and seemed very docile to our untrained eyes.  We were pleased to understand that her disposition was projected to be good and we made arrangements to bring her to our home on, Saturday, December 11, 2010.

As the week of anticipating Abbey’s arrival became shorter, the weather forecast for, Saturday, December 11, became bleaker.  A major snowstorm was forecast for our area and we had some concern that we could have dangerous driving conditions ahead of us.  So, I called and arranged to pick Abbey up and bring her home with her crate, food, medications, etc. on, Friday, December 10, in the late afternoon.  I picked up my high school son, Adam, from school and he was very agreeable to go pick up the puppy right away.  We headed to Cross Plains to bring home our Abbey. 

When we arrived at the Schultze’s house there were six puppies left from the litter of nine and they all popped their little heads over the wall of their enclosure straining on their hind legs to see us.  Abbey with her red collar was in the midst of all of them and it wasn’t long until we finished some paperwork, reviewed some questions and directions for her care and put her in our car for the ride home.

We started down the road with Abbey on the floor of the front right passenger seat.  Adam and I soon realized, however, she didn’t want to stay on the floor of the car.  Before getting on the highway, we pulled over by the side of the road and adjusted our cargo.  Adam held Abbey in his lap in the backseat of the car all the way home.

Once arriving at our house she quickly learned the layout of our kitchen and checked out any area that smelled good or had something to lick or chew on.  Our puppy raising adventure had officially begun.

Sleep deprivation can warp your senses enough that a new warm puppy in your house still feels like a blessing.  Abbey would like our attention and consistency in everything.   She has little consistency at all these first few days.  Honestly, she typically sleeps, wakes, goes outside, plays, goes outside, eats, goes outside and then sleeps and the whole cycle starts over again.  Most of the time she does all of these things in the same order, however, not always.  Fortunately, we can control when she eats and nearly all the times she goes outside.  She determines the rest.  Of course, there are a few signals she gives us about what is about to happen.  Some of those signals actually lead to what is going to happen and some do not.  We prepare for all of the possible outcomes and accept what actually happens with a loving response.

I mentioned sleep deprivation.  The other night I quietly checked on Abbey and decided I should return to bed.  Ouch! Oh, yes, there is a barricade these days between the kitchen and the rest of the house.  Stepping over the barricade isn’t habit for me yet?  Abbey didn’t stir as I safely returned to my bed with no broken bones.  I thought to myself if the barricade is new for me just imagine what the whole house is for Abbey.  When puppies leave their birth home for the next stage of life it is a huge change for them.  The next morning I gave her a few extra hugs just to make up for it.

As I write this, the clock in the living room is chiming to indicate the noon hour has arrived.  Looking down at Abbey bathed in the noon day sun, she reminds me of a little black lamb with big Labrador Retriever ears.  I guess you could say I am a little attached to her.  I love it when I call her name from one end of the kitchen and she toddles quickly over to me with her ears flapping and little legs clipping along.  I think anyone’s heart would jump an extra little beat of joy to see that happen. 

When I walk Abbey late at night only the stars seem to be awake.  We trod out to her place of doing “bizness” and there is an eerie stillness in the winter surrounding us.  The skies have been very clear lately and thousands of stars shine down on us as we parade along our snow-packed and foot-worn path.  Abbey seems to give the cold snow no concern and trudges off our path occasionally over-stepping snow that is as high or slightly higher than her chin.  She bounds along, sniffs a bit, bites the snow lightly and completes her “bizness”.  A few seconds later she’s bounding through the snow again as far as the leash will reach.  Soon we head back to the door of the house and return to the warmth inside.  I spend a bit of time with her, put her quietly in her crate and head to me bed wondering if I will miss these midnight walks when she doesn’t need them anymore. 


Today Abbey and I spend the day together as usual.  She took some pretty good naps and played.  The best news is that last night we only went outside once and I nearly had to wake her up to go. 


Abbey and I got ready for the day early this morning.  About 9 AM we had to go together to pick up my daughter from college.  I crated Abbey and put her in the car behind me in the back seat.  She nodded promptly off to sleep as I accelerated on to the highway headed to my daughter’s school.  My daughter’s name is Allison and Abbey was thrilled to meet her for the first time.  Allison was pretty impressed with how cute Abbey was and Abbey thoroughly enjoyed her first visit to a college apartment.  Some people stopped and told us how cute Abbey was as we headed to my in-law’s home for a baby gate that they had in storage.  They had agreed for us to use it in our kitchen to keep our puppy a bit limited in his moving about the house until we get use to her being around and she gets potty trained.  My in-laws were pleased to see what a good girl she was and we  decided to stay long enough for both of us and Abbey to have our lunch.  We, of course, had some of Abbey’s food along and my mother-in-law found a suitable bowl.  After lunch we decided my parents deserved a visit, as well.  Abbey did great with my parents and they were thrilled to see her.  We headed back to McFarland with some good memories and a tired, sleepy Abbey crated in the back of the car.

It should be mentioned that Abbey has slept or at least stayed quiet enough through the night of December 14 and every night, right up to today.  She is growing and winning our hearts a bit more every few moments it seems.  Today included a trip to my wife, Mary’s
kindergarten class.  

The kids were thrilled to meet her and sat on their rug squares in a bit circle as my daughter Allison formerly introduced each of them to Abbey.  Many of the kids had to tell us how many dogs they had at home and a few of the kids were just plain scared to even touch Abbey.  Everyone had a bunch of fun before lunch time came.  Allison and I took Abbey home where she lounged for most of the afternoon dreaming about kindergarten children and their enthusiasm to meet a future guide dog prospect.  It sounds unlikely but it seems that Abbey senses when she is on “display”, so to speak.  She behaves very well and seems comfortable meeting a variety of people.  She pays close attention to everything going on around her but it doesn’t seem to overwhelm her.  We took the visit to kindergarten slow today.  However, she seemed unshaken by the new experience.  She loved sniffing the room all over after the kids left for lunch.  A few of the teachers stopped in my wife’s classroom to eat lunch and observe our puppy sniffing and exploring a real kindergarten class.  Abbey continues her puppy days and we keep taking her out, feeding her and watching her grow.

December 25, 2010

Sleep over.

Hey! It's Hailey again, and I thought I'd tell you about the fun times I had last weekend. We had guests at my house. Most notably Kirby and Dayton, though Meghan was here too. I really like them...we have had fun playing together in the past, but this visit was all business. My mom let me run for a moment while they were here, but mostly I had to "leave it" and ignore them. So hard!
I would get up in the morning and my friends were visiting and I couldn't even say hi. That didn't keep me from acting super happy and wiggly, but I was good. Very good. My mom was very proud of me.
I did get to have some calm kisses and lie on the floor with my friends, which I appreciated.
Sir Dayton is getting big, and I'm still a little peanut. Still like him though...he's a big softie.
Well...its Christmas and I ought to get some naps in.

December 24, 2010


It's quite remarkable what dogs can be trained to do, how quickly they are able to pick things up, and how sensitive they are to the emotions/energy of people. I was reminded of this yesterday when Monte and I were out for our run. After only three prior runs following the same route, Monte was able to identify the correct direction as we approached the turns on our route.

I want to make my point clear, all dogs are remarkable and Monte's behavior only reminded me of this. Although, I think that Monte is a special creature, he has yet to prove himself to be useful for anything other than a foot warmer.

The last dog we mentored, Banjo, exhibited a similar behavior. After one day in a new environment, our hotel in Washington DC, he was able to identify the route from the elevator to our room and vice versa.

December 21, 2010


After two days of running it was time to slow down, we practiced passing dogs as we walked through the park this evening. Monte was excited, but under control when we met our first dog. A momentary stop and he walked past with only a brief look behind.

As we approached our second opportunity, Monte crouched as we approached - warning. Not a calm greeting, we stopped and had him sit. His energy seemed fine as the little Schnauzer approached. Then, out of nowhere, the Schnauzer (off leash) attacked Monte.

Not sure who was more surprised. I reacted too slowly; Monte yelped once and the twenty pound canine ended up getting the better of Monte before I could get between them. Just what we needed, another negative experience to further traumatize Monte. Note: The owner never acknowledged or offered an apology.

I was more attentive to the third dog we met and ended our stroll with a positive experience. This is a warning to all puppy raisers to be more careful than I was.

December 19, 2010

Day Forty-Nine

This will be the last post regarding Monte's medical issues: neuter, amputate rear dew claws, infection, demodectic mange. The wound appears to be secure; we have returned the BiteNot collar; Monte will be sleeping in his crate tonight; and we have our final visit with the veterinarian tomorrow. The total cost of treatment was about $1000, including OccuPaws covered expenses, Puppy Raiser expenses, and free follow-up office calls.

The last seven weeks were trying times for everyone involved with Monte, but well worth it. His nail trimming was reduced by eleven percent, only sixteen instead of eighteen :-) As things have improved the last few days, we have increased Monte's activity/exercise and also began a probiotics regimen to replace the beneficial bacteria that was eliminated through three bouts of antibiotics.

To celebrate the return to a "normal" life, I took my new running partner out for a four mile run. One would think that I would run faster with a dog pulling me, but we actually ran slower. Instead of allowing him to pull, I reminded him not to get too far ahead, then stopped and had him HEEL when he exceeded my recommendation.

The first mile was stop and go, but as we headed for home he seemed to understand what I expected. At first I wasn't sure if he was learning or if he was just getting tired. However, once we arrived home, it was clear that he was just getting started and was ready for more.

December 18, 2010

Winter Training

Although the ground is covered with snow and the sidewalks with ice and salt, a few of our future guide dogs are still getting their daily dose of training.

Sonny and Sparta are enjoying the sunny skies of California as they have entered their final stage of training.

Sonny, who has been out there for about two months, began his preliminary blindfold testing yesterday.

Sparta flew out ten days ago and is still getting acclimated to Santa Barbara.

It certainly is a Dog's Life.

December 17, 2010


Monte's healing is continuing at a slower than expected rate. We have added triple antibiotic cream to the bandage application to hopefully stave off any infection. Last week (12/8), our veterinarian said that he should be better on Sunday, maybe he meant this Sunday.

Last night was an unofficial date night. On our way downtown, we stopped by class to see the new batch of puppies and drop off some supplies. Monte wanted to play with the youngsters and made sure that everyone knew it as he vocalized his displeasure at being kept away.

The trainers at our last class warned us about too much playtime and stressed quality or quantity. When we visited the Guide Dogs for the Blind on our trip to Denver, three years ago, I remember that they advised no more than thirty minutes of canine playtime. That's thirty minutes per week and included resident dogs. The purpose was to prioritize and reinforce the human-canine bond. At the time we thought that was too little. Dogs need to be dogs. However, seeing the results of unlimited playtime with our puppies, it makes more sense.

I digress. Our cheap date night was a free dressed rehearsal of the
Nutcracker, performed by Madison Ballet. It was Monte's and our first time in the theater at the Overture Center. Our charge relaxed during the presentation, only to be roused by random applause. Eventually he learned to ignore the outbursts with a slight lift of the head.

During intermission, we were able to practice greetings. The one issue we are still working on is greeting people without licking/mouthing them. He is fine with us, due to our constant correction, but can spot easy prey and takes advantage. Although we missed the orchestra, we humans found the dress rehearsal interesting because the directer was making observations and corrections throughout the performance. Monte prefers the action of a hockey game.

December 13, 2010


Hey, it's Hailey here. I just wanted to report that I think I should have gone to California with Doug because I am not a fan of winter. I spend a lot of time in my crate, because it is cozy. But I still trek along with my mom to work. The white stuff makes me lose my head. It also hurts my feet so I have to dance funny sometimes. And the shiny stuff makes me slip all over. And at the bus stop, I don't want to sit because then my rear gets cold. I know I'm supposed to be hearty...but really...winter is not my thing. My mom got me shoes, but when I wear them, people laugh at me. As in, everybody laughs at me.
So...maybe I could go to California? Like, as a belated birthday present? Or at least a get little relief from this weather?

Last Supper

After one last meal together, Roxie's puppies have left the nest. Each one has been entrusted to an OccuPaws puppy raiser to protect, nurture, and train for the next sixteen months. Best wishes and good luck to all puppy raisers. Remember that your puppy will excel through your patience and consistency.

The first to depart last Wednesday was Arnie, originally called Mister Purple. You can follow his trials and travails at his blog, Arnie's Blog.

Check out the photos of all the puppies and their new raisers.

December 12, 2010


The weather foiled my plans to get Monte out and about every day, but we did make it to the Badger hockey game last night. Sometimes I think he is too smart. After we parked the car and walked through the parking garage, I could sense his excitement growing. As we neared the Kohl Center, he cried, whined, and jumped around when asked to HEEL. More than just being stir crazy, we tried to control his energy with a few timeouts.

Under "control", we entered the arena and walked around. He was fine until he stopped to meet a few of the security staff. On each occasion, he cried and wiggled uncontrollably. We have found that corrections are useless at this point, they only exacerbate the problem, so we stepped back, put him in a SIT and we continued to chat while Monte observed.

Being virtually snowed in would usually limit out training opportunities. However, today Monte had a priceless opportunity. Not having children in the house or access to a second grade class, we never know how our puppies will behave with children.

Fortunately for Monte, our five year-old goddaughter, Avery, had her plans canceled (blizzard) and had to spend the day with us. Generally leery of our four footed projects, she uncharacteristically decided to "work" Monte today. She spent over an hour (total) asking Monte to SIT, DOWN, STAY, rolled a ball, and then told him it was OK to get his toy. Not sure who was enjoying it more Monte, Avery, or me.

Avery eagerly took my advice to make him wait longer than a second after rolling the ball to let him retrieve. I told her to wait until he looks at you and then say "OK". When he wouldn't look at her, she would maneuver her face in front of his and tell him it was "OK". The only downside was that we must have heard "Monte" repeated a thousand times today; Avery wasn't able to get the desired response with a single command. It generally went "Monte sit, Monte!, Monte sit, Monte drop it, Monte drop it, Monte down, Monte down, Monte!, stay, ... OK". I couldn't get her to lower her voice to be more authoritative. Both of my protegees need more practice.

Update: We administered Monte's final dose of antibiotics, round three. With only a few drops of blood on the gauze this should be his last. The bandages will remain for a few more days.

December 11, 2010


Nearing full recovery, we have increased Monte's activity. Thursday night he stayed outside while I shoveled. Since his foot was all wrapped up, he should be able to enjoy more than a five minute potty break. It proved to be a good opportunity to make friends with the shovel and learn to leave the tie out alone.

Last night we elongated our grocery shopping by bringing Monte along. Puppy wrangling and greetings add about fifteen minutes. His real world training has been significantly impacted. We have essentially lost a month, but will try to make it up the next few weeks. My goal is to get him out and about about every day until New Year's Day.

Today he accompanied me to pick up some more bandages (no toys this time) and a quick trip for more groceries. We have enough food to survive a two month blizzard.

On a personal note, I went for my first run since last winter. It was especially difficult because I haven't been going on my daily dog training walk. Monte's exercise restrictions have negatively impacted my health. Even though the weather wasn't very nice it was great to be outside in the fresh air. In addition to being good bonding/training, a daily walk with your dog will improve your mental and physical health. We went for a short walk when I returned home.

Monte will be the perfect running partner this winter.

December 8, 2010

Healed :-) Almost :-(

Last night during puppy class while lying under my chair, Monte removed the cotton bandage by pulling at a portion that was sticking out under the purple wrap. A few minutes later he had the purple wrap hanging out his mouth. My compliments to the instructor as I was so focused on his lecture that I was oblivious to what was happening under my butt. Thankfully, it was to be the last day/night of Monte's recovery.

The day that we have been waiting for finally arrived. After thirty-eight frustrating days, Monte is suture and staple free. He had the last batch of staples removed from his left rear ankle. After a quick examination, Dr. Mike stated that Monte was 95% healed which means that no additional staples or sutures are required, but we have to keep the wound clean, dry, and untouched by canine teeth.

Basically good news, but our protocol has not changed. Daily bandage changes, plastic bags, BiteNot/Elizabethan collar combination, sedatives at night, antibiotics twice a day, and minimal exercise. The veterinarian estimated another week.

Fashion Tidbit: today's bandage wrap color is Florescent Green

December 4, 2010

Snow Scare

The first snowfall is generally a very exciting time for our Labrador puppies. Monte's first snow day was not very exciting. His activity is restricted for another seven days.

As we prepared for his morning potty break, which now involves wrapping his foot in a plastic bag for the next seven days, I wished we had bought some boots. As I opened the front door, surprised by the new sights, Monte gave an alert bark (potential issue). He quickly made friends with the snow covered bushes and began nosing through the snow.

Preparing for a shopping trip, we faced a tough decision. Do we want to risk getting Monte's wound wet as we traversed the parking lots or take the chance of him ripping out the staples if left home alone. Monte stayed home, unmedicated. Feeling guilty and sorry for our little dog, we brought him back an indestructible toy, which already has a few chunks missing. Reviewing the packaging again, it states "virtually indestructible".

With snow covering the grass, housebreaking has encountered a potential hurdle. Although Monte seems fine with peeing on the driveway apron where the snow is minimal, he won't poop there and would prefer to play when taken to the snow. We are currently waiting him out.

December 3, 2010

The Accidental Puppy Trainer

(Submitted by New OGDA Puppyraisers, John & Mary):

The first time I ever noticed Occupaws I was driving on Hwy. 51 in the southeast part of Madison, WI where I saw their big billboard with a cute yellow lab puppy (Echo) on it. I was intrigued about this organization and thought I would look it up on the Internet. I did so and found a phone number for the organization. The nice lady on the phone suggested I come to an Occupaws training night held spring thru fall at a local warehouse. I did so in mid-August and was amazed at what was being done with these incredible canines.

On the particular night I attended the training session, they had a few “extra” dogs there. Immediately upon my arrival I announced I wanted to consider volunteering and a dog leash was handed to me with a grown lab on the other end. Geyser was my dog for the evening and it was mentioned that he knew the routine pretty well. So, right into the training session I went. I was quickly instructed how to hold the leash and was told that if I repeated the commands I heard and copied what everybody else in the room did that Geyser would do the rest. It was amazing and a bunch of fun and the dog was sometimes doing things before I even asked. As a group we started walking in a big circle each trainer with a dog on their respective leash. Two little very cute puppies were in the middle doing a smaller circle and we all whirled around. It reminded me of a slightly rehearsed folk dance. Occasionally, people and dogs would get out of step. When that happened, a quick correction of the dog was completed and then we continued. Sometimes we altered our speed from a quick walk to a stroll and back to the quick walk again. Sometimes we would all come to an abrupt stop and sit our puppies down or lay our puppies down. I was told this last task can be used on a city bus, street corner, when working at an event with the dogs, or anytime it is needed.

Once the lead trainer felt we had enough walking and commanding done we were all instructed to go back to our seats, command our puppies to lie down and rest and some organizational announcements were made. Then, two of the puppy trainers stood up and took a stroll with their dogs to the front of all of us. They proceeded to command their puppies to sit down to our left and dropped the dogs’ leashes and commanded the dogs to stay in place. Each trainer then strolled across the room to our right and stood there. The dogs’ eyes never left their personal commanders. After a few moments the dogs, frozen from the stay command, came to life when told to “come” and trotted over to their trainer. I was impressed. Soon after that I began to realize that each of us training a dog that night was going to do this little trick as well. I really wondered if, given my newness to commands, Geyser would follow my directions. Lo and behold, when my turn came, I was surprised that he did follow my directions. It seemed obvious to us all that he wasn’t as enthusiastic as he had been in the past with more experienced trainers. Once I called him “Geyser, come!” he slowly strolled over to me as if to say, “alright, I’m coming”. This first experience with Occupaws was great fun and inspiring. I decided I had to check this out further over the next several weeks.

Note: Next week John and Mary will be taking home their first OccuPaws puppy, one of the black bundles pictured above.

December 1, 2010

No Bad News is Good News

We made it two days without a visit to the veterinarian's office and nothing out of the ordinary to report. Monte's wound has been re-bandaged daily and it appears to be healing well. The most recent stapling only required five or six staples, about half as many as the initial procedure. Our ordeal started exactly a month ago and I am hoping that things will be back to normal this weekend.

We have used the sedatives a couple times and they are either very strong or Monte is extremely sensitive because a half dose literally knocks him out. The new collars should do the trick, but that's what we thought last time. It's nice to have the insurance of "knockout drops".

As we tire of the whole ordeal, our pity for Monte increases and we have relaxed a few puppy rules. The last two nights, we broke a puppy raiser commandment and allowed Monte to sleep outside the crate - next to our bed on a pile of pillows. It was difficult to watch and listen to him banging around the crate with his conehead. It's the least we could do and it increases the chance that we might hear him eating the bandages.

Update 12/2: Monte seemed uncomfortable after we changed his bandages last night. He had a restless night and was whining in his crate at 3am. He shouldn't have to potty, but I took him out at 3:15 this morning. He did have to go, however the whining continued. Administered a small dose of sedative and pain medicine to help him sleep. In the new day's light, we could see that Monte's recovering paw was double the size of his right one. Another trip to the veterinarian and the diagnosis was either it was wrapped too tight and restricting the blood flow, but more likely it is an infection based on the oozing and re-stapling.

We almost made it three days without a vet visit and more expenses.
Next step will be to amputate the leg :-)

November 29, 2010


I guess that Monte figured that seven days with staples in his leg was enough. Last evening while we were sleeping, he was in his crate tearing off his bandage and ripping out every staple. We woke to a bloody crate with metal staples littering his blanket. We believe that they all remained external to Monte.

Completely embarrassed for not being able to take care of our puppy, we called the veterinarian to explain our predicament and request more assistance. I sheepishly dropped him off for his third set of staples in eight days. This will prolong our adventure, which started November 1st, at least another week, assuming all goes well.

All this damage was completed with his collars on, so he was retrofitted with a wider BiteNot collar to further restrict access to his paw. However, it's impossible to determine if it will work until he proves it won't. The vet sent us home with some additional ammunition, ten pills to sedate Monte, to be used at our discretion. It is tempting to keep him sedated until New Year's Eve, but are hoping that a nightly dose for the next week will be sufficient.

November 28, 2010


Never ones to pass up an opportunity to practice, we attended the graduation ceremony for our pal Harley and his human companion Olivia. Nothing out of the ordinary to report, all the puppies behaved themselves, so it was a good day.

Monte was wondering how old he has to be before we teach him the UP ON THE BED command - it's fairly cold on the floor in our house.

Homemade party favors were provided to all puppies in attendance, courtesy of an after school project. In addition to the decorations, each bag was filled with yummy treats (according to Monte as he intently sniffed each one).

At home, we took the opportunity to practice his LEAVE it command. Many thanks to the aspiring bakers and artists.



We have been reminded every morning that we were not watching Monte close enough when he ripped off his bandage and dislodged a few staples. We never found the bandage. Monte's explanation was that it had magically disappeared and the staples automatically popped out.

Our morning slumber has been interrupted, rather startling, by the unmistakable sound of dog's stomach preparing to let loose its contents all over the floor. On each occasion we have hurriedly rushed Monte outdoors or to the easiest to clean floor covering. We have succeeded in keeping the floor "clean", however, every time our famished puppy has instantly re-devoured the flotsam.

This morning after a repeat performance, I knew I had to do something. The best answer was Emesis, which I had never done before. So I checked a few internet sites to compare procedures and quantities before preparing my supplies.

No syringe handy; a plastic cup would have to do. My partner was still sleeping, so I prepared for battle alone. I poured the contents down Monte's throat with little resistance and five minutes later success. Everyone should sleep better this evening.

November 26, 2010


It was cold outside, but Monte found a comfortable and warm spot in the house today. An added bonus was the free entertainment. He watched two squirrels frolicking in the trees and fighting over a squash that our garden provided. He was occasionally distracted when a bird would fly by his line of sight. No barking - Monte was a good boy.

November 24, 2010

Split Second

Surviving the first three weeks without a mishap, our luck ran out. Giving Monte a break from wearing the cone and collar, when we are watching, worked fine until today. It only took a split second - the bandage was off and a staple removed. This required another unscheduled trip to the veterinarian for local anesthetic, one replacement staple, and two additional for good measure.

The rainy weather makes potty time even more fun. Along with removing the collars, we place Monte's foot in a plastic bag and tie it around the knee. He was uncomfortable for a moment, however after all that he's been through he quickly accepted the extra protection. He crinkles as he walks.

November 23, 2010

Repeat Performance

Since Monte enjoyed his surgery and rehabilitation and we relished the opportunity to play doctor, a repeat engagement was necessary. The second surgery on his left rear dew claw was completed on Monday without complication.

On Saturday, two days before surgery number two, I took Monte to the football field for a few minutes of free time. He couldn't do any damage to his leg and the wound wasn't going to heal. This was the first time being unleashed outdoors in three weeks. Ecstatic to be able to let loose, he raced back and forth on the grass with reckless abandon, sniffing and chasing everything and anything.

On Monday, the veterinarian removed a tad more of the bone and used staples to secure the wound this time. A brief discussion with Monte's breeder revealed that his eventual dew claw appeared more like an extra digit at birth, which confirms the veterinarian's assessment that there was a lot more bone than he expected. We saw the incision site for the first time this evening as we changed his dressing - much better. However, after a brief respite, the cone has returned.

In addition to ten to fourteen more days of rehab, we were informed that Monte has Demodectic Mange (mites, non-contagious). "It is generally a disease of young dogs that have inadequate or poorly developed immune systems or older dogs that are suffering from a suppressed immune system." His immune system was probably compromised by a combination of surgery, antibiotics, and rabies vaccination.

On Tuesday, since Monte has exercise restrictions, we had the unique experience of grocery shopping without a dog. It's so much easier, but always felt like we were forgetting something. Being two days before Thanksgiving, I wish that I had stayed home too.

November 19, 2010


Bad News: Monte's wound on his left rear paw has not been healing well. We made another trip to the veterinarian's office to see what could be done. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was not good and surgery is scheduled for Monday to reopen the wound and try again. Ten more days.

Good News: none

November 17, 2010

Half Full

Having a puppy with you 24x7 provides literally hundreds of training opportunities everyday. Whether we take the time to notice and provide the necessary positive/negative reinforcement is up to us. It's much easier to prevent a bad canine behavior from starting than reshaping the undesirable.

Generally our hard work and vigilance goes unnoticed. Others only see when our puppies misbehave or fail to do what we ask. That being said, we have had repeated positive experiences at the veterinarian's office.

Our vet, Dr. Mike, like to toss kibble to the dogs. Monte is a retriever, not a catcher, and the kibble always bounces off his nose ending up on the floor. Unlike other labs, Monte LEAVEs it alone, even after Dr. Mike told him he could GET IT. We told Dr. Mike that he won't eat it off the floor and he was impressed and he continues to test him each time we visit.

Those of you raising a "starving" Labrador know that they will chew on and eventually eat anything and everything. It seems as though they will explode before they stop eating, so getting a dog to resist a food temptation is the Holy Grail.

We began with the Puppy Choice game and he eventually got it. However, it doesn't work as well for food or food-like substances already on the ground. In this case, I see the glass as half full.

November 16, 2010


Day fourteen, the last ten stitches were finally removed from Monte's left rear paw and he received his last dose of antibiotics. Recovery should be complete, however, Monte's incision is not completely healed and we must continue our prevention efforts. We didn't plan for overtime.

Not sure who wants to discard the collars more, Monte or me. The apparatus must be removed every time we venture outdoors to potty and reassembled after we return. I guess that is a small price to pay. At least I don't have to wear it all day and night.

It has been two weeks of living with a "caged" eight month old high energy yellow lab. Fingers crossed that the infection clears up, Monte fully recovers without any long term damage, and life gets back to normal in a few days. I can't wait to watch Monte running and bounding through the (snow covered) field this weekend. He loves eating ice, so snow should be a treat.

Addendum: Speaking of a treat, Monte was put to work tonight to be the program dog to meet with a prospective puppyraising family. He was thrilled when the door to the house we arrived at opened and low and behold, another happy Lab appeared. Ike is a big handsome black lab, American just like Monte, but 2 years old. He welcomed Monte into his home but after a rousing doggy "hello," both were sorely disappointed this was not a play date, and they voiced their disappointment with heavy sighs and whimpers. They continually egged each other on; if Monte was laying down, Ike would throw a paw his way and if Ike was being good, Monte would cry--as if both of them were saying "let's ditch these humans and go for a good romp around the house!" However, both settled down and let the humans talk. Monte hopes to see more of Ike in the near future.

November 15, 2010

Fuzzy Ball

Dear Doug and Barb,

I had some "issues" this weekend you never warned me about. I was at Michael's on Saturday getting some yard with my Two-Legged Mom.

The yard aisle is a very difficult aisle to go down for us dogs! The wool yarn smells really interesting, plus it's round like a ball. I thought for sure Mom wanted me to grab some of those smelly balls!!! But, she kept making me take them out of my mouth.

Needless to say, TL-Mom made me spend a little extra time in the wool yarn aisle......... by myself!!! Sit, heel, stay, come - AND DON'T PICK UP THE YARN!!!

I caught on real quick! I had to, or she never would have let me leave the store!! I'd still be sitting in the yarn aisle.

That's a really tough aisle for us dogs - yarn balls smell really good!!!

This week, Mom said we're going to Menard's and looking at the Christmas Tree ornaments!!! But, I know.......I can't put any in my mouth!!

Christmas seems to be full of challenges for us dogs!!!

First the mall for three hours, then lunch out, then Michael's, then a bath at Animart!! It was a hard day!!

Paws and licks,

November 14, 2010

Game Time Decision

It was a big day for Montee. The Badger running back, Montee Ball, scored three touchdowns and rushed for 160 yards.

OccuPaws' Mantequilla, aka Monte, attended his first Badger football game, although the final decision wasn't made until game time. Still recovery from his dew claw surgery, one foot is slowly healing, we debated whether Monte should visit Camp Randall. The issue wasn't being out and about because he wouldn't be walking much. Our concern was the wet weather.

We took extra care to keep him dry and we all tolerated the moisture and cold as best we could. Taking his lead from the student section, Monte sat for the entire game. This may have had more to do with not wanting to remain in a DOWN on the cold wet cement - we will need to deal with this in the future. Other than that the biggest issue was keeping his water logged tail from spraying people when he was happy.

We were all happy to return to our warm abode and rest before the evening's hockey game.

Note: Looking for our nephew to thank him for the tickets, we met Todd Nelson, the UW Assistant Athletic Director. He offered the option to exchange our seats for a dry location with more "puppy room". We thanked him for the offer and for painting one of the dog bowls that was auctioned last weekend.

November 12, 2010

Stitch in Time...

Well, this was trip #2 to the vet this morning to get Monte's sutures out of his legs. Maybe the 3rd time will be the charm...We knew it was probably not going to be good news because he started limping on his back left leg late last night, and that incision was still puffy and red. So, he is now on another 10 days of antibiotics, 4 pills a day. We will go back on Monday and hopefully the rest of the stitches will come out. Stitches were removed from the right leg. For these short followup visits, the vet is not charging us, so we are not ringing up a bunch of bills. We still have not counted the number of stitches, and he came home with both legs bandaged again today since it is so wet and rainy outside, but there are a lot more than I thought there would be, maybe 8-9 per leg.

To Monte's credit, we know he is not thrilled getting his cervical collar and flying saucer put on, but he will stand there patiently while you get him geared up. He's thrilled when we give him a break and take it all off. He still has no idea how big his head is with that on and today literally chopped one of my plants in half when he shook his head too close to it! Just like that, he hit the stem just right and 2/3 of the plant hit the floor. What can you do?

November 10, 2010

Bad with the Good

Bad News: We will not be attending the final four hour Community Day event at the Boston Store.
Good News: We will be at Camp Randall watching the Badger football team - free tickets.

Bad News: After checking the wounds, our vet decided to postpone the removal of Monte's dew claw stitches.
Good News: The vet was not overly concerned with the "puffy" wound site on Monte's left rear paw - we thought it might be infected.

Bad News: We have to keep Monte away from his bandages for a few more days.
Good News: Dr. Boyle rubbed some antiperspirant on the bandages to offer a bitter taste when Monte licks, which worked immediately.

Bad News: The antiperspirant's effectiveness was short-lived, Monte has to continue wearing the cone.
Good News: He doesn't fight having the BiteNot and Elizabethan collar put around his neck or over his head.

Bad News: Monte's exercise has been reduced significantly.
Good News: It allows more time for Monte's second favorite activity, cradling - massage and paw rubs.

November 8, 2010

Respite Over

Monte's week of vacation has officially ended. Since his neutering last Monday we have been a little lax with our training. We may have felt a bit sorry for the boy (and still do since his dew claws have not healed) and let some things slide.

Today, we reintroduced the concept of HEELing on our walk, albeit a short one, and managed to find time for some grooming practice. He appreciated the brushing since it allowed him to be free of the collar contraptions. To supplement the walks around the block, we included a few shopping trip. We spent some additional time working on STAY.

The bandages were removed from his rear paws on Sunday and the stitches are scheduled to be removed on Wednesday. If they last that long, a couple are already coming undone. So I re-wrapped the paws hoping to keep the wound tight as long as possible/needed. Six days to go.

November 7, 2010


It was Monte's first day back at work and it began with a battle with his nemesis, Gordy. The battlefield was an event to sell Community Day coupon books at the entrance to the Boston Store. Who would sell the most coupon books? The adorable five-month old puppy and sorority girl versus the eight-month old bandaged puppy with his aged sales averse puppy raiser.

Having been cooped up since Monday, I was concerned that he might suffer from an overabundance of energy, but he acted normally as we greeted persons from eight months to eighty years.
To reiterate, these events are about more than selling $5 coupon books. These events provide an opportunity to promote the organization and provide a puppy fix for dog loving shoppers.

Yesterday was a special day, as Monte and I met three people who had recently said a final Good-Bye to their canine companion. Although difficult, each said that puppies were the best medicine to help them through the grieving process.

Before we knew it our two hour stint was complete and we had to vacate the premises. Next week we get four hours :-)

After a quick bite to eat, off to Francesca's first birthday party. The birthday girl appeared to enjoy the plastic bottle more than the sixty pound furry canine with teeth. With the exception of continually removing his birthday hat, Monte was on his best behavior.

The results of the showdown are still pending, I think I know who won.

November 5, 2010


Our ailing puppy was left home alone today in favor of a cute cuddly young puppy - the ultimate betrayal.

Instead of taking a risk on a potentially stir crazy canine, Lisa opted to share the spotlight with Gordy, the new and improved yellow lab. He accompanied her to a volunteer recognition program at UW Hospital. Oh, Mark and Barb were present also, but Gordy was the star of the show and by the end of the event everyone knew his name.

We came home to find Monte was even more depressed after his rejection. He barely noticed us as we entered the bedroom, where he has been sleeping since his surgery.

Nine days to go.

November 4, 2010

Hold It

Although Monte doesn't like the cone, he has found it useful for holding his toys when he gets tired. It works well because if they don't hit the ground then they don't get lost beneath the plastic.

Monte's recovery is progressing as expected, no issues yet. Based on doctor's advice, we have initiated short walks around the block which allows him more time without the contraptions. It's like being out of restraints.

We have also noticed that Monte is asking to go outside potty more often than normal. Our first thought was the medicine was the cause. However, it turns out that he doesn't always have to potty. It seems that he has figured out our procedure which involves removing the collars before going out. More time outside equals less time in confinement.

Not to be outwitted, we have started to ignore his requests. My guess is that it will not be the last time he outsmarts us.

November 3, 2010


We woke up this morning to find half of Monte's blue bandage missing. No sign of it anywhere. Apparently, our lean, lanky canine turned contortionist was hungry and found a way to nibble on his right rear ankle. Luckily he didn't reach the sutured incision.

Fortunately, he had a follow-up visit with the veterinarian to check the site and change the dressing. Doctor Mike and Bethany (Vet Tech) both remarked at Monte's energy level as they attempted to restrain him to remove the old bandages and for inspection. Everything looked good at all three surgical sites, Monte's feet are wrapped for protection, and we came home with reinforcement, an additional BiteNot Collar.

It turns out that neither the Elizabethan collar nor BiteNot collar were individually sufficient to keep our Houdini from nibbling his own toes. He now has to wear both collars - more torture.

He is surprisingly calm when wearing the collars around the house. It may be the extra weight, the restraint, or embarrassment. I can sense the energy build-up when the collars are removed; he is ready to run. Eleven days to go.

November 2, 2010

Cone-y Dog

In honor of Monte's ordeal we had coney dogs for dinner this evening. He did not appreciate the pun as he struggled to find the raw carrot that fell from his mouth and is now hidden by the Elizabethan collar.

We don't make him wear the collar all the time. It comes off for potty breaks, because he will not relieve himself when wearing the collar. The only other times that he can be trusted not to lick or nibble the bandages is when he is in our arms snuggling/cradling or eating. Surprising to me, he didn't have any trouble drinking.

The first time we placed the collar was an ordeal. Monte wanted nothing to do with "The Cone", but now he grudgingly accepts it (he is very obedient). After twenty-four hours, he has adjusted quite well and rarely bumps into things anymore. However, there are a few things that he still has trouble with. We have to guide him into the crate and he will sometimes lose a toy or bone under the collar - he gets very frustrated because he can see it through the plastic collar.

It's only day two and our high energy puppy is already stir crazy. In addition to pain pills, we could have used a week's worth of sedatives. Only twelve more days.

November 1, 2010


For his behavior at the assisted living facility in Platteville on Sunday, Monte earned a day at the vet's office today. He had three outbursts: scared by a balloon, walker, and music. Maybe this will teach him to be quiet :-)

He had to, or we chose to, have him neutered and have his rear dew claws removed. He will be resting for the next few days and officially on hiatus from OccuPaws activities.

After the surgeries, as Monte was just waking up the clinic called with an update. Monte was howling in the background. Pain, lonely, and scared? He hardly wagged his tail when he first saw me and then walked smack into the side of the car before I could get the door opened. Home, Sweet, Home. He's out like a light now. Must have been some good drugs.

The most difficult part will be keeping him immobile for a few days and away from the bandages. Thus the cone head, which apparently takes some time to get used to. Monte spent the first half hour trying to shake it loose and knocking into things. After he accepted the new attachment, he was still knocking into things because he has no peripheral vision. Hopefully we can avoid any additional injuries.

More Glow

As we were sharing our puppy raiser stories with customers at the mall, we were accosted by our two young goddaughters. They were in town, parents in tow, for Badger hockey games and were as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Their reason for being in the mall was miniature golf, not regular but Glow In the Dark, which apparently was our theme for the week.

Having four legs and no thumbs, Monte could not participate. Although he tried to help retrieve the errant shots which bounded out of bounds in his direction. It was a challenge for him to resist the urge to chase the rolling, glowing orbs.

Unfortunately, Monte had received a bath in the morning to prepare for the fundraiser. This washed out his blue hair dye, otherwise we would have had visual proof that we were telling the truth.

Hockey Note: Monte attended the Women's game on Friday and Men's game on Saturday and is getting more comfortable with the fog horn. He slept through most of the third period and was unfazed by the costumed humans.

October 31, 2010

Raising Funds

As a puppy raiser for a young non-profit, our first obligation is to raise an obedient and confident puppy. Our second job is fund raising and promoting OccuPaws. This week Monte attended three fund raising events at HuHot, Ruffin' It Resort, and Boston Store. Some view these events as a necessary evil to fund our cause, but in my view these events serve a dual role by providing opportunities to work our puppies in social situations. We attend as many as we possibly can.

The event/party at Ruffin' It Resort this week was different than most because along with the usual interactions with humans, we practiced canine interactions - costumed canines. Thirty minutes before the event, we made a quick stop for a dog costume. Looking for a halo or devil horns (more appropriate), we found none. We haphazardly selected some blue hair dye, glow in the dark, and painted spots on Monte; the dye wasn't even dry before we left the house. As expected the contest was held in a well-lit environment and Monte simply looked like he dislodged a gallon of blue paint from a shelf, splattering him as it hit the ground.

Needless to say, Monte did not win any prize for the costume contest, however, he excelled at bobbing for hot dogs. It took him about a second to retrieve the sausage from the bottom of the bowl. Casey, on the other hand, cautiously moved the hot dog to the surface before gracefully retrieving it, always the lady.

One of our favorite events is "selling" Bon-Ton coupon books for Community Day. Weeks prior to the sale, we are allowed to "sell" coupons at the store entrance. I place the "sell" in quotes because my objectives are to share a smile petting puppies and be an ambassador for OccuPaws by talk about OccuPaws and explaining puppy raising. With every interaction we achieve these objectives and if we sell a coupon book even better.

Two hours disappear in the blink of an eye. It's so much fun, I would do this all day if they would let us.

October 30, 2010

Reader Participation

I just couldn't resist including this photo in the blog, didn't have anything interesting or clever to say about.

If you look closely you can see the blue dye from our failed attempt at a Halloween costume. The room was dark and I thought the flash would augment the glow instead of hiding it.

This is your chance to blog. Please add a comment with a more interesting caption or story to accompany this photo.

Have Fun, Be Creative!!

October 28, 2010


Our first puppy, Buddy, attended a Bruce Springsteen concert in Chicago. Then about a year later, Echo attended a concert on the lakefront in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, Bruce has not been on tour recently, however, "Bruce in the USA", a tribute band was in Madison on Wednesday night.

Monte couldn't tell the difference and tolerated the crazy humans who were dancing around him and making noise. It was a tough challenge for the ever vigilant young puppy that sees the slightest movement and hears the faintest sound.

Having not prepared him for the experience with a long walk to tire him out, he was only mildly distracted by the excitement and energy. The first few rounds of applause and the higher pitch of the saxophone were the only sounds that caused a reaction. And after the show he received some praise and affection from the audience and owner of the Majestic.

October 27, 2010


You would think that we had installed an ice rink the past week. Monte has been skating around corners the last few days. It started this weekend at my parents house. Not sure what happened but he is having trouble maneuvering on the wood floors. He will cautiously move from rug to rug to carpet. When turning on the wood he looks like Fred Flintstone powering his car with his feet moving a hundred miles an hour and he's going nowhere.

It is becoming a phobia, so we need to work through this quickly. He seems to understand that he just needs to slow down, but when he forgets and slips a bit, then he panics and becomes Bambi on ice.

October 25, 2010

Weekend Tour

Monte's tour of health care facilities didn't have a good beginning. He helped move Lisa's mom into an assisted living apartment on Friday. The result was one barking episode and a damaged vest; he chewed one of the straps. We had the unenviable task of requesting a new vest because we weren't watching our puppy. Hopefully our resident seamstress can make the necessary repair. Maybe we should have asked for a used one until he completes his second teething cycle.

Saturday began with a long early morning walk in preparation for the afternoon's event. It didn't help as Monte napped until noon and was raring to go. We stopped for a quick ice cream to practice table manners. Good manners with the exception of a newly acquired bad habit. Our little "angel" never licked the floor when dining until he observed this behavior from naughty Harley a few weeks ago.

We arrived at the bowling alley for the annual OccuPaws fundraiser, completely forgetting that it was a costume party. Monte noticing our disappointment, sans costume, he imitated a spoiled brat, whining and crying because he wasn't allowed to play with balls and pins. A very long embarrassing day.

The one bright spot was meeting one of Monte's best friends. The boy said that Monte gives him kisses. Lisa and I both looked at each other trying to put a name with a face. We meet so many people, but we usually recognize fans of our puppy. It turns out that Bennett reads the blog and had never met Monte in person. And we didn't get a photo for the blog - sorry our camera battery needs to be replaced.

The weekend tour wrapped up with two more health care visits: an assisted living apartment and nursing home in Appleton to visit my grandmothers. Monte made a few unscheduled stops to greet a few residents as we walked through the hospice wing. He seems to be able to control/adapt his energy to the person he meets.

October 21, 2010

Dinner Out

Monte's development in public dining situations has been hampered by our limited use of restaurants this summer. So add another work item to our puppy raising list, which we jump started this week.
The first opportunity took place after our last outdoor puppy class of the year. It helps to have a tired puppy when initiating a puppy's restaurant visits. Our entire puppy class took over Fins restaurant in Edgerton. Monte and his canine companions behaved well, without incident.

The following night, we ventured into Madison to dine with Anne, Matt, and Frannie. As Monte relaxed tableside, he kept one eye focused on Frannie, who turned one next week. Puppies have a symbiotic relationship with babies; the puppy endures poking and prodding in return for bits of food that fall or are tossed from the highchair.

As food rained down from the heavens, I had to remind Monte to LEAVE IT alone. He does pretty well with constant reminders. My task of providing direction was completed with only one miscue where Monte lunged to get a rice puff before I was able to correct him. Eventually he either got bored or resigned himself to the fact that I was not going to fail twice and he stretched out and rested.

October 19, 2010

California Journey

For the past 13 months, C.H. Bird has had a very special student in Sonny, a black-lab puppy on his way to a guide dog position.

View Sonny's Story

Ice Time

Although Monte and I attended a Badger hockey scrimmage a few weeks ago, Sunday was his first real game. We arrived extra early to acclimate to the new surroundings and test the new carry in policy.

Upon entering the Kohl Center, we found our bag of puppy supplies was a tad over the 8" x 11" size limit for bags. The staff has always been accomodating and we were allowed to bring it in. My argument is that the bag is the equivalent of a diaper bag, with less restrictions.

We walked the halls and stairwells for an hour before the game. Our canine companion was continually distracted by the new sights, smells, and sounds. He was in a constant state of alert.

As mentioned before, Monte enjoys watching the action on the ice. This may have more to do with prey drive than an affinity toward hockey.

He cries when he can't get to action; verbal corrections seemed adequate. It took him about one period to settle in and relax. However, any time the crowd made noise or a siren/horn sounded, Monte popped up to see what all the fuss was about. My guess is that after six more months of hockey adventures, he will sleep through the crowd noise, but probably not the fog horn.

October 18, 2010


As previously mentioned, we were scheduled to attend a birthday party at the zoo. Our concerns were regarding Monte's response to the many different animals. His experience at the zoo was fraught with challenges which he handled well. The only unacceptable behavior at the zoo was barking at the sea lions. They barked first.

Of course the many birds (geese, ducks, swans, flamingos) caught Monte's attention and required mild corrections. One of the giraffes was especially interested in the canine visitor and followed us as we walked past and stooped as low as it could to get a closer view or better whiff.

At the party before the zoo, Monte performed a magic trick. He turned a six foot leash into three two foot sections and escaped from under the table. We broke a rule, and this is why. Fortunately, he didn't want to go anyplace; he was just bored and needed something to chew on.

October 17, 2010


Hey, it's Hailey again. Remember how I was telling you how my mom had a friend who took me running and I loved it? Well, today I went running with my mom, and it was super fun. We've actually been running a few times, but sometimes she leaves me home because I "run too fast". This morning, we took a little bus ride to the far side of town. It wasn't our usual route, but I still remembered where to get off: "University at Park". That's where we always get off. So I got up to go, and my mom told me I had to stay. Which I thought was a little funny, but, hey, I'm always up for an adventure. We ended up somewhere I'd never been before. There were lots of squirrels and dogs, and then lots of people there...apparently it was the GSA for Safe Schools annual run...I've never been on an official run before. My mom made me carry all of the stuff from her pockets in my vest, which was cool, because she carried some dog kibble for me.
Anyway, I was off with a bang, but my mom told me we had to run slow to conserve energy. After about two miles we finally got into agreement about what a reasonable pace was. We just ran the 5K. I could have gone further, but my silly mom doesn't like to run very far. Anyways, lots of people thought I was cute, and I had tons of fun. People keep telling me how little I am, and think I'm way younger than I really am...I haven't told them yet that there are perks to staying little... like I have lots of room in my crate, which Promise grew out of. And sometimes when my mom watches movies, she picks me up and puts me on her lap and we snuggle. Big dogs don't get to do that.
I'm hoping my mom lets me keep running with her because it's lots of fun. I mean, I like walking too, a lot, but running is special because I don't get to do it much. Well, I'm totally zonked from my morning. Time for a long afternoon nap.

October 15, 2010

Square Peg

At times it appears as though our seven month old puppy, Monte, is the proverbial "square peg" trying to fit in the round hole. Our most recent cause for concern is his frenzied behavior when encountering other species - fowl in particular.

At the CSA farm this week we visited the chickens and turkeys and Monte would not calm down. He would remain stationary and not attack, but in a constant state of alert. His body was literally shaking and he was continually crying to be let loose. He should get better with more exposure, but how much? We will be near the zoo this weekend, so that will provide another test.

Our long, lanky boy is filling out a bit, but he is definitely built to move, and move quickly. Once a week, we take him to a secure field to let him run free. Monte loves to run. He seemingly runs with no other purpose than to see how fast he can go. I have never seen him happier, as he races back to check in with us and sprint away after receiving a pat on back and a "Good Dog".

We keep waiting for the trainers to make the call that it might be better for Monte to pursue a different career choice - maybe as a racing greyhound, which he resembles. However, the night following the chicken episode was training class and Monte, although not the greatest STAYer, excels at pivots and getting into the proper HEEL position. So eager to please, he occasionally leaps backwards into the air, twisting his body to position himself at my side. Then he looks up and returns my smile.

We need to remember that he is still young and most Labrador are square pegs.

October 13, 2010

Babies R Us

Roxie delivered 9 perfect little pups today to the OccuPaws family. 5 Boys and 4 girls averaging about 13 oz each. She started at 10:25 this morning and finished up tonight at 5:05...so nice of her to do this in the day time.

No help was needed except the last 2 - they were born 2 minutes apart. More information on Facebook.

October 8, 2010


Well Monte and I failed to pass the CGC test last night. We knew it might be a long shot, he has only just barely turned 7 months old, and he has not had his "big boy" surgery yet, so lots of extra hormones and a puppy brain are just enough to make his behavior inconsistent. Thursday was just not his night, but I was still disappointed with a capital D. We had worked so hard, I mean, sooooo hard! I tested him in different situations, with different dogs, loose leash heeling, outside, inside, and I went into the test feeling confident. I had even asked Jeff to stay home so that Monte could not use him as a distraction. I so wanted to be the one who got Monte through the test successfully because he and I have struggled lately. He is becoming bigger and stronger and defiant, and I'm trying hard not to lose confidence in my ability to train him. He failed the dog distraction test, something that has been his biggest challenge. Then there was the simple stay, something totally unexpected, on my way back to him, he stood up...another strike. Darn! I must have looked outwardly dejected because Doug came over and sat beside me and gave me a nice fatherly pep talk, and it helped me put things in perspective.

So, we need to take what this little test showed us and build on it. It is true that each dog we raise teaches us something, and Monte is not allowing me to get too complacent, he's keeping me on my toes and keeping me sharp. I have to remember how much he actually has improved in just a week, and he is certainly leaps and bounds ahead of where he was 4 months ago! We are going to soak up every last bit of training we can get before Doug & Caroline head back to sunny CA, then Monte will have his surgery, and though it is sometimes a myth that it will do much to "settle" him down, it certainly cannot hurt (easy for me to say).

October 4, 2010

Picture Perfect

We had to make a dog food run on Sunday, so we stopped in to see Gordy who was greeting people at Mounds. As his first shift was ending, we were able to provide his transportation to his second engagement at Culver's. Cute puppies are in high demand.

Monte and Gordy met their pack members for lunch and we all practiced obedience while greeting the friendly customers. Photo opportunities with canines is never easy, but especially difficult with younger pups. View some outtakes here.

Monday night was the first of three training classes this week. Tonight's class was only for those needing extra work for the CGC test. It wasn't explicitly said, but it was clear that the training was more for the puppy raisers than the puppies. After working through greetings with four "strange" dogs, the puppies and raisers were performing adequately. Monte has a 50-50 chance of passing the test on Thursday.

October 2, 2010


It has been quite some time since we were able to go to the Dog Den for playtime. Monte was excited as we pulled into the parking, but he was soon disappointed. No Play for him. I observed an hour of doggie playtime while Monte sat calmly, practicing greeting dogs when they approached. After the session we practiced a few CGC style greetings with trainer Deb.

Lisa has been ill for the last couple days, so Monte and I stopped for some bakery on the way home, as she requested. Monte was riding shotgun and I tested him by placing the box of muffins on the seat in front of him. He looked at me, then the muffins, back at me, then the muffins, a heavy sigh as he dropped to the floor.

Tonight was hockey night; Monte's first exposure and he endured five periods. The men's team scrimmaged, which was much closer than the women's game. Scrimmage sounds so much better than practice. So from now on Monte and I will be scrimmaging instead of practicing.

After two periods of the women's game, Monte had become accustomed to the fog horn. It still startles him, but not panicky. Our biggest challenge was getting Monte to DOWN quietly. He wanted to watch the action on the ice and cried when he could not participate. When DOWN, he would pop up every time the crowd cheered to see what he had missed.

No canine distractions, so we concentrated on greeting humans and I did a very good job of training my humans to reinforce good puppy behavior - stop petting when Monte stops sitting. Note: rules are applied much better by adult humans. Correction, we did see a real guide dog and Monte was only mildly interested.

October 1, 2010

CGC Practice

There is always something to be working on when you have a guide dog puppy. At OccuPaws training class we did a practice Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. We have never had any issues getting a dog through the ten steps.

Before the practice, I knew that Monte would have an issue with the dog to dog greeting. We have been working on this a little and I gave him a 50% chance to get through it - until I saw the other dog. It was a carbon copy of Monte's neighborhood nemesis, a small white dog. He eagerly greets other dogs, but this was prey. No way would he pass.

He didn't fail to meet my expectations. Our puppy failed this task miserably and he wouldn't sit still when greeting a stranger. We have a week to whip him into shape before the official test. The trainers in their infinite wisdom have scheduled a remedial session for Monte.

This evening we practiced ignoring other dogs as they walked past. I believe that I can get him to pass the CGC test. Even if we pass the test next week, Monte's puppy raisers will need to be diligent in calmly handling greeting for the next couple of months until it becomes a habit.

Our goal is not to pass the CGC test, but to raise a well balanced, well-behaved dog.

September 29, 2010

Beautiful Day

The video and photos of Banjo's graduation are now available: Video or Photos.

Today was such a beautiful day, I decided to "play hooky". Monte and I started our day with a long walk to the park. It wasn't long distance wise, but time wise. We stopped and every street corner to practice our pivots. We crossed the street and did some more. By the time we arrived at the park we were dizzy from all that turning. His reward was some off leash time before we repeated our exercises on the way home with the addition of "Tree Circles".

At home Monte relaxed outside while I did some yard work. He passed the test; he remained silent and calmly watched me work.

Wednesday means a trip to the farm to visit his friends: two-legged and four-legged. The pigs initially ignored us because they were busy rutting. While we waited for them to finish their dinner, Monte was annoited with love by two young humans who have seen him mature over the last four months.

Eventually the swine finished eating and greeted their canine pal.