Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

August 30, 2010

Comfortable Shoes

How we spent a dog-less weekend? At the Chicagoland Race track with the Indy Racing League and our favorite driver, Helio Castroneves -- note the large diamond Indy ring. Unfortunately, Helio did not win the Chicago race on Sat, but Jeff was happy seeing the #18 Kyle Busch truck win the race the night before.

Anyway, since this is a "puppy blog," we better include some things about the dogs, even though we have a free (& already too quiet!) week as Monte is away at "camp." Thurs at OGDA class after a whirlwind power talk with Doug left my head swimming, I got a special treat. Since it was Jeff's night to work Monte, I got to work...Banjo! It was like putting on a familiar comfortable pair of shoes! It was great to see him wag his tail and be excited to recognize me & Jeff. His current training partner, the effervescent pre-teen Sophia, was working her regular partner Timber for the night so it all worked out well. Interestingly, after the initial happy greeting, Banjo went through class like a pro (side note, the look on Jacob's face when Jeff told him he could do the recall exercise with Banjo as his sister Sophia was busy with Timber was so heartwarming; he was all smiles & he did well!!), but I noticed Banjo kept one watchful eye on Sophia every chance he got (not distracted just observant), and when he would get near her, he would wag his tail and nudge her as if to say "You OK?...I'm right here if you need me...," but he kept focused on my commands, too.

He has definitely taken on this new phase in training with gusto. I guess anyone who has ever chosen to live with a dog will tell you companionship is in their DNA, but it seems when there is a child involved, these dogs instantly mature and develop extra unimaginable levels of devotion and perception. Jeff and I both remarked how much Banjo has matured in a couple of months. It was very easy to hand the leash back over to Sophia's family at the end of class; right now, he is where he is meant to be.

Monte went with Doug and Caroline on Thurs night, and Fri AM we left on our trip, so today is our first "routine" day without a dog, and something definitely feels like it is missing around here! It gives me time to have a relatively dog hair-free house (or I can make myself believe that!)and no little paw prints on the wood floor for a while anyway. Hope he is having fun...and as C always says, remember to hug the dogs!

August 29, 2010


Hey! It's Dayton again.

Yesterday, a bunch of us headed down to Fin's, and we got to see the Duckies race! I wish they would have let us puppies race in the river instead, but alas, I don't get my way, I guess. I'm really long, and I got long legs, so I think I could outswim all those retrievers! Who cares if they're water dogs by nature and I'm not, I'm going to be massive, and I've got speed!

My person says we need to thank the good folks at Fin's lots and lots, because they did a lot of work to make sure that dogs like me can graduate and make it in the big world as guide dogs like Gilbert, Dale, Divit and all the others.

I was really good, and I ignored hotdogs, other dogs, little kids and so much more. My person kept telling me how proud of me she is, so I had to embarrass her once by barking.

I had a great time, though, and I hope to be there again next year to collect another bandana and try to convince them I should race or retrieve the ducks.

Well, I guess it's time for bed. I'm tired. It was hot out there today!

August 27, 2010


After three and a half years of puppy raising, I still learn something at every training class. Last night I was having trouble getting Monte to BACK up. We have worked on it a few times, but not consistently because I wasn't seeing much result.

My problem was that I expected Monte to just move backward as I did. He would turn his body toward me and walk sideways. Once our trainer showed me where to position myself and to shorten up on the leash, positive results were instantaneous and Monte heartily accepted his reward. My reward was learning a new trick. An old dog can still learn a few tricks.

After class we came home, exited the car, but something didn't feel right. The house is eerily quiet. Monte wasn't there. He will be spending some time with the trainer for behavioral modification. He occasionally doesn't play nice and we have limited exposure to puppies to play, so Monte is vacationing at "Camp Douglas" with their pack. It's only been twelve hours, so we still find ourselves looking for "our" dog in his usual locations.

August 25, 2010

Update from Alice

Hi, everyone. I finally have earned some computer time. I have been in my new home for almost three weeks now and am adjusting well. I am 12 weeks old. I get put to bed at night around 10:00 and sleep until 6:00. My mom said she can live with this.
We have been going for more walks lately. I really like them now but they seem to keep getting longer and I get tired. Just when I think I know where we are going, she changes the route. We keep doing new things with words like "heal" and "sit" and "wait" and now, "stay." I've quickly learned that if I do what she wants me to do, I get a treat and happy pats and a very happy mom. (I think I learned this before the teenagers in this house. Haha).
I still am having some accidents in the house but I go outside more than inside. I like going outside now that it's not so hot. Jeff, the big dog, has taught me how to find pears in the backyard and we get one every morning. They are yummy!

My mom has taught me a new game. She uses a clicker and if I don't touch the treat in her hand or on the floor, she clicks and give me a treat. Easy! Why bother grabbing the treat when I'll get one anyway. Sometimes we play a game that if I touch her hand, she clicks and gives me a treat. Easy, again! I hope she challenges me more soon. I like this learning stuff! She said I have to learn alot because I have a big job ahead of me.
That's all for now. Love, Alice

August 23, 2010

Football Fun Day/Reunion

Sunday afternoon we spent the day at Camp Randall getting to know the football team up close and personal. It was billed as a family "Fun Day".

However, Monte was bored.

He did seem to enjoy the attention from players Pat Muldoon, Jeff Duckworth and Chase Hammond. Our nephew Scott has been interning all summer with the UW football team's strength and conditioning dept & staying with us, and we got a nice meet and greet with his burly bosses before they all had to rush off for the official team picture. The bright sun made it difficult to stay out on the artificial turf too long for Monte's tender paws, so we retreated to the shade now and then for water and a break from the heat.

As we were meandering around on the field, one of the Badgers Spirit Squad approached us admiring Monte and asked how old he was. Jenna, had seen Monte as we walked around and could not get over how much he looked like her dog, Miley. Then we found out it was for VERY good reason. In comparing notes on the 2 pups, it turns out not only that both puppies came from the same kennel, Neverest Labs in Fox Lake, they are from the same litter! A reunion of sorts, Mr. Lime meets the owner of one of his sisters, Miss Blue. Pretty funny that both pups names start with "M" too! Who would have thought in a crowd like that, Monte would run into family!?

So it was a nice afternoon. The football team appears to be in great shape and Monte had a chance to meet more adoring fans (just don't tell him they were football fans, not Monte fans), and we got nothing but compliments all day on what a good boy he was. One dad even remarked that Monte may be more popular than Bucky--I doubt that,but it was nice to hear!

On vacation.

Hello, it's Hailey! I just got back from vacation. I wasn't sure what my people were up to when the put lots of stuff in the car and we went for a really long ride, but when we got out, I didn't recognize where we were. There were lots of cars and busses and bikes, and nothing smelled the same. I had to sleep in a squishy crate, and eat out of a funny bowl, and I even had to wear my vest to go outside to go potty. But my people did take of my vest when we were walking in some of the parks, so I got to romp around.

We went to see what my people call baseball. I guess it was fun. On the way in, my people were in a rush and could only find the escalators. But I can't ride escalators because I don't want to get my toesies caught, so my mom carried me on the escalators. I wasn't to big on that. There were fireworks at the game because our team won. I'd never seen them before, but the sparkling in the sky was pretty neat.

I also went to an art museum. I enjoyed most of it. There was art outside (that was pretty cool). And then my mom and I ran around on the grass and had lots of fun, and when we went inside, I got to lay down on the cool floor. But there was one exhibit that I didn't like. There was a piece of shiny, crinkly foil on the ground, and it was big, and it MOVED! I barked at it once, to warn my mom, but she wasn't too happy about that and corrected me. Oops. After going up close to see it, I ignored it.

Anyway, now I'm home, and sleeping. Vacation is a lot of work.

August 21, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice.

With limited opportunities to work on Monte's dog-dog interactions, we focused on night walks and traffic noises. Having surpassed the five month mark, he is more defiant and curious. However, his confidence lags a bit and we have had to make friends with a few shadowy figures the last few evenings: garbage can, mail box, and tree branch . He seems less distracted by passing vehicles, so our efforts on traffic exposure seem to be working. You never know though, sometimes it's one step forward two steps back

Saturday we made a trip to Neenah. Monte explored a different house and visited Grandma at assisted living. No issues at the house and he enjoyed his "new" toys. He was exposed to one of his high distraction items at the assisted living site, wheels. He did remarkably well with wheelchairs and walked side-by-side with a walker.

The final test on Saturday was a field of birds. As we took our evening stroll, the football field next to my old high school completely covered with 300+ white gulls, most scavenging on the ground for food and a few in flight, hovering. As we approached Monte was alerted by the movement as the birds sensing our presence retreated a few yards away. Monte remained calm and focused while on the flat collar. He earned his dinner.

August 19, 2010

Dog-on-Dog Interaction

OccuPaws class this week was designed specifically with Monte in mind. The unstated purpose was to teach the playground bully some manners. All our puppies participated.

The first test was with a stuffed animal, which resembled a real black dog. Every puppy had an opportunity to meet the strange dog. Some were afraid and hackled, others (Monte) were more dominant and boldly approached, and some approached very politely with a proper "Hello".This gave the instructors a good indication of each dog's style.

The second test was dog-on-dog interaction to see how each puppy reacts to one of their own. Behavior was similar to how each reacted with the fake dog, but this time there was feedback. Monte showed his true colors and the bully received a couple corrections.

I have to give him credit though, he is a quick learner. His behavior improved almost immediately. One time two other puppies were getting a tad rough, Monte looked up and walked away. Monte did not want/need anymore corrections. After a few more instances/corrections, he wanted out. He tried to jump the four foot tall fence, almost succeeding on one occasion.

Monte remained in the exercise while all the other dogs were cycled through for brief stints. Monte received the full treatment and eventually settled down to enjoy playtime. Now it is our job to reinforce the good behavior and administer corrections to help him generalize the learning.

August 18, 2010

Find Xiaohong’s, Find Home

Hi, it is Sophia again.

Almost every day, Banjo and I walk to and from one of my best friend’s house. Her name is Xiaohong. She lives about 3 blocks from my house. We love lots of the same things, like swimming, ice cream and dogs!

Our neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, so Banjo takes me on the left side of the street when we go to her house. He knows the way there—all I have to say is “Find Xiaohong’s” and he goes! Now Banjo goes around any parked cars without stopping, and then goes right back to the curb.

When I am ready to come home, I tell Banjo “Find home.” He takes me home really fast! Sometimes he whines a little if he sees another dog, but usually he is very good.

My mom says the other night I started skipping while Banjo was walking me home. She says he paused and looked up at me. He saw that I was fine and we kept right on moving. My mom thinks OccuPaws dogs are amazing. I think so, too.


August 17, 2010

Real World

Saturday was the Hogs for Guide Dogs motorcycle scavenger hunt at Quaker Steak and Lube. Most of the OccuPaws puppies attended and it was a great day for training. There were other dogs, humans, loud noises, and food on the floor. Monte enjoyed playing with the new yellow puppies, but wasn't sure why we had to chase the two little humans around all day when a leash would prove effective.

After the event, Monte, already exhausted, was only mildly interested in meeting baby Frannie. And she kept her distance from the furry beast. The worst part for Monte was another late dinner.

Monday night we experienced the worst/best training class at The Dog Den. Monte was not on his best behavior due to the frenzy of activity and eight excited puppies. The class provides a very different, more challenging, environment from the usual OccuPaws class where dogs are more calm. Monte feeds off the energy and literally went head over heels performing a basic recall. Then I didn't grab his leash while attempting to correct his position and he bolted to go play with the other puppies that were practicing their recalls.

Nothing like the real world to let you know how puppy training is progressing. We have a lot of work to do and thankfully another twelve months to fine tune Monte's behavior. It's good to see the real puppy occassionally, not a Stepford Dog.

August 13, 2010

Test Drive

I got a chance to take the "Cadillac" (aka Promise) for a test drive today...more like stepping up into the saddle of a race horse, if you ask me! We did a little Juno work (using the harness minus the dog), then it was time to "saddle up" Promise and give me the reins--have you have ever seen a cartoon where the horse takes off with its rider flying out of the saddle leaving the rider holding on for dear life with his feet flying wildly in the air behind him?--that's pretty much how it initially felt when Promise took off "out of the gates" like she was charging for the Triple Crown. My 2 awkward, blindfolded feet were no match for her 4 feet and good eyes! I managed to stay on my feet, but thank goodness Caroline works out and could keep up with Promise and then showed me how to slow her down a bit, once I caught my breath.

It takes a while to put enough trust in her to follow her when she makes a slight change in course, let her step off the curb first and if she slows down, you slow down. It is a continual partnership, though. She takes her verbal and body language cues from her partner, and it is ever so easy to get disoriented. As we took a break in the hospital lobby, I actually assumed Doug was standing beside me as we talked. It wasn't until Caroline sent me this picture that I realized he was in front of me! At one point when my shoulders were not facing the way I had asked Promise to go, I confused her, and we got a bit off course. Thank goodness Doug and Caroline were there to correct that situation, too.

For those of us who have had "not so perfect" dogs, you will be happy to hear Promise did run me into some low-hanging branches, but in her defense, she's a bit lower to the ground than some dogs, and she must have thought if she could clear them, I could clear them, or maybe she's smart enough to do it and secretly laugh about it to herself. I wouldn't put it past her. When we were done and I was able to take the blindfold off and love her up a bit, Promise did have a very distinct, somewhat sly smile on her face. Oh yeah, and there was a near miss with a ladder, but I think I was lagging behind on that one & I guess Promise mistakenly thought I could clear it (my 40-something hips are just a "bit" wider than hers!).

Having been in this puppyraising game for some time now (3+ years), I have come to believe that every guide dog starts out as an all-around good dog and that comes from some proven breeding lines and a good bit of luck. The perfect guide dog loves what they do, can make split-second decisions even if they have to use their own judgement and like an Energizer bunny, wants to go and go and go. These things are not so much trained into the dog as they are honed and polished. That does not take away anything from their lives with their puppyraisers. I also truly believe we give them the foundation they will remember for a lifetime and start them on their way, but the real test comes in the advanced training, and dogs will show their true colors there. Some dogs are happier leading and some dogs are happier following. Some dogs either have "it" or they do not, whether it is the drive, the stamina, the intelligence, or combinations of that and other useful traits. A dog who doesn't show those traits is not a dog I would want to guide anybody; he will get his partner hurt or get himself hurt or at the very least live a very unhappy life doing something he does not care to do, and none of us who love these dogs would want any of those things to happen. At least we know that even if we raise a dog who is happier following, because of the foundation the puppyraiser laid down, he will follow obediently and politely and respectfully and always be a joy for someone to have in their family.

Doug was telling me how sometimes as he walks with Promise, they hit a rhythm and everything just seems to flow and it's easy and fun. I have to say I had some moments like that as we made our way back to the final destination and Promise and I had come to an understanding of what a reasonable pace should be for her and I. I felt myself standing taller, relieving my death grip on the harness, letting Promise pull just enough to allow me to feel confident she would keep me on a safe path, and you understand for just an instant, how these dogs we raise who love what they are doing as much as Promise does may give someone a whole new feeling of independence, and may even change a life. Pretty cool.

August 11, 2010

Learning with Banjo

Hi, this is Sophia. Timber and I graduated in January as a CVC dog team. OccuPaws decided we were doing well together and gave us the chance to work toward being an independent team. COOL!

Timber is with the Weils now so they can teach him to be a guide dog. The Weils said I could use Banjo while Timber was away. It is fun having Banjo here! He rests at my feet when we are not working just like Timber does.

Yesterday the Weils came to my house to start teaching me how to work with a guide dog. I have to concentrate more than with a CVC dog. Even though it is more work, I feel a lot more freedom when it is just the dog and me. It feels awesome!

The Weils said soon I get a different harness with a real guide dog handle. They said it would help me feel the dog’s pull better. Right now, sometimes I want to walk faster than the dog. Mr. Weil told me I need to slow down and let the dog do his job. There is so much to think about!

Banjo now knows how to get to my best friend’s house. I also want to teach him how to take me to the library and maybe even the bait shop where we get ice cream!

I’ll write again soon.

Career Change Dog Available

Hi Everyone,

My name is Daisy! I'm a spayed female black lab, a little over a year old, very quiet, in good health and sweet. I've decided I would like to change careers from being a guide dog trainee to being a family pet.

So I'm looking for a new home and family to love and care for me. If you are interested in meeting me or talking about me, you can contact Nicole at nicole@occupaws.org or 608-444-9555.

You can also find out about career change pups and get an application for me at http://www.occupaws.org/forms.html Just look for Career Change Dog application form.



Welcome Alice

Hi Everyone,
I want to introduce myself. My name is Alice and I am 10 weeks, and one day, old. I moved in with my "raisers" 5 days ago. I LOVE them! There are six people for me to follow, a big dog named Jeff, and two cats named Christopher and Marc. I don't think that cats are thrilled about me being here but they have been polite.

I am being a good girl, I think. I go outside to go potty most of the time. Sometimes I just can't help it; I'm a baby, you know. I am sleeping longer and longer in my crate every night. I just get lonely sometimes. My mom sleeps in a sleeping bag on the floor next to me for part of the night. She said she's not doing it for much longer, though. One morning, Jeff came and layed down by me and put his paw by my crate and stared at me until I went to sleep. That was nice. I think he was just trying to help his mom, though.

I like to spend my days looking for paper to rip up. My mom said it a bad idea and gives me a dumb baby bone instead. I also like to chase Jeff's tennis balls around the slippery floor. He's been nice at sharing with me.

My mom has been trying to take me for walks. I don't mind the leash, but leaving the yard makes me nervous, so I just sit down. She said Jeff could come on our next walk. I think I'd like that. She also said something about the mosquitoes were trying to kill her. Maybe she should put some Vectra (or whatever it's called) between her shoulder blades. It seems to help.

My computer time is up. I'll tell you more later. This is Alice saying..."Peace out!"

August 10, 2010

It's My Birthday!

Hey Pups!

It's my birthday today! I'm now one year old ~ together with my OccuPaws siblings Maddi, Sonny, Finley, and Sparta. We'll have to have a party at our Thursday night training class! I'll help my mommy make cupcakes so we can celebrate.

I even got a dog wash so I'll be nice and clean for the party (Thanks, Animart, for providing dog washes for OccuPaws dogs!)

What a busy week this has been! I almost got a ride in the UW Med Flight helicopter, at Lakeview Park, at the Middleton Police National Night Out.

I had to jump out quickly 'cause the helicopter then took off. There were hundreds of kids there to give me lots of petting, and I even met some of the Police K-9 dogs. They were also very well trained!

On Saturday I helped volunteer at the National Mustard Day in Middleton. There were hundreds of kids there! I attracted all the kids to our table, and my mommy sold them Mustard Day t-shirts. We work good together as a team! I got to meet the Klements sausages (they race around the diamond at Brewers games, but for some reason they don't smell like sausages....)

and Culver's Scoopie, who brought "Mustard Custard," but I couldn't have any. I met the Mustard Girl, too,

and the biggest weiner in the world, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile! His license plate said "YUMMY."

All that work all day and I still didn't get a sausage....but my mommy said I was a VERY good girl and gave me some yummy treats before bed.

Your pal,


August 9, 2010


Dayton's life goal is to grow like a weed. This weekend, he upgraded to a bigger crate, and my nights are much more peaceful now, as I no longer hear the scrape scrape of his nails as he readjusts in a crate that is growing too small.

I'm not sure if it is the new crate or that we're away from home together for the first time since he came to live with me, but our nights have been filled with him panting in his crate. I think that both places we have been over the last couple of days are a little warmer than my apartment, but not enough to make him sound like Thomas the Tank.

I'm also used to him sleeping in a different room than me, so it's possible I've just never noticed him panting at night. At home, I just moved his crate from the hallway into the office. He needs to be content in his crate wherever it is located, so now that I know he's completely content in my apartment and that he's settled into life with me and my pack of dogs, I figured it was time to start moving the crate around.

The first night, he slept peacefully, but the following night was filled with yipping and readjusting and whining.<

Time will tell, but all the work and lack of sleep is worth it to make him into a well-rounded dog some day.

I'm visiting my mom in Waukesha right now, and she has a fenced in yard. He seemed so surprised to be granted so much freedom. I've been working on recalls out there with him, and it's so hard to remind myself to only call him when I am certain he will comply. I don't want him to learn that "come" means ignore me unless you feel like coming over here. I must only tell him to come when I can either correct him for not doing so, or I am 100% certain he will comply.

Needless to say, at this age, I spend a lot of time calmly walking over to retrieve him when I know he won't come trotting if I tell him to come.

He's going to be five months on Wednesday, and I've heard that's when they really start to develop their own agendas. I'm hoping Dayton doesn't know he's supposed to do this, but I'm sure I won't be that lucky.

All of the dogs are sleeping for the night, so I think I had better take advantage of the quiet and do the same.


Mom said we were going to have fun today...

Noooooo not the vet office....

OK, OK, I'll be brave.

A treat you say...me love you Doc!!!

August 8, 2010


Monte attended play group Saturday morning. We arrived for the end of adult playgroup where he can play some larger dogs and learn to settle - no problems. At puppy playgroup, he was the playground bully, not malicious, but relentless. It was every pet owner's worst nightmare, other owners wanted nothing to do with the yellow lab.

Labradors tend to play harder than other breeds. Monte was probably the largest puppy and he doesn't know that. We kept having to restrain him to let his "victim" get up. It was strange though because the other puppy didn't seem to mind and usually wanted more.

Needless to say, Lisa and I were exhausted after playtime.
And the day was just beginning.

Our next stop was the Farmers' Market on the square. Monte handled the crowd well and kept his head up, not looking for edibles. We made our way to the OccuPaws site and met his brethren. We spent a few hours greeting people with Hailey and Promise. The exposure to different people, especially children, is invaluable.

Monte took a short nap at home while we ate a quick lunch and then we were off to a baseball game. Our last attempt to see a Mallard's game got rained out and it wasn't looking good as we left home. However, it ended up being a great night for baseball and Monte met a lot of people before the game. No issue meeting Maynard or Millie (mascots) this time. He endeared himself to all the spectators sitting near us and received a few head pats and chin rubs. The Mallards won and we quickly left before the fireworks, not wanting to risk it and we were tired.

August 7, 2010

Recent adventures

Hi, it's Hailey again. My person and I have had lots of adventures in the last few days, so I thought I'd share a few. First, we went hiking, on a really nice trail. Unfortunately, my people forgot water, so we couldn't go to far, since it was hot out. And then after that, we went to Costco, where I got my own cup of ice, which I appreciated. My mom says that now that it's cooler, we'll go hiking more, instead of just walking in the city. I like the city, but it was fun to walk on a path instead of concrete.

Then I went to my grandad's office on Friday afternoon. I've only been there a few times, but I know how to find his office. I even know which way to go from the bus stop to get there. The people there like me a lot and talk a lot about how small I am and how puppy-like I am compared to Promise. Well, I'll tell you, I am a puppy, and Promise is a big dog, so don't be surprised. But I settled nicely and slept. After flopping down on the floor for some belly rubs. Then tonight, I was walking with my mom (and doing SO well at not pulling the leash) and I saw a FROG. I don't think I've seen a frog before, but it was all hoppy and small. But I was very good, and I just noted it and kept on walking. Didn't even pull on the leash or act too distracted.

So those are my adventures as of late. My mom says she really appreciates that I'm getting the whole not pulling on the leash thing. Sometimes it's hard for me because the world is SO exciting, but I have to admit, it's kinda nice not having to get corrected. And I've learned that if I don't pull, we get places faster. I've gotta get my mom to carry the camera more, because we've seen lots of fun things.

August 6, 2010

Monte Five

How did Monte celebrate his five month birthday?

1. Went to the park to play with Buddy
2. Lost his final canine tooth, no more needle bites
3. Attended OccuPaws training class
4. Tried the PediPaws nail trimmer
5. Stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings
6. Had fish oil with dinner
7. Trimmed nails the old-fashioned way
8. Destroyed his new toy
9. Received a big bone
10.Slept in a different room

Disappointed that we didn't get to show off Monte's new skill - HEEL without being lured.

August 5, 2010

Geyser in Tahoe

Hi everybody, Geyser here! I just wanted to tell you all about Promise’s and my trip to Lake Tahoe, California a couple of weeks ago. It started out by riding in the car to Chicago with Doug, Caroline and their son, Tyler (who lives in China, wherever that is)

We got to stay in a hotel the first night and that was really fun except that Caroline said we couldn’t rough house in the room :( Oh well. The plane ride was OK but I overheard Doug and Caroline talking about how there isn’t as much room in the bulkhead as there used to be. Promise was a little put out that she had to curl up into a ball for the entire trip, you all know how she likes to lay frog legged all the time. We slept the whole flight and when we woke up, we were in Nevada and it was REALLY hot there!

I was glad that Caroline and Doug remembered to bring our booties, and even though I don’t really like wearing them, it’s better than burning your pads. When we finally arrived at our destination, I was surprised at how many people were there – moms and dads, brothers and sisters and cousins. There were even some KIDS for us to play with - YAY!!! Oh and there also were 2 other black labs like us, except they were just pets, not service dogs like Promise and me.

The house we stayed in was HUGE. There were three floors and Promise and I immediately had to explore every room. There also were RULES, like no dogs in the kitchen, no rough housing inside (that stupid rule AGAIN), stay with the family, blah, blah, blah. I took the liberty of bending a couple of the rules and it kinda got me in a little trouble. I know I am not supposed to get in the trash but those first few days, I just couldn’t help myself. Caroline says I need work on my “impulse control” and I am still trying to figure out what that actually means. Anyway, I got caught red-handed with my head in the downstairs bathroom trash not just once, but THREE times!!!!! What was I thinking????? Doug caught me in it the last time and that’s when I decided it wasn’t worth getting in it EVER AGAIN!

I also had a few problems at the lake at first. Apparently, everyone was supposed to stay together which I didn’t understand right away. I mean, come on, there is a whole huge beach – why couldn’t I just take off and do as I pleased?????? To make a long story short, I had quite a few “time outs” the first couple of days. Promise of course had to be the “goody two shoes” and never got in any trouble, thinking back on it now, I probably should have followed her example. Oh well, on to the exciting part!

We got to take a trip down the Truckee River in these big rafts! It was so much fun (well until the rafts filled up with water and Promise and I had to sit in them). The trip took most of the day because we kept stopping to swim and fetch bumpers and play in the river. I was really tired after that and was a good boy for the whole rest of the trip! Promise and I got to work in Tahoe city a bunch too – there was a lot of stuff and pedestrians on the sidewalks, so we got lots of practice on our clearances.

By the end of the trip I had learned what “staying with the family” meant, and you know what? It’s really not so bad; this family was really FUN – always stuff to do, never boring. I think I learned a lot about life on that trip!

Promise and I are back home now and working hard on our guide dog skills. I think Promise is almost done with her training and she will go to her new blind human in a few short weeks. I am going to miss her so much. She has been such a good role model for me, and I have learned tons of stuff from her. Well got to go, it’s class night and I don’t want to be late!

This is G-man signing off for now!

August 4, 2010

Always Something

There is always something to work on when training a guide puppy. Our focus the last week has been grooming. Specifically nail trimming. Monte is quite a cry baby and the least bit of pressure would cause him to cry, which upset the nail trimmer. I have been trimming his nails every couple days to get him to settle down and accept it. We have progressed to the point where he tolerates it without crying; it's over in a few minutes - then a big treat.

We also need to do more traffic work. Not the real guide dog work of stopping at curbs and pivots, but simply walking in traffic as cars or (loud) motorcycles pass by. Tonight Monte was intrigued by every vehicle. The sirens of emergency vehicles on television startle him. The best way to get him used to the noises is repetition. An afternoon trip to the streets of Madison just might do the trick.

Heeerrre's Gordy

Hello All!

I want to introduce myself. My name is Gordy. I am an 8 week old Yellow lab from the Shamrock Acres Kennels in Middleton.

I want to thank the Gordon Flesch Foundation for their generous donation to the OccuPaws Children’s Visual Companion Dog program and for giving me my name in honor of the founder of Gordon Flesch.

I am fitting well into the Schultze household. I have met many new friends: Harley, Roxie, Stitch and Reggie. I like to follow Reggie around the yard, but being a border collie, he wants to watch me! I understand that on Thursday I will meet more new friends at training class.

I have been to so many places, my head is spinning. I have been to Finn’s, the Original Pancake House, Culvers, Goben cars, the Mayor of Madison’s office, the Dr.’s office, and best of all, the home of the Maestro of the Wisconsin Symphony orchestra. My friend Harley came along and showed me how to behave. He told me that when I am “big” I need to lie quietly and wait wherever I am told to wait. All the older dogs have also told me that I should be quiet at night in the crate. We talk all night about crate manners, because my crate faces Roxie’s at night. It makes me feel much safer and happier to see another dog at night, especially Roxie. You can see picture's of all my adventures here.

Today, I will be going to Gordon Flesch to introduce myself to some of the employees there. What fun!


August 3, 2010

Terrible Fives

Monte seems to thoroughly enjoy his trips to The Dog Den and he takes full advantage of the opportunity to be a normal dog and work on bite inhibition. As soon as the car door opens, his olfactory senses are triggered by the scent of other canines, and he gets amped up.

We are working on calmly approaching the facility. This last week we walked around the corner to a Mexican restaurant before joining playtime. The Montessori school next door was having a rummage sale to raise funds, so we had to pick up a few "new" toys, which made his wait even longer.

Remembering the joy of training a young puppy who is seemingly attached to our waist with an invisible leash, eager to please, and hanging on our every word. This describes the first five months of puppy raising. Monte celebrates his five month birthday and officially enters the Terrible Fives, which in human terms is a combination of a defiant two year old and an independent teenager.

On Monday night, Monte was eagerly anticipating playtime as we walked to the building. Unfortunately for Monte, we had signed up for another training class. Monte thinks he knows all the stuff and he does for the most part, however, his hearing appears to be impaired by dogs, birds, leaves, bugs, horns, grass, whistles, shadows, ...

Since he has entered the Terrible Fives, Teenager Class is very appropriate. The first class was a refresher of puppy class: marker word, SETTLE, WATCH, SIT,and DOWN. The WAIT command was introduced. This made Monte look smart because we were able to leave him standing and walk through the door until released (OK). We have been practicing this command for quite some time; his training started at eight weeks of age.

The training classes offer us a great opportunity to "proof" his responses while working and playing with other breeds and being guided by expert trainers. The sessions also remind me that we are working with a young puppy and our expectations need to be tempered.

Many Thanks to The Dog Den Staff (unofficial puppy sponsor),
Monte, Banjo, Cinder, Neva, Marley

August 1, 2010

Almost a Big Dog

Puppy playtime was eventful for Monte. This week he was the one losing teeth. In the span of forty-five minutes he lost three of his canine teeth (only one left). Mostly the result of biting the other puppies as he left telltale red stains on the other dog's ears and neck.

Then at dinner time I caught him chewing on something under the table. I was curious what he had located as I thought I scouted the area for chewables. Well, it turned out to be a molar. Four in one day; just a few more before Monte is officially a big dog.