September 29, 2010
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.
September 27, 2010
We had the unfortunate opportunity to spend a day at the Platteville hospital visiting Lisa's mom who is recovering from a recent mishap. The hospital setting offered quite a challenge for Monte. He was required to behave, be quiet, and stay anchored for ten hours.
Seeing a puppy, many stopped to say "Hello". Monte is visually and aurally aware; movements and sounds draw his attention. His patience and obedience were thoroughly tested by a seemingly endless flow of nurses and visitors in the room and down the hallway. Strange beeps and buzzes were plentiful in the room and were augmented by the carts and equipment which were wheeled past.
With the exception of a few whines when he desired freedom, the young pup was quiet and relatively calm, until greeted by "wild" humans. Monte definitely needs more practice and we need to do a better job of training of the humans.
September 26, 2010
After three and a half years and over one hundred training classes, we have something to show for our attempts to raise a guide dog puppy. It required a lot of help from Ernie, Marlene, and Michelle, but we were finally able to personally participate in a graduation ceremony. Banjo graduated as a Children's Visual Companion Dog.
He was rotated between three families to allow him more varied experiences and to maximize his reign of terror. He seemed to be on a mission of destruction.
Frequent readers of the blog may remember his many exploits. From weddings to the White House, he left a trail of destruction (early months) and accomplishments. He travelled the country honing his skills and teaching us be better trainers.
Banjo's new accomplice, Brooke, hails from Combined Locks. Brooke and her parents have volunteered to take on the difficult task of keeping Banjo on the straight and narrow.
His current mission is to "Change Their Lives".
Unfortunately our photos were not very good. The cause was either the low battery or moisture in our eyes.
September 25, 2010
As time passed, Monte tired (a bit), and the pool filled with canines. The weather kept the humans landbound, while the dogs enjoyed the freedom to frolic and retrieve on land or in the water.
Monte played well with all the other dogs. As has been previously reported by others, Monte is a hog. Previously it was bones; today it was tennis balls. Regardless of whether a ball occupied his mouth or not, Monte had to have the ball being carried by another dog. He followed them until the ball was released and then would grab it and run away. You see Monte loves being chased.
We cut our aquatic adventure short to hurry home to prepare for Brooke and Banjo's party.
September 24, 2010
Last Saturday, I had a LONG adventure with my mom. We went out for dinner with some friends, and then they all went walking with me in a neighborhood I'd never been to. I really like my mom's friend, and she took me jogging a bit, which was tons of fun. I don't know why my mom doesn't jog with me. Then I went to this friend's house, and it smelled like CAT! I tried to find the little creature, but it wasn't anywhere. I sniffed around the perimeter, but nothing! I saw the cat through the door last time I was there, but apparently it moved. Anyway, then I got to play with the people. I was getting hungry, and thought we were going home to eat, but then we went to this thing called a movie. It was really dark, and sometimes got really loud. I tried to sleep, but I was SO hungry, it was tough. By the time we got home, it was nearly midnight, and I hadn't eaten yet. Everyone said I did really well at the movie. My mom thought it was a little scary at times, but I didn't see what that was all about.
I also have a new job. It's real tough. I have to hold the floor down for my mom while she works. Sometimes when I get tired of holding the floor down, my mom calls me over to socialize with people, which I really like. Anyway, I'm getting really good at my job. Yesterday a police officer came to check out the building, and he didn't even know I was there until he saw my wiggling nose. And today I managed to keep the floor down while I whole lot of people tried to get the computers running. They failed, but I was a smashing success.
Anyway, that's my new gig. My mom has also taught me to "find restroom". I'm really good at that one. I can find it from our office, or from outside the office building. My mom says it makes her feel a little funny to be walking down the hall saying "find restroom" repeatedly and praising me, but I think it's fun. I've also almost got "find work" down. And "go lie down". That means I have to take my post holding down the floor. So, those are my big updates. I'm liking this work gig...I think being a working dog would be a pretty good deal. Much better than making sure the house doesn't run away while the people are out.
September 20, 2010
I noticed the other day that our walks tend to consist of a lot of straight line walking which often leads to Monte losing focus and getting out ahead of me. So recently I have varied our route, mixing in some about turns and randomly crossing the street. Monte's focus has improved and he pays more attention to where I am, resulting in fewer corrections. Everyone is happier.
Like his predecessor (Banjo), one of Monte's weaknesses is focus. The human designed treadmill that we have is a bit shorter than the canine version. It must have provided him a greater ability to correct himself, because he has slid off the back of our treadmill a few times already - whoops. No fear though, he always gets right back on.
September 19, 2010
So much of the time we only write about the good things our dogs do, when we all know puppyraising is full of ups and downs, and it is a continual learning process for dog and handler. I think it is good to hear that all of us struggle sometimes. Monte did his share of testing me the past 2 weeks. One early morning, I decided after Monte's potty break to let him off leash for a bit to do some exploring while I cleaned up after him. He bolted cross country away from me, into the neighbor's yard to a spot where a squirrel likes to sit. No squirrel, but Monte was determined to sniff every inch of the neighbor's yard and ignore my call for him to return. I tried the old trick of running the opposite direction to no avail. Finally I had to walk over and leash him back up without a successful recall. I was more angry at myself for letting him off leash without knowing for sure I could get him back, but was also disappointed that Monte decided to blow off the recall. We immediately ran through some obedience, and Monte was golden and got high praise for this. It is sometimes hard for us humans to let go of the indiscretion of our dogs long after the dogs have moved on. I'm sure there was a squirrel hiding somewhere laughing at both of us that morning!
September 18, 2010
The day we picked Monte up, I injured my back and spent the next week recovering. Needless to say we didn't work on much as I was sleeping eighteen hours a day and I missed his training classes.
With our family back to normal, we began our pack's evening walk on Friday. We practiced his obedience as we strolled though the park. It was great to be outside again and to see what Monte had learned during his retreat. After dark, we walked over to the high school to experience the activity of a high school football game: PA announcer, screams, whistles, traffic, food, ...
Today we tried to fit in a week's worth of shopping into one day. Monte met a few canines at Mounds where we had to purchase food for the first time this year. At the grocery store, he found a family of Lab Lovers who showered him with love as we began and then again at the checkout. We stopped by Farm and Fleet to pick up some Tylan powder, anticipating the need as we change Monte's food. Unfortunately they didn't have any.
We concluded our day with a walk to the park and then some off leash time to burn off some physical energy before dinner. Monte loves to run and may have as much energy as Echo. After dinner and a nap, we were able to quickly trim his nails. A perfect day.
September 10, 2010
I had a dentist appointment today, and decided to bring Hailey along. She went with me when I took my mom there a few weeks ago, and did fine with all the noises, so I figured she’d probably not be too phased by it. My hygienist’s area was right off a main walkway, and Hailey was at the foot of my chair, so everyone walked about a foot from her nose. She did splendidly. I put her leash around a pole by my chair so she couldn’t walk off (or more likely, decide to check in with me), but she stayed in her spot the entire time.
When I first got Hailey, she was very restless on outings, so her being able to settle down in a new environment and snooze is great progress.
Then this evening, Hailey got to go to a campfire at Picnic Point. Lots of students wanted to say hi, and she did very well. But on the way home, Hailey discovered frogs. I couldn’t really tell what was a frog and what was a leaf, but she could tell quite well. The first frog she jumped for once, and wouldn’t go for again, but later in the walk, she saw more frogs that she tried to go after. With each one, after the initial correction she knew she couldn’t chase, but we clearly need to do more work on frog distraction…so I guess more walks on Picnic Point at sunset are in order. She’s gotten markedly better on other forms of prey drive, so it should just be a question of exposing her and making sure she knows she isn’t allowed to engage her retriever instincts.
September 8, 2010
Promise's breeders, Desirae and Mike Pausma (Neverest Labs) were there, and it was great to meet them and reminisce about Promise. They have donated a number of puppies to the program, so it was nice to see the origin of some of the wonderful dogs in the program. Hopefully I'll get to raise another one of their puppies, although I'll have to say, right about when Promise was mellowing out and getting to be a little less work, it was time to send her off to harness training.
It was wonderful to meet Darrell, and to know that he will take good care of my puppy. I didn't get to see them work together, except for finding his chair, but it sounds like they are a great team. While many of the reasons I raise dogs are entirely selfish (how else would I get a full-time therapy dog who can go everywhere with me?), it was very rewarding to see Promise graduate, and to see how much Darrell loves and appreciates her.
September 6, 2010
September 3, 2010
When we got to the park, we went to the doggy run area, and it was great fun. Kirby and Dayton and I got to run around like maniacs and play. We also got treats for coming and checking in with the people. We ran around until we were tired, and then the people decided to go for a walk. It was really nice out; we didn't even get wet. Kirby navigated for us, picking all our turns on the trails. Well, my person had to override a few choices because a few trails turned swampy, but my person and Meghan had no clue where they were, and figured that if they just kept walking, they'd hit a road, but good ol' Kirby kept making turns and voila! We ended up right back at the car having never hit a road. Hopefully I'm that cool when I'm a big dog.
Then we went to Animart. We all got washed, which we needed especially bad at that point. Kirby showed Dayton and I up on that one too. Dayton didn't the hose much, and I got stuck with a blower that wanted to knock me off my feet, but Kirby took it all in stride. Once we were all clean, we had to go to class. I would have preferred running a few laps first, and Dayton would have been eager company, I'm sure, but we behaved ourselves. When we finally got home, I crashed for the night.
So, here's some pictures of us before the camera died:
Dayton trotting toward my mom, Dayton from the side (he has silly ears), and all of us romping.
September 2, 2010
Timber has spent the last few weeks with Doug and Caroline in basic guide dog harness training. Yes, our CVCD Timber is expanding his horizons along with Sophia.
Sophia is learning the basics of guide dog usage with Timber and will be able to use Timber semi independently on certain occassions.
More later on OccuPaws program, but for now, just enjoy the view.
No morning or evening potty breaks. No traveling to training classes. No walks for training or exercise. No hair on the dinner table or imbedded in the carpet. A person could get used to having an additional fourteen hours a week.