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 :-)