Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

February 23, 2011

Skating Indoors and Out

Monte is learning to slow down walking inside on our wood floors. However, sometimes he can't control himself (needs more impulse control) and skates around the corners trying to keep pace. A week ago I tried some Paw Wax to provide some additional traction. I was surprised that it seemed to help, but it wore off quickly and wasn't the easiest to apply. So he continues to skate on wood.

As the temperature returned to normal, it was safe to go outside. The moist sidewalks and mud puddles have disappeared. Then the rain came and covered the sidewalk with a layer of slippery wood. That's what Monte was thinking. The ice covered sidewalks had our puppy skating on real ice. Outdoors had always been a no wood floor zone.

February 22, 2011


This evening, Monte completed his third training class at The Dog Den, our Best of Madison - Pet Place. His plan is to work through their full battery of classes. It is great exposure to other dogs and helps increase his focus with canine distractions.

He performed admirably tonight and was even used as a role model for WAIT. The final test of the evening was a simple recall with a distraction in the middle. Not a problem - until the distraction was revealed. Food, not a problem. Another dog, he does that all the time. Oh No, a Stuffed Animal. The one item that our canine covets like nothing else.

Needless to say, when Lisa called Monte he went straight to stuffed animal, which the trainer was playfully enticing him with. He was mesmerized, jumped once, and would not leave her side. after thirty seconds, which seemed like thirty minutes, he figured out the drill and pranced over to Lisa who was doing everything she could think of to get his attention.

His infatuation with stuffed animals remains from puppyhood, because he hasn't had one since summer. So in addition to dog distractions, we need to wean Monte off stuffed animals.

February 21, 2011

Sick as a Dog

The last two weekends have provided two very different environments for Monte to conquer. He spent last weekend helping us babysit three youngsters (7yo, 5yo, 7mo). Needless to say the noise and energy level was much different than usual. In addition to supervising puppy behavior, we constantly reminded the children that the floor was puppy domain and items left lying around may not be in the same condition when they returned. We found it much easier to train a dog as Monte learned much faster that items on the floor were forbidden.

Not being used to going places with three other humans, Monte was assigned crate time when we took the kids on outings. If it wasn't for being the odd man out when we traveled, I think he might prefer having children around.

This weekend was the exact opposite. Lisa and I were battling a nasty bug that we picked up the prior weekend - blame the kids. Being a male, it hit me much harder. Our days were filled with naps and lounging; no walks around town, just quick outside to potty. We substituted a four hour nap for his usual forty minute walk. Initially uncomfortable with the change in routine the first day, he quickly transformed into a snuggle dog. Poor Monte, he even had to stay home with me while Lisa went to the hockey game.

Hopefully, tomorrow life returns to normal.

February 16, 2011

Limited Focus

When will Monte learn to HEEL? He just doesn't get it.
We initially identified the problem that Monte will not or cannot HEEL on our daily walk.

After last week's private lesson and an objective assessment, the problem was identified, as with most issues, to be poor training methods. It is not his fault that we have failed to provide consistent reinforcement. Like a young puppy, we lost focus during our forty minute walks and only corrected him when we remembered.

Our frustration with Monte's lack of HEELing prowess has been misguided and misplaced. Our training method, or lack thereof, could only result in confusion as Monte would be walking along fine for ten minutes and then BAM, correction. What was that for? No clue because it stopped after a few times only to return again ten minutes later. The only thing he could have learned was that every ten minutes he needed to return to our side.

The weekly training class at The Dog Den provides an opportunity to be more disciplined in our approach as we get back to basics. The process starts with a few steps with positive feedback. We practice a modified approach on our daily walk. We stop, HEEL, and maintain a HEEL for one city block. Then stop while in HEEL and release to walk like a well-behaved regular dog, not too far out in front.

Eventually we hope to increase our ability to focus and thus lengthen the time/distance that Monte can HEEL.

February 15, 2011

Old Friends

Monte was generally well-behaved during the three hours of canine distractions at the OccuPaws training. However, it has become a very controlled setting and much different than the real world.

Being gluttons for punishment, we attended another CGC training class in Janesville on Wednesday. It provided an opportunity to meet a whole new group of different dogs (young, small, tall), in various states of mind (calm,excited, fear), and in a different setting. Monte handled the multitude of canine distractions without incident and seems to be learning.

In addition to seeing some old OccuPaws friends, we had the chance to meet Bennett for the second time. We hardly know Bennett, but have loved him ever since we first met him at the OccuPaws bowling event this year. He approached Monte like a long lost friend. Bennett had been reading about Monte on the blog and was ecstatic to see his pal in person.

Not sure if he reads about Monte anymore because he is training his own service dog, Journey. Bennett and Journey have their own blog, that we will be following. And we are always available for advice, even though they are working with Custom Canines Service Dog Academy.

As we seek out new opportunities for our charge, our lives are enhanced by the people we meet and the moments we experience. Training a guide dog puppy in public and through organizational contacts, we are constantly meeting new people. Whether a trainer, volunteer, puppy raiser, or fundraiser, every one of them is dedicated to improving the life of another person - sometimes we forget our shared goal.

In the unique role as puppy raiser, we both give and receive a better life.

February 14, 2011

Weather or Not

Just a quick note about the weather here in Wisconsin. Most people are thrilled with the recent warm spell. Initially I had to agree that it was wonderful to get a taste of Spring in the middle of February.

That was until Monte and I went for our daily walk on Sunday. I quickly remembered that the Spring melt creates extra work for those of us that walk our dogs. It only takes a quick trot around the block to turn our yellow lab into something resembling a spotted leopard.

It doesn't take as long to clean up when we (Monte) can roll in the snow before entering the house. All in all, I will gladly accept the small dose of extra work that accompanies our respite from below zero temperatures - last week the high was 8F, Thursday is forecasted to be 50F.


We have been very busy the last week and haven't made time to share our experiences. Finally a time to take a breath and catch up on overdue blogging.

Last Tuesday, Monte had a private session with the head OccuPaws trainer. We had a few questions, but really wanted the trainer to spend some quality time with Monte. Wanting to show his true nature, there was no exercise before class. Unfortunately, Monte performed admirably with nearly flawless obedience, even off leash, and Doug refused to release him from the program. We are stuck with him for seven more months :-)

As expected, the bulk of our work revolves around behavioral issues: mouthing, licking, prey drive, and dog distraction. We can assist his progression some, but the rest must come from the maturation process; he is still a puppy.

The three of us hung around for the younger puppy class and our regular session. Nothing like three hours of training on a week night. We were reminded of a few things that have fallen off of our daily/weekly To Do list: handling the puppy (paws, teeth, etc.), ear cleaning, nail trimming, cradling. These encourage submission and help the puppy be agreeable to handling by others.

Most of the older puppies are progressing well. At least in class surrounded with well-behaved puppies, so we opted for a different experience on Wednesday night ...

February 8, 2011

Hailey goes to school

Hailey went to Cesar Chavez School in Madison today. Jackson brought Hailey to his second grade class to tell his classmates and teacher, Mrs. Kinsey, about her mission in life to be a guide dog.

After demonstrating her skills to the students, Jackson showed off a few "tricks" that Hailey knew, such as saying her prayers and crawling on the floor. Then the students had plenty of questions about guide dogs! Quite a few of the students had seen guide dogs out in public before. They thought Hailey was going to do a great job as a Guide dog!

Hailey is also a great ambassador for OccuPaws ~ she's been busy recruiting new puppy raisers at all the events she attends. People she greets are impressed by her calm demeanor and of course, everyone wants to pet her! Even the horn blast at the UW hockey game didn't faze her one bit ~ tho she did want to sit up and watch all the action on the ice.

and because we're getting weary of all the snow (Hailey sez...where's my potty spot again???),

Hailey tried out a kayak for size at the Lake Home and Cabin Show. She's wishing for an early spring! Me too!
Marlette & Hailey

February 6, 2011


Only one more month and life gets better. Saturday (2/5), Monte was eleven months old and we were guaranteed by his breeder that his behavior would instantly improve once he was a year old. We can hardly wait for the metamorphosis to occur.

We woke up later than expected Saturday morning, so we were forced to see how a fully rested Monte would behave meeting people. We usually follow the old adage "A tired dog is a good dog." Tempting fate, we were pleasantly surprised by our canine's behavior. He remained relatively calm and only a tad mouthy. The mental workout left him and his peers (Wilbur, Hailey, Gordy) exhausted. They all slept peacefully through lunch.

Monte is usually ecstatic when meeting youngsters. However, there was one girl in particular, we call her the Dog Whisperer, whose demeanor was calm and Monte behaved perfectly. He allowed her to massage him for a few minutes barely lifting his head. He is extremely perceptive of the energy of the person he is greeting. He feeds off the high energy and remains relaxed depending on who he interacts with.

Today, I decided that a break from routine would be interesting, so we reversed the route of our daily walk. Monte was more focused on me and my cues as we started out. By the halfway mark, he figured out what we were were doing and "took control" of our directions. As we finished through the park, we happened upon a difficult challenge. A pack of playful dogs was approaching, but he resisted temptation and kept on task with only a few glances back over his shoulder.

The biggest faux pas this week related to (not) keeping a watchful eye on your puppy at all times. Monte is exceptional about not eating dog food dropped on the floor. Apparently, he gets hungry during the day and considers an unguarded bag of food fair game. On Thursday, Lisa found him with his head buried in a half opened food bag. Not sure how much he ate or if he would have eaten the entire contents, but he obviously ate too much and had some short term GI issues. I don't think he learned a lesson, but we did.

February 2, 2011

Snow Day

When the snow is falling and the wind is howling, it's nice to hunker down under a few quilts and enjoy the warmth and protection of our abode. No need to venture outdoors, unless of course you have a canine companion who doesn't understand the concept of going potty by himself.

The few times we have attempted to attach Monte to the tie-out, he sits on the porch and stares at the door. Last night, either my coaxing or his need to relieve himself reached a threshold and he ventured off the porch to potty, while I stood bootless and jacket-less indoors.

Since our training class at The Dog Den was canceled last night and most people had a snow day today, our trainee was given two snow days. Lots of snuggling (on the floor) and canine grooming. He spent most of the day QUIETLY watching the birds outside, but basic manners in the house were still demanded. He only received a few squirts from the spray bottle for begging.

Our usual walks through the park, to practice dog avoidance, and then downtown were abbreviated. The park was our destination, strictly for the purpose of fun and exercise. Monte, similar to every Labrador, likes to run and enjoys snow = loves running and bounding in the snow.

He enjoyed his off-leash sabbatical when other dogs were not present. However, we did relent once and offered a brief play encounter with an older yellow lab, who provided some correction to our energetic teenager.

February 1, 2011

OccuPaws in the News

Desirae Pausma arranges in-training guide dog Journey’s vest and scarf before going into a restaurant. Pausma is a board member for OccuPaws, a non-profit organization that provides guide dogs to the blind.

"When they leave the breeder's house they're about eight weeks old, just like a normal puppy. Then they go to puppy raisers. We have volunteer puppy raisers who raise them from eight weeks to about 18 months. Then they go with the trainer and are finished and then placed," Pausma said.

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