Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

April 26, 2011


Poor Monte, his guide dog socialization includes an occasional visit to the Talullah hair salon (check them out on Facebook)in Spring Green with Lisa. Our last trip there proved too challenging for excitable Monte to sit in a corner of his own volition and not react to chatter and laughter (Tiffany has cut my hair for the last 15+ years, so we always have something to talk about) not to mention falling hair, blow dryers and a moving chair. He was terrible and seemed to know with me in a very vulnerable position and not much room to "correct" any of his mistakes, the odds were in his favor, and he took full advantage of the situation.

I thought I would try again this time and we are so appreciative of Tiffany allowing us this valuable training opportunity. Since a huge part of Monte is influenced by the energy around him, I had to let the last visit just stay in the past, and chose to project the feeling that I would not be putting up with any nonsense and hoped Monte would feel my resolve. It all worked great! He got to meet Tiffany's youngest daughter upon arrival, who was visiting her Mom at work. She and her family have a big (black) Lab of their own at home named Norman, who sounds like the polar opposite of Monte; Norman is very sedate and sounds like he finds a nice cushy couch much more enticing than wasting valuable napping time chasing silly birds. Monte cannot chase them either, but we have to talk him out of it each time he sees one. Too bad Monte can't give Norman part of his energy and vice versa, but we love them just the way they are.

I got Monte settled in a down stay in a quiet corner of the salon, dropped the leash, told him to stay and walked away. He laid in the spot I left him through all the same sights and sounds as last time and some new ones as more people came in and out of the salon. At the end of our visit, I think we had to wake Monte up to leave. Tiffany said she could not believe the change in him from the last visit, which was nice to hear, so I was very proud of the big lug! We are making progress with him. Unfortunately for Monte, that may mean more trips to the hair salon in his future!


We were on the road again for Easter weekend. Monte's ride up North was much cushier than his ride home. He had to share the backseat with television set which left him with half the usual space. After his initial confusion prior to entering the vehicle, he didn't complain and slept all the way home.

Our practice efforts with the walker at home have slacked off, but proved effective during our visit to the assisted living facility. No problems with walkers or wheelchairs. The facility was having an Easter celebration so there were people of all ages to meet. And plenty of food which is always a challenge.

A difficult challenge was convincing the residents that they should not feed the dog. My grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer's was the most challenging because she couldn't remember the rules (or chose not to). Eventually we reached a compromise that cookies were not allowed, but an occasional carrot stick was fine. Although not his preference, Monte was agreeable to the final decision.

April 21, 2011

Back to Normal

After being gone from home for four days, I was greeted by a wiggly puppy/dog on my return. Happy to see my four-legged friend I still needed to maintain a calm demeanor when accepting my welcome home. Although difficult, I resisted the temptation to bend down, wrestle Monte to the floor, and rub his belly while he tried to escape my grasp and give me kisses.

Instead we attempted to perform a proper greeting. First he barked at the intruder which is probably a good thing. He backed off as I approached and was timid until I convinced him that it was I, his best friend. His feet were moving ninety mile an hour, but failed to find traction on the wood floor. He scampered to a SIT as I asked him to COME. It was more of a partial sit as the movement of his hind quarters made sitting extremely difficult. I waited for him to SIT before I rubbed his head and pulled it back immediately as his butt lifted off the ground. We repeated this exercise for a minute or two, before we could proceed normally.

Monte followed me closely as I made my way through the house. All the time his nose was working overtime trying to make sense of the strange combination of the ordinary smells mixed with the unusual. After fifteen minutes, he finished studying my olfactory report and life returned to normal, or as close to normal as life can be with Monte.

April 14, 2011

Only Time Will Tell

Tuesday evening, Monte completed his intermediate class at The Dog Den, earning his certificate, large treat, and gift certificate for Mounds. He has performed reasonably well during the first five sessions. Tonight, we went outdoors to the play area to practice recalls and STAY. All puppies remained stationary until recalled, however, Monte found the new surroundings more interesting and failed to stop and HEEL at Lisa's side. He ran through the tunnel, sniffed around before completing the exercise.

Always optimistic, the trainers had them make another attempt. Unfortunately, the results were the same. They were surprised; we were not. Monte's brain returned as we re-entered the building to finish our class. He did very well greeting dog-to-dog which bodes well for a future CGC test, but only time will tell.

Tonight, we made a trip to Mounds to pick up a few supplies. We usually use the gift certificate for a new toy to celebrate, however, Monte didn't earn a reward. Instead we purchased a thirty foot long line/leash to work with our trainee from a distance and provide correction when he loses his mind. In the past, we have waited for him to return to HEEL (no chasing), which generally takes ten or twenty seconds, with no correction to encourage his return. No more mister nice guy.

Every night since the episode at class I have taken Monte out for our nightly potty break, testing him off leash. He has been glued to my side, actually heeling better than during our daytime walks on leash. I am more focused, giving him constant reminders/praise to HEEL, and projecting calm assertive energy. And many of the normal distractions are not visible in the darkness. Only time will tell.

April 11, 2011

Traveling w/ Canine

As previously mentioned, Monte handled our travels better than we expected. Even with the change of routine (eating at 10pm) and different water, Monte showed no ill effects. And he immediately acclimated to the portable crate. After walking five to ten miles a day, he probably would have slept anywhere.

It is almost always more difficult for the humans when traveling with canine. My most difficult task when staying at a hotel is potty breaks. It's really not much different than home, but after a long day the last thing I want to do before bed is get ready, ride the elevator, and walk two blocks to the park/grass - we opted not to curb our dog. Then repeat first thing in the morning.

Fan Fest, a block party outside the arena, provided training opportunities complete with bands, a crowd of thousands, wayward food items, a few dogs, and fifty or so dog lovers. Any time we would stop to rest/eat, it wasn't more than five minutes before someone stopped to get a puppy fix and talk dog. Monte's favorite was Uncle Steve, a Badger fan from Connecticut; he missed his pups. "Traveling with Canine" increases the number and quality of interactions with locals and fellow travelers.

Note: Monte was sitting between Sally and Linus right before the photo was taken. Either our cameraman was too slow or Monte is too quick.

April 10, 2011


Our test this weekend was a trip to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St Paul) with our canine companion. The event was the Frozen Four hockey tournament. Monte has always loved hockey, sometimes too much. The energy at the Xcel Energy Center was electric, pun intended. Constantly aware of his surroundings, Monte was excited with all the action on the ice as we initially took our seats during pregame warm-ups.

My initial reaction was that we may have made a mistake. We had another ten hours to spend in the arena over the next few days. However, we seem to have had a breakthrough and Monte relaxed after a couple minutes and calmly laid his head on my foot. This was his required position during hockey action. He remained settled throughout the game, unless we were asked to let someone pass. Sitting on the aisle, we had ample opportunity to practice getting back into position. I was pleasantly surprised by his demeanor during the game and as he greeted fans between periods.

Other than a couple warning barks in our hotel room to alert us to loud noises, Monte handled the hotel experience. No issues with riding in packed elevators, hallway noises, or sounds of the city. Transportation was usually on foot, however Lisa opted to "practice" one bus ride to avoid a three mile walk back to the hotel after dinner. After walking all day, Monte enjoyed the ride too.

The greatest distraction, and only real issue were the pigeons. They are used to being feed by their primary predators (humans) and are generally slow to move which creates a seemingly easy target for our "bird" dog. Since the weather on Saturday was so nice, we spent over an hour in a park observing the pigeons and squirrels. Monte was calm, but I would definitely not say that the bird issue is resolved.

Overall, Monte behaved like the thirteen month old dog that he is, which is an improvement. Hopefully this is our breakthrough event. Only time will tell.

April 6, 2011


Monte had two good days in a row :-)

Tuesday was class at The Dog Den and Wednesday was the OccuPaws class. The highlight at The Dog Den was a hidden recall - Monte's favorite game. Monte played with the trainers while I hid. I asked him to COME find me and he immediately traced my footsteps. He is very observant or has a really good nose.

The OccuPaws class was filled with new puppies and Monte could barely contain his excitement. Not good, but he performed some perfect pivots and an almost perfect COME to HEEL.

The only visible/audible issue was his crying during both classes. He was calm, but would not stop whining. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I am wondering if removal of his vocal cords is an option.

Big Test this weekend ...

April 3, 2011


After an early run, our Saturday morning was spent traversing the mall moving through a series of practical challenges set up by our OccuPaws trainers. They involved riding an elevator, walking the food court, handling various distractions, and calm greetings. I decided to save the seemingly easy challenges for last.

We sped off to the elevator challenge, improvising a bit as we interacted with a few "real" children along our route. The elevator was noisier than most we have experienced, but not an issue after the initial surprise. The most difficult part was the wood floor on the second level. Obedience and skills like backing up are Monte's strong points and we completed them without issue.

This left the "easy" challenges, but the most difficult for my charge. They consisted of sitting at a bench while children rolled balls, greeting people, and interacting with a toy/food wielding child. As one of the trainers mentioned, "Monte is very aware of his surroundings." He is always on alert (visual, olfactory, aural), noticing every movement, enticing smells, and interesting sounds.

Back at home base, the other dogs were resting and Monte was alert to everything that was going on around him. At the end of the event, the observers provided feedback and Monte's negative behavior was singled out. Never one to disappoint, he provided a firsthand demonstration of his canine meltdown for all to witness. I worked through my internal protocol to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Apparently not quick or effective enough, we were whisked away for counseling. I did receive some expert insight regarding how to deal with the situation - notice/resolve it before it becomes critical and if that fails remove him from the situation.

Opposed to working on obedience skills for an hour a day when it's convenient, raising Monte is a 16x7 job, every waking moment provides a potential situation. It's as time consuming and stressful as housebreaking a puppy (for twelve months). Since he is always "on alert", we need to monitor his energy and provide correction continually - sometimes we tire or forget. Based on my challenge experience, I wasn't as observant as I needed to be, didn't provide proper correction, nor was I able to quickly identify a hopeless situation. It was not a good day.

Sunday was better. I worked hard, watching his energy and response to prey, on our morning walk. On only a couple occasions did his energy spike. In the afternoon, we stopped to work on the playground equipment before taking him to the football field to run. He amazingly returns to HEEL after a minute to check in. He is a smart dog and deserves the best.

April 1, 2011


When I mention that Monte and I are going for runs, that is not entirely true. I am jogging or plodding along and Monte is walking briskly. After our thirty minutes, my energy is depleted and he is just getting warmed up. Even though I am seven times older than he is, it is very humbling.

The greatest benefit from "running" with a guide dog in training is that I can take breaks when I get tired and pretend to practice HEEL, STAY, and WAIT.