Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

July 31, 2011

Old Friends

We were in the Fox Cities celebrating my grandma's 89th birthday. Whenever, we visit the area, it is like a trip back into the past. Four years ago when we started raising puppies in the Madison area, we experienced access issues and drew constant stares when entering establishments. History repeated itself in a few grocery stores this weekend; blatant stares and we often overheard people asking "Why is there a dog in here?"

This was one of the issues that we discussed with our old friend Banjo, his CVC partner Brooke, and her family. Monte and Banjo overlapped at our home for two weeks last May. We have found it helpful to have an older dog around when housebreaking a puppy.

I was surprised at how well the canines did when meeting each other; they were both business-like. We took a short stroll around the neighborhood where we got to see Banjo working. Although it was brief, it was clear that he was committed to his job and protective of his partner. Business ended when we returned home where they "shared" a bowl of ice water and reestablished their friendship.

Even as the dogs interacted, it was clear that Brooke loved Banjo very much, and vice versa; they were in constant contact. My lasting memory will be of Banjo stretched out on the floor snuggling with Brooke who was resting her head on his chest listening to his heart beat.

We humans chatted about our "guide dog" experiences as puppy raisers and a CVC team. We discussed the occasional access issues and how to better educate the public, but mostly shared stories about the positive aspect of having dogs in our lives.

July 30, 2011

Healing, not Heeling

We are usually working with Monte on Heeling. Well this week he has been healing.

After the picnic last weekend, we noticed Monte had a blood-stained paw. I didn't think much of it and just cleaned it up, did a cursory check to identify any foreign objects, cuts, or scrapes. It looked like he may have tweaked one of his toenails. Other than keeping the area clean, nothing to be concerned about.

Two days later he was still licking his paw, so something was amiss; it was localized so we ruled out an allergy. Further inspection didn't uncover anything substantial, but topical treatment were not impacting Monte's discomfort. Having avoided the veterinarian for eight months after weekly visits during the dew claw ordeal, another visit to the veterinarian was imminent.

The veterinarian's diagnosis confirmed our findings of a small cut between his pads. One steroid injection and one hundred dollars later, Monte is on the road to recovery with an antibiotic regimen, with probiotics to follow. The vet noted that Monte seemed much calmer - progress/maturity.

This did not deter Monte from accompanying us to a Mallards game (Wed), babysitting a two year old niece (Thur), or traveling to visit his step-brother, Banjo (Fri).

July 26, 2011


After a week of never-ending activity, Monte is adjusting to our normal routine. No morning runs to beat the heat and prepare for the day's adventures prior to the rest of the household getting up.

Every morning when I leave for work he looks at me with those puppy eyes, willing me to turn around and take him with me. He has no idea how much I would love to do just that. Instead his mornings are filled with gnawing on bones and sleeping while Lisa works.

At the picnic this weekend, we picked up some advice from a trainer for dealing with Monte's critter distraction. We have been laying the ground work and it seems to be working when we encounter the neighborhood cats and dogs. However, we have not experienced any pesky rabbits yet; they are the real test.

July 24, 2011

Dog Tired

Our weekend began with a drive to the OccuPaws Volunteer Picnic at Happy Hounds in Germantown. The first thing we did upon arrival was let the dogs play (photos). Monte raced from pool to pool, when not paying particularly close attention to an available female. This inevitably tired the dogs out before our picnic lunch which included cookies for all (human and canine alike).

Even though Monte took/passed his CGC test, the highlight of event was catching up with Banjo and Brooke. After four years Banjo has been our only success and it is especially rewarding to hear that he is doing well and has had a positive impact on a youngster and her family.

We needed to attend a baptism on Sunday, so we drove to Tomah immediately after the picnic. Having eaten too many sweets (Lexie) or played too hard (Monte), our two backseat drivers crashed.

We were not sure how best to handle Monte during the baptism, since we were the godparents and would be involved. Throwing caution to the wind and trusting our canine companion, he accompanied us as we walked with the priest's procession into church and later stood in front of the congregation for the ceremony.

July 22, 2011

Zoo Phobia

Our final day of vacation started with ice cream at the Babcock Hall Dairy Store. Then, without a plan, we stopped at the Vilas Zoo for a short visit. We returned home five hours later. After a week, Monte has adjusted to having little humans around the house.

Anyone that truly knows Monte understands that the zoo is the ultimate test; no one in their right mind would attempt this. However, my fears were unwarranted. With the exception of a couple anxiety episodes, Monte was calm and controlled.

The zoo creatures were as interested in Monte as he was in them. He drew the lions' attention when he barked at the sound of a spinning wheel. The sheep came out of their shed and followed him along the fence line. The giraffe kept a watchful eye on him as she stomped a front foot as warning. We tried to keep a respectful distance from the inhabitants.

The chipmunks scurrying about were the most common distraction. Fowl always get at least a second glance. However, we have discovered a new issue the last few days - Raiser Separation. Monte gets anxious when anyone from our pack walks away. There's always something to work on.

Having missed the opportunity to get a photo of our second and fourth puppies together at Puppies on Parmenter, we couldn't let a second opportunity pass.

July 21, 2011

Groundhog Day

What to do on the hottest day of the year? We went to Babcock Hall Dairy Store for ice cream, at ten o'clock in the morning. Monte and Avery observed milk being bottled, cheese being packaged, and ice cream being made.

Due to the heat and our child care duties, Monte spent the rest of Wednesday at home in his crate while we traveled to the farm to show our little human where vegetables really come from. Yesterday when asked where vegetables come from she said, "The Grocery Store." Then we traded our 5 year old child for a seven year old child.

Not wanting to play favorites, we started Lexie's vacation with a trip to the Children's Museum and finished at the Splash Pad in Middleton. It was like Groundhog Day, the movie.

Learning from our prior experience, we limited Monte's exposure to the chickens on the roof of the museum. We concentrated on greetings with children and relaxing with the flurry of activity, with a little guide dog education for the children.

The Splash Pad offers unique opportunities. In addition to the food distractions, high excitement, and multitude of greeters, we practiced SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, and LEAVE IT amidst the temptation of the water fountains. Yes, Monte remained in a STAY one foot away from skyrocketing, cool water. Our frequent sessions always ended with a release, "Okay", and some water fun. Not sure who enjoyed it more, Monte or the kids watching.

July 19, 2011

Beat the Heat

Last night we upgraded from a one year old to a five year old. Avery joined our pack for the next couple days.

To beat the heat, Monte and I were out the door running at 6:15am this morning. It was only 73 degrees. Our early start gave us plenty of time to get ready for Avery's first day. The first stop was the Children's Museum where Monte faced many distractions. The fast moving children were not an issue, but the adolescent chickens on the rooftop caused too much excitement that we had to take a timeout.

To beat the heat after lunch, we visited the Middleton Splash Pad. Kids running and screaming were only http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifa mild distraction; Monte behaved well as we observed or walked around the perimeter. After two hours, I gave him the green light and let him play in a few of the fountains.

Although not guide dog behavior, he loved playing in the water and others at the park enjoyed watching him attack the streams of water.

Many thanks to the Asbury Church who provided free food and beverage for all families. Their kindness made the day truly memorable.

July 18, 2011

Puppies are Easy

You wouldn't think that adding a one year old child to our normal routine would significantly change things, but it does. The puppy required a vest and leash while we packed two bags and a stroller for a baby to attend a pig roast and concert. Puppies are easy.

It was very warm at the pig roast, Saturday afternoon. Monte required a cup of ice every so often and a few corrections for chasing bugs. Our nephew, Sawyer, arrived in the stroller, then wanted to be held, then down, then diaper change, then held, back in the stroller, ... He was a finicky eater; no corn, no beans, just bread, pork, and formula. Monte waited until we returned home. Puppies are easy.

After the pig roast we attended an Elvis tribute show. Our most recent graduate put together a benefit show where he impersonates the king. At the concert, Monte followed instructions and rested quietly at my feet. Sawyer on the other hand was jabbering and squirming, until he eventually crashed - fifteen minutes before the end, which required me to carry him to the car. Monte walked. Puppies are easy.

At home the following day, we let Monte out in the morning and feed him. Repeat once in the evening. The baby was up at 5am for a bottle and diaper change. This was repeated four times per day along with picking up toys and spillage (Monte assisted). Puppies are easy.

Monte is very agreeable and always happy to see us. It was difficult to figure out what Sawyer wanted; he was cranky when we failed to meet his needs. The baby was a bit out of sorts due to the arrival of a few new teeth. We only knew that Monte was teething when we found him chewing on them. Puppies are easy.

July 17, 2011

Kid Tested

We have had a young visitor at our house for the last twenty-four hours. Our one year old nephew, Sawyer, will be spending a three day weekend with us.

Within the first five minutes of entering our house Sawyer was frightened and crying. Unable to contain himself, Monte broke a STAY to say "Hello". The big yellow dog was just too excited to greet our small visitor and overwhelmed him. Since then we have provided more supervision and preemptive corrections to teach and re-enforce proper canine behavior.

The three enforceable rules are 1) No Licking 2) Do not retaliate to having your tail run over 3) Baby toys are not dog toys. The fourth rule which has been nearly impossible to enforce is that food dropped on the floor or stuck to the baby is off limits. This is often linked to rule number one and might explain why we still occasionally catch Monte licking Sawyer's toes, hands, or head.

The two yearlings are almost to the point where they ignore each other. They are learning to coexist peacefully.

July 14, 2011

Growing Boy

Having returned to feeding Monte NutriSource dog food, he has gained 5 pounds in two weeks. Generally this would not be a good thing, but we have been trying fatten him up all year. He weighed less than than a few dogs half his age and shorter.

His exercise has even increased as his ribs have disappeared. The other day we ran in the morning, took a walk in the afternoon, and another long walk before bed. Nighttime walks are always interesting: shadowing figures and more critters around every corner.

We have been planning to get a weight check for the last week and never found time to stop at the veterinarian's office. So I used the puppy method which didn't thrill Monte much. First, I weighed myself and then I got on the scale with Monte. It was a good exercise to get him to accept being lifted off the ground. However, tipping the scales at 72 pounds, this may be the last time we use the puppy method.

July 10, 2011

Quick Learner?

I woke up Sunday morning and prepared for our weekend run. We quickly prepared and left at eight o'clock; it was already 76 degrees. Luckily for Monte we got up reasonably early because we do not run if the temperature is eighty or above.

Monte enjoys our weekend running and I enjoy his focus. He barely notices the neighborhood critters and the birds of the park. A subtle correction is all that is needed to refocus any loss of attention as he leads me through the neighborhood.

After thirty minutes of leisurely trotting, Monte is not tired, but noticeably warm and panting as we enter the cool basement. He stretches out on the tile floor to absorb as much cool as possible. I tell him to STAY downstairs while I retrieve an ice cube. After making quick work of his frozen treat, we usually proceed upstairs to finish our cool down.

I have been trying for the last three weeks to get him to stay downstairs where it is cooler. However, his desire to be around people is greater than his need for comfort - until today. As I went upstairs to grab a drink, Monte did not follow. Ten minutes later, he still had not joined me. I was worried, maybe it was too hot, and went to check on him. He was resting comfortably on the tile floor.

Fifteen minutes later he followed me upstairs. He lapped up some water and went back downstairs, unprompted. He seems to have finally learned to be comfortable because we will still be there when he needs us.

July 8, 2011

Criminal Behavior

We attended Lights n Sirens as guests of the Watertown Police Department and Officer Repta. When we first arrived the sirens were fully engaged. When combined with a few hundred excited children running around created a high energy environment - quite the test for a puppy.

As you can see Marcie kept a close watch on Monte's behavior while he was greeted by at least a hundred youngsters. It turns out the most difficult distraction were the "Boo Boo Bears" that many of the children were carrying. Monte thought they would be wonderful chew toys.

Officer Repta was in a good mood and let a couple of Monte's indiscretions slide. However, the third time he actually took it from a little boy. That was strike three; Monte was out and ordered to take a timeout in her squad car. We were attempting to apply the "Scared Straight" behavior modification.

It worked. Once released he was on his best behavior for the remainder of the evening. No more attempted robbery

July 5, 2011

Two to Go

Mantequilla (aka Monte) was born sixteen months ago at Neverest Labs in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. He celebrated his birthday with a smoothie for dogs. After reading the ingredient list I wish that I had sampled some: apple, pear, banana, and peppermint

The end of his time as a member of our household is drawing near. We only have two more months to whip him into shape. Actually, we never thought that he would be with us this long. With the exception of our Guide Dog Trainer, none of the organization's leaders or puppy raisers gave our high energy puppy a chance to succeed.

On Sunday we were informed that Monte's only supporter was resigning to pursue another opportunity. Although I have always had my doubts about our puppy's future, I clung to the hope that our experienced trainer saw in Monte that "something special" which is needed to be a guide dog.

The Puppy Coordinator that brought Monte into the OccuPaws program, Marlene, always complimented Doug's training ability by saying that "He could train a goat to do guide work." So, a rambunctious Labrador shouldn't be a problem.

July 3, 2011

Stomp Stomp Clap

After receiving a tip from Kourtney, our Dog Den trainer, that the Madison Mallards were having "Dog Day at the Ballpark", we ventured out to the Duck Pond. Monte met up with an old pal, Meadow, and at least fifty other canine spectators, including Packer and Snickers who were working a booth.

On the way to our seats we stopped at every water bowl we passed, about a dozen, to check for hot dogs. Ever since last Halloween, Monte thinks that a water bowl is an opportunity to "Bob for Hot Dogs". Each water stop had three bowls and the routine was the same: place nose underwater, search along the bottom, repeat in next two bowls. He never drinks.

A girl seated behind us was getting bored around inning number five and made sure everyone knew. On the other hand, Monte was bored but only the people that saw us enter were aware that he was there. He rested for most of the game, only responding to the occasional "Quack" of kid's toys.

His slumber was interrupted late in the game by "Stomp, Stomp, Clap". The stomping on the metal floor was loud and actually shook the bleachers. Initially startled he sat up immediately, but laid down when reassured that everything was okay. After a few episodes the vibrations warranted no more than a lift of the head.