Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

October 31, 2011


We split our dogs up tonight. Monte stayed home while we first took Cooper for a walk. At times he seemed lost with out his big buddy, especially when visiting new areas. Not many people out and about, so we decided to visit the playground. Cooper managed to ascend the gigantic steps and cross the wobbly bridge. His return trip across the bridge led through a mesh tube and then he stopped, hesitated briefly before scampering down the slide. He ZOOMed around the playground, circling the various obstacles before repeating the process.

After a dozen more attempts, he still hasn't mastered the slide. Instead of sliding he runs down and without a spotter completes the ride with a face plant. No worse for wear, he picks himself up, dusts off, and races around the merry-go-round.

October 30, 2011


Lisa overheard someone at the hockey game on Saturday night:
"I feel so sad for that little puppy. He has to be a service dog and doesn't get to be a puppy."

Our response should have been:
"He gets to be a puppy everyday and he goes everywhere with us. I feel sorry for all the dogs at home alone (Monte)."

October 29, 2011

Dog Day

Our dog day started with a morning run. It was the first time that Monte and I have run since he returned home. It will be good for both of us to maintain this routine; he needs to burn energy and I need to burn calories.

Next on the agenda was puppy playgroup at The Dog Den. Cooper has changed so much since our initial visit. He has doubled in size which may have influenced the other notable difference. He no longer spends the entire session on his back being submissive; he is now more balanced and playful.

After chasing and being chased for forty-five minutes, we thought it was a great time to work on restaurant behavior and stopped for frozen custard.  The one behavior that is almost impossible to modify is cleaning up after others.  There is always some food substance or remnant under the table or in the aisle.

Being so close to a pet store, we stopped at Pet World for some fowl exposure. Cooper also came nose to nose with some kittens and was rewarded handsomely for his non-threatening behavior. We must have walked the aisles for forty minutes, greeting canines and humans while continuously tempted by tasty treats. We walked out with a new toy.

One of our last beautiful days, Monte and I went for an hour long walk to/through the park. He used to be highly dog distracted, however, now he avoids them when running through the park.

We wrapped up the evening with dinner and a hockey game. Cooper slept through both. Even the fog horn did not cause him to stir as it roared for each of the Badgers six goals. He was more comfortable on the metal grating and should be cured by March.

Note: Cooper has been having some GI issues - vomiting at least once a day with no apparent reason. We need to monitor his diet and consumption of wood.

Kids at Kohl

Cooper attended the hockey portion of "Kids Day at the Kohl Center". It was a perfect opportunity for him to interact with a large number of children. As usual moving about the Kohl Center took an inordinate amount of time with our cute and cuddly Yellow Labrador, but that is precisely why we attended the event. Oh we also got to spend time with our goddaughters.

Our trainee has mastered the stairs and is not fazed by the fog horn. However, he does not like walking on the metal grates at the entrances. He comes to an abrupt stop and circles around using the rugs to avoid them. We will use some "high-value" treats to work on this tomorrow.

October 27, 2011


We are constantly looking for opportunities to take Monte with us. Tonight we crashed the Custom Canines Training class. Not sure how long it has been since he attended a training class, but it was visibly and audibly apparent that it had been some time and a refresher was necessary. His obedience was a bit rusty and he whined throughout.

We definitely have been slacking in regards to maintaining his training. Not sure he will be allowed back. 

These classes provide the ultimate canine distraction. Being one of the first dogs to arrive, Cooper was eager to meet/greet every new puppy and vice versa. Once class started he and his fellow trainees had settled down some. We rotated working with every dog, so I wasn't able to watch him constantly.  However, from what I was able to observe he did remarkably well on STAY, since it was his first exposure to the concept. 

For the past couple days we have been working to get Cooper to DOWN using only the verbal command - no luring.  We ended the session tonight with four successful DOWNs  :-)  After two hours all the canines were tuckered out and relaxing, with the exception of Monte who was still on alert and letting us know.

October 25, 2011

Little Monster

We made sure that Cooper was rested for tonight's training class. We didn't want to be accused of doping our puppy again this week. Although a bit more animated, he is calmer than any Labrador puppy I have ever seen. The entire group is extremely relaxed and progressing quickly. None of the puppies jumped up to enforce the OFF command.

The group is ahead of schedule so we began to learn a trick this evening and the trainer will be accelerating the training plan. All that means is that luring will be reduced sooner and replaced with expecting/waiting for the proper behavior.

Copper and his classmates performed solid SIT and WATCH. Teaching him DOWN has been a struggle. He can easily be lured, but has not associated the word with the movement yet. The trick we started to work on was to have the puppy army crawl. Actually, we may not proceed with this trick as it may only encourage creeping in a DOWN STAY - a common trait for Labradors.

We also been questioning the time Cooper spends on the sofa and in bed with us. It is nice to be able to have a cuddly puppy to curl up with, however, we may have created a monster. He cries to be pulled up on the bed/sofa and is almost big enough to jump up on the sofa by himself. Now we need to teach our little monster that he must be invited up. It would have been easier to keep him OFF from the beginning.

October 24, 2011

Doctor Visit

Cooper traveled down to Platteville to visit residents at the assisted living facility.  Of course everyone loved him.  After sitting through a meeting, he accompanied Lisa and her mom on a visit to the doctor's office.  He cried in the waiting room and slept during the exam.

Had Lisa know that the doctor was allergic to dogs and cats, Cooper would have stayed home or at least stayed at her mother's home. The doc was very accommodating and was fine as long as he didn't actually touch Cooper.  He has to be awakened after the visit to sleep some more while the humans ate lunch.

October 23, 2011

Rest Day?

Cooper's day began with puppy play time where he proved that he wasn't a submissive little wimp.  Without the overbearing boxer pinning him to the ground constantly, he ran around for an entire hour and played with every dog there. This obviously affected his energy level for the rest of the day.

"A tired dog is a good dog" and Cooper was very good today.

While Monte was home alone all day, resting in his crate, Cooper was out and about.  Albeit he was also resting most of the time.  We stopped home between each of the day's events to play ball with Monte.

By the time we arrived at the bowling alley for Pins for Paws, he was already pooped out.  His makeshift "costume", as a post-operative dog, probably added to his poor disposition.  He removed a couple faux bandages before the event and the remaining bandages did not stay on for the duration of the event either.  Note: He did look happy and full of life at puppy playtime, we just don't have photographic evidence.

When not napping Cooper made new friends, human and canine. His favorite was our bowling partner, Marissa.  Between her frames of bowling she would take care of Cooper; either walking him around or letting him rest in her lap, depending on his mood.  Only a young Mastiff puppy gave Cooper a reason to engage - biting and wrestling.

The final activity of the day was a Badger hockey game. Once again he met a hundred people.  He mastered all the stairs.  We carried him up a few because he got tired; we carried him down a few because I thought he needed to potty quickly - limited interaction.  He slept through the game, only stirring when the Badgers scored a goal and the fog horn interrupted his slumber (5 times).

October 21, 2011

Chase the Cat

As most of you know Monte has an issue with the neighborhood critters.  Yesterday he got to meet the neighbor's cat up close and personal.  He spotted the feline in the side yard and raced after him, however the cat did not move, it simply sat down.  Monte gave a brief hello sniff and returned.  A few more encounters like this will help us deal with his issue.

Our morning routine involves about ten minutes of playing fetch with the tennis ball.  I roll the ball down the sidewalk, Monte tears after it, and Cooper waddles after both. As Monte approaches, Cooper makes a half-hearted attempt to gain control of the ball before Monte either races away or hops over him.

This morning, Monte observed another neighbor's cat across the street.  I offered a stern LEAVE IT and he returned with the ball for more play.  As we continued our game, he continued to keep a watch on the critter, but playing fetch was more enticing than a game of chase the cat.  Another positive cat encounter.

October 19, 2011

Fear Conquered

Ten days ago we carried Cooper up and down the stairs at the Kohl Center until he decided that he would follow some interesting people down the stairs as we were leaving.  Even after that he would not descend the stairway to our basement.  He would stand at the top when Lisa and Monte did laundry.  He would cry as I tried to coax him down using Monte an an example

Last night as I was preparing dinner, Lisa and Monte were downstairs working and I heard Cooper plea to help him.  Then, I heard footsteps on the stairs.  I thought Monte must be coming back upstairs.  No, it was Cooper who decided that fear be damned he had to check out what was going on downstairs and conquered the stairs.  He has quickly learned that we keep his extra food in the laundry room and he receives a small reward for each trip.

Now every time the basement door opens, he hightails it downstairs.  This should continue as long as we keep reinforcing the behavior.  His new found prowess was put to the test this evening at Madison Fire House #4.  They had a four story open, grated, steel stairway. that the group of puppies practiced on.  Cooper only made it to the fourth step before turning around.  All in all, not bad - we need to keep the experiences positive.

In addition to the very scary stairs, the puppies were exposed to the lights and sirens as the firetruck left on a call. Each dog made friends with the kind fireman as she donned her full equipment - some were more accepting than others.  Cooper didn't mind as long there was a chance for affection or food. He was searching for the origin of the voice as she attempted to get him to SIT, with her mask on.

October 18, 2011

Nature vs Nurture

 We started another Puppy Socialization class at The Dog Den this evening.  Luckily they received a last minute cancellation and could get us in. Socialization during the first few months is such a critical part of any puppy's life, but even more important for a service dog to be dog-friendly and adaptable to all breeds.  With this end in mind, we take full advantage of the puppy playgroups and training opportunities.  Over the last four years we have spent so much time there that they feel like family which is not surprising because they treat all their customers, human and canine, like family.

Having raised at least five "service puppies" through this early stage, one would think that we would know everything by now.  However, it has been eighteen months since we have had such a young dog in the house.  The advice we receive from The Dog Den trainers is a great reminder/refresher and we always learn at least one new thing every class.  After "loading the clicker" or establishing the "marker word", tonight's lesson focused on SIT, GO PLAY, and WATCH.  Cooper will enjoy the homework - more treats to reinforce the marker.

The puppies at class were eerily mellow.  The most docile pack of ten puppies that I have ever seen. After a short playtime, one of the people seated next to us asked if we drugged Cooper because he was so lethargic.  He rarely appears to be enjoying himself and he has sad eyes.  We have the darnedest time trying to get a "happy" photo.

This has caused me to reconsider the nature vs nurture debate.  Our dogs have always been more energetic and active: Buddy, Echo, and Monte.  We have begun to think that we were creating these service "monsters" and that we may need some remedial training ourselves.  We can't keep messing up these dogs. Our current charge, Cooper seems to be the exact opposite; he has a calm gentle soul and is very submissive.

This will determine which is stronger Nature or Nurture (us).

October 17, 2011


With the challenge of housebreaking hopefully behind us, we focus on Cooper's house manners and obedience.

The last few days we have been working on WAIT.  Instead of bolting out of the crate when the door is opened, Cooper must wait patiently until freed.  The first few times he didn't understand why I kept closing the door in his face.  We have reached an understanding and have started to apply this to all doorways.  His SIT and COME are also progressing well.

My intention this evening was to work on not pulling when walking on leash.  We had to postpone this for another day.  Our walk for ice cream, near traffic, and to the drug store was more about stopping to explore the new environment.  He needed more coaxing to keep moving than restraint. 

The first time in a restaurant could not have gone better.  He was in need of a break and quietly laid down at our feet while we ate ice cream.  People always ask how we train a dog to lie down under a table during meals.  A few experiences like this one will quickly create a good habit.

The one issue that we have heard repeatedly over the last four years is how to keep a puppy from chewing on wood.  The best answer is not to let him start.  Unfortunately our yard is filled with sticks and wood chips.  Cooper has acquired a taste for wood which he may eventually outgrow or it will require constant supervision and plenty of correction.

October 16, 2011


 This evening we had a dilemma: Which dog to take our CSA harvest party?  Monte is much better behaved and will obey commands, while Cooper is our focus and needs interaction with people. 

Two dogs was not an option.  Last year we took both Banjo and Monte; it went well, but not as enjoyable as it should be, mostly due to the puppy.

The winner was Cooper.  He enjoyed the attention from the children and adults, when he wasn't gnawing on sticks.
Every time we leave Monte home is difficult for us.  I thought it would get easier, but I am not sure that we have settled into our roles yet.  To make myself feel better and burn some canine energy, Monte went for two long walks today - alone, no pesky puppy jumping up to bite his lip.

We have decided to relax our expectations of Monte and let him be a dog, free of any stress for a few months.  We have been avoiding his trigger points and letting him run free through the meadow.  However, it is not a free-for-all, we do maintain basic obedience on our walks and runs.

October 13, 2011

Home Alone

The blog has been neglected for the last few days because I have been out of town on business.  While I was away from home experiencing severe sleep deprivation,  Lisa has been home alone.  Well, as alone as one could be with a nineteen month and a three month old puppies demanding attention.  She would usually appreciate their company, however she has developed a nasty cold or sinus infection.

Today was spent re-establishing our routine and getting some much needed exercise for our boys.  Monte and I worked on calmly approaching rabbits and accepting the little boy leading our pack.  Cooper is developing more independence and has gained speed; we must now keep him leashed.  Now we begin leash training; we do not allow him to pull.  Any tension on the leash, we halt, and wait for him to release the tension before continuing.  Combining this with stoppages for Monte to relax, our walks have doubled in duration for a shorter distance.

Note: Cooper is completely housebroken (knock on wood).

October 9, 2011

Mini Cooper

Copper's day started early this morning and as usual it was still dark outside. I do not want to take him out, so I have Monte take him outside.  Cooper is learning from Monte that going outside in the morning involves going POTTY and quickly returning to the house to eat breakfast which is followed by more slumber.

After catching a few winks, it was off to the veterinarian's office to get weighed (22 lbs).  Then it was off to The Dog Den to learn how puppies play.  At puppy playtime this week Cooper learned that he can't always be the top dog. 

At Farm and Fleet we picked up his medicine and we all learned that Cooper needs to move quicker through the sliding doors.  At least until he gets bigger to trip the sensor, or risk getting squashed. We practiced this a few more times and finished with a positive experience.

Cooper's first Badger hockey gamer.

We parked in a different location which just happened to be next to a park that was filled with children.  Upon seeing Cooper, the throng eagerly, but cautiously approached.  Needless to say it was perfect "training" for our puppy.  We spent fifteen minutes answer questions while Cooper was smothered with love and attention.

At the game, Cooper met one our favorite hockey dog friends.  They are always eager to see the dog that will accompany us during the hockey season.  Everyone was excited to see our "Mini Cooper".  And I mean everyone, it took us thirty minutes to exit the Kohl Center grounds.  We met well over one hundred people today.

After the Badgers scored their third goal of the evening to earn a victory, Cooper was getting used to the fog horn.  He still needs work, but was not overly concerned.  Because of his reluctance to descend stairs, we ended up carrying him up and down the long stairways.  Luring with food didn't even work.  To our amazement, after bonding with a group of people, Cooper followed them down two long stairways as we were leaving.  You just never know what will motivate.

Monte stayed home :-(  , but did get out to the park twice today :-)

October 7, 2011

Walk with Purpose

I forgot to mention that Lisa brought "Cooper" home with her after the eye exams. Pending a trial visit, he may be staying with us for the next few months. Both he and Monte appear comfortable with the new situation. I only wish they were this calm all the time.

Update on Project Monte: Research has begun on how to proceed, but in the meantime I have made a commitment to Walk with Purpose and provide an hour of exercise daily .  I will keep my focus on every walk to maintain good position and keep Monte engaged. This is only fair since I expect him to maintain his focus.

He behaves much better when he is "working", so I will treat each walk as a work session.

October 6, 2011

Eyes Okay

One dozen puppies were transported to Madison.  There were Labradoodles, Shepards, Poodles, and Labrador Retrievers.

The four puppy wranglers had their hands full.

All the puppies eyes checked out fine.  .

 As far as I know, all the puppies there are waiting for a puppy raiser to love them and train them.

If you are interested, more information is available at Custom Canines.

October 5, 2011

Temporary Dog?

Given the potentially long wait for a baby guide dog, we are evaluating our options to provide some temporary canine assistance.  Our first choice was our nephew's dog Rex, who has not found his way up to Oregon yet and we have not ventured down to Platteville to provide a weekend of Dog Whisperer training advice.

The most likely option at this time is to raise an Autistic Assistance Dog.  The training is much less demanding than guide or service work, but should be equally gratifying.  And the best part is that it should only take four to six months to complete a placement, depending on the situation.  This should work perfectly with Leader Dogs.  We will know more tomorrow as a group of potential candidates are coming up to Madison for vision testing.  Lisa is assisting with the puppy wrangling and gathering information on the program.  My bet is that she will bring home a puppy in-training.

This morning I heard a great name for a dog, if we get to name it:  Radar. However, the more I think about it, it seems to be a better fit for a guide dog.

October 4, 2011

Project Monte

Now that Monte is back in our lives, we are overjoyed.  However, let's be honest; Monte does not meet all the criteria that we had established for a forever dog: well-behaved, friendly, focused, relaxed, obedient, cuddly, ...  Don't get me wrong he is very close to perfect, but he has a couple flaws.  He is not the most affectionate nor relaxed.  I can live without cuddly, but he needs to be relaxed.  Every walk around the neighborhood or through the park is filled with bouts of excitability and frenzy when experiencing critters.

Maybe we are ignorant, but we think that we were the best place for Monte because we know his issues, love him, and are willing to work to correct them. However, we have had sixteen months to figure it out.  We tried avoidance and we tried immersion with no success. We have sought advice and assistance from a number of trainers and have not seen any noticeable improvement.    I believe that his behavior has been getting progressively worse.  After his month long stressful excursion, things seem to have gotten worse.

The analysis from supposed experts has ranged from anxious, high prey drive, excited, stressed, high-energy, and just plain crazy.  I am not sure if any one tells the whole complicated story.  I do not think that he will mature out of this issue.

Yesterday we officially began Project Monte.  Our plan is to take the time necessary using every possible means to work through his demons. Step one will be to reread every book that Cesar Milan has written and watch old episodes of the Dog Whisperer to find something to try.  Step two will be a consult with a behaviorist at The Dog Den to identify the cause.

All I know is that we need to help him.  Any and all advice is appreciated.

October 3, 2011

Free Agents

We have been unemployed for the past month with no indication that another puppy trainee was in our future.  In the past we had another puppy before all the hair was cleaned up.  If that is ever possible; we probably still have hair samples from each of the twenty dogs that have shared our home during the past four years.

Being free agents offers an opportunity to look for the best situation to raise a successful guide dog.  With that in mind, we recently contacted Leader Dogs for the Blind.  Leader Dogs is located in Rochester, Michigan  and they are affiliated with Lions Clubs.  The waiting list for a puppy, once accepted, is six to twelve months.

While we wait for our next baby guide dog (apologize for using the term so often, but I just heard it a few weeks ago and I love it), we are looking into doing some temporary training and puppy sitting.  Our nephew has a puppy, Rex,  in need of some remedial training who we may help out.  In addition, Lisa has been walking our first guide dog trainee, Buddy in the afternoon.. 

Reading through the puppy raiser FAQ, I spotted this item that is important for puppy raisers to remember:
Unlike working guide dogs, businesses are not required to allow our puppies onto their premises—it will be your responsibility to get permission from the owner or manager of an establishment before entering with a puppy.

October 2, 2011

House Rules

We are now faced with a decision.  What rules should we have in place for our pet Monte?  Knowing that we are pursuing options to start the process over with a new baby guide dog will impact our final decision.  Should we maintain the existing rules?  or  Allow him some flexibility?

Monte returned home with a basic understanding of our house rules.  Not surprising because he was only gone one month and he was still in training mode. He remembers that he is not allowed in the kitchen, unless he is eating dinner or drinking water.  He retreats from the kitchen with just "the look". He remembered that PLACE meant he was to lie down on his blanket. He will WAIT before entering/exiting doorways, crossing streets, and eating his food.

Unfortunately, he also remembers that the jingling of car keys mean we are leaving to go on an exciting adventure, however, now he has to stay home.  This is the most difficult part of transitioning a guide dog in-training to a pet; I hope it is more difficult for us.

The command GO TO BED used to result in Monte jumping in the crate, lying down, and receiving a treat .  Now it means lie down on  pillows next to the bed.  That is his treat.  I doubt that it will ever mean jump up on the bed.  If we give up our bed, then the transition will have been completed and he will have become the pack leader.

The biggest change will be when walking or running in the park.  I trust him off leash and will allow him run free. This will significantly increase his exercise and probably reduce mine. One thing that will not change when walking is our continued efforts to work through critter distractions.  I dread this because no one has been able to assist or offer effective advice.  His one area of weakness is where he will have the majority of his interactions with the public.

October 1, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Monte returned to our very humble abode Friday evening.

His first twenty-four hours were spent:

1. Exploring his "new" home
2. Playing with Buddy and Kane
3. Being disciplined by Sable
4. Sleeping next to the bed, crate-less
5. Waking up too early
6. Walking to the store and waiting outside
7. Breakfast
8. Napping
9. Greeting the neighbors who were glad to see him again
10. Refresher on our "House Rules"
11. Running uncontrollably in the park
12. Dinner in his ceramic bowl
13. Napping in the crate
14. Refresher on "House Rules"
15. Distributing toys throughout the house