Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

March 30, 2012

Bunny Too

Our preparation for meeting Chloe in the afternoon started at 10 am. Monte was scheduled to join us, so he and I went for a two hour walk to expend some energy.  After reintroduction, Chloe fed and water our puppies. After thirty minutes she was ignoring the canines, which is good. During the summer there is a lot of dog action on the path behind their home, so we all took a walk - Chloe and her two dogs. On the way home she walked with them side-by-side.

Energized from our initial training yesterday, we met Cooper's family at the mall. Mac's brother Griff is helping train his parents and Cooper on the art of tethering. Whether Cooper is lazy or smart, he seems to be adapting to the new requirements of his job, as he excels at anchoring.

Since Cooper left training early on Wednesday, he missed the obligatory Easter Bunny meet/greet and photo opportunity. Fortunately the large rabbit was at West Towne this evening.

Tethering 101

In preparation for our upcoming vacation, Monte and I spent the morning checking out a potential doggie resort for him, Farview Kennel. In addition to providing the perfect home away from home for a Labrador Retriever, they are a member of Trails Home Labrador Rescue of Wisconsin. No longer in-training, Monte will not be traveling with us for the first time in two years.

Imagine you are a two year old Labrador who has never ever been boarded in a standard (concrete and wire) kennel. What could be better than unlimited access to two acres of play area (human ball chucker included), wading pools, plenty of toys, food/treats, and access to humans/house via doggie door? Well, how about the addition of twelve friendly pack members to enjoy it with. The only downside is the forty minute drive to Mazomanie.

On our way home we stopped to retrieve Cooper from his family and introduce him to our new dog (for the day) Halo. She was at our home less than twenty-four hours, but that's as long as it takes to fall in love. She was obedient, fun loving, and actually possessed useful skills. We had her picking up and retrieving keys, remotes, pens, etc. We tried to keep her busy to give Cooper and Monte a break; all she wanted to do was play. Her stay was brief because our job was to transport her to Beloit where we were scheduled to receive our first instructions on tethering - the first Autism Assist skill.

Lisa and I received an introduction to the basics and proper techniques of tethering. We practiced walking as a unit, entering vehicles, supporting the anchor dog, and navigating stairs/doorways. We all made mistakes, but Cooper was by far the best prepared of our trio. Our goal is to have our entire client team fully trained, working effectively, and traveling safely in three months.

Note: In addition to our skills practice, we helped out a bit as we bottle fed eight two-week old puppies who were essentially abandoned. We could tell they had enough goat milk after their stomachs swelled to orange-size. As I told Marlene, it was fun to perform this task once, but it would get old fast doing it every four hours, as required.

March 29, 2012


Wednesday we accompanied Mac on a marathon appointment with the eye doctor. His parents absolutely dread these and have been "looking forward" to it for a couple months. This one lasted almost three hours - most of it waiting, in the waiting area or exam room. The tandem handled the ordeal remarkable well; it didn't seem that horrendous to me. Mac's father attributes the successful appointment on Cooper's presence. Months from being placed, he is already adding value.

As a reward, Cooper got to visit the veterinarian in the afternoon. With the early advent of summer-like weather, mosquitoes have been observed which indicates heartworm season. So in addition to a DHLPP booster shot, our trainee required a blood test. Stuck twice for good behavior, that's not fair.

After squeezing in an exercise session with Monte, it was off to Custom Canine obedience training. Having mastered the SIT, DOWN, SIT routine, I checked to make sure he was listening. We tried a SIT, SIT command. As expected he assumed it was a SIT, DOWN command, proving that he wasn't really listening. Eventually he started listening and he was free to spend his first night with his family. Against our "strict" warning, it appears he spent the night in bed with his boy, Mac :-) Actually this will be one of the tasks Cooper performs on a regular basis.

March 27, 2012

Totally Unfair

Cooper visited our friend Chloe. Again the first order of business was feeding and watering our dog. She wanted to know where Monte was, so he will get to join us on Friday. Our desensitization has been going great with Cooper (and Monte), but we are struggling with generalizing this acceptance to other dogs. We try to come up with something new each visit to push the envelope. Tonight we accompanied Chloe and Chase on a trip to the toy store to get some Ugly Dolls.

I had no idea what they were and they just happened to be next to some drum sets. The drumming of another boy held Cooper's attention, but he wasn't phased, just interested in the different noises. As soon as Chase started playing, an employee came by, took the drum sticks, and stated we had to stop - totally unfair.

Before dinner, we took both dogs for a walk. Cooper needs practice with the LEAVE IT command. He has an affinity for worms, sticks, and goose poop. After a long walk, Monte got his meal, but we made Cooper work for his - totally unfair. We had to practice SIT, DOWN, UP, and COME while reinforcing the marker word, so I hand fed him.

Sometimes he loses his head in the presence of food and tonight was one of those times. He must have been hungry because, if I paused before giving a command, he went through his entire repertoire of "tricks". He would sit, then lie down, stand up, back up, and sit, all within a couple seconds figuring that I must expect one of these. It was humorous to watch and hard to not laugh, but I needed to wait for him to settle down and LISTEN to me.

March 26, 2012

CGC Class

Our Saturday began like most, with a trip to The Dog Den for puppy playgroup. Cooper seemed to have an unusually high energy level and we needed to stop him from running on several occasions. Don't believe the old saying that neutering reduces a pet's energy level because Cooper seems more energized and he started to display increased dominant behavior.

Playgroup was a prelude to our first official Canine Good Citizen training class. So Cooper went home and rested until 2 o'clock. The initial CGC class was a review of our prior training sessions to get all the canine teams at the same level. We reinforced the marker word, stressed not jumping, walked on a loose leash, and proofed SIT.

My Sunday started with a bike ride, followed by a hurried walk to the park with Monte before Special Olympic training. Of course Cooper has been attending, but it also provides an opportunity for Monte to socialize. Both dogs participate in warm-ups and enjoy greeting the athletes. Cooper does great with the entire experience, however Monte does not tolerate being left out when Cooper works. Monte whines and cries as long as Cooper is within in eye-shot. This may have been Monte's last session.

After Mac's training, we quickly went home to change and travel to a Custom Canine dinner. I asked Cooper if he was ready to go for a ride and he ran to the door while Monte, having figured out the new routine, ran to his crate. He has accepted his role as long as he gets some time each day to chase wildlife. CCSDA events are great opportunities to reinforce training lessons and we all want to show off our dogs.

March 25, 2012

Catch Up

Summary of Cooper's week as training continues

Wednesday: He attended a semi-formal event and fundraiser for the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society (MADSS). Cooper was a big hit, but we couldn't stay long because we had an Autism Assistance Dog training/outing at West Towne mall. Max, Porter, and Juno continued to "proof " their SIT, DOWN, and STAYs. With the advent of Spring, we should try to do some outdoor outings.

Thursday: I have very little direct knowledge of Cooper's activities. After we accompanied Mac to a learning session in the morning, Cooper spent the remainder of the day with his family. It is rumored that he went shopping, attended a swim lesson, played in the yard, slept through a chiropractor visit, and took Griff to the pediatrician, where he assisted a girl experiencing a panic attack. He was returned to us after we helped out the Therapy and Shy Dog classes at The Dog Den.

Friday: Cooper and I went to lunch and in the afternoon,we all made a return trip to visit Chloe. It had been a couple weeks and we hoped that he would still be welcome - he was. As soon as Chloe saw Copper she hurried to the kitchen to get him some bubble bites (Kix) and water. I think that her brother Chase may have missed him more.

March 20, 2012

Boring Week

As if often said, training a puppy is boring. It's not that there is nothing to do; it's that we are often repeating the same activities over and over again. We are either trying to improve our charge's response or "proofing" the response until it is reliable.

The last week or so, since Cooper's surgery, has been boring. We have worked on the same social settings: restaurants, grocery, hardware, bakery, drug store, and other houses. Our training sessions have focused on the same things: SIT, DOWN, STAY, HEEL, COME. The reason for this back to basics approach is gearing up for the Canine Good Citizen test next month. After earning his CGC his real training can begin.

The only new wrinkle has been a focus on night walking. The darkness gets him to rely more on his sense of smell and hearing. Different lighting changes the appearance of objects and creates unrecognizable shadows. The purpose of these walks is less on HEELing and more about exploring and becoming comfortable in this new environment. We are still spending a lot of time "making friends" with scary objects. The other day we had to investigate a plastic bag blowing/flapping in the wind.

March 15, 2012

Strange Behavior

With the record breaking heat wave, we decided it was time for the puppy pool. Monte thoroughly enjoys our morning runs followed by his "cooling off" period. He splashes and digs until he figures out that it's more refreshing to just relax. After our afternoon walks, I unleash him a couple doors down and he heads straight for the pool.

Cooper, on the other hand, does not share his affinity for water. He sees it as a huge drinking bowl and will occasionally place a paw in the water as if testing the temperature. Certainly strange behavior for a Labrador, but we have been saying all along that he is a special dog.

I thought that his behavior might change after we took him for his first off-leash activity, in eight days, this afternoon. He is fully recovered from his surgery, but still not acting like a normal Labrador. We are not sure if this behavior warrants fixing; it may be better this way.

March 13, 2012

A Sunny Day....

Hi everyone! Jeff has graciously asked if I would like to write on the blog.... so here it goes! Let me first introduce myself and my family... My name is Lexy and my husband's name is Russ. We have 2 boys - Mac is 8 and Griffin is 6. We were fortunate to meet Lisa and Cooper last October when we were getting our son Mac on the wait list for a service dog. Mac has Down syndrome and autism. As fate would have it, Mac and Cooper have been matched together to continue on this journey together. We have started classes with Jeff, Lisa and Cooper. I have done some outings with them as well. But some of my favorite times are when Cooper gets to come to our house.

On this day, I was off work and got to spend the whole day with Cooper!  Our day started out with a great walk with Jeff and Lisa and Cooper & Monte. Then Cooper and I met a friend for lunch - my first time doing that by myself. And we did great.... if I do say so myself :) Then we picked up the boys from school and because of the amazing weather we got to hang outside together! Here are some pictures from that day. The shadows are (from left to right): Griff, Cooper, me, and Mac.

Until next time.....

March 12, 2012

Unexpected Treat

As we were driving up to Neenah we discovered that we had forgotten to bring the dog's food.  Lisa started checking for vendors of our NutriSource dog food located near the destination.  We located a few, but decided that it would be more convenient to stop at Pick n Save to get some raw chicken.  It was 59 cents a pound, which is cheaper than their dog food.  Our poor planning resulted in their treat.

Visiting grandma was a "perfect" opportunity to practice Cooper's LAP command.  Grandma didn't think it was a bad idea until all 58 pounds was resting on her. 

March 9, 2012

Recovering Well

Cooper's recovery is going well; the incision site is mostly dry. The veterinarian's instructions were leash walking for seven days and no jumping. We got out for a short walk yesterday evening. The hard part has been keeping him from jumping on/off the bed and sofa. We have tried to lift him, but he has been disobedient lately and not waiting for an invitation.

Tonight we took him to the drug store and grocery store, so socialization continues. We might even stop by The Dog Den for puppy playgroup tomorrow. Cooper will not be a participant, but rather a spectator. He will be working on ignoring dog distractions - the ultimate testing ground.

March 8, 2012

Snip Update - Cooper

I wrote too soon last evening. While I thought and was hoping that Cooper was resting comfortably, he was wide awake looking at me from inside his crate when I turned in. So I had a decision to make with a few alternatives.

I opted to bring him into our bed, my rationale was that way I could better monitor his crying and keep him from licking the incision site. Now this was all true, however, my plan failed because I needed to be awake to monitor him. Needless to say I did not get any sleep; I felt his every move and heard every whimper.

I made it until 4:30 this morning. It was time for a potty break, but more importantly, also time for his first at home pain medication. Knowing that I needed to get some sleep and Lisa would be up soon, I changed course to what should have been my initial approach. I made my way downstairs, retrieved the Elizabethan collar, and placed Cooper in the big crate, which just happens to be located down the hall - out of earshot.

As pet owners we often fall prey to Anthropomorphism, basically treating animals as if they were human, with negative consequences. With all our experience, we should have known better. We will have to see what Lisa decides this evening ...

Cooper-Less Days

We were without our trainee for the last two days. Cooper spent Tuesday with Lexy and family. He went to lunch, shopped a bit, played with the kids, and came home exhausted.

Wednesday was spent at the veterinarian's office where he was snipped. We picked him up in the afternoon and he was still a bit wobbly as he stumbled to the car. Again he was completely exhausted and proceeded to cry/moan all evening, even while eating. Not sure if it was the pain or just out of sorts, but he can't have additional pain medication until morning.

He finally went to sleep at 11 pm and has been resting peacefully.

Note: We are horrible dog owners. Monte's birthday was Monday; he turned two. It wasn't on our calendar, so we never noticed until checking health records this morning.

March 6, 2012


Spread the Word to End the Word -- video

Monte Back at Work

We made another trip to visit our little friend Chloe today. This time Monte joined us; it was his first working day since he was released from his guide dog training. Introducing a strange dog into the situation, we were prepared to spend some time outside. We were all pleasantly surprised as all four of us were welcomed inside. "Monte stay by door," but Cooper was greeted with some fresh water.

After a brief waiting period, Monte and I entered the living area. He was a tad excited in a new environment. Chloe resisted our attempts to lure her closer to Monte and touch him. We have learned that she does things on her schedule and she eventually decided that Monte was safe enough to touch. So there she was sitting on the floor surrounded by her canine companions.

A big THANK YOU to Chloe for the picture of Cooper that she created on her iPad.

March 3, 2012

Dogs Teach Dogs

No animals were hurt in the gathering of today's photos.

We finally remembered to get some photos from the Saturday playgroup at The Dog Den. The most interesting was this teeth baring interaction. Cooper's preferred playmate was Neato and they sparred for the majority of Teenager playgroup. While many onlookers may view their behavior as vicious, it is normal and encouraged as it teaches an important lesson - bite inhibition. Dogs are the best teachers.

Exhausted after forty-five minutes of wrestling, biting, and chasing, biting, we forced Cooper to endure a second session with ten youngsters. Our only concern was that he might be too tired for his test at the Janesville Mall.

After three and a half hours of recuperation, we met Honor and Flash at the mall. Honor has been training for six months, but Flash a handsome black Labrador (14 months old) started his training today. We walked the mall, remaining calm as the train passed, and worked in the food court. Flash quickly adapted to this new environment and mastered lying under the table/chair. Honor was calm and well-behaved the whole time, even when a Saint Bernard, therapy dog in training passed by. Cooper successfully completed another mock Canine Good Citizen test.

Bowl Goal: We came home and fed Cooper his dinner outside as he practiced RECALLS from sidewalk to porch.

March 1, 2012


Who is happier?

School Day - Kindergarten

Cooper's first day in kindergarten was a success. He waited patiently outside while the children moved past and lined up to enter the building.  In class, he rested as we tried to entertain the youngsters, who also waited patiently for their opportunity to pet him.  Initially they formed a line and each child had a chance to greet Cooper as we had attempted to teach them - let him smell, then rub under his chin.  Each encounter was brief;  then we gave them the green light which Cooper fully enjoyed.

Chloe Update:  We decided to build on yesterday's successful car trip and had Cooper accompany Chloe to school at noon.  She wanted him to stay in the car as we dropped her off, but with a little negotiation she agreed to let him walk with her to the "line up".  Getting the pair into school, the scene of their first unpleasant encounter, will be the next hurdle.

Mac, Mounds, Mall

Wednesday morning Cooper and I met Mac and his dad at the Childrens' Hospital for a visit with the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor. However, my presence was deemed unnecessary, so I waited downstairs and listened to piano music. It was a good opportunity for Mac's dad to practice handling a canine and child, without puppy raiser support. In our debrief it was reported that Cooper behaved well, Mac was cooperative, and Russ enjoyed the visit. The doctor added that this was Mac's best visit; deserved or not Cooper gets all the credit.

In the afternoon, we checked in with Chloe. After his regular feeding of Kix cereal (partially by hand) and water, Cooper led our group to Mounds. This was our first joint car trip with Cooper lying at Chloe's feet. We walked the aisles getting comfortable waiting for a "new" dog to enter. After fifteen minutes another canine entered the store as we were milling around the entrance - not as we planned, but life happens and we keep moving forward. She is not comfortable with other dogs, so we will try to add Monte to the equation on Friday.

The autism assistance dogs have been meeting every Wednesday night at the mall. This week we continued with the basics SIT, DOWN, STAY with the addition of an elevator ride and exposure to the escalator platform. I also provided the group with a poor demonstration of BACKing up.

After class, Lexy worked Cooper through a mock Canine Good Citizen test to acclimate her to the procedure. The team performed well and should have no trouble passing the test. Then it was time for dinner which I had brought with me. After some poor recalls recently, we decided to provide some re-training. We practiced RECALLs for hand fulls of dinner in the mall. It's amazing (not really) how much quicker he responds to DOWN and COME when I have a bag full of food. The food eliminated all the other distractions. Unfortunately, treats are not allowed for the CGC test.