Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

April 29, 2012

Only Five More Days

A day after earning his CGC credentials, Cooper was put through the paces by the Custom Canines Program Coordinator.  It consisted of some basic obedience with distractions, tethering around the block, and a real world store experience.  Having raised Cooper for eight months, our focus was on Cooper, but it was also testing the capabilities of his future handlers and evaluating the working relationship between dog and child.

Working with the family over the past months, visiting the nearby Target store was viewed as the holy grail.  What better place to practice? 

Unaccustomed to walking around, Mac initially wanted to ride in the cart.  This was his first time walking the aisles of Target.  As a result of his new found mobility, Mac was able to assist his parents by selecting items and retrieving them from the shelves.  This allowed his parents to reinforce math skills. 

Thanks to everyone's hard work and dedication, Cooper will be joining his family on Saturday - only five days away.

Additional Photos

April 28, 2012


Cooper passed his Canine Good Citizen test. 

The countdown begins ...

April 27, 2012

Search Dog

When Monte was about a year old we knew that he was a special dog, but did not think that being a guide dog was in his future.  What do we know, no one listens to the puppy raiser.  We thought that he was designed and had the temperament to be a great Search and Rescue dog.

More than a year later, he continues to show his true nature. On our daily walk through the park today he located three baseballs.  This may not be a huge surprise since the park is adjacent to a diamond.  The amazing thing is that he seeks them out.  He has recovered over a dozen baseballs this Spring.

In fact the other day he was intent on getting inside the batting cage.  I took a look but couldn't see anything. 
Over time I have learned to trust Monte and his sense of smell.  He has been known to locate pieces of kibble or toys where we have repeatedly confirmed that none existed.  As I thought there was no baseball in the batting cage, however, there was half of the leather covering from a baseball that Monte found and needed to chew on.  Trust his nose.

Note:  Chicken legs are on sale at Pick n Save and Copps:

Mall Walking

We continue our anchoring (aka tethering) with Mac and Cooper with short outings.  Our most recent was to the mall. We completed two successful laps with an additional side trips through Sears (with narrow aisles) and Abercrombie & Fitch (loud noise).  However, the greatest distraction for Mac was the playground equipment.  This provided us experience working through a challenge and insight into potential issues.  First, we must support Cooper in his anchor responsibilities when Mac is uncooperative.  Second, as we waited near the playground equipment, which Mac desperately wanted to use, he was scheming a way out of the bungee and belt.  Given e a bit more time, I am convinced that he would have freed himself.

In addition to walking as a team, we must practice stopping.

April 25, 2012


After a short trip to the mall to see his pal Chloe, Cooper spent the evening with his family. He slept with Mac, tagged along on a few appointments, and observed Mac at swimming lessons. After a busy day he only wanted to nap, but he still had more work to do.

Walking around the neighborhood with family members is generally a relaxing experience. However, if you are constantly worrying about your child "running," a simple walk around the block can be very stressful. Tonight we formally began the training process to alleviate parental stress and transform the walk back into a relaxation exercise.

 Our dog Cooper was officially tethered to Mac for the first time. Based on our previous trials with leash walking we weren't anticipating any issues, but one never knows how a child or canine will react. Initially, Lisa worked Cooper while Mac "assisted"; he was tethered and holding an auxiliary leash. Once we confirmed that Cooper was responding as expected, the leash was transferred to Mac's mom. Lexy walked the pair up and down the block and across streets, commenting that she was actually enjoying herself - feeling safe and secure. Mac never relinquished his hold on the leash and walked side-by-side with Cooper. The tether was only deployed a few times as a result of variation of dog and child velocities.

Our fifteen minute walk was uneventful and relaxing.

More Orlando Photos Added

April 22, 2012

Batter Up

Although I have been out of town for the past four days, Cooper has continued his Assistance and CGC training. He attended his weekly Custom Canine and Dog Den classes. Apparently nothing interesting occurred since there were no blog entries made by my training partner :-)

Monte was ecstatic to welcome me home, but after I unpacked he found Cooper cuddling on the sofa. He went to his bedroom to retrieve a favorite bone and dropped it on the floor in front of Cooper. Seeing a favorite toy, Cooper leaped off the sofa to "steal" the bone and Monte swiftly stole Cooper's vacated spot next to me. Whether just a recurring coincidence or a true sign of intelligence, I will let you be the judge.

A series of puppies have rotated through our house over the recent years. Our original plan had Cooper moving on before our annual trip to a Milwaukee Brewer game. Although almost ready to be transitioned, he made it long enough to attend this year's game. The favorable comments from fans and the photo opportunities (famous sausages, mobbed by kids, Miller Park, resting on seat) have remained constant regardless of the attendee - only the age and color of the dog changes.

I am not sure when it happened, but some time in the last few years having a dog resting at our feet in a stadium has become natural. More photos were taken by others than we took of our trainee.

With a nine month old puppy, today was a working day, not just social, so we performed some mock tethering. Being the meat in an Arndt sandwich, Cooper seemed confused at times as to who he should be taking direction from. I can only assume that it is difficult for him to determine which one of us is leading via the leash and who is the passenger(tethered to the harness).

April 15, 2012


Happy Birthday Cooper - nine months old today !!

We humans have been recovering from our "Disney Hangover" and settling into our normal routines. Although appearing to be tired, the canines were back to normal after half a day of rest. Monte was excited for his two daily walks and Cooper enjoyed some time to run free in the park.

In my fog a few items went unreported:
- Mac and Cooper have established a strong bond
- Mac talks about Cooper every day
- Griffin said that Cooper is his best dog; he will be his first dog
- We helped new puppy, Savi, with car phobia and walking nicely
- Our next dog will be named Hobey Baker
- Cooper received a special pet from a candy store employee who was/is terrified of dogs

April 12, 2012

Back Home

On our return flight, we made it onto the plane without incident. They even reserved two bulkhead seats for us. Even though I prefer standard seats, we did not refuse their offer.

Cooper was uncomfortable as the plane ascended. I think it may have been related to the pressure change. We tried to simulate the the human act of gum chewing with his favorite bone, but he didn't want it. We even resorted to jelly beans which he would only chew once before swallowing. Ultimately we all settled in and napped.

We decided to pick up Monte before returning home to rest after our vacation. Although he was very happy to see us as he couldn't stop crying, I think the happiest creature was Cooper who was ecstatic to be reunited with his canine buddy.

Everyone was exhausted and we slept until bedtime.

April 11, 2012

Orlando - Day2

Our second day was spent at the "Most Magical Place on Earth", Disney World. Cooper and Mac worked the entire morning together, with the exception of his ride times. The success of the prior day was repeated as Mac hung on to the leash and wanted to stay close to Cooper.

Back at the condo, Cooper repeated his water avoidance antics. You could sense a greater confidence and desire to join in with the water activities, so eased him into the pool once. However, even though he wanted to, he never entered the water on his own.

New Orlando Photos

April 10, 2012

Orlando - Day1

After a much needed day of rest, Cooper started his week at Sea World.

We decided to use the leash/harness combo for some mock tethering with Griffin under a real world situation. His first time back in harness since March, but he didn't miss a beat. The plan was to have Mac observe and have Griff be a positive role model. It seemed to work well because after we transitioned to Mac, he kept a firm grasp of the leash and stayed close to his buddy, Cooper. Hopefully this will transfer to the actual tethering.

Cooper's favorite part of the days was watching the dolphins swimming past.

In the afternoon, we retreated back to the condo to enjoy a less crowded environment in our private swimming pool. It was entertaining to watch a nine month old "water breed" canine perform acrobatics to keep himself dry while racing around the pool. We tried everything to entice him into the water without success.

You could see the dilemma in his eyes and actions. He wanted to play with the boys so bad, but did not want to jump in and get wet. Cooper only got wet when he fell into the pool on two occasions - not positive experiences.

April 8, 2012

Tampa - Day5

Relaxing in bed before traveling.

Cooper had a rest day on Sunday as we traveled to Orlando to meet up with his family. He accompanied me back to the airport, via bus, to pick up our rental car. He garnered a lot of attention as we walked through the airport.

April 6, 2012

Tampa - Day3

We stop to say hello to Dick Greco, former mayor of Tampa, every morning before we start our day. He is seated at the street car plaza in front of our hotel. As we continue to expose Cooper to the streetcar, he is becoming more comfortable with the vibration and noises. He is more relaxed when stationed in the middle of the car or when he is tired. Most of our daily trips are to/from Ybor City.

Everyone has been so accomodating. Tampa is very dog friendly. At the hockey game, a couple sitting in disabled seating, offered to switch seats so Cooper would have more room and wouldn't be bothered as people passed by our aisle seat. The attendent has also offered to get us extra chairs to sit there.

Our training efforts on obedience have been a bit lax. Cooper has been extremely distracted when encountering new objects, sounds, smells. Whether crazy birds, sea breezes, or baking Cuban bread, the last three days have been completely new, so our focus has been on having positive experiences with each new situation. The Cuban bread is as long as Cooper.

We are all acclimating to the warmer weather, humidity, and increased walking. Cooper always appears to be on his last leg with his tongue hanging out and slow gait, but when we return to our room he enjoys playing Fetch, Find the Toy, or Zoom. Even when hot and tired, he does not want anything to do with water. We are questioning his Labrador status and will be checking his papers when we get home.


April 5, 2012

April 4, 2012

Tampa - Day1

We dropped Monte off for his vacation and he seemed to be enjoying himself. He did look longingly at us from behind the door as we walked away. However, it sounds like he is settling in.

Donna, from Farview Kennels, sent us an update "Monte is doing very well! I just Love him ;) I'm really partial to male yellow labs!! He's sound asleep next to me, he's a good cuddler too ;) We're already enjoying having Monte stay with us."

Living Better than at Home.

Once we boarded the plane to Tampa everything has gone well. Although we almost were not allowed on the plane. As we handed the gate attendent our boarding pass, he informed us that service dogs in training were not allowed. We were asked to wait while the process continued. SouthWest does not assign seats - first come first served.

Lisa was worried and ready to fight;I thought we may have to drive home and try again tomorrow. We explained that I called to confirm our situation, otherwise we wouldn't be here. A call was placed, policy clarified, credentials verified, and we were allowed on the plane. The return trip may be in jeopardy, so we might extend our stay in Florida for a few more weeks.

Plane, buses, street cars, and automobiles ... Cooper is not fond of the street car, so that has become our preferred mode of transportation.


April 1, 2012

Get Well Soon

Cooper is spending the weekend with his boy. Mac has not been feeling well lately. Hopefully a dose of puppy love will help him recuperate.