Training for all Madison area service dogs is on Wednesday. Usually we set up shop in a local business like HyVee or East Towne Mall. This week's class was at Whiz Kids Daycare building. It provides a different setting with varied sights and smells. We use this to focus on basic commands and fine tuning without a lot of distraction.
Since we were not going to be in public. I decided to bring our pet dog, Monte, to class. We took a very long walk before class to burn off some energy; he runs for the whole hour. Having been quite some time since he had any formal training (even with the exercise), it took him awhile to settle in. And then it was time to leave :-)
Licorice, Sugar, Buck, and Bentley attended training. The class could not be any more diverse. Licorice, a black poodle, is mature and in the midst of being placed. Sugar, a smallish yellow lab, is well behaved and working on additional mobility skills. Her raiser has done an excellent job with her. As a puppy, she was a bundle of energy. Buck is relatively young and behaves like the adolescent that he is. Bentley is nearing a year is being trained for autism service work. But he gets anxious when out and about; he needs more positive experience. Bentley is, my buddy, Lucy's sister and they could not be more different.
Actually is only took Monte a few minutes to settle in and stop whining. He did fine until his Achilles Heel was revealed. Good DOWN STAY until a rubber ball was rolled, tossed, or bounced. He just cannot control his prey drive, however our walks through the park chasing mice, squirrels and rabbits have only contributed to his issue. Overall, he was successful with heeling, Sits, and Downs considering that his training takes a back seat to the puppies that we normally have in the house.
He liked getting to go for a ride and seeing more of the world, beyond the dining room window, especially the other dogs.
Tuesday nights are autism service dog class in Janesville. This was another t-shirt drop-off, but we also got a chance to spend time with some new and old trainees.
Lucy is eleven months old and has just been returned for some fine tuning. She needs more work on her STAY. I took her on as my project for the evening; we worked together all night and she progressed rapidly. We began with having her STAY for short periods of time with me a few steps away and progressed to having her on a DOWN STAY in the middle of the mall as traffic passed her by.
As we worked I noticed an additional issue. When I would do a step over, she always looked fearful and stood up. We transitioned to me standing over her, rubbing her belly, and just making her comfortable. Eventually she accepted having me stand and walk over her. We were working so well that I wanted to bring her home, but Lisa said "No! We are too busy."
Even though we are not actively raising a puppy, we are still keeping busy with Custom Canine activities. In addition to our fundraising, we are finding time to spend with our dogs and puppy raisers.
Our first stop on Sunday was to visit Cooper and his partner Mac. Cooper was placed when he was only ten-months old, so he has grown up and filled out. He looks like a real dog now. It's always good to see our puppy trainees behaving like adults, although Cooper, like most Labradors, seems to have retained his youthful puppy exuberance and love of life. He spent most of our visit playing with his toys in the snow. Inside, "Yooper" has become Mac's favorite subject in his home movies.
Next, we dropped off a jersey and some t-shirts for Dusty and Avery. We were welcomed at the door by their autism service dog, Porter. He settled down after the requisite 5 minute puppy cool down period. Calm greeting are one of the most difficult things to practice, at least at our house, because we don't get a lot of guests. It was also nice for us to visit with Avery and Dusty; hopefully we will be seeing more of them at training classes :-)
Stop number three was downtown Madison to work with Buck and his new puppy raiser, Avery, who starts high school next year. Buck is about eight months old and a Golden Retriever. He has been in their home for little more than 24 hours, but seems to have bonded very quickly with Avery, which is quite common for the breed. After going over some basic commands we took a walk down to Trader Joe's. Buck and Avery did very well.
I hope we didn't offer too many corrections to Avery.
After a long hiatus from blogging, not puppy raising we are back.
Volunteering as a puppy raiser is a significant commitment and brings
with it many rewards. The greatest reward is a successful placement and hearing that your trainee is working as expected.
Chumley was placed in his forever home just before Christmas.
After placement, we normally take a little break. This allows time to
regroup and spend some quality time with our pet dog, Monte.
During our break we did have an unexpected visitor, Enzo. He stayed for a week while his puppy raisers were traveling and provided the necessary puppy fix, as we were suffering puppy withdrawal. Monte enjoyed his company too.
Working with a non-profit, Custom Canines
Service Dog Academy, one needs to wear many hats. My
least favorite role is as fundraiser. But that is what we have been
working on for the last month. I would much rather be housebreaking a
puppy or fine tuning a STAY command.
We have taken an extended break from puppy raising to focus on fundraising. We are five weeks away from beginning a cross country bicycle journey. The focus of which is increasing awareness for Autism Service Dogs and securing donations to fund future placements.