Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

August 15, 2015


Sometimes I find myself wondering why in the world we take on these puppies, only to get our hearts broken.  Since my last post, much has happened.  Hawk had spent some time with our very capable friends Marcie and Kathy while I went for a bike trip in Michigan.  They reported he was itching some while he was there, but he also had 3 other dogs around to keep him distracted from scratching.  He even got to go to a county fair, and being true to his mischievous character, helped himself to a box of freshly made cream puffs from the fair--as Kathy related, "the powdered sugar was flying" when Hawk was caught in the act!  You know you have good friends when they relate that story while laughing hilariously.  

When he returned home, Hawk's itching was back to where it was before Hawk left for his little vacation.  He was up several times a night, and though he was eating and playing normally, he had to stop every few steps to scratch and had rash on his ever-growing belly and even in his ears.  We had to do something, and after talking with our president Nicole, she wanted to have him come to her house and work with a holistic vet to work on building up his immune system, while also changing his diet to a very basic, raw diet.  

Hawk had only been back a couple of days since my trip to MI, and I have to tell you it was heartbreaking to walk away from him at Nicole's.  It felt like we had failed our little Hawk in some way.  As I said, even though he was a pain in the butt for 2 months, he was just beginning to understand what we wanted and was at the prime age for learning.  He was our responsibility and it felt like we were giving up.  This feeling was somewhat tempered watching Hawk happily playing with a younger little female bulldog puppy named Kegger who lives with Nicole, and watching him trying to settle her down by pinning her to the ground like Monte has done with him so many times--eureka, he had learned something!  We had to give Hawk a chance to improve his health, and it was possible there was some kind of something at our house that was causing him to flare up with the rashy itching.  

Hawk - contentment!

His first holistic treatment was acupuncture and some herbal remedies.  The report is it was not an immediate cure, he is still itchy (which points to it not being something solely at our house), but he will have more treatments next week.  Hopefully, in a short time, he will come back to us with a rock solid immune system that can fend off any onslaught from minute invaders of any kind.  If not...well, never mind.  Hawk came from a great line of healthy Labradors, and he will be just fine.

Now, we were not a 1-dog family for every long.  The day after Hawk left, I picked up Hobey. He is now 2-1/2 years old and had been placed as a service dog with his buddy Luke a year ago.  We raised Hobey from 8 weeks old, and he is a lovely dog.  Though we do our best to match dog to client and vice versa and work closely with the family to help with transitions and training, sometimes it just does not work out.  This is always viewed as a learning opportunity for our organization to improve for the future.  I know it was difficult for the family to see all the material reminders of Hobey's year with them loaded into my SUV, say some final good-byes to their friend and watch as I drove away, but in the days to come in their busy life, it may be kind of a relief not to have another living being that requires time and attention.  The good part for Hobey is dogs are very "in the moment" thinkers (as far as any research can tell thus far), especially Labs, and since we were very familiar to Hobey, it was a seamless transition for him.  He is the sweet soul he has always been, happy and playful and wanting to please. Luke's family took good care of him, and he is the picture of health. It is so easy to have him around, even Monte does not seem to mind, except that Hobey thinks it is great fun to run at Monte full speed and send him flying.  We all had kind of forgotten that little habit of Hobey's until he did it on our first walk, and now Monte keeps one eye on him at all times, as do we, and Monte seems to be able to out-maneuver Hobey still. We will work on training this out of Hobey's repertoire.  Hobey will spend some time with us, and we will evaluate his skills, and then it will be determined by the organization if he can be placed in other service work. As we always say, we just want someone to love and care for these dogs as much as we do; certainly use their skills to enhance their own lives, but also realize they are dogs who need off time, exercise, fun and as much devotion as they give.

One funny thing that Hobey remembered that we did not until the moment it happened was that when Hobey was growing up with us, Jeff was off work.  Jeff had a routine of waking up and opening up his laptop to check email, send out his resume, etc., when he closed up the laptop, the dogs would jump up because they knew he would be taking them for a walk.  Well, after all this time, the first time one of us clicked the laptop shut, Hobey was on his feet and heading for the front door!  It was a heartwarming reminder to us of his puppyhood, and evidence that he knew where he was again.  Dogs never cease to amaze me.

One of Hobey's bad habits, again since puppyhood, is that he cannot have any fabric toys, as we have been reminded of already.  He literally eats the fabric and swallows it.  Hawk had 2 small stuffed toy bunnies that his little teeth could not damage.  Hobey quickly chewed off the ears from these bunnies, and they are no where to be found.  There also seemed to be a long red tail missing from a Wubba toy, and now I have made yet another sweep through the house picking up and putting far away any stuffed toys from this big chocolate fabric consumer.  I certainly do not want to have to pay for a bowel blockage surgery or have to have Hobey go through that.  Sometimes we have to know what is best for them.  He can live without stuffies and probably will live longer without them!

Hobey as a trainee puppy
Hobey 8/15/15

July 27, 2015

Itchy and Scratchy Show

Sorry for the drought of blog postings.  This has been a very difficult period for us.  Hawk is a very strong-willed puppy.  It makes sense that he was the largest puppy in his litter, he got his way likely by being rather pushy with his littermates and that makes him more difficult to deal with people.  On top of that, he was always doing a lot of scratching.  Because the numerous times we looked for a rash or even bugs or fleas, nothing was evident, we thought perhaps it was his way of showing he was uncomfortable with a situation (like a comforting sign that dogs do, akin to a yawn or lip licking).  However, he has been extremely difficult to house train and kept waking up all through the night, and we took him into our vet for a check up, the same day a visible rash showed up on the insides of his back legs.  The testing showed no evidence of UTI, no fleas or other parasites, no mange, etc.  

He was put on antibiotics, because he kept scratching open some of the rash, and Benadryl. I do not think either medication did him any good.  The scratching continued, and the rash would show up in different areas, sometimes a stripe down the middle of his belly, sometimes his belly and under his front legs and it would also change how it looked, sometimes a light pink, sometimes a bright pink.  Hawk discovered that if he laid down in the grass and army-crawled across the lawn, this was just about the perfect way to itch the whole rashy area all at once!  We went back to the vet and received a stronger antihistamine called hydroxyzine.  Still no effect on the scratching, and now he had rash appearing in his ears, always areas where he had very little hair.

About this time, we decided to change his food, which needs to be tapered down and gradually work in the new food to his diet.  Doing this too quickly will often lead to stomach issues, vomiting and diarrhea, something we certainly did not want to add to his list of problems.  We were also given some anti-fungal and antibacterial shampoo and some coconut oil to add to his food to help with the itching.  Another half week, and nothing seemed to make any difference, and we were at the end of our ropes, and I am sure Hawk was nearly out of his mind since he was experiencing all this itching and uncomfortable feeling constantly.  Little wonder, it affected his personality and behavior as well.

Back to the vet, and I reluctantly took a prescription for steroids.  I knew this would cause him to be extra thirsty and drink even more water than he already does, thus needing to potty even more often and I thought house training would be back to square one, and it might also change his personality for the worse.  However, if there was a slightest chance it would make him more comfortable, I was willing to try it.  Within 24 hours of starting it, we saw a marked improvement.  Hallelujah!!  The rash was gone, the itching was gone, and he actually seemed more compliant with us and eager to learn.  He also became more cuddly, something he had never done in the weeks prior to this.  We assume his skin was so uncomfortable that he did not enjoy being touched, but now you can hold him and rub his belly and he often cuddles right up to us.  He is now big enough that he can jump right up on the couch with us, and now we have to work on showing him it is only when he is invited that he can come up (but we'll get to that after we make up for some of the cuddling we missed in those early weeks!).  He is also doing so much better with noises.  He no longer tucks his tail and runs, throwing himself against the front door when a car goes by our house.  He does not like to hear big dogs barking, but he will sensitize to that, too. 

He still wakes up at 3 AM, but my theory is that that has become more of a habit for him.  He thinks 3 AM is when he is supposed to wake up for the day.  He is doing soooo much better at letting us know when he has to go outside to potty.  He will run to the front door (he does not vocalize, so the success is limited to us being hyper-aware of where he is at all times so that we catch this behavior and reward it) and potty the minute he gets to the yard.  Do I expect there to be mistakes still, either on his part or our part?  Of course, he is still just a baby after all, but I think (as I knock on wood and hold onto my St Francis medal) there may be light at the end of the tunnel.  He will always be strong willed, but it is up to us to figure out how to train him and use that as an advantage.   I am feeling more hopeful than I was a week ago, that's as good as it gets for right now.

July 6, 2015

Family Reunion

Hawk had a great time at the family reunion.  It was held in Cuba City, at my uncle and aunt's farm where my mom was raised and where she met my dad whose family had a farm next door.  We got to visit with our cousins who we spent so much time with as kids because there were only my mom and her brother in the family (sadly, they had 1 other brother who died at age 3 of pneumonia); my cousin Jane made my wedding veil.  Five of our 7 siblings were there.  Unfortunately, very few of my parents' grandchildren and great grandchildren were there, but we had fun with the ones who did come and we were happy they were there.

Our nephew Craig and his wife Jen have a set of adorable 2-year-old twins who thought Hawk was about the most horrible little creature they could imagine.  They would not let their daddy put them down for a long while after Hawk arrived.  The youngest member of our family, Celia, who is a 5 month old baby, was just the opposite, she loved Hawk's kisses, and interestingly, you could see him be extra gentle with his teeth and Celia's tiny fingers.  There is hope for him yet!  Hawk, however, was much more interested in my aunt's stray cat who has made his home on her porch.  Living in the country, I remember we would very often have stray cats and dogs walk into our yard (or perhaps dropped off nearby by people who no longer wanted them, sadly).  This cat looks to be very happy at my aunt's home.  I believe it was the first cat Hawk ever met, and he learned they do not particularly like to play and they do like to hiss and swat curious puppies across their nose.  Hawk kept his distance after one swat from the cat, but could not stay completely away.  This new thing he discovered was just too enticing.  The cat showed nothing but disdain and disgust for this overzealous beast who kept running away with his water bowl and dumping it all over himself.  You could almost see him sneer "stupid puppy!"

Hawk was loving discovering new things at the farm.  There were some delectable things called cow pies that he just had to sample. The kids were blowing bubbles, which he had already experienced before, but they were still fun to chase.  He met a bunch of new family members and put on his most innocent and sweet demeanor.

Then we took the kids down to visit the cattle who were up by the farm fence.  Hawk got a look at them and they got a look at him, and both species were scattering away.  However, cattle are ever so curious, and they kept inching closer to this crazy black blob who was doing his best to get out a big dog bark, but all that came was his puppy squeaks.  This only served to make the cattle more curious, and soon they were peering down at him through the fence, both the cattle and Hawk keeping just enough distance to feel safe.  Hawk finally decided, after many treats when he was calm, they were not so bad and sat quietly up by the fence just watching.  He is really observant like that.  When we walked away, Hawk did so with his tail down and kept peering over his shoulder to make sure those huge things were not coming over the fence with us.  Maybe they were nice while we were there with him, but he was still not completely convinced he was safe.

He also heard lots of sirens as there was a structure fire just down the road from my aunt and uncle's place.  He really could have cared less though.  Being 4th of July weekend, we also heard lots of firecrackers and fireworks in our neighborhood, and I guess the first encounter paid off--I sat and fed him treats every time one went off to end our Oregon Summerfest carnival.  Since then, he has not really cared about all those loud noises from the fireworks.

By the time we were on the way home, Hawk was again fast asleep in the car.  He got just enough sleep to be ready for playtime when we got home.  I think Monte enjoyed his day of rest at home while we were away.  

July 4, 2015


We were invited to our friends' house for an impromptu lunch on Saturday, so we went over with Hawk. I think my friend Marty might have unfriended me if I did not bring Hawk along.  They have 3 adult dogs of their own (1 of which was our first guide dog dropout, Buddy) and 2 cats, along the cats make themselves very scarce when unfamiliar dogs and people are visiting.

To Hawk's great pleasure, they had a pool all freshly filled and it was a hot day.  Their pool is bigger than a kiddie pool, so Hawk made several trips around it and watched the big dogs climb in and out before he attempted it.  Then, he did his signature move of one big leap, and in he went.  He was just tall enough to touch bottom, but a week ago he probably could have swam in it without a problem.  He got the bigger, older dogs to play with him for short spurts.  By the time we sat down for lunch, he was completely tuckered out, much to the other dogs' delight.

Thank you Marty and John for a great lunch and great company! 

July 3, 2015


We decided that Hawk really needed some other puppies his age to play with.  He meets adult dogs all the time and it takes him a while to warm up to these guys who hover so far above his head.  He is a rough player, but the big guys he plays with take a lot, so it was important for him to be around some other little ones to help him with his bite inhibition by using more effective body language; he could care less when we "yipe," and he might actually bite us harder when we do this!  

Because I work at The Dog Den doggy daycare and training center, there are puppies to play with every day, and a team of great playgroup leaders who supervise their every move, so I registered Hawk for his first daycare experience.  He met a puppy named Sully on the way in, and they became BFFs.  I only left him there a short time, but I heard the reports from my coworkers that he VERY much enjoyed the kiddie pool outside and made a leap right into it.  They said he likes to bounce toward other puppies when he is playing, and apparently he did demonstrate his Sit skill and recalling to his name, although he did do some impolite behavior of trying to hump his friends.  Dogs have such odd body language sometimes!  He tried that move once on Monte at home, and Monte firmly let him know that was not going to happen a second time, and it was a lesson that stuck with Hawk.  He does not generalize very well though.  He seemed pretty active when I picked him up, but as soon as he hit the car, he was out like a light.  We had a very quiet afternoon as his sleepiness persisted.  God bless The Dog Den!

He starts his first official group class in a couple weeks, and we are keeping all fingers and toes crossed that he is understanding the principles of potty training by then.  He is proving to be a real challenge on this concept.  He is going in for a checkup with our vet and it will include a urinalysis to make sure we are not battling a UTI--although at least we could deal with that.

July 1, 2015

Hawk to the Rescue

We joined the Custom Canines group for a training session at East Towne Mall in Madison last evening.  It was Hawk's first group training experience.  All the other service dogs in training are older than Hawk.  He is the only puppy, so his entrance prompted all of the dogs to break their downs, and aside from his nap while Keelin was talking (I am sure she did not take this personally), his job was to be a distraction, although he tried his best to keep focus on me and was able to practice his downs and walking on leash; he already knows Sit.  Since he is a puppy and on a potty training routine, that meant as soon as he woke up and when he started sniffing around, it was time for a trip outside.

There are so many distractions in a new setting, but especially so around the mall.  While we were out trying to convince Hawk to potty, there seemed to be an argument heating up between a young man and a woman, which escalated when another man pulled up in a car and the young man got in. He was demanding the woman get in his car at that point and the only thing she was saying was "I want my phone back, please give me my phone," and both men were literally yelling at her to just get in the car with much more colorful language.  No one else around even blinked an eye at this interaction.  I remained where I was with Hawk and made no secret that I was watching the whole thing, seemingly completely unnoticed by the men even though we were right next to the sidewalk where the car was.  At this point I asked the woman if she was alright and if there was someone she wanted us to call (as in the police).  Her only reply to me was that she was "escaping".  At this point, a phone came flying out of the car onto the sidewalk and when the woman went to get it, the men drove off as she headed back into the mall.  As sensitive as Hawk is to loud noises, he was not the least phazed by this whole encounter.  On our way back in, I said to the woman that it was incredibly brave of her not to get into that car, and she rolled her eyes.  Not quite sure how to take that, but at that point I felt like we had done the right thing and were prepared to call the police if things went any further, and whether she was appreciative or not really did not matter.

The other dogs practiced the escalator, which takes some confidence and preparedness on the trainers' part.  All dogs seemed to do well with this.  Hawk will not even attempt this before he is 6 months old and we prefer to have booties so the dog's toes and nails are not quite so vulnerable to the mechanism of the moving stairs. Hawk's whole reason for attending training was to be exposed to another environment, be around other dogs calmly and meet some new people.  We think he did very well.

Like all the puppies before him, we just need to determine the best way to train him and what will work and what will not.  He is still determined to test us, but I do see him allowing some cuddling and affection more than initially, which means he is trusting us more.  So, we are progressing in some areas and kind of plateauing in others.  We just count the days until he turns 12 weeks old because it seems between 12-16 weeks, they become little sponges ready to soak up all new things.  He will turn 12 weeks this Saturday.  Yippeee! 

June 27, 2015

Hawk-ey Game

Lisa volunteered for the Blake Geoffrion Hockey Classic.  Knowing that we had an eleven week old puppy, I did not.  However, the volunteer process got messed up and they had us both registered to help out with the meet and greet with the players.

Although Hawk and I were planning to attend to introduce his to hockey and meet a few people (he also met Bucky).  Attending and "working" are very different.  So my plan was to get him tired so he would sleep - plan worked perfectly.  He helped us as pro handlers for Burish, Zengerle, Likens, Ford and Dolan during the autograph session. Hawk slept at Matt Ford's feet the full hour!

We are finding that we need to enunciate "Hawk" more clearly, especially at hockey events.  People thought we were saying "Puck" or "Hockey" with a Jersey accent.

Having no issues with the fireworks the other evening, we were optimistic that the horns and buzzers would not be a concern.  While resting during the first period, Hawk was unfazed by the sounds.  Fully awake and walking around, the sounds in the confined environment elicited am uncomfortable response that treats could not help with.  We spent the rest of the game walking around outside, meeting people and getting comfortable.  He could still hear the horns generated by the 22 goals scored.

June 24, 2015


Hawk had his first perfect day, no accidents. By no means is he housebroken, it was a combination of his learning, our diligence, and learning his routine.

The day ended with fireworks about a mile from our house.  The little boy saw the flashes of light and heard the booms, but seemed unfazed.  The constant flow of treats may have helped.

Bad to Worse

Q:  What's worse than training a ten week old puppy to view the green grass as his potty when his brain isn't fully functional? 

A: Working with that same puppy suffering with a urinary tract infection (UTI).  Just as things were starting to click.  We had begun rewarding "outdoor potty" with a bit of kibble and Hawk was starting to race to the door before he would potty on the floor. :-)   He would seemingly even go on command which was primarily due our anticipating his action.  This is a great way to introduce commands.

Then apparently out of nowhere he needed to potty every 5 minutes and didn't have time to let us know - more accidents.  We immediately began a cranberry regimen, which took affect rather quickly. 

Lesson Learned: Looking back it is clear that he was showing these symptoms for a couple days, I just attributed it to the inconsistency of being a puppy.

June 21, 2015


We made a surprise visit to Neenah to see Jeff's dad for Father's Day.  That meant that Hawk and Monte were making their first trip together.  We tried starting Hawk out in the back seat with Monte, but before long he was climbing through the bucket seats to ride up front.  He spent the first half an hour with ants in his pants; he went from Lisa's lap to Jeff's lap (driving--not a good idea), back to Lisa's lap and then finally, of all things, fell asleep on top of Lisa's purse sitting between the bucket seats to keep him in the back seat in the first place.  I guess this gave him a view of Monte and both of us all at once.  

He is a very visual dog.  He will park himself in front of the TV briefly to watch whatever is on, but his attention span is like that of a baby, and pretty soon he's off again with some other distraction.  He liked to peer out the window of the car to see what was going on, but mostly he napped all the way to Neenah.  He did pretty well in Neenah--only 1 minor accident in the house.  We had brought his crate, so he was able to take some naps in there.  

Hawk was incredibly tired on the way home as evidenced by the fact that he laid himself out on the floor boards for most of the trip home. 

June 13, 2015

First Outing

Hawk made his first official visit to the grocery store today.  As usual, it took us extra long to accomplish our shopping because lots of people wanted to talk about and pet this cute pup.  We do not say that as a complaint; part of puppy raising a service dog means talking to the public and answering their questions.  We also often hear great stories about their own dogs or people they know who have a service dog.  We give out information cards on Custom Canines Service Dog Academy and just have a great time talking about our little handsome boy!

Jeff took Hawk while I did the shopping.  Hawk had been for a walk right before the grocery store outing, and all of the activity proved just too much for him.  Hawk would lay down in the aisle and did not want to move, so Jeff ended up sitting on a bench near the checkouts until I finished up shopping.  I found him chatting to someone and Hawk sound asleep under the bench.  I ended up scooping Hawk up, still asleep, and Jeff loaded the groceries in the car.  It is always a team effort! 

We use these outings as a learning experience, gauging where the puppy is in his development.  At least there were no accidents in the store, no food was touched by the curious pup, he was not spooked by the sounds and smells in the store or parking lot, and all in all, it was a successful first outing.  Hawk actually slept on the floor of the car on the way home; usually he has not liked doing this with the movement of the car and the noises, but he was so tired, it did not matter this time.  Again, this is good for him to have a good experience to overcome his dislike of riding on the floorboard; it will make it easier next time he is in the car.  It is really not safe for him to get in the habit of riding on the seat or on someone's lap.  He would become a flying missile in the event of an accident, so it is for his own good to become accustomed to sitting or lying on the floor of the car.

We are still working on house training, but Hawk is able to go slightly longer between times he needs to go outside.  He has even run to the door a few times, and we immediately let him out to reinforce the outside potty cue, so that is a good sign.  He has still had accidents in the house, but we acknowledge those are our own fault.

All training books I have read say that it is good to teach a default cue early on, and Hawk picked up "Sit" extremely easily.  At 10 weeks, he is doing it on a verbal cue, and it is so handy to have in lots of training situations.  

We are starting to learn more about his likes and dislikes.  Unfortunately, from day 1 he has had a penchant for electrical cords, he will actually seek them out.  It obviously scares the daylights out of me that he may potentially bite into a cord and get shocked, so we have tried our best to "baby proof" all outlets, blocking him off from being able to get behind the couch or TV.  

He also loves to be under something, so he is still small enough to shimmy under the recliner, behind the curtains, under the dining table and under the beds.  This will be a self-limiting problem since in the blink of an eye he will become too big to be able to get into these tiny places. 

Hawk hates the sunlight, he seems to heat up easily with his black fur.  On walks, he will run to the next shady area he finds and lay down in the cool grass.  Even if it is just a few feet between shade trees, he will do this, which makes us laugh and again reinforces how smart he is.  We bring water on walks with us to give him drinks, and with the longer days of summer, we take him out later in the day.  This has a two-fold advantage, it is cooler and more enjoyable for him and Monte and gets him some exercise shortly before he goes to bed so he is tired out and ready to sleep.  He still wakes up, but it is more like 3-4 hours after he goes to bed for the night, still a bit interruptive for our sleep cycles, but he is headed in the right direction and you cannot expect much more from a 10-week-old pup.  If he cries in his crate now, it is to alert us he wants to go potty.

For a young pup, we wish he was more cuddly.  He really prefers most times, even if we are sitting on the floor with him, to lay slightly away from us, not crawling onto our laps like most pups do.  However, I have noticed that if I am more animated or one night I laughed so hard I sounded like I was crying, he actually came over to me and licked me!  I have faked cried a couple of times to gauge his reaction, and every time he has come toward me.  I think this is a great sign for a potential PTSD service dog, so we give him a treat bomb and lots of praise whenever he does this to reinforce it.  

So, we will just note these personality traits and try to hone what we consider valuable and discourage others.  He has made great progress in 2 weeks and just still getting to know him and show him that humans are kind and trustworthy.  Consistency and patience are key to this!

June 7, 2015

Busy First Day

After we picked up Hawk, he had no idea what a busy day he would have.  We stopped back at home long enough to pick up the Godkids' suitcases (we had a contest to see who out of the 3 kids could pack up and NOT forget something.  Lexie was the winner, as it should be since she is the oldest.  She won 2 fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.) Hawk and Monte got to meet and play a bit.   Once of the first things Hawk did was rudely try to hump Monte--not a good sign for an 8 week old puppy, but Monte gently and sternly communicated that was impolite and intolerable behavior.  Then we were off to meet the kids' parents in Wisconsin Dells.  So Hawk got to go for a long car ride.  He just settled in on Lisa's lap and napped the whole time.  

At Culver's in Wisconsin Dells, he got to meet a lot of new friends and admirers.  He did great as we ate outside and laid quietly under the table between visitors.  

After delivering the kids to their parents, we drove to Mounds Pet Foods to get him a supply of puppy food.  Again more admirers and oh so many good smells in Mounds!  Then we stopped at Menards.  He got to don his brand new tiny "service dog in training" vest and reluctantly walked on leash into and through Menards (well, through most of it, and got carried the rest of the way).  He did pretty well all things considered.  It must have felt to him like he had walked into another universe.  We picked him up some puppy chew bones since all we had at home were larger antlers and toys for big dogs.  These will be more appropriate for his tiny puppy teeth.

Once we arrived back home again and he and Monte really got a chance to get acquainted (apparently he learned from the first encounter a bit of manners), we took a short walk down the street and around our yard.  To our surprise, he successfully made his way up our basement stairs on his own followed closely by Jeff lest there be any backward sliding. Again, a sign of a confident dog--oh boy, we have been down this road before...let the wild rumpus begin!

 We introduced him to his crate, letting him walk into and out of it, using yummy treats to make it more pleasant.  I put a cushy pad and the towel he rode home on inside the crate,  modified so that he had no room to be tempted to potty inside his sleeping area.  I also added a fuzzy little bunny one of his new puppy chew bones.  He hated the crate at first, crying as most pups do on that first night away from the litter.  He had no interest whatsoever in the toys in the crate and would throw his head back like a beagle and howl.  We laid Monte's bed next to the crate, but no surprise, Monte decided to give up his bed and sleep on the floor rather than be so close to the discomforted new foster brother.  I set the clock to go off every hour, but there was little need for the alarm.  None of us got much sleep that first night.  Mercifully, he finally fell asleep for a bit and we were able to take him out before he started his crying again.

We had some minor setbacks and made some mistakes, but within a couple nights, Hawk slowly learned that the crate was an OK place, and eureka! there were toys to play with to keep himself busy until the lazy humans got up to free him from the crate.  It is really important for a puppy to be able to self-comfort and relax themselves. Since those first weeks of training involve a lot of crate time--you want to set the pups up for success and minimize accidents inside the house while house training--it is so much more pleasant for everyone if the pup sees the crate as a cozy retreat.  I think we are at that point with Hawk-ahhh!

Meet Hawk

We picked up our newest service puppy in training last Sunday, June 7, 2015.  He is an 8 week old black Labrador, one of a litter of 10, and he is pretty darned cute (aren't all puppies??).  Above is the first picture we took of him, and he still has a little bit of a wary look, a bit mystified where he is and who these people are.  He was selflessly donated by Coon Island Retrievers (coonislandretrievers.com) by Kim Katzenmeyer and family.  His parents are Annie and Koda, yellow and black labs respectively.  For the first 4 days, the puppy had no name.  We used the sing-song "puppy-puppy-puppy" to get his attention, and we started to worry that he might think that was his name.  

As most of you know who know us and/or read our previous blog, Jeff and I just finished our second cross country bike trip in April after 52 days.  We met some amazing fellow cyclists and reunited with the wonderful crew of Bubba's Pampered Pedalers (bubbaspamperedpedalers.com).  Our fellow cyclists were very supportive of our efforts to fund raise on this bike trip for Custom Canines Service Dog Academy.  On the eve of our final day of our trip, a friend named Sam Hawkes handed us a check.  Because of his donation, we gave him the benefit of naming our new puppy and serving as his personal sponsor.  We deliberated over names, vetoed a couple suggestions from Sam, and he vetoed a couple of ours, and we finally settled on "Hawk."  It honors Sam and also is a name that we feel personifies the attributes of bravery, intelligence, a keen eye--all of which Hawk will need in his potential future role as a PTSD service dog for a proud military veteran.  We hope that we can help him gain the training and hone in on his natural personality to grow into a loyal partner about a year or so from now to be a hero for a hero.  For now though, his biggest obstacle is house training and learning his name.

Hawk is proving to be a bit of a challenge.  I have so much puppy raising experience after 9+ years and have continual new-found knowledge from the amazing staff of senior trainers at The Dog Den where I work in the training department, and yet this tiny puppy came into my life, and he has decided he is going to test my skills and find my very last nerve.  

The first 24 hours, when he decided being put in his crate was about as offensive as cutting off his tail, and screaming his head off in case we were not aware of this utter horror he was being subjected to, I tried every single trick I had in my toolbox to convince him the crate was a good place, and yet he pitched a fit so relentless and loud on that first night we contemplated giving him our master bedroom and sleeping in the spare room, or perhaps the nearest Motel 6.  Alas, after a few deep breaths laced with lavender essential oils and a phone set to go off every hour, some time in that first hour, he mercifully fell asleep.  We repeated this same exhausting routine and crying each time he was put back into his crate, but each day got a little bit better. He has learned that having a fun toy in his crate is fun and uses it to comfort himself--we take every little victory we can get! We were also trying to keep in mind this little pup had suddenly lost the comfortable home he shared with his many litter mates and the humans who helped bring him into the big world and all the sights and smells and noises he was familiar with in his short 8 weeks of life.  He had to know he could trust us to keep him warm, safe and happy and, best of all for any self-respecting Labrador, keep the food coming!

Little by little, we are falling back on our experience and knowing that Hawk will be his own unique self with his own triggers and comfort levels.  As with every canine who steps into our lives, he will teach us something.  Right now, I cannot think of what that is just yet, except that it is hard to complete a thought when you have a sleep-deprived brain.  He just now taught me that I actually will go out into a torrential rain with a flashlight in hand to make sure he potties outside at 11:30 PM, and the other morning he taught me that I will not die of embarrassment when I run him outside at 5 AM still in my pajamas and bed head.  I believe my neighbors have seen this scenario played out enough times to hardly give me a second glance, but maybe a knowing smirk that I do not notice because I am too busy watching this tiny pup poop and then whooping it up as if I just won the multi-million dollar lottery. 

So please come back to read more riveting tales of the adventures of raising this puppy named Hawk.  He is going to be an amazing service dog, I just know it, just as positively as I know that he will be a dog that courts adventure at every turn.  Unfortunately, our internet provider, Frontier, is excruciatingly slow, so there will be very few pictures posted here until we remedy this problem, perhaps by switching service providers, but we promise to catch up on the pictures as soon as we can.  Also check for pictures on Facebook.