Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

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.