Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Walking We Will Go

The outing to Pet Smart or Pupcakes turned into a long walk along the river front instead. I'm not complaining: the weather was nice and it was good to get out and stretch my legs. I'm sure Glacier and Chloe felt the same too.
The path is paved and there were a lot of people out walking, running, biking and just sitting on the benches that face the water. I'm not sure how far we actually walked, but it was a good hour walk. It didn't even feel like it. My friend came with me as I needed to be driven there, and he walked with me. He is not an active guy and I think I nearly killed him. lol I held my pace bak a lot since Glacier and I are normally very fast walkers because I wanted him to enjoy it a bit.
He walked Chloe for me and about a quarter of the way through our route, I had to put her gentle leader on. He couldn't get her to heel and she was pulling his arm off.
Glacier did fantastic. He just followed the path along and weaved in and out of people. He has a left sided tendency like Jetta did, but I've learned not to fight it. He guides better if I let him pick his own path rather than trying to get him to walk down the right hand side. If I heard people coming, I would move him over to the right, but otherwise, I just figured they could see and could go around. I think he wanted to keep going, but my friend was more than done, and if we ever want a walking partner again, I thought we better be nice. :)
When we got home, both yellow dogs crashed out together on the floor and slept for the rest of the night.
PAALS told me that one thing they were working on with Chloe was her fear of men. It's not a full blown fear, but she is a bit nervous and they said she can let out a low growl. I wondered how she would do on the walk, but she was fine. She didn't growl at my friend when he came in and was happy to let him walk her. The UPS delivery person came, who happened to be male, and she didn't growl at him either. We have to turn in "pup reports" at the end of the dog's stay and so I'll be glad to tell them of her lack of growling this weekend. :)
Anyway, I have five dogs needing bathroom breaks. So, off I go. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Santa Paws Is Coming To Town!

Hello All,
Glacier here. I have stolen Mom's laptop while she is making her coffee, so I better make this quick. I just wanted to let the world know what I have on my Christmas list this year-just in case Grandma or any of my many aunties are reading this...oh and if Mom reads this too. So, here are my top picks for 2010. Getting one of these would be nice, but Mom if you are feeling generous, all wouldn't be a bad thing either: I promise to share with Roscoe and Chloe when she comes to visit!
1. Busy Buddy large (It looked so much fun on Tuesday when you were taking them out of the packages, but you know I like to chew, so the biggest size is probably a good idea).
2. Kong Wobbler (It has treats. Of course I want it)!
3. flavoured Bubbles (I would prefer bacon, but the peanut Butter or peach will do).
4. COOKIES! (You can never have too many cookies. I am partial to the freeze dried liver treats that Pet Smart sells. They are so tasty. I once went through Mom's purse because I could smell them from the outside and ate the whole package...wait, I did nothing of the sort! I am a good boy).
5. The Furminator (I liked getting groomed and the Furminator feels so good)!
6. Linkables (Another Premiere Pet product just like the Busy Buddy. It looks fun trying to get into those little holes to get the treats out).
7. Bones! (I like to chew remember? Sterile bones, Busy Bones or even a nice flavoured Nyla Bone would be nice).

I am sure there is more, but for now, that is all I can think of. Mom says we're going to Pupcakes or Pet Smart today as an outing, so maybe I'll go "window" shopping while I am there. Uh-oh, she is done. I will go for now. Aria would like to put her list up too, but that will be for another day when I can sneak the Laptop again.
Until Then,
Lots of sloppy kisses,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

And Now There Are Five...Temporarily

Chloe arrived yesterday around 1 and has been settling in quite nicely. Miss A-a PAALS volunteer-dropped her off and we did introductions of each of my dogs on the front porch. They all went very well. Even Miss Aria didn't get cranky about this new furry girl standing on her front porch.
Miss A came in with Chloe for a while just to make sure she was settled. We gated her off in the living room and she wandered about investigating. She found a few sterile bones to chew and automatically started chewing. She and Aria hit it off right away, even though Chloe didn't quite know what to do with the little fuzz ball jumping around her feet. Balloo was indifferent since his leg was still hurting him, but he is feeling a bit better this morning and so took some to introduce himself to Chloe.
Glacier and Roscoe love her. I think Roscoe was thinking "Finally! A girl my size!" They play really well in the backyard and she runs so fast. She kind of reminds me of a yellow version of Jetta when I first got her. She is so small she can get really low to the ground and turn really easily and the bigger guys can't keep up: they try, but she is a little speed demon. Just like Jetta was.
She is definitely testing me though. :) I'm not surprised. She hopped on the couch twice and the PAALS dogs are not allowed on the furniture. She was also running through gates without waiting for the "all right" command. She also refused to do "place," which was a problem because she was wandering about when I wanted her in one spot. I didn't want her thinking that sort of thing was all right, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. :)
Miss A had taken her leash off so she could check the place out, but about a half an hour after she left, I put Chloe's leash back on. She was not listening to any of the cues I was giving her and I did not want to undo any of the training that J has put into her.
She listens much better now and I haven't really had to use the leash today. We even did a small obedience routine this morning leash free. My favourite cue is "touch" and so I'm pretty sure she's going to be a "touch" expert by the time she goes back on Tuesday. lol She is very sweet and I hope Mr. K decides that it's ok to keep fostering her on the weekends. He has already given her a nickname, "Chloers," which he sings to her while he is rubbing ehr belly. They are buddies
She is a great addition and if we keep fostering, eventually we'll be granted public access and that will be very enjoyable. I just hope I'm doing a good enough job that when she goes back to J on Tuesday morning, J will be impressed and let us keep fostering her.

PS: Happy American Thanksgiving. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Today's blog was supposed to be all about my volunteer shift at PAALS and Mr. Kyo, but so much has happened in such a short time, that this will be a mishmash of a little bit of everything.

Let's start with Balloo. Yesterday morning when I left for PAALS everything was fine. All dogs were fed, watered and had been out twice. I put him and Aria in their respective crates and Roscoe went to bed on his blanket beside the bed since Mr. K was still sleeping. When I returned home, Mr. K informed me that Balloo had been bitten by something-at the time we thought fire ants-and that he wasn't walking properly. I examined the bumps on his head and they did look like insect bites. We gave him a bit of Bennadrill in the hopes of it counteracting some of the allergic reaction. I didn't really see how he was walking, but upon palpation, his leg seemed fine. He didn't complain or anything, but Mr. K said he was lifting it strangely when he was walking. This morning, the bites were bigger and they almost looked like tooth marks, but I could be wrong. It's hard differentiating between things like that when you can't actually see them. I covered them in T-tree oil because it has anti-bacterial properties. I thought is is better because it is more natural and gentler than using rubbing alcohol or something. I also had a better opportunity to observe his gait. He walks along on three legs and holds up the back leg, or lets it limply hang down. I'm a bit concerned he tore something or worse, maybe there is some neurological damage. He kind of whines a bit if you move him too quickly and put pressure on his haunch area. I've decided to see how he does this morning and then call the vet when they open. His eating and drinking are both fine, but he is really lethargic. He also shivers and I'm not sure if he's cold, in shock or in pain-maybe all three. I have been keeping him wrapped in a blanket and letting him rest and hopefully we see some improvements today.

On a lighter note, Aria is a little trouble maker. She thinks that going out to potty means digging holes in the mud and coming inside with it caked to her lovely, long chocolate fur. I had to give her a kitchen sink bath to get the mud off because the wipes just weren't removing the crud at all. She acted all indignant and as if I were inconveniencing her and I tried to explain to her that ladies do not dig in the dirt. She looked at me as if to say, "look who's talking," and my lecture became a mute point. I've never been one to be afraid to get my hands dirty. :) That said, she is the sweetest little girl ever. When I carried Balloo out in his crate to take him out for his first bathroom break, she climbed in with him once I opened the door, to check on him. She seems very concerned about her little buddy.

Aside from Balloo's health issues, yesterday was actually a really great day. I got to PAALS around 9:15 or so and stayed until just after 3. I spent the day folding pamphlets and bundling Christmas cards that PAALS is selling as a fundraiser. The cards feature three of their puppies all decked out in Holiday splendor. (If I can figure out how to add their site to my links, I will. You can purchase the cards online). I also learned that Akira is pregnant for sure and so one of my tasks involved ripping newspaper into long strips in preparation for the puppies' arrival on December tenth. Some people may think that this would be boring, but there is something satisfying to tearing paper. lol Not to mention, it's kind of neat to think that I'm a part of the puppy process, regardless of how small. I was assigned the fun task of opening new toys for the dogs. J had ordered a bunch of new ones since a lot of their old ones were unrecognizable and they had just arrived. It was neat for me to play with the new toys and see what they looked like. A lot of the time, it's hard for me to pick out toys for Glacier (or any of my other dogs for that matter) because I can't see what they look like through the excessive packaging that they are usually wrapped in.
The one toy that I think I'll invest in is called a "Busy Buddy." They come in several different sizes and they are an interactive toy; or an "enrichment" toy as PAALS calls them. The middle is a big, solid rubber ball and the ends rotate-they are bone shaped. The handler can untwist the ends and put rawhide rings on an arm type thing against the ball and then screw the ends back on. The dog's job is to chew the rawhide off. Once the dog has been successful, the handler can repeat the process and even clean the toy easier with the ends off. There were a few other cool toys-they were glow in the dark-but I'm pretty sure Glacier will wreck them in less than twenty minutes. I think I'll let some of the PAALS stronger chewers have a go at them and then see how they hold up. I'm pretty sure they don't rival Glacier's chewing abilities, but at least I can get an idea for their durability.
The best part of the day was seeing Kyo. I can't tell you how happy he is and how far he's come. He's not a completely different dog because I knew that dog was in there, but he's challenged now and that makes for a much better behaved Moose. He's the biggest guy in training, which is no surprise, but J says that he is one of the best players out in the backyard. This floors me because he used to be so rough with Glacier and Roscoe, but especially Glacier. He has the best recall, which I pride myself on. That is something I work really hard with all of my dogs. J let me come up to the training room and watch Kyo's daily training session and I was blown away.
He did everything she asked with only being asked once. Even "off" only took her saying it once. J is using a clicker stick to teach him to "touch" out far from her body. This allows her to move him around her without physically moving him herself. I wish our guide dogs came with this. We're always coaxing and manipulating their bodies to where we want them, but "touch" J can get him to move an entire circle around her without placing a hand on him. I like that. Here are the "cues" I observed Kyo do yesterday.
Touch: as explained before it's for moving the dog to where you want him/her. It also will eventually teach him targeting which is used in more advanced training.
Place: this is when Kyo goes to a spot and stays there. In the beginning stages, his "place" is slightly elevated so that he can differentiate it from the rest of the floor, but eventually the elevated bed will be removed and he will be expected to do "place" wherever he is directed.
Sit: he was already good at this, but his response time has improved.
Down: Again he was good at it, but he used to pop up sometimes after he had gone down. Now, he stays there until he is given the release command.
All right: release command. I had started using this with him when we first thought he may go to PAALS.
Drop: I had worked on this with him and e would do it, but he would think about it first and sometimes roll the object around in his mouth. Now, he just hands it over.
Wait: he stops moving. So, if he walking along and J says "wait," he stops dead in his tracks. This can be used at doors, street curbs, elevators Etc.
Stand: he gets up from a sit or down into a stand. Used for grooming or vet visits. It has other functions, but I'm not sure what they are.

Through: this is used specifically for elevators. The dog goes in first, giving the person room for their wheelchair. Once the dog is through the door, he sits down and waits until is handler comes through. It's pretty cool because the dog turns and faces their handler.
Belly: the dog lays on his back and stays still This can be used for nail trims or pelvis examinations. Kyo rolled around and snorted the first time J asked him to do this, but did it properly the second time. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at him because I knew exactly what those noises meant. J laughed even harder.
Jump: all four paws up on something; a bed, counter, car Etc.
Let's Get Dressed: the cue for putting his cape and/or seatbelt on. He sits for the cape and then stands up for his seatbelt.
Heel: stick to the handler's side with loose leash. And yes! Kyo can walk on a loose leash without a gentle leader! I am so happy about that.
There might be a few more, but those are the ones I can remember. I was so impressed. J said that he is a quick learner and very smart. His barking/whining has decreased a lot. I even noticed a huge improvement. He settles down much better and will listen when someone says "quiet." All of the volunteers love him. J thinks he is a "doll,"and wishes all dogs were as excited about learning as he is. This just makes me feel so much better. I knew he had potential, I am just so thankful he has been given a chance.
Very soon, he will leave J's house and go and live with a trainer for a few weeks. This way, he can get some one on one training and so that he can get used to change. He may be leaving as soon as today, so I am just glad I got to see him yesterday before he left. He will be back and hopefully by then, he will be able to go out into public places. J thinks he will be able to soon because he is such a fast learner. She taught him the cue "under" yesterday in less than five minutes. He's not perfect at it yet obviously,but he gets it.
She did say that he didn't like being stepped over and I told her that was probably my fault. Because neither I nor Mr. K can see, we taught him to get out of our way. So, if we were coming towards him he would jump up and move. She was glad to know where it came from and was able to step over him three times yesterday without him hopping to his feet. They also tried him with different stimuli this past weekend and they discovered he does not like leaf blowers or hammering. I'm not surprised about the leaf blowers since he used to be scared of cars, but eh hammering surprised me. When we were living in our little apartment there was construction going on and it didn't seem to bother him. She doesn't think it'll take him long to get over these things. After the training session, Kyo was allowed to come and see Glacier and I as a reward. He went through his entire session with us sitting there and hardly strayed from his task and when he did, he was easily brought back with a "watch me," or "pup pup" from J.

Last but not least, Mr. K and I are going to foster puppies on the weekends. PAALS does their fostering program differently in that the dogs stay at J's house during the week and then go off to their foster parents' house on the weekends or holidays. There is also a system set up if foster parents can't watch a dog one weekend, a pup sitter will take over. The pup sitters don't have public access with the dogs and only watch the dogs when the fosters need a weekend off. Mr. K and I will start off as pup sitters, like all of the other foster parents, and then graduate to foster parents. One of the dog's foster parents were no longer able to be involved. So, we are getting Chloe, a little yellow lab female, for the long weekend. We'll pick her up today and she will go back either Sunday or Monday.
So, wish us luck. Between Miss "Likes to Dig Holes" Aria, Mr. "I keep hurting Myself" Balloo, Miss "This Is New" Chloe and Mr.s "Laid Back" Glacier and Roscoe, we're going to have a few very interesting days ahead of us to say the least. lol

Monday, November 22, 2010

Look At Me Go!

Look! More changes at "At A Glacial Pace."
I've been trying to figure out for the longest time how to make my "labels" show up and I finally did. I also needed to make a few changes to my "links" and I was even able to do that. Maybe I'm not so bad at this computer thing. :)

P.S. Tomorrow I am going to PAALS to volunteer, so I should have a Kyo update.

Some Progress

It seems to me that I have been bitten with the creative bug. I managed to finish my first chapter at the end of last week and today I have pretty much finished Chapter two. I just need to close the chapter and edit it. There are a few spots where the dialogue is awkward, but I am sure that will work itself out eventually.
It amazes me how quickly time flies by when I'm writing. The first chapter I sat down and wrote in basically three and a half hours and I didn't even notice. Today, the same amount of time elapsed and I couldn't believe it.
I know where I want the book to go, but working out the little details that will get me there are sometimes hard to find. That said, when I do have the inclination to write, everything just comes pouring out. I usually find time to write when the dogs are napping early in the morning after they all have been fed and out for their second bathroom break.
I make a gigantic cup of coffee and settle in with my Laptop, a fuzzy blanket, Aria and Balloo squished on to my lap and Glacier sprawled at my feet.It makes for a good morning. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's a Boy!

We've under gone another change to our family of fuzzies in the last week. After Kyo went off to become a service dog, we noticed great improvements in Glacier, but Aria was lonely. Kyo was her buddy, her go to brother. They used to play all of the time; gigantic Kyo lying on the floor with his mouth open, while tiny Aria danced around him play nipping his ears and getting into his mouth. I knew once he left she would be sad. Glacier and Roscoe don't play with her-as working dogs they have been trained since they were babies to pay attention to humans not other dogs. So, they don't really play with other dogs, especially not annoying little sisters.
With that in mind, we decided to start looking for another miniature Duxhund. We knew we wanted a boy for several reasons. They are usually more easy going than the females and a boy would be less likely to fight with Aria-or rather, Aria would be less likely to fight with him. Males are usually more affectionate as well and I know that is part of the reason Mr. K wanted another one. Aria has attached herself to me and pays a lot of attention to me. She follows me around the house and sits besides me on the couch when I'm on the computer or watching TV, but she doesn't really do this with Mr. K. So our search for a boy puppy for Mr. K commenced.
Our search led us to a kennel called Porth Kennel. They have been breeding for years and seemed really nice. They also provided an ownership contract and a one year health guarantee. It made us feel like they really cared about their dogs. We were also informed that if, for any reason, we couldn't keep their dog, regardless of age, that they would always take him/her back. There were profiles with pictures of each dog available up on the site and we picked out three or four before going to visit.
We went last Saturday and brought Aria with us. We wanted her to meet her new brother before we took him home. We went into the kennel and sat down in squishy armchairs and talked with the woman who owns the kennel. We met a bunch of her breeding stock as they were running around. She brought out two of the male puppies we had seen online for us to meet. There was a little guy who was born August 24-he was a cream of some sort, but was not considered an English cream because he had markings on him. He was very sweet and kept trying to burrow his way between my body and the chair. I think Aria was a bit too much for him. The second guy was a Black and Tan Pie Balled. It's funny because the title is a bit deceiving. He was black and white with absolutely no tan on him. In fact, he looked like a miniature dalmation. :) He was a bit bigger than the cream guy and had a lot more spunk. He and Aria ran around and played and when she stopped playing with him, he would grab her leash and take her for a walk with him. Mr. K fell in love. I think he was also won over by the copious amount of kisses Mr. Black and Tan liked to dish out.
I gave the cream guy back and while we were filling out the paper work, she let us hold two long haired males who were only four weeks old. They were adorable with their gigantic searching, toothless mouths. They were both Black and Tan, but Mr. K was sold on the bigger short haired (or Smooth Coat) Black and Tan.
We named him Albus at the kennel and headed home. We stopped at a friend's house so they could meet him and then went home to introduce him to Glacier and Roscoe. He threw up between our friend's house and ours, which the owner of the kennel warned us of. We got him home and he seemed to fit right in. He didn't really bother with the big boys and still doesn't, which is what we want.
We have now had Mr. Black and Tan for just over a week and he is turning out to be quite the addition to our family. We ended up changing his name to Balloo because people kept thinking we were calling him Elvis instead of Albus and because he goes crazy when you sing "The Bare Necessities," to him. He is almost three months old and weighs 3.6 pounds; much bigger than Aria at that age. He has a little black marking on his bum that looks like a snowman-the perfect Christmas puppy.
He did have an allergic reaction to his shots on Tuesday, but apparently this is common in this breed. With a little Benadrill though, he has made a full recovery. He is eating more than ever and he and Aria are best friends. They play all of the time and he always wants to be with her when they are napping.
His house training is going So-so. This breed is known for their stubbornness and refusal to house train, but with Aria, Glacier and Roscoe as his role models, he is doing quite well. We only had one accident yesterday and that was first thing in the morning-he peed in his crate. I think that may be our fault though. We bought crate pads for both puppies so that they could be warmer and more comfortable. The problem is, he can pee on the pad and it just soaks it up so he doesn't seem to mind so much. So, tonight, and until he stops peeing in his crate, he will not be able to sleep with the crate pad.
Other than that, everyone seems to be settling in quite nicely. Glacier isn't even phased with him here. These guys are so small they can't push him out of the way when they want attention or anything like that. That means, Glacier is still mine and he doesn't really have any competition that he feels threatened by.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Squeaky Clean

Today was a huge cleaning day. Not only did I wash/dry/fold laundry, I swept/mopped the floors, washed counters/kitchen sink/stove top wash the bathroom and a bunch of other things. I also have a ritual of grooming all of the dogs and thought since the house was going to be clean, then today was a good day to groom. Usually, I run a comb over Glacier and Roscoe every day just to catch stray fur and smooth their labby coats, but at least once a week I do a complete grooming. So, armed with a Zoom Groom-a Kong product-a chocolate brown flat collar and the comb, I usheered all four fuzzies outside.
I began the grooming ritual by replacing the boys' chain collars with a flat collar and brushed big guy for at least twenty minutes, alternating between the Zoom Groom and the metal comb. A Zoom Groom, for those of you who don't know, is a rubberish grooming tool designed by Kong. It's a great brush because it pulls out the under coats, especially of the labs. The only problem that I find with it, is that it doesn't catch the fur. So, if you are going to use it, you need to be outside. Otherwise you will have tumble weeds of hairballs flying about your house. I've asked for a Furminator for Christmas in anticipation of being able to groom inside when it's cold out. The furminator also gets the loose under coat out, but a person should be cautious when using this particular grooming tool. It leaves the dog's coat very glossy, but because of its sharp edge, it is possible to knick the dog's skin and cause abrasions. So, the Zoom Groom is more preferable for someone just starting out because it does not matter how much pressure you apply-the rubber bristle-like things also provide the dog a massage.
After brushing and combing we returned inside where each dog, including the little ones, were wiped down with wet wipes we picked up from Pet Smart. I can't quite remember the brand we bought, but they help to hydrate the coat and remove odor. I don't use these every day just in case they cause a skin irritation but I like using them once a week just to reduce some of that doggie smell that all dogs have. I also use them to clean between the dog's toes and rub dirt out of the claws.
Next, it was ear cleaning time. At Leader Dog we were taught just to wipe the ear out with a tissue, but I use a cleaner and saturate a cotton ball. I start by wiping the ear out with the tissue, but then use the cotton ball covered in ear cleaning solution to wipe anything I may have missed. I had a vet tell me once that I could just tip the ear cleaner directly into the ear, and I do that if an ear is really dirty, but by wiping them out once a week, I haven't had to do any dumping as of late.
After ears, it was teeth time. The first time around at Leader Dog they told us to brush our dogs' teeth with gauze. They explained the because the material was textured, the dog's teeth would come clean. This time around, they provided a finger toothbrush and toothpaste. I brushed both boys' teeth, making sure to get into the back. It's hard to brush a dog's teeth though. They really don't want your fingers in there and they try to lick the toothpaste off instead of letting you get it on to their teeth.
After all of this was completed-it is a process that probably takes an hour or so-everyone was treated with breath busting cookies of some sort. :) I think that was their favourite part. :)
Now everyone is tired from their grooming experience including me. So, while everyone is sleeping, I think I'll make myself some supper and put on a movie. The saying goes "let sleeping dogs lie," and I think I'll do just that. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Creative Girl

Since I am currently unemployed, impatiently awaiting my massage therapy license to come through, I've decided to find a new way to keep myself occupied. I've been making jewelry here and there, but the problem with that is that it gets expensive to buy the materials and then do nothing with the stuff when I'm finished. I'm picky about my jewlwry materials as well, so I kind of refuse to buy cheap stuff. I love going to bead specialty shops and picking out beads. I particularly enjoy semi-precious stones like Jade and Tiger's Eye. I also am partial to glass beads. I've made a few things with wood and that is cheaper to buy, but I thought I should find a hobby that isn't so expensive. So, I am trying my hand at writing.
I have had an idea for a book floating around in my brain for the last month or so and yesterday I sat down and started committing words to paper-or at least to computer memory. :) The first chapter isn't quite finished, but I've got about 3320 words so far and I'm actually quite happy with it. Today I'll put the finishing touches on the chapter and maybe add a bit more detail and then, if I haven't run out of steam, I'll start designing my second chapter. Sometimes the chapters just pour out of me, but others, I have to actually think about where I want the story to go next and how I'm going to do that; so I write out ideas and write a few thing out in rough before continuing on.
I don't actually know if I will finish the book, but it is worth a shot. :)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Good Changes

It's been a week since Kyo moved out and into the PAALS training program. There have been a lot of changes around here, both big and quite subtle.
The biggest changes I've already talked about-quieter, takes me less time to feed everyone, no more counter surfing which means we aren't always having to worry about closing the baby gates we installed...Etc. One of the more subtler changes that I've noticed in the last seven days is Glacier's energy and affection levels.
When I first got Glacier, he was a big goof who liked to curl up on my lap if I sat on the floor with him. We used to sit together on his sleeping mat at Leader Dog and I would hold his bone for him. I even read him a Hardy Boys mystery just to get him used to my voice. lol
When we got home, our bonding continued. He would follow me around the house after I had taken his leash off a few weeks after returning home. He would sit on my feet and bring me toys to play with. When I got Kyo a lot of this behavior stopped. It was so subtle that I hardly noticed it. I was so caught up in training Kyo on how to be a good companion dog, that I barely noticed Glacier becoming very subdued. I was also incredibly busy with my massage program and I also thought Glacier was just maturing. Glacier was barely a year and a half when I got him, so I thought he was calming down with age.
Ever since Kyo left, some of his personality traits have come back out. He follows me around and checks out what I am doing. He sits with me and squishes himself up on my feet as small as he can get. It's like he can't get close enough. He's started bringing me toys again and dropping them on my lap. He's also become a little mischievous again as well, but I fell in love with all of Glacier and I am glad he's back.
Roscoe seems a bit different too. He dances around a lot more like he used to and talks to us when we're getting ready to go out. He doesn't bark, just sort of sing/growls when the harnesses come down from where they are hanging.
I may have been Kyo's stepping stone on his way to greater things, but he definitely taught me a lot too. It's okay to have pet dogs in the house with working dogs-Aria doesn't bother these guys at all or alter their personalities-but when your pet dog's personality is bigger than your two working dogs' combined, then there is a problem. :) That is part of the reason I finally decided to give him up. I am all for adopting dogs, especially older dogs because they often get over looked, but adoption may not be as much of an option for guide dog users. You only get twenty minutes with a dog and then you have to decide whether he/she is for you or not. The Humane Society said I could have a trial run for a week, but you can't really get to know a dog in seven days-especially if that particular dog has a lot of potential, but has no manners. :)
It was definitely a learning process and I'm glad I just figured it out before it was too late and Glacier turned completely inward. He was never unhappy and he still worked well, but he just wasn't his normal silly self.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Our Little Graduate

Kyo is not the only dog making waves around here. Aria completed her last puppy class last night and passed her test "with flying colours." At least that is what her trainer said. :)
The trainer would call out things we had learned and we had to show him each cue. Aria learned about ten cue in total: sit, down, stay, come when called, shake, walking on a loose leash, drop it, leave it, puppy push-ups and hoop. She wasn't quizzed on "hoop" since that was just a trick to teach her to jump through a hoop and wasn't actually part of the basic obedience routine. She had to sit and stay for at least thirty seconds and down and stay for the same amount of time to pass. Her stays were great. The trainer's great dane was moving around in his crate when she was performing her first stay and she looked at him, but didn't lift her bum up off the floor. I was impressed.
She had to do a long recall where he took her out into Pet Smart and I had to call her from the training room. It takes her a wile to get there because her legs are so short, but she always came running.
I was mostly proud of her "leave it." He had me put her in a sit stay and then place a treat on the floor in front of her. She did fine and then she was put in a down stay and the cue was repeated. She was excellent. We did a few other cues and then came back to "leave it" in a sit stay and he told me to put two treats on the floor. I did and she didn't budge. I was floored! I don't think her nose ddid not dip down at all to even look at the treats lying on the floor at her paws. I think that is pretty awesome. She refused food when she was sitting two inches above it. (I told you she was short. lol).
The trainer that we had excellent and I would recommend him to anyone. His teaching manner is fantastic and he is great with the dogs. He even let us practice long distance recall with Glacier and Roscoe the week we learned it. He said that he would love to see her go on to advanced obedience, which is more loose leash walking and some other stuff. Loose leash walking is what she really needs work at, so we may enter her. Just because she is small and can't pull us over, does not mean she gets to be a crazy yoyo on the end of the leash. :) He said he was impressed we got her to go down and to come when called because usually her breed refuses to do both of these things. I think the difference though, is that we use the cues in real life all of the time.
I would do formal training sessions where I put ten minutes aside a day for practice, but her obedience was reinforced by getting her to do something and then giving her a life reward. For example, if she wants outside I have her sit and stay at the door, then give her the release cue to go out. For meals she must sit and stay as well and to spice it up, I'll get her to down or sit and shake a paw.
That said, I think we just lucked out and have a really good puppy. :)
Graduation pictures were taken with the puppies wearing hats. Aria had to wear her graduation hat like a turtle shell because they didn't have any small enough for her. Glacier and Roscoe got to wear hats too for the pictures. The trainer said they participated by behaving during class. I would agree with him-other puppies were getting attention and treats while they had to lie still and be on duty. So congratulations to all of my fuzzy children. You made me proud. :)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

A Moose On The Loose

Well, it's been four days since Kyo went off to save the world. Based on the updates I've gotten, I'm not sure he's quite there yet, but he may get there. :)
Today was a fundraiser/awareness event for PAALS, so I went and volunteered some of my time. I was there from about 10:00 AM until about 2:00 PM. It was actually chilly and we were all bundled up against the wind.
A few of the dogs in training were present-Casper, Spirit and Grace-but no Moose. He has been spending a lot of time with J and she said they bonded quite a bit last night. When she got home, they cuddled on the floor, which makes me happy because Kyo is a fantastic snuggler: it's one of his favourite activities.
She said he's been "catching on" quite well, but his separation anxiety is getting the better of him. He barks very fervently when left alone and today, when J tried to load Spirit and Casper up in the car, Kyo wrapped his front legs around her legs so that she couldn't go anywhere. It was all very comical to hear her tell it because she had to drop everything in her hands and physically drag him to his crate. He was not letting her go out without him! She said he bark/howled as if someone was murdering him when she finally got out the door, but they are working on it and hopefully it will get better.
We both figure it's because it's a lot of change and it has only been four days. He probably thinks she's leaving him randomly too. Poor big guy.
Yesterday he played outside with everyone all at once and it went well. She said some dogs get him more worked up than others, but that is normal. Spirit is a sweetie when she is out working, but get her out playing and all Hell breaks loose. Either way, he is making some progress and it's all about baby steps. If he makes the initial six week evaluation, then he's got another ten months or so ahead of him. So, four days is nothing. :)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

And There Were Three

Today has been a very quiet day around this house. Well, as quiet as it get siwth two labs and one miniature long haired dauxhund (sorry dont' know how to spell that lol). Now, you would think that meant that it wasn't very quiet, but it was quieter than normal because we are minus one 80 pound lab great dane cross. Kyo went to PAALS yesterday.
I dropped him off yesterday morning at 9 and stayed until about 5:30. It was my day to volunteer, which made it very convenient for me to bring Kyo with me and stay for his first day. He seemed to settle in very nicely J was very patient with him.
From our arrival up until about lunch time, we hung out in the kitchen, gated off from the rest of the house. Glacier layed on a dog bed in his harness while I folded and packed poop bags into ziplock bags for the PAALS clients. Kyo was given free range of the kitchen. He spent some time sniffing around and listening to the other dogs who were out in the gigantic kennel area. He chewed on a few bones and tried some counter surfing, which I warned them about, but other than that he was pretty well behaved. He did chase the household cat once, but J said it would be something they would work on and that if the cat swatted him, he'd learn not to do it anymore. I agree. :)
Two dogs of the dogs-Chloe and Sparks-went out on an outing to the grocery to get peanutbutter so we could make treats and I got to "dress Chloe. It's kind of cute. You say, "Let's get dressed" and she sits in front of you and waits for you to put her working collar, coat and seatbelt on.
After J returned with the peanutbutter, we started smearing it into kongs, PCV pipes and other dog toys to be frozen. At that point, she gated Kyo off in another little area and let each PAALS dog in training in one at a time to meet him. He did very well. He tried to mount one their dogs named Grace, but J said it was because she oozes alpha dog. Funny thing is that Grace is the smallest dog they have. Sparks wasn't quite sure she liked him, but after a few minutes they settled down and she didn't seem to mind.
After all introductions were done-that took about an hour-we moved inot the living roomand Kyo was placed in a crate to have some calm down time. We got each dog out individually and groomed him/her. We brushed teeth, combed coats, wiped paws/faces/eyes with wipes and cleaned out ears. Kyo made a bit of a racket for the first fifteen minutes or so, but eventually settled down. J brought him back into her office with her and practised "down stay" while we continued grooming.
After grooming we moved upstairs to the "training room" while Kyo was put back in his crate with a peanutbutter Kong. I watched some of the training they do and was so impressed. Grace and Spirit went through their practice training opening dryers, retriving fallen items, presing emergency 911 buttons on the phone and a bunch of other things. A few other dogs went through basic obedience practice and Kyo got to go out and play with Akira.
After training, Kyo got to come upstairs and I showed J and her intern C what he knows. She was very excited, but he kept trying to put his paws on the counter and climb up the shelving unit. She laughed and said that if they get that behavior under control, it would actually be helpful. She also trained him to open a dryer in about two minutes. It was sort of by chance, but he did it over and over and was having fun.
There is a piece of material hanging from the dryer door. It is so that the dogs can pull it open. He was investigating it and she asked me if he had a "tug" command. I said he sort of knew "pull" so she told him to "pull." At first, he wasn't sure if he should, but with some encouragement from J, he pulled the door open. It was incredible. She got him to repeat the behavior a few more times and he did it without treat rewards. I was very impressed.
After that session which also consisted of J massaging him and cuddling with him on the floor to get him more comfortable with her, we headed downstairs and J, C and J's husband took all eight dogs out to the back to play off leash in a giant fenced area. They all ran for about fifteen minutes and when they got back, J said he did very well.
I was waiting for my ride by this point and all of the dogs were being shephereded back in for supper. I was a little worried about leaving with Kyo watching, but another volunteer showed up to walk dogs. So, J sent Kyo out for a walk. The volunteer sounded a bit nervous because he was so big. In fact, when J told her that I had donated a new dog, she thought it was Glacier. I told her she couldn't have that one. lol She agreed to take Kyo and his gentle leader was put on and off they went. He never knew I left.
He was supposed to spend the rest of the evening with J's husband while she went out to do a presentation. J's husband plays the guitar and practises every night, so Kyo was going to go hang out with him in the guitar room.
I feel so much better about Kyo being with them now. He is going to get the exercise and attention he needs. I wish him all the luck and will post updates whenever I get them.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Paw Print On My Heart

Today is the last full day that Kyo will be with us. I woke up very early just thinking about how far he's come in the last seven and a half months and where he will go in the next seven and a half months.
The last couple of days made me realise that I am making the right decision. We went out to a Halloween party for dogs on Saturday afternoon and he was amazing. For a dog who used to be terrified of traffic and completely dog distracted, he did wonderfully. There were at least 60 or so people and about as many dogs. All of the dogs were dressed up and was so Kyo. This didn't seem to phase him at all.We were outside on a busy street with kids going by with Halloween costumes on. He didn't even flinch. He would meet dogs when I said it was okay and would sit patiently by my side when it was time to behave.
Yesterday he was a complete angel in the house. He just needs a lot of stimulation and I think becoming a working dog will suit him well. He will get the attention he needs and the stimulation and a lot of his behavioral issues-like counter surfing-will just go away.
The woman who runs the service dog organisation-I will call her J-loves him to death and seems excited to have him. She was introducing him to everyone and commenting on how handsome he is. It relieves some of the guilt and sadness I feel about giving him away to know that she is thrilled to have him. It's comforting to know that he will be loved and given a real shot to make it. I think I was a stepping stone on his journey.
He came to me at least 25 pounds over weight and completely out of control. He lost all of the weight on a strict diet and a lot of exercise and was happy about it. He could finally run and keep up with Glacier and Roscoe. He couldn't sit, down, stay or anything related to obedience. He used to run me over to get out the door and would jump up all of the time. He had some food guarding issues. He never snapped or anything, but he would suck his food down as fast as possible whenever you came near. Kyo also had mouthing issues and quite would often put your skin in his mouth and bite hard when playing. That is completely gone now. He snatched treats out of your hand, nearly taking your fingers with it. The list could go on and on. But now, his basic obedience is almost flawless, he no longer snatches cookies and I can put my hand in his food bole. Some of the behaviors I could not get rid of, like the excessive counter surfing, will be addressed at the service dog organisation and he will make someone very happy.
I was struggling with leaving him on Tuesday after I volunteer at the service dog organisation, but I've become more comfortable with the idea thinking of what both Jetta and Glacier went through and how well they did. I remember how much they loved their trainers and how they eventually bonded to me. This will happen for Kyo as well and he will be a happy guy. :)
We'll probably spend the rest of the day cuddling, playing outside and eating lots of treats. I want his last day to be great. :)
Every dog in your life leaves its paw print on your heart and teaches you something. Kyo has taught me patience and that even though things don't go exactly as planned, new plans can come along and be just as, or even better than, the first plan. :)
So, go forth and make me proud my gigantic Moose. lol