Friday, February 28, 2014

Hurray, a Puppy Day!

Today was not originally scheduled as a puppy day, but Kim called last night and asked me to accompany her to the prison to pick up a puppy. Kayla has been at the prison for a few days now as Kim has felt just awful and needed some time to recover. The puppy we would be picking up today is a little black Lab named Ashley. She is about 10 weeks old and is absolutely precious.
Kim arrived to pick me up in the morning and I was running late. I'm not really sure where my morning went, but I was still blow drying my hair when Kim knocked on the door. And, that was even after she'd waited in her car for me.
Otis wasn't too fussed about his food this morning. In an effort to keep his heart healthy, I had added cinnamon and cold pressed flax seed oil to his food. He was not impressed. I had added cinnamon to everyone else's food as a little would be beneficial for them too and everyone, including the ever picky Hermione Sophia, ate their breakfasts no problem.
Otis eventually ate some of his food, but I opted to put the rest aside for later since he didn't seem particularly interested and we really needed to get on the road. Eating one kibble at a time out of a bowl filled with 1 cup of food takes a very long time. I think he was trying to pick out the kibbles that didn't have flax seed oil on them. I was finally ready to go, after racing about the house like a maniac looking for my cell phone.
Our first stop was "Timmy's" for coffee. It was just one of those mornings so I forewent my usual medium and went straight for a large. The border crossing guy was a bit grumpy. He asked where we lived, why we were entering the States Etc. As soon as Kim said we were going to the prison to pick up a "Leader Dog puppy for training" his attitude grew dark. He kind of snarled at us about how long we'd be in the States and if Nala had her Rabies shots. They are certainly entitled to ask if the dog's shots are up to date, but it was more his manner than anything. Not to mention, he turned sour as soon as the prison was mentioned.
I waited in the car while Kim went to get Ashley. When she trades puppies, she doesn't go inside the prison because of all of the protocols, but rather switches puppies with the guy in charge of the prison puppy program. (He's prison staff). She wasn't long in returning and plopping a wriggling ball of fuzzy puppy fur at my feet.
I was smitten.
Ashely still has puppy breath. Ashley still has puppy fur. And, Ashley still has puppy teeth. However, we were both impressed by her self control when someone said "ouch" or "no" when she chomped on you. Her mastery of "leave it" when she had someone's fleece sleeve in her mouth was equally as impressive.
It was a quick stop at Walmart where Kim and I pee danced while the cleaner cleaned the bathrooms. We must have arrived right when they started because it took forever. Well, at least it felt like forever; probably because of that giant coffee I had in the car. We then grabbed a few things and it was back on the road. Nala was a bit off in the store. She was a bit distracted and wasn't at all interested in following Kim. She also did not want to hold her sit stay. I guess we all have off days. That said, even on her off days I feel incredibly safe with Nala. Kim stopped for dog food and then kindly drove me over to the shipping place to see if a parcel had arrived for me-it wasn't there. It was a good opportunity for Ashley to be squished though. Kim was carrying her as she was so sleepy and someone asked to pet her.
We crossed the border back into Canada without any problems. As we turned off of the bridge separating Canada and the United States, Kim asked me if I wanted to go for coffee. Of course I did. I asked her if she minded if we picked up Mr. K. She said she didn't and I spent a few minutes on the phone convincing Mr. K that he wanted to brave the minus 25 degrees C to have lunch and see a future Leader Dog in training. He finally conceded.
When we reached my house, I switched seats as Mr. K is very tall and fits better in the front seat. Kim had to wait for another member of my family as Mr. K was just finishing up some school work when we arrived. He soon joined us though and got the joy of fussing with Miss Ashley until we got to the restaurant.
Both dogs were great in the restaurant: Nala because she knows she has to be and Ashley because she needed a puppy nap. We ate lunch and the girls snoozed. Kim got Ashley a few ice cubes for her poor puppy gums. At first Ashley was not sure she wanted to "settle," but after Kim told her "under" and she ducked under the table, the puppy was fast asleep.
Mr. K's dining experience was less than fantastic. First, they brought him the wrong food and then when his meal was returned to him it was cold. Blech. Mine was good and I definitely couldn't complain about the steaming hot coffee they kept dumping into my cup. It was an enjoyable lunch, all of us chatting and the dogs passed out. Sometimes when I'm sitting still in public I forget Nala's even there; she's so quiet and well behaved. My only reminder is usually hearing someone passing by commenting on the dogs. Most of which are about the cute puppy if we are out with Kim. I'm okay with that. She gets to fend people off from petting the dogs since they always go for her puppy first. :) She's a good sport and does a good job of explaining why you shouldn't pet them.
With our coffee cups long empty and Mr. K having eaten his late and cold lunch, it was time to head home. In my hurry to rush out the door this morning I had forgotten to give Otis his last pain killer/anti-inflammatory pill which I promptly gave him when I got home.
It was a really nice, low key day. We still got out and did a bit of work, but it wasn't too crazy. Nala did a good job, even though she was a bit off in Walmart and Ashley won everyone over with her puppy cuteness. There's something to be said for spending a few quality hours with a wee, cute puppy.
Oh, and those human things too. ;)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Strange and Wonderful Spaniel: Part 993

So, if you read yesterdays post you will know that Otis went in for the big surgery. Everything went well and aside from being very drugged and sleepy last night, he's doing well. He had the longest pee I have ever seen come out of him this morning which is not surprising since he didn't go to the bathroom from the time I got him home yesterday at 5 until almost 8 this morning. He's already had some water and his pain killer and soon I'll give him some breakfast. Strangely enough, Otis is not the only one impacted by his surgery. Hermione has completely taken me by surprise by her reaction to Otis being, well, not quite himself.
When I arrived home last night, Otis bundled up in a blanket since the temperatures were absolutely freezing, I really didn't have time to observe Hermione and Otis. I had enough time to wolf down my supper and run upstairs to give my uncle a massage. After his massage, I came back downstairs to find everyone curled up on the couch, Otis still curled up in his blanket. Mr. K had been keeping everyone company while I was busy because Otis is not allowed to jump off of things or do stairs by himself. I don't think he had any intention of going anywhere last night though, as he was all shivery and so sleepy. He was so drugged he didn't even want the french fry offered to him. He carried it in his mouth, but just couldn't muster up the energy to eat it.
As for Hermione, she was curled up next to Otis, but I thought it was because of the soft, velvety blanket he was wrapped up in. This particular blanket is mine, but if I ever use it to cover myself up, they both love it. It usually stays off of the couch as our couch is incredibly furry, but Otis's surgery meant he got to use the blanket.
Before bed, I put everyone outside, except for Otis because he was just not interested. When everyone came back inside Rufio came into the living room to join us. He jumped up on the couch beside Otis and Hermione ran him off. It didn't really surprise me because sometimes if she's on the couch and Rufio comes too close to her, she growls at him. Usually he ignores her because he knows she's completely harmless. Not to mention, he's basically the same size as her. After Rufio hopped off the couch, Hermione jumped down too. I assumed it was to play with her bone or to yell at me to take her to bed, but instead she tracked Rufio down and started growling at him some more. Then, she backed up to the couch right under Otis and continued growling. It took me a minute, but I soon realised that she was protecting Otis from Rufio. I called Rufio out of the living room and gave him a treat and Hermione hopped back up beside Otis. She settled in next to him, but kept her eye on the living room entrance. No kitties were coming close with Hermione on the job.
Rufio was not the only one she was protecting Otis from.
Since he was so sleepy and he isn't allowed to do stairs anyway, I decided to carry the bundled Otis up to bed shortly after Hermione's confrontation with the cat. I gently scooped him up and began walking slowly up to bed. The entire way Hermione leaped into the air as high as she could go and nudged me with her nose. She would whack my legs with her front paws and ran up the stairs ahead of me only to turn around and watch me come the rest of the way up. She carried on hitting me and leaping until I got into the bedroom and laid the still sleeping Otis on to my bed. She then launched herself on to the bed, sniffed him all over and only when she was satisfied that I hadn't hurt him, did she go into her crate for the night.
She squawked a few times at me after I closed her door, I think she wanted to sleep with Otis, but I told her "quiet" gently and she settled in too.
Never did I think that Her Royal Highness, Princess Hermione Sophia would show any kind of nurturing towards anything. I knew Otis was bonded to her, but I under estimated how bonded she is to him. As I type this, they are both snuggled in beside me, Hermione making sure to be on guard for any kitty intruders she may have to tell to go away.

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Snip, Snip" Time

Today is the day that Otis made the big trip to the dogtor's. He is just over a year and a half and we decided that it was time to have him neutered. Mom picked me, Nala and Otis up around 8 this morning so we could get him to the vet's where we were briefed about the surgery and our options.
When I had initially booked the appointment I had forgotten to mention Otis's heart murmur. We adopted him knowing that he had one and our UK vet said that it wasn't a problem. When I told the vet Tech about it this morning she seemed a bit concerned and said that they would have to do an ECG to check on his heart. I agreed, but decided against the blood panel to see how he reacted to anaesthetics.
After explaining the need for the ECG she also told me that he had the option of having the surgery performed via laser as opposed to the traditional method. I texted Mr. K, as he was not able to make the appointment, and he said to go ahead with the laser; despite the price difference. I left, thinking everything was just fine.
Upon returning home, a different vet Tech called and said that they wanted to do a heart worm test on Otis as well as chest X-Rays. I nearly had a heart attack,not only because with every procedure a vet adds the price goes up, but also because I didn't know what was wrong with my baby.
We chatted a few times over the phone, trying to figure out what would be the best plan of action. At one point I had told her to cancel the surgery all together and that we would be coming to get him. With the laser neuter, the ECG, X-Rays and heart worm test it was going to cost us near to $500.00 USD. We had budgeted for the neuter and were even okay with paying the extra for the laser procedure as well as the ECG, but the rest was just not going to happen. The vet said he would not perform the surgery without the heart worm test.
More discussion followed and the vet Tech said something about Otis having a blockage and that is why he needed the X-Rays and heart worm test.
"He has a what?"
"A blockage on the right side." She said.
"What does that mean?" I asked.
A long pause. "Um, can I have the vet call you back?"
"Yes please." I hung up thinking the worse: Otis's arteries were blocked and he was going to have a heart attack.
The  vet called back quickly and explained that it wasn't his arteries, but rather a nerve bundle can be damaged in many ways, including heart worm and trauma to a dog's chest. Otis's congenital heart murmur could have caused it as well. We agreed to the heart worm test as it never hurts to have them checked, but decided against the chest x-Rays. The vet suggested that we have an ECG done every six months to keep an eye on the nerve blockage. It would be better to catch arteriole damage before it got really bad.
After hanging up the phone I set to work researching the blockage he has and how to prevent further damage as much as possible. Diet is going to be a big thing which I already knew. I've contacted his dog food company to find out just exactly how much salt they put in his food. Salt is listed on the bag, but the amount is nowhere to be found.
Hermione was suspected to have a mild heart murmur when she was a puppy. She has since out grown it and part of me wonders if the honey/cinnamon/fish oils mixture I used to put on her food once a day helped at all. It can't hurt to try. So, Otis is going to be seeing a few dietary supplements added in sooner rather than later; just as long as I can figure out what would be most beneficial and how much.
He may one day need to go on medication, but I am going to try to either prevent that from happening or at least make sure it happens much later on.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sea, Land and Tires: Games Fever

Sea, Land and Tires: Games Fever: We're on day 14 of the Olympic Games and there have been a few really exciting performances by the Canadians. Yesterday the women's ...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Family Day

Here in Canada, our government has instituted a holiday during the winter months called "family day." It's meant to give people a day off so that they can spend time with their families. Schools, stores, banks and everything else that isn't essential, like hospitals, close down.
Today was our family day and it wasn't planned to be, but it turned into a family affair for sure.
I have been craving my Dad's pancakes for about three weeks now. He makes a pancake that the Fins like and I think it is similar to a Swedish pancake. No matter what it resembles, it is incredibly tasty. Yesterday I informed my parents that I was coming over for pancakes in the morning and they humoured me.
Mom arrived this morning to pick me up. Mr. K wasn't able to come as he is now fighting off the creeping crud that I've mostly gotten rid of. I loaded up the laundry hamper since we don't have a washer or dryer yet-those are big purchases we just haven't made since returning from the UK. Initially, I was only going to bring Nala and Roscoe. I left the two small dogs in the living room with a peanut butter Kong each and Mom and I started leaving. Just a few blocks away Mom said she was surprised that I didn't bring Hermione. I replied that I didn't want to overwhelm them so had decided not to bring everyone. She made some noise that basically meant that she didn't care and I asked if we could go back for my wee ones. We turned around in someone's driveway and I ran back inside to fetch a very happy Hermione and Otis.
When we arrived, the coffee was ready and Dad was just finishing up the pancakes. We realised that there wasn't any syrup and Mom ran out again to get some. When she got back we all stuffed our faces with pancakes, bacon and ham. Oh, and plenty of coffee. My cousin randomly stopped by as he was in the neighbourhood and we had a little chat. He didn't stay long as his dog was in his truck and his fiance's daughter had cut her hand; he was to return home pronto. (His dog isn't a big fan of others so he opted to leave her where she couldn't eat anyone else).
All the dogs milled about and were quite well behaved. Dad took them all out in shifts since my parents' backyard isn't fenced in. They have two lines and so two dogs would use those while Hermione was allowed to race about free because she never ventures too far.
We also had to take turns sending Flash, my parents' Shepherd/Lab cross, outside as well. Flash is almost 11 and isn't very fond of other dogs. She's fine with Jetta, but anyone else she goes after. I think there are a few reasons for this, but that is for another day's post. She had to spend much of our visit in my parents bedroom. I would go and see her and Dad would take her outside by herself for some play time and bathroom breaks.
Jetta spent most of her time on the couch, blocked in by coffee tables. It wasn't her that was the problem, but rather Mr. Otis. Otis thinks Jetta is his girlfriend and doesn't leave her alone. He thinks she's beautiful. He humps the air and generally follows her around and so she sought safety on the couch. Thankfully, the little stud is off to the vet in a week to take care of a certain body part that will be removed.
We ate, chatted, did laundry and trimmed Hermione's bountiful hair. Her paws were so shaggy it was difficult to tell where her toes were. There weren't any mats on her paws, but snow often clumps to her toe fur and so it was necessary to clean her coat up a bit. She was quite patient while I held her and Mom trimmed her paws, legs and chest.
It really turned out to be quite a low key day, but it was certainly spent with family; fuzzy family members included.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Different Angle

I can't say that I'm the best at staying consistent with my dogs' training. This is one of the biggest reasons dogs never become fully trained or super good listeners. I know that, but for some reason I am not good at sticking with my training sessions.
After talking it over with Mr. K I thought taking an obedience class with Hermione would be the way to go. It would be a way to interact with other doggie people and also I would have to train in order to make sure we were ready for the next class. My competitive nature wouldn't let me do anything different.
Then, we talked again and he pointed out that we've been through beginners class already and shocked our trainer with our obedient miniature Dachshund. Plus, I've read a million different articles/books. I really do know what I'm doing on my own, but I still needed to find a way to hold myself accountable. So, I started thinking. Obviously what I'm doing now isn't working because we'll train three days in a row and then go two without doing anything. Not good. I'd have to come up with a new way to do things if I wanted to be successful.
This is what I've come up with.
1. Actually implement a training plan. I.E., pick a behaviour/task/cue to work on for the week and stick with it. Write the training plan out; kind of like a road map.
I've just been randomly picking things and working on it, but not actually writing up a plan to follow. By writing the plan, I'll know where we are and where we are going and how to get there. For example, I need Hermione to be able to "stay" longer as well as go into a "down" without being lured. Now that I've identified these areas, I'll put together a plan to get there. I think the reason why I didn't stick with the scent detection work with Roscoe was because I never wrote up a plan. I figured out what we needed to do to introduce the task, but never got any further than that. Since I didn't have a plan I kind of gave up because we were doing the same things over and over again even though he was ready to move on. If I go back to the scent detection with him, I will write out a whole plan this time.
2. Find someone to hold me accountable.
Mr. K has agreed to take time every few days or once a week to watch us "perform." If I have to show him our progress, then I'm going to be more likely to complete the training sessions. I am very performance oriented; probably from my days as an athlete. I don't want to perform without practising. So, if I have to show off our mad skills to someone, you can be assured I'll be training.
3. Use various training methods.
I've been stuck in this rut of using treats. They get Hermione to do what I want, but she's figured out that with most cues she doesn't have to do it unless I have a treat. I'm no longer rewarding, but bribing and that is not effective. I have to find a way to get the behaviours I want in such a way that it becomes natural for her. I kind of have to trick her. For example, I am going to teach her to "stay" by playing fetch instead of luring her with treats. We have a ball with a bell in it that Kim lent us and Hermione loves it. I am going to have to break things into small steps to get what I want, but I think we'll get there. Here's an example of what I mean:
Reinforcing "stay" Using Thousand Pecks Method
1. Have Hermione "sit." Count "1 alligator," click and throw ball to have her retrieve. Repeat extending count until reach her thresh hold. If break thresh hold back up to a spot where she will stay; even if it means only counting only two alligators. (Note to self: remember to be patient).
By playing fetch instead of using treats, I think I can teach Hermione to stay and down without having to lure her. I'll let you know how it all goes.
As for Roscoe: we'll keep using treats. He's a Lab and will do anything for kibble. He will also do things in the hopes of kibble so I don't have to bribe him. I haven't figured out what I want to work on with him, but I'm thinking "front" and "touch." We've started on "front" and he seems to get it for the most part: we are still at the kibble stage.
With that, I must go. I have a very crazy Spaniel who is excited to start training: she is currently digging for buried treasures in the couch.

PS: Sorry if this post seemed like jibberish. I wrote it as a part of my "accountability" plan. :)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Terrible Dream

I've decided that this morning's dream is totally linked to the two cold medicine tablets I took before bed last night. It was so awful that I made myself get up even though today could have been a sleep in day. All of the dogs were sleeping soundly and I was so cozy, but I did not want to keep having my horrible dream. The worst part was that I kept having fragments of the same dream in various sequences and so in order to stop it, I made all of the dogs wake up and I went downstairs to put them out and make coffee.
What was this dream? You may ask.
It was about her Royal Highness, Princess Hermione Sophia and me traveling in some strange place. At first I was in France, but then later in the dream I was at a British pub-very confusing. Somewhere in there I was competing in swimming-even more strange. Wherever I was, it was incredibly hot and humid and Tenie, Carmen, Mr. K and my Dad were all there; kind of interchangeably. My cousins also made an appearance at the pub too. I also forgot that Otis was present as well.
While I was competing, people were supposed to be watching Otis and Hermione. I have no idea who it was because throughout the various parts of the dream, whoever was dog sitting kept changing. Even at one point, they were taking Hermione and Otis on a canoe ride. Anyway, the horrible part was that while they were taking the dogs out for a walk, Hermione over heated, broke out in a fever and died. They apparently took her to the vet, but she didn't make it. They also didn't bother telling me that she had died. My dream self was horrified that I had not been with her when she had been sick and had not been able to say good-bye. My dream self was also horrified that she had died.
Now, of course I know this is a dream, but it was one of those ones that feel so real. It felt so real and seemed to keep occurring that I got out of bed.
Of course her Royal Highness was safely asleep in her crate and she came out stretching and wagging her tail when I opened the door. However, I had to scoop her up and give her a big hug this morning thanks to my cold medicine induced horrible dream.
Everyone is here, snoozin away, waiting patiently for me to get their breakfast. But stuff like a horrible dream can make you stop and think. It makes me realise just how attached I am to my dogs, Hermione in particular. When people make faces or funny noises when I tell them how many animals I have, I want to explain to them that these are not just animals to me. These little beings are my family and they are so much more than just paws, fur and mouths to feed. However, unless you are an animal lover or until you have an animal in your life that fills that role of fur kid, I don't think people can actually understand.  They are not "just a dog" or "just a cat" and a dream can even reinforce that.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Rufacus Maximus

Can you believe it? Our little bundle of kitten is no longer. He is a big grown up boy and he turns 1 today. Our handsome man cat has been a wonderful addition to our family. If you are an allergy sufferer and love cats, try a Siberian. Not only are they low allergen, but I would argue they are the coolest cat breed out there. Of course I'm biased, but Rufio (AKA Witchfyre Rudolph Valentino), certainly takes his birth date seriously. He's a lover not a fighter and he thinks he's a dog; probably because he's surrounded by four. Even if you're not an allergy sufferer, you should take a Siberian cat home. You will be amazed at the affection levels of these cats.
Happy birthday handsome boy and may we have many more with you in our lives.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

First Prison Trip and Puppy Shopping!

Kim, Future Leader dog puppy Kayla's mom, and Kayla picked Nala and I up just before eight yesterday morning. I had been, and still was, feeling under the weather but I had been trying to get out to the prison for over a month and I was going. After a quick run through the Timmy's drive through for coffee, we were off; Kayla and Nala tustling in the back seat of Kim's car.
The ride there take around 40 minutes, but it really didn't seem like it took that long. We jabbered away while Nala fought off puppy antics. Both girls were quite well behaved, despite both of them sticking their paws, and in Kayla's case her entire front of her body, over the divider that is meant to keep dogs in the back seat and out of the driver's hair. We arrived a bit early and so waited a few minutes before actually going into the prison parking lot. It never really occurred to me that we were going into an actual jail until we entered the front doors and a sort of antiseptic smell hit my nostrils. It's sort of a smell of nothing and yet it speaks volumes. A place where there aren't any aromas usually is a serious place, kind of like a hospital.
We were signed in, showing ID and having a number drawn o the back of our hands. We made sure to store our purses in a locker with everything that wasn't allowed in, such as keys or chapstick. I met the man who is running the Leader Dog puppy prison program and we headed out another set of doors back out into the freezing cold. I didn't think to ask Kim what we were walking through or what it looked like. To be honest, I was more interested in meeting the inmates and their puppies. I was really excited. We went through another set of doors, back inside which clicked shut behind us with kind of a finality. Maybe it was my own perception, but that metalic click cut through my excitement for just a brief second. However, I didn't have time to dwell because we walked quickly through another hallway, Nala poking her head down off shoots of that main hall, and went into room. It sort of struck me that it was kind of like a classroom. Again, I didn't even think to ask how it was set up or what it looked like because I was bombarded by some barking, a lot of "sit" or "down" and clicker noises. This, to me, was a dog training class as any other. Thought os being in a prison completely faded away from that moment on. In fact, I kind of forgot about it until at one point much later one inmate said, "thank you for coming into a prison to talk to us."
Chairs were brought for Kim and I and we sat down at the head of what I would say was a classroom, with the pupils seated in a semi-circle facing us. There was still a lot of excitement and as we got settled, Kim found someone who didn't have a puppy and gave Kayla to him. When we had first started that morning we had thought we were going on a doggie training session and although that experience would have been very valuable, what happened in the next two hours was so much more meaningful.
Kim asked the prisoners to come up and introduce themselves to me and Nala. She suggested it be a good training lesson for their dogs meeting a "strange" dog. I could feel the hesitation in the room, but slowly one inmate after another came up to greet us. Nala was a super star lying at my feet in her harness letting strange dogs approach her and not budging. If someone was very curious and too sniffy in her opinion, she would move away from them. I kept telling her to "wait" and "good girl," keeping her focus on me. This provided her with a great training opportunity as well and I was so proud of her; no kibble needed. Some inmates were quite sociable, offering their hand and their names, others seemed hesitant and would sort of talk to me but it was more about their dogs. Some of the more hesitant men seemed not to turn their faces towards me. Their voices were not aimed in my direction, but how many blind people had these men really met?
I met some really gorgeous dogs. One giant Golden Retriever blew me away. He was so well behaved and absolutely beautiful. I found out later that his puppy raiser doesn't sleep well and so trains his dog constantly. The puppies are required to know 16 cues, but this particular dog now knows 40. He's going to have to have a smart handler, otherwise he'll get away with murder if his blind person isn't smarter than him. My favourite puppy moment was when the inmate in charge of the German Shepherd puppy picked him up and put him in my lap. He and a fellow Black Lab girl are only 8 weeks or so and I fell in love with his fuzzy puppy fur and his little puppy kisses. I guess his raiser said that he is a bit mouthy, but there were definitely no teeth aimed at me during our little visit. I have to admit the little Black Lab pup pulled on my heart strings too. She was so much smaller than the Shepherd and you could just eat her up.
After our introductions Kim suggested that the guys ask me questions. We started at one end of the semi-circle and worked our way around and after our first time around, questions came flying out of every direction. They were good questions and I tried to answer them the best I could. I tried to emphasise that each blind person is different and just because I handle my dog in a certain manner doesn't mean someone else would be the same. One inmate was concerned that his dog might be too high energy. He didn't come out and say it, but he asked "Are high energy dogs needed to guide?" I explained that of course they were. I myself needed a high energy dog because I needed someone to walk fast enough and a dog who could keep up with my busy schedule. I can't speak for him obviously, but he appeared to be relieved after my answer.
What might have been a two hour training session turned into a two hour question and asnwer period. I learned so much, probably more than those guys will ever know. They thanked me for talking to them and answering questions, but really I should have thanked them. The two hours flew by. I completely forgot about my cold and sounding like a man frog. I nearly forgot about Nala lying calmly and quietly at my feet. They thanked me for boosting moral as sometimes raising puppies can be duanting and other people don't take them seriously. "They think we're just walking around with cute teddy bears with no purpose." One man said. I can totally relate to that: people don't take seriously the job that Nala does for me or the job I do for her. They don't recognise that we are a team and altough Nala is amazing they seem to forget that human direction is needed for the whole unit to work smoothly.
When it was time to end-and I think we only ended because it was time for lunch-every inmate shook my hand and told me their names. It's amazing what two hours of just chatting can do. What these guys do is completely selfless and hard work. I don't know that they hear "thank you" enough. I could see some people thinking "well, you're in jail so what else are youg oing to do?" or something of that nature, but these guys are people too and they need to know that raising these puppies makes a difference in the world.
I heard a Stat about inmates who raise puppies. I may get the numbers wrong, but it's something like 70 percent of inmates who don't raise puppies re-offend and are back. Since the puppy program has taken off that number has been reduced to under 15 percent. Again, my numbers are a bit off, but think of the significance of this. If prisoners re-offend so frequently, then we are doing something wrong in our prison systems. The introduction of the puppy programs proves that. I cant' wait for our next visit.
After our prison time, Kim, Nala, Sammy (one of the puppies being busted out for a few days) and I went dog stuff shopping. First we hit Walmart and found some bones and ear cleaner for my dogs. Kim and I also did a little grocery shopping. Then we headed for Pet Supplies Plus and I did some damage in there too. My dogs left their toys in Scotland and it was time to replace them. By the end of my shopping trip I had: 2 Nylabones, 1 bottle of ear cleaner, 1 giant bag of recall treats, 1 package of chews, 1 pink-faced cow that holds a water bottle, 1 red Bad Couz and 1 pink pig thingy that must be from the Kong Wubbah family. Oh, and Rufio got a new ball with a rattle in it and a little pouch stuffed full of cat nip.
My dogs seem to enjoy their new toys. The Nylabones have been chewed, some treats have been given for good behaviour, pink Piggie has been fetched, some chews consumed and one brilliant dog has figured out how to get the water bottle out of the cow. I've even replaced the water bottle and someone has worked the velcro open and removed the bottle. Smart little turds. The Bad Couz has not made an appearance yet as he is very squeaky and Mr. K is very busy with school work. Once he takes a break though, Bad couz will come out to play.
PS: sorry for the typos, my screen reader has stopped talking which means no editing.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Slobber City

I'm sure I've mentioned this before. I know that I've at least recently talked about Roscoe's stinky breath problem which, by the way, is getting much better. But, have I told you about how slobbery he is? He's like Slimer from Ghost Busters. You'd think he was a Mastiff the way the drool comes stringing out of his mouth when tasty nombs are about.
He smells popcorn, he drools.
Mr. K makes steak, he drools.
I add kale to my tuna sandwich, he drools.
I pour kibble into bowls for breakfast or supper, he drools. He's really quite a slobbery guy.
Most recently, I have become even more acquainted with the drool factory because I've started training him in some of the Rally Obedience cues. Our house is quite small and the backyard is buried under about six feet of snow. So, we mostly do stationary cues, but that doesn't lessen the amount of drool that he produces.
I mostly use kibble for rewards since we're inside and there aren't a lot of distractions; high value treats aren't really needed. However, Mr. K and I have recently made an eating habit change in the attempts to help him be healthier and we purchased soy cheese. He's cut out dairy, except yogurt. because we think he's slightly sensitive to it. We both love cheese and so we thought that we'd at least try the soy cheese. Since it has turned into dog training treats, you can only imagine how we felt about the stuff.
It is disgusting.
We didn't want to waste it, so today I gave a small piece to Hermione and Roscoe to see if they like it. They loved it. Otis thinks it's tasty too. Rewarding Hermione with the cheese wasn't so bad. The cheese itself left a small residue behind, but she's not really a drooler. When I switched over to Roscoe though, all bets were off. I could hardly grip the clicker or the leash because my hands were so slippery from him slobbering all over them when I rewarded him. I think his level of drool production is directly linked to how much he likes something.
When I gave him kibble there was mild slobbering, but when he got soy cheese pieces there was a very high drool factor. I'd say almost extreme slobber.
So, what have I learned from this experience other than that I needed to wash my hands thoroughly upon completing today's training session?
My dogs like soy cheese and it is a high value treat. (Who would have thought dogs liked soy)? Hence, it will serve very well in the future as recall treats and other training treats. I've also decided that I may stick with kibble with Roscoe for now and only bust out the soy cheese when he's learning something new. Otherwise, I am going to have to launder his leash every morning.