Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And, now back to Cleveland!

The Open House went great! Laurel and I had fun doing some agility and Hardy got to participate in a puppy play demonstration. Plus, at lunch I was doing some training with him in the puppy room which attracted a crowd so we had some distractions. Hardy did great and got to meet all sorts of people and friendly dogs. He is definitely proving to be different from Laurel in all the ways we'd hoped he would - he shows lovely natural self control and although he likes people and other dogs, he isn't as hugely enthusiastic about it as Laurel is. 
Then the next day, Sunday, Laurel and I had to drive back to Cleveland. Every three weeks, I get an infusion of gamma globulin to treat an immune deficiency. Although we had it set up in Guelph to perform the treatment there, my insurance company wouldn't pay for it so I had to drive home. The nice thing is that we got to spend a bit of time with Brent. I did the infusion Monday morning and we drove back to Guelph yesterday. Hardy stayed in Canada with Sue and John to continue doing puppy things. We are hoping that having him spend some time away from me will help prevent separation anxiety which can be a big problem for owner-trained service dogs.
I know its good to be back with him again!
Laurel gave us a bit of a scare when we got back to Guelph yesterday. Shortly after we arrived back to the farm, she started vomiting. And, yes, she's a Lab so she has gotten into things before and vomited once or even a couple times. Yesterday afternoon and evening, she vomited lots and lots and it smelled really awful! I took Hardy to puppy class but I was worried about Laurel the entire time so when I got home, Sue and I took another late night trip to the emergency vet. The doctor who had saved Eco's life saw Laurel too. She suggested that we do some x-rays to make sure there wasn't an obstruction. Thankfully there wasn't so she gave Laurel a shot for nausea and sent us home with instructions to watch her overnight and feed her in the morning. The doctor thought she might have something akin to food poisoning in people. Thankfully, she was back to normal and ready to go. 
Besides doing our Training Levels class today, Laurel and I attended a K9 Helpers Service Dog Club meeting! Thanks for inviting us! I loved doing the "hits" and "misses" for the week!
And tomorrow is Canada Day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

We made it to Canada!

We made it to Canada last Friday (the 18th) without any problems. I have a wheelchair modified Honda Odyssey with a clear space in the middle (where the 2nd row of seats would normally be). There is a ramp with space for my power chair right behind the front passenger seat. Because its generally safer to have dogs travel in crates, we have Laurel's plastic airline-type one on the floor on the other side of the van, behind the driver's seat. We tie it down to the van floor and now we put Hardy's crate on top of hers and tie it down to the other crate. It worked really well with the Intermediate size crate for our trip but I'm guessing it will be more challenging when we need to use his full-size one.
We have a nice bedroom on the first floor here with a little yard for Laurel and Hardy right outside. Apparently, all the boxes had been in the bedroom but Sue and her husband, John, had cleared them all out before we arrived. So we got all settled and classes began on Sunday. Laurel and I will be taking the Unlimited Levels classes which are based on Sue Ailsby's Training Levels and Hardy and I will take every Puppy class they have. Hardy loves spending time out in the little yard and is getting up very early in the morning so I have been putting him out there and feeding breakfast in various treat toys. For lunch, we do training and I am now cueing each of the behaviors. We're also still working on name recognition and eye contact, as well as going to mat and going into his crate. Then at dinner, we either do more training or I feed him in his crate.
Brent left for home late Sunday morning so that he could get to my parents' in time to celebrate Father's Day. Then Hardy and I attended our first puppy class. I really liked the balance of puppy play, practice of behaviors and time to discuss important puppy things (housebreaking, bite inhibition etc). Even though the class was 1 1/2 hours long, the time flew by and the puppies didn't seem tired or stressed by too much training. One of the puppies spent much of the play time humping Hardy and I have to admit that even though I knew it was normal and didn't mean anything, I wanted to ask John to make the puppy stop. Hardy stood up for himself and made it pretty clear he didn't like the attention. Hopefully, next class the puppy will have gotten the message! Then in the evening, Laurel and I took our first Levels class - Laurel passed Levels 1 and 2 quickly but I realize that each level becomes more demanding and has more and more behaviors that you have to pass. I'd love to pass Level 4 before we leave here.
Sue came home with her dogs late that evening and when she took them out of her truck, she realized that her GSD Schutzhund dog, Eco, had bloat. At about 11:00 pm, I raced them to the emergency clinic where they stabilized him and then we raced to the vet school where they did surgery for a twisted stomach (apparently it twisted 360 degrees). Thankfully, he is doing very well and came home a couple days ago. He is on complete crate rest for the next couple weeks at least.
We're settling into a nice routine. Laurel is so good with Hardy - she is very patient and lays down so that he can climb all over her. If he gets out of hand, she lets him know. They've also been swimming at Marden Park. Hardy was very funny - he ran right into the water and swam around in a circle, then he got back out and started eating goose poop on the shore. I guess he has his priorities!
Tomorrow Sue and John are having an open house at their training hall, Dogs in the Park. Laurel and I are going to participate in an agility demo and Hardy will get to meet a ton more people and friendly dogs.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Are we leaving for Canada on Tuesday? no Wednesday? no Thursday ? no Friday? maybe!?!

Well, we had originally hoped to drive up to Canada Tuesday (the 15th) but found out that the earliest the Cleveland Clinic Pain Center could reschedule my pump refill was Tuesday morning. Then, I thought I should stay to teach my class last evening and we would go today. But if we're waiting until Thursday, we might as well wait until tomorrow (Friday) when Brent can drive up with us and help me get settled. Sue sent me a photo of my room - it was absolutely full of boxes so I'm hoping it's a joke but just in case it isn't, Brent will be a big help!
This week, I've started naming the different behaviors - sit, down, stand and touch. I've never started deliberately training a puppy so young and this is so much fun! You can literally see Hardy figure out what I'm asking and he enjoys his training meals as much as I do!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A busy first week at home

Hardy had a busy first week at home! We took him with us to the pet supplies store Saturday evening to pick up some food, a smaller crate and a collar for him. He rode around on my lap and got to meet several people while we were there. Sunday afternoon, we had a meeting of Lake Erie Assistance Dogs which Hardy attended with us. He got to meet some more people and a couple service dogs. Monday, Laurel had a dental cleaning and my van was in the shop so Hardy and I stayed at home together. Unfortunately, the dealership left the van's doors open all day and the battery died. Tuesday morning my van wouldn't start and we had to go back to the dealership to have a new battery installed. Hardy went with me and just about everyone there stopped by at least once to see him and give him a cheerio. We went right from there to our veterinarian's office. Hardy got a clean bill of health and enjoyed meeting everyone there. Wednesday evening, my husband, Brent and Hardy sat on a bench watching me teach my "Intro to Competition" class. I got a real kick out of looking over and seeing the little brown puppy sitting next to Brent on the bench. When he got tired, he laid down and went to sleep. Thursday afternoon was agility so I took Hardy to meet everyone. Our instructor suggested that we put Hardy's crate on the pause table inside the ring so that he could watch our class. Once again, he watched for awhile and then fell asleep. Because Laurel, Hardy and I are going to be in Canada over Father's Day, I contacted a friend of ours, Jack Powers, a professional photographer to take some photos of Laurel and Hardy to give to Brent as a Father's Day present. The photo at the top of this blog is one of the photos of Hardy Jack took.
Hardy's first duck! (Photo by Jack Powers)
Laurel and Hardy (Photo by Jack Powers)
Laurel, let's go this way! (Photo by Jack Powers)
What are you doing now, Hardy? (Photo by Jack Powers)
Hardy with his pink flip flop (Photo by Jack Powers)
I have been hand feeding Hardy every meal. This week I have been capturing sit, down, stand and touch using a clicker. We started out "charging the clicker" by doing click/treats, then I say his name and give treats and then I up the ante by saying his name, waiting for eye contact and then click/treating. We've also been doing hand zen (an automatic leave it). He very quickly figured out what was going on and energetically throws himself into every behavior to see what I am looking for. He seems to particularly enjoy "touch" and when I have stopped clicking for it, will rock in his sit so that if my hand was still there, he'd be touching it! He is a funny, enthusiastic little boy! Most people who have seen him comment on his "old soul" eyes and that he has a real presence for a puppy so young. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We found a puppy - the adventure begins!

Things didn't go exactly as planned with the puppy testing but I'm wondering why I thought it would! We arrived at the breeders on schedule and found the litter of 6 1/2 week old puppies waiting for us. A friend of mine, Susan, met us there to help with the temperament testing and video taping. We tested the five puppies and found one that I liked but since he would have been Laurel all over again, we passed him by. There were two puppies that Sue thought might work out for me but we didn't find the perfect puppy we were looking for. Sue noticed that there was an entire litter of older chocolate puppies lounging in the yard and asked about them. According to Donna, although she had people waiting for the puppies, she hadn't promised any individuals yet because it was the dam's last litter and she was waiting until she picked her puppy. Sue asked me what I had against chocolates and I responded that it was that they were chocolate... I wanted yellow. Since I couldn't come up with a good reason to not look at a chocolate, Sue asked Donna if she could test the litter and Donna said that she could. There were seven puppies in this litter and by the middle of the 6th puppy's testing, I was pretty sure that I was looking at my puppy. I found myself tearing up and then Sue looked up and asked me what I thought ... that she thought this might be my puppy. She could see that I agreed so she finished the test and then scored it to make sure. When she was done, Sue told me that she didn't need to look at any other puppies because she couldn't find one more perfect than this little boy. Donna was really lovely - she came out of her house and saw the puppy sitting on my lap and asked if I had found my puppy? She didn't tell me she needed to see whether she wanted to keep him, she just confirmed that he was mine. 
Then, since the puppies were 8 weeks old, she asked if I wanted to take him home with me. Obviously, that wasn't the plan but it seemed silly not to take him since he was ready. Donna microchipped him and got all his paperwork together while we visited with his father, London. We didn't get to see his mother, Scout since she was out doing obedience and junior handling with Donna's niece (I think). I have to admit that London was an absolutely magnificent dog and had a lovely temperament and personality.
Then, since Sue's flight was leaving at 6:00, we had to race home to get her to the airport on time! And, Hardy (short for Ridgeview's Hard Day's Night) rode home on Sue's lap with us.