Monday, September 27, 2010

Great LEAD meeting has caused me to think about service dog prospects/candidates

We had a Lake Erie Assistance Dogs meeting yesterday at Canine Affair. Besides our usual discussions, we set up different stations so that members/guests could practice for the public access test. Next month, Sue Alexander will be with us to do actual testing for our members. I took Hardy to the meeting and since no one else volunteered, he and I were the first to run through the practice test. We have never specifically worked on the public access test before but on the other hand, his behavior is such that I take him out in public so I didn't expect to have any major problems. And as it turned out, the only issues we had were his defaulting to a "down" when we were doing the various activities at the sit station and having to re-cue him for a sit when Mary came up behind us to say hello and give him a pat. Well, that and during the meeting Hardy decided my good (expensive) leather leash would be a good teething toy. While I do appreciate his need for teething opportunities, I don't appreciate his use of my leash nor his persistence (and yes, Sue, I know ... we selected him for his persistence!). I've added a chew toy to our training bag and we will be using my old nylon leash for awhile (it's purple, of course). All in all, once again, I was very proud of my now-bigger puddly! 
For a bunch of reasons, I have been thinking about the dogs we decide to raise and/or train to be service dogs. One of the Yahoo Assistance Dogs lists is having a rather heated discussion right now regarding program dogs versus owner-trained dogs with accusations that owner-trainers use dogs that are alarmingly inappropriate for the work.  Does that happen? Yes, I have seen examples of that but I have also seen them of program dogs who weren't appropriate. Mostly, these discussions continue to make me concerned that the service dog community expects the public to "get" and support service dogs but we can't even be united! Additionally, I've heard from a number of people recently who want advice about dogs/puppies to get to raise and train for their own service dogs. And, even though Laurel and Hardy are completely different and I try not to compare them, I still do.
When I decided to have Sue Alexander do temperament testing of all potential puppies and ultimately, help me select my 2nd service dog prospect, I did that hoping to improve the selection process resulting in a puppy well suited to doing service dog work for me. I went into it already having an amazing service dog, Laurel, who does more for me than I even knew was possible. What I didn't recognize was that having a dog who is very talented and intelligent, with a work drive/ethic as well as being incredibly willing isn't enough. Throughout Hardy's puppyhood and into his adolescence,  it is already obvious that it will be easier for him to deal with public access than it is for Laurel. 
I think there was some dumb luck involved with Laurel's success (and maybe all the phases of the moon were in alignment or something ... ) and I think I had the luxury of being able to focus on her positive traits while minimizing the negatives but I don't think her success as a service dog is the important thing. What is important is that because of who Laurel is (and despite her willingness and enthusiasm), being a full public access service dog is a difficult, stressful job for her. She would never tell you that but that doesn't mean it isn't true! 
I'm a firm believer in the adage, "When you know better, you do better". I feel that is what I did in asking for Sue's help picking my next service dog candidate and although people seem very surprised when I mention that Hardy will be taking over most public access duties once he is completely trained, I think I owe that to my Laurel girl. Everyone who knows us knows that I adore my goofy yellow girl and now that I know that she is doing her job for me in spite of who she is, I appreciate her that much more! But I also realize that this could have been a miserable life for her and I don't want to see that happening to other willing, talented, intelligent but ill-suited dogs. Now, if Laurel can teach Hardy a fraction of what she has taught me, he will indeed grow up to be an amazing boy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Laurel spent her down time thinking and Hardy had a great public access outing!

After getting the go-ahead yesterday to start doing some light exercise with Laurel, this morning we went downstairs to our matted area to do some work. Laurel was thrilled to be doing something with me and did some great heeling! We did some recalls and then tried out several different things - drop on recall, directed jumping (over a 4 inch jump), signals at a distance etc. Laurel seems to have been thinking about all those exercises while she was resting since she's never done them better!
Then, we took Hardy to visit my favorite doctor. Laurel's always been welcome at his office (and everyone asks when I don't bring her) so I didn't anticipate any problems and there weren't any. Hardy was his usual friendly (but not overly so) self and handled himself with a lovely professionalism for someone so young. Unfortunately, I found out that I have some sort of "major infection" - which is why I feel so crappy so after the appointment, we went to the store with Hardy to pick up my prescription. Again, he acted like he'd been doing it forever. After that, we went home and haven't been doing much since.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hardy earns his second red bandanna (with Brent this time)!

Brent and Hardy are taking my Introduction to Levels class but since Brent has meetings two Wednesdays a month for a professional organization for which he is the President-elect, this evening was the first class they could attend. They passed Level 1 first thing and so did another team (congratulations, Barb and Carl!) 
We discovered this summer that all the things Laurel knows doesn't translate when Brent is working with her because although he came to all the classes, he didn't do any training with her. Of course, many of the people on the service dog lists discouraged us from letting Laurel have relationships with other people at all. Instead, they thought I should tether her to me and be the only person to interact with her in any way. We do try to learn from our mistakes so Brent will work with Hardy too. 
Brent and Hardy worked on loose leash walking with different speeds, sits, downs, stands, and using a toy as motivation. Brent also found that he had to work with Hardy not responding when I was talking to other dogs or asking them to do something. We were doing the Level 1 come game played between two people. Hardy was really sure he should come when I called the other dog. 
Prior to the start of my class, I worked with Hardy on sitting straight next to me in heel position and doing sit and down stays while I went all the way around him. Hardy's pretty sure that he should always be facing me when he is on a stay and of course, I have to go all the way around him with my chair. With doing all the stays on tether, I never did that before. But he's a smart little guy and when he gets the idea what I want, he figures it out pretty quickly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I knew it was inevitable but I still feel awful ... I ran over Hardy for the first time!

Hardy and I had another manners class today. We worked on stays, stands, coming into heel position, recalls, waiting at doors before coming through, coming into a nice front and some loose leash walking. Hardy was generally a good boy although we are are having trouble with him sitting straight next to or in front of me (and he still has that sprawled puppy sit) and with his stays if I try to go around behind him. I realized  that I haven't done that before since we have worked on stays with a tether (and I couldn't go around behind him). Hardy also chased something white that was being blown across the ring and was very distracted by the feather toy on the stick Mary was twirling around. The worst thing about class though, was that while we were making a turn, I ran over Hardy's front foot. It's the first time it's ever happened and although I knew it was inevitable, I was really hoping to avoid it and felt terrible about doing it! Hardy was less than amused and it took a couple minutes to reconnect and have him willing to work near the chair again. The good news is that it doesn't seem to have hurt him physically and I'm sure we can rebuild his confidence - he is a resilient little guy! And we'll use chairs, walls and fences to work on him being straight next to me. I'm not sure how to handle the sloppy puppy sit - I've never had a puppy who sat like that before! Something else to learn!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Laurel and Hardy, my two little Wookiees!

We have been working on Hardy using his "indoor voice" when he is playing with Laurel ... it's worked pretty well, only now if you talk to me on the phone, you'll probably think I'm keeping Chewbacca and/or some of his Wookiee friends here. But, at least they're fairly quiet Wookiees!
Laurel is still allowing Hardy to chew on her ears and now he can fit an entire ear in his mouth - he gets this blissful look with his eyes half closed and just chews away. Apparently he is very careful since Laurel almost never objects.
Also, Laurel has a favorite spot - right next to me in bed; and now, apparently, Hardy has decided that is his favorite too. When Hardy lucks out and takes the spot, Laurel will use something to lure him away (dangling a toy in front of him or offering to play) until he gets up and moves, at which point, she will dive into that spot. 
On the other hand, Laurel is often very helpful with him. I have been working with him on naming his various toys (duck, pig, lamb, bunny, etc) so that he can bring me the one I ask for. To practice, I put several of the ones we have worked on together in a pile and ask Hardy to bring me a specific one. Laurel will watch our game for a bit and if Hardy doesn't get the toy, she will go over and point it out to him (by picking it up and dropping it) so that he can get it and bring it to me while she gets settled in her spot again.
Hardy has been to more new places recently - an outdoor crafts show, the library, the drugstore, Costco (walking, not sitting on my lap) and walking on the sidewalks through our neighborhood. He's done very well everywhere and I particularly appreciate that every couple steps, he looks up at me to check in. When we walk on the sidewalk, he also doesn't have any problems with the bumps or cracks which cause my chair to jump erratically or with metal grates or manhole covers.  
We also took a shower - to say that Hardy stinks would be an exaggeration but not by much. He smells ...... a lot! And he has a totally different smell than Laurel does and I'm trying to figure out what the difference is ... so far I haven't  been successful. Also, and I don't want to be indelicate here, he passes gas a lot. We switched from puppy food recently and I'm wondering if that is the cause .... and will it go away? Thoughts, anyone?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What a difference a day makes!

I was going to write yesterday telling Hardy that we loved him and that he was a good puppy but that we weren't liking some of his behavior and it wasn't that he was bad ... just some of what he did was not-so-good. (I remember being very careful with our children to let them know that no matter what they did, we loved them and working to not make them feel like "bad kids", even when we weren't happy with something they had done.) 
As a reminder, Hardy is 23 weeks old (5 months and one week) and has definitely hit adolescence! Generally, though, he has been a biddable, calm, balanced young guy! Until yesterday, that is, when he woke up a butt head (hopefully, calling him that won't give him an inferiority complex because he heard it quite a bit for one day). We have some friends (Patsy, Bennie and Patsy's mother, Ruth) visiting with us from Atlanta for the weekend. Hardy had done beautifully meeting everyone Thursday evening. He said hello pretty politely and then laid down by my feet until we went to bed. Yesterday morning, though, he raced out of the bedroom to leap onto Ruth's lap (of course, he selected the oldest person with the most tissue-like skin). Thankfully, Ruth wasn't hurt and is a good-sport - she just expressed surprise that he licked her in the face. That particular indiscretion earned him an immediate "time-out" to his crate, instead of any sort of warning. Having begun the day in such a spectacular way, Hardy went on to try "counter surfing" for the first time ever - I don't think our reaction was exactly what he was hoping for; then he went cat hunting for awhile, paying no attention when we reminded him that if only one party is having fun, it's not a good game; and he generally spent the day testing limits and checking to make sure none of the rules had changed. 
Then this morning, from Hardy's point of view, of course, it was a new day so we worked at letting yesterday go as well. Brent, Hardy and I had our 2nd AKC Puppy STAR class over at Fortunate Fido. We stopped on the way and picked up my partially repaired power chair. Hardy got out of the van and did a great job of peeing on command. During class, we worked on "four on the floor" greetings; handling, particularly with clipping/grinding toe nails; sending the puppies to take treats away from us and using a toy as motivation. Hardy did a super job - he was a little star! On our way home, we stopped at our local MetroParks (North Chagrin Reservation) and took a walk around the lake at Sanctuary Marsh. Hardy was absolutely amazing - for almost the entire time, he walked beautifully on a loose leash and worked well with left and right cues. He even walked confidently on a loose leash past a German Shepherd who was barking at him. It didn't matter whether Brent was in front or behind us, Hardy kept the leash loose. I must admit that not only was I delighted with my big brown puppy but I was absolutely amazed!
A friend of mine stopped by with her service dog - the first time a dog has come into Hardy's home. When they met, Hardy was pretty polite - he wasn't overly enthusiastic but when he went to sniff her butt, she objected in a pretty dramatic fashion. He backed right off and for the rest of the visit, he offered her toys and play bowed several times but from a distance. When his advances were ignored, he came over and laid on my feet. Hardy also interacted much more politely with our company today! All in all, Hardy was great! My, what a difference a day makes!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2nd Levels Class & Hardy continues to work on politely waiting for his turn

Tonight was my second Levels Class at Canine Affair. It went very well - our first team earned their red bandanna (Yea, Kay & Tia!) I saw some lovely improvement in our other teams as well! I brought Hardy to use for demos again and he also needs to continue to work on having to wait for his turn. He particularly doesn't think it's fair when I am working with another dog, especially if I'm giving treats! Mary was terrific in being willing to treat him for good (quiet) behavior and next week, I'm planning to bring him a treat toy to work on while he's waiting in the crate. He does fine when he is in the crate in the van but he tends to complain when he is in one in the training hall. Obviously, this is something we need to continue to work on. On the other hand, he did some truly lovely loose leash walking with nice eye contact (checking in every couple steps). I'm incredibly proud of my big brown puppy! 
I know this blog is about my experience raising Hardy but I need to include a couple brags about my goofy yellow girl, Laurel! First, she is doing a great job taking it easy while her ruptured ligament heals! I really didn't expect that so, you go, Laurel! But my big brag concerns her diabetes alert - whenever I have one of my gamma globulin infusions (every 3 weeks), my blood sugar goes very high (one of the IV bags I get is glucose so go figure ...). I had an infusion yesterday and when I got home, Laurel went searching for the toy she brings me to alert to high or low blood sugar. She couldn't find it so she jumped up on the bed with me and went back to licking me around my mouth (which was her natural alert that I untrained before I found out I had steroid-induced diabetes). I'm very proud of her ability and persistence to give me an alert even though I had inadvertently hidden the toy under the box of Kleenex.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Good boy, Hardy! You are more than a calm, balanced young man - you are also a ton of fun!

The last couple days, since we didn't have any classes and my van and power chair are in the shop, Hardy and I have been doing things around the house and out in the yard. We've been working on handling (feet, teeth, ears etc) on a bench on our deck and we've been working on everything else in the yard, driveway, bedroom, family room, kitchen and basement. Hardy, like Laurel, especially loves when we head down to the basement -my husband, Brent, matted part of it for me so we can do all sorts of fun things down there. Besides working on the basic obedience behaviors like sit, stand, down, touch, stays etc., we are doing "choose to heel" games. I'm also trying to remember how I taught Laurel some exercises, like the right finish with my power chair. Right now, I use a chair or my manual chair in the basement - I can handle a leash from either of those much more easily than from my power chair and I can position them in such a way to encourage Hardy to be straight next to me or I can practice many things off lead as well.
This morning, Hardy, Brent and I went to our manners class. Since I don't have my van or my power chair, we took my manual chair and when I needed help, Brent was there to push me. We worked on sit and down stays, some loose leash walking and recalls. Hardy did a terrific job and I think having my manual chair helped our connection - I'm closer to him in that chair than in my power one; there's no arm in between us and I had both my hands to handle the leash, clicker and treats/toy. By the end of class, he was trotting right next to me looking at me even when we were walking past other dogs and their handlers. When he's very pleased with himself, he just prances! Although Hardy is a calm/balanced adolescent, he still a ton of fun and we are having a great time learning together!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hardy and the cats

Maggie (on the left) and Millie
Besides Laurel and Hardy, our animal family includes two cats, Millie (9 years old) and Maggie (8 years old). Since Laurel came home when she was 8 weeks old, she grew up with the cats around and they got used to her as she grew larger and larger. Maggie and Laurel play and lay together and Maggie seems generally accepting of dogs. Millie, on the other hand, didn't even like our saintly Standard Poodle, Annie, who was already older when she and Maggie came along. Laurel has learned that she can't chase or try to play with Millie and occasionally, she even has to tolerate Millie beating on her nose when she ventures too close. On the other hand, Hardy was here with the cats for one week when he was a small puppy (8 weeks old), spent the next three months cat-less and returned to them a big, rough, tough almost 5 month old adolescent. At that point, the cats, especially Millie, decided that avoidance was the better part of valor. I hadn't even seen her for five days since we came home. Maggie was already venturing out and coming through the family room and bedroom to eat and use the litter boxes (which are located in our master bathroom). Millie, who normally spends her time laying on the pillow above my head or laying in the chair with me, was somewhere upstairs where we couldn't even find her. In the last two days, however, Millie has been around too and has even been sleeping with Laurel and me. Now, although I know this and I have tried to explain it to Maggie and Millie, they don't seem to understand that if they don't run, the big brown puppy won't be tempted to chase them. So now, I find myself explaining to the big brown puppy that I don't care if the cats run, he is not allowed to chase them. I'm using a combination of positive reinforcement when he sees a cat and doesn't move towards it with a big "NO" when he sees a running cat and starts to move. We've gotten so he will take two bouncing steps and then stop to watch the cat before walking expectantly back towards me and his anticipated reward for good (no cat chasing) behavior. From Maggie and Millie's responses, they seem to think that is an acceptable compromise and appear to be adjusting to this new two Lab family. I'm almost certain we'll all be able to live happily together!

We attend our first AKC STAR Puppy Class & go out to dinner

Hardy, Brent and I attended our first AKC STAR Puppy Class at Fortunate Fido this morning. It takes about an hour to get there but at least we aren't doing it during rush hour! The STAR program is kind of a pre-CGC (Canine Good Citizen) class developed for puppies in which you and your puppy not only have to pass a evaluation but you also have to attend all 6 classes run by the AKC evaluator. There is only one other puppy in the class, a lovely Border Collie one week younger than Hardy owned by someone I knew a long time ago (in my other life) in high school when we rode horses together. We have our instructor/evaluator, Anne and an assistant, so we have plenty of help! This week, we learned what the program would entail and worked on handling our dogs, "4 on the floor" greetings, and loose leash walking. Both puppies did a great job and we even had enough time to let them play a couple times. Although they are about the same height, Hardy definitely has the weight advantage on his side! 
We dropped my power chair off at the medical equipment place on our way home so that it could get some repairs and maintenance done this coming week while my van is in the shop getting the body work done from when it got run into in Canada. That means that other than when Brent can take us places, Laurel, Hardy and I will be home together all week. I'm thinking up things we can do that won't require Laurel to move too much while keeping Hardy busy. 
Then, this evening we headed back to the west side to have dinner with some very good friends, Don and Alice at one of our favorite restaurants. We took Hardy with us because the weather was cool enough that he could stay in his crate in the van for part of the time. Before we went in, we took him to the grass and he quickly did his business! Don and Alice had gotten there early and when we went in, we found that our table was at the very back of the restaurant right in the major traffic pattern for all the servers carrying food out from the kitchen. I had my manual chair and we had to go through all the other tables which were very close together and filled with diners. Hardy had to go behind me - something we haven't actually worked on but, he did it like a little pro. We had him go as far under the table as possible in front of Brent and he was very good; not perfect, but he's just 5 months old now. He stayed with us through our salad course and when our main dishes arrived, Brent took him out to rest in the van. We tend to take our time when we are out with our friends and I didn't want Hardy to have a bad experience. At his age and point in training, I want to make sure that when I have him out in public, the time is about him and how he is doing, not about eating dinner or running errands or spending time with friends. 
To top off a great day with our little guy, when we got home and he finished greeting Laurel, he came over to me and started alerting to the rheumatoid in the chest wall. I asked him if I should take my meds based on his alert or whether I should wait for Laurel to confirm. Just then, she joined us with her own alert so I took my medications and snuggled in bed with my two amazing Labs! And sure enough, just as they both had known, the rheumatoid "struck" about 50 minutes later but the pain meds were already on board so it wasn't too bad.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our first Levels class is a success and we visit Dr. Neal!

Yesterday I taught my first Levels class at Canine Affair Center! Two people who had signed up didn't show so we might be able to bring a couple people in from the wait list. I used Hardy as a demo dog for clicker training and he was super! Then when I put him in a crate to wait, he yelled at me so after giving him a warning, he got "too badded" out to the crate in my van. After class, I worked with him a bit and he generally remembered everything. We are still working on loose leash walking with my chair really hard since what he learned with John walking doesn't just transfer to the chair (something I learned from training Laurel - the puppy has to learn both skills). 
This afternoon, Laurel had an appointment with Dr. Neal. He checked her ruptured ligament and thought that it was healing nicely however, he wants her to rest for another two weeks. He doesn't think it is going to be a chronic injury and it shouldn't interfere with her ability to do her job or play dog sport games (like agility). Of course, the movement we want to avoid - having her pivot on that foot - is exactly what she does when she is playing with Hardy! However, she is being very good at self regulation and will put herself in her crate or lay on my bed instead of tearing around the house or yard with him. Dr. Neal looked at Hardy's eyes which are still goopy at times (and Laurel's are starting to be goopy some too) and gave us some antibiotic ointment to use with both. He also looked at an upper tooth behind one of Hardy's adult teeth - it is a baby tooth that is resisting coming out. He suggested we just leave it until it comes out on it's own. Hardy weighs 36.7 lbs now and seems to be growing nicely. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hardy's first class at Canine Affair Center

This morning Hardy and I attended his first class at Canine Affair Center - a basic obedience and manners class with Mary. There were two other dogs, both adults - a very large 1 1/2 year old Wheaten Terrier and a Golden Retriever. We worked on watch me, sit, down, stays, come front and left finishes. Hardy was terrific! We worked particularly on sit from a down; something he seems to have forgotten. Although we didn't work on walking during class, we worked on keeping a loose leash walking into and out of the training hall. 
Hardy is still exploring the house and loves coming across one of the cats; neither of whom is nearly as happy to see him! Apparently Laurel's foot is bothering her because she is taking it easy all by herself. Tomorrow I'm teaching my first Introduction to Training Levels class so I am working hard to get ready!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We're all home together again!

We got up at 6:00 and left the farm by 6:45. Sue and John were up very late last night so we didn't wake them before we left. Stacking the crates behind the driver's seat is working well for long trips but it is pretty difficult to get my car in and out of the van so we'll be looking for other options driving around town. There was very little traffic as we headed south out of Guelph which was great since we ran into construction on the QEW. There was one car in line in front of us at the border so we zipped through there. Shortly after getting on the New York State turnpike, I asked Brent to drive while I slept. He woke me about 20 minutes before we got to my mom and step-dad's house where we stopped for a short visit. Poor Laurel had to stay in her crate in the car (about which she complained bitterly and loudly) but Hardy got to come in and meet "Grandma" and "Grampa". He is a great little puppy but not perfect so he did jump up a couple times (although being careful not to touch the person). However, he didn't chase either of their cats, even though Callie was sitting in a chair in the sun room. Mostly he played with a couple toys on a rug in the living room or laid at my feet. He did say hello to my mom and Ron but not with the over-the-top enthusiasm Laurel showed as a puppy and they definitely appreciated his restraint! We headed home after about an hour and got in about 1:30. Although I planned to give both dogs baths (Hardy has been swimming in the swamp, after all), I fell asleep and didn't wake up for hours. Our cats have disappeared but I can feel their disapproval regarding the arrival of the big brown puppy - in their opinions, one yellow Lab is more than enough.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A great weekend for Hardy; not so good for Laurel

Laurel and her best pillow and friend, D'fer

Hardy and Patina getting comfortable

John, Hardy, Linda & Patina on the train

Sue, D'fer, John, Hardy, Me, Brent, Laurel, Linda & Patina

A tired Hardy at the end of a very long public access outing

Cameras came out wherever we went

We had a wonderful day for our drive north on Friday. It was much cooler than it has been for most of the summer, we had almost no wait at the border and although we were in stop-and-go traffic on Rt 6  along with everyone else heading north to their cottages in a torrential downpour, we arrived at Sue and John's farm at about 12:30. When we pulled into the drive, it definitely felt like I was coming home and I knew that although it would be exciting to be taking Hardy home, it would also be very sad when I left Monday morning. It was wonderful to see Hardy (Sue and John, too) and he seemed pleased to see us as well. Hardy had an appointment at Cornell Animal Hospital at 4:30 so we all headed there. He weighs 36 lbs now and got a clean bill of health to cross the border back to the States. We also got another dose of flea/tick/heartworm medication for him. Laurel's rabies vaccination expires Sept 11 so the veterinarian agreed to vaccinate her and gave her a clean bill of health as well. 
Yesterday, we joined K9 Helpers for their yearly public access outing. We drove to Burlington, about an hour away from Guelph in order to ride the GO train to Toronto. The train was getting ready to leave and we had to race to the other end of it where the ramp and the accessible car were located. There were a bunch of manhole covers which Laurel has difficulty with since she was shocked by stray voltage running through one in New York City. Having to rush made it much more difficult for her. Once we got on the train, though, she had a wonderful time since she loves to ride them. John handled Hardy and they did great together! When we got off the train, we had to transfer to a subway to get to the Royal Ontario Museum. We were on the platform when trains were coming by on both sides - Hardy wasn't a big fan of that! John worked with him on it though and we waited around for a couple trains to come and go. Apparently, the five of us with four service dogs (Patina, D'fer, Laurel and Hardy) made quite a spectacle since people took pictures of us everywhere we went. We only had to walk about a block to get to the ROM. We spent a couple hours looking at the Canada, China and Mammals exhibits. About half way through, I realized that Laurel was gimpy behind and she started bulking at moving too much. Laurel and I waited in the lobby for everyone else to finish looking through the museum. Because they were pretty disappointed with the exhibits, everyone came back early and we headed to a restaurant for dinner. We found The Hungry Beagle and had a nice dinner there - the best part was that we had the place all to ourselves. All the dogs were very impressive in their ability to lie down and relax (I think they all fell asleep).While checking out why Laurel was gimpy behind, we realized that her face was swelling, her gums were very pale (almost white) with no change when you pressed on them. Sue checked for her pulse and found it very slow and thready. We gave her a large dose of Benadryl, and had to run for the subway (which had the positive effect of increasing her adrenaline level) and kept a close watch on her. After riding the subway, we then transferred back to the GO Train. The trains were very crowded so our dogs were confined in very close quarters and they all did great! Watching John work with Hardy all day was really great! They didn't move if Hardy was pulling - John waited until Hardy stopped and looked at him before taking a step forward. It took a ton of patience and John didn't get to see much at the museum except one big brown puppy! I decided to take Laurel to the emergency vet in Burlington on our way home. Sue came with me while John and Brent took D'fer and Hardy home. Because of the Benadryl, the swelling in her face was way down and the first thing the vet noticed was that she had ruptured a ligament in a toe on her back left foot. Although I believe the allergic reaction was because of the rabies vaccination, the vet wasn't convinced. Because we were going to be in Guelph Sunday, we decided not to give her a shot of steroids - instead I would watch her carefully that night and see how she was doing. The vet asked if we did agility and I thought, "Oh, no, we won't be able to do that anymore!" Instead, she said that she had seen Laurel's videos on Youtube! Laurel will need to rest for a week or so (which should be fun with Hardy at home) but after that, should be almost good as new. That foot will look more splayed that usual but lots of dogs live with the injury without any problems. I will call our vet, Dr. Neal Sivula when we get home to see Laurel as well. We stayed up late watching a movie and Laurel got to snuggle under blankets next to me on the sofa (she is not normally allowed on sofas so you can tell how sad for her we felt). I used frozen peas to ice her foot and she made the most of the injury-provoking sympathy.
Laurel loves riding the train
John working with Hardy as trains race past the platform
Today, Brent and I took Hardy to puppy class at noon. Hardy won the best recall (he is undefeated in the recall event) and tied for the longest down stay. John counted up the number of puppy classes Hardy has taken this summer and came up with 50 (most puppies take 8). At 3:30, Brent and Hardy did the puppy walk and at 4:30, I guest taught the Levels class which Brent and Laurel took as a 1 hour down stay class. After that, Hardy stayed at the training hall to take one last puppy class and the Levels class with John while we went home to pack everything up. At about 8:00, we headed back to the hall to have pizza with John and Sue for dinner. We discussed the summer, my training plan for Hardy, future plans for Laurel, and the new Levels class I'm teaching at Canine Affair Center. As I expected, although I am very excited about getting Hardy home, I was also very sad that our summer adventure was coming to an end. Sue and John reminded me that nothing is really over since I am invited back up there whenever (and I will certainly be taking them up on that offer every couple months or so). I know John and Hardy will miss each other as well. We got as much packed as we could and the plan is to get up at 6:00 tomorrow morning and away by 7:00. We'd really like to beat everyone else to the border! Thank you, Sue and John, Eco and D'fer for everything you have done for me, Laurel and Hardy and I'm keeping my keys to the "cottage"!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We leave for Canada tomorrow morning for a visit and to bring Hardy home!

I just received an update about how Hardy's doing this week. According to Sue, he is still himself - generally biddable, willing to work and likes the girls (when did that happen? Oh, right, he is a teenager now). It's been hot up there too so they haven't been working as much on loose leash walking as they might have otherwise but they have been working on his ability to take turns. He gets annoyed when it's not his turn, but he is getting it. And although he is absolutely getting the idea of keeping the leash loose, he has started beginning each training session by checking out the rule sequence again to make sure they STILL want a loose leash. Sue thinks he will benefit from having my undivided attention when he gets home. And that's just what worries Laurel - that Hardy will have my undivided attention. Nope, both Laurel and Hardy will have to take their turns at our house too! 
When we were in Canada this summer, Laurel did very well allergy-wise, even though we lived on a farm surrounded by grasses, weeds and trees. Since dogs' allergies tend to be cumulative, I guess the difference was that they were different grasses, weeds and trees. Of course, now that we're home, it's the worst time for Laurel's allergies; it's been very dry and very, very hot. So, we haven't been doing much of anything - I don't want her to get hot which just makes her itchier. This summer has been a huge improvement over last summer and hopefully, with the allergy shots, she'll continue to improve. Still, we're anxious for the first frost to occur!
Hopefully, both Laurel and Hardy will be pleasantly surprised to see each other tomorrow and equally happy when they realize that Hardy is coming home with us Monday!