Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday, Hardy!

Today is Hardy's first birthday! I'm both amazed that he's a year old already and amazed that we've only had him for 10 months - he fits into our family so well that it seems like he's been with us much longer and we couldn't imagine life without him! 
This past week, Laurel and Hardy have certainly enjoyed having Kristen and their "cousin", Soapy (the Pointer) visiting. Soapy is about 2 1/2 months older than Hardy and neither of them are neutered but they were both raised by Laurel (a wonderful puppy-raiser), know how to play while laying down indoors and get along beautifully! 
When out in public, Hardy continues to demonstrate wonderful aptitude for service dog work - his public access behavior shows great promise. We went to church this morning and he behaved beautifully - he was easy to be with and showed great patience and tolerance. Because the "down" is his default behavior, I was able to concentrate on the service and in fact, about half way through, he was sound asleep. 
His alerting skills have proven to be as predictive and accurate as Laurel's which means that he already does tasks to alleviate my disability. We will begin working on the mobility tasks that I want him to do now - picking things up, opening & closing doors and drawers, pushing buttons etc. We will also be going for walks/runs at the MetroParks near our home to help his fitness level (and possibly slim him up a bit). Obviously, we will continue with obedience skills and will continue our rally class, work on conformation skills and agility. In fact, Hardy has been promoted to a "big dog" agility class - beginners - which we begin Tuesday! I'm afraid he's going to be disappointed to discover that he will still only be jumping 12 inches for several more months but, he is doing full height A-Frames and Dog Walks, the Teeter at 1/2 height; he loves tunnels and chutes and is doing well with channel Weaves!
I must say that at this milestone in my young man's life, I continue to be very grateful that I was able to have our service dog trainer, Sue Alexander, temperament test puppies for me using the CARAT test. Even though I thought I wanted a yellow female, this chocolate boy continues to prove that he is the right dog for me! I'm also very grateful for our summer in Canada - all the puppy classes and socialization opportunities we had during that important window in his life took a talented, balanced young puppy and helped him become a pretty incredible young man! Thanks again, Sue, John and everyone else at Dogs in the Park!

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