Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hardy & I have been busy!

Hardy and I have been busy this month. We spent the Labor Day weekend in Toledo at an AKC Agility trial. Hardy still doesn't get to compete and it was very hot and humid but he had a blast running around a meadow with his Border Collie friends, Xen and Jett. We also went for some walks and he got to visit at the trials. We worked on attention and some behaviors amidst all the distractions too. There was a very short ramp between the crating area and the soccer fields area (it was at an indoor soccerplex) - the difference in height was less than 6 inches. Hardy decided he did not like the ramp and wasn't going to use the ramp (which was no problem because he could get up right next to it) but of course, we have to use ramps all the time so I didn't want to ignore his refusal. I got out the clicker and we succeeded in having him throw himself onto the ramp whenever we got near it! 
The last day in Toledo the weather changed and it's been much cooler ever since! As a result, we go for more walks and enjoy more time outside. I'm working with someone who has a SDiT that was attacked as a puppy by a big dog resulting in some reactivity issues. We meet at a local MetroPark to sit and watch the world go by while my husband handles Hardy. It's terrific because he is such a nonreactive, neutral young man. Brent walks him past at a distance and then depending on what the other dog can handle, he brings Hardy closer and closer. 
When we cooked something at high heat in our top oven with resulted in smoke from the drippings, we discovered that Hardy really doesn't like smoke! He put himself in his crate and wasn't even interested in eating dinner in the kitchen. We cleared the air and he came back out but I'm pretty sure I don't want to be caught in a fire with him since I'm not sure he would be very helpful. 
We're still taking our agility class - I demoted Hardy back to the foundations class when he lost some motivation and enthusiasm for the jumps (they have never been his thing - he loves tunnels and the contacts). We went back to clicking the jumps and he is jumping with more confidence and enthusiasm than ever! And since the foundations class is much smaller, we're having a great time! 
We're working to relearn and refine many of the behaviors Hardy forgot in adolescence. Although he is a natural retriever, he has forgotten about bringing the items to me and his default position being the down gets in the way with his ability to reach my hand. Because he is so different than Laurel, I am having to learn how to train these behaviors all over again!
I met an engineer from Invacare at an agility trial in August. He had me bring my power chair in last week so that he could fix the "fluttering" of the front and back wheels (they "flutter" from side to side which makes a terrible noise, uses up energy and rattles the chair - I have to slow down or stop to make the fluttering stop). It's amazing to not have to worry about that anymore - my husband commented on how much more confident I am working the dogs in rally and obedience. Today I get to try it in agility and tomorrow, Hardy and I go back to spend the day at Invacare while John rebuilds my chair back to "like new" condition! I'm thrilled since I absolutely love my chair - a TDX 5 with brushless motors that is almost 7 years old now. 
Friday, Brent, Hardy and I met some friends at Panera for lunch. The tables are small and close together with no room to get Hardy under the table. We found him a space at the end of the table next to the aisle where everyone came into the room. He did a great job! He kept his eye on a potato chip laying on the floor and he did want to help when someone dropped a water bottle on the floor but, we were there for more than two hours and he was very patient. 
Then on Saturday, we went to Village Peddler, a craft show, at Lake FarmPark with our friend, Rob and his daughter, Hanna. Hardy loves Lake FarmPark with the animals and all the people. I have learned that you can't count on people leaving your service dog alone so I have a release, "do you want to say hello?" so that they can visit. By the end of our time there, Hardy was declining to visit! And I was so proud of him! It was crowded, there was food and lots of mud! We were outdoors on grass and Hardy waited until we took him away from the area and told him to "go potty". All in all, he was so well behaved and as a bonus, we got most of our Christmas shopping done!
Hardy loves to sit on the stairs!

Mr Comfortable!
Last night, Hardy and I started back in a rally class (while Laurel and I are doing an obedience class). We're getting ready to compete in some APDT, C-WAGS and AKC trials this fall and winter. I'm hoping that Hardy will enjoy competition (like Laurel does) but I'm also doing it because there is no certification of service dogs. By competing, we show that we continue to train and be tested on various obedience skills (which relate to both public access and task training). 
Guess who found a chopstick in our backyard?

Hardy did!

Hardy found a chopstick in our backyard! Awesome, right?