Monday, November 28, 2011

Come to see us at

To those of you following my blog and anyone else who has found "From Puppy to Public Access", I'll be moving over to my new blog, "From Public Access and Beyond" ( Please come over and follow me and my two comedians, Laurel and Hardy there!
Bye for now,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We've achieved public access and so much more!

Sorry I haven't written in so long ... we've been busy: Hardy's been learning some new tasks & skills and going all sorts of places with me while Laurel & I have been competing, mostly in agility with a bit of C-WAGS rally thrown in. 
First, before I write about all we've been doing, I guess this is my last post on this blog. When I created it, I intended for it to chronicle our journey from finding a puppy through the public access test. Since Hardy just passed a tough public access test with flying colors, he has reached that point. I'll be putting up another blog, "From Public Access and Beyond" to chronicle the rest of my journey with both Laurel & Hardy. Although I have included Laurel in this blog, it was intended to be primarily about Hardy, the puppy & adolescent service dog prospect. My next blog will pick up my adventure with Laurel, now 5 1/2 years old and Hardy, 19 1/2 months old. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have two service dogs working so well as a team. If one of them alerts, the other doesn't bother. If I'm not doing well and one of them is with me, the other one is off sleeping or resting or playing. Then they will swap activities. 
When I decided to look for my next service dog prospect, I was hoping that Laurel could teach that next dog to alert and Hardy now does alerts that are as reliable and accurate as Laurel's! I also hoped that the two dogs could work together, allowing each of them to have time off when he/she wasn't focused on me. Laurel and Hardy have become the most remarkable team - they have accomplished everything I had hoped they would and much more than I actually expected! 
Since I last wrote, our daughter, Kristen came to visit with her Pointer, Soapy! They were with us for 3 weeks filled with dog activities, running errands and time spent together! Soapy enjoyed coming to my classes but he absolutely loved the foundation agility classes! He was fearless on the contact equipment, figured out how to duck down to get into the tunnel and was doing some sequences before they headed on their way to NYC. Kristen came with us one day of an AKC agility trial. Laurel and I had an Open JWW Q and she jumped off the A-Frame in Standard. 
Although I still intentionally leave Hardy home at times, especially when Brent is going out with me, he has been going to restaurants, a factory (Invacare, which made my wheelchair), the mall, the library, the doctor's and all sorts of other places. He is really easy to have with me and without fail, I am so proud to be his partner and to be representatives for the other service dog teams that will follow us!
We've also been working on his retrieve and carry skills. He doesn't hesitate to pick up all types of materials (wood, metal, plastic, cloth etc) and he willingly carries things that are relatively heavy. He can pick up a piece of paper or a coin from the floor but we're still working on the delivery - his ability to put it into my hand without me having to reach for it. We are continuing to name items and he is getting better at correctly picking them out from the others. We are working on his tugging for tug-related tasks and that is coming along nicely. I'm grateful that I have Laurel who can do the tasks I need for me and I was able to enjoy Hardy's puppyhood (and let him have a puppyhood without being pushed) and didn't feel stressed over his adolescence. Now that he is growing up physically and mentally, we are working on more service dog tasks, competitive rally and obedience skills and agility!
Laurel & I also tried competing in USDAA agility. We NQ'd in Standard & Pairs Relay due to our contact issue but had a clean run in Jumpers. Unfortunately, we were half a second over time and NQ'd. We had a blast though and might try that venue again.
At the end of October, Laurel and I participated in an agility seminar on doing distance and layering. It was great and we're hoping to get to do a seminar based on this one and going to the next level. We also competed in a C-WAGS trial. Laurel won the Zoom 1 class with a score of 100 and Hardy came in 3rd with a 96. Laurel also finished her ARF title - she now has every C-WAGS rally title (Starter, Advanced, Pro, Zoom 1, Zoom 2, and ARF). 
The first weekend, we were back to agility - CPE agility. We continued to struggle with Laurel's lack of A-Frame contact - you can't get a Q in standard without it! The frustrating part is that she has a two on - two off contact in class or at run-thrus. It's just the excitement of a trial - mine, hers and the general excitement! We have finished 3 of the 4 sub-titles that make up Level 2 (just the standard title to go) and have moved onto Level 3, which is much more advanced. We had a blast at the trial even though we didn't get lots of Qs! Hardy, too, had fun running through the meadows and woods around the training hall with Brent! 
November 12th, Hardy and I did the Delta therapy dog test and he passed with perfect scores! The next day, he participated in rally and agility demos at our training hall, Canine Affair's Open House. Laurel participated too! And then a couple days later, he took his Public Access Test and passed it with flying colors too! 
Then this past weekend, Laurel and I competed in an ASCA agility trial. A friend, Judy, who I met doing AKC agility suggested we try ASCA because you are allowed to train in the ring. On Saturday, we worked on the A-Frame and Dogwalk contacts, got one Novice Gambler's Q and got two Novice Jumper's Q's for the Novice Jumpers title (JS-N). Sunday, she didn't miss one contact and we repeated the A-Frame and Dogwalk as much as we could during Gamblers. She got two Novice Regular (Standard) Q's, winning the classes and one Open Jumpers Q. We had a terrific time, got some Q's, a title and 11 nice placements and plan to go back whenever ASCA has trials in Washingtonville! And now I feel more confident about being able to handle her contacts, handling options and issues as well as her increased speed in a trial environment! And once again, Hardy loved running through the fields and woods!
So now, I've had a minute to consider that I have 2 service dogs! Hardy does more than enough tasks to be my legitimate service dog and his public access work is pretty much beyond reproach. The day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving and among the many things for which I am grateful are my two comedians, Laurel and Hardy. Laurel gave me the gifts of alerting and then she taught Hardy to do it too. She also helped me teach Hardy so many other valuable things about being a well-behaved young man and a wonderful service dog! Hardy has benefited from all that I learned with Laurel and he has a really wonderful temperament for the work he is doing. I'm glad to see how much easier it is for him! It's an amazing gift to watch them work together and I feel very blessed to have the luxury of two working service dogs with me right now!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'll be back with my new blog, "From Public Access and Beyond" along with new photos and videos some time next week. I'm looking forward to continuing to write about both my amazing Labs and then, who knows? At some point in the future (3 1/2 years from now?), we should be searching for the next right puppy to raise with the help of Laurel & Hardy. For now, I have no idea on a name (Abbott, Costello?) or color. Should we do black so we can have one of each? I'd like a nice red Lab myself even though I know we won't select based on color (otherwise I'd have two yellow Labs right now)! Anyway, I hope you'll join us in our future adventures from public access and beyond!