October 3, 2013
The morning after our "furlough fun," Tammy and I head back to Chippewa for a training session with the inmate raisers. Dutch hardly notices I am there when we gather in the classroom. His host continues to handle him.
Tammy had planned out the session's exercises the night before. There is so much information and work to do with the guys and puppies that I'm not sure if we'll get everything in. Somehow she manages to cover it all.
We start with a "relaxation protocol." The raisers have their puppies "sit" or "down" while Tammy reads, step-by-step, from "Day 3" of a 15-day protocol.
- Have your puppy sit for 10 seconds - treat your puppy
- Have your puppy sit for 15 seconds - treat your puppy
- Have your puppy sit while you take two steps back and return - treat your puppy
- Have your puppy sit while you jog five steps backward from the dog and return - treat your puppy
- Have your puppy sit while you walk halfway around the dog to the right and return - treat your puppy
|FLD Sammy looks up to his handler. FLD Bravo is in the background.|
All the puppies are expected to hold their positions while the handler performs the tasks. The protocol is designed to start off easy, gradually get more difficult (in duration and/or distractions) in a random pattern, and then taper off to finish on easier tasks.
The protocol is an excellent tool to help the puppies learn to "settle." While some of them find it impossible to stay in position throughout the entire sequence, eventually they learn that all they have to do to keep getting treats is to stay put!
We do some structured "meet & greets" and then head out to the yard for loose leash walking. While Tammy coaches one group, I take another to walk their puppies through the rungs of a ladder. This teaches the puppy he has back legs! When the puppy gains coordination of his back legs, stairs typically become less scary.
|FLD Bravo masters the ladder...with a little help.|
Before heading back inside for some blindfolded activities, Tammy has the raisers release their puppies into play. No problem having a safe, fenced yard in a prison! In spite of size differences, all pups play appropriately (all change positions in play and raisers are able to call their puppies out of play several times).
|Can there be any bigger joy than a pack of playful puppies?|
|FLD Bravo is examined by his blindfolded handler.|
|FLD Sammy "comes" to his handler during the blind recall exercise.|
By the noon chow time everyone's brains are full and the puppies are tuckered out. Tammy and I (and FLD Dutch) drive south on I-75 in a quiet car. FLD Harper is spending time at Chippewa while she takes a much-deserved vacation with her family.
Before the end of the month, Tammy returns with FLDs Zella and Nell, the two females puppies that need "finishing." (See the Chippewa Correctional Facility page.)