Tuesday, January 14, 2014

And then there were six...

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.

A full grown golden retriver is lying on a brown floor facing the camera. He is wearting the blue bandana with the white triangle patch with red letters that say "Future Leader Dog" and a black paw print. Sitting behind him is a bald inmate wearing a white tshirt and blue and oragne pants. He is bending over and petting the puppy with his right hand and holding the leash with his left.
FLD Dutch and his inmate handler.

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
  • etc...

The head of a black lab puppy is in the bottom right foreground; he is looking up to his handler, but the only thing you can see of the handler is part of his blue pants and shirt- he is standing on the far left side. In the background is a man clapping his hands, he is wearing a white tshirt and orange shorts. A golden retriever puppy is lying on the floor facing him. Two other men in white tshirts are in a doorway in the background on the right side.
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.

A small golden retriever puppy, wearing that blue bandana again, is stepping through the rungs of a ladder that is lying ont the ground. He is approaching the camera. His inmage handler is on the left side bending over assisting the puppy. He is wearing a white tshirt and orange shorts and white tennis shoes.
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).

A group of about four or five puppies anre playing in the grass and dirt. On the left side is a small black lab. The other three are golden retrievers. There are three sets of legs in blue and orange pants are in the background.
Can there be any bigger joy than a pack of playful puppies?
A bald man wearing a paper blindfold, white tshirt and blue and orange pants is kneeling on the floor feeling the face of a small golden retriever puppy. The leg and arm of another man dressed in blue is to the left of the photo.
FLD Bravo is examined by his blindfolded handler.

An african american man dressed in blue and orange clothes is sitting on a chair to the left in the photo. He is holding one end of a long red lead attached to a small black lab that is approaching him. The puppy is wearing the blue bandana. In the background are about seven men sitting or standing  with a couple of golden retrievers under their chairs. A lady dressed in a blue tshirt and jeans is kneeling on the right side.
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.)

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