Saturday, January 11, 2014

Furlough fun

Note: I know that many readers can't wait to hear about the presentation of two puppies at the Baraga Correctional Facility. Please be patient while I try to get caught up here...thanks!

October 2, 2013

Rob and a couple of URF* inmate raisers meet us in the parking lot to haul crates and food into Pike Unit from Tammy's car. As they walk away from us, 50-pound bags of Purina Pro Plan Sport dog food perched precariously on their shoulders, FLD Dutch strains at his leash, whining. He wants to go with them.

Looks like my concern about him being too attached to me might be unfounded. Still, we go ahead with our plan. An inmate returns with FLD August and his puppy supply bag. We trade leashes. Dutch is spending the night in prison and August is sprung out on furlough.

A small yellow lab is sitting on the floor board of a car on the passenger side, looking at the camera. He is wearing a blue bandana with a white triangle patch with red letters that say "Future Leader Dog" and a black paw print. The puppy has a leather leash attached to its collar.
FLD August sits on the passenger side floor board of Tammy's car. He seems to be enjoying his first car ride.

Mr. Dutch is sure to have the time of his life. He will be the sole entertainment at Chippewa for the evening. FLDs Sammy, Bravo and Drummond are out on furlough too, handled by the Bardsley's and two other U.P. raisers currently without puppies. A couple of outside puppy raisers join us for dnner and a training session too, thanks to Tammy's planning.

Little August settles nicely at the restaurant, even as several young children run back and forth behind our chair. He is content to sit on his gray, hand-sewn prison mat and watch the action.

At a local school after dinner, Tammy blindfolds the handlers to practice recalls and handler's exams with the pups. It is an eye-opening experience. Sorry for the cliche' - but you try grooming your puppy without being able to see!

Loose leash walking on a "rally" course set up in the school hall is done without blindfolds. We need to help our puppies learn to ignore distractions. Handlers and puppies follow a route marked by signs that indicate an exercise such as "Sit your puppy for 10 seconds" or "Turn left." Strewn about are balls, wrinkled tissues, squeaky toys and other lovely temptations. Puppies lunge right and left - we have our work cut out for us. Too bad the hall was not wider so our pups had a better chance to succeed with greater distance. Ah well, just like with life, stuff happens.

FLDs Sammy, Bravo and Drummond return to Chippewa Correctional Facility, but FLD August joins Tammy, her puppy FLD Harper and me at a hotel in the Soo for the night. We take a walk, but baby August can't keep up with the older Harper. I tell Tammy, "Go ahead, we'll meet you back at the room."

As Tammy and Harper disappear into the darkness, August pulls to go after them. I stop. When the leash is loose I take a few steps. "YES!" I say when the leash is slack. I reach down and stuff a bit of kibble into August's mouth like a mother bird. One or two steps further, with the leash still loose, I say "YES!" again. This time August looks up in anticipation and he isn't disappointed. He gets another bit of kibble. It doesn't take more than a block and August is strutting along like a champ, a hearty "YES!" and a bit of kibble randomly reinforcing his loose leash. He doesn't even pay much attention to the traffic whipping by us on business loop I-75.

What a quick learner! And quite the poser, too.

A small yellow lab puppy is sitting facing the camera. He is wearing a blue bandana with a white patch with red letters that say Future Leader Dog with a black paw print. He has the cutest head tilt to the right as if he knows he is cute.
"Oh yes, I'm so cute!"

A small yellow lab puppy is sitting facing the camera on green grass that has some brown oak leaves strewn about.. He is wearing a blue bandana with a white patch with red letters that say Future Leader Dog with a black paw print. The puppy's leather leash is around a tree trunk behind him.
A fall pose. (And he didn't even chase after the leaves!)

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