May 15, 2014
Seems like forever that I posted about the Baraga Correctional Facility, sort of like how long the drive feels from the eastern U.P. or how long the ice hung around in Lake Superior this spring. We took our time making our way west; our training session with the teams from Unit 8 wasn't until morning.
|FLD Harper strikes a post along the ice flow-strewn shore of Lake Superior. This was Tammy's last trip with her golden boy. Before our next visit, Harper would be back at Leader Dogs for the Blind to begin his formal training.|
The three-man puppy-raiser teams sat patiently waiting for us in the East Wing chow hall. Even though we only had to come from a nearby hotel, we were still 10 minutes late. I guess it's hard to get up when you go to bed after 1 a.m. and you don't have a puppy to wake you. Tammy opened the session with questions.
"What about puppies eating poop?"
That's called coprophagia. There are many theories about why some dogs do this disgusting habit - lack of nutrients, boredom, they like the taste - no one really knows. The best thing to do is to clean up immediately so the puppy doesn't have a chance to get at it.
"Dax gets carsick when he goes out on furlough, afterwards he's good for nothing. What can we do?"
Carsickness can be more common with puppies and they often outgrow it. It is thought that the development of the inner ear is involved. Stress can also be a factor. Traveling on an empty stomach can help, as can giving the puppy a few ginger snaps prior to the trip. (Here is an interesting article from the website WebMD: "Dogs and Motion Sickness.")One inmate had a question about guys tossing treats on the ground just because they like the dog. "Now the puppies are diving for stuff on the ground." In an around about way he answered his own question, but he wanted Tammy to set the rule (don't toss treats on the ground). I said, "You can tell them Tammy said so." Another raiser piped in that they've already used that line with other issues. "People don't know if it's Leader Dog Tammy or ARUS Tammy," he said.
Our agenda with the guys was similar to what we worked on at Chippewa, with an added surprise (you'll find out soon enough). We didn't have a puppy to deliver, so Tammy got right at it. This time she started with TAG teach to be sure we had time to practice tagging.
Tammy explained that team members should "TAG" the handler whenever the handler does something correctly. The first two lessons were releasing tension on the leash and keeping the leash hand anchored at the waist. Being "tagged" for releasing the tension on the leash drives awareness of how it feels to have a loose leash; keeping the leash hand to "core" gives the handler a solid base so the puppy gets consistent feedback.
After a quick demonstration, the teams practiced together. Leonard, an inmate on a team waiting for a puppy, took the exercise to heart and did a great job tagging through the rest of the session. I dubbed him "Mr. Tag."
In pictures, some of our training...
|Chad practices the cue "touch" with FLD Dax while waiting for our training session to get underway.|
|Patrick (on FLD Dax's team) checks FLD Copo's teeth during the handler's exam.|
|P checks out FLD Dax's paws during the handler's exam.|
|Lionel (on the left) holds FLD Bear's leash while Black (on the right) checks out his teeth.|
|Tammy has everyone feel FLD Harper during a discussion about the importance of keeping our puppies at a lean weight. Leader Dogs for the Blind uses the Purina Body Condition Tool to evaluate them. Here Paul runs his hands down Harper's back feeling for his ribs. Harper is a svelte puppy!|
|James asks me to take a photograph of him with FLD Harper, as this will be the last time Harper visits the facility.|
More fun coming up!