Sunday, November 23, 2014

Time to work

August 14, 2014

Back inside Unit 8, Tammy started the session with questions. FLD Bear's team was concerned about furloughs. Furloughs, where the puppies are brought outside for outings, are a work in progress. Leader Dogs for the Blind isn't convinced that furloughs are even necessary. Concerns about the puppies reacting to things they won't see in prison, like traffic or kids, has turned out to be not much of an issue. The puppies Tammy and I have taken on furlough adjust to new environments quickly and don't seemed stressed by traffic or strangers.

This is all good. The busy, noisy and crowded prison setting seems to give the puppies adequate socialization.

For now, puppies must be over four months old before they are taken out and furlough volunteers have requirements they must meet. Everyone, from prison officials to Leader Dog to prison puppy counselors, is working to develop standard protocols for furloughs.

A bald man wearing prison blue pants and a white t-shirt is sitting on a concrete floor with a small yellow puppy on his lap. The man is looking at the camera and holding a red Kong toy with his left hand - the puppy has his eyes closed and is chewing on the kong. The man's right arm is resting on his knee. Behind the man is a yellowish brick wall with electrical conduit attached to it.
FLD Henry seems content to hang out with Barry.

Training got underway with the relaxation protocol, switching positions from sit to stand to down. Some of the puppies settled right into the exercise, others worked at it.

Two bald men are sitting on lunch table stools on the left of the picture, they are both wearing blue prison pants and white long-sleeved t-shirts.  They both have their hands folded on their knees and are looking down at a small golden retriever puppy that is lying on a cement floor to the right. The puppy is on the left side of an african american man who is standing between the sitting men and the puppy. This man is wearing glasses and the same blue pants and white t-shirt. He is looking down at the puppy. There are stainless steel ice machines in the background.
FLD Gage has figured out the relaxation protocol!

As an example of the flexibility mentioned in a previous post, Tammy opted not to have me demonstrate how to teach the "stand" with FLD Henry.

"All the puppies had very good stands during their demonstration," she said.

Instead, we got right into recalls, with three scenarios. First, "hidden" recalls. Tammy held each puppy in the far corner of the room. The handler went out of sight and then called his puppy. P did a great job with FLD Gage. He knew the young golden was not up to a challenging recall. To set the stage for his puppy to succeed, P just stood around the corner to call him.

The second recall was past a distraction: ME, on the floor with my camera. Turns out I was less of a distraction than the other puppies sitting along the sidelines.

A young yellow lab puppy is running from left to right, he is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. The puppy is the only thing in focus in the photo. There is a man in the background to the left, wearing blue prison pants and a white t-shirt. He is standing and facing the puppy. On the right are two men sitting down on the lunch room stools, both wearing blue prison pants and white t-shirts, the one on the left is wearing a blue baseballc ap. Between these two men is a black lab lying on the cement floor. The picture is taken from floor level, so the ceiling is visible with long florescent lights.
FLD Farley races past FLD Bear and his team.

A floor-level blurred shot of a small golden retriever puppy digging in to run from left to right. A woman wearing a blue t-shirt and glases has just let the pup go - she is on her knees and her hands are spread out. There are several men in the background sitting on lunch table stools. The puppy's rear legs are off the floor and his head is low looking to the right.
FLD Gage has a quick take-off, but pauses to check me out.
A young black lab is leaping forward from left to right in the center of the photo. He is the only thing in focus. Behind him to the left is a woman dressed in blue jeans and a blue t-shirt, she is leaning over with her hands on her thighs. There are a few men in the far background, and two men on the right sitting on lunch table stools. The men are all wearing the blue prison pants and white t-shirts. There is a black lab lying on the floor between the legs of the man on the right, looking at the puppy flying by. Both labs are wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandanas.
FLD Copo takes some air on his recall.

Another blurred shot from floor level, this time of a german shepherd running from left to right. The shepherd is in focus and is looking to his left side.He is wearing the blue bandana.
FLD Dax races by and visits every puppy on the sidelines.
A low shot of a black lab puppy standing close and looking right at the camera. He has a leash hanging off his collar to the left and is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. The background lunchroom is out of focus.
FLD Eco.

The third recall was the In-For-Training (IFT) on-leash recall. Every team did great.


A woman wearing glasses and a blue t-shirt (on the left) is holidng the snout and ear flap of a small yellow lab puppy that is sitting down in th emiddle of hte picture. A man wearing a white t-shirt is next to the woman and his holding the puppy's collar. An african american man on the right, wearing a white t-shirt, is holding a small plastic bottle with his right hand just above the ear of the puppy, about to drip ear cleaner into it. His left arm is resting on his left knee.
Tammy holds FLD Farley's snout and ear flap so Brown can administer ear cleaner. Steve helps steady the puppy.
A black lab puppy is lying down. The hands of two men are above him, the hand on the left is giving the puppy a treat, the other hands are wiping the puppy's ear with a cotton ball.
FLD Eco is getting the treatment. One handler is feeding him kibble while the other is swabbing his ear.
A man wearing blue prison pants and a white t-shirt is kneeling next to a young black lab. The man is checking the puppy's right ear. The dog is sitting on the floor facing the camera. The man's right hand is holidng the ear flap up and his left hand is holding his collar. Another man is standing behind them, but only his legs are visible.
Doug checks out FLD Bear's ear.


While Tammy was helping the guys clean ears, a few of us went out to the yard to assemble a PVC ladder for rear-leg work. Puppies don't know they have rear legs, which can lead to anxiousness on stairs. Having the puppies walk through the rungs of a ladder on the ground helps them realize they have back legs.

I took no pictures of this because I got busy helping with another rear-leg exercise. We set large rubber bowls upside down; the idea is for the puppy to place its front paws on the bowl and then move its rear legs. Many of the men wanted to place their puppy's paws on the bowl to help them out. I struggled to explain that we wanted to "capture" the behavior by letting the puppies make the decisions. Waiting to let the puppy try something, then rewarding the puppy when it does something that is starting to look like what we want can be challenging. It takes patience and an ability to "read" the puppy's body language.

Next up, pictures of some "STAR" puppies!

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