September 11, 2014
We took FLD Chewy with us when we left Pike Unit. Doc Bennett, the veterinarian who volunteers his service for the puppies, saw something he didn't like in the Shepherd's running gait. Tammy was charged with bringing Chewy back to Leader Dogs for the Blind for a complete checkup. But first he'd have to hang with us.
Tammy and I were late getting to the Antler's, a unique restaurant that has always been gracious to visiting Future Leader Dog puppies. This day was no different, although our group was seated in the main dining area instead of the quieter banquet room. Here the pups were treated to bells and whistles every time a ship passed through the Soo Locks.
We left little Hershel asleep in his crate in the van, as it was a cool evening. Tammy brought FLD Chewy in for Frank to handle, Rachel had her golden puppy, FLD Harkin, Kim was with FLD Kayla, and Paula had brought FLD Andie out on furlough from Chippewa. Of course, I had FLD Henry, who recently learned he has a voice. He barked a bit so I took him out to park. Afterwards he was better, but didn't really settle until it was nearly time to go. The other puppies were all well behaved.
As Henry and I got up to leave, a woman and some friends coming in for dinner blocked our passage. "Can I pet him?" she asked. Her entourage spread out and surrounded us. I had no choice. "Can you help me with his training?" I asked her in return. She stepped forward, "What can I do?"
"Let me get him sitting and then you can approach," I explained. I asked Henry to "sit" and used "touch" to get him to focus on me. "He needs to have four on the floor and he cannot mouth you. If he gets up or licks too much, just take your hand away and step back."
The woman took another step toward us and Henry leapt forward. The woman stepped back. Henry sat down. "Yes!" I said and gave him a treat. He held a squirmy sit as the woman tried again. She stopped. Henry whipped his head around and looked at me as if to say, "This is it, right? You want me to sit, right?"
"Yes!" I said and slipped him another bit of kibble. While I was giving it to him, I asked the woman to come and pet him. Henry didn't know what to do then with his attention; his head swiveled from her back to me. Eventually he controlled himself long enough to accept a nice pet.
The crowd around us had grown. Another group was trying to leave. "Can you see how he improved?" I asked. They all agreed.
Good boy, Henry!
We regrouped at a local school where Rachel works so Tammy could conduct a training session with us. Immediately we had to practice stairs to get up to the conference room. As usual, Tammy loaded her agenda, starting with the relaxation protocol in "sit," followed by meet & greets (from quiet to excited), and weight checks.
Before we moved on to "stay" we practiced ignoring distractions. Tammy stuck a three foot long piece of painter's tape on the floor, behind which we stood with our foot on our puppy's leash. The leash was long enough for the puppy to move past the tape. From a distance, Tammy wiggled a stuffed squirrel that dangled from a pole and instructed us to treat our puppy at our left side whenever our puppy moved away from the toy and came to our side of the tape.
The tape itself was enough distraction for FLD Henry - the first thing he did was to rip the tape right up off the floor!
Again, the other puppies did much better...
|Tammy increases the distraction and now bounces a ball. Frank is firmly planted on FLD Chewy's leash, waiting for Chewy to move toward him. FLDs Andie and Kayla wait their turn.|
|FLD Chewy looks away from the ball distraction toward Frank, and loosens the tension on his leash. Frank rewards him.|
|FLD Chewy resists the ball temptation, even when Tammy rolls it right up to him! Notice how Chewy has repositioned himself at Frank's left side.|
On to stays. "People always want to rush stays," Tammy said. "That's why they have rotten stays." She told us to remember the "three d's." Duration. Distance. Distractions. "First is duration. Your puppy should hold position for one minute before adding distance," Tammy said. "Never mind about distractions! They come later."
I have lots more work to do with Henry and duration. He dropped into a down at about 10 seconds. "Take notice of that and treat him at eight seconds," Tammy advised.
Thank you, Tammy!
|FLD Hershel is happy attacking a Milk Bone from the sidelines.|
|All this work tires a puppy out!|
Later, FLDs Hershel and Henry have some play time in the hotel...
|FLD Hershel takes off with FLD Henry close behind.|
|Whoo-hoo! Lab wrestling!|