Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chippewa redux

September 25, 2014
Chippewa

Tammy promised the guys in Pike Unit we'd be back before the end of September. She wanted to do the training we didn't have time to do earlier in the month. So, up and back we went in a one day trip.

We stopped in Mackinaw for a photo op before heading across the bridge.

A large handsome German Shepherd puppy wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana is sitting and facing the camera. In the background the Mackinaw Bridge sretches off to the right. There is blue sky.
FLD Chewy poses with the Mackinaw Bridge. He was returning to Chippewa after a complete veterinarian check at Leader Dogs for the Blind. His gait and joints are fine.

A smaller yellow lab/golden retriever mix puppy is sitting in front of some large boulders. He is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana and is facing the camera with his eyes pinched shut. In the background above him stretches the Mackninaw Bridge over the Straits of Mackinaw.
FLD Henry makes a goofy face for the camera.

We got inside Pike Unit after 2:00 p.m. Before starting the relaxation protocol, which has become our opening exercise, Tammy asked if anyone had questions or concerns. FLD Bandit's team reported that the young chocolate lab wasn't eager to get into vehicles when he went out on furloughs. Ro worried about FLD GeeGee eating rocks in the yard. Harlin asked for tips on what to do when FLD Bentley decides to abruptly stop walking.

Tammy asked me to demonstrate "silky leash" with FLD Henry, as a skill for the men to work on with FLD Bentley. This technique teaches the puppy to give in and move with light pressure on the leash instead of pulling against the leash (opposition reflex). Unfortunately for the demo, Henry is pretty savvy with this method. Every time I gave light pressure on his leash he moved with it, so our audience did not get to see how to handle it when the pup resists. Fortunately, the guys are adept at understanding concepts.

As for keeping FLD GeeGee from eating rocks, well, the teams needs to be observant and proactive. Tammy suggested that if GeeGee stopped playing with the other dogs while in the yard and started scrounging around, she should be brought back inside right away. "Don't give her an opportunity," she said.

The teams don't have access to a vehicle to work on getting the puppies comfortable getting in and out of a car, so Tammy set up some chairs to simulate the tight quarters of the passenger side floorboard. This is where Leader Dog likes our puppies to ride because that's where they will be with their handler when they are working guide dogs. Tammy sat sideways on the chair and then swung her feet and body around to face forward. "Get situated first, then ask the puppy  to join you," she said. 

Tammy suggested that the men set crates up on something higher so the puppies could get used to jumping into small spaces. And she advised them to explain to furlough volunteers that they should not force the puppies into the car. "Have them use treats to coax them in," she said.

Three men, dressed in blue prison pants and white t-shirts are sitting and facing the camera. They all have their hands resting on their knees, and each one has a puppy lying on the tile floor between their feet. The puppy on the left is a yellow lab, the middle puppy is a black lab, and the puppy on the right is a german shepherd.
All in a nice settle during Tammy's discussion.

Now it was time to do some work...

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