Growing Up

It’s hard to believe we have already had our Wild Child for 3 months, but it’s true!

Arizona hanging over the edge of the big jet tub, playing in the bubbles. She has bubbles around her nose and under her chin.

Arizona is maturing and growing quickly, but she’s still just as crazy as ever.

Hmmm….what’s been happening with her since the last time I wrote…

Ari is now 19 inches tall, 18 inches long, has a 22 inch girth and weighs 38.5lbs.

She is also teething, so we really have to watch what she puts in her mouth. She seems to think everything is chewable. So far she has redesigned our front door mat, added some artistic touches to a few baseboards and created handfuls of wood chips, doing her beaver impression on fallen tree branches in the backyard.

On the training front –

We have started field lessons, so our homework right now is to work on having her sit in one spot until we give her a release word, to not just come when we whistle and to walk on our left side.

We are working with Susie Bell of Pinebank Labrador Retrievers. Susie is a Labrador Retriever breeder who teaches both obedience and field work. With our schedule and my visual limitations, we have decided to do private lessons, so we meet with Susie every 2-3 weeks.

Our work with Arizona is slow going, but she’s getting there. we really want to avoid luring and forcing her into position as much as possible, so it’s taking longer to teach her to sit and heel then it could.

Ari is a bundle of energy, but she is extremely curious and confident, so it’s been a learning experience for us and a lot of fun at the same time. I had hoped to be further in her basic training by now, but with her energy and independent-mindedness, I needed to take a step back and let her mature and let me enjoy her without the frustration. I did this with Rogue and even though her training took longer, I think that in the end she became a better companion for us, so I hope the same can be said for Ari when she’s Rogue’s age.

we finally got Arizona’s CKC paperwork in the mail this past week. She is now officially registered as: Taygold’s Kindred Spirit.

She will make her conformation debut next weekend at the Elgin County Kennel Club show, which also happens to be the Purina National. Arizona is still considered a Baby Puppy, so she will only show on Sunday. Canyon is also entered, but he shows on both Saturday and Sunday with Huib and then again on Saturday with our friend Kira, who will make her debut as a Junior Handler.

I am not so sure Ari will do well in the CKC conformation shows, because she’s from a working line, so I talked to my friend Amy who has Dalmatians and I think we’re going to try and show our dogs together in the US starting in February. I just need to ask Arizona’s breeder for full breeding rights, so that I can register her with the AKC – wish me luck!

That’s probably about all I have to update everyone on for now with Arizona. I have some entertaining antics to share, but I will try and put them together in a separate post.

3 Months Already!!

Our little golden girl is now 3 months old.

Arizona sits on a big rock.

Arizona has experienced a lot of new things over the past two weeks.

On the 8th, we met up with our friends Karen and Spark at waterloo Park. When we arrived there were a couple guys playing drums, the noise didn’t phase Rogue or Arizona. We walked around the various park animals; peacocks, llamas, ponies, donkeys, pigs, ducks deer and chickens. Rogue was really interested in the animals, but was able to still guide me safely – which is a huge improvement from her predecessor, who couldn’t ever work in a park or around other animals. Arizona was interested in all of the animals, but really liked the ducks. after touring the animals we walked along the various paths and over bridges.

Arizona has become really confident on leash, so it’s definitely time to buy her a harness, so she doesn’t get into the habit of pulling on her collar.

On the 9th we went to Kira’s trailer. this was Arizona’s first opportunity to try out swimming. Because of the rough water I decided to have her wear a life jacket. she took to water so quickly that you’d think she has always been swimming.

Arizona runs down a cement boat ramp towards the water. She's wearing a pink camo life jacket.

While at the lake Arizona met several people and got to play with two poodles and a shepherd mix.

Arizona swims towards our friend Kira. You can see her little tail straight out behind her.

After swimming we hung out for a while and had dinner with Kira and her mom. Arizona dug up Sam’s garden – BAD PUPPY!! – and got to see a campfire for the first time.

Side view of rogue on a dock looking out at the water. She's wearing a red with black life jacket.

Rogue swam a bit more than previous years, but still felt more comfortable when she wore her life jacket.

On the 10th we went to visit Phoenix’s foster mom, alice, at her retirement home. Arizona found it a bit warm there, but finally settled on the tile after being pet by over a dozen people. she had wheelchairs and walkers pass her while she napped, but she didn’t even care.

After leaving Alice we went to my Aunt Dawn’s place where Arizona had a chance to meet my Aunt’s three little dogs, as well as, my cousin and her two kids. Arizona had no issues with my Aunt’s dogs and she played well with my cousin’s kids.

the only thing she did at one point that wasn’t so good was when she tried to pull the 3 year old’s shorts down, lol!

On the 13th Arizona had her first vet appointment. Bianca says she is a really healthy puppy and thinks she will be tall and slim. Arizona is just over 20lbs and got boosters for both Parvo and distemper. Bianca wasn’t sure about what the breeder’s vet gave the puppies, so decided to go with the boosters in order to make sure Arizona didn’t miss the important period of full immunity. She said her fecal test came back fine and that she doesn’t feel Arizona needs to go on Revolution this year. She says we’ll give her the rabies vaccine around a year of age like we did with Rogue, so we won’t need to bring her back until the others come for their annual check up.

On the 14th we went to Kira’s final soccer game of the summer. Arizona was busy mowing the lawn and exploring the area around our chairs the entire game, so when we got home she was absolutely exhausted.

On Friday night Arizona didn’t want to sleep, so I ended up having to go downstairs and sleep on the couch with her so that Huib could sleep for work. We had a really rough day on Saturday, which might also have been related to my horrible migraine, so when Huib got home in the evening I had a complete breakdown. I told him that I regret getting Arizona and that I feel as though she’s too much for us. I told him that I wished I had returned her after a week so we could get our money back, but that I knew that wouldn’t be happening now. I told him how frustrated I was about her mouthiness and vocalness and how I believed she was rude and mean to the other dogs.

Huib patiently listened to me while holding my hand and then gave me a big hug, and took over caring for Arizona for the rest of the night.

On Sunday we went to Pet smart and I bought Arizona two new crinkly Skinneez toys, a giraffe and an alligator, and then picked out a Mickey Mouse collar and harness. the collar is black and the harness is red with each of them having a ribbon sewed on it with Mickey’s head shape in red, yellow and blue. My description probably doesn’t make the most sense, so I’ll try to get a picture of them soon.

the past two weeks have been really challenging.

Arizona is extremely smart and devious, so we’ve really had to keep a close eye on her and make sure to use every moment as a teachable one.

I’ve continued to work on recall, ‘leave it’ and sit, and have begun introducing down and hand targeting.

I really hope my migraines calm down soon so that I can work more regularly with Arizona on these Level 1 behaviours, but in the meantime I am just trying to do at least a couple training sessions a day.

Arizona The Dare Devil

I really need to start making notes on what Arizona does each week for these posts.

Hmmm…

Arizona is really beginning to grow. For a while I thought she wasn’t growing, but this week she seems to be slightly longer, a bit heavier and I’ve had to make her puppy collar bigger. I’m not sure how much she weighs, but when we got her she was 10.2lbs and I’m pretty sure she’s over 15 now.

I’ve continued to work on her name recognition, recall, sit and zen (or leave it). She’s doing well in all areas, so I think it’s definitely time to add something new, such as ‘down’ and maybe ‘stand’.

Arizona is already an escape artist, dare devil and incredibly smart at just shy of 12 weeks.

She’s earned the nicknames of Trouble, Little Devil and wild Child.

We have put a fence up and thought we closed off every single puppy escape route, but yesterday Arizona found the only spot we had missed. I didn’t realize she had left the yard until our neighbour came over to warm me. She said that Arizona had slipped through the fence, but had made it back in on her own. Huib reinforced the spot and hopefully it will keep our little escape artist out of trouble.

We are currently using Canyon’s grooming table as a cat dish holder. Arizona is highly food motivated, so decided to try jumping up onto the table. Huib watched her and she got her back feet onto the edge of the table, then as she tried to push herself up further, she fell backwards, lol!

Thankfully puppies are bouncy because it didn’t even seem to phase her. Once she got over the shock of falling, she was even more determined to figure out a way of getting up onto the table.

I’m continuing to work on her ‘leave it’ cue, so hopefully sooner than later I’ll get to a point where I can use it to stop the attempts at getting the cat food.

Last night when I was putting away some garbage I heard Arizona’s bell jingle from the direction of the dining table. I walked toward the sound and found her walking along the table trying to find any food we’d missed. I quickly picked her up off the table, put her onto the floor and pushed all of the chairs in, so hopefully she won’t do it again.

We’re using a canvas crate to block access to the upstairs for now. Huib is going to install a gate to block access to the cat litter box, but for now we’re using the crate since it’s light and works pretty well.

Logan, our calico, seems to enjoy taunting Arizona, so the other day she took off running and jumped over the crate to get upstairs. Arizona took off after her, pushed the crate out of the way and then ran up the stairs. Huib quickly went to the treat container and whistled. Arizona came racing back, flew down the stairs and landed on top of the canvas crate.

This little girl is one of the most curious and brave puppies we have ever had. if she keeps up with these demonstrations, we’re going to have a heart attack before she turns 6 months old.

what else have we done…

Huib and I took her for a short visit to his work. He is the Assistant Director of Care at one of the local long-term care homes, so when he had to go in for a quick check of something, I decided to bring Arizona. She was really curious about the smells in his office and greeted one of the nurses. We’ll probably bring her again during the day sometime, so she can meet some of the residents.

On Saturday my friend was making balloons at City Hall for John Galt Day. Since it was outdoors I thought it would be a good opportunity to bring both Rogue and Arizona out. I had Rogue work and Huib carried Arizona since she doesn’t have her vaccines yet. there were kids playing in the splash pad, tons of people checking out the various vendors and then my friend making balloon animals for a constant line of kids.

rogue was AMAZING. She was very focused on working and she wasn’t even phased by the shrieking and popping balloons. I got a lot of comments on how well behaved she is and when I told people I trained her myself, they were even more impressed. I don’t really like when people tell me I’m inspiring, but I do like it when I get compliments on rogue. With her being my first owner-trained dog, it’s always nice to hear compliments from the public.

Arizona hadn’t had her morning nap, so she was pretty sleepy by the time we arrived at the festivities. Huib parked the car in a lot 10 minutes away and had Arizona walk there and then back. She pretty much slept in his arms the entire time we were at City Hall and when she wasn’t, she was lying in the shade, lol!

Today is Arizona’s first full day of eating just raw. We had switched her to orijen puppy formula from the Pro Plan her breeder was feeding, but we thought it was time to begin feeding her raw like the others, so began the switch a week or so ago. for the next couple of weeks we will probably only feed her ground or chunks of meat with ground up egg shells for calcium. then we’ll start adding in softer bones, like turkey or chicken neck bones or wings before we try her on the tougher pork, lamb and beef bones.

tonight we’ll be registering her for the oakville and District Kennel Club’s conformation dog show September 12th to the 14th. She’ll be in the baby puppy class, so won’t earn any points toward her championship, but it will be a good time to start getting her used to the environment. She’ll show again in October as a baby puppy at the Purina National in London and then in November the real serious stuff begins 🙂

This week has been a lot better than previous weeks. Arizona seems to be settling in more and we’re learning her schedule. She doesn’t like to sleep past 7:30am, but must have a nap from 9:20am until 12:30pm or she’s a very cranky puppy. she’s started sleeping four to five hours straight every night and she’s beginning to show signs of possibly knowing where she needs to relieve. Now we just need to work on the curiosity because it’s going to get her into trouble soon.

10 Weeks Old

The past week has been full of ups and downs. Maybe it’s primarily due to the fact that I have had migraines almost every moment of the week, so my patience is a bit thin, but it’s definitely been a trying one.

Arizona with her head sticking out the front screen door.

Arizona is learning tons and settling in amazingly well with our gang, but she’s also becoming more determined and opinionated.

rogue continues to play with her and has even started explaining the rules and boundaries – I am SO proud of the Rogue Monster!

Cessna doesn’t know what to do with the puppy and has decided to just keep ignoring her existence.

Canyon tolerates her efforts to play and has even started doing his tug game he used to play with Rogue. He lies on the ground holding a toy in his mouth and Arizona tugs on the toy with all her might. Rogue and Canyon still play this game, so as Rogue became bigger she started pulling him around the house.

Arizona sleeps well some nights, but sleeps horribly the following night, it’s SO frustrating!! I am hoping this pattern will stop sooner than later because the getting up every hour is quite exhausting.

She is sleeping in her crate without the blood-curdling screams though and even takes naps for a couple hours each morning in it, so that’s progress.

On Friday our friend Karen came with her 7 month old puppy, Spark, and our friend kelly came with her two dogs, Piper and Ace. It was a really good experience for Arizona to have the three dogs to interact with.

A view from above of Arizona sleeping under a chair while on a coffee date with a friend.

Spark played with her the most and got a bit rough at times, so Karen would grab his collar and have him relax for a minute before being allowed to return.

Piper took a bit to get used to Arizona’s size. I think a lot of dogs wonder if it’s safe or appropriate to be playing with such a small puppy. After she realized that Arizona wasn’t breakable, they had a blast wrestling and chasing one another. Ace wanted nothing to do with the puppy, but that isn’t too abnormal for the big guy, he is more into wandering the yard or mourning Rogue.

On Saturday, Kelly took Arizona for a few hours. She had a coffee date with a friend, so took Arizona to sit on the patio.

On the learning front, Arizona is doing amazingly well at learning to come when we whistle, so now we need to decide if it is worthwhile teaching her the word ‘come’ or if whistling is good enough for recall. Her work with zen (or ‘leave it’) is coming along. I am starting to say ‘leave it’ as she goes to back off from the treat I have in my palm. Arizona is also doing really well at learning to sit. Our little friend, Kira, has been helping me out with this. I really want to teach Arizona to sit using the capturing method, so I have had Kira clicking whenever she sees Arizona sit. Arizona began to quickly figure out what she was getting the clicks and treats for, so now Kira is starting to say the word ‘sit’ as Arizona’s bum is moving to the floor. I think she’ll be ready to learn a hand signal for sit by the end of the week.

I am going to continue working on zen, sit and come, but I also think I may start trying to capture the ‘down’ and try teaching Arizona to give paw or maybe even paw target. I am eager to teach her to nose target, but my friend Robin has suggested I avoid teaching the nose target until Arizona is understanding ‘leave it’ because she is extremely food motivated and needs to learn a bit of self-control.

Arizona has started to switch over to eating raw. We switched her over to Orijen puppy just over a week ago from Pro Plan, but now it’s time to switch her to eating raw like the others. So far she is just getting a tiny ground beef ball with her breakfast, but probably by the weekend she’ll be eating almost purely raw. Maybe the diet change will also help with the house training.

The house training is a challenge, but I think it’s improving. Arizona is now 10 weeks, so her ability to wait should be increasing. We have reintroduced the box with wood stove pellets, like her breeder used, so I am hoping this will speed up the house training process. The only real issue I am having, that is perplexing, is that Arizona has now decided pooping in her exercise pen is acceptable, but seems to know that she shouldn’t be relieving in her crate.

Puppy rearing can be such an adventure, stay tuned for more updates on Taygold’s Kindred Spirit, who should have really been named Trouble not Arizona.

Week One: An Overview

It’s been exactly a week since Arizona joined our family.

Arizona lies on a bed with a cream colour blanket.

She is probably one of the most fearless and entertaining puppies I’ve raised so far.

I think she missed the memo on how baby puppies are supposed to behave because she is definitely not eager to please or a follower, unless of course there’s something in it for her.

Arizona stands with her head between the rails. She's looking down into the living room from the kitchen.

Let’s see, what have we done this week…

On the training front, I’ve started to teach Arizona zen (leave it) and sit, while continuing to proof her recall.

As mentioned earlier, Arizona’s breeder teaches the entire litter recall using a whistle, so Huib and I have been continuing to do this and her response is getting faster and more reliable every day.

Arizona is starting to understand the concept of zen, but I’m not quite at the point where I feel comfortable enough to name it.

As for sit, I am still in the process of capturing it (clicking/treating when she offers it on her own). I taught both Rogue and Canyon to sit by capturing the behaviour and their sits are extremely reliable and well done, so I’d like to do the same with Arizona.

On the hilarious front, Arizona is the youngest daredevil I’ve ever met.

Most puppies won’t even attempt jumping off something high or walking down stairs until they are closer to 16 weeks, but as of the very first day Arizona came home, she’s been running up and down the stairs and launching herself off the couch and bed – which is always a heart-stopper for me!!

Arizona lies on the bed with her head up.

Also, Arizona is a talker. She barks and growls at everything!! She has arguments with the grass and bushes in the yard. She wrestles with the toilet brush and it’s holder. And, she has full out battles with the springy door stops in the house. I really need to try and get some of these on video to show everyone because it’s SO funny!!

The other dogs are slowly warming up to her, but I hope they learn to teach her the rules and boundaries quickly.

Cessna pretty much ignores her completely.

Canyon plays with her a bit. Her favourite game with him right now is to chase him while he plays fetch and then grab his chest hair or ear and tug while making growly noises. Canyon doesn’t seem to be bothered by this game, but does not like it when she tries to take his toy away or cuddle up with him.

Arizona investigates the container that holds all of the extra dog toys while Canyon supervises. Arizona is in a big black storage container that is about half full of dog toys that aren't always out.

Rogue makes me VERY proud. She’s my shy and timid girl, but she’s actually begun to initiate play with Arizona. They bounce around the living room, grabbing one another’s necks and bark and growl at one another. this probably sounds bad, but it’s really not, they are both just really loud players. the only thing I wish Rogue would tell Arizona off for is her constant need to try and nurse from her. Rogue just stands there while Arizona pokes her and begins trying to suck on a nipple…hopefully this stops sooner than later because I feel horrible for the Rogie Monster.

The cats aren’t too sure of the bouncy, barking fur ball. They try and avoid her because if she notices them then she immediately runs over and tries to get them to play.

A few days ago Huib saw Arizona bowing and wagging her tail excitedly while barking at Logan, trying to get her to play, but not understanding that she had absolutely no interest in associating with her. After a while, Arizona gave up and walked away. But, last night, Logan wasn’t so lucky, instead of walking away, Arizona decided to pounce on her and then chase her under the bed, trying really hard to get Logan to play.

On the not so wonderful front, Arizona hates the crate, unless we aren’t in the room then she settles quickly enough and naps until you’re ready to bring her back out. The first night, Arizona screamed for close to an hour, but then settled for a few before waking up to pee and then screamed some more when I put her back in. The second night wasn’t so bad, maybe Arizona was exhausted or something, because she didn’t fuss as long and slept a bit longer than the night before. The next night was worse though, maybe she was gathering up the energy to really give us a taste of how bad she can be…

On Thursday, I talked to my friend and she suggested putting Arizona’s crate up on top of Canyon’s, so she could see us better. We did this and she slept really well. Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that we had taken her to watch Kira’s soccer game and then our friend Karen came to visit with her 7 month old Belgian Shepherd, Spark. Who knows, but we got some of the sleep we desperately needed.

But, then Friday was horrible and so was Saturday, so for now I’ve sort of given up on the crate at night. I’ve just been sleeping down in the living room with Arizona attached to me by a leash. She seems to sleep well and doesn’t really wake me up as often. I think we’ll probably try doing some crate work tonight, but who knows.

It’s been a week of learning, laughing and frustration.

hopefully this coming week will see improvements to her sleeping patterns. If we can get that on track, then the rest should be a little easier to deal with since we won’t be so exhausted.

Ian Dunbar

In preparation for our new addition, I have downloaded some dog training books in an effort to learn more about positive reinforcement training and also to learn about other training methods.

I totally recommend Sue Ailsby and plan to continue using her levels program to train the dogs, but it never hurts to add some extra tools to the dog training toolbox, right?

I just finished reading Ian Dunbar’s How To Teach A new Dog Old Tricks. I’ve wanted to read this book for years, but for one reason or another, I never had an opportunity until now.

It was really well written. I love the way he writes it as if from the dog’s perspective. There were some things Dunbar recommended, like repeating cues until the puppy obeys, that I don’t really agree with, but then there were other things he suggested, like making sure your cues make sense, that I found quite useful.

Dunbar suggests that when a puppy has an accident and the owner witnesses the discretion, that instead of saying “Puppy…NO…you shouldn’t have done that, let’s go outside”, that you skip the no and the conversation, and just say “Outside” in a firm voice, as you pick the puppy out and carry it outdoors.

I think this recommendation makes a lot of sense. I think that we have a tendency to treat our dogs like children, which is not a bad thing most of the time, and forget that their attention span and vocabulary is far less advanced than the capabilities of humans.

Before we pick up our little golden girl, I am going to sit down with Huib and make a mental list of the cues we want to use with her, so hopefully we will avoid some of the awkward stumbling we tend to do in the first year of training.

Wyoming Trip: Final Day

It’s hard to believe we go home tomorrow. It’s been an awesome trip and a really good experience for Rogue and I. We still have some work to do when we get home, but seeing how well she worked for me here has shown me that we will be okay in the end.

This morning we went to a local college campus to work on some orientation and stairs.

When we arrived at the college, Bill explained the route and I was supposed to meet up with Robin and Sherman in the first building. Rogue and I got out of the vehicle, I asked her to go forward and over left. She walked forward and moved slightly left, but I couldn’t find a curb, no matter how much I moved my left foot. Bill finally came over and explained that I was not quite at the curb, that Rogue had stopped 4 feet from a puddle that was in front of the curb I had directed her to. I turned around, walked back to the vehicle and then tried again – we did it.

Once we got into the building, Robin began talking to me about the importance of working Rogue through such issues, saying that if I had been somewhere alone that I did not know, I would have been screwed. I got a bit defensive and Robin got annoyed, so she turned around and walked back to the vehicle. I walked back towards the vehicle a few minutes later, but stopped at the curb and did some obedience with Rogue because I needed to figure out what to do to fix the situation with Robin. After about 5 minutes, bill came over and asked if I wanted a ride. I told him I wanted to apologize to Robin, but that I was also frustrated because i was telling the truth when I said that I would not go somewhere without knowing the exact route. Robin came over to us as we were chatting and I apologized and we set off again.

Sometimes stress just gets the best of me…thankfully robin is patient.

Once we got back to the building, Robin explained the first part of the route. She explained that she wanted me to work on teaching Rogue to go from barrier to barrier – door, wall, stairs, curb, etc. She told me that by going from barrier to barrier, i will find it easier to keep my bearings.

We walked to a door, then we turned left and walked down a hallway to a wall, then we turned around and walked back a few feet before turning to the stairway on the right. Rogue found the bottom of the stairs perfectly. We then walked down a zzig-zagging hallway to a door where we walked through a breezeway that included a few stairs down – Rogue stopped at the top and we proceeded down towards the door at the other end of the breezeway. We then walked down another hallway to an elevator where we went up. After we got out of the elevator, Robin said that we were looking for the third door on the right, so asked me to have Rogue take me to each door until we found the correct one. She said that by going to each door, I would be able to ensure that I found the correct door because I would have checked each one. I remember seeing a friend do this and wondered why he was wasting so much time, now I get it.

When we entered the third door, we were greeted by a woman who called over a guy who knew both Robin and bill. We chatted with the gentleman and were joined by two other women who began asking me questions about Rogue. It turns out the office was where robin’s son, Andrew, had his office, but he was off doing something, so we didn’t get a chance to say hello.

After we finished talking, we headed out of the office and did some more hallway work and walking from barrier to barrier, with a few stairways thrown into the mix. Rogue did really well, except that at one spot, there were two ramps and then two steps. Rogue walked me down the ramps and then forgot to stop at the top of the stairs, so I danced my way down them, trying to keep my balance. After my heart returned to it’s normal rate, we redid the section, starting at the top of the ramps, Rogue did it perfectly. Robin says that now that Rogue witnessed me almost falling down the steps, she won’t do it again – i really hope she’s right. Even though Rogue scared me to death by not stopping at the top of the stairs, I kept thinking about how dangerous it could have been for her if there had been more steps because I was wearing my over the shoulder leash, so if I had fallen, she would have had no choice but to go with me.

Once we finished working in the building, we walked towards the vehicle, but stopped at the curb where the puddle was, so that I could work with rogue on walking, rather than jumping over or refusing to walk near it. It took some luring, but we got her walking over and even standing in the puddle.

In the evening, we talked a lot about what I had learned and I finished off the tug I was working on. Robin said that I had taught her a valuable lesson about the importance of walking from barrier to barrier. She said that she had been trying to figure out what was going on for days and just came to the realization that I had never been taught this orientation skill. We also talked about some of the issues guide dog programs are currently having and the reasons for some of the problems.

I really hope I can remember everything Robin taught me and I hope to be able to come visit again in a year or two and show her how much improvement rogue and I have made. Robin really feels we are an awesome team and she believes that I could put Rogue beside any program trained dog and she’d shine brighter. I’m not totally sure she’s right, but I do know that I put a lot more work and heart into Rogue’s training compared to what gets put into program trained dogs, so I guess she’s got it there.

Tomorrow we catch our flight from Denver around 4:30pm (their time) and then arrive in Toronto at 9:41pm (our time). I am excited to see Huib again, but I am really looking forward to seeing Cessna and Canyon because it’s been a long 10 days without them.

I hope to post some pictures from our trip this weekend, I just need Huib to let me know if they are oriented correctly.

Wyoming Trip: Lots of Laughs

Today we woke up on the earlier side and had some breakfast before discussing what we would be doing.

While Bill was getting ready, Robin and I took Rogue outside and practiced having her sit every two steps. If she didn’t sit or didn’t sit quick enough, I was to say nothing and keep walking, asking her to sit after two more steps. If she sat the second round, I was to just say “good girl” and keep going, asking for a sit at the second step again. If she sat quickly that time I was to click and while I was taking my next step, hand out the treat. It was SO hilarious! I was completely uncoordinated, so it was lots of laughs. Rogue got really good at it though and when Robin took her to try it out, she was really good too. By practicing this exercise on a regular basis, I will be able to increase Rogue’s response time for cues. After she masters sit, I am supposed to go to down and then do random sits and downs, so she needs to listen closely to what I am asking for.

Once robin and I had had a quick coffee, we all set out for Fort Collins. It takes about 45 minutes or so to get there, so on the way we discussed the week and why highways were called highways, driveways aren’t called parkways and so-on.

In Fort Collins we took Rogue, Sherman and Heidi Ho Ho to Pet Smart. Rogue and Sherman had to work, but were also allowed to check out the merchandise when we stopped to look at stuff. After looking at all of the toys, I settled on a green ball made by Chuckit, that bounces in different ways because it is not quite round, it has lots of flat areas on it. I also got a purple foot ball that is rubber and very holey and flexible, it is almost like mesh, but rubber. I think Canyon will really like his new toys. Robin got Sherman a new head collar, it’s like a combination between a Halti and Gentle Leader. While checking out the head collars, we came across a woman with a small dog that made all of the dogs really excited. robin used the woman as a distraction to work Sherman around, the woman didn’t mind at all. Rogue got a bit excited at first, but settled down quickly. I brought her Halti in, but I didn’t need it at all, which I thought was cool.

After a successful shopping/training session at Pet Smart, we headed to Schlotski’s, a really good sub place. While sitting down to eat, a woman came over to ask about the dogs and told us about being a former dog trainer and about some of the dogs she had in the past. I think it’s kind of funny to listen to the stories people seem to feel they need to tell someone with a service dog.

Once we finished eating, we got back into the vehicle and headed back to Cheyenne.

While I surfed the internet and checked if Huib was around, Robin shortened Rogue’s girth strap on her new red harness and made her a longer guide handle. Rogue wore her green harness when we came to visit, but Robin gave her and Soleil new red ones, so Rogue has been wearing it since the second day. The harness fit well, but it didn’t really have any room left to tighten the girth strap, so Robin felt she should shorten it. The guide handle she made us is long enough, but Robin made me one that is about two inches longer, so in a couple of months, we will most likely move to that one since it will be even better. Robin wants me to work with the shorter one for now, so I can learn the movements rogue makes and also so Rogue has less room to move around me when we stop.

Before dinner we went for another walk around the neighbourhood, but in the opposite direction from the day before. Robin wanted me to, again, tell her when I felt Rogue begin to turn and then stop when we were straightening out. I nailed the first turn, but stopped two steps too soon. On the second turn, I nailed both and did the same on the third and fourth turns. On the second go-around, I nailed the first turn, but stopped half a step too soon, lol! I did the last three turns perfectly, but on our way back to robin’s driveway, Rogue decided to try and veer, so I stopped her, asked her to take me to the curb so I could regain my orientation and when I reached the curb, Robin started cheering. She was excited to see me using my newly acquired skills for finding out where I was in relation to something else. When we got home, bill clicked the clicker and then offered me a peanut butter filled chocolate egg, lol!

In the evening, Robin worked on teaching me how to do a square braid. She makes her own fleece tugs, so she wanted to teach me how to do the sure braided style. She got out some parachute cord and a metal ring for me to start with. Once I am done with that, I will have a tug to use as a pull for teaching the dogs to open doors. It took me about two hours to figure out how the square braid went, but it was also a lot of laughs.

Tomorrow is our final day in Wyoming, then we’re homeward bound.

Wyoming Trip: Getting The Feel

As a result of our late night discussion Monday, all of us were tired and slept in until about 9:00am.

After breakfast, I harnessed up Rogue and Robin and I set off for a walk around the neighbourhood. Robin wanted to work on helping me to feel the sutler movements of Rogue. She had me walk around her block several times, telling her when I felt Rogue beginning to turn and then stopping when I felt her straighten out. We had no streets to cross, we were just walking around in a rectangle pattern. robin used her cane to avoid confusion and Bill walked nearby to let us know when I had mastered it.

At the first turn, I felt rogue begin to turn too late and then over-stepped her straightening out by 5 steps. Robin had me take her arm and redo the turn, I did better that time. On the second turn, I was spot on with the turn, but missed the straightening out by a couple of steps. The second and third turns went well. On my next go-around, I did a lot better, catching each turn and straightening out perfectly. On our third go-around, I missed one turn because Rogue began walking slower, so Bill said we did the turn so gradually that I probably didn’t even feel it. Robin had me take her arm again and then redo the turn. We finished off and decided to do the other direction tomorrow.

after a bit of a rest, we set off for Walmart. Robin wanted to pick up some fruit and I wanted to get some souvenirs for Huib, Dad, Brandi and Mark (my brother-in-law). At Walmart, I had a bit of trouble hearing bill’s directions once we entered the first door, so I got a bit disoriented until Bill came back and re-explained the layout. In the store, we did a lot of zigging and zagging, so the dogs had a good opportunity to practice their ‘follow’ cue. Rogue has gotten really good at the ‘follow’ cue, so we only lost Robin and bill twice. Once because someone walked in front of Rogue, blocking her view of them, and then once because she saw a “shiny butterfly”, which is my way of saying she got distracted.

Walmart had several Duck Dynasty t-shirts on sale, so all of us got some. I got one for each Dad, Uncle Daryl and Mark. I also bought myself a Kermit the Frog t-shirt to wear as pyjamas.

After Walmart we headed to the State Museum because Robin thought they would have more souvenirs. She was right, they had some pretty neat stuff. I bought Dad a coaster that is made of some sort of rock and has some pretty neat colours in it. I bought Brandi a pair of really neat blue glass earrings that were made by an artist in Casper. I bought Mark a really cool whistle that is made out of a deer antler and can be worn as a necklace. i thought he’d like wearing it when he went hunting, just in case he got lost or something. I bought myself a fun Wyoming keychain and little stuffed Jackalope, which is an animal that is part rabbit and antelope, lol! I guess it’s a Wyoming thing. I bought Huib a couple of really cool things, but I can’t write it here in case he reads the blog 😉

In the evening, Robin’s son and daughter-in-law took us all out for dinner at a local restaurant. I ordered rosemary chicken and dumplings, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was good though. It was biscuits and chicken covered in a gravy. dinner was pretty funny. We talked about the different foods they eat in the southern states and Robin and fun asking if I had heard of this or that – of course, I hadn’t.

As an aside, it’s quite sad to know that they have never had a poutine – they are awesome! They had also never heard of Nanaimo bars. I know they originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia, but I totally fought everyone knew about them. Thankfully for them, I brought two large packages, so they are no longer missing out on something delicious!

After we got home from dinner, we all chilled. The dogs played chase and tug, while I went on my computer and Robin relaxed.

It’s hard to believe that we will be going home in less than 72 hours. Even though I have loved the trip, i really miss home. Huib has also said that Cessna seems to be slightly depressed, which makes me sad. he is going to bring her to the airport to meet us, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Wyoming Trip: Lazy Day

Today was a pretty lazy day. the snow continued to come down during the night, so by the time we all woke up, there was over a foot.

we had planned to do some work around the neighbourhood, but the streets were covered with deep snow drifts, so Robin decided we would do some Level 1 behaviours (sit, down, zen, come and target) with the dogs in the kitchen instead of trying to work in the snow.

Robin and I brought Rogue and Sherman into the kitchen to work while Heidi Ho Ho, their 1 year old Cavalier, stayed in her crate. During the session, rogue was performing her behaviours slower than I wanted, so Robin suggested I ask for something else, don’t reward it and then ask for another behaviour and if she does it, then she told me I should give her a treat. Robin also suggested some posture changes because I am really bad about bending over Rogue instead of just squatting or doing something to get down to her level. Robin also showed me how to ensure rogue can look into my eyes, even though I cannot see her do it.

After we were done training with the dogs, Robin took me for a tour of her basement where I got to see her grooming tools, extra crates and huge bin full of gear that she no longer used. She gave me a Mrs. Claus suit for Rogue. a puppy sized harness, a slightly bigger harness, inexpensive saddle bags and 2 small baskets she made herself. It was really neat to check out all of the gear she has packed away.

After lunch, I talked to a friend, while Robin and Bill napped – Last week really exhausted them!

At about 3:30pm, we headed to Robin’s chiropractor where I had rogue lie quietly under my chair in the waiting room while Robin had her treatment done. After the chiropractic appointment, we drove over to Sam’s Club, where I bought a gift for a friend and ill picked up some food.

Around 7:00pm, Robin’s band members came over to practice. Robin plays the cello, while her other band members play the fiddle, bag pipes and some kind of drums. It was really cool to listen to them. Everyone is so awesome, especially Robin.

After robin’s band members had left, we chatted a lot. We talked about bill’s military work. We talked about politics. and, we talked about dog training.

robin wants to do some orientation work with the overly rounded curbs around her neighbourhood. She feels that it is necessary for me to be able to learn when my dog is curving for a reason versus curving to avoid an obstacle. She said that when she was at Guide Dogs for the Blind, getting her second dog, that her trainer did a lot of work with her on position, body language and position.

It was a really lazy day, but judging from how exhausted both Robin and Bill looked, I think it was necessary.