Recall? What Recall?

It has been a couple of weeks, but Arizona has returned to group field classes.

It seems as though the entire group is back, Maverick the Duck Toller, Hank the black lab, Butler the chocolate, and Cassie the yellow lab.

Susie wanted to work with Hank and his owner, so she had us work with Chad (Maverick’s owner) and Laura.

Arizona did well at going to the bumper with the wing, but she forgot to come back. It’s like she’s forgotten what the whistle means, and any other form of recall we have tried to teach her, lol!

Instead of coming, Ari thought she would parade her bumper around Laura and Chad.

Despite trying a number of methods (e.g. with a tracking line on or off), Arizona was just not in the mood to return to me after fetching the bumper.

It was actually kind of embarrassing. I am not really worried about Laura seeing this mess, but Chad seems to be really into perfection and he hasn’t seen Ari work well yet, so it was hard to have him see her lack of recall.

Arizona is still not so sure about picking up a dead duck, so we’re trying to introduce it to her slowly.

Arizona laying in the grass with a dead Mallard in front of her. She's wearing her leash that has various shades paw prints on it.

It seems as though everyone in field uses an E-collar, and both Chad and Laura suggested we try one out, but Huib and I refuse to even consider it. We aren’t in a rush to get titles, so if it takes Arizona another year of lessons before she gets her WC (working certificate) then that is fine with us. We refuse to use a shock collar, even if Arizona is a brat!!

Hopefully next week goes better.

Saratoga Springs: Arrival

The International Society for Anthrozoology’s
conference has arrived.

We dropped Cessna and Arizona off in Oakville to stay with a friend last night, and set out early this morning.

Canyon and Rogue were great travelling buddies. Other than wanting to pee, some water and a few treats when we stopped for a quick lunch, they slept the entire drive.

When we arrived at the hotel, we left Canyon in the vehicle and took Rogue to checkin. After we got our keys we walked down to the room and I stayed with Rogue while Huib went out to park and grab the stuff with Canyon.

While Huib was gone, Rogue thought she had better test the sleeping accommodations.

Rogue stretched out on a king-sized bed with a white comforter

Once we were settled and unpacked some, Huib, Rogue and I went down to register for the conference.

We brought a canvas crate for Canyon to hang out in while we are at the conference, but he isn’t happy about the decision, so let us know by barking while we walked down the hall. Huib ran back to the room and let him out, which seemed to settle him. He was happily waiting for us in the room when we returned a few minutes after registering.

So that he’ll hopefully be happier while we are at dinner, Huib took Canyon for a short walk around the neighbourhood.

Here’s a picture of Canyon at High Rock Park.

Canyon standing under an old wooden shelter that covers a spring

While I write this the dogs are napping and Huib is checking his work email. Hopefully the rest of this evening goes as smoothly.

Looking Back

The topic for this round of the assistance Dog Blog Carnival is “regrets.” I chose this topic because in exactly one month it will be 17 years since I was partnered with Phoenix. For new blog readers, Phoenix was officially my second dog guide from Dog Guides Canada, but to me he was my first, and the dog who started it all.

On July 23rd, 1998, I was matched with Phoenix, a 21 month old male yellow lab. He wanted nothing to do with me at first, he just wanted to be with his trainer. Around the two week mark of class, a switch turned and he was mine forever. From that moment in time, Phoenix and I ruled the world together. Even when he retired 7 years later, he was still my constant shadow. No matter how much Huib tried to win his affection, Phoenix would have none of it. When I was home, Phoenix was stuck to me like glue.

We finished my final year of high school together. We completed five years at the University of Guelph and walked across the graduation stage side by side. Along the way Phoenix taught me about unconditional love and the value of true friendship.

It’s true, I’ve had several dogs since getting Phoenix (not all guides of course), but no matter who has passed through my life since July 23rd, Phoenix had and will always have a big piece of my heart.

You’re probably wondering how this all relates to the topic of “regrets.” Well, looking back I have many regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known about clicker training and that I had not used the choke chain and the harsh corrections that went along with it. It’s true that I stopped using all of this a year or so after getting Cessna, but I still have regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known about feeding a raw diet sooner. Yes, Phoenix ate raw his final eight months with me, but it took me over 12 years to finally figure out how to end his constant fight with ear infections. It’s true that I figured out his allergies by the time he was seven, but he still got painful ear infections off and on, so I have regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known the end was near. It’s true he was just two months shy of his 15th birthday when he passed. It’s true that I was not in school or working, so I spent every hour of the day at home with the dogs. It’s true that I fed him all of his favourite human foods, such as pizza, french fries, Kraft Dinner and beef jerky, when he’d eat for me. It’s true that he progressively ate less and less, while sleeping more and more the last month of his life, so I should have known the end was near. But, I have regrets.

I wonder if he would have stayed longer if I had not gotten Rogue. I wonder if he wouldn’t have started to give up if I hadn’t left him with friends for a few days while I took Canyon, Cessna and Rogue to Rogue’s breeder’s reunion. I will probably never know the answer for certain, and he probably would have still passed away, but I have regrets.

According to dictionary.com, regret means to: “feel sorrow or remorse for an act, fault, or disappointment.”

This definition seems fitting. I feel sorrow for the training methods I chose, which caused me to act poorly towards Phoenix. I feel remorse for not acting sooner to stop his ear infections. And, I feel sorrow for possibly causing him to pass away sooner than he might have if I had not chosen to get a puppy.

It’s true that I shouldn’t feel bad for these things, but I still have regrets.

Back to Track

It’s been a while, but on Saturday we returned to tracking with Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

Brooke squatting down while Rogue lays beside her

We are still working on corners, but Rogue’s enthusiasm got in the way of her search, making her zig-zag more than the instructor would like, so she asked us to do some long straight tracks before trying another corner.

Brooke holds the tracking line while Rogue has her nose down following the track

Over the next month we need to continue working on her corners, starting with a couple of really long straight tracks before attempting an actual corner. The instructor loves her excitement level, but we need to rein it in a bit.

When you watch her track it’s hard to believe she’s actually a guide dog, lol!

the Case of the Mysterious Tapping

Ready for a story?

Last night I was exhausted, so fell asleep the instant my head hit the pillow. I woke up at 2:30am for some unknown reason..

As I laid there trying to fall back asleep, I heard a tap, tap, tap coming from somewhere in the house. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, so I listened intently. Once I had figured out that it wasn’t coming from my bedroom, I decided to try and ignore it.

Tap, tap, tap…

Short pause.

Tap, tap, tap…

It wasn’t going to stop, so I got out of bed and walked to the top of our stairs down to the kitchen. I was wondering if maybe one of the dogs or cats were doing something. I didn’t want to go downstairs though because I really didn’t know where the noise was coming from.

At the stairs, I stood for several minutes listening intently.

Tap, tap, tap…

Short pause.

Tap, tap, tap…

It was coming from one of the cupboards in the kitchen. I quickly went back to bed.

Tap, tap, tap…

Short pause.

tap, tap, tap…

The noise was not letting me sleep. I didn’t want to wake Huib up though, he was snoring away, so I thought he was having a good sleep. The dogs were also fast asleep.

So, I got out my earbuds and decided to listen to a book on my iPhone.

After about an hour or so, I was getting sleepy, so turned everything off.

Tap, tap, tap…

A bit longer pause.

Tap, tap, tap…

I went back to the stairs to listen some more. I wanted to know what was making the noise.

I knew we had put a couple of mouse traps in one of the upper cupboards, but this was a really loud tapping noise. No mouse should be able to make that much noise.

I was totally convinced a mouse had got their tail caught in the trap and was running around the cupboard. I wondered if it could push it’s way out. I wondered if it would jump out at Dad or Huib the second they opened the cupboard door. I knew for sure I wasn’t going to be the one to open that cupboard and find out what was making the noise.

Tap, tap, tap…

A bit longer pause.

tap, tap, tap…

As I turned to go back to bed, I heard one of the cat’s jump up onto the table where their food is kept. I stopped to listen and see if they would notice the tapping noise. Nope, Logan just munched away, oblivious to the commotion in the cupboard above.

I went back to bed – it was now 4:00am, and I was very sleepy.

I thankfully fell asleep.

At just before 7:00am, I woke up again. I felt Huib moving around beside me, so asked him if he heard the noise.

Tap, tap…

Long pause.

Tap, tap…

I told him about my night and about my thoughts regarding what was making the noise and what might happen if he opened the cupboard. He laughed and laughed.

After a bit, he sat up and decided to go see what was making the tapping noise. As he stood up, there was a loud SQUEAK!!! We both roared with laughter. One of the dogs had stepped on a squeaky ball.

First Huib let the dogs outside.

Then he put his shoes on and went over to the cupboard.

Inside, he found one tiny dead mouse in a trap and in the other trap, there was a partially living, medium sized mouse.

He said the trap had caught it like normal, but that for some reason the mouse was still living.

He said the partially living mouse had moved the trap close to the metal vent cover, so that is where the noise was coming from and why it was so loud.

Mystery solved and case closed.

Canyon’s Seizures

Back in May I blogged about Canyon’s partial seizures. I talked about the difficulty we had diagnosing the problem, about the details of the seizures themselves and about what Bianca (our vet) wanted to do about them.

Since May, Canyon has had five more seizures.

they are still the same length and the symptoms are all the same, but unlike other years they are happening more frequently.

One thing I am noticing, maybe it’s just a fluke, but whenever I have my major migraines – the ones that last more than a couple of days – he has a seizure. Twice now that I can think of, Canyon has had a seizure the evening of the second or third day I am dealing with a migraine. Maybe it’s a fluke, as I mentioned, but I’m keeping track of it anyway because it may help us find a preventive medication if one becomes necessary.

On Wednesday we took Canyon to see Bianca. We had already decided that we were okay if she suggested keeping him off medication, but we wanted her to check him over and to do some blood work if she thought it might tell us something.

Bianca looked Canyon over and couldn’t find anything physically or neurologically wrong. She has taken some blood to run a variety of different tests, including a number of different thyroid related ones. Hypothyroidism is common in labs and golden retrievers, so Bianca wants to see what his values are like, just in case his thyroid could be a potential cause for the seizure increase.

I brought her a seizure journal to look over, where I recorded a variety of different things from the time it started, what he was doing before to what happens during and after the seizure. I have also joined a canine Epilepsy group on Yahoo, so I told her about the recommendation of Coenzyme Q10. She said it couldn’t hurt anything and said he can take 100mg a day. We went to Costco on Thursday and picked up some Coenzyme Q10.

We are also filling out a homeopathic intake form and canyon will most likely start some sort of homeopathic regiment following the analysis.

I will keep everyone posted.

Grrr

Says Arizona…

The Wild child has a new game.

It’s not a game that most dog owners would like their puppy to play, but it’s okay with us as long as she plays by our rules.

She thinks it’s great to grab your arm or hand and take you for a walk while wagging her tail wildly and making growly noises.

I’m not sure if it’s a side effect of me teaching her to take and hold a bumper or if it’s just something she decided to do on her own, but it’s helping her training anyway.

she has always been a vocal puppy, but with the addition of holding arms or hands, it’s pretty entertaining.

We are teaching her to hold gently and that the game stops when we ask or when she hurts us. She is still learning the soft hold, but it’s coming along. As for the stopping when we ask, she is actually quite good about it.

Are there any games your dog likes to play that you don’t mind, but others might not approve of?

Elgin County Kennel Club: Winner’s Dog

Our final day of showing was a little more successful than the first.

We didn’t have to bathe or trim the goldens and we weren’t scheduled to enter the ring until at least 10:30am, so we got to sort of sleep in.

When we arrived, we touched up each of the dogs and then went to find a spot to hang out. We found a spot relatively close to ring-side, so we were able to watch the group progression.

When it was Canyon’s turn, I stayed with Arizona and our bag, while Kira went with Huib so that she could take some pictures and give me updates on how they were doing.

They did awesome. first they did their thing in the Canadian Bred Dog class showing, where they were the only ones, so they used it as their warm-up. then they went on to beat the Open Dog for Winner’s Dog.

Canyon Stacked for Best of Breed - October 19, 2014

Next, it was time to compete against at least 7 other goldens for Best of Breed. We knew it was a long shot with there being 3 male Specials competing, so we weren’t too upset when he lost. he did his best and had a good time.

And, the bonus is, he got one more point towards his Canadian Championship, meaning he just needs 4 more.

Close up of Arizona - October 18, 2014

While this was happening, I was busy trying to keep the Wild Child entertained. As time went on, she got more and more restless. I tried to get her to play with a few toys, no go. I gave her a lint roller and that kept her busy for a while. But, she got even more restless near the end, so when Kira came over to see how we were, I asked if she’d take Arizona for a quick walk up and down the nearby aisle.

Turns out it was a good idea I did because on their way back towards me, Arizona had a gigantic poop!! Kira was SO embarrassed!! She asked a guy to help her and he frantically looked for someone to clean it up. During his mission to find someone, two people stepped in it!! Then, finally someone carried a flower pot over and put it beside the pile, so hopefully no one else would step in it.

After a few minutes of waiting for the guy to return, Kira gave up and ran back to me with Arizona. She was just in time for Huib to exchange Canyon for Ari.

Arizona Walks Around the Ring - October 19, 2014

Arizona made her debut as a Baby Puppy. She did quite well. She was beat by the boy baby puppy, but he was also a month older, so we won’t hold it against her.

Arizona Gets Examined by the Judge - October 19, 2014

We have some work to do with her, but overall I thought her debut went quite well.

to give her and Huib another chance to practice before she becomes eligible to begin earning points, we have entered her as a Baby Puppy in the Georgina Kennel & Obedience Club show on November 9th.

This time we will remember not to feed her before the show 😉

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.