"Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it along to someone else." Mitch Albom

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

     Today I enjoyed the St. Patrick's Day Parade with Jet, Jacob, and a friend.  This was a very proud moment for me.  Three months ago Jet would have been frantic at this event.  First, I had no idea how many dogs were at parades!  I've never seen so many dogs at a parade!  All sizes!   Jet was very aware of them, but handled himself very well. Even did very well when the little Chihuhua-ish looking dog wearing a "professional therapy dog" cape came right up to him and barked in his face.  :(  I might need therapy after that!   It was a great outing for him.  I often seek out places with lots of dogs and am not sure where to go because I'm so overprotective of him I worry about the other dogs.  Who knew I just needed to attend a parade.
   Also,  I would have never guessed he had been a puppy that at one time was uncomfortable with people walking near/behind/around him.  He has been in many crowded areas the last month...the mall, Wal-Mart, etc.  He shows improvement each and every time.  But, today, he was amazing!  He maneuvered through people better than I could have ever imagined.  Perfectly calm.  Ignored every hand that reached out.  Stayed close, but was very confident.  AMAZING!  And it was VERY CROWDED!  My baby is growing up.
   Not a thing in the parade phased him, but that did not surprise me.  He has never been afraid or disturbed by loud sounds or commotions.  Today was no different.  Lots of new and unusual things to see...people in animal costumes (although I'm not sure he ever actually saw them), huge blow up ducks, loud bands, batons, confetti everywhere, candy being thrown, floats, motorcycles, the Shriner's funny little cars, etc.  Everything you'd expect from a parade.
    Had I not been worried about him being so hot (this picture was right when we got there, I quickly shed that jacket) we would have walked around post parade to see the festivities.  But, I was worried about how thirsty he seemed to be so we left.  A fantastic outing for him!  I'm so proud of all of the things he has overcome.  He shows such a natural drive to work when we are at home it is amazing.  I am glad to see it is starting to consistently show in public, too.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Day in the Life of Jet

Lots of cuddling is part of his everyday life!

I always get many questions and comments about my "poor puppies" and how they always have to work and never get to play or just be a dog.  So I thought I would do a post about "A Day in the Life of Jet".   While this post specifically reflects Jet's daily life, I know that all of the KSDS dogs in formal training and graduates also have play time every day.  They are well loved and get extremely good care.   This is a post about what Jet's life at home is like.  Most of my posts are about when we go out and about and do something challenging or exciting.  That's not his everyday life.  He does go on outings, on my minor errands, and to work, but the vast majority of my life is driving kids around (so he is a very good car rider) or at home doing things that all mommies do.  I don't lead a super exciting life.  It is important that he learns to be a good puppy at home as well as out and about because that is where the majority of people spend most of their time.
Jet starts his day at about 6:15-6:30 a.m.  He comes out of his kennel where he sleeps, goes outside for a break, and comes back in to eat.  Then returns outside for another break.  Mealtime is a great time for "training" in patience and respecting me.  He does not eat until I tell him he can.  He follows this procedure for anyone who is feeding him.  The first several weeks I had him I was the only person who fed him and I fed him by hand.  A dog is going to bond the best with the person feeding them.

He has a morning ritual of chewing his bone for about 30 minutes after he eats.  He really doesn't chew on it a whole lot at any other time during the day, but he really seems to need to chew at that time.  This is what he does while I'm getting ready for the day.  Until I dry my hair.  At this time he comes in and lays directly behind me with his back against the back of my legs.  He is very relaxed, but he does have a need to be  near me when I do this.  He also ALWAYS lays outside the door when I'm in the restroom.  I know when I open that door he will be in a Down with those big brown eyes looking up at me.  The rest of the time he is always in the same room as me, but not necessarily in a particular spot.  He's always very near me, though.  If I move to another room, he follows.  He can be in the deepest sleep and know when I have changed rooms.

On the rare occasion that both Pat and I leave (and he's not going  with me that day) he knows he goes in his kennel.  He goes very willingly and settles right down.  His kennel is his safe place and he doesn't mind it at all.  When he was a puppy he would put himself in there when he needed a break from his day.  On days that Pat is working from home, he spends his time under Pat's desk or in the same room with him.  When he goes to work with me, he spends the majority of the day under my desk sleeping.  So the days he goes to work are not all that different from the days he is kenneled while we are at work.  

Throughout the day I look for training that can be incorporated into my daily tasks.  Anything I can use to desensitize him to noise, sudden sounds, general household racket, etc.  In my busy household this is not hard.  He is used to the vacuum cleaner, kitchen appliances, hair dryer, loud music, working out, power tools, etc.  

I also take advantage of anything I can find for him to have something new and different in his mouth.  He carried this slick gift bag back and forth between my daughter and I several times.  He really likes this task and will grab things and "ask" to practice this skill.  This is not pre-planned training.  It is just things I find when he's up and about from his extensive napping to keep him busy and learning.  He loves it!  This is playtime for him and I always let him practice when he wants to.  He also knows "drop it" and "leave it" so if he grabs something he shouldn't I simply give that command and replace the item with something acceptable, praising him the whole time.  It's important he doesn't get in trouble for retrieving things for me.  He will need to retrieve a wide variety of items in his future.  He should see this as a positive thing to do, not something he will get in trouble for.

I also find anything I can to rub him with or sit very close to him when he is in a down position.  He really doesn't like this for some reason.  He is very suspicious of objects being close to him when he is in that position.   
Something else I do on a daily basis is walk over the top of him when he's lying down.  I make sure he is comfortable with me coming over him from all directions.  This is something he hated when he was younger, but could now care less about.

Notice none of this has been presented as a "formal training session" but rather just being mindful in my everyday life to do things that will help prepare him for his world.  He does get about 15 minutes of  intentional training 3-4 times per week.  I do this to specifically teach something before I add it into our daily routine of practicing when the opportunity arises or to specifically correct things he might need work on.

He eats his second meal at around 4:30.  After that... 

...he gets LOTS of play time.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!  He is a regular puppy who loves to play!  On the weekends, he gets even more playtime.  While I do make sure to participate in his playtime sometimes, the majority of this time is done with his boy.  He LOVES to be outside with his boy!

He starts winding down his day at around 7:00.  Even though he has spent a lot of time sleeping thoughout the day,  he is still a great sleeper at night.  He is very particular about his bedtime.  Around 8:30 every night, he gets very restless and persistent about going to bed.  He is tired!  Some evenings this means he gets to have snuggle time in my lap where he goes to sleep and some nights this means he goes to his kennel.  He practically dives in there he is so excited about going to bed.  He snuggles up and is out for the night.  And that is a day in the life of Jet!

*Notice I didn't write anything about his health care in this post.  I will cover that next.  But, just so you know, that is part of his bedtime ritual after the kids go to bed.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leave it!

    Jet does a really good job inside the house at leaving things alone when commanded.  He has not internalized this behavior to always just do it on his own, but he follows the command very well along with "drop it".  The last couple of weeks have tested his will on these commands in some pretty funny and cute ways that happened totally by accident.
    The first was with his beloved rope toy.  It was time for this one to go to the trash can after some of the strings from it started to come apart.  If he sees ANYONE with his rope he gets super excited and runs over and grabs it.  (Poor manners that we are working on)  Well, I was headed to the trash can with it and as soon as he saw where I put it he ran over, grabbed it back out, and ran away with it.  So I went and tried again.  This time he ran over and snatched it out of my hands and headed towards his kennel.  I very firmly said "Drop it".  He froze.  He stood there for several seconds without moving a muscle.  I said, "Jet".  He dropped it.  And then sulked off to his kennel to pout.  I guess it's time to go to the pet store to reward his very good obedience with "drop it".  It must be hard letting go of your most prized possession!
      The second incident was tonight.  He was in a down position with his paws out in front of him staring intently at a piece of napkin.  I thought it was just on the floor so I told him to leave it.  He continued staring at it and pretty soon started shaking his paw back and forth.  I guess the napkin was stuck to his paw.  He kept reaching out with his mouth to get it, but then would remember my command,  glance up at me, and continue thinking.  He rubbed it back and forth on the floor, against a chair, but it just wouldn't come off.  He REALLY wanted to get it with his mouth, but held onto the command.  I finally felt bad and got it for him.  But, I was very impressed with his obedience!
Doesn't he look so sad without a rope?

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Walk in the Woods

    A walk in the woods may not seem like that big of an outing, but you just never know what your pup is going to be afraid of, excited about, or just plain silly about!  This walk did show a comeback of an area that has been haunting Jet...sometimes he is afraid of other dogs.  Yesterday, we were walking towards our "woodland adventure" and we had to walk past a yard that has two white Eskimo dogs.  They always bark and throw quite a fit when I run by them, so I knew they would do the same when we walked past them with our labs.  And, they hadn't changed!  Barked quite ferociously.  They have a really good fence, so I wasn't worried about our safety, but Jet about lost himself!  He was nearly panicked trying to figure out which way to run.  :(  Poor guy!  We will not go that way again...and, I will have to probably do some damage repair.  I feel really bad for not thinking how troublesome of a spot it could be for him.  Now, I will seek out dogs to walk by that I know are not as mean sounding to my poor guy!  Preferably ones that don't bark at all for awhile!  Once, we got past them, though, he settled right down very quickly.  He wasn't nervously looking behind us or anything.  So that's a plus!  And the woods were a hit with him!  He loved finding sticks to carry and sniffing all the new smells!  And we got home from our beautiful walk just in time...30 minutes later it was crazy windy, freezing, and SNOWING!  We were only wearing sweatshirts on our walk!  Crazy KS weather!

You can't really tell, but he is doing a "jump on" onto a really big rock.  This guy will do ANYTHING for me!

And another poor photo, but he's found a prized stick that must come home with us!

I know he would have stayed with us, but I just wasn't quite ready to let him off-leash!

Another new experience.  At first, he long jumped over them, but after a little practice he stood on it like he had not a care in the world!

He's normally not allowed to walk out in front like this, but this is where Bailey walks, and he likes to be up beside her.  He has a perfect walk right at my side, too, so I don't think an exception will hurt him.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jet's first LONG day at work!

   Jet had his first full day of school today!  He did awesome!  He is really showing a strong working drive when we are going on outings.  He doesn't like being bored, he likes working.  Even at home this past month, I have noticed that he wants to do his commands...over, and over, and over, all night long.  He really enjoyed the kids today.  He got slightly anxious during some really intense times such as PE when the kids started cheering and clapping REALLY loudly for their team.   He also got a little nervous at recess when a bunch of kids crowded around us.  But, he was able to work through both of them by taking a break and returning to the gym.  When we went back in he was really calm and watched intently.  We also worked on some commands in the midst of the chaos.  I use the word chaos very nicely...our PE teacher is amazing!  It was organized, but loud, with kids running past Jet as fast as they could.  He was fascinated and I think he thought he would really enjoy the game, too!

     Some very positive things he did today included practicing a sit and down while I stood about 10 feet away.  I had students get up and walk between us, around him, over the top of him, etc.  He stayed very nicely until I released him.  He also walked through crowds of kids very calmly and politely.  And , my day was made, when walking out to the bus, we ended up next to a child who walks differently.  Jet was very patient and kept making eye contact with that child to see if we needed to slow down.  Melted my heart!

    We also did a quick presentation during my plan time for another class.  They had excellent questions and Jet performed his skills very well for them.  It was the very end of the day and he was getting hungry and tired (and maybe had a little whine slip out a couple of times), but he still did exactly what I asked.

   And now, he is sound asleep!  I think I wore him out!  Unfortunately, while trying to get him, Kinsey, her backpack, her violin, my schoolbag, purse, two lunchboxes, extra gloves and hats for recess duty, and 3 sets of keys out the door I forgot my phone!  So, I have no pictures!  Here is one right after we got home before he fell into his deep exhausted sleep.  Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Puppy Class

It's kind of hard to believe since I've had Jet for 6 months, but he went to his first puppy class yesterday.  I've always had a conflict for the monthly meetings before this.  He did pretty well.  He does not like to sit when he's working, so he was not really minding his sit command very well.  He did everything else okay, just didn't want to sit.  It's always nice to hear what we need to continue working on, and see how they do with lots of other dogs around.
This picture really shows how tall my boy is getting!

Practicing a stay

I'm discussing his refusal to sit with him.

"My mom says I am to ignore you!"

Showing off our nice loose leash SLOW heal.  He is the pokiest lab alive!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Annual Bowling Party

     My school has chosen to forego a Staff Christmas Party the last couple of years and has had a post-Christmas bowling party instead.  Last year this was an outing I didn't hesitate a second about taking Churry on.  She was so calm in crazy situations that I had no concerns.  And, I was right, she curled up and slept the entire night.

    Jet, on the other hand, reacts much differently to things.  I hesitated about taking him, but decided to give it a try.  I decided ahead of time I would not bowl and we would be able to leave if he was showing signs of stress...a.k.a, WHINING.    When we first walked in he was on high alert.  He jumped the first time he heard the pins being knocked down as we were walking to the far end of the bowling alley where our lanes were.  But, after that initial reaction, he did amazing!  He actually loved it!  I think it was his favorite place we have ever been.  There was no sleeping from this guy.  He snoozed for maybe 5 minutes, but the rest of the time he was either in a down position or standing and observing.  Jet has NEVER been a puller and he's also always been really good about leaving crumbs and things alone in public.  This party was no different.  He maintained a loose leash no matter how interesting things were or how badly he wanted to go see.  He had several staredowns with some popcorn, but never ate any.  He tolerated kids walking over the top of him, running by him, loud noises, etc.  And most importantly, he had NO WHINING AT ALL!  I think if there is a professional bowler on KSDS's waiting list, Jet is the guy for them.

I started off sitting here in this corner, but moved after I realized he wasn't planning on napping.  I took him to a place he could see the action better.

We practiced Down/Under while I sat here.  He did okay with that.  Many times he wanted to get out beside me so he could watch the action.