Sunday, January 24, 2010

Back on Track?

I thought Don's neuter would calm him a bit- but apparently not. After the medicine wore off, Don was back to his strong-minded self. He seemed to have regressed in his training after two weeks of sleeping and was really testing me, and my rules, for a while. The week of rain didn't seem to help any either. He has tried to run off with socks, towels, you name it, for the past week, even though he is confined to such a small area with constant supervision. In the past though, I've noticed that some weeks are like this- and some weeks he is much more reliable with house behaviors. Corrections can be tricky as he gets stronger. He is definitely seeking attention when he goes for an object. Maybe, instead of correcting him, I should just walk away and do nothing when he has an object? We have a meeting with our CFR Tuesday, so hopefully he will have some suggestions.

Morning snuggle when the heater isn't on.

I love this picture. I found Don sleeping in his crate like this the other day, belly up with his DuraPlus chew bone under his head.

His relieving schedule was also a bit messed up at first. He relieved in jacket for the first time ever and I was quite shocked. Luckily, it was not in the store and seems to be a one time incident- he was great shopping all day this weekend. It seems like the rain also messes up his relieving at times. When its raining, Don is in such a hurry to get back in the warm, dry house that he doesn't finish going potty. If I stand out in the rain long enough, he will go, so I usually bring an umbrella with me. When Don gets back inside, he takes a nap in front of the heater.

The other day, Don pulled a bit too hard on the leash. My mom was walking him, and when I came out of the door, he pulled so hard in my direction that she broke her finger. I've resolved to use the gentle leader at all times after that incident. My only concern is that Don may not learn how to control himself on the flat collar. Has anyone had this problem?

Other than these issues, Don seems to be getting the hang of things again. We've been working on his commands (stay and stand) this rainy week. He went to Trader Joes Thursday. On Friday, when there was finally a non-rainy moment, I walked Don to the nearby shopping center and back. We walked along the marsh and freeway and Don was great. We sat at a bench near the Woodlands pet food store, and waited for dogs to show up to help with Don's dog distraction. The only dog we saw was a chihuahua in a raincoat, but it was so tiny that Don didn't even notice it. We practiced jumping up on rocks and benches until I decided to walk back home, and it started raining on us.

Don by the marsh at the bottom of my street. Don's wearing his old jacket in this picture- he got an XL on Saturday. He moves up sizes so fast!

Don in the parking lot. You can see the freeway in the background. Its nice having so many sights and sounds on our walks.

Don practicing jumping up on the rock. He loves jumping up and off surfaces, but still refuses to exit our car (which is not at all very high off the ground).

On Saturday, our club had its puppy meeting at the mall. We met outside of Petco. There were lots of new puppies in the group. The newest was 10 wk old Quebec, a very handsome male yellow lab. There were also Silky and Stefano (who are 12 wk old siblings). There were a couple of new families too. Maureen, who Don had a playdate with when he was 12 wks, is leaving for formal training on Friday. She is an incredible dog and is definitely ready for the next step. The group went to Petco and practiced sit stays while a squeaky ball was rolled down the aisle. Don also met some mice and a chinchilla. We went to Target and he ignored the people and popcorn on the ground. We then went to Pasta Pomodoro (who know Don and always offer him a bowl of water), then Tilly's, and Costco. Don was a great sport with the all day shopping. When he's got his gentle leader on, he is another dog!

Don practicing wearing his gentle leader and staying in a down. I want to make sure he can lay still under a desk in preparation for possibly taking him to school.

Don loves saying hi to my two year old rex rabbit Rosie. Rosie is getting a bit more comfortable around him. Don is very intrigued by Rosie and loves watching her eat her salad. What he likes the most about Rosie is that she leaves hay and droppings all over the floor— which Don is more than happy to clean up.

Don says hello to Rosie, who is eating her dinner salad of dandelion greens, radish tops, and blueberries. He has a very curious expression on his face and is not really sure what to think about Rose.

A close up on Don- he has such a broad build.

The big 81/2 month old.

That's what Don and I have been up to this weekend. I have a day off school tomorrow. Yay! We may be going into SF to see Avatar, but I probably have too much homework. Don will be nine months soon- I can't believe it. He seems back on track, we've just got a couple of kinks to work out, and he will be great.

One last picture of Rosie- our sweet little bun-bun.

Goodbye Cone of Shame!

Its been so long since I last updated! So sorry. First things first, Don got neutered on the 6th of January. We dropped him off at Guide Dogs the night before, and he had his operation early the next morning. Everything went well. He weighed in at 61.5 lbs! When we picked him up, he was on medicine that made him completely zonked out, and he didn't even seem to recognize me. He was wearing a huge cone (he's got a massive head) and the kennel staff said that he absolutely refused to walk with it on. This was a slight problem. So, I ended up taking his cone off, and having him walk to the car with just his gentle leader on.

When we got home he slept, and slept, and slept some more. He was petrified of moving with his cone on, and would stand in one spot and whine until it came off. He even refused to eat and drink with it on, which really surprised me. Thankfully, he had no interest in licking his suture, so he rarely had to wear it around the house. The big problem was sleeping with his cone of shame. The first night, he slept upstairs in his crate. But, at two in the morning, I was awakened by a whining, screaming puppy. When I got upstairs, I found him sitting up- in the exact same position I'd seen him in when I went to bed. He was so scared of moving with the cone on, that he hadn't figured out how to lay down. The poor guy! I managed to get him into a down position, and he immediately fell back asleep.

The next morning, I let him out of his crate and he flopped right down on the hardwood floor and slept for hours. I couldn't even wake him up to eat breakfast. That night, I let him sleep on his dog bed on tie-down and he seemed more comfortable. Whenever he woke up whining, I would help him move back into a down position, and he'd fall asleep. The next two weeks past very slowly like this, but they are now over! Hurray! Goodbye cone of shame!

Don taking a deep snooze the day my mom and I picked him up from Guide Dogs. I propped his head up on a soft pillow to make it a bit more comfortable for him.
Bedtime! Don was very tired for about a week after his surgery, as he was taking pills that would keep him calm. I must say, it was quite nice to have such a calm dog around the house. Staying at the kennels seemed to mess up his schedule though (he had an accident in the house the first night at home). Don didn't seem to mind that his goughnut was on his head- he's not a big fan of this toy. Entirely Pets was having a free shipping sale this weekend, so I bought him a bacon scented souper bone and one of the giant galileo bones. We will see if he likes them when they arrive!

Just another shot of Don sleeping. I love his giant face and muzzle. He still has the puppy wrinkles.
Don's been on lots of exciting outings this weekend as I try to get his schedule and house manners back on track after his surgery. I'll cover our more recent adventures in the next post.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Our Trip to San Diego

We got back from San Diego last night, at 11:30. Don slept until 10:30 this morning!! (and is now taking his 2-hour morning nap). I had a great time and so did Don.

The past week went like this...

On Friday, Don celebrated his first Christmas. He got a Goughnut from Santa, which kept him busy while we opened presents. I was very happy to get a new camera, just in time for our vacation to Coronado (an island-like town right across the bay from San Diego). I'm still trying to figure out how to use my new camera, but I think my pictures are [slowly] improving. Saturday was very busy and Don spent a lot of the day on tie-down and in his crate while I packed. He still picks up inappropriate objects and is very determined to succeed in doing so. When I can't keep a watchful eye on him, there is no knowing what he will go after. Hopefully, being neutered will calm him down a bit. He is scheduled to be fixed this upcoming week at Guide Dogs. Guide Dogs had determined that the whole litter would be fixed a long time ago. I would have liked to raise a breeder, but he is so strong-minded he would be very difficult to train as he gets older. We also had relatives over on Saturday. Don was good with the guests; he is not very interested when people come to our house and pretty much ignored them. He was not on his best behavior though, and for the first time, snatched food of our low coffee table. He has become very interested in food all of a sudden and corrections have not been very effective. Any tips for food avoidance training?

Don sleeping by his Goughnut on Christmas morning.

Don loves his Goughnut! He likes to nudge it with his nose then pounce on it.

On Sunday, my family and I loaded up the van with our luggage and drove off to Coronado. We got a late start on the ten-hour drive and my dad ended up driving in the dark most of the way. Don settled very quickly on his dog bed in the car. I kept on sticking different bones into his goughnut, which he had lots of fun with. Don is a very good sleeper; he curled up into a little ball and slept for hours. We only had to stop three times for him to relieve himself. Walking around all of the gas stations and rest stops with the big, noisy trucks was very good exposure for him. He seemed a little confused, especially when he got his dinner in the car, but he didn't seem to mind the ride. At 11:30, we got to San Diego, then crossed the bridge to Coronado and we were at our grandparent's house. Don was very excited to get out of the car. After stretching (he always stretches after sleeping) and "doing his business" we went into the house, nicely light up for Christmas. Don met our grandparents' very nice cat Pumpkin, who was a bit scared of "the big yellow monster" and ran out to the garage. Don was excited to meet all the new people and sniff around the rooms. Since it was so late, I put him right in his crate and got ready for bed. Don was not to happy to be shut in his crate when there was so much excitement, and began to whine, louder and louder. I was not very happy with him and was very disappointed to realize that the whole whining in the crate issue had aroused yet again.

Don on his tie down in the car. This was one of the rare moments when he wasn't sleeping.

Again, Don in the car.

As you can see, Don takes up a lot of space in the car. We had to take his crate apart and put luggage inside of it because there was so little room. My brother was not very happy that Don was taking up his leg room.

The San Diego skyline! This photo was taken the morning after we arrived.

Pumpkin the cat. Pumpkin is a very sweet little kitty. She likes playing fetch with her toy mice.

Don in is crate. The whining issue, yet again... sigh

Monday morning, Don was whining in his crate again. After counting 30 seconds of quiet, I took him out. I didn't give him much freedom in the house, and he was mainly by my side or on tie down. Regardless, Don succeeded in eating the cat food- three times! We did lots of food avoidance training with it, but it didn't seem to do much good.

All Don could think about- CAT FOOD. I swear, he was plotting the entire vacation.

Don went to the beach for the first time. I was very glad that they let Don on Coronado Beach (a no dog beach). Don was very distracted by all the people and the feeling of sand. He tried to dig and play with the sand and was very hard to settle down. Having him sit on the towel did not work, so I ended up having him sit on the beach chair. He sat there and watched the waves for quite a while. When Don was a bit more settled, I took him to let his energy out in the water. He was scared when the waves came towards him. But once he got in the water, he loved it! He splashed through the waves and even did some doggy paddling.

Don on the sand by the rocks. You can see the San Diego skyline in the background.

Don went on lots of walks in Coronado, all around the town. We walked to the ferry landing everyday, a magnet for tourists and dog-walkers, to work on his distractions. In just a week, I saw so much improvement. Coronado is a very dog friendly town, and there were so many distractions to work with. There was this one house that we walked past, that had two dogs always in the front yard. Every time we walked past them, they would go crazy barking at Don, who remained quite and walked right passed them. One time, the owner came out of her house and yelled at me to stop bothering her dogs. It was quite funny. The last two days, Don was walking on just his flat collar through the busy, touristy parts of town like a champ!

Don at the ferry landing.

Don posing by the bay.

Don was staring intently at a golden retriever in this photo.

You can see the ferry dock on the far right.

Don went to downtown Sand Diego to see the Big Bay Balloon Parade. There were about 100,000 people there. It was Don's first outing in a big city and he did really good. He got to see trains, helicopters, and airplanes as the airport is very close by. Don also got to go to the Natural History Museum in Balboa Park, where we walked through many exhibits. He even got to saw a giant Iguana in a glass cage. He went out to dinner many times. He was pretty good, but distracted by the food on the floor and managed to snatch a couple chips from under my chair.

Don amidst the crowds at the parade.

Slowly, Pumpkin the cat got a bit more used to Don. Vacation was such a good experience for Don, and really showed me how he acts in other people's homes and highlighted the areas we need to improve on.

We left Saturday morning and stopped at the Rose Bowl Parade Float Viewing in Pasadena on our way home. It was SO crowded; the road where the floats were parked looked like a sea of people. There was hundreds of thousands of people there. After showing the check in people Don's Guide Dog in training ID, they let him in. Don had his gentle leader on, and he was so well behaved. He was very calm navigating through all the people. It was very hot (80 degrees) which really tired Don out. Luckily, they had drinking fountains everywhere, which was very helpful in keeping Don cool and hydrated. The floats were amazing. The rule for the floats is that they have to be made by all organic material. It is incredible to look at them up close and see all the individual flowers. I highly recommend going.
One of the amazing floats.

Don with a dragon float behind him.

Don with an agriculture themed float behind him.

Hopefully this super long post didn't bore you. I am now off to write Don's monthly report for December and do all the homework that I didn't want to bring on vacation. I am thinking about asking to bring Don to school relatively soon. Stay tuned...