Saturday, March 27, 2010


Today we had a puppy meeting, but I'm short on time today so I'll talk about that later. On to the question- so, after the meeting I was walking Don through the outdoor shopping mall when I noticed another Guide Dog pup (from the Contra Costa club, headed to a GDB graduation). His name was Avis. We talked for a bit and Don was very excited. Then, Don BARKED! I've only heard him bark once, when he was 8 wks old. He just let out one, loud, bark then stopped. But now I'm really worried. Is this going to develop into a problem? What should I do if he does it again? I've been walking him by the dog park lately, where a lot of dogs bark, is this a bad influence? Any advice would be much appreciated.

We practiced go to bed today at the meeting, but Don was too distracted by the smells and other dogs. Our puppy club has gotten REALLY big, new puppies and raisers seem to be flooding in. Today, we welcomed Nougat (who actually is nougat colored), Honeydew (love the name!), and Janet (an adorable black lab starter pup). There were also a couple of CCI dogs and GDB breeders. There was one person there, I am blanking on her name at the moment, but she was fostering a very cute black lab pup about 9 wks old. The puppy was headed for a service dog organization in Canada. She said that she was a breeder keeper to a dog named Holly, and I recognized this name from one of the blogs I follow. Not sure though. Has anyone heard of Holly?

Sorry I don't have any pictures of the meeting, but here are a couple of Digby, a dog that just went back to Guide Dogs for formal training. I puppy sat him when he was 10 wks old. He has such a soft personality and when he's happy he wiggles his whole body and wags his tail so hard it slaps him in the face.

Digby at 10 wks. He's a golden/lab mix, though you can't really tell in this photo. When he got older though, he got this beautiful long coat and golden retriever like ears. He was one of the puppies in the home litter that my leader had. The mom was Petal. Go Digby- I'm sure he'll do great in training.

This is a picture I found of Dakoda, a dog career changed a while ago that I puppy sat. Her puppy raisers adopted her and she has really settled down and become a great dog. They are now able to start another dog, Honeydew!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fun with Friends

Today, Don's best friend Maya came over. Maya is my friend's dog, who lives just down the street, and she's a goldendoodle (yes, goldendoodles can be black). Maya is so well behaved and such a love. Her energy level is a ways lower than Don's though. Since it was hot again today, I filled up the kiddie pool and let the dogs have at it. Maya, being a water dog, jumped in and tried to take a nap. Don wasn't quite as thrilled with the whole water aspect as he'd rather run around the yard in a crazy frenzy. The two played for a long time. Maya wanted to rest, but Don kept initiating play, chasing her, and pouncing on top of her. Maya found 7 ancient tennis balls in our yard, which Don then stole from her, and pranced around the yard in perfect bliss (until I was able to correct him and take them away). Here are the pictures from the playdate:

The handsome wet boy. His fur looks really neat when it's wet- you can't see in this photo, but it gets all curled and makes a white/brown crosshatch pattern.

Maya was the first to hop in the pool, then Don joined her. This was the only picture when they weren't racing around.

Don leaping from the pool onto an exhausted Maya, who is rolling around in the grass, getting nice n' muddy.

Again, Don racing from the (now muddy) water to play chase with Maya. He kept on spilling the water from the pool onto the grass.

Incoming!!! Maya racing across our lawn, with Don in tow.

Finally. Maya gets a nice break the pool from the overly friendly puppy. Good girl, Maya- thanks for playing with Don despite his puppyness.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Great Week

OK, so I know the week isn't over yet, but I don't have school tomorrow (staff development day) so in a way it is. As the title suggests, Don and I have had a great week. He's really coming along and finally showing some progress with his house behaviors. He's been a lot better this week about not stealing objects. Today, my mom said he did really well while I was at school. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am using a more verbal form of correcting him in which I step on his dragline, then shake his collar and say "KNOCK IT OFF". Quite effective. Also, I been watching him even more carefully than usual this week, keeping him on tie-down unless I can watch his every move and constantly staying within reach of him.

Even better, I took a new approach to his dog distractions this week— and it has worked wonders. On our walks we encounter 1 to 2 dogs, which means that Don does not have much of a chance to get his walking-calmly-past-dogs behavior down. It is very important that he gets his dog distractions under control as this will be tested a lot in formal training. My new approach? I decided to walk Don in the most high-dog distraction place I could find- our town's fabulous dog park which is always swarming with people and their dogs. It's a very well maintained park, with a giant grassy field in the center and a really nice walking path around it. On monday, I took Don for the first time and we walked around the outer path. I was really surprised at how well he did. Using the food protocol and lots of talking to him, I was able to get him to continue walking past the other dogs. Yay! Lots of treats for Don. He is getting better everyday on our daily dog park visits. Now, he is even calmly walking past running off leash dogs, and when another dog approached him yesterday he sniffed him without getting overly excited, then continued when I said "lets go". Of course, there are times when he has a bit of trouble, but I think I have found the key to working on his dog distractions!

Don is one tired pup after our dog-distraction excursion.

Today, Don had to go to the vets to get his sore on his elbow checked out. The vet said it was a pressure callus, and that he had laid down on his side too hard. So, during the 3 weeks it takes to heal, he's supposed to sleep only on soft surfaces. Lucky dog! He weighed in at 64.4 lbs- he's getting bigger every day.

Afterwards we went to a frozen yogurt place (they didn't let us bring Don in, so we left and went to a different ice cream place), then because it was so hot we went to Toys R Us to buy Don a kiddie pool, and get the new ipod touch case I wanted.

Don swam (more like tried to dig the water out of the pool) the rest of the afternoon. He was a bit wary at first, but I put some kibblesicles in (ice cubes with kibble) and he had a fun time bobbing for ice cubes. He also liked playing with a plastic gallon milk jug (GDB approved) and raced around and around our porch.

Don in his new submarine themed kiddie pool. He loved sticking his snout under the water and blowing bubbles.

In the end Don decided to leave the swimming pool and his Goughnut for the milk jug.

Time to dry off!

My principal called the other day, he said he was worried about Don being a distraction and Don relieving, but that he might be able to bend the rules for a day or two. We are having the principal of another teen raiser in our club who took his dog to school talk to my principal about how it went, so hopeful that'll go well.

Hope everyone else is having a good week!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Question, Pictures, and Walk to the Park

Yesterday I took some 10 month-day pictures of Don down at the bay on our usual walking loop. We passed a dog and he had some distraction issues there, but later on we saw a dachsund and were able to work on passing by calmly until he got it (somewhat). He was perfect minus the doggy distractions. I walked home via the steep route, so he was really tired upon returning and slept for a solid 3 hours! Later, we went to Safeway where he was great. Then this morning, my school principal emailed us and said he wanted to discuss more about taking Don to school. Not sure what this means, I'll see! My guess is that there is a bit of worry because of all the legal issues.
Today, after school, I took Don for a walk down to the shopping center by our house. He was great until we saw a Charles Spaniel and he completely flipped out. He really has a hard time when the dog is approaching us- it's pretty hard to get away from the situation and help him regain his focus. There is a puppy club meeting tomorrow morning, so I'll probably get some more suggestions for this. Also, I'm going to be doing a puppy swap with Silky, an adorable 4 months black lab, next weekend. It'll be fun to have a younger dog in the house again!
Most importantly, the other day my mom noticed a red, scabby spot about the size of a quarter on Don's leg. It's right at the elbow part/bone at the top of his leg. It's not really puffy or anything, and Don is in no pain. His fur is gone from the spot though. He hasn't even tried licking it, and it doesn't seem like he is really trying to scratch at it either. We called our leader, and she said not to worry at the moment, but I was just wondering if anyone has seem something like this before? It might be from rubbing or maybe a rash/hot spot? I think it's pretty common, but never having a dog before, just wanted to make sure.

(Top picture is his normal skin)
(This is the irritated spot).
On a happier note, here are some of the pictures I took:
Don got sort of bored after awhile. I love this picture because you can see the whites of his eyes and he has this "when will this be over???" look.
It was actually sunny the other day. (Don on our back porch, squinting in the bright light. You can see his wrinkly puppy face and BIG muzzle and skin folds).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Big Outing for the 10-month old!

I can't believe that Don is 10 months today! Double digits already? He's going to be a year old in just two months!!- which means I've only got 5 months left with my big boy. We're going to be doing a lot of doggy distraction training until then! I haven't blogged in a while due to a ton of end-of-trimester school projects and tests. There's a lot to cover.

I sent a letter to my school principal regarding taking Don to school. So far, I've gotten no response. Hopefully I'll get an answer sometime this month.

Don went on a great outing to downtown Sonoma. I had to do a "Cultural Participation and Research" project for my Spanish class, and decided to visit a California Mission because 1) I couldn't think of anything else and 2) I knew it would be a good outing for Don. So, this past Saturday (or maybe it was 2 wks ago?) I went up to Sonoma, along with my brother, mom, and of course, Don. Our first stop was a winery that had a California missions museum.

Don outside the museum, sitting in front of a big oak door on the wooden patio. You may notice that Don is wearing a gentle leader- recently, Don was having some issues with it rubbing off the fur on his nose. I put a piece of moleskin on it and now it has healed. Yay!
Inside the missions museum- There is a detailed model for all 21 missions. They were pretty amazing.

Don sitting in front of one of the mission models. I'm not sure what mission it is, but the stained glass in the background was saved from the Mission Dolores in S.F. Also, the "GUIDE DOG PUPPY" coat sleeve came in the mail the other day- it's so great cause a lot of people don't realize he's working until they look at his side.

They've got a lot of animals at the winery, including birds, turtles, and donkeys (which were Don's favorite). You can see Don's perked ears and the curious donkeys looking over the fence. Don really badly wanted to play with them and did a lot of play-bowing and waging of the tail. He was disappointed when the donkeys didn't take him up on his offer.

Don sitting on a stone ledge in front of the Mission San Francisco Solano in downtown Sonoma.

Inside, we looked at the chapel, padres' quarters, and dining hall. Don seemed rather bored with California history, but I got the notes that I needed- and a couple of pictures of him.

Outside, I took a picture of him next to some cacti. Whenever he hears the beep of my camera, he turns his head away- thus explains we he's looking away in this photo. Afterwards, Don and I walked around the square and practiced some dog distractions. Don walked past a boxer dog without loosing it. Yes- success!

Lunch at the Sonoma Cheese Factory. Delicious! They make great sandwiches there. Don wasn't too happy about settling under the table, but eventually he gave in. Afterwards, we got cookies at this great bakery, then headed home.

Don is one tired pup after a long day in Sonoma- and decided to use my leg as a head rest. How else is he going to rest that big head of his?

Friday night, Don and I went to see my brother in a play. Don was well behaved- he didn't fall asleep, but he laid down relatively still- and didn't whine one bit. There were a TON of people crowded into the theater's lobby and Don was so good- ignoring everyone and everything. When it was over, a man came up to me and starting talking about Guide Dogs. He said that he worked in San Rafael and that he saw guide dogs all the time, and that he knew ("absolutely- like always") when a dog was going to fail and not pass. He then goes on to say that this one (pointing at Don) isn't going to make it "because he's looking at me and WAY to distracted with everything, and also because I can just tell." (At this point, Don was looking right at me, and he actually backed away/ignored the person like I want him to when people pet him.) Later, the man came back and said to Don, "Poor dog. I know- you want to be FREE, FREE, FREEEEEE!" My theory is that he was just mad that I told him he wasn't allowed to pet the dog. Who knows. Anyways, it was pretty funny that he thought he could determine the fate of every guide dog he saw. Plus, it was great training for Don to practice ignoring people when they pet/talk to him- and he did really well!