The adventures of SD Juno and SDIT Kaline (and their human, Colt).

29 December 2012

Juno's birthday and Jekyll & Hyde outings for Kaline

Juno's (made-up) sixth birthday was on Dec. 26, so of course she got the traditional bagel-burger. I started that with Angel, my first dog, who also had a made-up birthday. Fry up a ground beef patty, put it on a bagel, then hang on while she goes to town! I also gave her tons of little goodies throughout the day—Gouda cheese, bagel & cream cheese, pieces of sugar cookies, extra bait, etc.

Here we have a ground beef patty on a pumpkin bagel, mmmmmm.
Yes, best dog in the world, this is for you.


Kaline then had two different outings. One went awfully, and the other was fantastic.

We got invited with Sonja and Chief to go to Hidden Villa, a dog-friendly farm where we'd never been. Since it was dog-friendly and Mom didn't seem real thrilled to be on Juno duty for the afternoon, I decided to take Juno with Kaline. First mistake. Second mistake, taking Juno on her martingale instead of her prong.

If Kaline had been by himself, he would probably have done at least a little better. As it was, he pulled constantly against his Halti, so much that my hands were burning the whole rest of the night and he rubbed the fur down on part of his nose. Sonja, saint that she is, took Juno because I couldn't, it turned out, handle both her and Kaline around the very interesting creatures (sheep, goats, kitties, fake horses). Chief got to roam about dragging his leash most of the time. Juno took Sonja seriously about being on vacation now that I wasn't holding her leash. Kaline was just frustrating as hell.
Meeting the Hidden Villa sheeps. Not a typo, I like saying sheeps.

The one really good thing he got the hang of was going up to see something interesting, like a sheep, and then turning away from it when I asked him. It was hard for him at first, understandably, but by the end he would come away pretty easily.

So yeah, mostly that one sucked. Kaline and I were not very team-like.

Then yesterday we went with Sonja and Chief (and not Juno) to IKEA. And both boys were freaking awesome. I did this a lot:

Because Kay had rubbed his nose, we switched back to the prong. Even if it has rubbed his neck hair some, and at points given him bumps, no training collar irritates him less or is more effective. So I guess we're back on the prong. Some lady in IKEA was apparently talking bad about Kaline's prong (in German). Whatever. It works, and Kaline's happy in it. I'm done, for at least a while, messing with his equipment. The little rubbed spot on his nose is driving me all kinds of crazy. Poor baby.

Anyhow. We did a ton of distraction work with Chief and Kaline and had ourselves a fantastic time. Hendrik also came along and I was incredibly impressed with his ability to entertain himself while Sonja and I worked with the dogs.

Right as we entered, there was this big bin of stuffie footballs. We tossed them around the boys, toward the boys, then piled them around the boys' feet and had them do stays among the balls. We also dumped in a big stuffed seal. It was precious.

Sit stay.
Kaline wonders why he didn't get to settle ...
Down stay.
Next, we put the boys in down-stays across an aisle from us and let all the crowds walk between us and the boys. No one would actually walk between Kaline and Chief, but Sonja got Hendrik to do it. Kaline popped up the second time Hendrik stepped over him, so I went out to reinforce his stay with people stepping over him.
Kaline and Chief during a lull.

We chilled on a couch and the boys got to schmooze a little bit.

We haven't been able to get the videos to load yet, but both Kaline and Chief got to work on open and close in one of the model kitchens. It took a little bit for Kaline to realize I wanted him to use Chief's leash as a tug, but once he got it he was pretty good. Chief was freaking adorable, I love how he has to put his whole body into opening a cabinet. He would open the cabinet, find a teddy bear and then bring that to Sonja. Kaline just did open-wait-close. The wait is important, cause if you don't tell him, he will open the door and immediately slam it shut!

We did recalls through a busy area.

Kaline got to practice a little bit on his new "legs" task.

When we found the cheap clearance toy bins, we did more distraction work. We waved toys around, then had the boys walk through a labyrinth of toys, then do recalls through it. We even did retrieving exercises.

And then we made the boys wear silly hats.

By then they were both pretty tired, so we took a break in the food court.

On the way out, tired Chief got to be carried sometimes, which was insanely cute. That's not an option for Kaline, who now weighs in at 65 pounds, so he got to practice his blocking again. When he blocked at the food court, Sonja even nudged him a little with her knee and he didn't move out of position. Yay! We have to do that more, now that he's pretty solid.

You are a good boy.
Service dog training, luckily, can be like baseball instead of American football. If you have a bad day, you can just get right back out there and (hopefully) erase that memory with a better day. I'd much rather do that than stew for a week over a bad outing!

26 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

We had a lovely low-key Christmas, as usual. (Well, except for one thing.) Kaline, being a wee rambunctious man, didn't get invited to Auntie Jen's, so it was rather a Juno-centric day.

The night before, Juno, as predicted, was a very good girl at Christmas Eve dinner. She was in total work mode too—at the end of dinner but before we had left the restaurant, Auntie Jen asked to pet her and I said sure. Juno wasn't having it though! She kept politely touching her nose to Auntie Jen's hand and then backing up, like, “Yes, I like you, but I'm working right now so maybe we'll say hi later.” It was precious.
Juno in her ruff at the restaurant.

Mom and I stayed up late watching a movie and having doggie cuddles. Kaline was curled up in my lap/on my chest like a baby. Juno was on Mom, so there was no way to take a decent picture of both me and Kaline. So this will have to do:

Christmas morning dawned rainy and yucky, so I scooted each dog out individually to do his or her business (put them together, and they will take exponentially longer to get anything done), and then they had treadmill time. We headed down for them to have breakfast, and just as Juno finished inhaling her kibble, I noticed a bunch of red dots on the kitchen floor, like someone had been making some kind of jelly dessert and dripped everywhere.

And then I saw the wall in the family room, which had a huge red smear on it. Yes, Juno had whacked her lethal tail hard into the wall one too many times, and now she was bleeding everywhere.

I should probably mention that this has happened before, just not recently. When we first adopted her, her tail tip was totally raw from wagging in her narrow kennel run and constantly bashing it into the concrete walls. She kept busting it open and the vet was worried we'd eventually have to dock her tail. But we were careful for a while, she healed, and all was well. A few months later she bashed it open again following a bath, but again, she healed, and that was about the last time she did that. If you look at her tail now you can see the evidence, two little oval hairless patches.

I commenced a futile search for styptic powder and once that failed, stopped the bleeding with paper towels. I protected her tail successfully through her whole Christmas bath, only to have her thwack it against the doorjamb on her way out of the bathroom. Blood everywhere again.

Mom devised a bandage with non-stick gauze and medical tape. Most dogs probably would have nibbled it off, but once it was on (Juno did not enjoy that process) she completely left it alone. It stayed on the entire day, we had no more bleeding, and it would've stayed on probably through the night, if I hadn't cut it off to let her little wound breathe overnight.

So that was our Christmas drama.

Kaline stayed home in his crate while Juno, suitably spiffy in her Christmas ruff, came along to Auntie Jen's. She was great, following me closely almost the whole time (during dinner she left a few times to go beg and had to be called back). I got some excellent dog related presents, including a new Dremel (one that runs off a charger, instead of batteries—my current Dremel burns through four Double-A's every time I do Juno and Kaline's nails) and a lovely bone-shaped necklace charm. On once side it says JUNO in even, neat capital letters, and on the other side it says Kaline in letters that change in size, capitalization, and location. Pretty much sums them up, no?

Juno got to partake of many different Christmas foods, thanks to Mom, who was bubbling with glee due in no small part to the wine. (Usually one glass is enough to make her fall asleep ...) She got honeybaked ham, non-chocolatey bits of cookie, sourdough bread, baby carrots and who knows what else when I wasn't looking and going, “MOM! Whyyyyyy?!” But hey, she has an iron stomach and she deserves her treats, since she's the best dog ever.

Juno in front of the tree and all the presents. She's the best present!!!
Juno supervises present opening, using the table as a chin rest.
Me and Juno in front of the tree.
Juno and the mini-tree.

24 December 2012

Kaline's long down work continues

Kaline's in the opposite of the doghouse right now!

Last night, I took him to a gathering of friends (one of the group who doesn't get a chance to come home a lot is in town for the holidays). If I were just thinking of which dog could handle the situation better, hands down it would be Juno. But 1) my mom doesn't appreciate being Kaline's babysitter and 2) Kaline needs a lot more work on that kind of situation than cool-as-a-cucumber Juno does.

So off we went to the restaurant/bar in Palo Alto. Before we left, I put Kaline on the treadmill for a good 45 minutes to try and tire him out. He wasn't perfect, but he did really well for being a baby in that environment. There were a lot of new people, it was crowded, and it was loud. I brought Kaline's cushy mat and a full bait bag, plus he wore his red Cloudchaser to make sure he stayed nice and warm.

We stayed about two and a half hours, and I was pleased with how both of us did. When I pretty much know Kaline isn't going to be a Completely Professional Old Hand Invisible Service Dog, I can get preemptively nervous and uptight. I stayed pretty cool last night, I thought! When Kaline alerted, I took it seriously and let him in my lap until he felt I had chilled enough for him to go back down. When he popped up from his down and got nudgy, I didn't freak, just put my foot on his leash so the only comfortable position was a down. I remembered to reward him periodically when he was good, and I didn't flip over normal puppy antsy-ness.
Kaline right after we arrived.

Kaline, for his part, spent a huge majority of the time in a calm, relaxed down, punctuated by little bits of popping up and being antsy. It's much easier to focus on the times he wasn't doing what I wanted, but when you think about it, he really did much more of what I did want than what I didn't. It's just easier to overlook a dog who is being "invisible"! It was a tough test for him, and I am definitely proud of how he did.
Kaline after he got more comfy.

After a long time I could tell he'd had enough, so I let everyone know I was leaving and said if anyone wanted to say hi, they could come outside and I'd take off his vest so Kaline could socialize. He had a great time getting to meet people! (Oh, and a great friend moment: When I first brought Kaline in, one of the guys started trying to get his attention. Before I could even say anything, one of my buddies leaned over and said, "You can't do that. Don't distract him, he's a service dog." WOOHOO!!!!)

Today is Christmas Eve, so we've got some stuff planned. The parents invited me to both lunch and dinner, so I decided Kaline would go to lunch, Juno to dinner. Mom was a bit worried about how Kaline might behave at lunch, which of course got me worried. We were going to Carpaccio which is a nicer place, so if he decided to be a pill it would not be good.

So we did the two pack walks, and when we got home early, instead of letting Kaline rest, I took him right out again to work in a hardware store until it was lunchtime. Worked like a freaking charm. I took him into the restaurant, put him on his mat next to my chair, and except for rising to a sit when Dad showed up, Kaline was silent and practically motionless under the table for the entire meal. I reached down every now and again to stroke him, praise him quietly, and/or give him a treat. He was so good. Even Mom was impressed!
Wearing a Christmas ruff and settling like a champ.

I think we all know Juno is going to be a star at dinner tonight. Grin.

22 December 2012

Kaline's presents and a good outing

Kaline is making out like a bandit this Solstice. (Happy Solstice, everyone!) His presents just arrived, one right after the other—first a red Cloudchaser (because Juno's is grey), and then his Paco collar. I also got him a Halti, since we were having so many issues with the Infinity collar loosening constantly during the walks, but he doesn't consider it a present. It has a nice padded noseband though and it stays where it's supposed to when I put it on.
Kaline models his new collar. The people at Paco Collars did everything possible to make it nice for his neck.
Closeup of his conchos and "rhinestones."

He and Juno look so freaking cute together in their semi-matching coats with their blinking lights on top. Worked great in the rain today. I still hate rain, even though now I have all waterproof gear (shoes, pants, jacket) and so do Juno and Kaline.
Ready to get out and start the pack walks.

Everyone had long afternoon naps, so when Mom asked if Kaline and I wanted to work in the mall while she shopped and did errands, we were raring to go. It was cold and intermittently wet, so he wore all his stuff, his jacket, his vest, his Halti, his new Paco collar. He looked so cute.
Kaline wearing ALL the gear.

And he was such a good boy! We went to Macy's, Bloomingdale's, the Gap, Nordstrom, Safeway and Kepler's (he went to Kepler's off-duty). He pulled a bit, and tried to rub off the Halti sometimes, but largely he was excellent. We were working on simple stuff: basic obedience when asked, not pulling, not sniffing things, and most of all, settling. He got lots of compliments on how handsome he is and how nicely he was behaving. No intrusive questions, just fun ones. The best was when a lady asked what we were working on today, and I gladly told her. "Oh, puppies," she said.
Settling by the shoe racks.
Ignoring Christmas food and candy.
Down stay next to the escalator.

Kaline hit all the handicap buttons and then as a finale, settled beautifully when we went for dinner at the cafe in Nordstrom. He settled immediately and he didn't get up again until we were almost ready to go. I think he was cold, even in his coat and lying on his cushy mat. I couldn't stop grinning, and that is not a state I have been in at all lately.
At dinner, being a little pro about quietly holding his down.

The little man was quite good in Safeway, though he was a little bit unsettled by these middle-school age boys marching around singing Christmas songs loudly and off key, in a strangely belligerent way. I have no idea what they were doing there—it was like their parents dropped them off and said, "Go amuse yourselves in Safeway, kids." I was kinda unsettled by their singing too. He got over it after a little while (and several treats).

Kepler's he was terrible because he just wanted to go back to the front and get more cookies. But he was off-duty and he'd been working nicely for a long time—it was obvious he'd had it. I was super proud of him for being such a stand-up little guy tonight!

21 December 2012

Strangers in a bathroom

Last night was the TopDog Christmas dinner at Carpaccio. It was delicious, and Kristin was home from school, so all of us were there—Freddie, Anne, Kristin, Dianne and me. I took Juno, since earlier in the day Kaline had gotten worked (and been a pain when he was supposed to be settling). She curled up on her mat and went to sleep, as usual.

The power went out twice, which, since we'd already gotten our food, was just really amusing and fun. We had a great time.

And I had a really bizarre encounter with a stranger in the bathroom.

The bathrooms at Carpaccio aren't terribly large. Juno and I went in the handicapped stall, only a smidge bigger than the regular stall, and she sat very primly by the toilet. She tucked in her tail, which meant that just the tip was poking into the next-door stall. I heard someone else come in the bathroom and braced for the inevitable surprised exclamation.

"You ... have a dog in there, right?" she said.

"Yes," I laughed back. She told me Juno was very well behaved, I thanked her, and she left.

Then came No Boundaries Woman.

I'm in there, you know, doing what people do in bathrooms, when suddenly I hear a voice going: "Paw? Paw? Shake! Shake!" and there is a hand reaching under the stall divider toward Juno. Juno didn't even look at the hand. "Oh no, absolutely not," I said, hoping that the woman would think I was talking to Juno and that she, the woman, had gotten the wonderful doggie in trouble. The hand did not withdraw. "She's trained not to respond to commands from strangers," I tried again. The hand went away.

Seriously, who gives commands to someone else's dog that they don't even know?! In a bathroom, no less?

We came out of our stall about the time No Boundaries Woman did. "Oh, a service dog," she exclaimed. "I didn't know that, or I wouldn't have done it!"

Trying very hard to be polite, I said, "Yes, pets aren't allowed in restaurants. It's against the health codes."

From there, I could've said all of her statements and responded to them myself. I knew exactly what was coming every single time she opened her mouth. And yeah, people are curious and I shouldn't be mean to them. But jeez, do I have to be a walking PSA when all I want to do is go pee, wash my hands and go back to dinner with my friends?

"Is she in training to be a guide dog?" Juno was wearing her usual vest with the big handle, so that's a common question.

"No, she's fully trained."

"Oh, so you're blind."

"No, I'm not. Service dogs can do a lot of jobs. They can alert to seizures, help with mobility, help people with diabetes, people with hearing loss ..."

"So what does she do for you?"

"That's private medical information I don't share with people in bathrooms."

And that was the end of it. I have been sharing that story all over and just laughing my head off, but in some ways it's just not funny. There are social boundaries, you know? There are things you just should not be doing. Like sticking your hand into other people's bathroom stalls, for instance!

15 December 2012

Christmas obedience class

Kaline demonstrates his Doberman comfort-seeking genes.
Today was our Christmas class at Stanford Shopping Center! We had a pretty good time. Kaline is used to the shopping center, but obviously today he was more distracted than normal since all his friends were there. His little buddy Lupo now has a snazzy bright red Ruffwear Cloudchaser—he looked so cute. Poor Kaline should've been wearing some sort of jacket. I thought we'd be mostly inside stores, but we turned out to be mostly outside between stores, and it was cold.

We always do Needless Markup (also known as Neiman Marcus) first, then disperse. We paraded through the first floor, went up the elevator in shifts—no one had any issues—then worked on group down stays right in front of the escalators. The dogs were freaking adorable. Whenever I got the chance, I'd work on auto-settling with Kaline. He did pretty well.
Kaline between Bean (Cairn Terrier) and Traci (German Shepherd).
L-R: Bollie (mixed breed), Rex (Golden Retriever), Bean (Cairn Terrier) and Kaline.
Back row, L-R: Gracie (yellow Labrador), QD (Border Terrier), Jessie (chocolate Labrador), and Bollie (mix). Front row, L-R: Phi (Sheltie), Percy (colored Bull Terrier), Sienna (terrier mix), Juno!!, Jockey (Norfolk Terrier), and Rex (Golden Retriever).

We meandered all over the shopping center, eventually running into our friend Sylvia (I've gotten to know her because her house is on the Black Dog Walk route) and her newest CCI puppy, Scotland! Scotland is a three-month-old Lab/Golden cross. Kaline was crazy about her. She is unspeakably cute, I must say. Sylvia and my dad really hit it off because they are from the same area of Pennsylvania, so we ended up standing around in the middle of the center for what seemed like hours.
How many more times do I have to pose with inanimate objects?

Being an adorable puppy himself, Kaline attracted child after child. And he was excellent with them. I was so proud. He did not jump on a single one, or even appear to think about jumping. He sat very nicely while they petted him, and went for little kisses whenever cheeks came in range. If the kids wanted to give one of the doggies a cookie, they got to visit the chow hound, Junebug, who gleefully slimed their hands as they held out treats for her.

We had an afternoon full of grooming, mostly for Kaline. Juno's toenails are fine if I grind them once every two weeks; Kaline's need to be ground (grinded?) intensively at least once a week. Probably twice if I was really a good dog mommy. So we did that, and then both of them got brushed. And then came Kaline's anti-favorite, the bath.

He still needs "help" getting in. He could, physically, jump in, but he won't, even if I put a rug in the bathtub for traction. He was okay after I helped him in. He was seriously pissed about being bathed in cool water though. I'm hoping the bath in the special sensitive-skin shampoo will help us get through the next week or so till his Paco collar gets here. The skin on his neck has been more flaky than normal lately, in certain spots. Ugh.

For the first time in a while, I accepted an invite to the movies from Dad. Then I agonized for a while about which dog to take. Kaline is more attuned to my psych stuff, but obviously is too young/untrained to really help with anything fibro-related. And he requires a lot more involvement in general. But I really wanted to get him the work, especially on settling. Then dinner got added into the mix, and I pretty much knew that that'd be too much for Kaline. Two hours lying quietly in a theatre, then a couple more hours lying under a table? Yeah, surrre.

So once I settled on Juno, I roped Dad into a Trader Joe's outing for Kaline. He worked the best he ever has in his head collar. He was paying attention, walking with me, responding quickly and enthusiastically to commands. He did hardly any sniffing. I had Dad run the cart by us, very close to Kaline, while he was both sitting and lying down. No problems. Dad walked by us and stomped loudly next to Kaline; he nudged his butt while he was in both sit and down stays; he did the bad-dog-hand-waving that Sonja and I like to play around with. Kaline was a little rock. And then he blocked wonderfully in line.

I put him on the treadmill at a trot for about 15 minutes to drain him before we left for the movies. Juno was perfect at both the movies and dinner. Kaline probably would've been fine at the movie, but oh man, he would've been way overstimulated at the restaurant. It was very crowded there, and we had to wend a very narrow path between oodles of tables to get to ours. Juno does not sniff people or tables, but let me tell you, Kaline sure would have! All at nose height—oh boy.

The one disappointing part of the evening (other than getting scolded for not indulging the curious people who ask intrusive questions) was realizing it was impossible for me to use the bathroom at the Guild Theatre. It was built in 1912, I think, so obviously it doesn't have to comply with the accessible bathrooms part of the ADA. It still sucked. The stalls were so tiny, no one with a medium-sized or larger SD—much less someone in a wheelchair—would have been able to fit. The bathroom itself was not large enough to accommodate a SD doing a down stay outside of the stall. And I couldn't even put her on an out of sight down stay in the tiny bathroom "lobby" because every time the door opened it would have hit her. I wrote them a kindly worded letter about the problem; I doubt there's much that can be done but it can't hurt to bring it to someone's attention.

Maybe I'll use Kaline training as an excuse to be bad and eat fast food tomorrow. Hehe. I loved using the McDonald's near Kepler's as a training ground for Juno when she first started training. Mmm, definitely a possibility.

14 December 2012

Settling and the airport

We continue to work on Kaline's retrieving foundation, but lately I have found myself focusing on his long down/settling. Once he settles, he's good, but it takes him quite a while to actually do that sometimes. So with that being an unintentionally emphasized skill the past week or so, he's definitely improved.

In the mornings when I'm getting the dogs ready to go out on our pack walks, it's pretty common for me to forget something. So lately, instead of letting Juno and Kaline follow me around while I try to remember where I left what I forgot, I've been leaving them on sit or down stays and going to get it. Not exactly settling, but it's definitely stay practice and I go out of sight for either a brief time, or a longer time. They've both been holding their stays really well, and it's hard for both of them. Kaline because he's a baby, and Juno because she's always had some separation anxiety. I adopted her at 18 months and she'd basically been neglected outside up to that point, so I can understand her not wanting to let me out of her sight if she can help it.

Then at training, Kaline's been coming out with the big dogs to do long downs. He's being holding his long downs better than Juno! He still whines, and sometimes will do his patented slo-mo commando crawl, but mostly he just stays there! It's very exciting. The slo-mo commando crawl is hilarious also. He pops his little butt in the air, oonches his front feet forward, plunks his butt down. Lather rinse repeat, until he gets where he wants to be.
Kaline and Juno in front of the Rin Tin Tin poster at SFO.

Night before last, Dad and I had to pick up Mom at the airport. I took both dogs in (Mom would never forgive me if I brought just Kaline and not Juno to pick her up) and worked with them a bit in the accessible areas (i.e. areas where you didn't have to go through security). We stood around by security a while, and to my delight, when I told the dogs to down, they both did and Kaline laid his head on his paws! Sometimes he rolled on a hip without being asked! He hardly ever rolls on a hip by himself—perhaps it's a Doberman thing?
Kaline settles; Juno gives me the "I can't believe you're working me with him" look.

I took them walking up and down the largely empty area by the check-in desks, and it was pretty interesting to see the difference in Juno and Kaline's demeanors. Juno is, as one client calls her, "dogged." She is all business, head level with her back, ears relaxed and back, eyes mostly ahead except for quick occasional checks behind and to the sides. Automatically, she matches her pace to mine or walks slightly behind me.

Kaline, on the other hand, does not yet possess a Serious Work Face. His ears are up, his head's up, he's looking all around, he bounces, he speeds up, he slows down, all that good puppy stuff. Also, he seemed taller than Juno! I was super excited about that, let me tell you.

We came back to security to meet Mom; Juno thumped her tail but held her down when she appeared, and Kaline just stayed in his comfy little ball. Good puppies. They were great down at baggage claim too. I was waiting around a while, so I had Kay practice an "across," a deep pressure task where he lies across my lap while I sit cross-legged. Then once we had all Mom's stuff and the crowd had cleared, I made a circuit around the now-empty but still moving carousel so Kaline could see there was nothing scary about it. Nice, short and sweet outing.

I'm hoping to go out for some more work with the not-so-wee man tonight, and then tomorrow we have our Christmas obedience class.

08 December 2012

This is why I can't visit collar stores ...

I swear, I went with the purest of intentions. Go to Paco Collars in Berkeley, find an already-made Deluxe collar (two layers for less rubbing on the neck) that I liked well enough, buy it, leave.

Of course, that's not what actually happened. Let's blame Dad.

I was looking through all the collars for sale, and had found one that was pretty good. Tan leather (though I really wanted black), gorgeous conchos with subtle flowers on them with a tiny amber stone in the center, nickel hardware. It wasn't as wide as I wanted, but I was like, this is not a big deal, this will definitely work.

And then Dad steps in, going, "You know, if you're going to pay this much for a collar, you should get something you really like."

"But he needs to have this on his neck now."

"Just a few more weeks in the prong won't kill him. He'll live."

Salesguy looks at me with a little smile, hands me a Paco catalog. Kaline stares up at me with melty eyes. Probably due to wearing the headcollar, but my resistance was at a low ebb so everything felt like a guilt trip. Do you love your puppy enough?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

"Okay, okay, let's do custom."

We are not going to talk about how much this collar cost. Subject is off limits. So let's talk about how freaking gorgeous this collar is going to be.

I found a collar style called the Simon, and tweaked it a bit to make it just right. It has the pretty conchos from the collar I was thinking about buying, but it's black, two inches wide instead of one (and wider will also reduce rubbing), with a nicer pattern of nickel hardware. And instead of all nickel hardware between the conchos, they're going to put a blue rhinestone in the center of each little cluster. Hopefully it doesn't take terribly long. It's gonna be so neat. Plus it should really be nice on his neck—Paco has made collars for hairless dogs, so they know about sensitive doggies. They're even doing extra conditioning for it before they send it off to me. I promise pictures as soon as I get it.

In other news, Dad decided he didn't want to do obedience class today, so I left him with the wee monster and took my awesome girl to class. It was so much fun—I loved having one of the advanced dogs in class again! She did very well, of course, and had herself a great time. She was so waggy and enthusiastic the entire time. And Kaline had a nice morning taking a leisurely walk with Dad. He was super wiggly and adorable when Juno and I came home.

Kaline's been charming our company-for-the-weekend, my mom's best friend Wendy. She absolutely loves him. He is super cute, I must admit! Sometimes he can get a bit overenthusiastic with her, but mostly he's been a very good boy. She's sleeping in my room, so Kaline's her roommate and he's been his usual quiet self in his crate every night. Hurrah.

Juno and Kaline have also been doing a bit better at holding off on the wrestling. (Again, worries over Kaline's neck. Ya know.) If I just say NO sharply right when they start, usually they stop. Thank goodness.

Oh, and don't feel too bad for Juno not getting a Paco collar. She has, currently: a Tigers collar, a Michigan collar, a Giants collar, a 49ers collar, a homemade Menlo Park Legends collar, and my favorite, her 2-inch-wide, beautifully embroidered 2HoundsDesigns martingale collar. And I just got her a Ruffwear Cloudchaser cause my Pro Purchase Plan came through (50% off on everything).

05 December 2012

Training Kaline cheers me up

So, I've been sick and grumpy. Nobody wants to read other people's vents about being sick and grumpy.
Chilly little Kaline in Juno's Hallowe'en t-shirt. Dad's getting him pajamas for Xmas, hehe.

But today I've been doing a bunch of short training sessions with Kaline, and it definitely put me in a better mood.

First, though, an update on his neck. After a few months of being naked as much as possible but using the prong collar when a collar was required looking like the solution to the problem, it turns out it's not. Kaline had a tiny spot of very short hair on the back of his neck for a while, with an irritated follicle in the middle of it. Since it wasn't growing, I didn't really worry. Well, now it's growing. It's where the chain rests on the back of his neck. The hair on the front is still fine, grown in nicely, but he's got a couple irritated follicles there too. Cue despair.

Just kidding. I worked Kaline in the Infinity collar and his flat Tigers collar on Monday, and he worked pretty well in it, though he was pretty spastic in Trader Joe's. Thank goodness we were only there for about 10 minutes. He was trying to smell stuff, swinging his butt around randomly, etc. Then in line he did a perfect block, even leaning gently into the backs of my knees. He's a dog, not a robot, he's a dog, not a robot ...
Mom found a hidden stash of Christmas collars, yay!

Anyway. Tuesday I made a call to Paco Collars, based in Berkeley. I told them Kaline's issues, and they seem confident that one of their collars will do the trick. (Kay will end up working in the Infinity plus Paco Collar, until he progresses to the point where he can just work in the flat, like Juno.) I believe the word used to describe the lining of the collar was "buttery." Sounds delicious. So we are going to head up there on Saturday and hope they have a ready-made black Deluxe collar that will fit the wee man. I think they will. Not cheap, but if it finally solves the neck issue, I'll be happy. I know a ton of Dobermans wear Paco Collars, so it should work. Fingers and paws crossed.

Back to the training. Since the weekend, Kaline has gotten way better at doing the treadmill. He has now had seven total fifteen-minute sessions on the treadmill. On the first and second ones, he threw a fit and needed a lot of help to stay on. Three and four, he threw a fit but was able to stay on by himself. Five, he only put up a token fuss and walked nicely after that. Six, he got on by himself. And the rest is history.

It's really nice to know that that is now an option when Kaline needs to burn off some energy, because at least for now, roughhousing with big sis is no longer an option. He's got two little hairless tooth-marks on his neck. And I think we all know how insane I am about his neck (see above). He loves to have Juno chew on his neck, and she loves to oblige, so ...

We also worked a bunch on the fridge, because he was backsliding a little. Today, our new maize-and-blue tug came from Alex, a friend who is raising money for her future SD from Laughing Eyes Kennels. Both dogs love it, and Kaline is already starting to pull on the long middle part of the tug (on the rope toy, he refused to use anything but the little fringey strings at the bottom, which obviously led to the thing slipping abruptly out of his mouth a lot).

His take it is getting pretty good—he'll go for the blue bone on the floor—and he did very nice hold and out today. He walked around the kitchen with the bone in his mouth (I held my hand really close to his mouth in case he decided to drop it) and even did a sit-down-sit sequence with it in his mouth.

While Juno gets her turns on the treadmill, Kaline gets to practice his down-stay and settle, which is going nicely. I really want to just take a day and go to several different places with him and a book, and just work on settling under chairs/tables for extended periods of time. Super exciting, I know.

Juno did such a cute hold yesterday at training. Anne had left her bait bag way far away and was packing up her car. When I went to go grab Juno's leash (she'd been working off-leash), I saw the bag and told Juno to take it. She did, and she carried it all the way from that little area of the park over to Anne's car—where she sat and politely gave the bag to Anne. Yay.

I think the only other thing Kaline has really been focusing on is finding heel and finding front. Finding front is a lot harder for him, but we'll get there!

30 November 2012

What a week

Boy, am I glad this week is basically over. The cold that started just after Thanksgiving got completely full-blown, so I've been sniffling/unable to breathe without nose spray, coughing in periodic fits, having massive headaches, etc. There was much Cancellation of Stuff.

Juno is a perfect dog to have around when you're sick. Okay, who am I kidding, she is a perfect dog to have around at any time ever. She just lies quietly next to wherever I am, for as long as I feel like being there. The past few days, Kaline has been doing basically the same thing! Only he lies on me, not next to me, usually. Yesterday I actually got both dogs to lie on the bed with me. I have a teeny bed, so it was a little crowded, but very warm.
Both dogs on the couch, be still my heart.

It's been storming a bit since Wednesday, so that hasn't helped the cold any. All the dogs have been miserable going out and having to be wet (raincoats only help so much). Poor Kay will stand and shiver whenever we have to stop. I am constructing his Official Cozy Horse Coat™ in my mind, trying to make it as warm as possible. Can't have it at least until after his birthday. And I may get him a Cloudchaser to go underneath it. Because I am insane, and my little dog is wimpy.

I've been experimenting with giving Kaline more access to rooms when we're home, meaning he and Juno are not closed into the kitchen/den with me. I keep everything upstairs closed, so he can't go into bedrooms and get shoes and socks to chew, but now he has access to the dining room and the living room downstairs where he and Juno like to wrestle. It's going okay, I think. We'll see how I feel a week from now, haha!

Kaline is close to giving himself a hot spot on his right front paw from obsessive licking. I got this spray called Bitter Lime to stop him licking. Well, he hates being sprayed with the stuff and will run away, but even if his paw is soaked in this nasty stuff (I got some on my hands, then nibbled a finger, and holy shit, EW) he will lick as though it tastes amazing. Gaaah. 

In addition to continuing to work on opening the fridge, I've been focusing on hold, out, and take it with Kaline. Whenever he gets annoying at night, I grab one of the few toys left to him (blue rubber bone, Nylabone, antler, cookie ball) and we practice hold and out for a few minutes. His hold is getting very nice; he'll hold whatever it is for a pretty long time, and all I have to do is stroke his chin every once in a while to remind him to keep his mouth closed. Anne doesn't want us to work on take it too much until his hold is solid, so we only do that a little bit.

Fridge work is highly amusing. Usually on the first try, Kaline just picks up the tug and then drops it. It takes him a little bit to actually get the fridge open. Once he does get it open that first time, though, it's like he wants to make sure that first part where he messes around ineffectually doesn't happen again. I'll leave with whatever I wanted out of the fridge, and Kaline will stay over there, yanking the fridge open dramatically, letting it close and yanking it open again. Of course, the next time the whole little drama plays out again, but I think it's getting progressively shorter. It cracks me up.

Also quite funny: When I ask Kaline to open the fridge, telling Juno to stay back a little bit; then he messes up and Juno walks in and takes the tug from him and pulls the fridge open. See how it's done, young man.

There's also been unpleasant drama in the service dog world. Dani Woodson, who I am acquainted with through a couple SD groups on Facebook, was kicked out of a Whataburger in Pensacola, FL, by a police officer who refused to enforce the laws (state and federal) protecting disabled people from being forced to leave because of their service dogs. She got the whole thing on video and it's gone pretty viral.

Of course, when something like this gets on the news, the Whataburger FB page and the Pensacola Police Department FB page, it brings out all the stupid people. Who say things like, "I wouldn't want to sit next to a stinky dog in a restaurant" or "How do you even know it's a service dog?" or "Well, they got their food, it's totally okay for them to be kicked out because they weren't denied service". So the SD community has been rebutting the idiots. I got in there last night for a while, and it was just sending my anxiety through the roof. I watch videos like this, I read things like that, and it's like that stuff is happening to me right now

And without being asked, Kaline just draped himself across my lap and went to sleep. I'm extra super in love with him lately.

26 November 2012

San Jose with Sonja and Chief

Me and Kaline with Sonja and Chief.

Yesterday morning, Juno, Kaline and I were moseying along on our morning walk when I got a text from Sonja inviting us to San Jose. Sounded like a much more productive way to spend my Sunday than vegging out around the house! Sonja picked up me and Kaline and off we went!

We had such great fun and got to work Kaline and Chief on all kinds of different things. We parked down near where our friend Nicole used to live so we had a nice walk to the convention center. There was a craft fair going on there this weekend—not something either of us humans are real keen on, but an excellent outing opportunity for our boys. Plus there was Christmas in the Park, in a park right near the convention center.

At the craft fair, we met up with another SD team. Manuela was the handler, Sadie the dog. Sadie is a gorgeous border collie/Australian shepherd mix with amazing ice-blue eyes. We walked through all the aisles. Kaline actually did better than I expected with having to walk very slowly and stop frequently, due to crowds, and once I even caught him doing a block on his own! Chief was having a little bit of an off-day in there (when he was on the carpet, coming in and going out, he perked right up and did his delighted rubbing and rolling celebration) so Sonja carried him some of the time. If Kaline has an off-day, too bad, buddy, I'm not carrying you!
Chief, Sadie and Kaline at the convention center.

Little bit of grounding at the craft fair.

Once we'd gone through the fair, we set the boys up and worked on distractions. They held off leash down stays nicely, so then we asked Manuela to move around them with Sadie. We worked on removing each other's dogs, which sounds kinda scary (most people put badges on their dogs, or carry cards, which say DO NOT SEPARATE DOG FROM HANDLER) but it's a good thing for the pups to be accustomed to. In an emergency, emergency responders might have to take our SDs off to the side for safety. In turn, Sonja and I laid down on the floor with our dogs on our chests, and then the other person would come take the dog off to the side. Neither boy had a problem with it, which is very good.
Off leash down stays.

Then we did "bad dog" scenarios—basically, each of us mimicked things that assholes sometimes do when they see service dogs, or things that people who are not paying attention might do. Shaking fingers in their face, saying they're naughty or bad, grumping, "No dogs allowed!", nudging their bottoms, straddling them, stomping around, etc. Kaline had no problem with me straddling him and stomping, but he popped up when Sonja did it, so she worked with him a lot on that. Mostly he did quite well though, and Chief was a total star.

We went to lunch at Johnny Rockets, where Kaline refused to lie down because the floor was too cold (not to mention kind of grimy). I didn't have his mat with me, so I just let him sit there with his head in my lap. He didn't beg or anything, so it was actually really nice. Then we headed over to Christmas in the Park.
Kaline at Johnny Rockets.
Doing a brief down at Johnny Rockets. Sonja took this shot blind!!

There were all kinds of beautifully decorated Christmas trees and displays, plus a mascot roving around. We saw two kids riding razor scooters, so Sonja got them to come over and ride around me and Kaline in circles, doing little tricks. He did so much better than I expected! Normally he hears the noise of scooters or skateboards and gets a little nervous, won't look away from them. But he was really good, focused on me, even did a down stay with the scooters going around!
Me and the boys with the mascot at Christmas in the Park.

Across the street from the park, there was an ice skating rink. One of Sonja's older dogs, Josephine, used to get spooked by the noise of skates hitting the walls. So we took the boys over there and asked a group of girls to bang on the glass with their skates. Neither of them minded, really, though Kaline did some blocking after they did it. Cutie.
At the ice rink with Kaline (blocking) and Chief.
Standing with the boys in front of a kids' ride.

On the way back to the car, we let the dogs run around in an empty dog park. Kaline is getting a bit big for Chief to play with ... how sad. But before Chief ran out of gas, he led Kaline on a merry chase. Kaline can probably run faster than Chief, but Chief is far more agile and can make all kinds of tight turns and thwart Kaline. They both had a fabulous time.