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

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.

24 November 2012

Thanksgiving etc.

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Guess it's pretty obvious what I'm thankful for: my amazing pups!
Juno helps with Thanksgiving prep by pre-washing the sweet potato bowl.
Kaline models one of Angel's many coats. I never realized just how many coats we had for her. She'd get so cold in the winter that her teeth would chatter inside the house.

Juno came along to Thanksgiving while Kaline stayed home. She was very good and quite sneaky (in an amusing way). Last year I vested her so she'd go into serious-work-mode, but this year she actually got an invitation, so I didn't. Thus, she was a little more ... lax ... about manners.
Juno supervises dinner prep. A task she is never lax about!

During dinner, I sat across from my mom, who is always Juno's target. She (Mom) is a total softie and all Juno really has to do is look at her sadly and the food starts flowing. I put Juno in a down-stay next to my chair. She'd been there about 10 minutes without moving, so I pretty much stopped paying attention. Well, just before everyone was done eating, Mom was answering some question I'd asked when she suddenly just stopped talking. I figured she'd gotten the hiccups. Nope, my Junebug had stealthily and ever so slowly crawled beneath the table and had finally reached the promised land: Mom's lap. Just plopped her head right there. Everyone laughed.
Juno all smiles after getting a ton of leftover turkey.

Kaline has been working hard on refining his fridge skills. I'm trying to get him to grab the tug on the knot or the rope, but he insists on only grabbing the stringy end in his mouth and using that to get the door open. Whatever floats your boat, little man.

He also did a fun little outing with me and Mom to Stanford Shopping Center. We worked on off-leash down-stays all over Macy's, which he did really well at, hurrah! He whined when he got bored standing around though, and also when we did some "under" practice. At the end we went to dinner at Amici's and he settled after about five minutes and just went to sleep, nicely curled up under the table.
Off-leash down-stay at Macy's.
Whinging away while practicing "under."
Being a good boy at Amici's.

Today of course was our usual Saturday class. Before and after class, I worked with Kaline on "take it" which we started on a couple days ago. He doesn't hold whatever object it is for any great length of time, but we have progressed to me changing where I hold the object out, and having him reach for it. He was almost taking it from ground level after class. Freddie loaned me an adorably teeny obedience dumbbell (cause Juno's is MIA) for Kaline to practice with. We've also practiced with his indestructible blue bone.
The pups sunbathing after class at Borrone's ... I was evil and blocked Juno's sun for the photo. Oops!

OH. Speaking of indestructible. My puppy freaking destroys toys. With shocking speed. He hasn't been allowed squeakies/stuffies of any sort for quite a while. A few weeks ago, he chewed chunks off his tire & rope toy he's had since babyhood, so that had to get chucked. Recently he mangled his baby rope & plastic toy—I chalked that up to the toy being designed for baby pups with baby teeth. No "tuff" toys have survived him, because he knows that the seams are the weak points and shreds the black trimming.

So I bought him a fire hose toy. He was very excited to have it. Fifteen minutes later, he had gnawed off the corner so I had to take it away.
Just enough to put the new toy out of commission.

Then I got him a new, bigger, tougher version of the tire & rope toy, only the tire part was a solid bone shaped piece instead of a ring. He actually helped pick it out at the store. Fifteen minutes after I gave it to him, he was gleefully masticating a chunk of rubber that I had to pry out of his mouth. He's down to a Bento ball that he has an on-off affection for, regardless of whether a cookie is in it, his blue rubbery bone, his antler, and a Nylabone I can't find. Juno is still grumpy that all her stuffies are hidden away for safety. (Except her spider, which lives closed off in Mom's room.) Kaline doesn't understand why his new toys disappear so quickly.
Kaline stares at me across Mom: "PLEASE give me back my fire hose toy!"

If only I could get him to really like Nylabones! You'd think they'd be perfect for him, a powerful chewer, but he will hardly ever choose to work on one. If you hold it for him, he'll humor you. I may get him a new one, simply because nothing else is surviving. I wonder if the stores will take back the not-so-freaking-tough toys he's destroyed ... Poor Kay. He loves soft toys that he can really squash in his mouth, but he just pulverizes them!

20 November 2012

Kaline opened the fridge!

I have been trumpeting this news all day. Last night, Kaline finally figured out how to open the fridge by himself! It was very exciting.

We worked on it again tonight, and he was a bit rusty. So this will be an ongoing thing. The first time is always the hardest though, and it'll only get easier from here on out.

Kaline is also still having nothing-vomit every morning. Thus, we headed to the vet today, skipping out on training in the park for about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, it was not tremendously helpful. Dr. Harish just recommended feeding Kaline the main part of his dinner later (he ate around 8:00 tonight) and also feeding him a snack even later. That way, we hope, he will not have a completely empty stomach in the morning and won't have his acid reflux going on.

They also said he's small (he's 59 pounds today; big brother Montgomery is 73). Of course, I had a mini-freakout over this, since one of the reasons I got a boy was so he'd be taller than Juno. Kaline hasn't quite caught up to her yet. But Maura, despite having two litters on the ground, quickly allayed my fears by assuring me he might not be finished growing vertically until he is 18 months old. So he has, possibly, 11 months to gain those three to four inches! Go Kaline go! This is one of the many reasons you go with a great breeder. So when you freak out over things that are not a big deal, you can ask her about it, and she can tell you everything will be okay.

At training, Kaline got to roughhouse with Lucky the Golden Achiever, and Juno did most of the work between the two of them. Kaline got a chance at being out with the big dogs on a down-stay, but couldn't handle it after a while. Ah well.

I am planning to really ramp up Juno's formal obedience training, because I just got the entry form for a trial (actually three trials in one weekend held at the same venue) at the end of January. I got all excited about entering both dogs, but it turns out Kaline can't compete until he's neutered. And I'm waiting till the last second to do that.

Anyway, Juno and I worked on about-turns and left-about-turns when heeling off leash, as well as straight recalls and drops on recall. Drop on recall is our major homework, since we can't work on the broad jump (the area in which she has almost no experience) except at training. Freddie said she'll bring her jumps next week so I can practice with Juno on the broad jump and the retrieve over the high jump. She's done retrieves over a jump before, but she has to learn to do it at 26 inches. I doubt we'll get a qualifying score at any of the three trials, but it'll be good experience for her. (She will undoubtedly break on either or both of the out-of-sight stays.)

If she's really not ready for Open by January, we'll just go do Rally. That should be fun and pretty easy for her, since I'll be allowed to chatter to her all I want!

19 November 2012

Our Sunday

Kaline had another mostly excellent Sunday. We walked downtown with him in his vest, which is not the usual way of things but turned out to be a good idea. On the corner of Santa Cruz, we ran into a barefoot man who seemed ... off. I did what I do with Juno when I feel very wary of a person—I told Kaline "break" when we got to the corner, instead of making him sit beside me. That way his back wouldn't be to this man, and he could move around.

Kaline made a circle around me, and then just stood staring at this guy. For all I know, it could have been his regular, "A new person! Do you want to be FRIENDS?!" look that he does to a lot of people. But anyway, it made me feel better. And then the guy asked to pet Kaline, and I was so grateful he had his vest on, because I could say, "No, he's working right now."

Which sent the guy into a rant, yelling at me about how could I not know he's a dog lover, does my dog work for the government, something must be very wrong with me, etc. Luckily we got the walk signal right as the rant started and booked it across the street. I was panicking, bigtime.

As soon as I saw an empty chair outside Stacks, the restaurant on the corner, I plopped down in it and with the tiniest invitation, Kaline practically threw himself on me, paws on my shoulders, leaning his whole upper body into my chest. Such a good boy! Right at this time a veteran saw him and started telling me about this Paws For Purple Hearts program they have at the VA nearby, and how he's training a service dog. Which is awesome, don't get me wrong. Big yay for programs that train dogs for vets, because there aren't enough and the VA makes nothing easier.

But jeez, dude, you're training dogs to respond not just to physical problems but PTSD and other mental issues. And you see a baby SDIT clearly doing a task ... maybe not the best time to try and engage the handler in conversation. I did the best I could responding, because I knew he meant well, but still.

Once Kaline had calmed me down, we headed off to the Farmer's Market. It was the first time in a long time we didn't have to deal with pets in there—so nice. Kaline did good blocking, didn't pull as much, paid attention, etc. He was not as good in the bagel place, where he was very antsy for the first ten minutes or so before settling down. It was kinda tight quarters, so at one point he was down but blocking the tiny aisle. This kid had to get through and just stepped right over him—sometimes I love kids! Cause Kaline stayed perfectly still and it was nice practice.

Trader Joe's went really well. We were in the meat and cheese aisles and he showed no interest in sniffing anything. He did a little bit of blocking in line, even though it was again a very tight space and there was another person right next to him that he was keeping away from me.

Later in the evening, we had a bunch of tiny fridge sessions. (Kaline also amused himself at times by just opening and closing cabinets.) Kaline got the fridge door unsealed (he doesn't quite open it the way Juno does, to the point where you can reach in, but it's early) twice all by himself. I worked with Juno on retrieving metal objects (in this case, a butter knife). She hates to have metal in her mouth so it's an ongoing thing. She could get the knife off the bed, but had a harder time getting it off the rug or the floor. She did fine retrieving my keys, because they have two leather strips (from BLD!) as keychains.

I'm not going to be hard and fast about the one task per week resolution. I'd rather get Kaline's fridge-opening skills to be very reliable before we move on.

17 November 2012

Generalization and more vomit

The good news: Kaline has generalized his open command to all the cabinets in the kitchen. He's mostly caught on that if a door is more resistant, he has to grab the tug closer to the handle. (Juno just pulls harder. It's fun to see what different techniques they have.)

We started on the fridge, and of course that is a little harder. It's a totally different door, a different tug (a rope toy, because knotted strips of old-t-shirt material won't work on that heavy of a door), and requires a much harder tug. He's gotten it open a couple times, but isn't getting it consistently yet. I've been playing tug a bit with him, which helps him realize that he's supposed to really pull on that toy.

Best part of working on the fridge is that Juno constantly peers over Kaline's shoulder, judging. "You're doing it wrong." And then if I really need something out of the fridge now (we keep working during dinner preparations), she gets to shoulder past her little brother and yank the fridge open on the first try. Gets her cookie and swaggers off.

Today it was rainy, and I had a burning desire to remain in pajamas all day, so Kaline had his first two sessions on the treadmill. Juno saw me get the little slip leash out (used only for the treadmill) and hopped up. I had Kaline go first though because I didn't want him messing with Juno while she was on. I figured once he had a go, he'd be too tired to bother her when it was her turn.

Originally, Juno and the treadmill were not friends. The first time I put her on, I had a massive protest on my hands. The trick is to just stay calm, ignore the protests, and keep them on the treadmill until they chill out and realize no one is going to die. So, as expected, Kaline threw a fit when I first put him on, and gradually settled down. I helped him out by putting a foot on either side of him, on the rails, to keep him centered—he kept drifting to the right. After he calmed down and walked nicely on the treadmill a while, I let him get off and Juno got her turn. Kaline wouldn't take treats from me until all four paws were on the carpet again, funny little man.

He stood very close as Juno trotted along. She loves going on the treadmill now—trots along happily, tail waving about. Kaline whined when she first got on—"Dude, that thing's evil! Don't you know it's going to try and kill you?!"—and then realized, like I said, that nothing bad was happening. He sniffed all along the machine carefully, licked the near rail very thoroughly, and constantly checked in with Juno, who ignored him studiously.

Kaline's second time was easier. He got going a lot more smoothly, and gradually I started moving to one rail or the other, so he could figure out how to keep himself centered without a leg to lean on. When he was okay with that, I got all the way off the treadmill and stood on his right side. Slowly I moved around to the front, where I sit to supervise Juno. Actually sitting was not really in the cards, but I was able to stand in basically the same spot. And when he was finished, I convinced him to eat treats from me before he got off. Win.

The bad news: Kaline's still barfing. He has been getting 10 mg of Pepcid every night with dinner and we were clear for a few days. Then this morning he had a nothing-vomit, and then he brought up half his breakfast later. (And tried to eat it again. What a boy.) Perhaps we will be back at the vet on Monday. Argh.

14 November 2012

Open open open open open

I am so crazy excited. Kaline has finally learned to open a cabinet door using a tug!

I was having a bad day, feeling very depressed and just overwhelmed by everything. I was getting ready to go to my afternoon puppy trainings, cutting up bait. I realized I was pretty early, so I set aside one stack of bait and decided to work with Kaline for ten minutes on opening the door.

It's actually a very easy door that I don't really ask Juno to open, because it doesn't give much resistance. We have other cabinets in the kitchen that you really have to yank to get them open (and I don't yank). Anyway, the ease of opening made it perfect for Kaline.

We started where we left off, with the door magnets already disengaged. Quickly, Kaline understood what he only dimly got the last time—he was being rewarded for getting the door to move using the tug. He did that readily several times in a row, so I let the door close all the way. And he opened it! I made much of him, had a little party for him. And he totally had a lightbulb moment. I'd been feeling crappy about myself as a trainer (I have an absolutely repulsive tendency to mentally compare Kaline's training progress to that of other dogs I know, and it drives me nuts), but now my faith in myself and Kaline is restored!

Here is video:

Even after I stopped the camera and stopped asking Kaline to open, he kept opening the door and then happily nudging it closed. He really likes to close things, which is why we're working on doing it gently. Sometimes he is, shall we say, overzealous.

I'm going to try something new. Each week, I will focus on a different task, and work on it a little every day. We do basic obedience every day, but I have been slacking on tasks other than deep pressure and blocking. Clearly, a quick session every day can accomplish a lot! Kaline got "open" between Saturday and today.

Repeat as mantra: This is not a race. This is not a race. This is not a race.

Slow is fast. Slow is fast. Slow is fast.

12 November 2012

Muir Woods

Oh, we had a fun weekend. Saturday was class and such; I ended up getting to work mostly Kaline but Juno for a little while. Kaline was really good except for whining during Circle of Chaos recalls. His heeling was really nice, and he did well on the meet and greets. He was awesome for the supervised separation, couldn't have cared less that I left. After class, Dad stayed with Kay while he romped with Lupo, and I took Juno off to the side and let her have fun bumpers. She's so damn cute.

Later in the day, Kaline and I did clicker training, trying to work on basics of starting the retrieve (yep, that again), opening cabinets, and rear-end awareness. I tried filling a tiny treat bag with treats to help Kaline with the whole getting-something-I-point-at. He went to it all right—and promptly plumped down to try and open it! Oh puppy. So we worked on hold and out, which went really well. He's doing hold with only gentle stroking fingers under his jaw, no hand on the back of his head. And as soon as you say out, he lets go and backs away from the object (in this case his tennis ball dumbbell, since Juno's obedience dumbbell is MIA).

We made some progress on open. It took forever to teach Juno this task, so I anticipate a similar quest with Kaline. About halfway through, I finally came up with the brilliant idea of not having the door clicked shut, but technically open, so I could reward Kaline for any pull that made the door move. Of course, we just started with rewarding for mouthing the tug, then tugging it enough to get it off my hand, and then tugging enough to make the door move, however slightly. That's about as far as we've gotten, haha.

Last we did rear-end awareness, which, like Juno, Kaline really seems to enjoy. Well, at least he likes the part where he gets treats for putting his front paws up on the stool. He's still at the point where I'm rewarding for each single step of his back feet to either side. Also where he falls off the stool a lot, because he's puppy clumsy! It's freaking adorable when he falls off and then rushes to get his front paws up again, looking expectantly for his treat.

This training took at most thirty minutes, with breaks included ... Kaline passed out for the rest of the evening. It was glorious.
Dead to the world.

Dad found out that there were no fees to go to Muir Woods on Sunday (Armistice Day), so we planned to do that. I still ended up going to the Farmer's Market with Kaline. He did really well, meeting four people dressed up as mice (with scary mice heads) and realizing they weren't going to eat him, and calmly not reacting to an enormous dog who charged us out of nowhere. Yes, the market is technically a no-pets area. I smacked the dog's face away from Kaline's—once my SD is getting charged, I don't mess around with being nice. Then I grabbed his collar and yelled, "Does this dog belong to someone?" After what seemed like forever, someone came to fetch him. Gaaah.

Kaline was unfazed, even if I was having figurative heart palpitations. He did absolutely rock-solid blocking for me at every stall. I still have to show him where to be, which I expect to have to do for many, many more months, but once he is in place, he stays there, sometimes leaning a little bit into the backs of my legs. Such a good boy.

In the afternoon, we headed to the woods. The woods are also a no-pet area, so both dogs needed to be on duty. My aunt, who lives up in Marin near(ish) the woods, told us there was horrific traffic, no parking, etc. We went anyhow, of course, and though at points the traffic was bad, it never stayed bad, and right as we pulled into the parking lot, someone else pulled out! It was very good luck.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kaline began shivering the instant he jumped out of the car, so into the Cozy Horse coat he went. Juno wore her big harness-vest and did most excellent momentum pulling all through the forest. She had a ton of distractions to ignore, clusters of people, screaming, running kids, strollers, not to mention all the fascinating smells of the beautiful forest. She was a star.

Juno, for pulling, went on my left, so Kaline walked on my right. He really didn't seem to mind walking over there, even though he basically never does it. He did a pretty good job ignoring all the kids too (he has a lot more trouble resisting them), but did have some totally understandable trouble resisting smelling all the forest stuff. With a dog on either side, I felt like I was in my own little parade or had really adorable bodyguards. We definitely got some looks, but mostly had no issues. I was surprised we didn't get any problem at the gate, with two dogs and Kaline "dressed" the way he was. It was a very pleasant surprise. And thanks to Juno, when I came out of the woods, I wasn't worn out and I wasn't in a ton of pain.
Me and the pups!
Between two trees.
Looking up between those two trees.
Tamalpais Valley on the way home.

I attempted to get cute pictures of the dogs with paws up on the rail of a bridge. Juno apparently decided she needed to be an overachiever. Instead of doing paws-up, which is a command she knows, she put her paws up and then attempted to vault over the freaking rail and into the creek! I practically died (thankfully she was on a very short leash and her little vault got aborted real fast). Kaline is basically Juno's size now (seven pounds to go!) but he acts shorter, so when he did paws up he didn't try to do ... more. Yeesh, Junebug!
The one picture I got of Juno, before she decided "paws up" meant "please jump over this railing."
Kaline, my little ham.
Oooh, water!

After our "hike" we went to meet my aunt and cousin for a bite to eat. Normally I don't really like working both dogs in a restaurant, but I didn't really have a choice. We went to California Pizza Kitchen and once Kaline settled, everything went incredibly well. They both passed out, hurrah, except for a couple times when Kaline decided that my anxiety levels were getting a little high and did a lap-up. He's very proactive about lap-ups, which I quite like.

In less lovely news, Kaline had to go to the vet today. For the past week-plus, about every other day, in the wee hours of the morning, I wake up to Kaline making awful vomiting noises. Then all that comes out is a white foam. I know, I know, TMI. Anyway, Saturday night he barfed up his whole dinner plus a squeaker. We have no clue where he got it, because he is no longer allowed stuffies of any kind, and the one we keep in Mom's room for Juno is in mint condition. Then he vomited that foam again this morning, so I took him in in the afternoon.

I was really proud of how calm and quiet he was during Dr. Harish's exam. Dr. Harish was looking in his eyes, ears and mouth, prodding and poking his belly, etc. I wasn't holding Kaline at all and he just stood there and took it. Apparently he was not as good when he had to go off with a tech for an X-ray, but that's cause they had to hold him on his back. Thankfully, all the X-ray showed in his innards was food. So the current theory is the squeaker was in there for a while, irritating his stomach and causing the nothing-vomiting. Hopefully we're done with that for now!

08 November 2012

Rain is my least favorite weather

We had training in the rain today. It was not the most fun ever.

Kaline was (undeservedly, it turns out) in the proverbial doghouse from the time we got to training. After being good for a while, he started wrestling with the other puppy, who is much younger, in the back of the car. That crap drives me nuts, and I've been trying so hard to teach him that it's more rewarding to lie quietly right behind my seat and get fed little bits of bait. This other puppy though, will not take no for an answer. Hence, I was pissed at Kaline when I should've been pissed at the other pup. Ah well.

Sometimes it was just overcast, and sometimes we got poured on. Eventually Kaline needed the big coat. I was cold and wet and grumpy. Nonetheless, both my dogs did pretty well when I worked them. Kaline, understandably, did not want to do anything but stand in the wet grass, but when asked, he grudgingly did sit and lie down. Then when he realized we were going to play "up-down" he got more and more into it. Heeling went quite well. Recalls were interesting. He came nicely enough, but he kept looking away when I'd back up. Freddie had me pop him toward me and call him if he looked away when given the watch cue, and lo and behold, much better attention pre-recall!

Juno was my training dessert. She didn't care that it was wet and rainy and cold and shitty. She was stoked to work. We did finding heel exercises, which she is really good at and loves. I really need to do the rear-end exercises with Kaline that I did with her—it really helps, I think, with pivoting into position in many situations. I'd earlier been doing the same finding heel stuff with less experienced dogs, and trying to teach them where to be; with Juno, she sticks to you like ... something really sticky. (I can't stand the cliches that are popping into my head right now.)

We did long recalls, where she'd get going super fast and then put on the brakes so she could slide to a sit right in front of me. And then we did fun retrieving with a bumper. It's really neat to see how much her retrieving drive has increased. I just have to keep reminding myself that this didn't happen at all quickly, it took a long time.

But now, you whirl that bumper and she's amped. You chuck it and she goes for it like it's a steak or something, and then best of all, she comes lolloping back with it in her mouth and sits right in front of you, all proud of herself.

Everyone was much better on the drive from training, except of course our little troublemaker in the back who was chewing on Juno's good leash. (Looks like BLD will be getting some more of my money soon.) This time, Kaline ignored him and stuck right to his spot, gleefully gobbling up his tidbits. And once the puppy was gone, everyone else—Juno, Kaline and Lucky the Golden Achiever—crashed.

When the three of us finally got home, we had a hot shower. Yes, I know, hot water is not ideal for bathing dogs. But I don't think any of us were really up for adding more cold. So far, dandruff hasn't appeared, so I'm going to cross my fingers and just hope that we've escaped this time. Afterward, there was much group cuddling with blankets and such. Also, I apologized for Kaline for being pissed at him: little tastes of mashed potatoes and a piece of cheese.

I can't wait till he's grown up enough to have his own Cozy Horse coat. He and Juno are going to look so awesome when they match!

Other news from today: We started a new walking dog, a female yellow Lab who is the littermate of one of my absolute favorite dogs, who I unfortunately don't walk anymore. She accomplished in about two seconds what Juno still can't do: she made Kaline give her a respectful amount of space in the car. All she had to do was curl her lip a little, and he was like, "Ack! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"

It was pretty hilarious to see how the dogs grouped themselves on the walk. Our new Lab and Juno walked on the outside, with plenty of space. The three boys mashed themselves together next to me—Kaline did an excellent job shouldering the other two away so no one was mashed against me. The doodle was constantly getting his head smushed between the other boys. Maybe it's the blondes! The whole squishing business doesn't happen with the Black Dogs.

Really though, it probably comes down to girls just being smarter than boys. Hehe.

05 November 2012

Why is it Monday again?

Despite having a "job" I really love, I still don't like Mondays. They're long. Three hour-long walks in the morning—four-pack, five-pack, four-pack—followed by an afternoon siesta and then a training session, which is supposed to be an hour but always ends up being two, not that I really mind. It seems like not that much when I write it that way. But it's a lot.

Anyway, Monday is over (yay!) but I'm still way stressed. Obviously the election is tomorrow. I need Barack Obama to win. Aside from all the multitudinous reasons I like him tons and absolutely despise, loathe, and abominate Romney, if Obama is elected, one day I will be able to get my own health care. If Romney is elected, I will never be able to get health care on my own. So tomorrow is going to be a little bit of hell. Hopefully I will get to go to bed knowing I don't need to think seriously about how to move to the Netherlands.

Moooooving right along. We had a decent weekend. Kaline is working really nicely, I must say. We didn't do a ton Saturday because I felt crappy. Sunday though, we did the Farmer's Market and Trader Joe's and the bagel store. I took both Juno and Kaline into the bagel store and they practically spooned. It was really cute and they did really well. We definitely got some looks, but whatever. Dad took Juno on a walk while Kay and I went with Mom to the market.

For some reason, after breakfast, my brain got really slow and fuzzy. I have heard people talk about "fibro fog," but I have never had that happen to me and I am not sure if that is what actually happened. Nonetheless it really sucked. I would be trying to talk to someone and it took three times as long to just process what they were saying, and then it was really difficult to respond appropriately. Kaline did his job even though I wasn't totally there. Yeah, he was doing more than the usual amount of sniffing, but otherwise, he was great. He did great blocking, even when rude people basically walked right into him (one woman huffed her way by and conked him with her enormous bag—I actually said, "Yeah, just walk right into him like he's not there!" in a slightly loud voice, but she didn't notice). He did "touch" when I asked but it wasn't enough, unfortunately, to bring my brain back into focus. Usually if I can feel myself getting out of it, repeated hand-touching will get me back again.

Oh yeah, right as we walked into the market, some guy shouted after us, "NO PETS!" Kaline had on his bright blue vest, which shows up very nicely against his gleaming black coat, and is covered in service dog patches. If I'd been thinking fast enough, I would've really given him an education; all I could get out was "He's not a pet." Damn you, failbrain.

Kaline was awesome in TJ's. About a minute after we came in, someone working there dropped one of those big plastic crate-type things. It was a big loud noise. Kaline didn't flinch, just stopped and then looked up at me—"Treat?" Yes, indeed, young man. Of course we had to go to the cheese aisle (second in challenging-ness only to the meat aisle) because I am totally addicted to Gouda. (Side note: NEVER call it "goooooo-duh." It's "chhhhh ow dah." You have to kinda hock up a loogie for that first sound.) He blocked, then sat when I asked and did an adorably alert down-stay while I stocked up. A guy in the checkout line said it was very hard to resist petting such a beautiful dog. Heehee.

And then we had Monday. Kaline was good; of course a few of the others were annoying. Naughty naughty children. Our midday siesta was not enough but it was very lovely. Kaline's presence was requested for our training session; the puppy loves him and thus so does his owner, even though Juno is a much better demo dog.

03 November 2012

Kaline and Chief in the City

Yesterday I ended up with a totally free afternoon, so Kaline and I went to meet Chief and Sonja in San Francisco. I cut it a little close, whoops. I drove like a bit of a maniac to get to the nearby train station in time to catch our 2:44 train into the city. Kaline and I had to run (well, as much as I can with my awkward self) to get a ticket before the train pulled in. I aggravated my already very grumpy ankle, but other than that, great, GREAT outing.
Kaline on Caltrain.

It was Kaline's first time on Caltrain, and he was quite a star. I was, naturally, way stressed when we finally got on the train. There were no open double-seaters downstairs, so we went up top which has single seats in a narrow line. Very little space for Kaline to curl up by my feet, but to his credit, he managed very adorably—after spending about five minutes leaning into my chest to make me nice and calm again. He'd stay curled up on the floor for about ten minutes, and then he'd slowly get up in my lap (except for his back feet) for some snuggles, and then he'd slide back down and curl up again. It was a most delightful little cycle. He enjoyed looking out the window when he was up in my lap.

We got to the station in San Francisco and easily found Sonja and Kaline's best buddy. Chief immediately flopped onto his back when he saw Kaline, and Kaline sniffed him all over and gave him a huge paw in the face. Apparently this is an affectionate gesture, because Kaline does it to dogs he likes, but he really does not understand how large his feet are and how getting one of them in the face might not be the most fun thing for another dog, especially a wee guy like Chief. Of course, Chief forgave him instantly and they played anytime we gave them the opportunity. Kaline was like, "Damn, man, you've shrunk! What happened?" Kaline is so much bigger than the last time they saw each other.

Kaline and Chief start a play session.
SMUSH! I love you Chief!

All the traffic, crowds and noise of the city really didn't seem to bother Kaline at all. It definitely interested/distracted him, of course, but he didn't ever seem apprehensive or scared. We walked over to a coffee shop and I held the pups while Sonja got a drink. Chief chirped like a little bird. We walked over to the ballpark (where I tried not to look at all the World Series stuff—gaaaah) and Chief got to romp about showing off his excellent recall and his very impressive leave it. Kaline pulled on me basically the entire time we were in the city, but other than that he was pretty good. We worked on attention, as always! We need to go to the city more, haha.
Kaline gets his coat put on outside the pet shop. It wasn't that cold, but I was sick of carrying it, haha.

We went over to Sonja's favorite pet shop, where the dogs got treats and got fussed over. Then we walked along the piers. We came across a fire station, and Sonja asked the guys if our dogs could come say hi to them. It's always great for them to meet emergency responders and learn that they are friends, because service dogs have a much higher chance, obviously, of coming into contact with emergency responders in a stressful situation. The boys did just fine, and Sonja got pictures of us in front of the fire truck and the fire boat. Yes, I said fire boat. Don't you love San Francisco? The firemen said that we can come back when the boys are older and they'll dress up in all their "scary" gear for them. Woohoo! They were so nice.
Me, Kaline and Chief with the firemen (Sonja likes being in pictures even less than I do ... plus she had the camera ...)
Fire boat!

 A bit further along we went into a pier that had a bunch of little shops. Lots of people, lots of food smells. We had the boys do long-distance sit- and down-stays, which were pretty great, and then got a passing man to try and distract them by calling their names and doing drive-by pets. Then we made our way all the way through.
Down-stay in the market.

We went a bit further along, then crossed to the other side and walked along this apartment complex, which was walled in on two sides for a corridor and had lots of grassy lawns. Chief got to run about off-leash and had great fun zooming in to tangle with Kaline (on leash) and then zooming away. Kay and I have worked on the recall, but not enough for me to feel okay letting him off in the city. I'm pretty sure he'd stay close but I don't want to take the chance. We made our wandering way to the Muni station on Embarcadero. We had to go down a big flight of stairs and then Sonja got me a ticket. It was kind of hilarious—we went to the first machine, it wouldn't work, and we looked up to see a big sign reading "Out of Order." Next machine. Wouldn't work, looked up to see a sign reading "No single tickets." Third time was the charm. And then we were pretty inept trying to get my ticket to scan in the machine (Sonja has a permanent pass). We're very silly but at least we can get big laughs at our own expense!

Both boys were excellent in the station. It was loud, but not as loud as the BART station one level down. Kaline just plopped down next to me to wait; we even practiced grounding on the platform, with all those people around. He was great on the train too—he has excellent balance from standing so much in the back of Trumbull (even though I encourage him to lie down) and did some grounding (for real) on the train.

Me and Kaline in the Muni station.
Sonja and Chief in the station—Chief was so tired. Cutie pie.

Grounding practice on the platform.

Me and the pups on the Muni train.
Grounding on Muni.

We took Caltrain home, and Kaline basically passed out on the floor until we were almost at our stop. I was so proud of him!
On Caltrain, headed home.

And after we got home, he had dinner and went up to go sleep in his crate. Junebug came along to dinner. A most relaxing finish to the day.

Perfect girl passed out in Thaiphoon.