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

20 September 2013

A SD handler riff on an interesting article

I just read this article. To sum up, it explains why it's important to reward both effort-success and results in narcotics dogs (and by extension human children). I say effort-success because they're rewarding the dog doing the search properly, even though it didn't find narcotics (result). The dog's not doing a sloppy search (just effort).

But anyway, my whole point here was to do a service dog take on the article without all the jumbly language. It made my brain hurt a little.

My example of a task where it's important to reward both effort-success and results is pushing the handicap button in order to make a door open. I actually know of a handler whose dog got (momentarily) bummed out because he pressed the button the way he was supposed to, and the door didn't open. The button was broken—the dog had done his job right, but since the result (door opening) hadn't happened, he thought he'd failed.

The way I teach my dogs to hit the button is, first, by seeking out a button that will not open the door. A closed shop works well because I can tell if they've hit the button squarely by the little clicking the door makes as it tries to open against the lock. (As opposed to a malfunctioning button.) Using the clicker, I go from rewarding just a touch of the button all the way up to hitting the button firmly and squarely. I don't really care if they use their paw or nose, although I am glad that Kaline has switched to using his nose since he got tall.

So the dogs start out learning that they're being rewarded for hitting the button accurately. At this point, the door actually opening hasn't entered into it.

When we move on to open stores/working buttons, the reward comes for both hitting the button accurately and for the door opening. This means if they hit the button right and the door doesn't open, they get rewarded. If they hit the button a bit sloppily and the door opens, they get rewarded. Hitting the button accurately is the “effort-success,” the dog doing the task correctly. The door opening is the "result," the thing I want to happen.

I think I've probably oversimplified a little, but the basic gist of this is that with service dogs or narcotic detection dogs or kids doing math problems, it's important to reward both the effort-success and the result. If you only reward effort, you're eventually going to get sloppy work because the result doesn't matter. If you only reward the result, you'll kill your student's motivation, because even if they do everything you taught them correctly, they may still "fail" if that doesn't produce the result.

When you reward both, you get a dog who is motivated to hit that button squarely, or do a thorough search. You basically vaccinate the dog against depression over “failure.” And I think that's a pretty cool thing!

28 August 2013

Michigan Trip, bonus entry: Juno's Spa Week with Sonja

Juno spent the time we were in Michigan with Sonja and her pack: Chief, Josephine, and Jolanda. She basically didn't wear a leash the whole time and had a blast.

She accompanied the pack to get coffee and breakfast.

She went with them to the beach.
She ran around like a maniac at Stanford.
Sonja took an adorable photo of her at the beach with ... beach stuff ... in the shape of a heart!
The beach happened a LOT.
There were many yummy treats to be had ...
And a lot of comfy napping to do as well. She had a wonderful time.

All photos by Sonja!

27 August 2013

Michigan Trip, Day 6

19 August 2013

Our last Michigan day was another long one. Mom and I got up early to walk Kaline and do some errands. I ran him behind the hotel to take the edge off a bit. We walked from South U. across the Diag again in beautiful weather to State St. On the way back to the car we stopped at Ray's Red Hots, formerly Red Hot Lovers (a much better name in my opinion), so I could get a delicious red hot and waffle fries. Delicious. Kay again did great momentum pull.
Morning walk, stopping at my favorite restaurant, Charley's.
We got a courtesy driver to the airport (yay Hertz!) so we didn't have to do luggage unloading twice. There was really no line at security. Kaline got my hoodie off, refused the first shoe retrieve, then did the second one. Progress. He was the best yet at his pat-down, holding his stand very nicely. We really lucked out getting all dog-lovers on the pat-downs.

We went to Max and Erma's for a bite and Kay settled perfectly. When we boarded the plane he was fine, but he started to tremble when I sent him into our row. He stopped, then started again during takeoff. He sat up and all three of us were stroking him and making soothing sounds. As soon as we started cruising, he relaxed and went to sleep for most of the flight. Huge improvement! This one flight attendant kept coming by to just check on how Kaline was doing, how sweet. He did fine on the landing and did mostly nice, sometimes too hard, pulling through the airport. Super antsy on the car ride home, but I couldn't blame him. He went from being cooped up five hours in a plane to being really cooped up in the car.
Kay on the plane home.
When we got home, I was the first one to go in. Hendrik had dropped Juno off earlier, and her welcome home greetings are the best! She jumped, she wagged, she kissed, she leaned, she even whimpered in glee. I kissed and hugged and rubbed and made squeaky sounds. Brilliant. When I released her to go outside, she raced to Dad and “attacked”; then she realized Mom was in the back seat of my car and jumped into the cargo area, trying to vault into the back seat. She was not terribly thrilled to find Kaline in the back seat. “I thought you got rid of him!”

To wrap up, Kaline exceeded my expectations for this trip. I asked a lot of him, and he was fantastic. I am super proud of him, and especially glad that both my parents noticed and acknowledged how well he did. And to put the cherry on top: I finally wore Mom down, and Juno will be coming with me to Michigan in October! I cannot wait.

26 August 2013

Michigan Trip, Day 5

18 August 2013

We were at Greenfield Village basically from opening to closing! It was glorious. Perfect weather, so Mr. K did not have to wear shoes, and no one was chilly or overheated. Woohoo.
Dad had twisted his ankle the night before, so for the day he rented a scooter. We told him he looked like Dr. Nefario from Despicable Me.

We had planned to take the train to the back of the village and work our way forward, but the wait for the next one was too long—we had a long list of things to do! This ended up happening repeatedly and we never actually took the train. Ah well.

We walked all the way back to the Daggett Farmhouse, one of my favorite stops. Kay did excellent momentum pulling to get there. We stopped off at the Logan County Courthouse, where Abraham Lincoln once practiced law. We'd seen the outside but never the inside, and the door was open so we went in to learn more about it. When we came outside, I noticed that Kaline's liquid bandaid had all worn off and his ear looked pretty good! I was still super careful with it and the bandaid has since been reapplied, because he shook his head too hard and I could tell it wasn't going to hold. Maybe it will once the hair grows back?

Once we went inside the farmhouse, we had a lot of things to work on! The fire inside was crackling merrily as usual—the Daggett Farmhouse presenters cook their meals there and much of their food comes from the garden in the back. It's so cool that it's still at least kind of a working farm. But the open flame scared the crap out of Kaline (not literally) who had no clue what the heck it was. He froze, hackles up, and gave a little wuff.

The presenters were super nice and supportive about me working Kaline through it. We went outside to calm down, first of all. Did some easy commands (sit, touch, stand). Once he was a bit calmer and more focused, we went back inside. He was still not happy about the flames but I took him as far away from them as I could to sneak past and get him into the kitchen area. There, he chilled out nicely. I let all the presenters say hi to him and pet him because he also seemed unsettled by their period dress.

We met a guy, also in period garb, outside splitting wood. Kaline warmed up to him nicely, after being a little unsure at first. Then we spent a long time at the candle-making demo. The two ladies there were very informative and very happy to help Kaline with his aversion to period dress. One even took off her straw bonnet so he could make a closer inspection. He really relaxed after that interaction. Yay.

One of the lovely, super helpful dog-loving candle makers.
Next we went to the beautiful Cotswold Cottage for tea and scones, something that is never an option when we go in chilly October. There were tables set up in the side yard with little umbrellas over them, and flowers all around. English gardens are awesome. Kaline chilled out next to my chair for the most part (till we got him up for a wee photo shoot—Mom can't resist the combo of gorgeous flowers and dogs). I got a pot of hot English Breakfast tea in a tea cozy, with a full honey bear on the table just for me. The scones with jam and clotted cream were to die for.

We came back to the Town Hall for a fun Gershwin medley performance, during which Kaline warmed my feet. The parents went to ride the carousel while Kaline and I waited in vain at the town hall for the baseball parade to begin. (Dammit.) After that, Dad went to watch the game, while Mom, Kaline and I went off on our own.

Town Hall.
Greenfield Village Omnibus.
 We ended up at Liberty Craft Works again, where I was actually able to watch and very much enjoy the pottery demonstrations. Kaline also met a tiny little girl who was so cute and polite I let her pet him and love him up. He'd been doing so well all day I thought he deserved a reward.

A little later, we met back up with Dad and decided to ride the Model T even though there was a really long line. Kaline did pretty well in line except when he accidentally did a tail clamp on one of the chains that marked the line's serpentine. Did some blocking, some lying down with all the humans blocking for him. We ended up in basically a Model T woody, known as a hack. Kaline was a little nervous at first because of how loudly the gears shifted and how much vibration there was, but soon he settled into a down at my feet.
On the Model T ... Kaline is hard to see but he's there!
After our ride we explored the Miller School, another building we'd never been in since it's rarely open to the public. The man at the door advised that there was a tiny steam engine inside, so I'd be ready to work Kaline through it if it bothered him, but he totally didn't care. Just flopped on the floor while Dad and I talked to one of the presenters about steam engines and the war for Toledo (Michigan “lost” but got the Upper Peninsula, full of copper and other awesome things. Ohio got ... Toledo.)

Kaline and I with my favorite poster. Bennett Park is where the Tigers played before they had Navin Field/Briggs Stadium/Tiger Stadium.
Itty bitty steam engine.
We checked out the World's Fair exhibit in the actual museum, but it wasn't that exciting, unfortunately. Even Mom agrees that the best special exhibit we've ever seen there was the baseball one put on by the Hall of Fame in 2006 (I think). None of the others have even come close, though we never did get to see the Titanic one. I bet that one was pretty cool.

Momentum pull FTW!!
Dinner was yummy, and when I was feeling particularly tense and anxious, Kaline got up and laid his head in my lap for a while. Both my parents commented on how excellently he'd done on the trip. Sure, he was a little annoying in his teenager way when off duty, but during his working time, he was pretty much everything you could possibly ask from a nearly 16-month-old pup. Very professional.

25 August 2013

Michigan Trip, Day 4

17 August 2013

Saturday, we did the Farmer's Market, Greenfield Village, and dinner with one of my buddies from the gymnastics team who is now in med school at Michigan.

It took forever to get out to the market, but we finally did. It's way bigger and better than the one at home, not to mention more crowded. Kaline had a little more trouble with these crowds because they were so dense. Sometimes there was no path through, and he couldn't make his way without touching people somehow. We also ran into pets who shouldn't have been there. But it was still fun. Kaline even did an anxiety alert and response, which was pretty awesome.
Kaline at the market.
After the market we drove to Dearborn and the Henry Ford Museum, my favorite thing pretty much ever. America's Greatest History Attraction. Totally true. We headed out into Greenfield Village, located behind the museum, where all the historic buildings are. Kaline was a little spooky to start, because right as we got in he saw in succession a steam engine making all kinds of noise, a bunch of Model Ts puttering around, and horse-drawn omnibus. Not familiar things in his life!

Our objective was Walnut Grove and the Historic Base Ball game about to start. We got a nice spot on a hill overlooking the field but soon discovered there were innumerable flying insects in the grass which were constantly swarming over Kaline. He didn't seem to mind, but I was sure bothered! We only stayed for two innings. The game itself was very delightful—some of the plays they made barehanded (no gloves in 1867!) were just amazing. The game settled Kaline down nicely also.
After the game we headed to the Eagle Tavern for lunch. I love that place. They serve whatever foods would be available in Michigan at that time of year in about 1850. Way better than the fast food you get at the cafeterias elsewhere in the museum. I got a bunch of cornbread to save along with all my other delicious food. Kaline slept between my feet the whole time.

The weather was beautiful, warm but not hot, and there were way more people than we usually see in the fall. So many more stands were open too! It was really cool. We caught a horse-drawn wagon from the tavern, pulled by Percherons Amos and Edsel. Kaline was apprehensive about climbing on this contraption at first, but got used to it. Then we went to the carousel, where Dad held Kay while Mom and I rode. I pulled myself onto a horse and wrenched everything in my back and shoulders. Stupid, stupid me.

Next we went to the craft shops: glass blowing, tin making, print pressing, pottery making. In the tin shop, the other SD team we'd been seeing all day came in but left when they saw Kaline. I was a bit bummed at the lost training opportunity. Little white dog in orange, I assumed it was a hearing dog since generally that's their color.

Pottery is my favorite but that day I basically had to be a presenter, even though I really wanted to listen to the actual presenters. Everyone was asking me questions about Kaline. Nice questions, but I was bummed out that I didn't get to hear what the real presenters were saying. And then it was time to leave cause they were closing.

Kaline was so exhausted he just slept through dinner at Good Time Charley's, my favorite restaurant ever.

24 August 2013

Michigan Trip, Day 3

16 August 2013

Kaline was such a star. I was super proud of him! I got up early to take him on a campus walk (now that we had a normal-sized car I felt safe driving into town). We started by Angell Hall, went through the Diag, past East Quad where I lived my first three years at University of Michigan, down Hill St. and all the way to the Rock, an enormous boulder that gets painted by pretty much all the different student groups throughout the year. Then we walked back up South U. back through the Diag and back to the car.
The M on the Diag. Kaline doesn't have to worry about stepping on it because he'll never have to take a blue book exam.
Everyone comes to Rick's.
Home sweet home.
Kaline at the Rock.
I vested Kaline to do a little shopping. We also picked up some Bruegger's bagels for breakfast (we don't have proper bagels on the West Coast so in Michigan we really stock up). Kaline did great momentum pulling and even did turns on verbal-only cues. I only did that for really obvious turns, but still! Yay! He got many compliments.

We came home to eat and I ran Kaline in the back. Later, Dad, Kay and I had lunch with one of my old professors at Saigon Garden. Kay had a little trouble settling under the table because of its “foot” but eventually made himself comfy.

At Saigon Garden.
Then we got Mom and visited some of the shops in Kerrytown. After another run for Kaline, we headed into Detroit for the Tigers game.

Kaline was freaking amazing. We did all the required photos, of course, of me and him with all the Al Kaline things. And the big Tiger outside, and Ernie Harwell, etc. In the crowds, he did momentum pull. I do not do well in crowds if I keep getting stopped and penned in. Kaline was such a pro, consistently seeking out the path of least resistance through the dense crowds and barely sniffing anyone. He did great in the crowded Tigers store as well, where everyone loved his name. Naturally.
With the Big Tiger.
With Ernie Harwell, the statue.
One of the many Al Kaline displays!
1968 Tigers, my all-time favorite team.
Al Kaline jersey.
Al Kaline statue!

The accessible seats we got were fantastic. Squishy folding chairs and tons of room for Kaline to curl up on his blanket, no risk of him getting stepped on. We got shut out 3-0, which sucked, but it was still a really fun time. Dad and I had great fun just looking at all the different Tigers shirts people were wearing. I know, that's normal in Detroit, but we're so used to getting excited when we see other people wearing Tigers gear that it was just fascinating to see the entire stadium dressed up. We saw maybe three Royals fans the entire night.

We left as soon as the game ended because there was going to be a fireworks show on the field and Kaline had never been close to fireworks. He was surprisingly calm about the whole thing though; we watched some of the show from our parking lot, plenty close to see the lights and hear/feel the booming. I was just crazy impressed with my little guy!

23 August 2013

Michigan Trip, Day 2

15 August 2013

Our second day in the Mitten State, we got to sleep in. How delicious. When I finally got up, the first order of business was a walk for Kaline. Our hotel had a nice little walking path behind it, plus a pond, with geese, and this big grassy strip where I later let Kaline get all his running ya-yas out. That day we did a regular walk plus some basic obedience practice.
Morning walk.
Morning walk.
We met my mom's old college roommate and her husband for lunch at a place called Sava's. The first thing the waiter brought was a bowl of water for Kaline (I didn't ask for it) which my puppy happily lapped up. He was excellent through the meal, snoozing under my chair quietly. After lunch we exchanged the car at a nearby Hertz outpost and talked dogs with all the employees (haha).
Kaline the rock star at Sava's.
Next we went to the mall (our hotel was basically across the parking lot from Briarwood) where I worked a lot with Kaline on matching my pace—sudden stops and turns, changes of pace, etc. He did a nudge alert right before I went all fibro foggy. He pulled pretty well once that started but I was still only about half-functional. We came back to the hotel for a break after that.
Kaline at Briarwood Mall.
When we got up, Dad and I took Kaline in the back on his e-collar and just let him run himself out. He also wriggled hilariously on his back in the grass. He was just having so much fun.
Getting the ya-yas out.
 After the run, we went to State St. for some shopping and dinner. In Nickels Arcade, we saw a guy approaching with an Airedale, so I got Kaline out of the way and was keeping his attention on me. Once the Airedale saw Kay, it began lunging and basically screaming, trying to get to him. I shoved treats in Kaline's mouth and just waited for the guy to go away. But of course, when he got close, he goes, “Can he say hi?” I replied pretty sharply, “Absolutely not.” Probably offended him, but better than getting my dog hurt.

Other than that guy and one other, though, basically all the people I encountered in Michigan were politely curious about Kaline, rather than the intrusively curious folks you get in Northern California. It was really pleasant to be asked things about his training rather than about my personal medical information. And Kaline was a great Dober-ambassador, since a lot of people had never seen a Dobe SD before.

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings for Boneless Thursday, and actually saw another SD team! It was a Golden Retriever and a man in a wheelchair. I generally don't go up and talk to other teams I see unless it's a meetup, so I was just quietly happy they were there. Kaline was again excellent, the food was very tasty, and we got to see part of the Tigers game.
At B-Dubs, yum yum!!
After dinner there was yet more shopping and a stop at Insomnia Cookies on South U. And then, the obligatory Meijer run.
Shopping at the M Den. Yes, I bought this, I never put things in his mouth that aren't mine/I don't intend to buy.
Meijer is this store in Michigan (well, chain of stores) that has everything. I am not kidding. Everything. Food, clothes, hardware, pet supplies, you name it, they probably sell it. My parents used to take me on Meijer runs when they'd visit me at school, and we still do a run each trip. It is ridiculous. Somehow we always manage to fill up the cart with stuff. You wouldn't think we'd need groceries and such but apparently we do. Kaline did awesome, even though he was pretty tired.
Kaline and Faygo, the best pop ever. Many flavors, but Rock & Rye is by far the best. It's a Michigan thing.
Filling up the cart!