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

24 June 2013

Another leg for Juno, and Kaline's first trip to a trial

Yesterday was Kaline's first Gotcha Day—I've had him a whole year, which is pretty unbelievable—and we went to a Rally trial for Juno with friends Mary, Marissa, and Kristin. I brought the big purple pop-up crate for Kaline to chill in, along with his breakfast and a Bento ball with an actual cookie in it. (Usually Kaline finds the Bento ball so fascinating on its own that I don't bother with the cookie.)

As you might have guessed, Kaline was absolutely not interested in the diversionary things and whined a lot in the crate. Juno was her usual excellent self. It was fantastic getting to meet Mary in real life, and both the dogs quite liked her also. Juno even favored her with a kiss, which is big coming from her. It was really nice to have a friend there that one dog could stay with while I did things with the other. And Mary took a bunch of fantastic photos of both dogs, but mostly the gorgeous Juno.

I tried to do things better than last time, given it was the same venue. We got a much better course, full of things that Juno is fairly good at, and sans broad jump. (YAY!) It was overcast, so I could warm Juno up in a figurative sense without really doing it in a literal sense. And for actual SD work, I had Kaline there, so Juno didn't have to worry about that.

Well, we again had jump issues, since on the first pass Juno decided to cut around the jump rather than go over it. Not knowing that you're not supposed to repeat a jump (I learn new things at every Rally trial, and always because I've done something incorrectly, haha), I got her back and had her take it properly. We lost ten points right there, but only one point on the entire rest of the course! So I was really happy with that. All four of the dogs who got ribbons for Advanced B got scores of 100, how insane! First through fourth was decided based on speed. An awesome toy poodle got second. All of us sitting together were commenting on how nice it is to see a little dog that's treated like an actual dog. All of us with dogs competing in Advanced (me, Kristin and Marissa) got legs! WOOHOO!!!

Once Juno was finished, I left her to hang out with Mary, got Kaline vested, and decided to do a circuit of the trial. I had had him out a few times already, just in our area, and had no issues from anyone regarding his prong collar. (Prong collars may not be worn at AKC trials—unless your dog is a SD and it's part of his working gear.) That changed toward the end of our circuit, the rest of which went pretty well. Kaline apparently has more trouble ignoring single dogs than ignoring an entire area full of dogs.

Anyway, we had just spotted our Doberman friend, Sue Korp, and her lovely bitch who has All The Obedience Titles. As we went to say hi and chat a bit, a woman with an Airedale came up to yell at me about Kaline's prong collar. I didn't even let her finish her little diatribe, continually cutting her off with, “He is a service dog. He is not competing. The prong collar is part of his normal working gear.” (I wasn't going to get into the nuances of SD vs. SDIT with her, considering that in California, it doesn't really matter.) I was getting pretty worked up but not too  badly, because I had expected someone, at some point, to do exactly what she was doing and had prepared for it. Kaline was doing really well, standing in a block in front of me, between me and the yelling woman.

So I reached down to stroke him reassuringly and tell him he was a good boy. The Airedale woman gave him a disdainful look and said, “Can't be much of a good dog if he's in a prong.” That hurt, big time. I'm proud that I didn't cuss her out, or say something stupid, instead responding that my tools are my business, not hers. But you don't hear from a stranger that basically you have a terrible puppy and not feel totally like crap.

We immediately came back to the area with our friends, where Kaline parked himself on my lap/against my chest for most of the next half hour or so. He'd get off momentarily but then he'd be right back up. Such a good boy. And later, Sue came over to chat and say that the Airedale woman was over the top. She said that nationals for Rally are in Pomona this year—bad half of California, but still, West Coast! Maybe we'll figure out a way to go. It's in October, so we have time, and it'd be fun to see Sue's wonderful bitch strut her stuff (somehow at Rally I never end up finding time to go watch regular obedience).

During Rally Novice, a nice woman and her elderly mom came over to us to talk SDs—the mother is training her next mobility dog, a pretty smooth collie. She asked about Kaline's Petjoy harness vest, probably my favorite piece of gear besides our BLD, and I got to evangelize about all its wonderful qualities and how nice the company is to work with in general. It was such a nice, friendly, happy note to end on, rather than Airedale woman.  

After crashing away the whole afternoon with the pups, Kaline and I accompanied Mom to Stanford for a quick outing (Nordstrom and Macy's near closing time). Kaline's fear of elevators is all gone and he's blocking properly again in them. He was really accurate with all the buttons, and is mostly using his nose now instead of his feet because he is SO DELIGHTFULLY TALL. TALL, I TELL YOU. He (mostly) ignored three other dogs at the outdoor cafe where I got some tea, and was just a lovely boy all around. Everyone upstairs at Macy's gathered around him to fawn over him and his beautiful silky ears. They were super nice and asked all the un-intrusive, fun questions.

Let's see, other highlights from my undocumented week. At our last session with the tdoc, Kaline was fast asleep until I started to talk about the access challenge we had in Pennsylvania. Then he woke up and laid his head in my lap for a while. Win. We've been practicing retrieves, and he's done pretty well with different materials including metal.

Last Thursday, Juno and I got to go with Sonja and Chief to the JCC in Palo Alto to talk to a class of preschoolers about service dogs. That was super fun!! Normally I'm very afraid of small children, but the teachers had prepared them extensively for the visit, and of course Sonja took the lead in talking to them and doing demos. They were really well behaved and just fascinated by the dogs. Chief demonstrated opening a cabinet and retrieving Sonja's medicine pouch, as well as going to a target with people around it (foundation for going to get help). Both dogs did regular retrieves, and then we showed the kids how the dogs can “undress” us. Then we let each kid put one of our gloves on their hand (their tiny hands were swimming in our gloves!) and one or the other of the dogs would come and tug it off! They were totally enchanted. I hope we get to do something like that again soon! I can't wait to take Kaline and see how he does. He will definitely have fun—Juno tolerates and is very quiet with children, but Kaline just loves them.

Juno's other big outing was going to the Giants game against the Padres (extra innings, of course) with me and Dad for Dad's birthday/Father's Day. Mom and I chipped in for really good tickets on the club level. Junebug was excellent, natch. Our usher was so proactive in looking out for her—anytime someone wandered near our row, she'd jump in and go, “Find another way in, there's a dog here.” We were right below the broadcast booths (TV and radio) and got to wave to the broadcasters during the seventh inning stretch. Lots of fun. Unfortunately we had to leave before the game ended; with a SD, my general policy is not to stay past the end of the 11th inning at Giants' games. (A's games, I can leave the scorebook with Dad and get my dog out for a pee break if I have to, so we can stay later.) The game went thirteen innings and we lost, but hey, a fun night anyhow!

We're planning to go to the Pride Parade in SF this weekend. Juno will be in charge of that, and then Kaline will be on-duty for Dad's birthday dinner that night. 

11 June 2013

A carnival and two trips to the emergency room

Last Friday was a little too interesting, if you know what I mean.

One of the local elementary schools, Nativity, has a little carnival at the end of each school year, so this year, I decided to take Kaline. It was his first carnival, and he did really well, except for being a little spastic right at the beginning. Note to self: Warm up Kaline before entering places such as carnivals.

Once he got in his groove, he was awesome. I kept the expectations pretty low, not asking for a lot from him. All I wanted was general calm, ability to focus when asked, basic obedience like sit, down, and touch. We did several passes through the various crowded corridors and visited all the rides. I thought he'd be a little more unsettled by their weirdness.

Our basic M.O. was to get pretty close to the ride, as close as possible with Kaline still acting relaxed and focused. Which turned out to be right up against the fences most of the time. I'd let him look at the ride for a while if he wanted, and then start rewarding for switching his attention back to me. After about one or two rides, he didn't even really want to look at them. He was just staring at me, like, “Okay, we're close to this thing, where's my food?” I was very pleasantly surprised.

We did the spinning apples, the little planes that go up and down, the Ferris wheel (which was in the very long process of loading), the Zipper, one of those crazy rides where the seats are on long ropes and as it spins you rise up in the air, that whirly one where you get pressed against the walls, etc. We also checked out the various food booths, went by the little concert, and browsed the various loud games. None of it fazed Kaline; he was perfectly happy to focus, or do a down stay at a distance with the crowd just behind him. There were a couple attempted drive-by pets, but nothing major. A lovely man came over just to ask how Kaline was doing with the chaotic atmosphere and to ask nice questions about his training.

After the carnival (we were there no more than 30 minutes), Dad picked us up to meet Mom for dinner. Juno was at home, and Dad was in charge of Juno-proofing the house before he left. Well, while we were at dinner, Juno nosed open a closet that had been left ajar and which happened to contain all the chocolate my parents bought in Holland. Naturally, she proceeded to eat it all, leaving the living room and dining room strewn with a festive assortment of wrappers. I wish I'd taken photos, but Mom was absolutely irate and probably wouldn't have looked on that very kindly.

Normally when Juno eats chocolate, it's not a huge deal. She's a big dog and in the past has been able to handle it with no effects beyond being a little extra peppy. But this was about a pound and a half of chocolate, much of it dark, so I took her to the emergency vet. Vomiting was induced, and she was given activated charcoal and subcutaneous fluids.

I called home to say we were on our way back, only to learn that while Kaline was under Dad's supervision (nominally), he attempted to eat a plastic measuring cup. He broke the handle into a bunch of jagged little shards and swallowed at least a few. Back to the emergency room. At least this time Dad drove us.

I was more worried with Kaline, because I didn't know if the shards he swallowed were enough to puncture any of his innards. Luckily, he threw them all up ... along with a squeaker! Which could have actually been more serious than the plastic. He tore up a toy while at Freddie's (he doesn't have the opportunity here) so I assume that's how he got the squeaker.

Needless to say, it was a very long and tiring night. Happily, both dogs are completely fine and back to work after a weekend of very light activity, and the emergency vet even gave me a discount on Kaline's bill. Bulk discount for two dogs in one night, haha!

06 June 2013

Kaline gets back to work

Let's just say I wish I were still on vacation. Now that that's out of the way ...

Kaline was a bit depressed his first day back from Party Central. Then he mostly got back to normal and my faith in him as a baby service dog was fully restored. Our first outing was to Walgreens, and he was superb.

I have mostly gotten his “new” vest (Juno's Petjoy harness vest) to fit right, and he looks really good in it. We practiced the usual things in the store: pressing the buttons for the door, not sniffing things, lots of loose-leash walking around. He only swatted Mom's little pull-cart once, so that's progress, right? At the end we randomly bought some vitamins that are supposed to help you sleep, and I had Kaline carry them all the way from the back of the store up to the checkout line. I even got a terrible video! You can't see the part where I held it out and told him “take it” and he did, but trust me, that also happened.

So that was really fun and uplifting.

Walks this week have been wearing me out for some reason. Soon they're going to tail off for the summer, and while that will be good for my body, it is not good for my anxiety (over income) or, obviously, my income itself. Hopefully we'll get some new pack members soon. In a couple weeks we are adding a new wee Labrador, so that will be lots of fun.

Juno had a nice outing to Red Robin with me and Dad last night, and of course she was perfect. I think she is getting the hang of her new harness (when I talk about her getting the hang of it, I mean that she is positioning herself right and pulling when asked without someone she likes in front of her). Despite the fact that our table really had no under to speak of, the girls one table over had no clue Juno was there until our waiter started to coo at her. (He was having a harried night, and Juno won't respond to that stuff from a stranger, so I just let him do it.) Pretty fun. I love it when people don't realize my dog is there—that's how it should be!

Today at training they were both good. Kaline is finally learning to do a recall without crashing into me or doing a drive by (to avoid the crashing) at the end. Hurrah! He also did really, really nice off leash heeling through this insane pattern Freddie had made up with many weave poles. They both were rock-solid on the recall with distraction—I found a tennis ball, hehe. Oddly, given that Juno is the only one of the two with actual (well, probable) retriever genes, Kaline is the one who really likes balls. So it wasn't surprising that Juno ignored the ball being tossed all along the line of waiting dogs, but I was really pleased that Kaline just looked at it and then looked back at me! Woohoo! When we were working the Labs and Goldens, a little different story, haha. Although with the gun dogs, all you have to say is No Bird and they're like, “Okay, must not chase moving object.”

Hopefully this weekend I'll get to do a lot of work with Kaline—there's a carnival at a local elementary school, we may go to the city, and we'll probably do our usual Sunday morning routine. We also need to focus on his learning positions around me and trying to develop his body awareness ... yeah, I know. Lots of luck on that last one!

03 June 2013

Our trip to Pennsylvania!

In which I shall make up for long inactivity with a marathon post about how freaking fantastic Juno and her amazing harness were on our trip to Pennsylvania.

We left last Wednesday, having dropped Kaline off with Freddie the previous evening. He was so happy playing constantly with Rio, he didn't even notice we left. Most of our stuff at the airport went fairly smoothly, but I was still left with a bad impression of United.

When we arrived at the security line, I asked the woman directing people where the express line was. She put me and my parents in the line resembling the one for Space Mountain in Disneyland, only at the end you get groped instead of going on a rollercoaster. Noting this issue, I then approached the guy in charge of the express line. In order to get into that, he said, I'd have to talk to his manager. The woman who put me in the wrong line in the first place.

So I went instead to a security guard. She rolled her eyes at the manager and most efficiently put me and Juno in the proper line, then rounded up my parents as well. When I thanked her, she snorted dismissively and said it shouldn't be that difficult for the other ones to just put us in the right line.

Once that was solved, we moved smoothly through security. Juno picked up my shoes for me after I took them off, then helped me get my hoodie off. I went through the non-scary metal detector (the full body scan, which I have to use if I'm dogless, invariably triggers an anxiety attack), then called Juno through, in all her gear. She stood like a statue for her pat-down, like we were in the obedience ring doing Stand for Exam. The TSA lady who checked her over was quite impressed. Juno's a pro now when it comes to air travel.
Through security at SFO.

When it was time for early boarding, Juno and I and my dad had no trouble, but boy, were the passengers rude in general. And another disabled woman, who didn't have a dog but did have a fused leg, got a ton of rudeness and snark from the gate agent.

We watched as tons of "first class" passengers cut in front of me and the other lady, just because they're special and we're peons. The gate agent did nothing, just let it happen. Then when the other woman said she needed to be switched to an aisle seat due to her leg, the gate agent, instead of accommodating her as the law requires, told her she could either sit in her assigned seat or not fly. She did it in the most nasty, humiliating way possible. When we got on, I talked to the woman and said they had to accommodate her, no matter what the gate agent said. I found the relevant part of the ACAA but by then the people who actually worked on the plane had done their job and found her a proper seat without being assholes.

Juno and I were in Economy Plus, because the bulkhead was an exit row. I was amazed that Juno fit so well! She slid herself under the seat and had plenty of room. Then the flight attendants moved my dad, who had the middle seat, because the plane wasn't full and then Juno would have even more room to spread out. As usual she slept through most of the flight.
Curled up on the plane to Philly.
Adorable face!

When we got to Philadelphia, Juno did amazing momentum pulling on her guide handle, with and without a target.

She charmed our rental car bus driver. Then we had a two-hour drive to Wilkes-Barre and our hotel.
Juno on the bus.

We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, and they needed some serious education on the ADA. At least I had some warning. Dad had gone in to check in, and came back to the car with an evil grin. “They want to see paperwork for the service dog,” he said, knowing I was about to kick ass verbally. It's the only time I'll really stand up to people and have a conflict.

So in I went with my ADA business brief. I was told I needed to show ID or certification. I passed my ADA brief across the counter, reading aloud the portion that says ID, certification, demo of tasks, etc. may not be required. In response, I got, “Okay, but ...” I said, “No ‘but.’ This is federal law.” Eventually I had to talk to an assistant manager, because the girl at the counter had clearly been told she needed to ask for this paperwork, and the higher ups needed the education. So I educated him too. Not sure how well it worked, but Juno and I had no further trouble after that, and hopefully they'll know better how to treat future teams. I walked Juno “nekkid” through the lobby a lot ... it was sometimes unintentional but not always. Hehe.
Juno's drawer o' stuff at the hotel.

Juno in our hotel room with Froggy.

On Thursday, we ended up spending the day at Harvey's Lake, where my parents used to spend their summers. Of course, this was after the first of many Dunkin Donuts runs. I am addicted to Dunkaccinos and wouldn't you know it, there are no Dunkins anywhere near me.

At the lake, my parents were pointing out houses where various people used to live. We got to one that belonged to Gary Frank, with a guy working outside. “That looks like Gary Frank,” said Mom. It was Gary Frank, and we ended up spending the afternoon with him and his wife on their dock and in their boat on the lake. He was good friends with my mom's older sister.
Harvey's Lake.

Juno did awesome on the boat ride. I thought she might be a little unsettled at first, especially when we went fast, so I popped some cookies in her mouth. She was totally fine. She even enjoyed the wind whipping her ears around.
I'm on a BOAT!
Chilling on the boat.

We got ice cream on the way home, and the girl working there made Juno her own bowl, with two scoops of vanilla topped with a Milk Bone. Juno was most appreciative.
I'm mean and like to torture my dog.
Nom nom nom.

We went to dinner with Dad's old buddy Pete and his wife Gail. Right as we got in the restaurant, some lady started reaching for Juno, belatedly asking if she were a “Seeing Eye dog.” I blocked for Juno and told her she wasn't, and please not to touch her. Urgh. Dinner was good though. Juno sacked out completely next to my chair until the end. Guess her harness is pretty comfy!

Friday we got to do family history stuff. In the morning, we went with my Uncle Larry (Dad's youngest brother) and Aunt Nora to walk Juno in Kingston, starting from Dad's old house. Dad will call family members by wrong names a lot, and it got hilariously worse with Uncle Larry around. Every time he wanted my attention, it was, “Larry! No, Donnie! No, Nancey! No, COLT!” At least once I was also Juno. We walked all around the old neighborhood, with Mom, Larry and Dad all pointing out the houses of their old friends and of various family members. I love that kind of stuff! And Juno enjoyed her nice walk.
Juno at Dad's old house.

In the afternoon, we went to the Lackawanna Coal Mine. I was on the tour of the actual mine when I was about nine, and I didn't really feel like taking Juno down in there. So Mom and I did the museum while Dad, Larry, and Nora did the mine tour. It was good fun and I was especially tickled to see that one of the electric coal locomotives had come from the Henry Ford.

That night, we went to our first actual family event, the Shabbat dinner for my cousin Noa, who was having her Bat Mitzvah the next morning. Juno did her best at blocking when we came in, but I was getting swarmed from all sides. Yes, by family I was excited to see, but still swarmed. It was too much and we had to go off and do deep pressure so I could calm down. I got to chat with a bunch of my favorite cousins, and Juno did really well when a very tiny cousin screamed bloody murder at the sight of her standing up. Totally ignored it. She's such a rock.

Saturday was awesome. I spent the morning killing some time with Juno, going to PetDumb, Barnes and Noble, and of course, Dunkin, before heading to a tack shop in Dallas to meet up with Francine and her SD, Rocket, an amazing pit bull/Lab mix. I also got to meet Francine's lovely husband, Chris. We've been talking online for quite a while, and it was really neat to get to meet them in real life! We got to talk shop a lot, and the dogs did great working in each other's presence. We had a delicious lunch out in the middle of nowhere at a grill that had shockingly delicious burgers. Juno got an amazing compliment from Francine that I will treasure forever, that she seems like she was raised to be a SD from puppyhood. (Actually, I got her at 18 months and she was totally insane.) We had a marvelous time!
Francine with Rocket; me with Juno.

In the evening was Noa's party by the pool at the hotel where most of the family were staying. Again with the overwhelming crowding; eventually I was able to get a spot at a table, where the crowding would be minimal, and again I got to talk to a lot of favorite cousins who I don't get to see much. Juno conked out under the table once I was settled. Everyone was amazed at how calm and well-behaved she is. I really hope one day Kaline is like that. Juno and I had such a great time bonding on this trip, and I just wish she never had to retire and that we could be a working team forever.
Outside the hotel with this awesome car.

Sunday was brutal. We had to get up at 3:00 am to get on the road to Philly by 3:30. Our flight was a little before eight. Juno was excellent in the airport again, doing momentum pull with Dad as her target, blocking when she needed to, ignoring randoms trying to distract her. We got Dunkin again, naturally, and once we were on the plane (much better experience) Juno absolutely crashed. She was quite a tired girl!
Juno riding the luggage cart because 3 am is too early to walk around.

Juno crashed out on the plane.

Our flight seemed to take forever, but finally we were home. I picked up Kaline, and he was super mellow all day, probably out of exhaustion from a weekend of nonstop bromance with Rio. It was super convenient for me and the parents and Juno, because all of us pretty much passed out for the afternoon.