Give me your sadness. I will take it, as much as you need. If it kills us both, so be it. I am here.

Posts tagged ‘training’

#ServiceDogHandlerTag

DAYS 1 – 6 ON INSTAGRAM !!

Day 7: Which handler do you want to meet the most?
Same as Q.6!

Day 8: Best places to train?
Pet shop is one of the best places, definitely. It has ample distractions, little judgement, and no chance of being challenged. It is a good distance from my house and through the park, so it’s a good walk and training opportunity as well as actually getting things we need!

Day 9: Any advice for new teams?
I could probably think of a lot, and I do randomly, but the best thing I can think of right now is that dogs – including trained ones – aren’t robots. They are animals and they play up and they play around and they love you unconditionally. Some just aren’t suited for working, and that’s okay too. Some learn quickly, some need more encouragement and praise. Everyone works at different paces. You’re probably doing fine.

 

#ServiceDogHandlerTag – and a history of my working dogs

day one– What gear do you use?
Well, there’s been a few different things that I’ve tried out as I grew through learning exactly about working dogs and finding more gear. This looks rather nostalgic, so I’ll just give a brief description; PHOTO 1 is chocolate lab Milly, my first working dog. She was the one I had through learning about gear and dogs. She was just an ESA (Emotional Support Animal) and I had a home-made lead slip on her own lead. Then, as the year went on, I bought a proper black rope working lead, made another lead slip, and even made our first vest! Home-made out of a grey vest-top of mine, I sewed on printed patches and buckles. It was flimsy and unprofessional, and though I taught her a few tasks, I decided not to go in any strict non-dog place. We did only what I referred to as ’emergency public access’, when I simply had to bring her in because there was no other option, and this only happened a couple of times. I was respectful of working dogs from the start.
PHOTO 2 is black lab/lurcher Norbert, who I still walk now for his owner. He underwent a brief stint working for me after Milly’s family left the area, and so she left my life. Initially training him for his owner to push buttons to open doors, I talked to her (his owner) and I turned the walking into training to help me. Already having a bond with him, he learnt quickly, despite being a good age, and I used the same lead and slips I had for Milly, minus her headcollar (until I got one of my own to use on him), and decided to use a fluorescent ‘be seen’ jacket thing I’d gotten before, with again a few patches on it. He was good and I was more savvy to what I was doing, and despite the fact he only worked for a summer and a bit, and again we only did proper public access when absolutely necessary; he helped me do several things in that time that I wouldn’t have done alone, including coffee with a friend, in PHOTO 3. Not particularly fond of the bright yellow vest, I boldly searched for a good working vest online, and eventually found and purchased a OneTigris brown medium tactical vest. I attached patches and it was the best thing I’d had thus far.
Norbi was already old when I met him, and after a few trips to town, I quickly learnt he wasn’t fond of many people around, especially children, and especially in town. By the end of the year, I retired him to an ESA like Milly had been, and made plans for the new year. After failing with a puppy of my own, not for reasons related to working or training, but situational – in the new year, I met beautiful chocolate lab Charlie, with his owner who lives in the same close as me. This time, I set it off from the start. His owner was understanding and nice, and I immediately started walking him and training. Quickly, he learnt and we bonded. Using a new ‘training’ bandanna and a proper expensive blue vest with a handle, I went about public access properly as I could, recording our outings, referring to the public access test, and building things up. PHOTO 5. Working so well, but sparsely as time went on, I went ahead and after a little while, got a measured red vest to use as well – PHOTO 4. The lack of handle got to me but it looked even nicer and fit a little too well. Along with the proper lead slips I got along the way, and a headcollar similar to Milly’s I’d gotten after using a too-big Halti on Norbi, he looks what could be called ‘professional’, and we’re still training and working every so often, as I get worse in my mind and Charlie gets more foster-siblings. But anyway. That’s a very detailed explination of my gear through the years, and so the dogs I’ve worked with. One day I may find my actual own dog and actually live this life I have, but meanwhile… I’ve got Charlie.

Changes + A New Recruit!

Just a short post to say that all the changes to this blog are because it’s finally going to be in use again! I have another candidate for my assistance dog, a lovely chocolate lab called Charlie who is 2 years old; he lives in the same close as me and his owner has given me free reign to train him to help me and then work with me out and about, giving me a degree of independence. We’ve barely known each other a week but the situation looks hopeful right now; Charlie is a bit hyper but very eager to please and learn, and he knows some things already! I’m looking forward to more adventures with him and I hope this will work out as him working with me in the end.

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Adventures + Maybe not all is hopeless!

So sorry for not updating when I am meant to!! I did mean to, but this past week has been a bit hard and crazy and stuff, the bottom line being my mother apparently can’t deal with Toby while I’m away at college for the day for half a week; so, we immediately reached the decision that he was going to have to go. There’s adverts up but no responses yet, and so I thought that there was no point carrying on his blog and that. But, this morning, when I finally came downstairs, mum was veeery thoughtful, and she told me that Toby hadn’t been snapping or nipping at all this morning. Now that’s progress. She had let him have a run in the garden too, burning off that terrier energy. So, well, I decided I may as well update this blog to cover our last week and as kind of a warning – yes, he may well be going soon, but, well, maaaaaybe ALL is not hopeless, from the interesting and thoughtful tone of my mother’s voice when she said that this morning… he is getting better at this stuff. And he still loves me. So there’s no promises, but perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope there.

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So, our adventures in the past week. Well, like previously stated, I am full time at college Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. So I have little intel of how those days go (apart from Tuesday, which is the day I came home to “can’t cope and have to rehome”… still holding out on more news for that one). However, when I am with him I stay (mostly) with him. Well, last Thursday and Friday I stayed in most of the day with him, just going out to walk Milly, the chocolate lab that I walk. That was pretty uneventful. On Saterday, I can’t actually remember what happened, whoops. But I think we did some stuff out, without him, and I stayed in a lot with him too. We’re still doing training – we’ve got sit, down and stay on point now! Stand we’re still working on, because he doesn’t quit get that one yet. We’re also doing some work on ‘off’ and ‘take it’ for food in my hand. Recall is mostly good, apart from when there’s too many distractions. He is a smart pup and eager to please – or maybe just for the food. Either way, he is learning and we’re enjoying the training together. I do get cross with him, but that’s a given, and I just leave if he’s too mouthy or crazy. Yes, so on Sunday the family left for the ENTIRE DAY and so Toby and I had a rest day, just chilling and cuddles and playing and training. It was good, if a tad boring, but I’m not really the stay in ALL day type. Just as well I have a dog who won’t be either, when he can go out.

This week was a little different, because I had a bad college day on Monday, so Toby comforted me when I got home, and then on Tuesday I came home to the bad news, so had cuddles again. Wednesday, I went to college pretty late and came home pretty early, so was barely away from him. He’s so pleased to see me all the time, it’s the best. Ah yes – Wednesday was puppy class! My previously mentioned friend came with me again, which is very helpful by the way. I probably wouldn’t go on my own. This time, class was AMAZING. Literally. Toby was VEEERY confident – TOO confident. Yep, he went ahead and started mounting all the bitches in the class. Uh. This is not my fault! It’s actually, I’ve discovered, my little brother’s doing; he has been trying to sit on Toby to ‘ride’ him, and, um, apparently the pup has picked this up and mixed it with male hormones to induce himself to start mounting the females. And sometimes the dogs. Aaaaand then some furniture or legs. Seems like we have a bit of a problem there. But it’s easily solvable, even if not for a few months. Yeah so he was extremely confident – which made me feel more confident! It was a good class. There were lots more little dogs, which was good for Toby (and for mounting them…) and everyone was nice, as well as the familiar faces from last week, which calmed me.

On Thursday, my friend came to my house so I was out for most of the day. She’s kind of taken the role of my service dog at the moment, which is very helpful and means I can go out and about and enjoy myself. We came back a while after lunch so I could feed Toby, and then we went out again to walk Milly. My friend left for her home and I headed to mine and Toby. I gave him his dinner and cooked some for everyone else, then we had cuddles until everyone came home. There were too many people then, so I wanted to leave, but I didn’t – I stayed and protected Toby be holding him. Then I had to go to piano lesson, so when I came back Toby was sleepy again and he went to sleep on me and for the night in his bed. Friday, I went out with my friend again so it was kinda the same for Toby – went back to see him for lunch, then after Milly’s walk. But last night he went really kind of crazy. Trying to bite me arms and even jumping for my face. I enforced my dominance by making him sit, down and stay for me while I held the food, and he did that fine, but was still crazy. So I put his lead on and went out and literally just stood there and watched him run around and around and around, burning off the terrier energy. Then when we finally went back in, I gave him my shoe to chew on, and played tug a bit. At long last, he settled down and went to sleep on me, and I put him in his bed.

Well that’s our adventures. His future with me is unclear at the moment, but – despite being a general hopeless person – I can’t help but hope that we can keep him. It would be amazing. Hard, yes, but amazing. In just 3 weeks he’s made such an impact, and now I even have hope for something. A little longer and I may even have the will to fight for it. But, unfortunately, it does seem pretty hopeless. Well… here’s to a bright future for Toby, at least, whether with me or someone else. He deserve that. And here are a lot of photos from the past week…

2014-10-17 09.48.47 2014-10-17 09.49.04 2014-10-17 11.49.17 2014-10-17 11.51.54 2014-10-17 11.54.55 2014-10-17 11.57.41 2014-10-17 09.47.50 hanging out together

2014-10-18 13.08.25 2014-10-18 14.04.21 2014-10-18 14.04.51 trip to grandma’s house

2014-10-22 11.53.56 2014-10-22 11.54.33 playing with my little brother in the garden

2014-10-22 12.43.08 2014-10-22 13.03.25 2014-10-22 13.04.12 car journeys

2014-10-22 18.15.48 2014-10-22 18.24.18 2014-10-22 18.31.37 2014-10-22 18.36.32 2014-10-22 19.01.54 2014-10-22 19.10.38 2014-10-22 19.12.33 puppy class and pet shop walk

2014-10-20 21.58.10 2014-10-20 21.58.18 2014-10-21 22.12.18 being there for me

2014-10-22 18.00.44 look how tall he’s gotten!

2014-10-23 08.32.03 2014-10-23 10.22.52 2014-10-23 10.27.45 2014-10-23 10.30.28 lounge photography

2014-10-22 11.53.42 garden photography

2014-10-23 20.55.28 2014-10-23 20.57.11cuddles

2014-10-23 14.58.36 2014-10-23 14.58.56 2014-10-23 15.01.13 and, finally… this, if he stays with me, will be his first vest. He looked so smart. I can dream still….

References:

Milly’s blog, again, for her adventures with me (told by Milly herself!) – https://www.facebook.com/millychocolatelab

Toby’s state of craziness last night – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=909735752371113&set=a.439738676037492.107081.100000040903714&type=1&theater

My Twitter for some more pictures – https://twitter.com/k_lizzabeth

Thursday’s adventure with my friend – http://strugglingbutstillfighting.tumblr.com/post/100758585761/so-today-was-a-good-day-distant-cheering-from

Puppy classes & enrichment

So today we attended our first puppy class! I went with my friend, who I had invited over for the evening. She loves dogs but currently can’t see hers, so I thought I’d share my experiences with her. The puppy class was good – for us! Toby was, quite frankly, terrified. But when a tiny terrier puppy is suddenly carried into a pet shop and plonked down in a caged-in area with a puppy husky, dog-de-bordeaux and a labrador cross spaniel, the cards quickly turned. And so he spent most of the hour crawling around trying to get out people’s laps and edging further into the walls than he could, completely terrified. Oh, what a difference it was from the crazy pup running around the lounge carpet, gnawing on hands and socks and clothes, to one who cowered from the other dogs at class. Pretty astounding really, the difference. I had his harness on because he’s got to learn to get used to it, as hopefully he’ll be wearing vests and harnesses in his sooner years. It was almost amusing to watch, but then I got anxious and it got embarrassing and yeah I got wound up and worried and stuff and no way would I have been able to deal with it alone. That’s why I had invited my friend over to accompany me. So that was puppy class. Eventually, near the end of the session, he did manage to walk out a little and pretended to play a bit with the husky – who was called Storm – and tried to catch her tail. Archie, the lab/spaniel, was absolutely adorable and he also very friendly – only the other dog, Gunner, excelled his licking and cuddles! They were all adorable and I couldn’t help wishing for a bigger dog, especially when Toby was so scared. But still, I love him, and I think he still loves me, even after his pack leader sent him into so many threats without much protection. I want to be a good pack leader, but I don’t want a wimpy or soon aggressive dog. As a service dog he will have to pass the Canine Good Citizen test and a Public Access Test in order to achieve SD behaviour. So I’m hoping that a few classes in he will become more confident, stop growling, and maybe get some playing done. Hopefully. Hm. However, as a naturally unhopeful person, I don’t know if this will happen. As a terrier, maybe it’s just not in him to play nice. I don’t know, and no one can really know. As an old saying goes; “only time will tell”. So that’s what we’re going to have to do.

After puppy class, we actually took a short walk through the pet shop, and looked at some toys that I really want to get him. A Kong, first of all. It’s, like, the best toy a dog could have, apparently. Then we briefly showed Toby the rabbits and such, just to see if they put a spring in his step. They didn’t, which IS good, but not so much normal terrier behaviour. However I have already introduced him to Delilah, my hamster, so maybe he was already familiar with the smell. It would be good if he is. After that he almost fell asleep on me in the car, and when we got back he soon had a nap. When he woke up, he did go toilet on the paper! Yay for Toby! He’s doing okay. We showed a bit of obedience to my friend before she got picked up and she gave me some helpful hints and tips. The enrichment bit actually comes before the puppy class bit – before dinner, I put some of his dry food in a washed and dry coke bottle. I have seen this done before and it seems cool, so I did it. And Toby loved it! Which was good, but I am also afraid that this isn’t a proper toy, so maybe I shouldn’t have done it. Anyway, hopefully more toys will be heading his way soon. Training is also good, for an 8 week old puppy – we’ve got sit, down and stay for a short amount of time. He is adorable, and I do love him. That’s the important bit.

2014-10-15 18.20.54 2014-10-15 18.51.30 2014-10-15 19.04.47 2014-10-15 19.13.40 2014-10-15 19.14.44

Puppy class at the pet shop. Our instructor was really nice & so were all the other people and dogs. Soon though I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to appreciate it. It wasn’t the best situation for me to be in, but I DID do it, which is good I suppose.

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This is mr cowering in a corner, just by my legs. He sought refuge wherever he can and mostly he got it, which isn’t good. But he was adorably cute.

2014-10-15 19.29.50 2014-10-15 19.29.58 2014-10-15 19.31.10 2014-10-15 19.32.36

Short pet shop walk after class before mum picked us up. I really should of got some toys but he can deal without them for a little longer.

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Cuddles, strokes & naps at home. Exhausted puppy wants to sleep after his exhausting and scary ordeal. Fine by me – we both need bed time now.