Monday, May 26, 2008

Doggy Party Time

Thanks to Susan and Hummie for hosting our first annual Memorial Day picnic. A fun time was had by all!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Flea & Tick Preventative

Here in central Virginia it's full-on flea and tick season. If you use one of the standard preventatives like Frontline, you might want to compare the price you pay locally with the Pet Shed. I've bought from them for several years. Their products, customer service, and delivery time are all outstanding. And they are located in Australia! Here's the link:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Glad I did my homework, really glad

My German Shepherd, Humdinger, and I have been training with Dee for under a year so far. At a session toward the beginning of our training Dee taught us an "emergency whistle recall". Call the dogsname, toot the whistle and treat treat treat when they come. Make sure they are going to come when you toot. Have very good treats and give lots of them. Repeat often.

Humdinger and I did the homework. I worked in the hallway of my home, not a big distance but he always came to the toot. He even gets excited to see the whistle now, good treats - woof!

I did not do whistle training every day, maybe twice a week.
On a recent weekend day I was outside playing with Humdinger and his mother, Fudgie. My husband came out and handed me the phone, "Hi Aunt Mart". I sat on the house steps and watched Fudgie and Humdinger playing in the yard. Humdinger went to the woods edge to go to the bathroom, he has good bathroom manners- no poo in my grassy yard. I became engrossed with my conversation for a few minutes. When I ended the phone call I looked up. Fudgie was there, no Humdinger. Looked in the woods, no Humdinger. Gone, vanished, vamoosed. I ran to the woods edge where I last saw him and listened for his footfall in the leaves-nothing.

I ran to the house, grabbed the whistle, ran to the woods edge where I last saw Humdinger. With a calm and confident voice I bellowed, "Humdinger, COME!" and gave a violent TOOT.

I listened. From off in the distance I heard the galloping of big footed Humdinger coming my way. Ears flopping and tail wagging Humdinger came right to my feet, panting and smiling from his scent tracking adventure.

Oh my goodness, I was saying, "thank you Dee, thank you Dee" as we returned to the house. Humdinger enjoyed a fresh salmon chunk, broken into little bits, "good Hummy come, good Hummy come".

I keep up the whistle training now. Thanks Dee, it really works!

Susan Brucker and Humdinger

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Diabetic Alert Dogs

Four days ago I received an email (a referral) from a woman desperate for help with a partially trained Diabetic Alert Dog. Her 8-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a year-and-half ago.

I've been scrambling to learn as much as I can about this service dog specialty. The first reference I found was from 2001 and it was anecdotal, i.e., a wonderful family dog "gets it" and becomes a DAD. Apparently the 2001 article spawned interest and there are a few companies in the U.S. supposedly training dogs for this job. I say supposedly, because I have not personally talked to a trainer who does this or met a fully operational dog.

As I learn more, I'll share information with you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nike, through Mid-April

From Nike's Mom, Elena:

Well Nike had her first day at day care. I was a mess. I also had her groomed while she was there because she is not scared of the bath and I’ve been playing with her paws frequently and I wanted to see how she would do with getting her nails cut. She did fabulous on the grooming, but I think she was a little overwhelmed at first by the other dogs. Up to this point, we started having ‘bring your dog to work day” on Fridays and a couple people would bring their dogs in. She was great with that playing and just having a ball, but of course she always knew her mommy was there. I started bringing her to daycare 2 days a week to get her socialized. She is insanely in love with this guy, Pat that works there and she follows him everywhere and even opened the door on him while he was in the bathroom! My Dad was here for a visit and Nike was crazy about him, too. We brought my dad with us to dog class at the dude ranch. He was incredibly impressed with the training. Nike was hitting her 16 week mark and all her obedience skills were great, however…she was starting to challenge me on her recall. I would call her and she would come happily bounding at me and then takes a sharp turn just as she got to me and veer around me. No worries. Dee had us practice at closer ranges and doing a collar grab when she got to me. She still needs work, though.

April 1-15

Still working on this recall thing. We are getting better. I’ve been practicing with her in our hallway (Dee’s advice) so she doesn’t have room to veer around me. It’s working great. I am also getting longer “stays” out of her. On Dee’s suggestion we also started practicing walking together at “heel” on very long steps and very steep hills. Nike is doing that fabulous. I use “with me” and I am extremely confident she won’t pull me down a hill or steps. We continuously work on different terrain and in different environments. Sadly, I had to leave Nike for a weekend because of my military obligations (I was playing soldier in the field one weekend and couldn’t bring her with me. She stayed with her Daddy (Donnie) and Dee came down to do one on one training with them. I firmly believe in not missing one single week with Dee, especially at this young age. Even if it’s group class or one on one, we do something with Dee every week. ee knows I have military obligations and will sometimes have to leave Nike. Regardless of the care environment I leave Nike in, Dee is willing to come train with her, so that we keep developing. Dee has incredible commitment to me and Nike. Nike did great that weekend, but when I got home she was really jumpy. I thought “oh, no, am I going to have to start over?” Nike was literally jumping up on me constantly that first night back. The next morning she was a totally different dog. I could not believe what a mature young lady she was being. So I guess that first night back was just excitement.