Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When I need to remember.

For the days in the future when Haddie maybe going through a rough patch, I want to remember her current state of bliss. She is just so! much! fun! I am liking this 7 month age group.

My son received nice compliments from our trainer tonight in regards to Haddie's behavior at the Hockey Game, and her noticing that Haddie has conquered the fear of the class stairs and it's different surface. Three new learning features were added to Haddie tonight. 

The first was learning how to turn on the skinny ramp. In typical Haddie fashion, she learned the command in three tries. The first try the trainer helped guide her while my son lured Haddie in a circle, and then back again. The second time I replaced the trainer and helped Haddie turn; which took more time than when the Trainer was assisting. Haddie kept sitting when I tried to help. But by the third time, Haddie did it all by herself and she was set for the rest of the night. 

The second new learning task, which she did on the first try and every try after, was going through a series of squares that were slightly raised off the ground. In order to cross the obstacle, she had to put each foot into the square and keep moving through. She did great and acted like she had done it before, whereas she has never done so under our watch. Maybe at the Puppy Sitters, or at the Breeders before coming to our house. Either way, she did great!

The final new learning task was going Under a bench, staying there, and ignoring the opened box of take-out real food laying beside her. Haddie went Under, turned, and laid down and ignored the box completely. She did that too on the first try and had the Trainer and experienced Raiser giving her the thumbs up and surprised look. Yay, Haddie!!

To wear out the wiggles in Haddie today at home, I played a long game of Fetch in the upper hallway of our house (we started this game on leash in November; she has since mastered Fetch off leash). As her tongue started to sag longer and longer out of her mouth, I decided to stop the game versus waiting for her to get so tired that she stopped. However, the rubber ball that we were playing with accidently bounced down the staircase. 

Both Haddie and I watched it bounce chaotically down the staircase. She looked at me with her cute puppy face ruffled fur on her head, ears tipped forward, eyes wide, tongue flailing out as if to say, "Please?!". I commanded a Fetch and she was off. I figured that if she disobeyed and went wild through the house, the game would be over as she was exhausted anyway and I got the point out of it that I wanted - her tired! 

But no ... she came back up the stairs with the ball in her mouth, and Dropped the ball on command. The same looked returned ... so we kept going. Another ten minutes of stairs before I got the feeling that enough was enough. She was dog-tired!!

Haddie is just a cuddle bug, loving to get up close and personal for hugs and kisses. She is not much into having her head pet, as she is about the hug and kiss. She loves to be squeezed and held tight. I like that too. 

Our buddy Haddie and the things I need to remember for those times when she is not so gem-like .... 

Monday, January 30, 2012

NBC Nightly News

It was brought to my attention that today on NBC Nightly News there will be a feature story on service dogs, guide dogs, therapy dogs (not sure which one specifically).  Set your dvr's and take a peak. Any story that is a service dog related story is a good story!
Thanks for the heads-up, Jennifer!!! Looking forward to getting together on Wednesday for a Haddie Outing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Play Time, I mean Class Time

The driveway into the CCI Class / 4-H Meetings is a steep grade down, or a steep grade up - depending if you are entering or exiting. And it is surrounded by woods so it is well shaded during daylight hours. As a result of our crazy weather for the past seven days, the driveway has yet to be cleared from the slush, and apparent "ski jump" positioned perfectly in the center. I can imagine some neighboring kiddos enjoyed this parking lot immensely during the snowstorm.
So, we got an additional outing this week as a group!! We met at a strip mall and enjoyed a toy store, and a huge arts and crafts store. Outings are always so much fun ~ you get a chance to put your training to use in front of the trainer and other experienced volunteers to receive feedback ... and to just have fun together!

Check out Haddie's Adventure!
Watching her PR
play with things that moved
Your turn, Haddie!
Look out Train Town ~
a Giant Dog is lurking!
Love this quote
Her pondering eyes
make me smile.
Her motto sometimes
Her way ~ or ~ no way!
Very Wise, Haddie!
The Facility Dogs (those that have graduated and whose job it is to train us) are always up for some fun too. Aren't they just the cutest? When Haddie returns to California for Advanced Training she will be trained to "get" and "hold" like these two awesome dogs!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Haddie goes Hockey

Ice, snow, and wind could not keep our CCI Group from heading to the local hockey arena Saturday night with our pups for an outing. I was happy it was clear enough on the roads for us to attend, as I knew it would be excellent training for Haddie. And I was right ... but maybe in the end I learned more than she did.

I will admit that I was a wee-bit a lot frazzled getting to our seats and settling in. We had never been to this arena prior, so everything was new to us from the parking to the will call office to the arena seating chart. We worked well as a family, so that I was happy about too. While we might have been sweating under our coats, we kept our cool. The "never let 'em see ya' sweat" definitely came into play.

We parked in the section of the parking garage that did not have lights. As in, it was pitch black so long as another car was not coming to park with us. It was loud and eerie, to say the least, but Haddie got out of the car and did her stretches after the long (hour) car ride to get there. She acted as if we park in the dark under ground every day. First hurdle - check.

The next was going in the stairwell. I knew this had been an issue for her in late November when I had taken her with me when I escorted a family member to the doctor's office. She was not having anything to do with the stair well on that day, so I knew I had to possibly be ready with creativity to get her to not back out (the plant of the paws with the pulling backwards look).
The stairwell was crowded, so before I could even think we were shuffled politely, but quickly, through the winding five flights of stairs. Except for Haddie pulling a bit to the top, and me having to re-position her into a Heal before we kept going, she did really well. No backing out - check.

Walking outside to the arena was not an issue, she's been on plenty of sidewalks among traffic and cold weather, and even recently on snow and ice. But the crowd was something new. While she didn't try to solicit attention, I was focused to be sure she didn't get stepped on. I don't think any of the attendee's even knew I had a dog with me. I consider that she passed that test, she blended in quickly and kept up with the pace of weaving in and out.
Up more stairs and waiting in line before heading in the door, it had been thirty minutes and she was still perky. Once in the arena we found more stairs to get to our section. The stairs were steep, and this time, Haddie was more patient about sticking with me and not pulling ahead. Part of that was because it wasn't so crowded and I didn't feel like I was getting pushed at a rapid pace either. The game had already started and most of the crowd had been seated. I was able to get her to slow down and she was fine. Our Trainer stopped me during the evening and complimented Haddie's stair skills, taking them like a Pro. I was glad that she saw Haddie's improvement from a particular class time in late November when it wasn't the case. She certainly passed cement, steep, narrow stairs in a loud environment - check!

Our seats were smack-dab in the middle of the row. Offfff course!  We scooched on by the first fourteen people with minimal stepping on their toes and bags. That was the hardest of all!! It was a very tight squeeze, but thankfully Haddie did not break focus and kept going. No stops to lick or find a pat on the head. It was awkward, nonetheless, but we finally made it to seats 15-18. The first pup I saw sitting next to us was a baby - they were holding him/her the entire time. Yes, I was jealous. They had it easy (wink).

Good for us - Haddie went into an Under with out even being asked. I am sure she was truly trying to escape the overwhelming noise and smells, and thought we were crazy for bringing her to this wild environment, but it worked. She stayed there. I kept checking in to make sure she didn't grab that piece of dried candy on the floor by my son's foot, or that she didn't find left over beer stains, or popcorn. She was certainly sniffing, but she thankfully didn't lick any surface more than twice - check!
It was the kiddos that wanted to get up and walk around before Haddie ever suggested that she wanted to do the same. But I was ready too, so we took a walk around the arena where it was (yes, seriously) more quiet than sitting in our seats. You could still hear everything, but it was not as magnified. During our walk we had a lot of people wanting to pet her, which we allowed. Haddie did great at sitting and waiting for the friendly pats to be completed. She was so good.

We sat with the 4-H club too in between the periods of the game, and she just hung out like the veterans waiting for her turn to have someone show her affection. One man was taken with her and spent about five minutes petting her head, massaging her ears, and rubbing her feet. She was in heaven, but I kept my eyes on her tightly to make sure he was gentle and that she was okay with all the attention. I had to jump start my mind to "pretend" this was her new Handler. What would it be like to see her with someone else?
We left just before the third period to get started on our long drive home before the parking garage crowd slowed us down. The walk back to the car was a breeze, as we were the only ones leaving early. We were all pretty much skipping to the car in happiness - Haddie was amazing at the Hockey Game.
Between the crowds, the NOISE, and everything else that was new to her ... I could have very easily seen a different dog at the end of my leash ... but instead ... I just saw Haddie. I am so grateful that she was so good and that I learned from her that night.
I learned that the dogs that graduate are truly lifesavers for their Handlers, and are truly equipped to handle any environment. But the Handlers still have a tough, demanding, and never ending job of working with their dog in any environment too ... I keep replaying squeezing myself and Haddie through the fourteen people to our seats. It was not easy. I have a much deeper appreciation for the team of Handler and Service Dog.

Also, getting attention by so many strangers is a new perspective for me. Sometimes you just want to move on, sometimes the attention is nice ... but it is all because of the dog by my side. It just brings a whole new level of social to your world. Positive and negative. Interesting. I know I've felt it before in our outings, but everything was so vivid, intense, extreme at the Hockey Game, I felt it more.

I am so grateful the weather cooperated for us to hang as a group, to share with Haddie, and to learn.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Can't Wait!!!

We have internet access!!!

Never thought I would miss blogging and sharing pictures as much as I have, but when something is taken away you miss it more (perhaps). We have been without internet access since Thursday due to the heavy snow, ice, and wind that we received all last week. Thankfully we were sparred our power. We were one of the very, very, very few streets whose lights stayed on.

So much to share, so stay tuned for upcoming Happy Haddie posts!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Third Day of Snow

Okay, we are tired of the snow. We are ready for the rain to fall heavily, the cement to return, and our life back to normal. I like the adventure of the snow, but not for three days in a row at home. I like best to vacation in the snow.

We have not "done much" in the way of the dogs, other than letting them go wild in the backyard. While we've sledded, they have napped in the warmth of our house. Otherwise, we are doing indoor activities and just going a tad bit stir crazy (not the dogs, but us, or I should say, me).

Pictures of Haddie today in six inches or more of snow. She is one fast puppy! Some pictures are better than others, but they all hit the cute meter to me!
My Favorite - so majestic!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Snow

We live in the area of the country that gets at least one snowfall a year. The amount of snow averages just a few inches, but it is enough to get excited about and cause delays on the roads. I know to some of my readers that is laughable, but it is the truth.
About once every few years we will get a dumping worth National talk, but this is not one of those years. This is the typical year of a few inches (at least in our area of the region, up North it is getting hit much harder as it always does).
Anyway ... depending on next winter and where Haddie is placed in her forever family ... this might be her only experience of the white stuff. I hope at some point she will experience the depth of a snowfall; to see her jump through the snow would be video worthy.
This morning she held an Under (while sleeping) the entire Church service next to my girl. I guess that is a sign that she is growing up, and has been there enough times to get the routine. Yay, Haddie!!  The rest of the afternoon has been in and out of the snow, hanging with the family, and finding her cozy place in the house.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Haddie's First Christmas

I can't forget to include Haddie's First Christmas photos in the blog book that I will produce for her forever family. Haddie was such a sweet girl for Christmas - she pulled out all her nice qualities to make traveling to our extended families houses for celebrations so nice.
Santa gave her a new bone for Christmas, and my parent's gave her a soft toy which she adored rather quickly. I purchased this stocking for her, and our future CCI Pups.
We cut down our Christmas Tree from a farm every year, so the smell of real tree wafts through our family room throughout the month. Surprisingly Haddie could care less about the tree and ornaments. We never had an issue with her bothering the tree. Until ... the wrapped gifts were set under the tree half way through the month. She wanted to Open just about all of them.  I consider that a Smart Dog (smile).

A silly Self Portrait at my parent's house on Christmas Eve.
Haddie taking in sleeping through the gift opening.
Such a sweet pup. She had a terrific First Merry Christmas!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A community

I am so thankful that we are in an amazing group of fellow Puppy Raisers with CCI. I remember when we first were interested enough in this volunteer gig that I asked our good friends (who were PR's) to give me all the details. I will admit when I heard that the training center was a good 60 minutes one way away from our city that I quickly had my doubts how this would fit into our schedule.

But it has, and it has been worth every single drive to and from.

Our friend had mentioned over and over what a great support group and community of people that we would meet. There was a special bond between PR's in that no matter the level of expertise or years of experience, we each could relate to one another and we were all there to get the pups to succeed. No competition, no outside agenda. It truly was for the love of dogs, and for the gift to others.

She was right.
The first minutes of being
first time Puppy Raisers
An amazing group. The kind where you just can't really explain it to it's fullest depth. We share with out holding back, we cheer successes, laugh at comical mishaps, and try to help each other solve the problems based on our experience or thoughts. It is just truly a friendship with the dog's success at the forefront.

When we moved to the 4H classes upon Haddie's puppy graduation the bond and friendship remained. The kids are supportive of one another and their work. The team leaders are responsive and genuine. Cards are made and signed for those that are having a rough health week. A mentor is added to members who need an extra boost - and the mentors are so encouraging and heart felt. It is just a group of kids coming together to share their love for dogs, to inspire one another to do their personal best, to laugh, and to give it all away when they take their dog back to CCI.

I am happy. Our Chapter has been beyond what I really thought it would be like. I heard it, I just wasn't sure it was "as good as she said" it would be. She was right. And more ...

Thank you to Terry, Leslie, Brent, and Robin - for the love shown to Haddie, and a genuine interest in our family succeeding with her. A community. So grateful.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mall walking, and sitting

I had a few returns to make at the Mall today, and Haddie was my happy sidekick. Because the kids are in school before most stores open, we walked the one-story Mall waiting for the gates to the stores to release. These are the days I wish I owned a pedometer. I am curious how many laps around the large plat would make a mile, 2 miles, 3 ...
We eventually found a bench and sat for the last five minutes before the store we needed to Open. At first Haddie went Under head first and kept her bum hanging out. I stood up again and re-positioned her Under to a more appropriate result. And then we just sat.

She saw the janitor wheel by with his big cart of goods, babies and toddlers, people with walkers and in wheelchairs, the gates clanking up and down as employees arrived for work, music playing through the ceiling, shinny floors, and mannequins. She observed everything with perked ears and turn of the head, but didn't break her Under and didn't lick her surroundings. I consider it a good moment in training.

I wasn't fast enough for a photo (the ones taken here were with an outstretched hand and a bit of luck that she was actually in the frame), but she would look up to me through the open slats in the chair. It was so adorable. I love the moments when she is clued into me and waiting for approval and her next assignment. For the most part, this is her way during outings. Searching for me to look at her, checking in.
Haddie is just so much fun. I am feeling confident in our ability as a Team, I am just so curious what her future holds, however. All of these outings - what are they truly preparing her for? Will she be a service dog, therapy dog, favorite pet? What is her future?  The big unknown keeps me going.
I have told her recently, "I love you so much, Haddie!! I will keep you for one more year!"  Sounds funny, but it really is my way of remembering she is not my dog. And remembering how quickly our time together has gone, and will continue to go.

Even the little moments like Mall Walking, and sitting, are fun with Haddie.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cora hearts Haddie

Just before the dogs were to go on vacation to the sitters, I found my little beagle snuggled to her CCI friend. Usually, Cora is all about leaping on the couch to get away from the yellow fur ball. But a Christmas Miracle happened and she joined Haddie in her bed for a few minutes.

Upon returning home from their respective vacations, the two were found snuggling against the fireplace screen. That too was short lived, but it was a snuggle nonetheless.

While I know that technically the two dogs are not to be the best of friends, the two dogs still need to be nice together. It has been a long journey to get Cora to accept Haddie. No major story, just day after day of Cora ignoring Haddie, and Haddie going bonkers trying to be friends.

I always thought a happy middle would be great ~ and have been waiting patiently.

So, on Friday - being a tad under the weather - I put Haddie in her bed for some quiet time and chilled out next to her on the couch. I knew that Cora was lurking about, and finally landed next to Haddie. Thankfully, Haddie remained calm, and Cora stayed.

Next thing I heard was snoring from both dogs. Ninety minutes later I got up with my camera (both dogs woke) to take a shot and get the dogs (and myself) back on with our day.
I never realized that Haddie is basically pushing Cora away in this photo. Look at her front feet on Cora's face!  But maybe that's because Cora's back legs are on Haddie's rear. Ha Ha. Whatever it takes for the two of them to find the balance of friendship.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Minute by Minute

I am wondering if I need to exercise Haddie ... a lot. I have my moments of taking her for walks, and running her in the backyard, but on days such as this where the weather is extremely damp, and cold, and I am still fighting a cough, it is hard to stay motivated in that area.

Haddie had two bursts of energy in the house today. Sigh. My least favorite part. As a result, she is back to dragging her long leash around. Otherwise, she is truly a dog on the loose with no "real way" to stop her burst of excitement, energy, naughtiness, whatevers when she is non-compliant.

She is at my feet doing an Under at my computer desk as I type. So far, so good.

Earlier in the day we went on two outings. She was amazing. I am grateful, and don't take it for granted, how well behaved she is in public. Perhaps I just need to stay out more (wink).

We headed to Costco shortly after they opened and we experienced the shopping cart as a team for the first time. I only had three items on my list, but I knew it would require a shopping cart - and we would eventually need to try this out anyway.

Haddie was fantastic. She didn't try to race the cart, until we were headed to the car on the way out. I think she was just happy to get some fresh air. I have noticed that about her - or she knows that a Hurry break is coming and she wants to get on with it.

But in the store she walked by my side and behind the cart. I was very proud.  We went a combo of slow and fast, and she continued her obedience.  I had to lift a heavy box of juice into my cart, so I had Haddie stay in a Sit and looped her leash around my arm "just in case".  During this trial a mom and her young daughter in a cart stopped to watch.

Nothing like pressure on your first try juggling a dog, a cart, and a heavy box of Capri-Suns.

But Haddie succeeded like a Pro! Yea!!! I received a "Nicely done!" from the mom and then she turned to leave, sharing about Service Dogs in Training with her daughter. When it was time to pay, the customer behind me offered to lift the box out of the cart, as he saw the cute puppy sitting and staring up at me. I thanked him for the offer, but shared that this was part of her training and I'd have to do it myself.  Thankfully, Haddie held her Stay at that moment too.

Our second trip was to another grocery store - ya' know, cuz Costco doesn't always have everything. That was a trip where I could get by with just a hand basket. The only mention for this was Haddie's interest in the opposite aisle, where a child was playing with a squeeky toy in the pet section. While she continued to stay with me, she was definitely more interested in the noise than me.

Minute by Minute ... Haddie is still at the age of unpredictability. A learning lesson for me to be creative, and for her to learn compliance no matter her inner desires.

I am curious how you exercise your Pup in Training during the winter months ~ any suggestions?