Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cora Helps Haddie

Recently, we have been hanging low with Haddie as it seems she brought home a cold from her three week vacation at the kennel. Sigh. Thankfully it is nothing major in regards to her care; some pills and eye drops, but it was advised that she play hookie from her training, rest, and watch TV (the vet really did say that - funny).
By the time we clued in that Haddie's mellow-ness was now turning into not feeling well, she had already kissed our pet a few times and nuzzled her way into her face. Although colds are contagious between the four-legged kind just as it is with the two-legged, we are just hoping our Beagle has a higher immunity threshold and will fight the germs already shared.  So far so good.

While the kids are away at school, the furry friends are under my watch. I will say the perk to Haddie so far in not feeling well is that she has been perfect with our pet, Cora. That has not always been the case. Never causing harm, just plain annoying! Something we have really had to work on.

Haddie now accepts that Cora can move without a 55 pound shadow, that Cora can jump on the furniture without a yellow fur ball up-close-and-personal behind wondering why the Beagle is choosing to move away, and that Cora can even play-run through the house without a high speed pursuit from the lanky puppy. Okay, the last one is still being worked on.

We have always tested Haddie to see who she favors between Cora and us, and thankfully she can always be called-out of curiosity with Cora. In that regard, we feel that she is still with in the boundaries of CCI. However, it is a lot of added work having two instead of one.
And then it hit me today as I found the girls on the stairs together ~ I think Cora is really the perfect Big Sister match for any CCI Puppy that comes in our home. Cora is so gentle, and extremely mellow. She portrays this Right vs Wrong mentality on how to behave, and has mastered her stink-eye to get her point across when puppy behavior is out of line.

It is becoming more clear to me that Cora has a big influence on Haddie's mellowness. Curious to see if Cora changes for the next puppy, or if the puppy changes as a result of Cora.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

First Outing post kennel


No photos to share, but Haddie was soooo good today. I know there is a honeymoon period when she returns from a Puppy Sitter or Kennel, so I have been soaking it all in.

We ran an errand before meeting a friend for coffee. Haddie walked right beside me on an extremely loose leash through T*rget. I stopped in the Pet Aisle to purchase a new bone for her (somehow her bone never made it back into her vacation bag from the Kennel), and unlike other trips, this time she did not pull me down the aisle. She walked patiently, and as a result I treated her to sniffing the pet food bags before turning the corner to the next item on my list.

There was a mom with two toddlers who happened to keep bumping into Haddie and I throughout the store. I heard the mom's comments of "Don't pet the puppy" and the oldest child's continuous "Why?" questions every time I passed the three-some.

Side note: I hear these comments all the time. Sometimes I get vibe that I should not interfere with the parent's teachable moment - some parents seem to know a lot about Service Dogs! Kinda neat. Other times, I get the vibe that I could be the teachable moment, and stop to let them pet the puppy.

I was at my car taking Haddie's bone out of the wrapping when the mom and toddlers stopped at the car next to mine. The mom was loading her purchases into the car while she mumbled again, "Don't pet the puppy" with the son replying, "Why?". I had to smirk the other way. Oh, it made me miss my kids as Toddlers.

I waited for the mom to be done loading the bags and then I casually asked if they would like to pet the puppy.  Smiles galore!! But guess who pet the puppy? Only the mom!! Haha!!

The kids were too shy, they stood next to Haddie, but wouldn't touch her. The mom, was all over Haddie, and Haddie just soaked up the love. Sweet.

The coffee shop was b-u-s-y!! And somehow between all the business people over their computers, and meetings, and newspapers, and reports - they all seemed to find Haddie. She got the most attention in (1) two hour period than she ever has out in public. It was a perfect attitude day for Haddie - so I said Yes to everyone who asked to pet her.

Haddie never licked the floor, or any human, during the course of my two hour date with my friend. Haddie was so calm - it was so enjoyable for me!! I think my friend explained it best; "Look at her. She just gives forth so much love. Something about her - she's so calm - but her eyes are so deep, and so loving." She was right - Haddie has this look of wisdom and zen to her today. It was adorable, and calming all at once.

I think every one at the coffee house wanted to take her home. But I was the only lucky one that got to. A perk to having to give her back in February - everyone wants her, but only our family gets to raise her.

Afternoon was about running the backyard Frisbee-style and getting her very well deserved energy break and praise for an excellent first outing post kennel.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Haddie Returns

We have been Haddie-less for the past three weeks and today was the day of Haddie's Return. The kennel where Haddie was placed is a solid 2 hour drive to the middle of beautiful nowhere. After dropping off the kids at their respective schools, setting up my cd player in the car, I started the drive North.
It was slow going to get started as the heaviest commuter traffic was not far from my house! After that cleared, it was a long, but smooth sailing forward.
I stopped for a coffee break fifteen minutes before arriving at the Kennel. I was too nervous I would get lost if I took any Exit prior to find a *bucks, so I just waited it out.  And this is where the drive turned really beautiful. It drove through countryside and along water inlets. At times, I was the only car on the road, but I kept checking the occasional road signs to be sure I was still where I needed to be.
I finally reached the Dead End that went into the secluded drive of the kennel. I was so excited!! I have been telling friends and family it was similar to the scene of the You*ube video of Christian the Lion being reunited with his peeps.  Yes, Haddie came bounding out of her kennel to me, jumped to reach my arms, and immediately wrapped her forearms and paws around my two arms, stretching to reach my chin to snuggle. Oh, my heart!!
She settled down enough to get her outside for a final run with a toy and bathroom break, then the owner of the kennel said goodbye, and we were off starting our two hour journey back home. She immediately settled down and fell asleep the whole way home. It felt good to hear her breathing behind my seat.
Home for a bath, ball time while she dried out, and then I found her parked right. here. I think she missed the carpet, and the quietness of our house. Kennels are loud, and while they serve a great purpose for our puppies in training, it isn't the same as being at home. I think she is equally as happy to be back.

The kiddos showered her with love and kisses when they got home from school. Our family is complete once again. Love having a Puppy In Training under our roof.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Evaluation at the Fair

The final day at the Fair was the longest. All the judging for our Service Dog Club was done one on one, and to cascade through all sixteen plus members with dogs took literally all. day. The highlight, however, was that Haddie and my son continued to hit high marks.

Another ring showing on this day was to judge the skill of the Handler with the Puppy in Training in regards to the Commands associated with the age of the dog - with planned distractions in the ring. Haddie was classified as an Intermediate, so her tasks to complete were more advanced than a younger Puppy in Training.
My son was instructed through a course by the Judge; who was looking for how the Handler stayed on task of the puppy's commands - not necessarily how the puppy performed. For example, if Haddie decided she did not want to perform a Lap Command, how did my son react and follow through in getting Haddie to do the Command; Did he get flustered? Did he give up? Did he lure with food? Did he scold her inappropriately?
My son was the most nervous about this part of Judging. Why? Because just a few classes prior Haddie decided she was done with listening. She didn't want to do anything during class time when they were practicing for this part of Fair. My son knew it was hit or miss with her (knowing she was getting closer to her heat cycle wasn't helping - moody explains it best).
We watched intently as my son and Haddie worked the expectations in the ring. I thought our team did excellent!! She performed every task, and my son worked her well to encourage her to follow through with every expectation. My son exited the ring disappointed. He thought they didn't work together well at all. He felt he really had to over work to get her to do anything.
In the end - my son received a Champion title, and a Grand Champion Trophy. Apparently, working really hard paid off. After all - this was about the Handler more than the puppy (even though Haddie did great too - some areas did take her longer to perform). Although she held her sit and down expectation of 3 and 5 minutes respectively with out budging - and never mind the Distractor walking circles around the dog, dragging a metal folding chair that would occasionally, "accidently", drop next to the dog - with sirens, bells, and bird calls playing out of speakers every so often too, or the Judge stepping over Haddie. Yep, Haddie was a rock star - didn't move a muscle.
The other section of the day was an Evaluation Course in the common areas of the Fair. This was by far my favorite part of the entire Fair Weekend. The concept: how well does the Puppy in Training perform in a real world environment. This was about evaluating the teamwork of the human and puppy too; do they pay attention to one another? Is the Puppy focused on the Handler more than the environment? I think these photos kinda lets you know what the outcome might have been ...
In a small group, they followed one of our Leaders through the Fair Grounds with the Judge. The Leader would perform a task with her Facility Dog, and then individually each Handler and Puppy had to perform the same task while the Judge evaluated. My son was chosen as the first seat in doing everything, so he really had to be on his game to get it right with out much forward prep in watching and learning from others.
The course went to the Roller Coaster, walked along the Duck and Goose pens, through the Swine Barn, a bathroom break by the parking lots, a walk in the Commercial Building (crowded with Vendors and people talking in microphones doing demonstrations), up a steep flight of stairs and back down, stopping next to a Mexican Band playing for the lunch crowd, and then back to the Dog Barn for a photo. The entire course was 30 minutes in the heat of the day.
Family was allowed to follow - but we could not be visible by the Handler or Puppy. We could not talk or interfere, but could weave in and out of people watching and hoping to get a good camera angle.   It was fun to see the reaction of the other passerby's - stopping to watch the Evaluation Course and overhearing their questions and what "they thought" about each Puppy.
I was most shocked and excited that Haddie went up and down the stairs with out pulling. Oh my goodness - she did it correctly!! Something that she has really had to work on for a very long time. I think our time at the Condo in July actually paid off - five flights of stairs on an open wooden staircase must have fixed her fascination of going crazy up stairs. We worked hard on fixing that task on that particular vacation.
The result?! Haddie received a perfect score!!! If this is any indication of her life at CCI University - I am thrilled!! Happy Dance for my son and Haddie; another Champion Title, and Grand Champion Trophy. My son was beaming. They did it!!!
The Fair was now over for these two cuties. Haddie spent the rest of her time relaxing on the 4-H Bench, and dinner. She was t.i.r.e.d and we didn't push her any longer. She deserved the rest - she had performed beautifully all weekend. And to think that she went into Heat just 48 hrs after this - amazing her attitude was so perfect all weekend.
My son was asked if he wanted to step in last minute to show a Mixed Breed in Confirmation Class. Haddie is a pure bred and didn't qualify, but there was a Yellow Lab/Golden Retriever Mix in our group who did, and whose Handler wanted a break from her crazy day of scheduled events - that she asked if my son wanted to take over Lynn (Puppy in Training).

Of course!! My son had no idea what to expect or what to do, but he's up for anything that sounds fun. So a crash course in Confirmation was given to him, and he bonded with Lynn quickly over the next hour prior to entering the ring. I sat and had dinner in the bleachers overlooking the Ring while my son was doing all his last-minute prep, and then showing. It was so fun to watch him work.

The result?! A Second Place title. Yay!!! Way to go, Lynn and Son!!

We stayed late that evening helping to pack up e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g with our Club. The kids were running on adrenaline overload from a great weekend at Fair together - while the parents were working hard at shuffling kids here and there to get tasks completed so we all could drive home.
We arrived home close to midnight - and it took us awhile to get off of our Fair High. It was a fabulous weekend! While my son and Haddie racked up Champion and Grand Champion Titles - the best part was seeing my son work really hard at maintaining his amazing work ethic for the club, and teamwork in the ring with Haddie. This was all about him, and he deserved every amazing title and moment with Haddie. Such sweet memories that I don't think could ever really be repeated.

First time at Fair ... the best!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Helping Hands at Fair

4-H is good about teaching responsibility, and our club takes that learning very seriously. Every child was expected to help at our bench area and were assigned times that the kids' chose for themselves. My son picked later in the afternoon times so that all of his events had already been completed and he could just focus on his job.
Sweet Haddie
It is titled Herdsmanship and the responsibilities included sweeping the floor and tables from dog hair, changing out the dog water buckets, straightening all the supplies, tossing unwanted garbage, answering questions from the Public, checking on dogs on the bench whose raiser was on a scheduled break, and taking a turn at the Pet Me Table.  Much to do to keep your assigned hour(s) moving.
Working with puppy Rue
 The rules were in place, no parent's were to help the kiddos. The assigned parent's responsibility was to sign kids in and out if they were to leave the bench gate. Otherwise, the kid's club, the kid's responsibility. Loved it - and it worked well!!
Puppies are so much fun
The kids worked together. If there came a conflict of times with a member doubled up on showing in the ring with a scheduled Herdsmanship time, it was never hard to find a replacement on the bench. Kids were eager to wear the green apron and do their part.
Haddie loving the backrubs
My son was a natural at the Pet Me Table. He enjoyed spending time with the puppy on display and answering the many questions from the public. He has this smile about him that shows confidence, and approachability.
Haddie soaking up the attention
It was also fun to see him in action sweeping up and carrying the big buckets of water to and from the outside area. Thankfully, he enjoys keeping busy, so this was right up his forte.
Sweeping the blond hair of Skilled Companion, Trina, off the bench
I'm glad that 4-H isn't all about the dogs, and there are built in Helping Hands and Responsibility into the program. Those are the types of experiences that will continue to benefit him as he grows into a very capable young man.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Costume at the Fair

Following my son's surprise of winning Grand Champion in Showmanship at Fair with Haddie, my son entered a "for fun" Costume Contest. The rules were that the dog and child needed to be a team, and that the costume had to be homemade.

My son had previously showcased this costume at last year's Halloween Party at our 4-H CCI Class. It was originally made by my daughter and my mom for our Beagle five years ago, but because Haddie was just a wee-little-puppy a year ago, it totally worked for her too.
We didn't think much about her growth and packed it in our bag for Fair. The pumpkin collar continued to fit, but the headpiece was rather snug. Thankfully the Contest was not that time consuming and it worked for the short term.
 My son was the Farmer with his Prize Winning Pumpkin. It created a fun chuckle from the crowd, and he won a Best in Division ribbon and trophy!!
My son's first day of Fair was complete, a strong win for both entries. He couldn't have been more excited and proud of his teammate Haddie and all the success they had made together.

Haddie was finally off-duty close to dinner time, which meant she snoozed on the bench with other 4-H kids and dogs while we were allowed an hour dinner break. My son and I walked the Fair enjoying our dinner of Baked Potato for me and Stir Fry for him. We just couldn't do the traditional Fair Food - we needed our gut to keep us going; we still had five more hours to go!
Or so we thought -

Living 1.5 hours away from Fair, and my son's younger age compared to others in the group, he was dismissed to go home with Haddie at 8p. We were quick to "get outta there" as we knew that we'd have another early wake-up to start our trek back to the Fair for day #2.
Although Haddie slept the ride home, the two humans in the car were pretty excited about our day which kept us awake and chatty all the way home.