Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Snow Vacation

Haddie was a sweet girl all year, so Santa brought her a super tough, braided ball that was sure to be indestructible. Not. She found a way to make a tear within 10 minutes of play. Sigh. That part I will not miss about our sweet girl. Her toys are so boring as a result, I have yet to find anything other than a Hol-ee Roller Ball that she has yet to destroy.
Shortly after Christmas celebrations with extended family, we packed up our four wheel drive and headed for the mountains for a Snow Vacation. The owners of the condo where we stay annually have a close friend who puppy raises for Guide Dogs. So she is 'in the know' about what raising a Service Dog is all about - how refreshing to have a stranger to Haddie wait-out a perfectly still Haddie before paying attention to her.
And then - our friend got down on the floor of the condo, flipped Haddie into a cradle and loved on her for ten minutes. Haddie was snoring and in heaven. Such a fun welcome to our Little Suite in the Mountains (and to a place where other dogs are not allowed).
While we adventure to this little escape every Christmas Break, last year we opted to leave Haddie with her first Puppy Sitter. And, the snow we received a year ago in our hometown was tiny compared to the amount of snow in this mountain town. So, while Haddie has experienced snow before, it didn't really have a chance compared to this year's vacation.
Haddie travels exceptionally well. She behaved as if she were in our own house in the Condo; she didn't lick the floor, she stayed off the furniture, she found her spot to lay down for naps, and she was so tired from her day playing in the snow, she even put herself to bed in her kennel one night while we watched a movie. That was a bonus-choice by Haddie!
Haddie is a snow-dog, however, I am not so sure that I succeeded as a trainer to get her to calm down while in the snow. I kept reminding myself that first time experiences are not always the most calm, and that having her explore and get used to the new idea is equally as important in the training process. And I also knew we were on limited training time to get any real significant change in behavior out of her.
She was leashed the entire snow-experience because we were in the middle of no boundaries. I would have loved to just let her free and watch her go at full speed through the snow, I know she would have.
We passed a few dogs also on leash, and she paid no attention to them (whew) and she obeyed when I commanded her to return to a Heal position after leaping through the deep snow ahead of me. I guess if the expectation of a puppy in training is to obey commands when commanded, then she would pass. But if a puppy in training is supposed to maintain their manners even when not commanded or reminded, then she didn't do so well. That snow was just. calling. her. name. every. second. of. our. hike. and. that. calling. got. her. every. time.
The deeper the snow, the better for Haddie. None of this walking on the trail, she wanted to go off-track and jump through the deep, fluffy, untouched, 30 inches of pure white bliss parts. I let her do that plenty, because selfishly I also wanted to wear her out. She had traveled in her kennel beautifully in the car to get there, she needed the reward.
My son pretended to be buried in the snow, and then I would walk up with Haddie and say, "Find (insert son's name)" and she went for it - she hurled up to him, tail twirling as if she were about to take flight, and nudged his snow hat and face repeatedly until he rolled over. It was FULL enthusiasm by Haddie, snow flying everywhere - no person would be lost on her watch, that was for sure. Adorable!! And I don't think I have heard my son belly-laugh so hard in a long time.
Other adventures for Haddie included spending time in the kennel in the condo while our family spent a few hours skiing and snowshoeing, a long morning walk before the town woke, car rides in the snow taking landscape pictures, and a dinner out at our favorite restaurant. Live Accordion Music played right next to our booth at dinner, and the restaurant only served authentic German food - so the smells were completely different to Haddie, not to mention it was packed!
We waited for thirty minutes in the skinny aisle entrance way, and Haddie maintained her Under under the hard wooden bench until our name was called. The surprise look of the guests that arrived after us when our Pup crawled out from under my girl's feet was priceless. Yay-Haddie - you were invisible prior!!! She settled under our table and slept the rest of the evening while we enjoyed a leisurely dinner, waking to head back to our condo in this photo. Such a fun companion.
Snow and more snow, pottying in the snow, walking in the snow, playing in the snow, Haddie now knows snow. Check that off our list 1.5 months prior to Turn-In!
This was a Snow Vacation that we will always remember experiencing with Haddie.

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