Thursday, October 30, 2014

October's College Update

Another month under Kolby' collar and we have a college report card for October. Kolby continues to be a start student with only the positive behavior boxes marked and zero boxes marked in the "negative" or "needs improvement on" categories. He is solid and that makes me happy that he is thriving.

Here are the words stated by his Trainer Amanda:

This month we have introduced the wheelchair to Kolby and he is doing well in training. He continues to be easy to motivate and progress with commands. However, Kolby has started to show a lack in confidence when being introduced to new commands, but we are working on raising his confidence with more praise. Kolby continues to be distracted at times, but can be redirected with a verbal correction. On another field trip to Target, Kolby was attentive to his handler and was easy to manage throughout the entire trip. Kolby loves to play fetch in the yard and has a good recall. 

In speaking with our Contract Trainer about the confidence issue, she assured me that Kolby received an excellent report and that most dogs lose a bit of confidence when they are taught new things. And considering the volume of new things he is learning, it is to be expected. However, once they get it, the confidence goes back up. And knowing Kolby as well as I do, if they up their Praises, he no doubt will bounce back. He is all about himself and getting as much attention as possible from his Handler. HA!

And all those adventures to Target and like-stores when we were together proves that practicing outings with your puppy has definite perks for them in college.

My heart did a little flutter when I read that he loves to play fetch in the yard because it means that he is getting his happy-place moments while in College. He loved, loved, loved to play fetch any moment we would offer it to him. I can just see him showing his joy on campus anticipating that next toss of the ball; his super long tongue hanging sideways, his extra long ears bouncing to his panting, and those eyes, his eyes that melt every. single. person. when he is keyed up on bliss. Sigh. Very happy Puppy Raiser.

There is about a week delay from the time the reports are written and the time the Puppy Program Manager has collected them all for distribution to the appropriate Puppy Raiser. So, the disclaimer is always; at the time of this writing, this is what we are finding about Kolby. I am good with that, because Canine Companions will always work diligently at correcting negative behavior with a puppy in training, however, they are also equally as diligent in taking responsibility in listening to and watching every puppy if they show signs that they do not want a working life. Not every puppy wants to work, therefore, every puppy gets a choice.

As of this writing, Kolby is choosing to stay and continue his focus. I would love to fast forward and see where he is in 6 months. What life did he choose?

We love you, KOLBY!!!  We are so very proud of every day that you are on campus learning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two Months

Today marks the Two Year Month mark of Kolby spending his first night on campus. Puppy Raising aside, I can't believe we are already well into the month of October!! The year is flying by and at this rate, I should start packing my bags for a February Graduation because that is how quickly these months are cruising.
This photo makes me smile. Taken October 18, 2013 ... just short of a year ago, when I had a mini photo shoot with the puppies because they put themselves here and I told them both to Stay while I fetched my dying camera. The quality didn't turn out the best, but I love the picture anyway.

Let's study this picture for a bit as the memories flood back. Kolby was only a 9 monther and at this age he was very rambunctious. To the point of getting help via a long phone call with our Contract Trainer who walked me through some ideas on how to curb his Alpha status that had somehow polluted his thoughts that it was a good idea to control the two-leggeds.

Cora was 8 years old at the time and had started slowing down on the topic of all-things-Mister. She was more fond of Kolby when he arrived, than when Haddie arrived. But by October, she was d.o.n.e. with him. I couldn't really blame her. Look at her eyes - it kind of says it all; "I got in here without thinking." and "Please take your photo quickly, I'd like to escape." and "Why is he holding my paw behind the corner of the bed?" 

All the while Kolby's look says, "I'm sorry. For everything."

At the moment I was worried if he would even make it to Turn In, but with the persistence of Team Kolby, he outgrew his thoughts of being Alpha, and realized that taking second position wasn't so bad. He thrived the remainder of his training, and continues to enjoy College Life as of this typing.

As for Cora and Kolby's relationship - he slowed way down with her and the two were able to pal-around and enjoy time together before he left for Santa Rosa. Cora liked him, and Kolby was thrilled, but played it cool.

Miss ya', Mister!! Thanks for all the stressful memories that got you to where you are today. For without them, it just wouldn't have been your story. Kisses and Love. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

First Report!!

I was sitting on the couch waiting for my daughter to get off the bus, watching my son make a cheese quesadilla while texting my best puppy raising friend, when the text read I just got Helaine's Report!  This was shocking news only because it was coming an entire week ahead of schedule. Dashing to my computer as my daughter was walking into the house, I didn't see an email from Canine Companions. Refreshing like crazy produced the same result. Nothing.

Fast forward 60-minutes and we were walking back into the house from a dental appointment for my daughter knowing that the email had been sent, but the report document is not readable on a phone unless you have a certain app which I do not have; we could not wait to read the news.

The news was good. He is showing his Instructor all the knowledge of Basic Commands that he learned while with us, and he is learning new Advanced Commands from her of Retrieve, Hold, and Push. All the positive selections had been marked, with no negative selections made, so far so good. I jumped down to the free-write that his Instructor Amanda had shared:

Kolby has completed all his medical and behavioral evaluations and is settling into the kennels nicely. He is easy to motivate and gives good eye contact during training. Kolby is a quick learner and is responsive to his handler. Kolby does get distracted at times, but he can be easily redirected. On his first field trip to Barnes and Nobles, Kolby did very well and was confident throughout the entire trip. During play time, Kolby plays well with other dogs and is easy to manage. 

In shock, I continued to read it a few times. I had always classified him as needing me, and not to sound boastful, but it was evident by many that Kolby had attached himself to me during his 18-months with us. What I had thought would mean a "Oh, this sleepover has been fun, but I'm ready to return home now..." had not happened and his view of kennel life and school was fitting him well his first month.

I can't pretend that I wasn't a little in disbelief for this aspect of the report. The "can be distracted, but easily redirected" was no surprise. I was truthful in sharing that feature on his monthly reports from me to Canine Companions throughout our months together. Kolby takes in the world - he has to know what's up, and not in a fearful way, but in a confident way that says he's ready for anything to come his way to handle. But offer him his name and he's back in tune with his handler.

So there I sat, the first report complete. The first moment fading of opening the document and reading it for the first time and feeling the pull towards being in the same room as Kolby, and wanting it to return repeatedly to feel that connection again. The wait returns ... his second report will come in another thirty days.

I am so proud of Kolby. No matter if he decides to leave college before Graduation, he made it his first month on solid ground. I am so proud of him. What a great accomplishment for a puppy who I thought needed me. I am glad that he is flying solo and enjoying his college experience.

Love you, Kolby.