Saturday, January 24, 2015

Adventures with Ace | Day One

Canine Companions has four puppies currently being raised at a military prison a few zip codes away. The pups live there, learn there, and have a great bond with their prison-handlers. Their puppy outings consist of locations in the correctional facility that the prison-handler is allowed to be, but then Parole Officers or Puppy Sitters take the puppies to experience non-prison life when scheduled.
We are honored to have been asked if we wanted a turn at socializing one of their puppies who returns to Canine Companions in May. We checked our calendar and we were a Yes!! We picked up 16 month old ACE this morning, and hit the outings. He will be with us for seven days, and we hope those days go very slowly. We are already in love with Ace. 

I know Ace is a cross, but he certainly has more attributes of Golden than Lab. This is our first experience with the fluffy fur, and while Kolby was only 1/4 Golden, he had a Golden brain more like 3/4. That part does not phase me, I think I am pretty good at figuring out the Golden side. His fluffiness is the part I am getting used to, and I am pleasantly surprised I am enjoying it as much as I am along the way. 
When we arrived home, we let him explore the house. I noticed right away that he had a fabulous walk-trot; I will need to get it on video to share. His nails are perfectly short (jealous) and so he was very quiet when he trotted through the rooms of our house, learning about his environment. It was offered that he is very curious, and I found that quickly to be true. I set our first day together for Ace's success, not testing boundaries to see "what he would do". After managed exploration and chew-time on his antler, I set him on a tie-out and got a few things accomplished around my house. 

I need to be very clear, Ace came very clean and well brushed. But my son loves the U-Dog Wash at our favorite feed store and he was begging that we should take Ace ... today!! I knew it was somewhat useless because the four-legged boy was totally clean, smelled fine, and looked adorable, but my two-legged boy won. Of course it would be an excellent training opportunity. So I text'd my sweet friend (pro-groomer) for some quick tips on bathing, drying, and grooming almost-full Goldens. 
We had about an hour before we had to leave for the bath so I took the time to give Ace a walk. After all, he would at least be "dirty" enough for me to "justify" a bath, right?! Actually - YES!! I didn't realize how much sidewalk water from the morning rain would splash up to get Ace covered on his belly and legs. Now my conscious could justify the bath to come (wink).
Ace was a bit distracted with random noises in the neighborhood (as mentioned he could be distractable during his pickup) but he was also very easy to regain focus. His recovery was always spot-on. So yes, he looked at the garage door we passed that opened, the loud motorcycle that zoomed down the street, the bird that took flight from the yard, the blowing leaf, the kids who ran from one side of the street to the next, and the golf ball that took flight from Tee 9. But every step, and every turn of the head, Ace kept his feet walking with his leash loose and turned it into a "no big deal". So proud of Ace. 
I came home to wipe him down and we ran through all the Commands. If he didn't already pick up that we were privy to the Puppy Raiser Lingo, then I wanted him to know it before I took him out in public. He passed my testing and we piled back into the car. Ace was great at the U-Dog Wash ... he walked right up the metal ramp and settled in for his bath. We were the only ones there to start, but by the time we got to the drying part of Ace's bath, the room filled to capacity with six stranger dogs joining. Ace was adorable; he peeked over the shoulder of my son (who was doing all the work) to see the dogs pass our cubby, but he kept his bum seated and didn't move - just his head moved over and around my son's to get a good view. Adorable. 
The drying of Ace took forever, as we knew it would, but the end result was awesome. He is a very fluffy Golden now. He was great at standing still when asked, and sitting when asked. We brought his brush and you could tell that grooming was very routine for him. He was a charmer; stationary until we gave him the Release command. Bravo, Ace!! Thank you. 
For enduring our entertainment in Bath-Time ... we took Ace through the Feed store to smell everything and to buy him a gift. He promised he would share with the other puppies he lives with, but he wanted to wear it first. No problem, Buddy. 
Although it was now dark outside, Ace's night was not over. I had to retrieve my daughter from rehearsal of a musical that she is in this Spring. I arrived a touch early for pickup so that Ace and I could watch some of the action. And he did watch!! If the cast moved left, his head moved left, if the cast moved right, his head moved right. Adorbs. Both Directors and a Cast Member have raised five puppies for Canine Companions but are currently on a rest from volunteering. They remember all the commands and etiquette, and were thrilled to meet Ace and give him some appropriate attention. Ace soaked in the love and acted like the celebrity that he is. 
But wait - there's more ... we needed a few items at the big chain grocery store so we headed there on the way home. While this trip was truly an in and out, Ace was solid. We'll return during the week many times and for longer intervals because this is my go-to-store. Ace will know it well, but so far it was already a "no big deal". 

Finally at home, we decided to give Ace a break in his new digs - the soft crate that used to be Kolby's. We set it up and let Ace chill while we had dinner. The funny thing is that our Beagle  (who is not much of a big dog fan; she prefers her own-kind) walked over to Ace while he was in the crate and literally snuggled against the soft fabric to feel him breathing on her. It was shocking and adorable. She has NEVER EVER done this with any of our puppies, nor my parent's dog who just left our house after a two-week stay. I am excited for Ace and Cora to meet (non-crated) tomorrow. I was giving today for both of them to smell each other and take turns being crated.  

We had dinner late tonight due to my daughter's rehearsal, so after dinner it was relaxing-time for the humans and snuggle-time for Ace. He quickly found this spot and fell asleep. 
I think Adventures with Ace | Day One was a huge success. I give the handlers and raisers of Ace a lot of credit, because Ace has never spent time with us before, he has never been to our house, our zip code, and doesn't know how we work ... and Ace held a calm, loving, and smart demeanor throughout the busy day. 

 Welcome, Ace ... Goodnight. 

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