January 13th 2010 10:50 am
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That's me! I know my new job without any other conversation with Mom. Last night at class, there were more goofballs. One bad boy, an American bull dog, intact male at 10 months and about 80 (or more) lbs. He just wanted a piece of somebody (4-legged). Then there was a Border Collie mix, nervous, anxious and in heat. Plus, 6 other dogs in our little training garage. I just curled up on my blanket and watched. The Boss spent a lot of time getting that bulldog under control while the other dogs walked around him. He didn't like that, but understood pretty fast that he was just one of the pack and that being a tough guy wasn't going to cut it. He is hard-headed though and The Boss had to walk around on the other side of him for awhile to make sure he didn't swing his big butt out and step in front of his person during "heel."
That poor border collie needs help. Her owner was fidgety and goofy. She asked a lot of questions, but didn't seem to listen to the answers. Hoo boy.
After awhile, I just stretched out and went to sleep. When class was over, Mom said she was worried that bulldog would eventually bite his owner. The Boss said that his person "got a pretty good handle" on him. I was sleeping, so didn't even notice. The Boss' assistant said her big German Shepherd, my friend Blitzen, was just like that when they started. Blitzen is sweet and gentle with me, so no problem there. Mom felt reassured and said she sure has a lot to learn.
Tonight, we have two intermediate classes. I know all those dogs. I may want to play, but that's a no-no during training class, too. All I have to do in these classes is hang-out and maybe just demonstrate something. It's a breeze--much easier than my other job. Not as interesting, but easier. A good time to take a snooze.
January 12th 2010 1:07 pm
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Last night was the first beginning training class with dogs present. That's always a kind of wild and woolly time. It's the first time I've watched a class where we weren't outdoors, but confined in a much smaller space. There was one dog, a great dane, that I knew had really bad energy. He was like a pressure cooker and I could see it. His person was sort of checked out. I don't think he knew his dog very well.
The Boss started fitting the dogs with collars and I watched very closely. When she started with the great dane, I grumbled. Mom looked at me strangely because I've never done that before. The Boss looked over at me, a little surprised, too. Mom "shsh"ed me. Okay, I get it, I'm not supposed to do that. But how do I let them know when a dog is unsafe? There were other nutty out of control dogs in the class. That's to be expected. They are obvious about it. The great dane felt like a snake to me, somebody that would just strike out-of-the blue.
After class, Mom talked to The Boss about my grumble, saying she was so surprised I did that. The Boss said, "Rethy was picking up on how unstable that dog is." She said it wasn't aggression. I was lying there on my mat, not tied up or anything, just whispering. Thank goodness someone understands my language. The Boss had noticed the dog's danger potential and filled Mom in on how to recognize that instability--eyes and ear position. Good, now she knows what I see. They agreed my whispering is not good and I can't be allowed to do it. Mom is supposed to "shsh" me if I do it again or maybe just quietly reach down and touch me without giving me too much attention just to remind me to be quiet. I realized that whispering in class is rude. I'm just there to watch and demonstrate when I'm asked to, that's all, oh, and to be a good example. I'm a good little worker and when I know what is expected. I do stay where Mom puts me. I don't let the dogs passing in front of my nose, no matter how nutty they are, disturb me, even that stupid great dane or the corgi that was flopping like a fish or even the little scared pit bull that didn't want any dogs close to her. I did want to play with the rat terrier, but knew better so just gave a wiggle of my nose and stretched out on my mat when she got close.
I'm going to be good at this job, too. Tonight is the second beginner's class. We'll see how that goes.
January 10th 2010 6:26 pm
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It's a good thing Mom makes this fun. Every once in awhile she will say, "your butt stinks." I'm thinking, of course my butt stinks. Doesn't everybody's butt stink?
Mom says it's from running at the park in the wet grass where the geese poop. I have lots of long hair. I don't even have to step in the poo to get foul smelling feathers. When I run, my back legs are like after burners and the water in the grass and every thing in it flies. Then I get in the car and Mom says BLECCH and wipes me with those grooming wipes. She says I smell a little like dead fish.
Tonight she decided that my whole self didn't need a bath but my butt and belly did. At first, getting my butt shampooed seemed silly. Mom laughed and chattered at me the whole time, so it was actually kind of fun. Mom always plays a hide and seek towel game after I'm clean. I grumble and talk when she does that. I love hide and seek. Now that I'm clean, I like how I smell, too. All you four legged pals out there, if you ever run into goose poo toilet water, pass it up if you can.
January 6th 2010 11:40 am
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Orientation is over. Now that we've seen the people and heard their questions, we are prepared. Why is it some guys like to rough house with their pit bull and bull dog puppies? The Boss says that's a big no-no. I guess the guys found that out because both of their dogs are about 8 or 9 months old. One of them is biting his guy and they are both roughing up girl friends and children. Sheesh. Then there's the Corgi that pulls her 70 year old plus people around and nips their heels and pant legs. And the 120 lb great dane who is a mellow guy, just needs some training. We haven't met these dogs yet (except for a Cavalier and a noisy rat terrier who the Boss used for demonstration). Just meeting their people and hearing what they need helps us know what to expect.
Blitzen and I were called into action just to show how we respond to our focus word. He's really good at it. I'm good at it when Mom has my ball or is feeding me or is making me wait before coming inside. Other times, I can get bored sitting and staring at her--do something already. Last night, Blitzen and I both did it so we could impress people.
The Boss introduces me as a Service Dog in Training and she calls Mom her Assistant Trainer in Training. If I was a human, I'd laugh at that. Don't tell Mom, but I'm training her as much as she's training me.
January 4th 2010 10:57 am
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Yippee! I love this. Our group training classes start today with orientation for basic obedience. Tonight and tomorrow night, The Boss (my trainer) explains to beginners what they will be learning, the philosophy of training and how to prepare their dogs for next week. (They leave their dogs at home.)
Next week, the dogs will join them. That's always kind of funny because most of them are run amok. They're all over the place, nutty and have very bad manners. Some dogs come in really timid. While the boss is fitting dogs with their nylon training collars, she is evaluating each dog's energy and relationship with their person. She gives the people some basic advice about how to work with their particular dog and meet some of the challenges that may come up. She's good at that. When people listen to her, you can really tell.
My job during orientation (tonight and tomorrow night) is to lie on my mat as a quiet example of good manners. Blitzen, my German Shepherd friend, does the same thing. We show people how good dog citizens act. We might be asked to do some basic things. Blitzen sometimes goes around the room so people can see and feel how his training collar fits. I'm not good at that because I get too excited when people start handling me.
I love school. I love my trainer and Lisa, Blitzen's person. It's hard not to get too excited when I get there, but that's something Mom is teaching me, to "chill" as she says--be cool, calm and collected. She says everything is a "training opportunity."
January 3rd 2010 5:11 pm
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Sometimes Mom doesn't notice how much I'm learning, then I surprise her. Like today. We were at our favorite coffee shop. I was in "post" position (behind Mom, protecting her back). Only today, I was lying down because I wore myself out running at the park. Any-whoo, I'm lying behind Mom in position, and a little boy, maybe 6 or so, walked RIGHT in front of my nose. If he had been two inches closer, he would have stepped on me. I think his parents told him he couldn't pet me, so he was trying to get my attention by being obnoxious. He walked by me twice like that trying to make me do something. I didn't even look at him.
Mom was peeking over her shoulder because she's always aware when a kid is approaching me. Both times the stupid boy walked in front of my nose, Mom said, "GOOD girl. Good leave-it." She was blown away at how well I did on this and I felt how pleased she was with me. I think a couple of weeks ago when that stupid guy leaned over her to pet me and she grabbed his arm, made it clear how important it was to Mom that people don't just reach out and pet me--of course, his leaning over her was what freaked her out most. Also, I think some people just have mean energy and that kid's energy was a lot like that rude guy. Blecch. I don't even want people like that to pet me. I ignore them and hope they'll go away.
It's great when I surprise Mom. She works with me so much and I think she forgets how far I have come. Silly Mom.
December 27th 2009 6:20 pm
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WEELLL! I've had my first live theater experience. It was really crowded though. The boss (Mom's trainer) and the other boss (her assistant) plus some other people all went together to see a play. Last time I went to a theater, the sloping floor bugged me and I couldn't get comfortable. This time, Mom put her jacket on the floor to make a nest for me and put my mat on top of it. I don't know if her jacket got dirty or not, but that was SO comfortable. Then the lights went down and it got totally dark. People started clapping. I wasn't sure what to think about that, but it seemed harmless enough, so I just stretched out and went to sleep. Every once in awhile, people would laugh or clap or there'd be a group of them singing on stage. I just ignored it.
Then the lights came up and they took a break. People started moving around, walking up the aisle. The boss and her husband got up to go get refreshments. Mom had me get up and stretch. She petted me and rubbed behind my ears and told me what a good girl I was. Well, duh, I know that. When every body got back to their seats, it went dark again. More singing, clapping and stuff.
Finally it was all over and Mom started gathering up stuff. None of my training friends talked to me or petted me because they want me to get used to that. It's hard for me, but it's a rule.
After we got out of the theater, Mom said, "WHAT a GOOD girl!" I made it all the way through the play. She was so happy with me that she took me to the park for a second time and threw the ball. I must have been really good today. Go figure. Don't let on that all I had to do was nap, okay? I'm loving that second park visit.
December 24th 2009 11:44 am
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Mom's getting sad today. I can tell. It's that sleepy kind of sad where she doesn't want to do anything. She knows she can't get away with that though, because I need her to take me out to run. I've been jumping on my sister and being goofy, throwing my ball in the air and chasing it. Mom knows she needs to get going. I think we're going to leave any minute now.
December 22nd 2009 7:36 pm
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I've been working a lot. That's not a complaint. I love my job. Today, when we went to the laundromat, I got bouncy and wanted to play with my leash. I've started talking to Mom when she puts my vest on. I hold out my head and make little noises. If I had a tail it would be wagging. I wiggle my butt a little, but have to hold still for her to buckle my vest. We put the wash in and then Mom took me over to Peet's for a coffee. I'm getting really good at waiting while the clothes dry and Mom folds them. Today, I stayed on my mat the whole time. Mom kept getting down into my face and saying, "You are being SO good." If I carried a sign, it would say "Will Work for Praise".
Then we went to get her prescription filled. A man there said how "beautiful" I am. We were standing in line. He said, "She's been trained to sit." I thought, duh. Mom must have been thinking the same thing, and she said, "she's been taught to do a lot of things." We sat down to wait and I settled right at Mom's feet like I'm supposed to, as if to say, "I'm trained to lie down, too." His hearing wasn't good so Mom had to sort of shout "MINIATURE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD". Then she handed him one of my brochures.
When she put me in the car, took my work clothes off and we did our celebration play with my tug, she said, "I'm so proud of you." I love that.
December 22nd 2009 10:23 am
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We've been going lots of places. Sunday, we met up with our friends, Ollivander, Zeus and Iris. We spent a long time in a store walking around. It was the first time I've been in a store with so many different smells. There were toys and clothes and folded cloth. We went to an area where I smelled food. Mom walked me by those big noisy refrigerator things. Some of them smell like meat. Then Zeus and Ollie and I posed for pictures while our mom's waited, watching us. I could tell they were proud. We all were doing such a great job.
I'm still a little shy about Zeus and Ollie. Big dogs often jump on me. I hate that, so I back off. Zeus and Ollie didn't try that. The big dogs at school don't, so I play with them. I'm just careful. Iris and I met each other and that went well. I like walking with everybody. It's a big pack and I'm the littlest one, looking at everybody's ankles and knees.
Yesterday, we went to see Mom's talk dr. and her therapist. She talks with the dr. about medicine she's taking. Sometimes he writes stuff on paper for her. He said he noticed I was behaving better since we saw him 2 months ago. Mom was happy about that. They talked about me and how I'm helping Mom. She asked her dr. if he was working with anyone else with dogs like me. He said no. Mom petted me and said I'm really helping her.
Then we went to see the nice lady Mom talks to about emotional stuff. I like that lady because she is so sweet with Mom.
On the way home, we stopped for groceries. We were getting some milk and I was hanging out behind Mom when some one backed a chair with big bicycle tires right into me. It totally freaked me out. The tires squealed on the floor, too. I'm not afraid of wheelchairs, but this one moved really fast and the driver didn't see me. I didn't want to get anywhere near it after that. Mom said now we have to go somewhere and practice with wheelchairs again so I'm not afraid. Sometimes being so little has its drawbacks, but last night when I was sitting on my mom's lap watching television (I do watch sometimes), I knew being little is totally worth it.
Mom keeps saying she's so proud of me. I like working. I feel important. I know what I'm doing is pleasing Mom cause I feel that, too. She says I'm really special and I believe her.
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