August 27th 2005 11:47 pm
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Well, today I began my formal training to become a Service Dog. They checked over my medical records making sure I was neutered, my shots were up to date and that I was registered with the County (Maricopa). One of the teams was dismissed (Tricia/Murphy) because the doctor wouldn't issue a medical clearance for her to train her dog. My mom saw her doctor on Wednesday and they'll fax the info over by next week. Apparently the Veterans Administration is kinda slow to do things like that. Another team didn't even show up (Wendy/Chance and I guess we'll find out next week if she can stay or be dismissed.
We gave a formal introduction on our name, age, breed, what I want to be trained to do for my mom, where we came from, our personality, favorite toy and a funny thing that we've done. Then we had to show how we sat and lay down on command. My mom made the mistake of bending down when she told me to lay down.... So, we have homework this coming week to correct that situation.
We were told that some of us wouldn't graduate from the program. It all depends on how the team can work together without a glitch. I sure hope I'm one of them. I'm going to try really hard.
All the dogs were different breeds and ages. Sophie is a 16 month old Golden Retriever; Coco is a mix of dalmation and maybe a pointer... She's 4 and small; Tahoe is a very large 12 1/2 month old Yellow Lab. Shadow talked under his breath, but behaved wonderfully... Sophie had to be corrected all the time... CoCo is a goofy dog and trys to please Wedi... Tahoe is a "wild" thing. Needs loads of training to get up to snuff to become a Service Dog (That's my opinion - He lunged at me when I was laying down - I didn't do a darn thing - why? Because I'm not allowed to react to a dog lunging at me - Joyce gave me a thumbs up on that - yea...)
Also, they asked what kind of food we ate and when did we eat. No more tidbits in the living room... that's taboo... Mom doesn't give me much anyways. Plus I have to lay under the table the entire time she's eating (no begging allowed - if she drops a piece she tells me to "leave it". I can't get up till she says "Shadow - up"... If I get up at anytime... mom makes me immediately go back under and lay down... Then she say's "good boy".
We talked about the difference between stay and wait... Apparently without realizing it I've been doing the "wait" command for 13 months. Mom always makes me wait at the door while she goes 1st and then she tells me to heel... Mom always said "stay", but that's a different command. So, we'll start working on that too. I never jump out of a car either... Now I just have to hear the word "wait" before I exit and then the words "good wait". When we get home and we have groceries to unload mom makes me stay - oops wait.. till all the groceries are out of the car and put into the house. She then comes back and collects my belongings - water, water bowl etc and then asks me to come by saying "out" and "heel".
So, I have homework to do... Mom worked on me for 15 minutes every two hrs on the sit (mom clicks her fingers to make me sit), lay down & up command.... She gave me treats when I did them right and didn't give me a darn thing if I screwed up... I think I like the idea of doing it right.. I get a reward.. yippee!!! Also, we have do a paper on our breed. Since I'm a Boxer/Labrador Retriever mix mom had to write about both breeds... Well, she finished that assignment already... She found out that I have traits of both breeds.. I'm smart like a Boxer and Lab... Quiet like a Lab, have the famous "kidney beannie" dance of the boxer - man can I wiggle my butt... I can be goofy at times like a Boxer, then the Lab part makes me settle down. Boxers are "LAP DOGS" - Just like me... LOL
Well, that's the end of day one for attending Service Dog School. I'll be back next week to let you know what I've learned in class.
August 22nd 2005 9:11 pm
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Well, its official.... I begin my formal Service Dog Training this coming Saturday - 27 Aug 2005. Mom went to the 1st class last week to just meet the other people that will be going to the school. There are five teams in the beginning class - Tricia/Murphy, Tracey/Chance, Wendy/Sophie, Ellen (mom)/Shadow (me), Wedi/KoKo, Shiela/Tahoe. Mom had to meet with the new folks before us four legged friends start class. Some of the teams have had some training like mom and me, but some are really beginners who have only basic obedience training. Mom can't brag about me on how good I've been for this past year. It's like I have to start with a clean slate and be like all the other beginners who know zip, nada. That's OK with me since my mom has come up with her own command words and we both have to learn the correct way of doing it. All the owners disabilities are differant... Some are in wheelchairs, some use canes, some have mobility issues like mom. Mom had to turn in my shot records, CGC certificate & some other health records that are mine. Mom has to get a medical statement from her Veterans Primary doc on what her disabilities are and that she can go to school.
So, I'll start a weekly diary log on what I've learned at school for that week.
It's going to be so much fun..... The teacher is going to let us know by Nov 1st if I can travel the friendly skies with my mom. We'll just be going to San Francisco to watch my sis compete in the Western Region Oireachtas (O-rock-tus). This is an Irish Dance competition where the best Champion Irish Dancers in the Western Region of the USA come to compete for a chance to compete @ the World Championships in Ireland next Easter.... Sis hasn't been to one for three years because of her college schedule. So, she's busy learning new steps to prepare for this competition.
June 30th 2005 4:43 pm
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WOW!!! My mom and my sis took me to the grand opening of a Sams Club near our home today. The crowds were huge and after the opening ceremony we walk thru the doors with the store people clapping, yelling etc. It was rather nerve wracking, but I kept my cool. I guess I'm suppose to get use to strange places that can be extrememly LOUD!!! We walked around for awhile and then went to see where Luis Gonzalez (GONZO) of the Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball team was going to sign autographs. It was only 9:30 am and man what a line and it was growing. We were only back to around 30 people from the front of the line. My sis then went off and took a stroll. Then I went for a stroll with my mom to get a photo enlarged of my mom's nephew who's a rising star in baseball at his high school. Then we went back to my sis and the line was now very long, exceeding out the door. We stood around for awhile & then off for another stroll in the store. Mom was tasting samples and got to bring some back for sis. One of the samples was POPCORN!! Oh, mommy ................... pleassssssssssssssseeeeeeee can I have some. I didn't act silly or anything, but my mom knew by the looks of my eyes that I would just love one piece. Finally, after getting back my mom gave me a piece of popcorn and I just said thank you by wagging my tail. I didn't ask for anymore & I just layed down. Then around 11:10 am this GONZO guy showed up... Don't know anything about him, but my mom and sis do. He's a major league baseball player... My mom gave him the picture of her nephew to get his autograph. All of sudden she took off my vest... Hey mom... That's not allowed. She hands over my vest and this GONZO guy signs his name on my vest. So, I now have a signed autograph of GONZO on my service vest. When we were checking out the clerks from the store were asking my mom did she get an autograph of GONZO. Yes, and then she pointed to the autograph on the side of my vest... REALLY COOL... People thought it was so cute... I wonder if any other Service Dog buddies have a signed service vest from a famous person...
June 15th 2005 6:52 pm
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Well, I'm finally use to my "Thing" called the Gentle Leader. I love it now because I don't get pulled by the collar anymore. Mom just gives a gentle tug and I know that I have to get closer to her side. Walked behind the grocery cart today and my mom just put the leash over the handle and I just stayed behind the cart... Before I use to wander to the side of the cart and mom would give a big tug & NO... Now if I go to wander I can feel the gentle pressure & Mom just asks me to heel. I was so proud of it today... everytime mom had to stop to get something off the shelf I would just sit by her side & look up at her wagging my tail in the process. Mom would then pat my head & tell me I was such a good boy. Guess the trainer was right that the Gentle Leader is perfect for my line of work - Service Dog...
June 11th 2005 12:46 am
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Today my mom and I attended a wonderful workshop about using a Service Dog. I got to meet my future trainer along with the other Staff from my future Service Dog School. They even had door prizes & my mom won a one year subscription to "Dog Fancy". I hope she lets me look at the doggies.
I was also a bad boy for little bit. I couldn't understand WHY I couldn't talk to the other dogs. The other doggies were all giving me the SILENT treatment. I wasn't very loud either, but my mom was getting very upset with my chit chatting. I finally settled down and took a nap.
The workshop offered loads of information about having a Service Dog. The first speaker was Nancy Reynolds, Executive Director of Humane Canine Connection, Former Trainer at TOP DOG, Consultant for Happy Tails. She talked about the "Right Dog for the Job" which included: Influence of Genetics, Importance of Dog's Structure, Temperament and Intelligence, and A Well Rounded Dog.
They then had a lunch and my mom and I got to go around and meet other Service Dogs and their owners. They loved my boots. My mom keeps stressing the importance of wearing them in the Arizona heat. They took down the name of place to get the boots. Ruffwear.com OR in REI. My mom took off one of my boots and showed it around the room.
Following lunch we had the following speakers:
Mary Bartlett - Arizona Rescue A Golden
Kristi Node-Morrissey - Desert Lab Rescue (This is the group where I came from).
Susan Steele - Phoenix Guide Dog Raisers
Lucy Linder - Companion Animal Association
The final speaker was Denise Thompson, Executive Director of Arizona Office of Americans with Disabilities, Consultant for Happy Tails. She talked about the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), Arizona Law - ARS 11-1024, Fair Housing and the Federal Aviation Authority.
My mom learned a lot about the laws for Service Dogs. She learned that Arizona does allow Service Dogs in Training can go anywhere and everywhere with their owner/trainer except to your place of employment. After your training is finished then you can go to work with your owner.
My mom asked about the Gentle Leader (I saw it on most of the Service Dogs that were there). I didn't know what my mom was talking about until we went to Petsmart on the way home to pick one up. The clerk showed my mom how to put it on etc.. My mom said that she would study the DVD when she got home to make sure she put it on correctly. After my mom got the "THING" on she told me to "Walk On"... HOLD ON MOM... WHAT'S THIS "THING"!!! It was the weirdest thing that I had to put on. So, after a couple minutes I walked out the store with that "THING" on. I did figure out that if my mom gave a gentle tug it meant "NO"... When I walked by the side of my mom with her holding the leash loosely it meant "YES".
My mom didn't have the "THING" on quite right, but after watching the DVD she got the "THING" to fit properly. Man, I didn't know that I could eat and drink with that "THING" on. At least by August when I start School I'll be ready because I'm already using the Gentle Leader - aka "THING"....
May 23rd 2005 12:12 am
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Well, I went to a Feis (pronounced FESH) this weekend in Tucson, AZ. Man it was so HOT - 109 DEGREES!!! I'm so glad I have those boots on my feet. The sidewalks would have burned by pads.
A Feis is an Irish Dance Competition. Dancers come from all over to compete. My sis is an Irish Dancer. She hasn't danced for a few months because of College, but has returned to AZ to finish College and to continue in Irish Dancing. She just missed it so much. She was so happy this weekend to see all her friends.
I was so well behaved. Of course I should be... I've been working for months with my mommy and it should be seen by everyone that we're a team. Irish Dance Music can be very loud, but I usually just sleep through it (see the last picture - I'm just a foot away from the stage and the noise is something else). I had kids and adults walk around me most of the day. They asked my mommy if they could pet me. I had to sit or lay down and be completely still for they could pet me. I couldn't be goofy... I had to be the best of the best you might say. I had loads of comments from many people. Like I had a beautiful, shinny coat... great looking boots... well behaved... the list goes on and on. I'm so proud of being a Service Dog. I show that pride by being the best of the best. I did extremely well when the Championship dancers did their Treble Reel Specials (dancers do 1 step down the line until the end & then everyone does a very loud ending - TOGETHER). I was sleeping away until the THUNDER woke me up. I looked up and just stared at those dancers.. I looked over to my mom and she just said.. shushhhhhhh... then it was over as fast as it began. Mom praised me for finally being still through out that step... I guess I will get use to it... I have more competitions coming up later this summer.
We went out to dinner with a large group of friends... 5 teens, 5 adults and duh - ME!!! I've had my tail stepped on in a resturant before. I wouldn't listen to mom about where I had to stay. Well, this time I crawled under her chair and went to sleep. I was sooooooooo hungry, but I knew that I had to wait till I got back to our hotel room.
The hotel gave us a HUGE suite... I couldn't wait to get off my working gear and play with my toys while mom got my dinner ready. I didn't eat much because I was tired from working all day. After dinner my mom took me for a walk around the hotel. We went over to one of my mom's friends to say hi. I went in and my mom took off my leash... WHAT!!! You mean I can be just a regular doggie!!! I showed them my famous run back and forth to let some steam off... Then I just walked over to the patio door, sat down and looked out at the people walking by. I was talking away until my mom said that word "IGNORE" and boy that means... SHUT MY MOUTH!!! I got loads of pets, hugs and kisses. They told my mom that I was a very special dog... YEA!!! After awhile we went back to our room. Mom was exhausted and her leg was bothering her... So, off we went to a King size bed... Man, we only have a Double size at home. Mom put my bed cover on the bed.. I jumped up and curled up to go too sleep. Man did we both sleep... Both of us were worn out.
The next morning we packed up the car and went back over to the ballrooms to watch Sunday's events. I got more compliments... and I loved every minute of it. Finally, the competition ended and it was time to go home.
My mom's van has no A/C... It's broken. So, for a hour and half I had to roast in the back seat... sis kept giving me water and I drank every drop of it. Mom's van is too old and the a/c can't be fixed... So, I'm waiting for some summer gear to help with the heat in the van. I got a cool pad, cool collar and a special fan coming.. This will help keep me from overheating. Mom is thinking about my needs... She must be hot too... but I watched her drink loads of water while we were driving home.
Like what my mom says: "IRISH DANCE ROCKS... HANDS DOWN!" It's AWESOME!!!
April 30th 2005 2:36 pm
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Just wanted everyone to know that on April 30, 2005 I took the AKC Good Citizen Program - CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Test. I passed it w/ flying colors. This was the 1st time I went to an Animal Rescue event - WOW!! hundreds of dogs were there. I've never seen so many dogs. This was a training day for me and my mommy. I have to learn how to behave in the public and with other dogs around. It was so strange having dogs coming up to meet me. If I tried to talk my mommy just told me to "ignore" and I kept quiet. I got a new toy for passing my test. I was the only dog with boots on. There was broken glass in several areas and I'm so glad I had them on. The sidewalks were hot and some dogs were in a hurry to get away from them. Now I understand why I have to wear them. I now can't wait till my formal training..... I'm ready for it... "BRING IT ON!!!"
April 25th 2005 2:13 pm
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On April 15, 2004 I found my forever home. I was adopted out from the Desert Labrador Retriever Rescue in Tucson, AZ. My adopted name was Calvin. I sure was hoping that I would get a better name.. I slept in the arms of my grandma for the 2 1/2 hour ride home. I charged in the house and was so happy to be in my forever home. My grandpa was sitting down in the Arizona room and I just went right over to him, plopped down and put my head on his shoe and looked up to him with my gorgeous eyes. His heart just melted. I knew right then and there I was going to stay FOREVER!!!! That night I had to go out. I was use to a doggie door, but they didn't have one... so, I just went to the door and gave a little whine. Man these people understand me!!! It was dark outside with only the light of the moon shinning. Well, as I was walking I saw this huge "THING" walking next to me. I yelped and wanted to go back inside to get away from that "THING"... Man oh man what was that "THING"!
A couple days later they had a name contest for me.... The name that won was "SHADOW"... Boy did I ever feel goofy because that "THING" I was so scared of was my very own SHADOW!!!
I was extremely smart and learned many commands in a very short time. When I was six months old I began my training as a Service Dog... I now walk with two shadows.... Mine and my mommies. I get to go everywhere with my mom. I love walking with my head high. I love to show everyone that I meet along the way that I have the greatest life any dog could have. I go to the movies, theaters, hospitals, grocery stores, church etc. You name it I've been to them all. My favorite places to go are too are the Irish Community events. The noise of the hardshoes at the Irish Dance Competitions sounds like thunder, but I just curl up and go to sleep. At the Veterans Day events last November (my mommy is a Disabled Vet) I decided I needed to sing the National Anthem along with the soloist. I don't know why everyone was laughing at me because I sang in perfect tune to the "Star Spangled Banner". My mommy was very upset with me... She gave me a tug and tried to cover my mouth, but I hummed away... Then she said "NO" in such a way that I had to stop... Man oh man was I in trouble now.
At the Highland Games in Feb I decided to hum to the bagpipes... Man those things hurt your ears... My mom said "NO" and I stopped.
Well, I begin my formal training in July. One more year of intense training where I'll learn how to pick up the keys, open the fridge etc. I will get a harness when I'm two.... I'm too young now because I'm still growing. I will probably never be a big dog. I only weigh 56 pounds at the moment & have to eat Adult Lite Formula dry dog food (mixed with 1 waggin train chicken jerky, my food supplement for excessive shedding and a little warm water). I only get fed once a day.. at 5 PM (when dinner is on I'm hungry & want to eat then). I get plenty of doggy biscuits during the day because I've been really good on the job. Since I sleep a lot at the feet of my mom I don't get to run and play. I'm just to busy helping her when she needs me. I will then be able to help my mommy more with her walking after I get my harness...
I now have two shadows to guard now... Mine and My Mommies... I'm so glad I found my forever home....
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