I am over-the-moon thrilled to introduce the newest addition to the Lomonaco family, the handsome young man you see in the picture above! One week from today, I will be flying out to Medford, Oregon to bring this little bundle of fluff and slobber home to New York. Jim and I are still debating on names. Since he is coming from Shadow Mountain’s “V” litter, whatever we choose for his registered name must begin with a “V.” Jim and I are thinking of “Shadow Mountain’s Victory for Monte” as his registered name. So far, “Cuba” is the forerunner in the call name race, as that is the name of the town where we got our first Saint Bernard, Monte, the dog that inspired me more than any other I’ve met before or since to learn about dog behavior.
While I am more excited about this puppy than I’ve been about anything in quite some time, I’m also quite nervous. I’ve never flown a young puppy across a continent before, and know that this will be a big day for him. He will go through four airports, ride the Bay Area Rapid Transport (“BART”) subway between domestic terminals in San Fransisco (I hope I still have the BART skills I acquired on my trip to Oakland last year for the APDT conference and do not get lost), and end all that flying with a two hour drive home from Albany. The trip, from when we leave the breeder’s in Oregon to when we arrive back at our home in Binghamton will likely take a total of about sixteen hours. I know I’ll be exhausted, and can’t imagine what a huge day this will be for him.
BE RUDE TO ME AND POLITE TO YOUR DOG
One of my favorite parts of my job (I wear quite a few hats) is the opportunity to assist my business partner Steve Benjamin in presenting workshops for students of the Karen Pryor Academy. I get to meet so many amazing and inspiring trainers, both experienced and those just starting their careers as animal care professionals. One of these fantabulous individuals is a lady named Jules Nye who owns Sit, Stay, and Play in Maryland.
The Karen Pryor Academy final assessment involves a number of components. There is the written assessment, a final examination covering the material addressed throughout the program, as well as a practical training assessment and a teaching assessment. Karen Pryor wants her graduates to understand the science of clicker training, prove that they’re skilled in its correct application, and demonstrate that they can effectively teach this technology to others.
In Jules’ teaching assessment, she said something I don’t think I’ll ever forget, “Feel free to be rude to me, and polite to your dog.” What Jules meant was, if your dog needs to go pee, walk out of class with him and give him a break. If he needs a drink, take him to get a drink – you don’t have to ask, hem, or haw with the instructor to get permission. Just give your dog what he needs, when he needs it.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I may need to be rude to other travelers in order to be polite to my dog. While I want him to make new friends (and lots of them!), I also want to give him the space he needs and not add to an already stressful day for a little baby. I may have to ask some well-intentioned greeters to allow him to nap in his crate for a while, even if it makes me look like a jerk. Puppy takes priority over social graces.
I’ve been contemplating how I might make this day more relaxing for him. I already bought absorbent pads for in his crate and at our stops, and have purchased baby wipes so I can clean him up if he has an accident. I must ask the breeder if she might be able to get a toy or t-shirt that smells like his mom and litter for him to ride in his crate with. If not, perhaps a towel scented with lavender oil or sprayed with Dog Appeasing Pheremone (DAP). Clicker ready for the trip, treats TBD by what the airport will allow, I’m hoping I can smuggle my Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried raw on the plane so we can do training. I plan on picking up a bully stick or two while I’m out there, so he can have something to chew on should his little Sainty heart so desire.
So much to think about. Now I’m left to ponder…is there any possible way I could play Through a Dog’s Ear in his crate for the ride home? I’m sure that would help him (and me) relax on our exciting and exhausting first day together. I can’t wait!