Monday, May 30, 2016

A Memorable Day

The three day remembrance for Memorial Day showcased our neighborhood and a Pizza/Movie night at the Richey's.  With Dylan encased in more distractions than ever before, she did very well.  Only licking one small boy to extreme giggles and causing Bailey to go swimming in our pool.  She mostly sat and observed us doing what Americans seem to do for the unofficial start of summer.

Dylan observing Memorial Day

The cuisine included making your own pizzas and a pot luck of sides and desserts.

Ladies first

Gerald and Marty loading up

The bottom sign says "Welcome to the porch"

Marty's homemade Tiramisu 

Firing up the Pizza's

The shows included vintage Bugs Bunny cartoons and the movie Sandlot.

Bugs and Friends

The Block

Chris and I give thanks to our great neighbors for making this happen.  Mike & Karen, Gerald & Debbie, Jim & Betty, Marty & Darlene, Matt & Sara, Jan & Bob, Michael & Tiffany, Rick & Andrea,  Tom and Mary, Josh & Shannon and all the kids and friends who came together to remember what we have been so blessed to receive from the sacrifices of so many men and women in our military.

Many Thanks to Debbie for the great pictures.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Yea Team, 26 Miles Across the Sea

Working with a "puppy in training" requires a different mindset than just raising a dog for yourself.  We always need to be mindful of what we're teaching Dylan.  How does what we do affect their ability to progress to the next level?  Are we being too coddling or too strict perhaps?

Dylan likes to bark at just about anything passing in front of the house.  The coaching from the staff at GDA tells us not to shout "NO!"  The dog perceives this as you joining them in the barking.   Which encourages them to bark even more.  One issue is our Bailey.  She also barks at the dropping of a leaf across the street, so Dylan joins in and if you join in by shouting "NO" then it becomes a chorus of dogs barking....Yea Team!

What to do?  Voicing "Dylan, Dylan, Dylan" gets her to come to you and then you tell her to sit or get a toy and praise her when she does either.  It stops the barking temporarily, but not permanently.  Frustrating to be sure.  Bailey also comes when you do this, thinking Dylan is getting something special and she doesn't want to miss out.

Another issue is walking with a loose leash. Some dogs are perfect from the get go.  Walking right next to their handler without pulling forward or wandering off in either direction.  This isn't Dylan.  Its like she has to be the lead dog in the Iditarod.  We were told that a constant pulling on her leash is actually building up their neck muscles and when they go into formal training, they are immune to this type of correction.  Not good so what do you do?  You stop!  Stopping with your dog without pulling on the leash for a correction gets their attention.  Then patting your leg makes them think about what they're doing.  A nice praise when they stop and then begin walking next to you on a loose leash gives them the idea that, "Oh, thats what you want."  Nice in theory, but it hasn't worked yet for us.  It's early so we'll continue on this track and see what happens.

This week was special as it was my birthday and we decided to go to Catalina for an afternoon in Avalon and a nice lunch.  It was also great for an outdoor excursion with Dylan.  I got a free boat ride and a free ice cream.  It was a great birthday present.

Avalon Harbor

Upon arrival in Avalon

Sitting pretty!

Licking her lips looking for the  trouble she can find.

Walking on a loose leash.

Checking out the harbor.

Chris, looking good in my hat!

Looking for fish.
I have to admit Dylan works very well when she has her jacket on.   I don't know how, but she knows its time to work and behaves accordingly.  It is fun when she gets it, does what she is supposed to do.  We just need to keep building on that.

Earlier today, she actually was in a down/stay for about two minutes, I told her to "sit" and she got up from her down and sat.  Just once, but I'll take it.  Yea Team!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dylan on the Links

On course for Patriots and Paws

Posing with the Swing Sisters.  
One of the many outings we have been encouraged by GDA  is taking Dylan on a golf course.  After all, the blind enjoy many sports and games of golf are no exception.  So the day came for us to play in a charity tournament sponsored by Patriots and Paws.  This organization places displaced animals with returning Vets who suffer from the many problems our troops come home with from multiple tours of duty in the many wars we have been engaged in since 2001.  We thought this would be a good opportunity to expose Dylan to the links and maybe a few dogs.  Turns out, there weren't any dogs but there were lots of distractions.  The first being the golf cart.

Tight quarters

Now, when riding in a car, Dylan goes right to the floor, circles and lays down and goes to sleep.  Nothing to see and completely enclosed, she knows what to expect and so do we.  Riding in a golf cart...not so much!  First there is no room to circle.  Its open and all that green grass is so inviting.  Then the movement is different.  She can jump out and be free.  Of course when driving a golf cart, jumping out is not advised be you a person or a puppy.

Then there is the people!  My goodness, you would have thought these folks had never seen a dog.  After trying to explain, "Dylan is working and should not be petted" about 10 times, we just told her to sit and invited people to come up to her and get some Dylan love.

Waiting patiently for us to putt out.

Checking out Dads form
The course was hilly and had lots of speed bumps on their cart paths which made for interesting travel.  Then the part about no room to circle, also meant there was not room for her to sit or lie down.  This was after many attempts by us to put her in a place where I could safely drive and Chris could safely sit, she sat up with us in the middle and I think she was smiling the entire day.

Happy Girl
After 18 holes however, she was done.  I fed her and we went inside for our dinner and the auction and she went out faster than you could say, "Sold!"

Done for the day!
In three days we have exposed Dylan to the Blues and the Greens.  And just so you know, not once did she chase a ball or go after a squirrel.  Of course Chris covered her eyes when we saw any squirrels.  No sense taking any chances on our first golf excursion.

Please check out PatriotsandPaws.Org as they do amazing work and need all the help you could imagine an organization like this would need.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dylan does the Blues

Last night we took Dylan to her first concert.  Staged at the beautiful Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, playing on stage were Charlie Musselwhite,  Betty LaVette and one of my all time favorites John Mayall.  This was our test to see how she acted in a large venue with music.  Hearing applause, loud music and hand clapping is new for her and we were prepared to exit if indeed she got unruly.  Needn't to worry.  What a champ!

In the building waiting outside the Hall, people watching.

Fogging up the glass.

Sitting with our friends Lori  and Dan

Once the music started, Dylan took notice and was really into the sounds of Charlie Musselwhite.

But like most things with dogs, after a while it was sleep time and Dylan was no exception to that rule.

A fun night with our puppy and a great night for some blues.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Playing Possum!

Walking your guide dog in training is mandatory, according to GDA.  So we walk.  Usually I walk her about 1 to 2 miles. (or is it blocks) I get those confused.  Anyway today was an interesting time and we had a distraction for her.  After walking along busy boulevards and crossing streets with traffic lights, I was heading home when something caught my eye on the sidewalk ahead.  Now normally Dylan would spot anything before I do, but not this time.  The object was very still, but it was very much out of place.  I stopped about 50 yards from it and sat Dylan.  She was interested, but very much in control.  Walking up a bit closer, I saw that it was a possum.  A very large possum, right in the middle of the sidewalk.

Now it seemed a perfect chance to test our proofing while working with Dylan.  So I walked a bit closer and took a few pictures while Dylan was anxiously looking at this creature she had never seen before.  Not once did she break or bark or strain at the leash as I walked around it.  I had Chris call animal control but they would not come out.  I guess these are a common occurrence around Long Beach, but not during the day.  Possums are pretty much blind during daylight hours.  It was convulsing a bit and looked to be doing some pushups, but didn't move much when we walked on around it.  I know, it was, you know, playing itself.

An interesting place for a nap

Giving it some room.

The rest of our walk was pretty normal after that.  Then it was off to Costco and the market.  Just a somewhat normal day in raising our Dylan.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Proof is in the "Proofing"

As April turns into May , we have to leave our calendar girl, Dylan, and gaze at a new picture of Blythe, a female black Lab, Mays centerfold.  If you don't have a GDA calendar, you'll just have to take my word on this.

With May comes our 10th month with Dylan and her 11th month on this planet.  Many things have been accomplished in our 10 months.  Sits and downs, comes and stays are all part of  the tasks Dylan has learned.  But now, GDA wants to push us and our puppies to new heights.  It's called "Proofing".  Proofing is when your puppy will do the commands you give while totally distracted.  Maybe its dogs playing or kids running, people at the front door.  When these situations arise, calling your dogs name and expecting her to come, but being completely ignored is not a well trained puppy.

 In the meantime, other areas of "proofing" explained in this manner are:

When your dog is lying down and you tell her to sit, does she?  (um, no)  This means your dog has to get up from lying down in order to sit.  I can already see the look on her face when we start on this.  "Are you kidding me?" she'll be conveying with her big brown eyes.

When your dog is 15 feet away and you tell her to sit, does she happily come toward you and sit?
(um, yes)
Sitting in the place they are, or, getting up to sit down is a different context then just giving the command.  This is what is meant by proofing.  And I thought I was done with the hard stuff.  That is our goal in May, to "proof" Dylan and prove to GDA she is well trained.

Our biggest concern is outlined under the heading;
By 11 months of age your puppy should be able to:

Calmly meet other people and dogs without jumping up or lunging.   (ouch) That's a big fat NO!
This is the help we need and expect to explore the options GDA will give us at our next meeting on May 9.

A big distraction just a few days after Dylan returned from Sylmar's red tent was a dog we puppy sat for an extended afternoon.  Nyla, a beautiful German Shepard, came to stay for a bit.  Wow!  What a difference in the breed compared to Labs.  Talkative, nipping and at 5 months, non stop energy.  Dylan was confused.  Bailey was confused.  Maggie just snapped at her and Nyla left Maggie alone for the rest of the day.   A learning experience for sure.

Nyla, checking out the back yard.

Dylan unsure as to what to do.

Bailey looking for some help.
She was cute when she took a nap.  She would suckle her stuffed toy's nose like she was nursing.  Sorry I didn't get a picture of that.  

Leaving this post with a downed Dylan after a 4 minute down/stay.

Good Girl!