Sunday, May 24, 2009

Evaluation Day

Yesterday Honeydew had an evaluation by the Guide Dogs staff.  We have a new lead trainer at Guide Dogs and she hasn't meet our puppy club dogs yet, so this was a chance for her to get to know us and the club pups.  Of course, Honeydew didn't study for the big test (she was too busy talking on the phone to her friends), but she did a great job anyhow!  

We met with the new lead trainer, she asked us a lot of questions about Honeydew - how she reacts to noises, does she vocalize in her kennel, etc.  We then went out for a walk through a farmers market up the street.  She gave us a lot of pointers and some new training techniques to help Honeydew with the two things that she struggles the most with....pulling on the leash when walking, and being VERY distracted by other puppies along the way.  

Now, we are supposed to give her food rewards for doing what we want (walking on a loose leash and/or being indifferent to other dogs).  We do what is called "marking" - which means that when she is doing the behavior we want, we say the word "nice" - and then give her a kibble.  She likes that!  It is very similar to using a clicker to mark the good behavior.  We used this technique before to train her to "go to bed", so this is an extension of that.  The impact was noticeable almost immediately.  So - now we get to be "one of those people" that walk around with a treat bag hanging off their hip.  Ugh!

The exciting news though, is that Honeydew doesn't have to go back for formal training in June!!  So, it looks like it will probably be July now.  We are very excited about that!  Not only do we have more time with her - but we also have more time to try to get her over these two issues (leash pulling and dog distraction) so that she has a better chance of being successful when she enters the training program at Guide Dogs.

The pictures are of our day at the evaluation.  First one is of Honeydew and I meeting with the lead trainer (called a "Community Field Representative").  Second is of Honeydew...she REALLY likes this new training approach of getting kibble for being good.  She has never paid so much attention to me!  Third is of Honeydew working with the lead trainer (she got high marks!).  Lastly, Honeydew totally tanked out sleeping on her Aunt Deb's leg in the car.  It was a very exhausting day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Only Freakies Ride the Bus

"Only freakies ride the bus" is one of Glenn's favorite excuses for why he refuses to ride on the public bus but with me!  But Honeydew and I are pros at bus riding, doing it multiple times every work day.

This month Glenn and I had to plan the puppy club "social" - and since we know folks that work for our transit company (Trimet), we were able to make arrangements for the group of pups to work on the buses at the garage where they park.  

It ended up being a great experience where we could practice boarding and deboarding the bus, being exposed to the various noises (beeps, rumbles, air brake puffs), seeing the ramps go up and down, etc. There were about 17 pups there, as another puppy club came to join us as well.  It was fun.  For some of the dogs, it was their first time on the bus.  

So, now, only freakies and puppies ride the bus.  In the future, maybe I should try kibble rewards to get Glenn on the bus!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Puppy Trade!

Honeydew is off on exciting adventures!  She is staying with another puppy raising family for a few days, while their puppy, Fjord, is staying with us.  Fjord is a very sweet black lab male.  He is about 10-months old - and is considerably larger than Honeydew.  Tully (dog) and Bodine (cat) have taken to him quite quickly.  The rest of the Crim Critters aren't too sure yet.  Honeydew will have a fun few days.  They have a large family with kids and dogs and rescue kittens (4 weeks old!) - she was going to go to church with them this morning, and will likely go to school with the daughter.  Fun times!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Green Thumbs...err...Paws?

Today the puppy club held a plant sale to raise funds.  It was a great success!  The woman who let us use her yard to hold the sale opened her garden to the public - it was one of those amazing "transported to a quiet oasis" type gardens with a big pond/waterfall, winding paths, etc.  Some artists had set up their artwork around the garden.  Lots of folks just stopped by to meet the pups (which were stationed throughout the gardens and plant sale areas), including some of Honeydews friends from work.  One of the highlights...meeting a couple that used to have a dog named "Honeydew" also.  Small world!  It was a great event.  But now, we all need a nap!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dew the Builder

Today, Honeydew supervised the building of two raised garden beds for the backyard.  I have been inspired to see how many of my neighbors are converting their front yards and median strips into vegetable beds...I just had to get some of my own! Honeydew loved the sheets of weed blocker material and insisted on sleeping on it (apparently, she can supervise with her eyes closed...).   She seemed to think we were building her a couple of big dog beds in the backyard.  Now we just need to order dirt and get the veggies planted!  Ought to be interesting to see what Honeydew makes of that!  I am sure she will be more than happy to play in the dirt.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Earning Kibble

Honeydew and I in our "work habitat." You can see her kennel and dog bowl, and her bed under my desk. What you don't see is the pile of dog toys and play jugs that keep her entertained. She does a great job of protecting my ankles during the work day, and helping Kyle (my office-mate) format his Word documents - she earns every penny (err...I mean kibble)!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good Kitty, Bad Kitty

Today was a crazy day.  To start things off, we had a bit of drama this morning.  It was time for Honeydew to get her heart worm medication, which comes in the form of a chewable cube of something that smells and tastes wonderful (well, at least that is what Honeydew says).  While she is distracted with eating that, I usually apply the flea treatment (a liquid) between her shoulder blades.  I set the bowl with the heart worm medication and a few kibbles on the floor in front of Honeydew and told her to wait -- she knows she isn't allowed to eat until she is told to do so.  Well, while I had my back turned to prep the flea medicine...our evil, sneaky, rotten black cat ("Ruben") snuck into the kitchen, stole the heart worm medication from her bowl, bolted into the living room and had swallowed the thing whole before I could get to him (which is impressive, because the little bugger doesn't even have any teeth!).  Ughh.  So, we spent the next half hour calling the vet and searching "Google" to try to figure out if the cat was going to die from eating medication meant for a dog that weighs "51 to 100 pounds".  All this before even getting out the door to go to work!  It turns out, the cat will live.  Well, provided we choose to let him. 

Tonight at puppy class we had a surprise baby shower for one of the members, also named Michelle.  Honeydew absolutely LOVES Michelle and her husband Thor -- they have watched Honeydew several times in the past when we have gone out of town.  She is very fond of them - and likely a bit jealous that their new arrival will be of the two-legged, furless variety.  

The pictures are of...Honeydew and Futura (a young pup) commiserating about what a boring meeting it is.  The second photo is of a VERY brave cat.  There is a young girl in the puppy club that rescues feral kittens, often just days old, and raises them to be adopted as pets...and this is one of the cats she rescued and that our group leader adopted that comes to class to help socialize the dogs.  Very brave kitty.  Maybe this girl could take our evil bad cat and make him good?  Third picture of Michelle opening her baby shower gifts from the puppies.  And lastly, a group shot...which is about as best we can do in a gym with bad lighting.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dancing Through the Tulips

Today we took a trip South of Portland to attend the Tulip Festival.  It was a fun outing.  Honeydew enjoyed herself, although all she really wanted to do was smell the mud puddles (something yummy was in there) and fall asleep on the cool damp soil between the rows of tulips.  What a nut.  All of the young kids where getting their pictures taken in wooden shoes...but Honeydew would have none of it.  But, we got some fun pictures of her in the fields at any rate.  A great day.