An Easy Pill to Swallow, Training to Take Pills the Easy Way, Part 3

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series An Easy Pill to Swallow

It’s been a while since I mentioned this, but this is a skill which we often wish our dogs had, but rarely teach them before we need it. Mindy had to learn it early, when a urinary tract infection required antibiotics.

So here’s a short video of Mindy taking her undisguised pill on cue — and not only taking the undisguised pill, but leaving a fun puzzle toy full of kibble to do so. Continue reading

Service Animal Etiquette. Seriously, People.

This entry is part 7 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
Cebus apella group. Capuchin Monkeys Sharing

Capuchin Monkeys Sharing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was at a restaurant once when a woman was seated at the next table with her service animal, a Capuchin monkey. I was horrified when a man brought his son to her table to “meet your monkey” and pet it.

Seriously, mister, would you bring your kid over and say, “We think your electric scooter is really cool and my son wants to push its brightly-colored buttons”? Of course not. So why would you assume you can handle other medical equipment, which is what service animals legally are?

I’ve heard horror stories from those who use service dogs daily, but still I’ve been really surprised since I started working with Mindy at just how rude some people are around service animals. And while most people are pretty good at not interfering with her or at least asking before reaching for her, there are others which are ruining the picnic for everyone, and I don’t get it. I mean, we’ve had service dogs among us for nearly a century, right?

(Warning: I acknowledge openly that R+ is the best behavior modification option. But this blog post contains P+, in that I strongly criticize. Proceed with caution.) Continue reading

Steampunk Puppy: “They call me CAPTAIN Mindy!”

This entry is part 10 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

Laura & Captain Mindy, reporting for duty.

Fun puppy socialization outing this weekend! And some socialization opportunities are too good to pass up.

In one of my other lives, I’m a costumer, and we were presenting some costume panels this weekend at a steampunk event. Saturday my husband was going to be very busy and couldn’t keep the puppy at home, so she had to go with me in the morning. And of course that meant she had to go in costume, right? Continue reading

Puppy’s First Clicker Session

This entry is part 9 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
How I get things done: today I placed a blanket and a chew in a sun-spot. I cheat.

How I get things done: today I placed a blanket and a chew in a sun-spot. I cheat.

She’s a bit young to be have flashbacks already, but here’s a look back at Mindy’s very first clicker session.

After our long flights home, Mindy was full of hollow energy. She’d slept on the plane, so she was awake, but it had been a crazy long day, so she was frazzled. In fact, it had been a long weekend, since she’d left the kennel, stayed overnight with someone new, gone to Clicker Expo, met me, stayed overnight with me, and then flown to sub-zero temperatures.

And I was tired, because I’d done Clicker Expo, too, and then puppy-wrangled through three airports without dog facilities. Continue reading

The Unseen Fun of a Service Dog’s Life

This entry is part 8 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
I'm not sure I've ever known a puppy who didn't like the chewing texture of wood.

I’m not sure I’ve ever known a puppy who didn’t like the chewing texture of wood. Our rule is, you can sample the pieces in the firewood holder, but not furniture. Seems to be a good deal so far.

Several people have asked me questions about service dogs, whether they’re always “on the job” or could have normal dog lives. A few were under the heartbreaking impression that because one isn’t supposed to pet service dogs while they’re working, that service dogs aren’t ever to be petted, even at home.

Definitely not the case! Continue reading

A Big Day 4 (and end of the first week)

This entry is part 6 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

My husband met the puppy for the first time Friday morning. They’ve seemed to hit it off pretty well.

black lab puppy lying in man's lap with green dragon toy IMAG0316

I had made plans to go to the Home Show with others, and I knew it would be a great big experience for the new pup. It also had the potential to be too big an experience, so I packed an entire day’s worth of kibble and an extra bully stick, more on that in a moment.

I picked up the vest and gear, and I put on my coat, and Mindy launched from my husband’s lap and ran to join me. Remember how I said I wanted most of all to condition that outings were fun? I think we’re on target.

And then we headed out to the State Fairgrounds for a socialization adventure. Continue reading

Day 2 with the Guide Dog puppy: Moving Fast

This entry is part 4 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

IMAG0246So yeah, lots of puppy posts. Not gonna apologize.

This one’s a little less “aww!” and a little more training-oriented. I’ve got to type fast, though, because I just put the pup down for a nap after a big afternoon! Continue reading

The First Day is a Big Day

This entry is part 3 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
Yes, your face WILL stick like that.

Yes, your face WILL stick like that.

A California puppy haiku:

Snow is weird and cold.
OMG! You can eat it!
Ow-wow-wow brain freeze.

Due to a lucky “break” in our cold snap, Mindy experienced only a 70-degree drop in temperature when we arrived home late Monday night. I took her out to urinate on the new paving stones installed for her toilet (GDB puppies learn to urinate on concrete, for the easy of urban work later) and watched it freeze beneath her. Brr! Continue reading

A New Face

This entry is part 1 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

Laura & Mindy the Guide Dog puppy

So I have an announcement to make… There’s a puppy here.

I know, I know, it’s really soon. Really soon. And, that’s a retriever face. But stay with me for just a moment.

I’d been thinking about raising a service puppy for months, actually. Guide Dogs for the Blind has opened a puppy program for KPA CTPs specifically, and I’d been kicking around the idea. I had finally decided against it, though, with my dogs being ill and not particularly retriever fans.

Continue reading