Training at the Vet Clinic

Doberman puppy on trampoline

I didn’t take a new pic of Undómiel (10 months) today, so please enjoy this flashback to 8 weeks old.

No time like the present…. Undómiel and I had to make a trip yesterday to the veterinary clinic for an irritation on her face, and while I had planned to get around to teaching a chin rest for vet exams and treatment, I hadn’t actually done it yet.

Yes, professionals can be lazy and distracted, too. Guilty.

A solid chin rest can be invaluable for vet exams, especially of the head or face. So there we are, sitting in the exam room waiting for the doctor, and I decided to get started. A few clicks in, I realized it’d be good to get some video of the process. Continue reading

Puppy Socialization: the Physical

I have been a terrible pet parent, and I have not been spamming the blog with puppy photos and puppy stories. I apologize, I’ve been crazy busy, and in the end it’s more important to spend those extra minutes with the puppy rather than writing about her.

But today I’m going to officially spam about the puppy.

Meet Undómiel, who is 12 weeks old now and already gi-normous. Her paws are dinner plates. She’s going to be bigger than Laev.

I went to Denmark to pick her up, so she could fly home in the cabin with me. Continue reading

Mindy: She’s Back!

This entry is part 24 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

So, this is awkward.

You may have followed the adventures of Mindy as she prepared to serve as a Guide Dog for the Blind, and her return to the GDB campus in early March. Then I stopped updating, at first because I was waiting for news and then because I had news and I was waiting for an outcome.

Apparently she was doing well, acing pretty much all the weird stuff they threw at her — all that socialization and practice paid off! — but then there was some sort of weird episode. It was observed and reported by a single volunteer, and not any of the training staff, so without any disrespect intended to the volunteer, I just don’t have all the details I want. But it put Mindy’s career in jeopardy. There are obviously very high standards which must be maintained when placing a dog in literal life-or-death service work. Continue reading

Recall Roundup

This entry is part 22 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

Black Labrador Mindy in her green service vest beside an enormous prickly pear

Last November — yes, I’m more than a little behind on posting — Mindy took a trip with me down to my aunt’s ranch in Texas. I knew this would be an exciting trip for her for a variety of reasons, not least of which that the ranch is a seriously cool place for puppies to explore, with lizards, snakes, rabbits, deer, boar, turkeys, and many other things. (Some of these are fun to watch or even chase; some should be explored by sniffing their tracks only.)

The ranch is big, but not so big that a dog couldn’t find her way off it and get into local trouble. I would never have allowed Laev off-leash even for a moment there, if I’d ever taken her; Laev would have tangled with a rattlesnake and then chased a rabbit or deer straight off into a neighboring sheep ranch. There’s a ranch gate on the road which for years has been decorated with the hanging bodies of the latest coyotes or dogs which had been shot while hunting or harassing their stock. Continue reading

Training & Gaming at Gen Con

This entry is part 19 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

Mindy joined me at Gen Con this year. Because you can’t buy that kind of socialization experience. What is Gen Con, you may ask? Well, “Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, science fiction and adventure game convention in North America. Gen Con, The Best Four Days In Gaming!™”

(Actually, I think it’s the world’s largest?)

A girl in a wheelchair is accompanied by a Golden Retriever wearing a service vest and carrying a plushed terrier on his back, dressed as Sir Didymus from the film Labyrinth.

Mindy wasn’t the only service dog at Gen Con. Here’s an assistance dog appearing as Sir Didymus (from Labyrinth).

It’s a gaming (and SFF, miniatures, film, etc.) convention which takes over much of Indianapolis each year. I posted on Facebook that Mindy wasn’t impressed by the 60,000 people, but that was an exaggeration; this year’s actual count was 56, 614 attendees. But of course, most of those people came more than one day, so turnstile attendance was 184,699. The con runs five days, but Mindy attended only three, including the two busiest. And she was a rock star. Rock star, I tell you. Continue reading

Puppy Training on a FitPAWS Donut

This entry is part 16 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

So apparently I forgot to publish this blog post — sorry!

Set the Wayback Machine for a few months ago, when Mindy was small enough to use this size FitPAWS Donut. The weather was too bad (sub-zero Fahrenheit) for puppies to play outdoors for long, and this was not only a great energy burn, but an important skill development for a dog expected to handle lots of surfaces and challenges in her career. Continue reading

Toronto Training – a service dog in training hits the road

This entry is part 15 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
English: Panorama of Toronto. Français : Image...

Panorama of Toronto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I just made a short trip to Toronto with Mindy the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy, and she was amazing. So if you don’t want to hear puppy bragging, you might want to move on — but if you want to hear about new challenges and how we met them (and how we used previous training to better handle these new situations), keep reading. Continue reading

Practicing Recalls

This entry is part 14 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which has distracted me from the blog. But some of those travels are going to provide fun new blog posts, so in the long run it’s been worth it.

But now that I’m home, it’s more obvious that Mindy’s starting to mature, in that way when puppies are no longer quite so dependent on us for every little asset and therefore feel more comfortable to venture out on their own for more and longer periods of time. Or, as clients more typically phrase it when they call me, “she doesn’t want to come when I call.”

guinea fowlTo be perfectly fair to Mindy, my yard has gotten a lot more interesting. I’ve acquired a small flock of guinea fowl to combat the local ticks, and they were just turned loose this week. They’re still clinging near the house, and they are FASCINATING to a young retriever. Continue reading

Clicker Expo and After

This entry is part 12 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

What a week! Mindy and I traveled to Clicker Expo in Norfolk, Virginia, and because I didn’t want to fly her, we drove. It wasn’t a bad drive, about 12 hours, and I broke it up into two days with a bit of hiking each way.

“Not a Real Service Dog”

On the way down, we had our first access trouble ever, when Mindy and I were ejected from a hotel after we were checked in due to her not being a “real service dog.” Continue reading

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