Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pups' Day Out

Whew!! It is always an adventure training and socializing puppies. Yesterday we had grocery shopping to do, so we decided to let a couple puppies tag along.  However,  that is not as easy said as done.  Our goal was to leave around two pm, but, by the time we finished all of our studies, chores, and were ready to leave, it was three-thirty! 

Finally, in the van with four boys, two puppies, Bailey, Mom and I, we were on the road.  Stopping at the post office, Mom let Wyatt, the two puppies and I off.  We then walked about a block across a beautiful park to the library. The puppies did fabulous.

Cocoa and Bailey
Then we went to Albertsons, and while the others and Bailey went shopping, I showed the pups around Subway. The outside that is.  They are not quite ready to go in. From there, we made our way to Walmart, were the others, again, went inside, and I socialized the pups in the  parking lot.  They did very well around the barking dogs you always encounter in a Walmart parking lot. You'll notice there are no pictures of the dogs in the parking lot-- that's because everyone else was shopping and I haven't figured out how to be a photographer and dog handler at once!

It was a full afternoon for Cocoa and Lucky. However, they learned a lot, and are well on their way to becoming solid companions for their kids.

A tuckered Lucky
On place in the van

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Basic Training Begins

We’re so busy training puppies, that there’s just enough time for the rest of life—cooking, cleaning, and schooling!  But, we have a lot to share that’s transpired in the last month of our puppies’ lives.

We left via Yosemite.
Cody, just outside of Yellowstone.
Three weeks ago, we traveled one thousand miles from California to Wyoming with eleven dogs and six children. That experience has its own blog post in case you missed it.  Needless to say, it was an experience we won’t soon forget!

A pit-stop in Nevada

Since then, we’ve settled into our new location in Cody, Wyoming and hit the ground running!  Basic obedience training began two weeks ago for each of the puppies who were just at the 10 week mark.  It is so rewarding to train a smart dog!  

We have a training rotation in place to rotate all of the future service dogs between our four lead trainers.  This allows each of us to concentrate on one or two dogs each week (depending on the trainer) and really develop a connection with that dog.  Then the next week, we rotate dogs so that each dog is experiencing a different handler and their different training mannerisms.  Although we all as trainers have a consistent method of training, we are each unique in our particular style.  This gives the dogs the opportunity to adjust to different personalities and respond appropriately.
A junior trainer ready for action.

Always ready for training.
As I worked with my charge today, a sweet chocolate male who reminds us of his Papa Bailey, I was quite pleased with how well he had “come”, “sit”, and “down” mastered.  We worked on “stay” and he picked it up so quickly and eagerly.  These dogs are so eager to work and pick up basic obedience readily.  As with child training, consistency and kindness accompanied with firmness are key elements to successful training.
Kindness and Consistency are Key for children and dogs!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

From Yosemite to Yellowstone

Recently our family of eight took a road trip-- and brought our eleven dogs.  Leaving California via Yosemite National Park,
we traveled to Cody, Wyoming arriving through Yellowstone National Park.

As if traveling with six children didn't already require tons of forethought, throw in nine puppies!!  The two groups complemented each other nicely however, both requiring about the same amount of time between pit-stops.
Pit-stop outside of Yellowstone

Somebody had a birthday along the way!
Since all 19 of us couldn't fit into the blue van, we drove two vehicles-- the van and the truck pulling a cargo trailer with all the stuff!!  One extra-large crate of puppies went in the truck and two crates of the same size went in the back of the van.  It actually worked perfectly and the puppies traveled marvelously. 

We began crate-training the puppies at night a few weeks prior to our trip, so they would be comfortable in their "dens".  This proved valuable, because there was very little whining heard from the puppies (nor from the humans-- they were NOT in crates) for the entire 1000 miles.

Pit-stop in Nevada
We stopped every two hours for a stretch break and potty stop.  We tried to avoid places where other travelers would take their pets for a "break" to keep germ exposure low for our puppies.  Since most of the drive was very rural, this wasn't hard to do.  Thankfully, we didn't have a single messy crate to clean the entire trip, although we were prepared with rags, paper towels, and plastic bags should the need arise.

Pit-stop in Wyoming

Something smells good. . .
Of course, we had to camp along the way.  It's hard enough to find a motel that will accomodate our large family, without throwing in eleven dogs!  The KOA in Cody, Wyoming was especially hospitable.  In addition to their lovely grounds, free pancake breakfast, and very low fee, they let us check-out late in the day without charging us extra.  The kids and dogs had a great time!

Pit-stop at a park in Idaho.
We were so proud of the dogs-- they weren't a nuisance at all to any of our neighbors, although we certainly attracted attention and visitors wherever we went!  It felt like the circus was rolling into town!

                             Needless to say, we were ALL very happy to roll into Wyoming!