Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Major Success

 Some of you may remember Major from earlier posts.  He is a DAD (Diabetes Alert Service Dog) in California that we placed back in January. Right off the bat, he and his partner were working easily together and fast building a relationship. During placement, one of the things we trained him to do was to unlock and open the inside door and the outside screen door.  Our thought was when Marie, Major's handler, had her hands full, he could open the door for her. Another option was in the event of an emergency, Major could open the door for EMTs that might need to get inside. We took a video of Major just after he was trained to open the doors.
About a month ago, Marie fell and broke her hip.  This training came in handy as Major was a big help through this.  But enough of us writing. Marie wrote up her testimony and sent it to us. So read on! 

Last month, while picking up the balls and the Chuck It that is
Major's most favorite thing to do, I moved my foot to the left, didn't
lift it up enough, and caught it on a large pebble. I fell, tried to
catch myself, to avoid re-breaking my knee and ankle. I did that, but
broke my hip instead. Since I was out in my gravel driveway in the
country, I had to get back to the house on my own. 

As I started dragging myself to the house, I remembered I had something I didn't
have before, a new companion. His name is Major.  He is a English black
Labrador trained to be a Diabetic Service Dog. But he is turning out
to be so much more!

He nosed open the front gate for me. He then licked me all over the
face every time I stopped. At first I thought it was because he loved
me, but then I realized it was because he was trying to make sure I was
not going to stop or pass out!

We got to the house and he pulled open the front screen door and
helped me push open the front door. He would have gotten my cell phone
for me, but my land line is right by my front door. After calling 911,
I laid down and waited.  After assuring himself I was not passing out,
Major laid down and put his head on my stomach while we waited for
the ambulance. 

When it came, Major barked a little , unlocked the screen door and let them in. He then lay down and hoped for a tummy rub. He followed my transport to the ambulance, climbed in and again
lay down and put his head on my stomach. As we rode to the hospital,
the EMTs were amazed! I kept telling them, "That's my boy!" like a
proud mama. 

At the hospital, he followed quietly along with my bed and
sat quietly next to it when we stopped. My sister Maria
showed up and took Major out potty, where he peed on command. He was
sent home with her, not because he was not allowed to stay, but because I
wasn't able to have someone stay with me full time to take him out to
relieve himself. He got to stay at his litter sister Dropje's house
for the week! Dropje lives around the corner from my sister's.

He now walks carefully along side my walker and knows the words "slow
down" too.

Now, If that wasn't enough for him to do for me, this past Tuesday we
had another adventure. I was driving us to my primary care doctor for
a post surgery check up. On the most curvy part of the trip, my accelerator stuck and my brakes didn't work!

Good thing for my watching detective shows! I put it in neutral, hit
the brakes. Nothing. Did it again. Nothing. Finally, I stood on the
brakes, in neutral, pulled to the right side of the road and figured I
could slow down by side swiping the cement pile-ons. Luckily, the car
slowed some and I was able to shove it into park and turn off the key.

Major kept licking my face from his seat in back of me. I'm sure he
was proud of me and happy to be alive too like I was!!
So, that is the latest in the adventures of Marie and Major.

Hopefully there won't be any more like them......ever!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Timber- Part 2, Training Begins

Timber, the five year old, heeler/shepherd out-of-service Service Dog, came to Cody for a spell to see if an old dog can learn (or relearn) new tricks.

Immediately identifying Jeremy as her "person", Timber faithfully followed him everywhere.  We actually intended for her to be handled by our Type 1 son, since her future placement would be with a boy similar in age.  But, Timber had already locked onto Jeremy and was very uneasy when out of his sight.  So NOT a lab!
Although she would do scent training sessions with our son, she would quickly find Jeremy as soon as she was released from "school".

Initially, we encountered a difficulty when scent training Timber.  Unlike our voracious labs that devour anything, this little doggie wasn't the least bit interested in kibble.  Hmmmm. . .how to scent train when doggie isn't motivated by the treat?  Find a BETTER treat!  Thankfully, I soon discovered Timber loves cheese.  And to motivate her even more, Jeremy used small raw meat scraps for their sessions.

Armed with his training tin and raw meat, Jeremy set out to see if Timber could learn the scent.

Let me interject for a moment. . . have you ever watched someone else's kids for an extended period of time and realized how unlike your kids they are?  That's how training Timber was.

All of our labs LOVE their scent training sessions.  Once they figure out the "game", they put their nose to the tin exuberantly until the training bag of treats is gone, and even then they still want to play.  After a few rounds of the game, they get into the habit of "checking you" to see if they can find that smell.  That's how the process develops.

Not this girly.  When presented with the tin, she eventually came over and gave it a sniff-- barely.  She liked the raw meat treat, but only enough to poke her nose at the tin about five times.  Then she was done.
After a few weeks of multiple training sessions per day, Timber was not making progress on the scent.  In all of their sessions, Timber never came and "checked" Jeremy looking for the scent.  Jeremy concluded that likely, Timber had not been a DAD; her temperament suggested that she was better suited as a PTSD dog. 

We had to consult with Sherry and let her make the decision.  After thought and prayer, we jointly decided to approach the situation from a different angle.

Since Timber was so focused on her "person", perhaps if Jason learned how to scent train, eventually, Timber would associate his lows with the scent game he played with her, and alert him when low.  This is, of course, the process of scent training.

For our labs, food is the motivator.  For Timber, devotion is her motivator.  It was worth a shot.

Stay tuned for Part 3 to find out with us how Timber's story ends. . .or begins!

Here is the link to part one of Timber's story

Friday, May 13, 2016

Simply training

To many people the idea of training their own dog is an overwhelming and intimidating task.  It doesn't have to be!!  This post will be mainly geared towards an owner with a young puppy.  However many of these principles apply to all stages of dog training.

First of all ask yourself:
  • What do I want my dog to do for me? 
  • What are the boundaries that I am going to set for my dog?
  • How much time am I going to set aside for my dog each day?

 What do I want my dog to do for me?
There are many different tasks that a dog can do. In fact, unlimited!  Dogs are amazing creatures that love to learn and please their master.  You need to determine what tasks and tricks you are going to train your new friend to do. A great starting point is basic obedience-- sit, stay, down, off, heel, and come. There are many books dedicated to just dog tricks.  Your local library is a great place to look for new training ideas.  The Internet is also overflowing with fantastic videos and articles on dog training.

Once you have gotten your desired tasks down on paper be sure to go over them and check that you are not setting yourself up for failure with too many tasks.  Remember a young pup can only learn so much!

What are the boundaries that I am going to set for my dog? 
Many dog owners have voiced their frustration to us concerning their dog's annoying, and sometimes destructive bad habits.  This however is rarely an issue with the dog, but the owner.

Dogs crave boundaries.   Determine the boundaries you are going to set for yourself and your dog.  Will they be allowed on the couch?  They better not be counter surfing! Will jumping be tolerated?   After writing these rules down on paper, go over them with everyone who will be living with your dog and contributing to its life.  Rules only work if everyone understands them.

Next, you have to MEAN WHAT YOU SAY!!!  If you tell the dog no, then mean no!  But as soon as he responds you your correction, lavish him in praise so he understands what he wasn't supposed to do. If he isn't allowed on furniture, then begin enforcing that as soon as he comes into the home.  Remember, what you allow your dog to do as a pup, he will try to do as an adult.

How much time am I going to set aside for my dog each day?
A healthy balanced dog will not be spending all of its time in a kennel or crate.  Manners don't come naturally to every dog.  Puppies will need regular training and exercise sessions each day.  Schedule at least a couple times a day to spend time pouring into your dog.  If you are training a pup, it may be a wise idea to give him a good exercise session about twenty minutes before you are planning on a training session. This will help in taking a bit of that excess energy out before you are wanting him to focus on training. 

Another great way to teach manners, (especially concerning leash manners) is to just have the puppy attached to you on leash for a time throughout the day.  This can look like: attaching the pup to you via a leash during house chores, having him in a "down" while you are eating a meal or working at your desk, and including him in just about whatever your life consists of.  Although this can be a bit inconvenient at times, it will pay off immensely if you consistently are requiring of him the same manners and obedience each time you work with him.

Training doesn't have to be hard. It can be one of the most enjoying times of your day.  Dogs just have a way of making you smile.  So don't put it off any more! Go and train!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mothers Day Icy!!

Exactly a year ago we were blessed with Chillbrook Black Ice out of Chillbrook Kennels in West Virginia.  Upon arrival at our kennel in Cody Wyoming, Icy was quite taken aback by the perpetual activity going on around our kennels.  With six kids, several dogs, and visitors aplenty, it was a bit different than she was accustomed to.  However, after a few weeks this sweet girl settled in quite comfortably. Our plan was to add her into our breeding program, as we thought that she would pair quite nicely with our stud dog.  Waiting until she turned two, we bred her three months ago with our stud dog Chillbrook Dream Lover (Bailey). 

What a fabulous mother Icy has turned out to be!  Hating to be away for long, she is constantly attending to their needs and making sure they are properly cared for as only a mother can.

 She is a great reminder of how critical mothers are in their children's lives.  Not only do moms bring us into this world, they dedicate their lives to the raising, loving, and cherishing of their kids. George Washington says it well...

 "My mother was the most beautiful person I ever saw. All that I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her."  

Thanks to all the moms out there!  It's definitely one of the toughest job under the sun!!!  

 The hand that rocks the cradle is the one that rules the world! 


Friday, May 6, 2016

Timber, Part 1

Can an old dog learn new tricks?  We'll see.

A few months ago we had an interesting inquiry.  A woman from a nearby town contacted us about a service dog that she had "inherited" so to speak.  It seems that Timber, a Blue Heeler/Australian Shepherd mix,  had been "working" for a veteran who had passed away.  Through a series of connections, Timber came to live with Sherry*.   Sherry had been fostering the dog for several months, but really desired for Timber to be serving in her given capacity as a service dog, although it wasn't clear exactly what service Timber performed.  She asked us to evaluate Timber as a Diabetes Alert Dog, because Sherry suspected that's what she was.

When Timber arrived, it was clear she was a Service Dog.  Her obedience was precise and she was completely tuned into her handler, following her every move.  However, when presented with the scent of low blood sugar, she gave a cursory sniff, but didn't get excited about it as our labs do.  Regardless, we agreed to work with Timber to see if she could develop or redevelop her nose for diabetes.

A word about Timber before proceeding.  This medium, reserved, white and black dog is so different from our lively, gregarious labradors.  Although she has an exceedingly sweet disposition, she is a one-person dog.  Once she decides who that one person is going to be, she establishes herself as a permanent shadow.

Sherry knew of a family with a Type1 teenage son in Colorado that she would like to see Timber serve, if indeed she was a DAD.  Both Sherry & Timber and a Duty Dog's team paid a visit to the family to see if it was a good match.

Timber picked Jason*, the T1D as her person. Good start.  And Jason, of course, fell in love with this devoted little dog that dutifully followed him everywhere during her weekend trial.

It was decided that Timber would come and spend a few weeks with Duty Dogs and work on scent training.  And so, Timber found herself north in Wyoming once again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Growing up!

Puppies have been growing SOOOO fast!!!!  Last Sunday they turned four weeks old, and really turned a corner in their maturity.  We are beginning to see personalities showing in different individuals and they are really beginning to look like little dogs!!  Super excited to see how this litter turns out, they are looking fabulous so far!

Growing up is such hard work!!

I know it's in here somewhere!

I'm watching you...

Future shed dog?


Papa Bailey loves his puppies!


Coffee and cream...

I've got the ball!