Monday, June 30, 2008

Shakin', Singin', and Sleepin' (by: Gerrit)

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately, but between shakin', singin', and sleepin', I've been one busy little pup (who actually is not so little any more… I'm growin' at super duper sonic speed!). I spent about a week with another puppy raiser while my puppy raiser went on a photography workshop in the Eastern Sierras. While away, I got to play a bunch with my buddy, Hope. It was totally fun…although, I kept getting in trouble for playing a little rough. I sorta kept forgetting that Hope isn't a stuffed dog (she's a real dog like me) and I kept grabbing her by the neck and shakin' her real hard. I actually thought it was a fun game… until her puppy raiser told on me to the CCI contract trainer… who told her what I was doing was unacceptable and that she should poke me in the side every time I did this. I soon realized that shaking Hope like a rag doll really wasn't all that fun!

What was fun, on the other hand, was going to my very first baseball game! Not only did I get to go… I also got to join my puppy raiser and and some other people as they sang the national anthem to all the people in the stadium! It was super duper cool! I even got to wear a fancy red, white, and blue bandanna (that's me wearing it in the photo above before the stadium opened)! My puppy raiser said I was a really good boy while they were singin' (probably cause Hope wasn't there for me to play rough with).

You're going to find this really surprising, but I didn't even sing at the baseball game! I was plannin' on it (cause you all know how I love to sing), but it was super hot and the air was smokey from all of the fires going on right now... plus I sang a little at Hope's house… so, I was too dang sleepy to sing. I ended up plopping down right around the part "And the rockets red glare…" and was pretty much ready for a nap, when the song ended with "…. home of the bravvvvvvvvvvvve". In fact, I've gotta admit... I ended up falling asleep during the actual baseball game... not even the smell of hot dogs could keep me awake!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Adjusting to Life Back at Home (by: Carlo)

Adjusting to life back at home hasn’t been exactly easy. Things are different now. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I now have to stay at home when my puppy raiser goes to work. My puppy raiser and her SGF (special guy friend) built a gate on the side of the house for me. We have a pool in our backyard, so my puppy raiser thought it would be a good idea to fence off the side yard, thus creating a safe haven for me… otherwise known as… dog run. Errrr... I don’t think so!

I guess the idea was good in principle. But, the reality of it is this... I don’t really consider myself a dog. Dog run... what was she thinking? So, I took Lucky’s advice. Lucky told me that if I did what she used to do... howl and make lots of noise, I could stay INSIDE the house. So, that’s what I did! My pal worked from home a few days to see how I would do in the dog run. Each time she put me out there, she gave me kong toy stuffed with peanut butter. I guess that was to ease the pain of having to be in a dog run. Not one to pass up a yummy treat, I enjoyed my treat and licked up all the peanut butter. But, as soon as I finished, I started whimpering... then I’d let out a few soft barks… and finally I would break into the most agonizing howls you had ever heard. Talkin’ about singin’ the blues… I was out there with the likes of Muddy Waters and B.B. King!

My pal was quite shocked that I even knew how to howl. Growing up I had always been the quiet sort. In fact, when she was raising me to be an assistance dog, she could never even teach me the “speak” command. She even enlisted Lucky and Ashley’s help… but nope, I never barked a word. I felt there was no need to. But, while I was off in dog college some of my dog buddies taught me how to howl and bark. They said it could be useful. And, boy were they right! Every time my pal tried putting me in that dog run... I howled the most pitiful song ever! And, sure enough, it didn’t take long before my pal came to my rescue and freed me. I knew I had really achieved success when my pal finally let out a loud sigh after rescuing me the for the umpteenth time and said, “Carlo, my sweet boy, maybe we should just leave you in the house with Lucky.” Heck yeah!!!

Now that we’ve reached the mutual understanding that I belong in the house, life couldn't be better! So, let that be a lesson to all you out there... if you want something... start howling!

P.S. This blog was written for Zucchini’s puppy raiser (now known as Nick's puppy raiser). She thought I wasn’t writing about this stuff previously cause I was embarrassed. Nahhhh, I wasn’t embarrassed... I was just too busy enjoying the comforts of being in the house to write in my blog... ;-)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tankin' Up (by: Gerrit)

So, you know how Carlo mentioned in his last blog that we went to CCI puppy training class Thursday night? Well, he failed to mention the really exciting time we had when we got home...

It was super duper hot that night. So, when we got home, I was one thirsty puppy! So, I did what comes naturally to me... I tanked up on water! And, I do mean TANKED up! When I tank, I drink just to drink... cause it's fun! I like to watch the water drip from my mouth back into the bowl... and, if anything has fallen into the water bowl (like a leaf) I try to get it (by drinking all the water in the bowl)... and sometimes, I even fall asleep with my head resting on my water bowl, while mid-sip! Sometimes when I tank, before I know it, a whole bowl of water can be completely gone!

Because of my tanking habits, my puppy raiser closely watches my water intake. If we are at work... or out in public, she makes sure I never ever tank. And, she never lets me drink water past 8pm cause I'm still a little boy with a little bladder and she likes for me to make it through the night without having to go...

But, Thursday night she thought since it was so hot, I really did need some water. So, she made an exception to the 8pm rule. As I drank water, she took care of some things around the house. She heard the lap, lap, lap of my tongue... but I kind of did it in beat with the music playing in the background... so, she didn't think anything of it... until the music stopped. She then realized I wasn't simply drinking... I was tankin'! She told me to stop... but, by then, it was well... a little too late!

After my belly was nice and full of water, I quickly fell sound asleep on the rug. I didn't wake up until my puppy raiser said, "Ok, everyone... time for bed!" And, here is where my puppy raiser made a HUGE mistake. Instead of taking me outside right away... she thought she would first give Ashley (the parrot) her night time treat and put her in a cage. This only takes her a few seconds (Ashley loves treats as much as me)... so my puppy raiser thought I could hold it. Usually, I can... but, not after a tankin' session! And, some of you out there know what happened the last time I tanked! So, as she started to put Ashley away, I stood up, quickly realized that I couldn't take a step without peeing... and, I just let the flood gates open. My puppy raiser shrieked, "Nooooo!"... which totally freaked out Ashley, and she took off flyin' into the living room!

The next few minutes were a bit frantic as my puppy raiser got me outside (where I continued peeing), Lucky and Carlo got excited because they thought we were going to play, my puppy raiser ran around with towels and Nature's Miracle, and Ashley walked happily around the living room waiting for my puppy raiser to come and get her.

So, what's the lesson to this story: If your puppy tanks, don't mess with the parrot first!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My New Life (By: Carlo)

Now that I've had some to settle back into being home, I've had some time to think about my new life!

First of all, after being home a few days, I realized that since I'm no longer a puppy (I'll be 2 years old on June 22!)... and since my puppy raiser is no longer raising me... she's technically not really my "puppy raiser" any more. I asked her if I should call her something else and she said, "Carlo, my sweet boy, you can call me whatever you want to call me." So, I decided to call her what Lucky calls her... "my pal"! Cause that's what she is to me... she's my pal and I love hanging out with her! She told me that I'm her pal too! But, she said she is going to keep calling me the nickname she has always called me... "sweet boy". I love it when she calls me that!

As I've mentioned in another blog, now that I'm no longer a CCI dog in training, I'm what is called a Change of Career (COC) dog. The more my puppy raiser (errrr, I mean pal) and I have been talkin', the more excited I am about my new career! We have already been looking into getting me certified to do therapy work through the Delta Society. This will require that we take a Team Training course. Then, we are going be tested and we'll be evaluated to see if we would make a good therapy team. I sure hope we pass cause personally... I think my pal and I make a great team! :-)

Meanwhile, I have been performing the very important job of being assistant puppy raiser to Gerrit! I've been telling him how important it is to be a good boy... and I've been giving him the scoop on what he'll be expected to know once in college. The photo above is of me havin' a little heart to heart chat with Gerrit. He's a bright little guy and I think he will do well!

Tonight I even got to help out at Gerrit's CCI puppy class! I was used a distraction as all the pups in class walked on a let's go. And, I even was used to demo how to teach a dog to do a down with his/her hip turned toward the puppy raiser. This is super important for pups to learn so that their paws don't get run over when working next to someone in a wheelchair. It was so much fun being at puppy class! I got to see all of my old puppy raiser buddies... and I smiled at all of them!

I must say... it sure is good being home! I LOVE my forever home... and I LOVE my new career! Life is good!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The G-Dawg Training Guide – Food on the Floor… or Paws (by: Gerrit)

Even though Carlo is now home and I’ve been having TONS of fun playing with him, my puppy raiser still makes sure I train every single day. One of the things I’ve been learning lately is that I should never eat food from the floor... or even from my paws!

You all know how much I LOVE food... so, I'm amazing myself that I’m starting to learn this! My puppy raiser said that the reason it is important for pups in training to not eat food off the floor is because we are allowed to go into restaurants… and people don’t want to see dogs in restaurants snarfing food off the ground and drooling all over the place. Dogs in restaurants are just supposed to lay quietly under restaurant tables and completely ignore the fact that food may be dropped on the floor right next to us! Wow! It sure ain’t easy being an assistance dog!

When my puppy raiser told me all this, I thought I would NEVER be able to learn this. But, here’s what she did. She dropped a dog treat on the floor next to me, told me “no” when I went to snarf it... and then immediately handed me another dog treat. As soon as I sorta understood what she expected from me, she waited longer and longer before giving me my treat reward. I very soon learned that I didn’t need to snarf the food on the floor… my puppy raiser would reward me with dog treats for being a good boy and leaving the food that had dropped!

Not only that… but, I learned that if I was super good, I would get rewarded with a jackpot!!! If I didn’t make any attempts to eat any of the dog treats she dropped around me and on my paws... and if I looked right at her, she would scoop up all of the treats she had dropped and give it to me. JACKPOT!!! The photo above was taken right before I got a Jackpot!

So far, this is my favorite training exercise ever!!! I love not eating food off the floor! Although… if my puppy raiser isn’t looking... I gotta admit, I still try to sneak a snarf here and there. It’s too bad she’s got such good purfury vision [side note by puppy raiser: That’s peripheral vision... and we are going to need to work more on this lesson Gerrit!]. That’s ok with me! Hee hee! ;-)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dawgs in the Ruff Golf Tournament - Correction (by: Gerrit)

My buddy Skipper just sent me a note and told me that I goofed. When I wrote about the golf tournament, I said that tickets for the event don't go on sale until August. Actually, it's just the raffle tickets that won't go on sale until August. Golfers and sponsors can sign up NOW! How cool is that?!!!

Thanks Skipper-do for letting me know! I totally lost my focus on that one.

P.S. Carlo rocks!!! I LOVE him, love him, love him!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Home is Where My Heart Is (by: Carlo)

Today I came home! My puppy raiser drove out to Santa Rosa to pick me up from dog college. I was so happy to see her again... I gave her my biggest grin and nuzzled my head into her chest, while she gave me a huge hug!

She then took me and Gerrit (the little puppy she now raising), to CCI's dog park. She played with us for a really long time. That little guy Gerrit sure does have some energy! But, he's lotsa fun! I would play and then run over to my puppy raiser to check in. I just wanted to make sure she wasn't going anywhere... I wanted to go home!

During the long drive home, my puppy raiser told me that things are going to be kinda different now. She said that since I'm now considered a Change of Career (COC) dog, I can no longer wear my yellow working cape and go to all of the public places we used to go. Bummer! I didn't really understand it. After all, I'm still a good boy... I'm even a better boy now that I've been to college! She explained that it was because of laws and stuff. But, she said not to worry because we could still do our favorite things together... like hiking on trails and going on camping trips! Awesome! She also said that if I become a therapy dog, we will be visiting lots of new places as well. Totally cool!

As we continued our drive through the sonoma countryside, the fresh air blew in through the windows. I sighed and felt completely relaxed. Before I new it, I was snoozing away... and dreaming of what my new career was going to be like.

After we got home, I was re-united with Lucky. The dog that rules the roost was actually happy to see me too! Gerrit and I played off and on, while Lucky watched. Lucky told me that she was so happy I was home so that I could be the recipient of Gerrit's energy.

While I played somewhat with energy boy, most of the afternoon I pretty much stayed right by my puppy raiser's side. She constantly reached down and patted me on the head. And, she kept saying, "Sweet boy, I am so glad you are home." I'm glad I'm home too! I found out where my heart belongs. And, that place is home... with my puppy raiser.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I'm Coming Home! (by: Carlo)

Hi everybody... it's me... CARLO! I bet you're all wondering what I'm doing writing from doggie college (aka advanced training). Well, here's the deal. College was fine and everything... but, I decided it wasn't really for me.

CCI called my puppy raiser earlier today to break the news to her. They told her that they had been training me to be a skilled companion. Skilled companion dogs are typically placed with kids. And, that created just an itty bit teeny weeny problem for me. As many of you out there already know... kids kind of FREAK ME OUT. I tend to want to hide from them. They are just sorta scary... they make weird noises and their arms flail about all over the places, they smell odd, and they drool and screech... and, geesh, who wouldn't that freak out?!!

Anyways, CCI is really good about listening to dogs and realizing when they do and don't want to do something. It finally came to a point where I didn't want to do the college thing any more. I wanted to go home. So, CCI gave me my wish and released me. And guess what? I'M COMING HOME!!!

My puppy raiser is coming tomorrow to pick me up! I heard that she's got a new CCI puppy now named Gerrit! I can't wait to play with him! And, I can't wait to see Lucky again... and even that crazy parrot, Ashley! Most of all, I can't wait to see my puppy raiser. I've really missed her during the 4 months I've been here... and I have a feeling she's really missed me too.

I'm coming home! My bags are packed and I'm ready to go! Home, here I come! :-)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The G-Dawg Training Guide – Focus (by: Gerrit)

Last week I mentioned that I was gonna start a weekly blog about training! Well, guess what?! This is my very first training blog and it's all about FOCUS! This goes out to all you dogs out there... I'm going to teach you how to get rewards by focusing (making eye contact) with the alpha dog in your family (in my case, the alpha dog is my puppy raiser... followed by Lucky, of course, who asked me to make sure I included her in the alpha dog statement)!

Lots of people always notice that I'm always looking at my puppy raiser. The reason I do it is because during the first few weeks of living with my puppy raiser she found out what I love most in the whole wide world... and she rewarded with me with it every time I looked at her. So, what do I LOVE... FOOD! I LOVE food! It's yummy, yummy, YUMMY! I love big food and small food and... [side note by Lucky: Gerrit, isn't this blog about "focus"... you need to FOCUS]. Huh? Oh yeah!

So, my puppy raiser started out by taking a tasy morsel of food, holding it up to my nose, and then bringing it back to her eyes. My eyes naturally followed my yummy food... and pretty soon I was looking right into the eyes of my puppy raiser. As soon as I looked at her in the eyes, BANG... I got some food! She did this with me over and over and over.

After I got that down, my puppy raiser started rewarding me with food every single time I looked at her on my own. She told me that some dog trainers use a clicker (a thingy that makes a clicky noise) when they do this. My puppy raiser said she carries enough stuff around as it... so, instead of a clicker, she uses the word YES! So, every time I look at my puppy raiser, she says YES! and gives me a treat. My puppy raiser even does this when she's talking to someone else and not looking at me. She has really good purfury [side note by puppy raiser: that's peripheral] vision... and even if she's not looking right at me, she can tell when I look at her... and BANG she gives me a treat!

Of course, I've heard that some dogs aren't that into food treats. I know, I know, it's pretty unbelievable! My puppy raiser said that in cases like that you just need to find what it is that your dog loves and make that the reward. She said for some dogs the reward could be something like a favorite toy, or lots of praise, or anything that makes the dog go zaney like I go zaney for food. All this talk about food is making me hungry. I've gotta go look at my puppy raiser, so that I can get rewarded with treats!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Field Trip to Build-A-Bear (by: Gerrit)

Today we went on a field trip to this place called Build-A-Bear. It ROCKED! It was in something called a mall, where there were lots of other shops. My puppy raiser said that she never takes a puppy as young as me to the mall... but, that she was making an exception this time because Build-A-Bear had something special.

I found out that the special thing it had was a lab puppy with an assistance dog jacket! Build-A-Bear even had a special promotion last month in which they donated some of the money from the sales of any stuffed dogs to CCI. It was a bummer we couldn't go on our field trip sooner!

From the second we walked into Build-A-Bear, I LOVED it. There were stuffed animals EVERYWHERE! And, my buddies Nick and Idelle were there! With all that and the shiny floors, kids, and lights... dang, I was one excited pup!!!

My puppy raiser and I picked out a black lab puppy... and then we took it to this machine, where a lady stuffed it with stuff. The lady asked my puppy raiser to pick out a heart... hold it to her forehead and make a wish... and then put it in the stuffed puppy. Now that's incentive to tear up this puppy! [side note by puppy raiser: Gerrit, you will NOT be tearing up this puppy!] The lady also asked my puppy raiser if she would like to have a sound (like barking) put in the stuffed animal. My puppy raiser told her, "No, my real puppy makes enough noise as it is." She was talking about me! I didn't mind though... cause we only have room in our house for one American Idol! :-)

After Nick and Idelle had their new stuffed dogs too, my puppy raiser tried taking some photos of us. I was the only yellow pup in the whole group...

I was so excited about everything that I started to sing, "One of these pups ain't like the others"... but, my puppy raiser told me "NO!". So, I decided to attack my bestest buddy Nick!

My puppy raiser said that I'm not like Carlo at all. She said that I'm much more like the infamous Molly...