Kenai watching the neighborhood, 51 wks
This is one of my best Kenai pics in a long time! Not that he doesn’t provide ample opportunity for good shots; the camera seems to hide or act weird when the opportunities present themselves lately. But here he is, my shining knight and nighttime sheet stealer!
He’s not been himself this week, being on the whiney and insecure side. Our outing last week was not his best (sigh). Out of practice, and skittish of loud noises in public again, thanks to actually a couple of months “off”. I’ve got some work to do, getting him back into working shape. We’ll just have to go places more often in his vest, sort of back to square one, until he’s used to the hustle and bustle.
Kenai’s skittish reaction to the post office reminded me of his Scooby Doo at obedience class days. Oh dear. And watching the Dog Whisperer last night reminded me of how sloppy I’VE gotten about the head up, chest out, confidence approach to walking. Darn fatigue. I can walk farther slouched!
I got a couple pairs of earth shoes for Christmas, the shoes with the “negative heel” that improve your posture. Putting them on, I can really tell a difference in how I walk, thanks to soreness in unusual places. They relieve the sore knees and back, stretch the calves, and take the bite out of plantar fasciaitis. They also make my flabby abs, unused inner thighs, and the backs of my lazy hips feel the change!
Putting the shoes on and walking isn’t hard, it’s putting the shoes in the car and walking around grocery stores that’s hard. Motivation during the mid-winter, post Christmas slump is a problem. Lazy dog-mom. Hibernating sounds better, snuggled under a down blanket, soft lounging pants…hat head, 40 layers of clothes, and high winds isn’t as appealing.
We’ve had 10 straight days of 30 mph or better “breezes” now, and it’s playing heck with my balance. That’s my excuse, one of them anyway. I know, not cutting it. Kenai’s still a youngin, still growing into his job description, so lazy dog-mom only makes things harder for him. He needs the practice and exposure, and he needs me to suck it up and stand up straight.
So on with the earth shoes, and out to places we went today. We put on his tracking harness in a parking lot and I used its handle to control his movements–he took to it right away! He’s responsive to the tightening and loosening of the harness, almost instinctively. Knock on wood, I think he’ll have no problem with the SD harness.
All the while we’re walking, he’s multitasking. He has developed the ability to be aware of my body while watching what all’s around us. Stubborn boy is determined to avoid “face time”! Oh well, let him look around, just so he paces with me, right? Commands like “step” or “pull” break into his concentration and he follows them. He’s not the least disturbed by pressure on his shoulders.
Now that’s my good boy!
Today’s outing was better for us both, only going inside at the vet for his weekly weigh in. We stuck to parking lots and open spaces mostly, so I could praise and praise and work on my own relaxed and confident energy. Yeah, I have to fight the nose wanting to stick to the ground, catching myself in a slouch, and some less than quick “leave it” moments.
But I’m more positive about our future as a team. I sense a path to getting back in the swing underfoot right now, reintroducing the inside vested practice a little at a time. That’s a good feeling, compared with how discouraged I felt last week. Yep, I had unknowingly started the comparison game again; he’s so far behind where he was, other people’s SDit are doing so much better…blah blah. Silly isn’t it? Darn anxiety, too.
I’m looking forward to the day that big man K just walks himself into a place all relaxed and peaceful. I don’t like seeing him nervous about the man on the ladder, or excited by the running about of kids and critters. Even good stress is still stress, and stress isn’t good for anyone, including dogs.
When he was first evaluated, back at 10 weeks he was utterly unflappable, and my hopeful prayer is he goes back to that as he grows up. Right now, we are where we are, and that’s okay. We’re okay, me and K, we’re okay.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 29, 2008
Kenai, resting his rump while waiting for the ok to go downstairs and get his new bone…51 wks old
Kenai’s been thinking he doesn’t like Christmas. I’m busy doing stuff that gets him in trouble, like a puppy tongue licking the mixer paddle with all that yummy butter on it, and moochie drooling on my foot while I stuff the turkey. I’m busy, but he’s not. Yuk. Can’t touch the tree, can’t pull the “balls” off to play with them, don’t like the ladder ma’s climbing… So far Christmas for the pup’s been a drag.
Then Christmas morning came. He knew something big was up, and saw the boxes under the tree that weren’t there the night before. There was a general excitement, and the boys got to have some run with me fun in the kennel while Mom was trying to get her eyes open and meds down.
BB is great about coming when I call him, so he always gets to be the boy running outside the kennel. They have such a good time chasing each other back and forth. Reindeer games, puppy style! If BB was native American, he’d be called “runs with a stick”… funny boys, so very different in every way.
That weird looking sock amongst the presents had a bone stink to it when they came in. Kenai’s been promised a new bone Christmas morning for a week, and keeps going to the bone box looking for it the moment we come down for his breakfast. He may not grasp the idea of Christmas, but the concept of new stuff he gets!
Along with the wonderfully smelly bone in the stocking, Kenai has a new stuffingless baby to fling around. He wasn’t thrilled with the jingle bell collar, so it passed to BB. The bone was good entertainment for awhile. Then he climbed up on the couch with Mom and took a nap while we watched our new DVD. Christmas ain’t so bad, he thinks.
Christmas night Kenai had a bad case of the poo, so an extra peanut butter treat with Immodium was his bedtime snack. Next morning was better, though still pretty loose. It’ll settle itself down, as the meaty bone gets done going through. His Christmas bone was given too far away from an enzyme laden meal. Didn’t slow him down.
One of our internet friends had a bad scare on the 23rd–Partner the service dog in training and fellow epi dog bloated. Thankfully it was just bloat, no torsion (GDV as the vets call it). He was puffed up something awful, had an exploratory surgery for possible obstruction, and the bowels are inflammed. But with luck and prayers, he’ll be back to his normal happy self soon.
I felt so bad for not hearing about it until the 25th; wish I could have sent an encouraging email. Partner’s owner is such a great lady–the pup got lucky in the owner lotto. He’s a bouncy lab, all energy and fun until he’s done growing up. Get better Partner!
We’re going to start gearing up Kenai’s training now, 6 days from his 1st birthday. I’ll make a final decision on an SD harness for him and wait for it to turn up in the mail. He’s gotten pretty sloppy in the obedience department, from lack of practice, so it’s back to work. Appearantly, there’s a difficult transition from a leash as primary means of control to a harness as means of control. Makes sense, though.
I imagine it’s like a young horse, changing from being led by a halter and learning to adjust to the saddle and the shifts in a rider’s weight. Kenai has to learn to come closer, feeling the harness tighten on one side or the other. And stay closer! He has a tendency to want to wander. We also have to rebuild the down stays he’s had a break from while getting to feeling better. That’s plenty of work in the next couple of weeks, at least for me.
I reintroduced the idea of pull/no pull, and he didn’t take long to remember. I also re-started the step and wait on stairs again, at random times. My legs don’t always need the extra help, so I don’t want the step and wait to be an auto behavior. Our homework assignment is long enough with all of that.
He’s a good boy. Slightly spoiled, but a good guy!
Run with me Fun
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 26, 2008
One of the things that drives Mom nuts, and often makes me feel guilty, is the way FMS/CFIDS has of making me unreliable. I never really know when I’m making plans if I can keep them. I set my mind to set up the tree this past weekend, and didn’t get it done. It’s one of those fiberoptic trees, 7 feet all in one peice…what was I thinking?
Mom’s 70, weaker than I am, so most of the heavy tree lifting falls to me. It has to be picked up and set in the base, too, aligning the stem just so or the lighting doesn’t work. Couldn’t screw up the courage to try. We need to save for an old style tree that ya have to put the branches in the slots each year. That I could do without taking Kenai’s bone away to chew on myself!
I was hurting bad enough to scavange one of BB’s pain pills this weekend. Then I could grit my teeth enough for making meals and Kenai’s 20 minutes outside. That was it, all day. Poor buddy. I avoid pain meds like the plague, BTW. Not only do they actually increase the pain cycle when used frequently, making the pain worse, they can trigger the most horrendous migraine storms.
I spent an entire summer getting my butt stuck with Nubain every 3-4 days, not realizing that I had created the cycle. Lesson learned. I still have areas on the cheeks with reduced touch sensation from all the needle pokes. Does that mean I could freeze my oversized rump off and it wouldn’t hurt? Save on the lipo if I hit the lotto!
So magnesium, hot baths, liniment, and determination is how I manage most of the time. When I’m ready to cry, I’ll take a pain pill, not before. Let it be said though, I have a moderate affliction–there are women I know via the internet who are in wheelchairs with morphine patches because of FMS and it’s sister syndromes.
When the terrible twins (fibro and fatigue) are flaring, needed chores get put off seemingly forever, or things just don’t get done at all. Kenai has missed his run in the park Saturday yet again. I can force myself into the cold so far as the kennel out back, and resist the gnawing pain of being too cold long enough for him to get tired. That I can do. In the car and all the steps of going somewhere…oy. That’s a whole lot of effort.
The sudden appearance of sleep apnea recently has made the essential good rest to manage my problems a rare thing. I’m flaring, and badly. No way could I sleep with a CPAP machine, so it’s lose the weight fatso so you can sleep time. I really need to drop a solid 70 pounds, but the apnea came with the last 20 pounds put on.
You’d think being in a flare I’d try again to get a doctor to sign the form for a disability car tag. That became a chore long procrastinated. I’ve been turned down twice, and really wasn’t in the mood for the arguing, wrangling, c’mon for crying out loud stuff. Maybe some lazy, but mostly just sick and tired of having to fight for myself all the time, even for small helps.
Oddly enough, fibro patients can find it hard to get a doctor to sign for a disability tag. It is a simple matter to get a disability tag if you have a bad back, or a bum knee. But having pain in your entire body doesn’t qualify as a disability. Huh?
Because FMS is somewhat episodic, meaning you’ll have relatively good days or weeks, most docs hesitate to risk the wrath of the authorities. They can be fined, loose their liscence, or even get nailed with jail time. Two of my local docs refused for that reason, having been challenged for patients previously.
If medicare gets away with a 34% rate of fraudulent claims, what goober is going after legitmate doctors with patients having legitimate disabilities? Grrrr. Paper pushers–let ’em have a week in my body, see how fast they start approving FMS patients! This is the government that people want providing their health insurance and care?
Does “duh” come in more than one language?
Anyway, I had given up on a tag, hoping no cop checked out the tag on my rearview mirror–it’s Mom’s. Then Mom got tired of waiting for me to feel the urge and called my specialist herself. I have in my hand a signed form now, and that doc was the absolute LAST doc I would have expected to be willing. Wow! Merry Christmas.
Having aquired the skill of looking for the brighter side of rotten, there are some advantages to being an involuntary putter-offer and slower than cold pancake syrup. One of them is a well cultivated skill for finding other ways to skin the proverbial cat. Take Kenai’s exercise; how miraculous it would be if he woke up one day with perfect recall and a taste for fetch that never wore off! Not how it is.
That, and my not having even average physical capacity means keeping his body and brain satisfied can be an endeavor. He gets bored. He gets a big case of the ho-hum not long after finding the greatest new way to play with a toy, or the best boy-cool place ever. There’s an entire cardboard shipping box full of toys he got tired of.
Fortunately we stumble upon fun, if I’m paying attention. Trainers call it “capturing”; noticing a behavior a dog naturally does then rewarding and encouraging that behavior as part of their training. Kenai gets many a new response captured! It’s how I taught him to whar-whar talk rather than bark during his “messin with Sasquatch” time–mimic syllables is easier on the ears!
He’s used to seeing himself in the sliding glass door, the skylights, and store fronts. He even seems to understand that the toffee tush in the mirror is him, and me waving at him. A look, a lick on my face, then down for a nap. Well, Saturday, Mom tilted the dresser mirror down some to put in her earrings, then moved it back up. That got Brown’s attention.
We swiveled the mirror some more, and he started going up and down with it like some oddly shaped prairie chicken! Stand up tall, squish down low…Taking a step farther, Mom brought the small brow tweezing mirror over to him and he started looking between it and the big mirror. No doubt trying to decide why his nose was bigger in the little mirror!
Another captured behavior is letting the Brothers Grin exercise each other–Kenai in the kennel, BB gallopoling galloping outside the kennel. They run back and forth, slap down a play bow, then zoom some more. It was quite accidental, but it’s saving my legs some suffering since the discovery. And it’s funnier than a sack of monkeys turned loose in a police station.
They aren’t able to play like normal pups, big bro being a thug and little bro being a sore loser. One wrong wallop, a leg turned sideways, and it could end BB’s life. He’s only got three fully functional legs, so if one of those goes…He’s too easy to hurt, and Kenai’s too vigorous. So their brother time is limited to nuzzles and noses, pretty much.
Then Mom brought BB out to potty not knowing Kenai and I were playing in the kennel…
There’s Kenai, charging like a zealous linebacker from one end of the kennel to the other, sticks abandoned and clods sailing for miles. BB sheds boy-joy and looks like a dodo bird trying to take off, ears happy flapping and legs all over the place. (BB’s the one that makes it hysterical, as usual). They get to play together! Seperated by the kennel fence, but still running together and having a grand ol’ time.
I’ve got to velcro my camera to some body part and get a pic of that for ya’ll. I never seem to have it. It gets left upstairs, left on the table, left in the other coat… fooey on brian fog. I’m sure the run-with-me-fun is going to be a long standing tradition from now on.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 22, 2008
- wanna play wishbone?
Kenai’s week has been odd, me doing so much baking. With money so tight, we decided cookies and breads would be acceptable gifts for all. I started it Monday, and it continued through Wednesday–that meant other than the set in stone parts of our routine, Kenai was short on attention. Yukkie! His meals and his outside time stayed the same, but then it was bake and rest, bake and rest. Boy’s had more nap times than he wanted.
So Thursday was an out and about day, in the morning then again post-afternoon nap. I had a doctor’s appointment, then we stopped at a pet store so he could take off his vest. We headed home for a nap and got Mom for a stop at the cafe–Kenai got to catch up with all his friends so long unvisited! He and I both were pretty happy until after dark.
Then my brother called. As always with him, my plans for the next day got tossed aside. Mom ‘assumed’ they weren’t important enough to bother asking if I would stay home with BB. My brother is coming yet again to do his laundry at our house. His rental house’s machine broke 4 weeks ago, and he still hasn’t done anything about it. Dammit.
Maybe it’s petty, but I’ve had all the poor Mike I can stand. Woe is Mike, woe is Mike, have to make his life easier at our expense, down on his luck…for twenty freaking years. I had to say something to Mom about it. “Why is it I’m always the one who gets their plans scuttled and has to stay home because of him?”.
It didn’t occur to her to tell him we had plans so take care of his own business. She doesn’t want him in our house alone with BB, let her stay there. But no, she gets to keep her routine, to PT and the store, and I’m stuck with the garbage again. As always.
How to be gracious about my brother is as yet an unlearned lesson. It’s never a pleasant visit, and he never passes up a moment to guilt for money. Not 5 weeks ago Mom handed over our entire Christmas budget and then some, $1200, to get him out of our house, and he’s been back for more twice since then.
I’ll be hanged if Mom didn’t give him more. She didn’t learn a blasted thing from this year’s horrendous ordeal of 8 1/2 months. We don’t even have money for Christmas presents, and she’s giving him our grocery money. Our income is HALF of his, for the two of us, Mom and I, and we have bills too (that Mom sits around worrying about).
I didn’t sleep Thursday night. Got all of 2 hours, dreading the day long “couple of loads”, complete with woe is me and can-I-have-some-money that was certain to come. I have great difficulty being “generous” with him; it’s not generostiy, it’s you’re supposed to do without because woe is me. Grrr.
Friday morning, spoiled young Brown decided it was more fun to squash the mom than play with his toys…oooohhh was he in serious trouble. Forgetting himself, he got me in the face with a lion paw and tried to smush me with his chest. Whew did I come up off that doggie bed with fire and brimstone–”NO FEET!”
He whined while I rubbed some emu oil on my scratched face and wouldn’t let him follow me.
Wumpus didn’t want to play anymore. He had to lick the emu oiled hand, sniff the hot abrasion on my cheek (no lick, that’s my liniment buddy), and gently lean his head against me. Aw, little boy all sorry. Hugs and tushie rubs followed, then chase the bone ensued and the unhappy incident was all over. Done, but not forgotten–he was a bit subdued, and cuddly for awhile.
Kenai’s a youngin’. They forget themselves, as teenagers are wont to do. I don’t get angry with him too often, but that’s worth getting angry about (and leaving a lasting impression). He’s sensitive enough to be affected by it, and smart enough to remember it. I’ll have to increase his excercise a tad, since he’s had too much rest this week. All that energy got turned sideways, hence, forgetting his manners.
Not to mention the rotten day we’ll have: BB freaking out anxious since Mom will be at the store (she gets to leave me with the crap again?), Kenai getting riled up by it, me ticked off still…tension all day Friday. Yep, we’re going out to play twice at least. Dammit.
To distract myself and improve my mood, I’ve been playing about with Christmas carols. It’s fun to re-write the verses, ya know!
“Jingle Bells, something smells, did you take him out? Is it the trash, no he found the stash, of special liver treats, wow!
Jingle Bells, at the door, as we run outside. Oh what fun it is to hit, the patch of solid ice and slide!”
“Silver Bells, Silver Bells, it’s slipper time for the puppy. Slipper snitch, hear him whhiissh, as he runs by, bet they’ll squish!”
“Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la la. See the busted bough before us, fa la la la la, la la la la. Run we now with mad mad rush, fa la la la, la la la la la la, to retrieve the ham from BB, fa la la la la, la la la la.”
Okay, so I’m too distracted to come up with something really funny right off hand. But it is a good way to get in a laugh at the pups who have no concept of Silent Night, Holy Night! It’s just another opportunity to mooch for a good new bone, which they’ll get. That is, if they leave the Christmas tree alone. That’s this weekend–I baked this week instead.
6 days ’till Christmas, 12 days ’till the Brothers Grin’s 1 year birthday
Tommorrow being Saturday, I’ve vowed to take the rhino out to run. I’ve skipped the park runs for two weekends now, poor neglected pup. Knock on wood, his leg pains have subsided, and his eye is healed up now, so it’s to the baseball diamonds early in the morning. Thankfully the weather will be warm, but the wind will be strong, so double hats for me!
Either my Meniere’s disease is worsening, or just being out in the wind and cold more this winter has set it off. Weeble wobble woman. Oh how I want to order a harness for Kenai! I have a feeling that money will go out the door with my brother. This spring the cars will be paid off, and the bank loan will be too. Now if I could just stop using the credit card, right?
My New Year’s resolutions are fairly ordinary; loose weight and cut the expenditures. So I really have to come up with something interesting. Dull is too easy to slide on, so if I have an intriguing challenge I’m more likely to get-r-done. Oh yeah, harness training Kenai! That will either be a cinch or an exercise in ridiculous! Interesting though…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 19, 2008
Our first ice storm of the season has set in, and that brings Kenai’s blog back to where we started a year ago! This week last year I decided on buying a pup from his breeder, and his 1 year birthday is 17 days away. He gone from still gestating to this big hunk of manly love in one year, Dane that he is.
We’re settled in for the storm, having had more practice than we wanted last winter at doing without power in subzero weather. It could be worse. But getting BB to walk the deck to go potty is a bit of a job: we have to put a rug down over snow et all for him to walk across. Guess he thinks he’s walking the plank or something. Pirate puppy scared of slippery. Lucky for him big bro and I are up first, and we clear off the deck for his timid soul.
I’ve been loafing, and Kenai’s on restricted exercise for a few days, so Brown is bored and whiney. It takes a while for my FMS/CFS to adjust to the change of seasons. Cold is bad; it hurts. Winter also messes with my inner ears, so it’s the weeble wobble season for me. Weeble this way, wobble that way time.
I’ve really got to order a harness with the genuinely bad cold coming in January and February. I’m afraid to predict how he’ll handle the change of equipment: if I say he’ll do fine, he’ll object just to be contrary! Ha!
The rhino’s snow shoe paws are coming in handy for him, providing exceptionally good traction in the latest slippery conditions. Kenai hardly slows down, while I’m saying “hey, what’s the rush?”. He just gives me that what’s-your-deal expression and waits for me to catch up. Brat. Remember boy, who’s still growing into his ears…
Nah, my special K is an awfully good fella, tolerant and good natured. He and BB have been getting along much better overall. We had a spaz day Sunday since Mom hadn’t exercised BB for 4 days–Beebs goes stir crazy and drives everyone nuts when that happens. Kenai gets frustrated and waylays little bro unless I’m right on top of things.
But that was the first day in a long time that we had to keep vigilant. Most days now, Kenai and I can cook breakfast or walk around the kitchen and BB keeps a polite distance. He knows now too that the red euro leash means his brother’s working and has to be left alone. We’re far from not needing the living room barrier but it’s getting easier to have them loose in the same room together.
That’s at home when all is quiet. Someone comes and the circus ensues until the law is laid down. Hopefully Kenai the old-fashioned hunting and guarding dog will go back to noticing, barking once, then hushing up when told. I’ll probably have to wait for a) adolescence to wear off, and b) the snip that ends his manliness.
I know there’s an almost militant attitude about neutering, especially service dogs, but Kenai will have his pecan until he’s done growing. The lack of sexual hormones in males affects their growth rate, bone density, and musculature. In smaller breeds it’s not so obvious as to be an issue. But you put faster growth, thinner bones, and less muscle on the scale of a Great Dane, and the differences can be startling.
Speeding up the rate of bone growth, which neutering does to Danes, can be risky if a dog is prone to growth problems. Kenai doesn’t need to be tall and svelte: he’s a working dog. Weight bearing, counter balancing, haul his momma up the stairs Kenai will need all the heavy duty bone and muscle his genes can give him. Not for the “big dog” syndrome, but to protect his body from the rigors of his career.
Friday Kenai poked himself in the eye with a stick he was tossing around, so he has to have drops in his eye. That’s the reason for restricted exercise: not getting the blood pressure up too high. He’ll hold still for his ears cleaned, nails trimmed, body washed, feet wiped, bottom cleaned up (if a stool is loose), legs rubbed, but he has a hang up about his teeth and eyes. Next pup gets them messed with from day one.
This pup gets told once, then catches a scolding until he cuts the silliness. (Big sigh, puppy pout, goshes not-nice expression). When the vet wanted to check the cornea, Kenai swatted him and gave him his head back, I-don’t-want-to expression.
Once Doc was done chuckling at the funny face he was getting, Kenai got his drops and black light treatment anyway. The man is used to our Danes after all these years…His eye is fine, just busted some capillaries. The drops will heal it, but we’ll add eye checks to his routine physical now just in case.
Such is the mundane in our life together. We have our routines, our nap times, and plenty of fun too. And with the tree going up today, a whole new set of experiences is in store for my guy. Now that there’s 10 days to X-mas, I’ve got to get the baking and decorating going. Maybe that will spark a little holiday sparkle in me, huh?
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year too.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 15, 2008
The boy from Texas has his toothpick…Kenai, 48 wks old. (Haven’t gotten a pic since he turned 49 wks yesterday)
A strange malaise has come over our house. Kenai isn’t getting as much excercise and is very blah. That’s my fault. For his sake I need to kick it up and return to going places daily or every other day, soreness, cold, and fatigue be hanged. I didn’t take him running in the park last weekend, bad momma. He seems a bit bored with the kennel, not even chasing his jolly ball anymore. I can get him running with a “stolen” stick, but his boredom shows.
It hasn’t really set in that it’s Christmas time yet. Normally I’m well into the decorations by now, but I haven’t even gotten them out yet. Hum. Something tells me this year the tree might be lonesome for window garlands…I’ve been thinking it would be smart to leave the special ornaments in the box for next year, when the Brothers Grin are adults. Kenai’s not likely to bump it, having always been careful about his body. But its going to be in the living room with BB too.
They have a way of getting each other in trouble.
Decorating just seems like alot of effort. (Told ya, malaise). I also seem to be lacking in creativity and motivation all of a sudden. Poor Kenai, stuck with a boring human. And worst of all, he’s out of rawhide bones to toss around and tease his brother with. Ahh! Horrid, awful, terrible. Ma! (What he doesn’t know is I’ve ordered a box of 18 bones for Christmas…)
So we did something unusual Wednesday. We went out to the kennel when there was just enough light to see but the sun wasn’t up yet. It was cold and windy, a light dusting of snow on the frozen ground, and Kenai had himself the grandest time! He played some keep-away and getting goosed during our tushie touch games, sniffing all the little critter tracks in the kennel, and really got a charge out of me going outside the kennel to “BOO!” from behind the cedar trees.
I guess the near darkness, the downright primal weather, and the small alteration in routine was enough to happy up his boy heart. He had a case of vigorous left over, so we did a bit of toy times. But he’s bored with his toys, and our current game repetoire. So… we have a new game: “slipper snitch”. Inspired by his habit of carrying them around while he plays with his ball, I started teasing him in my chair with the slippers on my feet.
They got his toes, they whooshed over here and slid over there, always staying just one swish ahead of the boy wrinkles. He has now learned how to take slippers off my feet (without biting the toes thankfully). Then he can play keep away, leapin’ lion, and bucking bronco with it, before bringing it back to me for a little tug then a start over.
Not too many pups would I play such a game with, but thank heavens Kenai has always been outstanding about letting go and leaving stuff alone, especially when when I tell him to. He’s not at all likely to shred them when I’m not there or do the slipper snitch while I’m walking in them. Like another pup I know but won’t mention by name. “BB! Stop that!”
After we started the game it occured to me that it might be a good “task” for him if ever I find it hard to take my slippers or socks off. On would be a comedy of errors, and by the time they were on, they’d be wet enough to be taken off again. Soggy socks.
I wondered about teaching him to turn lights on and off, just as something to entertain his brain. But he’s never been much of a nose-poker. I don’t really want those giant feet that high up on the walls, else we might have claw marks beneath the switch plate! And I do mean giant feet:
Stinker has even learned to “hide” pilfered small toys with those paws by standing on them with an innocent look on his face. “Ladybug toy, what ladybug toy?”
He also knows if he steps on something I can’t take it away. Until I tell him to move, of course. Then it’s the pouts.
Kenai’s a momma’s boy, so there’s no “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, but there is “Your Thievin’ Heart” in abundance! Much to BB’s sorrow…
Kenai had himself a decent car ride Friday, too, exploring someone’s field then going to the puppy store in his fleece coat. He still doesn’t like it. Man-snob. The back edges touch his hamstrings when he moves and it annoys him. It was cold enough to warrant it though. I’m glad he doesn’t have thumbs to take it off. He comes close enough with teeth.
We didn’t stay out long since laundry has become a critical situation. It’s exhausting, not so much doing it as hauling the dirties and cleans up and down the stairs. That’s the reason it usually gets put off too long. Brown, however, enjoys laundry day. He listens to the washing machine, supervises the sorting, finds his toys in the piles, and tromps around with socks I’ve been looking for. And Mom’s in the laundry room/master bath so it’s “Messin’ with Sasquatch” all day long. Boy fun!
The rest of the week is shaping up to be a doosey–I have to drive to Branson for some special bloodwork. It’s a three hour affair. So I doubt seriously if anything else will be accomplished the remainder of the day. But with really bad winter weather coming next week, I don’t have much choice. With any luck Wumpus be satisfied with such a long outing. We haven’t had one of them for quite a while.
And for all my efforts to find an inexpensive harness for him, the more I look the more likely it is that I’ll be going with a custom job. Ouch. But I have some alternatives. (Apparently indecision comes with malaise) The “good” hand made harness is at http://www.circle-e.net/dog_harness.htm and the other possibilities are
It’s astonishing all the dog gear out there! One site I went to had a list of over 5o harnesses for various purposes. Yikes! Mostly I’m looking for something light duty, since it will be at least a year before Kenai is doing weight bearing work. Yeah, I guess I’m hoping to not need a double girth strap harness for him. Considering how tall he is, I can lean on his shoulders and such without a harness. Of course, this is my first venture into the world of service dog equipment, so I could be way off base about what I need!
I reserve the right to be wrong, and be educated about it…it’s not like I haven’t learned alot the hard way already!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 11, 2008
“…nine lords a leaping…” Told ya he had fun in the kennel! Kenai, 48 wks
Good pics! Finally some good pics again! About time… We don’t have too much to blabber about, but I had to put one or two of these pictures up. Oh, and I discovered how to rotate a pic by degrees: no more funhouse effect from the snapshots. Woo hoo! I get vertigo just fine without help from my camera, thank you very much.
A thought provoking thing happened Saturday night, when I was taking Kenai out after his last meal for the day. I was almost to the field when the outdoor flood lights went out, darn sensors. There I was in pitch dark, moon obscured by clouds, hearing coyotes in the distance, dogs barking, things moving around I couldn’t see…
I wanted to bolt back to the house for a flashlight! But the pup was really needing to “go”, antsy on his leash. Poor guy, he could see the relief patch and had to hold it. A little background info: back when I’d gotten really ill a few years ago, I developed a bit of fearfulness about being outside in the dark. At least in the countryside anyway.
For some reason I just feel so vulnerable, especially knowing there are roaming packs of neighbor’s dogs and coyotes around. Even deer can attack a person, and we’re not low in the deer population either. I can know in my head there’s nothing there that’s going to hurt us, but I still get that physical tightening sensation and want to head for home.
Kenai was shifting and whimpering on his leash. He really, really had to “go”. So I took a deep breath, held onto his collar and walked. We have a trodden down path that I take every time, and a long leash so he can go away from me to pick his spot. I couldn’t see a thing, hoping Brown wasn’t walking me through “brown ground” if you know what I mean, or would inadvertently drop me in a hole. It’s not like he’s had any guide dog training.
He walked along amazingly slow considering his urgent ‘need’. I stopped when he paused, as it felt about the right distance, and I let him go find a suitable location for the scrap heap. Then the outdoor floodlights came back on: he had taken me to the exact place I always stand! Not one yard short, not one yard forward. Hum. Divine lesson about trusting my divinely appointed helper?
Awhile back I’d talked about times when Kenai and I have to swap out the role of team leader, and that it’s got to be a least a little confusing for a puppy to learn when and if to “take charge”. This was a perfect example of what I meant when I said there are times I need Kenai to lead the team. I may wear the “she who must be obeyed” t-shirt from a British TV comedy, but he gets to lead when I can’t. Then he’s got to turn right around and surrender the role without a fuss.
It all looks so simple from the outside, watching a service dog team, but boy it’s much more complex a relationship than it looks. I’d never thought so deeply about the inner lives of dogs, and the nuances of our relationships before. As much as I’d loved and trained and lived with dogs throughout my life, Kenai has drastically deepened my understandings of them.
Not to ‘dis my past loves by any means. I’ve learned amazing and life changing things because of each and every one of them. Yet Kenai is different. He’s got this difficult “job” which we’ll be working on learning for at least another year, and is a substantively different fellow from his companion predecessors.
The uniqueness of training and living with Kenai, the deeply instinctive and adaptive boy he is, reminds me of something a theology professor I once had talked about. He was discussing the variant ways that western and eastern philosophies approach life, and how that approach manifests in belief systems.
Western thought is very linear; 2+2=4, and this causes that. Western minds want to categorize, simplify, and explain mysteries. We want to know how to plug data into an equation and get an answer to anything, from DNA to how the universe began. Hence, we want science and hard facts. I started out with Kenai wanting to “plug in” a new training technique to get the desired result. Do this, and the dog will do that. Okay, great…unless it doesn’t work.
Eastern thought is circular; it looks at forests intead of individual trees. Mysteries are to be enjoyed for their complexity rather than explained and simplified. It doesn’t ask so much how the universe began as it does why. Eastern thought is much more fluid, and it idealizes wisdom over data. The fluid subtleties of my home and working relationship with Kenai has not been an easy gear change for a solidly western gal to flow with!
But flow we must, and Saturday night we flowed a little…thank you buddy.
Okay, okay, so I make odd mental connections: flood lights out = philosophy primer. I’m just grateful when my brain makes a connection, weird or not.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 7, 2008
the snows is gone, mom
I just re-read a book called “The Intelligence of Dogs” by Stanley Coren. It’s complete with IQ tests and the various types of learning abilities dogs have. It was a bit of a tough read, being dry as old toast in the writing style. But there’s some good info in the book, for sure. And it’s given me some “think abouts” for training Danes as working dogs.
Kenai scored off the charts in the adaptive learning tests, though I don’t really trust some of test components for him. Things like the blanket tossed over the head have been part of his play since 9 weeks old, and I’ve taught him not to go digging about under furniture for a toy. I’m kicking around ways to test him for the same abilities using different situations.
So Kenai’s adaptive intelligence, like problem solving, short and long term memory is in the doggie Einstien category, at the top of the top 5% of dogs. I have yet to meet a Dane who couldn’t land in the top range. To be honest, even my unsocialized and unstimulated rescues would have likely scored in the top 5% of adaptive intelligence the day I got them.The breed just has a giant brain to match the giant body.
But Kenai’s working/obedience intelligence abilities all over the place. His drive and focus attention is about average, his compliance with repetition is low, yet his quickness to learn even complex new tasks is high. High adaptive intelligence doesn’t neccessarily correlate into working skills, oddly enough.
Great Danes are ranked 47th in the book as far as working intelligence. I didn’t like that, since I love Danes so much, and at first considered it a slight. It’s surprising considering they are classified in the working dog group. As I started wrapping my head around the book’s contents it dawned on me that what Mr. Coren calls working intelligence, or obedience intelligence isn’t the same as intinctive intelligence he also talked about.
Danes were bred for hunting dangerous prey, a very instinctive task, requiring high adaptive abilities. In fact they needed the ability to hunt without a human telling them what to do, since no one wants to be up close to a cornered black bear that the Dane packs of old would kill. The working intelligence referred to in the book is a competitive human orchestrated obedience.
There are three reasons that I think are responsible for the mid-range ranking of Great Danes in non-instinctive obedience/working skills. One is the is the decades of breeding for calm, laid-back Danes. They simply don’t “zoom” all the time like say, a border collie. As a breed, Great Danes are relaxed and easy going, bordering on lazy as they get older.
Danes are so attuned to a quiet environment, that a stimulating one makes them go instinctive, ie distractable with human commands.The dogs ranked high on working intelligence are typically high energy, high drive, high focus, with reputations for being reactive, ie barking alot, biting, etc. Many of the breeds have obsessive or even destructive tendencies if not given enough exercise and attention.
“Herding dogs…do well because they want to work for people and seem unhappy unless someone is telling them what to do.” Competition judge, quoted pg 191 of The Intelligence of Dogs, by Stanley Coren.
There’s crucial difference number two: a Dane is content to lay down and occupy themselves, a hold over from their hunt without humans days. Considering the size range of Great Danes, 120-200 pounds, it’s not necessarily a good idea to have a continual need for attention and activity. You wouldn’t want a bored 200 pound dog alert barking at all sounds it hears, or needing play play play for hours on end. You certainly don’t want them snapping at someone’s heels like a herding dog.
A higher energy Dane is considerably more work to exercise adequately than a high energy small dog. Because their legs are long, a half mile walk for a Dane isn’t anywhere near the amount of exercise a half mile walk with a terrier is. The Dane has be slowed down to pace with people alot, whereas the terrier has to hurry to keep up.
“The best obedience dog is a dumb golden. Even a dumb golden retriever is bright enough to figure out what you want him to do, and he wants to please so much that he does it. Just as importantly, he doesn’t get bored and is not easily distracted. Since he is not trying to figure out what’s going on, he doesn’t design new ways of responding and ends up doing exactly what you taught him” Competition judge, quoted pg 191 of The Intelligence of Dogs, by Stanley Coren.
Three: the Dane’s habit of figuring out what we’re doing and why, then adapting on their own is both their strength and weakness. A Dane thinks, deciding that he’d rather do the trick this way, and when he’s done it a few times, he’s bored. They are actually too smart in some ways, go figure. It can make getting Kenai to practice the same commands tougher, but when I need him and can’t tell him what to do, he can figure it out for himself. And quickly.
So Danes rightly hit the mid-range, but I take great exception to trainers saying they aren’t easily taught to be obedient and highly intelligent. It doesn’t take 20 or more repetitions for a Dane to understand and remember long term a complex behavior chain. Not unless you’re trying to train them in an excited state of mind. Twenty repetitions and the Dane will be starting to figure out what else they can do for fun.
Lots of noise and high pitches, which many obedience classes have, is too stimulating for most Danes. Tone it down and you can teach them much faster. The trick then is controlling the Dane’s excitement level to get a reliable performance from them in a highly stimulating environment. That’s been my difficulty with Kenai. I’ve not seen a Dane in agility, rally, or obedience trials, though I know of a few. I imagine getting them to focus during trials is the toughest part, just because of my long experience with the breed.
So I got over my initial “They’re smarter than that!” snobbiness.
I’ve found a couple working dog harnesses that I not only like, but can afford. After Christmas anyway. The typical mobility harnesses have 2 thick leather girth straps, and every one I’ve seen has a buckle right in the middle of the ribcage. Kenai leans against booths and walls during his down stays most of the time, so he’d have buckles digging into his ribs. And that’s if you can find one for a dog bigger than a Rottie. Custom jobs start at around $300. Ouch.
So I’m going to choose between a guide dog harness for him, with only one girth strap and a fixed rigid handle, or an agitation harness. From the picture, the buckle of the single strap guide harness is higher up near the back, and I think that would be much more comfortable for him when he’s laying down. I would probably pad it for him, too.
The agitation harness I saw is padded with one girth strap, a different configuration, and the buckles high up the back. It’s made specifically for Danes and giant breeds, which is a happy thing, but it lacks the rigid handle I could use to hang grocery bags on for Sasquatch to carry. Hum. Indescision.
While I mull it over, Kenai has been complaining about his reduced exercise. I’ve had a lingering migraine for a couple days, so we’ve been hanging out in the house mostly. He whines and whines until he gets shushed. Then he gives up and pouts, poor baby. What he doesn’t know is tommorrow is Saturday, his run in the park day. That will make him happy! Happy is good, don’t ya think?
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 5, 2008
Saturday’s run in the park was a little disappointing in the good pic department. The weather didn’t cooperate, all dull and grey, and Kenai didn’t run like the usual cheetah puppy. He was in a scent hound mood, preferring to sniff around as much as he ran. Out of all the pics snapped, just one turned out decent enough to keep. It’s hardly a stunner, but a in the photo folder anyway.
Then Sunday morning came, with some lovely light snow showers. Snow!! I doubt stinky remembers the last time he saw it, just the once, being so young. Not much of it stuck, just about a third of an inch, so snowball chasing and other froze toes games will have to wait for better accumulations. But he had such fun smelling the air, and investigating how different everything was. It invigorates a boy!
Again, we were defeated in the good pic lotto, snapping away as Kenai romped and stomped and had his fun in the cold. But there’s a couple worth keeping, the one above ‘ready to play’, and one at the bottom of the post ‘there’s snows on my nose, blink blink’. I’m not sure, but I think toffee tank was trying to watch the flakes on his muzzle—I swear he looked cross eyed a couple times! Oh what a boy…
We came inside to warm up, having our dry off fun and a warm breakfast. He whined to go back out for a solid hour, peering out the windows and sending me vibes. Messing with Sasquatch time with Mom had to suffice, though, the poor mistreated waif. I was crawling in a heated bed whether he liked it or not! Brrr.
BB was wound up tighter than an old time corset Sunday, and was in trouble from the moment his eyes opened. He would not leave anyone alone! I wasn’t up to taking him out to play too, so it was me and Brown going upstairs and elsewheres most of the day.
Some sanctioned wild child time would have been all it took to chill the bent bottom boy, inside or out wouldn’t matter too much to him. Just as long as it involved people, he’d be happy. Foolish me decided to give him some in the late afternoon, depositing Kenai with Mom in her bedroom.
I’d been into the Tylenol all day, and had to get me aching parts some more after that. But Banana Butt had tuggie games, ferocious-puppy pouncing, tushie goosing, and all the bump and wiggles he could muster! He was a much happier boy, and less of a play with me pest later.
Monday was a “snow day” for the four of us, hanging out, cleaning, napping and other not-interesting things to a boy. They had their play times, but by afternoon there was purse-poking and stopping at the garage on the way back from the grassy relief spot. “Let’s go someplace!” was written all over the rhino rump pup. Too bad, the run abouts had to wait for Tuesday, when the wind chills finally left single digits and teens.
There’s a new link over yonder, to the blog of a handsome blue Dane named Savage. Kenai likes new friends, though he is disappointed that Savvy is a thousand miles away! Hard to play with a buddy he can’t meet, you know. I love the pictures–so cool.
Tuesday and Wednesday had small errands, nothing special, and we didn’t need the red vest. He had lots of fun being out and about though. I have to admit to being an awful slouch the past couple months as far as Kenai’s vested pubic appearances. I’m being lazy, not feeling up to controlling his excitement in exciting places, or butting heads with him about elevators and long down stays. We’re doing “easy” outings.
After the holidays I’ll be buying a SD harness, and we’ll be more involved in training and practicing. Can’t let him get bored, that’s for sure! Personally I like boring, but it doesn’t sit well with a dog as smart as Kenai–he finds ways to entertain himself.
Next post will probably have a really cool Canine IQ test. I found a book long ago forgotten about called “The Intelligence of Dogs”. It’s hard reading, at least when the brain is foggy. But it’s fascinating trying to find ways to test a dog’s real intelligence levels.
That’s all for now, since Brown needs a good fun run in the kennel and a wandering long leash walk. See ya’ll later.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on December 3, 2008