On the run again! Kenai 19 mo
Whew, what a week the last one was! One of those “if it can go wrong, it did” weeks: the septic tank backed up and needs new lateral lines, the plumber’s been out 4 times to unstop the johns, the yard work “helpers” helped a little too much, the termite inspector got stuck in the crawl space…
Okay, that last one was funny. And the “helpers” really did help, getting the 1,000 foot milkweeds cut down and those giant trees split into piles ready to haul off. They just decided to rake the leaf mulch off my flowerbeds, which means I have to rake it back. (ouch, it hurts to think about).
The boys had more “practice” on how to behave when someone comes than ever before, I think. They did manage to get in some practice on how NOT to behave too. It got hard to take there for awhile without a mute button. BB especially is a howler, but Kenai helped out with that some his own self.
All told the water bottle only came out twice, and Kenai got his teenage self in heavy duty trouble once for trying to push his way out the door. If they aren’t in the same room when folks turn up, just a couple shushes and “watch the man working” is all it takes.
There’s a big trailer and a backhoe sitting out in their potty field now, and two deep trenches in the driveway from trying to find the lateral line blockage. Hum, obstacle course…using a “let’s go to the garage” I got my oversized sack of nerves to walk between the trenches the first day.
But the machinery was just too much–too nervous for more than a piddle and hotfoot it back to the door. The next morning, though, I got him to investigate with the nose, and as long as we went to the other side of the field, he could relax enough to leave a scrap pile.
The oft-cussed nose came in handy for a change!
Three days now and he actually insists on sniffing the equipment before going to his business. And checking it again before going back inside. People smells, dirt smells, who knows what else? As long as the stuff don’t start up, he’s brave as…well, almost brave.
While I was standing there watching him, I had this momentary “flash” of his puppyhood; a year ago Mr Fearless would have climbed right to the top of the dirt piles, and leaped across the trench for kicks. Several times.
I would’ve spent my time trying to get him away from it, and now I spend my time tryin the opposite. How’d that little irony come to pass?
Anyway, between his twice a day potty runs through the obstacle course, there were…CAR RIDES! Long ones too, flitting here and there for way longer than my legs could take. Ooo cripes have I been into the tylenol this week. But a car ride is about all that gets him downstairs.
He’s developed a new phobia since dropping another 5 pounds–the stairs to our bedroom. Why, I have no clue. He’s run up and down them several times a day his entire life. But it takes considerable coaxing all of a sudden. Shivery whines and freezing up is what happens.
It doesn’t make sense, so I’m chalking it up to whatever is goin on with his health. These intractable fears appear for no reason, don’t respond to conditioning, then for some reason, just go away after a few weeks, or when he starts gaining weight again.
He once spent a month refusing to potty because there was noises outside. Then it stopped. It’s not a skittish reaction either, it’s plain old fear. Panicky, can’t think, fear. He seems to be stuck in a flight response he can’t stop. Sounds alot like my own anxiety issues when they crop up.
Think it’s time for a second tick disease “snap” tests–the ehrlichia might not have been succesfully treated with one course of antibiotics. I’ve been told that it can take more than once, and the disease can in fact cause the digestive problems he’s having as well as personality changes.
Brown’s also gotten himself a new clicker!! It’s an “I-Click” from Karen Pryor’s site and I really really like it. The sound is softer, the button can be pushed with finger, palm, or even a “bop” against it when it’s hanging around my neck. Much easier on the troublesome hands.
That means the boys have had daily practices. Why let a good clicker go to waste? As far as their occasional relaxed proximity exercises, I managed to get Kenai and BB both down 12″ from each other, face to face, and not have either one try to start a rumpus.
Kenai’s individual practice is in the morning, just us, and he sulks if I neglect it. We’re trying to get his rump in the right place, since he prefers to swing it out diagonally. That doesn’t work well for bracing. So it’s sits, downs, and come brace between me and an object for awhile.
I wonder if he’s got an association between the words and facing me for his treat? Leftovers from my “amateur night” days–he was foolishly taught his sits and downs facing me like a beginner’s obedience class does. Should’ve skipped that and gone straight to the heel and side sits etc.
I might try getting him to sit and such with a click/treat when he’s facing elsewhere just to see if that’s contributing to the big-butt-want-room syndrome he’s afflicted with! I know a certain amount of innate body sensitivity is involved, since he really doesn’t care much for tight spaces.
He’s extraordinary about not bumping things with that big ol’ rump, even backing up blind. I can get him to back through a narrow door at an angle and not touch a thing on the flimsiest of shelves. Merchants should be glad of that–a Dane can more than empty a shelf, they can tip over the whole aisle!
The boys are ever so joyful having their kennel back. They played themselves silly the first time I turned them out for a romp after it was all cut down! Kenai got so carried away with squishing his jolly ball that he poked a tooth through it and got it stuck.
Unlike BB, though, Kenai can get his dental parts back without assistance. He turns his front paw and pushes on it just so. BB scampers around looking for help.
I can’t neglect talking about our Saturday trip to the puppy store! We went because there was a Boxer and Giant Schnauzer rescue org adoption day. I wanted to see how bigfoot would behave.
He was expectedly excitable, but boy was I proud of him. Yeah, there was way too much tight leash going on, and pardon my french “horny teenager” stuff a couple times. But he was without his gentle leader, and controllable. Even calm, hanging out next to me while watching the happenings.
The kids would go by, one girl even liked running her hand down his back, and sneak under his neck and the man wasn’t bothered a bit by it. Smaller puppies he did play bows with, and nose nuzzled. The only thing that made him skittish was a schnauzer who didn’t want dogs next to his crate.
The dog was fine outside his crate, but barked like he meant it when crated, just like BB. Kenai did so well, considering how bonkers he used to go wanting to play. The owner invited him to come next Friday to be in a TV commercial. My little internet celebrity is going local!
Hence this week I need to practice carrying stuff around on my shoulders to mimic the cameras. That seems to make him skittish, so I’ll be doing over the head and shoulders all week with his clicker and treats. It’ll be no big deal by next Friday, with luck.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 27, 2009
Grab a tiger by the tail! Kenai, 19 mo
We had a fun early morning Saturday, Kenai and I. He was too sleepy to bother coming downstairs to mix up his food, so I put the gate back up and did the duty. But…Mr seperation anxiety stood at the top of the stairs peeking over the baby gate and softly whining.
When he does that, I talk to him from the kitchen, tell him what I’m doing when I make noise etc. I don’t mind leaving him upstairs while I get his breakfast mixed. It has to sit for 30 min with the enzymes anyway, so they don’t burn his mouth.
Stairs are hard on Dane joints. So a down the stairs, up the stairs, down again to eat, up the stairs again, then down to wake up Mom…let him hang out until his food’s ready and spare him some wear and tear. He’ll thank me when he’s a grumpy old fart.
He waited, and a pass by the stairwell on the way to shut Mom’s bedroom door revealed the saddest, wrinkledy, gentle miss-you face ever seen by human eyes. Awww. So…when I came back up, I came with treats and a clicker!
Lamb crunchies are first in the puppy priorities, so we did “on the bed”, “off”, “on the couch”, “off” and other running-is-okay commands. I interspersed a bracing practice for sitting and getting up between the targeting couch and stuff.
Heavens but he loves that clicker! Silly boy tried to click it himself–I was sitting on the bed next to him and he kept nose poking at the clicker hanging around my neck. “More treats!” We worked on sitting in the heel, then following when I took a step forward. We even practiced a wait/name/come heel a couple times.
Then it was chow time, kibble that is. Down we went for his breakfast and potty run, and he actually did his business in relatively little time. He heard something in the yet uncut grass, and revved right up. “No” was all it took, and he walked on with me, though he kept an eye on that patch.
He was so happy-ed up from our practice still, he ran right into the living room and got (stole) his brother’s new tiger baby. Can I pretend that’s fetching? Zoom, right up the stairs with it! Tuggie time ensued, and boy was he feeling vigorous!
He’d turn and try to use his body to keep it away or pull it out of my hand. He tried with the sasquatch paws to push my arm away. He leaped around when he won, and played the watch-her-hand when I won. Since I was sitting down, our tug games were fairly long!
Then it happened…tiger baby got its tail pulled off. The pic at the top of the post was Kenai wondering what happened. He surveyed the damage a moment then started to walk away.
But his boy heart didn’t want to give up such a good playing baby, and he turned back for another look at the forlorn carcass.
Oh well, parts is parts, right? He can play with parts!!
So we played tug with the tail, I’d steal the body, he’d steal it back.
Parts is parts.
Then it was wake up grammy time, which is his favorite part of the morning routine. I go in first, to get her up and off the bed–Kenai pounces. He smashes people’s heads into the pillow with his bear paws if they’re laying down, flops on top of them, and that’s not good if you have to pee.
He doesn’t do it to me, but he will Mom. So he waits until she’s up for the door to open. I’m trying various ways of getting BB to chill out when I come to wake Mom up. He’s just totally bonkers with anxiety, even trying to nip at me. He loses it when someone comes near Mom when she’s asleep.
But, Beebs is in his expen, so when Mom’s up, Kenai’s allowed to come barreling up on the bed and over it, into the bathroom for “find her”. It’s like a controlled zoomie, a hunt Mom down for your morning smooches and backtalking.
After that it was upstairs for quiet time while little bro got his breakfast, potty run, and Mom gets her medicine down (in peace). With my cousin’s sons coming again to finish up the weed-eating for us, I was hoping the fun morning would make him less excitable than the first day they came.
I behaved badly that first day. I was tired, hurting, had two boobies that acted like 130 pound 8 week old labs that wouldn’t leave my cousin alone…I reached a point after a few hours where I simply couldn’t ram down my irritation and calm myself anymore. So I went to bed for a nap.
Normally I’m able to stay calm, correcting the nose in your face, and insisting on a down stay after the greeting. Guess it’s just the stress of late, but I was ready to either scream, cry, or hit something after the twenty-thousandth time Kenai completely ignored me and tried to crawl under the table to go bugger with his brother.
I went to bed for a nap, as previously mentioned, and Kenai was going with me, want to or not. I know, 90% of the boobie stuff was me. Danes are notoriously sensitive to people’s emotions, and I was uncharacteristically irritable. My cousin Sheryl is very very too interesting, too, with all the doggie smells on her.
A nap was a better idea, even if I missed lunch and woke up with a queasy stomach. So Sunday I had a better plan and better attitude. I tell ya, these two pups would have a nervous breakdown if we moved to the city! That or just get over the noise and people-me-go-silly nonsense.
I love music, and have used my own human relaxation tapes on Kenai. He’s always with me, so when I use them, he kinda has to! I have one to stimulate theta brain waves, which reduces pain sensation and increases creativity. I use that alot in place of pain meds.
I also have a couple CD’s for sleep, luring the brain into the frequencies of normal sleep, and one called “Deep learning” that is supposed to improve memory and comprehension. I know music has a strong effect on me, and it does affect Kenai.
Training notes: I don’t do much with heel sits, or sits in general except as a warm up. If you need a dog for balance, you don’t really want them to sit because it shifts their weight backwards, and can pull you off balance unintentionally.
An SD for balance I think needs to be up on their feet when you are, ready to move at a moment’s notice. Ultimately, hopefully, I’d like Kenai to be able to sense which way I’m falling and position himself where I need him to stop the fall. That’s a ways off for us yet, but it’s the goal.
I don’t know how others train their bracing for sitting down etc, but I want Kenai right in front of me. I will have a hand on the top of his shoulders for weight bearing on my really bad weak days. But mostly I prefer to have my arm over his shoulders, the hand on his outside shoulder blade.
That way what he does is more balancing me while I go down than holding weight. But he has this bad habit still of swinging his butt out on a diagonal. He does that with sit and down, and come heel, too. I have to figure out how to get his entire body in position, not just his front.
Uh-oh…that means “shaping” is ahead for me. I need to go looking and reading about shaping for body position. Wish I’d known how when he was a tiny tot! I also think I need to start reading up on how to train for sound alerts.
My hearing loss, if it progresses, will be fairly gradual, so we’ll learn it gradually too. I may be one of those with Meneire’s syndrome that doesn’t really lose all sound, but then again, I might not. It’s good to be prepared.
That’s probably a long enough post, don’t ya think? I thunk so when I went back to proofread and edit! I must have some Irish in me, hiding out in the geneology. Well, that’s the blow by blow of the Brother’s Grin’s weekend. Hope yours was a good one!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 20, 2009
“There’s nothing to play with…” Kenai 19 mo. Remember when you were a kid out of school for the summer?
I found yet another blog! This one is by Patricia McConnell, called “The Other End of the Leash”. She wrote a book by that name, too, I believe. She’s an animal behavorist, with a PhD and is absolutely in love with the intricacies of animal-human relationships. I’ve got lots of reading to do there!
Kenai’s had tons of car rides this week, but after a disasterously bad showing (oh he was so fearful!) at our usual convenience store, I haven’t tried taking him inside with me again. His stools are firming up, and his weight loss has stopped. But he’s not in tip top shape yet after his month of stress. That means his confidence hasn’t come back, either.
We’ve had great success about the critter chase games, though. I haven’t needed his gentle leader in weeks. We haven’t seen lots of critters, but when he hears something, all I have to do is give a “no” and call his name to get him to move on and do his business. I am immensely grateful for that.
I am finding myself prone to lingering discouragement lately about Kenai’s future as an SD. So much has happened since those first few good months. It has been more arduous than I had ever expected; not so much the training as the health problems and the madness around us the past year.
I’ve longed to have those strong shoulders next to me a thousand times since my health has declined. Walking the hospital this month brought me to the point of actually wishing for a wheelchair. The noise, lights, crowds and such where I have gone made me so apprehensive.
I feel the lack of him acutely. Anyone who’s felt safer, stronger, and more confident because of an assistance dog knows what I mean. They take the edge off by nothing more than being there. Add to that their tasks, and you really do feel much more secure.
Kenai had a fun car ride Monday, stopping at puppy stores looking for ear cleaning solution. I’m sure he didn’t mind the ride, but won’t be thrilled about his ear cleaning. He got to devestate a soda carton this morning, and a new bone was waiting for him after our midday nap. Not a bad day for a boy.
Today my cousin is bringing her sons over with their weedeaters. I hated having to ask for help with the yard. That was my last bastion of defiance; my yard, I can do it. But the milkweeds and Johnson’s grass is blocking out the sun at this point, so there was little choice left for me. We’re overrun.
The boys will be glad to have their kennel back to play in, though. I may have to take shears to the weeds growing the chain link where a weedeater can’t cut. To keep it down, next month I want to buy one of those larger weed flamers that uses a gas-grill cylinder on a dolly to burn out weeds.
A weedeater is not in my future, causing too much pain from its vibrations and balance problems from noise, so plan B. I really do want a flamer. I’m good at making plans and even if the execution of them can be spotty, I really do want a flamer. That I could manage, if I don’t blow myself up.
I’ve got 2 more cartons of regular soda left to finish, then it’s to the tea and diet. The only diet that does me any good is low carb. I do the Atkins at first, to kick into weight loss, which I need badly. Then if I stay on low carb, I can maintain a good weight and better health.
My ultimate goal is to drop the 80 pounds I’ve put on the past 24 mo, but I’d go ga-ga if 40 pounds went missing. When the docs start messing with my thyroid and fibro meds, I can pack on 8 pounds a week or more if I’m eating starches and sugar. It doesn’t take long to get wide as ya are tall that way!
I have found repeatedly that I really do feel better, rest better, and have more strength on low carb. Why I keep returning to the breads and potatoes, and addictive soda? Ask Sherlock, I don’t have a clue. Easier perhaps, cheaper maybe? Comfort food? Tired so I eat out?
Me and Kenai, two peas in a pod, red meat eaters. My sugars and cholestorols normalize on low carb. Eggs are out because they trigger migraines, but meats, green veggies, and real fats like butter do the trick every time. Low cal diet stuff, by the way is absolutely crammed with sugars.
Okay, enough about me, this being Kenai’s blog, right? Stretching it…if I’m fatter, Kenai’s balancing work is harder. That wasn’t too slick a make-it-fit, was it? How ’bout this; if I don’t feel good he doesn’t get the play he needs from a not-grumpy frump. That’s better!
My boy love is bugging me to go ni-night, so this’ll have to do for now. Let’s hope things turn around for us!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 13, 2009
Can’t we do something fun for a change? Kenai 18 mo
My brother passed away early Monday morning, so the crating, playless days and weird schedules will soon be over for the boys. They’ve had it for 4 weeks now. The funeral and burial will be next Monday, held up by the holiday weekend–the military cemetery isn’t doing services this Friday.
So it appears that one more week of weirdness and we get to return to our normal routines. The boys’ve held up better than expected, but hardly took it in stride. Kenai especially. He’s lost a bit of weight, had less than perfect poo, threw up once…you get the idea.
He’s giving me trouble about eating again. Heat, stress, and lack of normal exercise is the culprit. And with Norm coming Saturday to stay with us through the funeral…Norm is a big man, with a big voice, and even the remnants of our routine will go awry until Tuesday.
So I really have to find the strength to get the boys out for their exercise this weekend. Indoor play won’t cut it. Don’t know how, but I have to get ‘em out or deal with an overly excited pair of boobies. At least we’ve gotten a break with the heat–we’re out of triple digits and back to around 90 degrees.
Braggin time: the boys are getting used to fireworks. They hear it, and sit up, but I say “just some fireworks”, and they lay back down. Yay! I don’t have to deal with panicked pups on top of Norm and the unusual routine.
Distractions and goofy games make up for alot of stress. One very welcome distraction is their new “special bones”: Kenai regularly goes to his crate and gives me the extra pretty sit in hopes I’ll pull it out and let him chew.
He only gets the really special stuff in his crate, that way it’s not just the place he gets dumped when we leave him. He happily situates himself in his crate from time to time, for no particular reason, and he doesn’t give me any trouble about crating when I have to leave. Guess I got lucky!
I really should give the boys more toy time attention. Kenai mooches for attention, but most of the time I essentially wimp out and just lay around trying to rest. Bad momma. He needs the interaction, so it’s kick myself in the rump time.
He has been enjoying our naps on “Grammy bed”. She has a king size waterbed, and he tries to convince me we should sleep there at night too. He loves that bed. He can roll over on his back and it gives just enough that it semi-props him up.
I call it “free-style flaking out”, since he doesn’t need the back of the couch to stay up. He can just let things all fall where they will and go fast asleep upside down. He’s not a big snorer thankfully. I’ve had Danes that rattled the windows.
Some days I swear he has lion genes. He likes the head rubbing how lions do, he sleeps on his back like lions, he leans on his shoulder how lions do, he swats and roughhouses how lion cubs do, he has a strong chase drive…they day he mooches for antelope meat I get his DNA tested!
For some reason, my blogroll is vanished and I don’t know why. It’s listed on my admin page, but doesn’t show up on the blog. There’s folks to visit, durn it! I’ll work on it and see what my wonky brain can figure out.
And a comment from Jade
was that she knew Talos the Great Dane pup in SD training
back when he was called Axle! Talos and Katie were both bred at the Service Dog Project, which breeds Danes for assistance dog work.
Katie is becoming quite the smooth customer, and ever so suave! She’s an Atlantic City veteran now, taking most everything in stride that the general public can dish out. What a good girl, that Katie. She’s having more problems with the public than some dogs; kids trying to pet her, adults interrupting her work for a q&a.
So ya’ll tell everyone you know: don’t disturb a service dog team. You may like dogs and find it amazing what they can do for us, but an SD needs to concentrate. Working with an assistance animal isn’t as easy as it looks! Not to mention that the handler may not have time or feel like talking.
As much as I like to talk and answer questions, I must admit sometimes it can become bothersome being stopped every few feet by the curious. When I’m tired, being held up on every aisle can become difficult for me, and make my day harder. No one intends to cause me problems, but sometimes the attention does.
It hasn’t been an issue for me lately, not vesting Kenai and taking him inside with me much. He’s not been up to it too often. I’m hoping that will change soon. If not, I at least have a sweetie to love, though it wasn’t all I had wanted.
Another admission along those lines is that I’ve been frustrated with our total lack of progress the past year. At 19 mo, Kenai should be close to removing the “in training” patch, but we are back to relearning the most basic habits any companion dog needs. We were farther along at 16 weeks!
It points out one very, very, uber-important part of training a service dog: the entire household is involved. When I bought Kenai, our environment was stable and relaxed. It wasn’t long though, before other people made a hard job nearly impossible.
All of a sudden, instead of being supportive or at least neutral when the training began, my family went half bonkers. (They were dysfunctional to start with…) So I “blame” Mom some for how poorly the training has gone, but not in a judgmental way.
Mom wasn’t in a place emotionally where she could make better decisions than she did; allowing my late brother to move in with all his problems, and not treating a deepening depression that resulted. With Mike’s death, the depression is expectedly worse now.
All the instability of 08, and the sudden demands on me, made training Kenai extremely difficult. Had that not occured, I believe we’d be in a much better state, he and I. The stress also contributed mightily to his health problems and mine.
I’m actually not whining: the real problem was allowing myself to be helpless about what happened in my home. My home wasn’t in my control, and Mom just wasn’t capable of asserting her control over what her house was like. I was subject to the consequences of her decisions, good or bad.
I had no where else to go and no way to support myself. So this never happens again, I’ve applied for SSI. The independence of my own income would have given me the ability to move: to control the situation Kenai and I lived and trained in. I don’t want to be completely at the mercy of other people’s decisions again.
Next week I call our trainer Lisa to start up again! The boys have such fun with her. I think I’ll start with just Kenai, out in public. I’d like to get the loose leash nailed down yet again, without the gentle leader.
He’s very much acting the mature Dane, much calmer and even controllable with critters in the field. I haven’t used the gentle leader in the field for weeks–no leash breaks. I’ve had to use it at the vet, and sometimes when we go inside places.
He hates the thing, but I can’t have him pull on me, no matter how enticing the other puppy. He’s a showstopper, too, my beautiful boy. That means he draws attention. His size often dictates who approaches him (only the brave or past Dane owners)!
No, really, he either draws folks or repels them based on his giant body and cropped ears. He can give a play bow and still make people run! *grin* (nobody’s run off yet). With his harness and bright red vest on, few folks don’t figure out that he’s got a job to do.
I really wish I had those strong shoulders right now, but he’s not ready. The long and unobtrusive down/stays are aways off just yet. Mom’s certain we’ll “get there”, I’m not, but we’ll see who’s right in the next few months.
The big test will be a doctor’s visit: I absolutely must go to Cleveland this year, a 15 hour drive each way, with a stay in a hotel, and totally unfamiliar surroundings. I’m half tempted to talk Lisa into going with us! If Boy can handle that, I’ll do a happy dance and never worry again.
Well, not my best post, didn’t have time to edit much. But I need to get something up today, so you don’t think we’ve disappeared. Next one will be better!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on July 2, 2009