daybreak boy…Kenai 3 yrs
The tick titer’s back, and Kenai’s positive for Rocky Mountain spotted fever. That’s the bad news. But no ehrlichia! That’s the good news. So he’s back on doxycycline like me for as long as his tum can take it. We’re shooting for 14 days, or longer–a couple weeks after symptoms disappear if he can make it.
Hopefully he’ll bounce right back if we caught it early enough, huh?
We’re having what might be the last blast of high heat, so he and little bro both are bored indoor boys. But this weekend and beyond is supposed to be normal weather, and that will mean more outings for them.
Having switched to the beef blend slowly (Bravo raw), BB’s coat has improved alot, and Kenai’s has some. It was a surprise, since they’d had trouble with it in the past. I’ve looked into buying bulk elk meat and it’s pricey, but at least now I know I can if we come to need it again.
So…semi-stable once more, finally.
Being on Facebook so much, naturally I’ve found Dane places. http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/190601924310411/ is the Dane yard, and it’s lots of fun. Some Dane sites can get really combative about things, but not this one. Lots of good laughs and some funny but questionable Dane antics!
I’ve slowly started removing the baby gate between the guys again, now that BB seems to have calmed down again. He was harrassing Kenai like crazy–wonder if he could tell his brother was sick again before the symptoms became obvious to me. His own kind of alerting?
Laurie is somebody I’ve followed for awhile now, http://smartdog.typepad.com/smart_dog/ and she’s an amazing trainer. She was Talos’ puppy raiser, a now placed Great Dane service dog. If I had half her energy…there’s almost aways something good on her blog or facebook page.
Today will be a big exercise day for my two boys, with the Orkin guy coming between 3 and 5 pm. One will go outside, to reduce the goofy and noisy underfoot action. I’m usually feeling pretty rotten about that time of day, so out with ya boy, whichever is the most unruly (usually BB).
They prefer a good romp outside anyway!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on September 2, 2011
Kenai and Andy saying good morning!
I’ve got a few years left with my two Brothers, but it doesn’t stop me from considering what I’m looking for next time. As far as size, I’d like another shorter boy 35″ or so like Kenai. And he’ll need to have a strong build to bear up under my tonnage.
But the personality is the key: work drive but not too energetic, attentive to me more than environment, not easy to spook and recovers quickly from a startle, and food motivated.
My SD candidate will have to grow into a Boy that walks without distraction, can do long down-stays without moving, isn’t phased by the goings on of a restaurant, doesn’t mind weight and equipment on his body, and can perform tasks that may not be frequently used in addition to the usual.
Tall order, huh?
At least I don’t need as much from a new Boy as a guide dog, or hearing dog–that training is the big time, and amazingly varied. I can turn on my own lights, and pick up dropped items for myself. That doesn’t mean I will be able to later on, so Boy will have to be quick to learn new things as an adult.
Knowing what I need, the amount of exercise I can reasonably provide, and having help to get there is where I start.
BB’s Friday training time revealed a kink or two in his puppy hose: I’ve wondered about barrier frustration in regards to him. Yep, if someone stands outside the door or the other side of the baby gate, particularly using hand movements, he becomes borderline aggressive.
He’s always been weirdest when penned, and when he does a lunging bark at someone it’s almost always when they are walking away from him. He’s done it 3 times now with a serious intention. Most of the time, he’s loose and much calmer. Just…
So I gotta figure out what to do with that. He’ll even bark and lunge at the door with me being the door-hitter wacky hand gal. It freaks him out. Boy, I’m tired just thinking about all the work that pup’s rehab’s gonna take. And wouldn’t it be nice if the working with Mom’s dog didn’t fall on me for a change?
Lisa the Trainer had a Barks n BBQ Saturday, and I missed it. (Naturally, ’cause I had wanted to go). The CFS had a death grip on me, and the FMS was a double whammy as a deep low pressure system hit us. Lordie but it was cold and blustery.
I’ve reached a point of proficiency with Facebook now that I occasionally get bored! How ’bout that? Dino learns new trick! But before ya get to believing I’ve lost all my brontosaurus ways, I’m not figuring out how to find the cool people on twitter even a little…grin
Kenai, of course, doesn’t care if I’m internet smart, so long as he gets his photo shoot up! (He he he). Most of Kenai’s pics are taken when he’s stopped to smell or listen or watch something. But even now he still “poses” for the camera. I’d taught him as a tiny guy to ‘hold still’ and such until I got a pic or two and released him.
Have ya ever just known something wasn’t right with your dogs? Nothing big enough or obvious enough to put your finger on, but still just not right.
Kenai was unusually cuddlesome the whole hour before we got the other half of the four pack up Monday morning. Something wasn’t right with either of the boys, and with Kenai’s breakfast mostly untouched, I figured Mom had forgotten their steriod.
We give them, okay, Mom gives their pred around 11pm or so, since that time seems to do them the most good, and I’m already long since in bed. Overnight is when they go the longest without eating, and the pred keeps them till morning.
BB ate just fine, though he seemed to be achier. Still, they were happy when Lisa the trainer came. A little subdued, but not surprising if they were more physically uncomfortable. What was surprising is BB didn’t want his treats. Any of them. uh-oh.
Not long after his lunch, eagerly eaten mind you, Beebs started vomiting liquids. Right off I gave him his vomiting medicine, and it came up in 10 minutes. What I said wasn’t repeatable in polite company, and stuffed some more vomiting meds in him.
There was belching, a bit of refluxing and the like but it stayed down. Still, he didn’t perk up, and his belly seemed just a tiny bit bigger than it usually did. So it was tums and gums time, and sure enough there was enough gas in his tums to make patting them sound positively hollow. Oooo BB…
Since he was tacked, we didn’t have to worry about a GDV where the stomach twists and bowels die from lack of blood supply. But he was indeed bloated, with gas enough to lift a hot air balloon.
Hence he got not one but 2 extra strength gas-x and a call to the vet to let them know they might have visitors, in not too good a state. I wanted to see how the gas-x did for him before pulling the panic trigger so to speak (vet trips and x-rays are very hard on Beebs).
So unless there was no change or he got worse we’d just wait and see an hour or about. Just before they closed, I called back and let them know he was better and I was hearing peristalsis again in the bowls. The belly was back to normal and a tapping sounded solid like it should.
A little bit of water stayed down the BB hatch without incident, too. Insert monstrous big sigh right here. Twice. He’ll be watched after supper and if I have to give him gas-x again, he’ll be in first thing to see Dr Susan.
She was waiting to hear, had his chart pulled, a blood donor lined up if needed, and planned to call me at closing time if I didn’t call her. Can ya tell she likes my guys?
Kenai was a little pooky, but I didn’t hear gas or anything amiss. He is not tacked and could go all out GDV on us, so Big Brown will also be closely watched through the night as he ate supper. I’m hoping their normal dose of steroid at the normal time will return all to normal.
The only thing I could figure as a cause was the missed steroid and BB eating a full breakfast, whereas his bro fasted himself. Oh man…the greys will show through the hair dye at this rate.
I knew those two were behaving too well for there trainer! It was just a feelin that wouldn’t shake; something ain’t right.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 18, 2011
ahhhhh, finally the boy gets a nap, Kenai 3 yrs
I came across a new service dog evaluation system. Several big name SD programs use this now, called CARAT. http://flyingdogpress.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/. I’d like to learn more about this and puppy raising in general, of course. It would seem I need to attend a seminar to get the nuts and bolts of CARAT.
I did however find some fabulous articles on training: http://flyingdogpress.com/content/category/4/13/97/ with a whole slew of topics. The first one I hit on was rewards, lures, and bribes seeing as Kenai can be tough to reward. It talks about the 4 major influences on rewards (timing, intensity, variety, and frequency).
Then I read the “Hard to Train” and she’s condensed everything I’ve learned from Kenai!
Dog training/puppy raising is both ridiculously simple and ridiculously complicated. How they learn is filtered many times, through hardwired dog-style, inherent breed traits, and individual personality. They do not live in the same sort of world that we do, and to really “get it”, ya have to think like a dog. Not so easy, sometimes!
What was easy? The Brothers Grin’s training session: it went very well Tuesday! Kenai is totally unaffected by the doorbell outside, and knocking inside now. He’s gotten downright nonchalant when hot and tired. And the rattling of a measuring tape, sliding drawers, and service techs too.
BB really seemed to catch on to the doorbell game. Outside he rarely reacts to it. We haven’t tried inside yet, since there is the occasional little woof. He had his supper out on the front porch, as the bell rang and the door muffled the sound a bit.
A sort of doorbell a la mode turkey dinner for BB, who is no longer a “Beluga Butt” boy, getting skinny on the exercise regimen. One or two woofs was all (didn’t your mother teach you not to bark with your mouth full?), even with the door open so the sound carried better.
The weather is supposed to turn cold again, (almost 90F to snow?!!!) so it may be BB’s lunch that goes out of doors rather than breakfast or supper later in the week. Al fresco ain’t so much fun in layers of fleece, at least to me.
BB wouldn’t care about wearing his coat, but Kenai has the most indignant expression when it gets near him, the man-snob. He gets this look on his face, “DO I LOOK like a Yorkie to you?” …
Getting back on the subject, doorbell ala mode is a great idea to change Beeb’s association to the doorbell sound–he’s the world’s original chow hound. Enthusiastic to say the least about meals, and food in general. BB is going to morph into a Pavlov doggie…
Kenai is greatly enjoying his time out in the backyard, and now he has the room really build up a head of steam on the way by–harder to get the tushie! Goosing the golden grizzly requires treachery these days, he he. I wait for him to be engrossed in something, then GOTCHA!
When not running too hard for his skin to keep up, which has an eerie similarity of appearance to a reporter standing out in a hurricane (why exactly do they do that?)…Brown is something of a straight line wind, where as little bro is more of a Zen Master of Zig n Zag.
Anway, Kenai does present a gorgeous picture when someone pulls into the drive: a big beautiful boy all alert and stacked. He hears long before he sees, thanks to that mobile radar installation on his head. My once upon a time fruit bat pup now fits into those ears.
He barks until he recognizes the person, which I’m cool with as it’s just an alert bark, rather than a panic bark. Once he knows who it is, he’s all happy and wiggles. I’ll get a pic of it when Lisa turns in tomorrow morning. (Bragging ‘mom’, I know)
It’s amazing the difference the new house made in allowing the brothers to get along together. They are together all the time now, save at night when they split to sleep with their humans. And as soon as Special K and I get up, BB wants up too! Not gonna happen with night owl Mom.
There is one sleepy time though the boys share: my afternoon nap. Mom’s usually puttering about, cleaning or emptying a box, so Beebs likes to come in and crash on the carpet. Kenai of course believes the floor beneath him to be beneath him…no, he just likes my bed and being close. We’ve always napped together, and that continues.
Wednesday started off hard, for me at least. Not only out of Lyrica for the fibro, but a deep low pressure system gonna hit Thursday. Ouch. Still, the show goes on, with their trainer coming at 9 am. Kenai seems to be feeling it too, poor guy.
http://hearingelmo.wordpress.com/ had a good blog about hyper-vigilance. As opposed to simple awareness. I’m definitely hyper-vigilant, anxious, and anticipating what could cause a problem for me next. I feel vulnerable almost everywhere I go but home, even though the truely “bad” experiences are not too frequent.
Probably, at least with me, the bad experiences stemming from a disability don’t have to be frequent. It’s the helplessness ya feel that gets you, and psychologists have suggested that a sense of helplessness is one of the most important factors in the development of PTSD and anxiety disorders.
As usual, Denise simply and clearly explains the “unspoken” beauty of a service dog–not so much the tasks they do as the fact they are there and can be relied on. How many times since my special K had to be pulled from public have I longed for those warm strong shoulders at my hip…
It is hard to explain that loss of confidence after the onset of a disability to someone else. It’s often just a generalized feeling, that underlying fear you could be hurt or humiliated by something that another person could just shake off.
Not to “wallow”, but I’d like to pull out the several years of pre-med studies in my college years, and add to it what I’ve learned from research and documentaries about the workings of anxiety and PTSD in our brains.
After a traumatic event, the bulk of that feeling of vulnerability lies mostly below the surface, just beneath conscious thought. And out of the reach of reason. The limbic system, a deep and primative part of the brain, is what controls the fight or flight switch.
The limbic system also has a bit of kill switch for the frontal lobes, which allow us to analyze and control impulses. It can literally overpower our reason and re-evaluation of something that has startled or disturbed us.
In people with post traumatic stress and anxiety disorders, the limbic system is enlarged and overly active, and the inhibitory areas of the brain are less active than someone without anxiety. So when the limbic system in our brains is in a chronically heightened state, we have a problem with hypervigilance.
It is stunning the difference a dog makes in the lives and brains of PTSD sufferers and anxiety. As Denise pointed out in her blog, her blood pressure has gone down. She has been able to place some of the responsibility of recognizing what is a danger and what is not to Chloe!
The same effect is measurable in combat vets. A dog isn’t a total cure all, mind you. The person has to come to trust that service dog before they can really have the benefits an SD provides. Denise and Chloe are an A-1, top shelf example of trust aquired.
I’ve felt it myself, one dark winters night when the outdoor light went out. There I was, in the dark, hearing coyotes and movement in the field all around me: the chest tightened, my hands shook, my eyes darted everywhere trying hopelessly to peirce the darkness…
Right at the edge of panic. And Kenai had to go whiz, badly. I had no escape other than teach him to hit the toilet better than most men. Big Brown…I held his collar and let him lead, not a moment’s guide dog training either. When the light sensor switch the flood back on?
My golden boy had stopped me in the exact place I always stood, not one foot short, not one foot beyond. He knew, he could see, I was safe. There was a palpable relief, and a release. The fear fell away like the snow off the cedars.
I would still feel some tension outside in the dark after that, but a deep breath and a check with Handsome kept me from that grip of terror from then on. If his nightvision and keen ears didn’t find what was around us dangerous, then it was okay.
I’ve felt myself relax when crowds began to “close in” and jostle, because Kenai took it upon himself to lean into people too close and it made them move away some. Wouldn’t you if a dog that big gave you just enough of rump bump to make you notice your proximity?
That is the near miracle of an SD, the deep and primal trust in their vastly better senses. Their eyes are better than any humans, better than the sight a person has lost ever was. Their hearing is tremendous, and no human could match it.
A dog allows you to relax, and you realize just how uptight you had become without fully noticing. Wonderous and breath-taking that another creature can have such a profound effect on us!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 13, 2011
We, me and He, have been in our new bedroom for a few days now! Kenai vastly prefers my ever so soft bed, but I’m convincing him to stay on his own when it’s really, really time to go to sleep. He has a futon mattress by the window—couldn’t manage a couch moving, no surprise huh?
There’s still some stuff-shifting to be done. You know: cleaning off shelving, organizing odds and ends. But the room is usable, and thanks to a space heater, livable. I’ve gone from the warmest room in the house (upstairs) to the coldest (north east corner) and cold does iniquitous things to my fibro…
The little boys are loving their new playpen. Kenai’s spirits have certainly picked up, outdoorsman that he is, being assured of no less than one good gratifying frolic per day. Usually two. Adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “stomp the yard”!
He’s walking better on leash with all the exercise, no surprise there either. A tired, satisfied dog is a better behaved dog. Gotta love the side effects of endorphins, those marvelous happy hormones. His appetite has had some improvement as well, though not as much as I’d hoped for.
My golden grizzly begins his morning late, 7 am or so. At least until daylight savings time moves us back an hour. Hopefully that will get us out earlier. He does his “weed-watering” and goes straight to his playpen for a quickie “morning constitutional”. A pleasant way for HRH to wake up: fresh air, frostie toes, critter scents…
Then it’s to the house for waking-up-grammy-time, one of the highlights of his day. I make sure she’s sitting up in bed, else she gets a bit of the sasquatch treatment. Kenai will leap onto the bed, get his morning-breath smoochie, and go straight to the bathroom. Ignoring little bro having a fit in his nighttime pen, of course.
Life has definitely improved for Brown since the new playpen made its appearance. We still have icky poo and upset tums, though. I’m waiting for the Bravo raw to be delivered, so hopefully the change will help them. A different store from our usual actually carries Bravo (now that I’ve already paid shipping…), as well as a brand called Primal so it seems I will have lots of choices.
The Bravo has a line called ‘basics’ with just four ingredients, a line of boneless raw food which is good for dogs on limited calcium/phosphorus like giant breeds or pups prone to bladder troubles. Bravo also has a product that is all organ meat—that’s where the real vitamins are.
I’ll check out the Primal when I’m done blabbering here, but it sounds like there’s a lot of different flavors for the guys. Oh, the blood test results are that Kenai’s TLI is okay, so there’s no pancreatic inflammation. Just intestinal inflammation (just is enough), and I’m hoping the new food tones that all down without having to hit the steroids again.
Me and He are really enjoying the time together again. I hated leaving him when I had to go upstairs to get away from the noise of the TV. Now we don’t have to part company! Me and He can have our “nippy naps” together again, such luxury. I couldn’t call them cat naps, now could I?
Believe it or not, we’ve found the way for both of us to fit comfortably on a smaller mattress (a full). Anyone who doubts a Dane can find a way to fit has never had one…grin! When I’m not sleeping, I’ll open the curtains for him, and he “stands guard” at the window in case a squirrel tries to break in. Ya never know.
I’ve mostly come to terms with my disappointment about Kenai washing out of SD training because of the noise phobias. He can’t help it, his body and brain was so messed up by the tick diseases. Every once in awhile, though I’ll feel a twinge about it.
When I went to vote Tues all the disabled spots were taken, and the high school lot was crammed with the regular daily folks–kids, teachers etc. I drove around awhile, but eventually gave up and parked in the back forty. Jeez that wasn’t a long walk, that was a flippin ironman event.
I was so glad to have had the foresight to grab the cane from the car. But how much more I wanted to have some big brown shoulders to lean on. There are times I miss what he could have done for me acutely. But what is is what is, and it’s not like I didn’t manage to make it to the voting booth.
Despite the downers, there are things to be grateful for:
I’ve still got my lovely boy after 2 years of fighting life-threatening illnesses. I didn’t lose him, despite the fears and tears and bank busting costs.
I’ve got a lovely boy snoozing in the bed next to me, so loving and gentle. He cries when I leave him, and wiggles all over when I come back to him.
I’ve got a roof over my head, and food in my lovely boy’s bowl. The cost of it may be going up, but I’d live in a cardboard box before Kenai did without.
I get the best wake up call on earth–muzzle nuzzles and tickly whiskers every morning without fail. An extra warm body to hug on a cold morning just hits the spot.
I’ve got a sense of purpose. My lovely boy needs me to get off my butt, his requirements keep me from wallowing. What I want doesn’t count as much as what he needs, and it keeps me from too much self-absorption.
Now that’s a way to end a post, huh? Gratefulness for what I got rather than whining for what I not got. It really does alter your mood, and sprinkle a bit of sunshine over a tough day!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on November 4, 2010
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 http://greatdanesd.wordpress.com/ was that she knew Talos the Great Dane pup in SD training http://smartdog.typepad.com/smart_dog/ 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
Boy he’s a striking fellow sometimes, my once little stinky toddles…Kenai 16 mo old
You may have noticed the type is a bit smaller the last two posts. I went a bit smaller to make my jabber-wokky posts seem less ponderous! They’re still very long-winded, but we can’t change everything all at once, right? Ha! Seriously, if the type is harder to for ya’ll to read let me know and I’ll go back to bigger.
The book I ordered turned up Thursday–that was fast–and I dove right in of course. It’s “When Pigs Fly” by Jane Killion. Shortly put, this book shapes a dog who doesn’t care what you want into a biddable, attentive dog able and willing make the most of operant training.
I’ve been bewailing Kenai’s independence and environmental focus for 14 months now, with no clue how to create the required willingness to work. That was the frustration: the books and training plans I could find like “Control Unleashed” last summer pretty much started from a mostly willing dog that looked to the handler at least somewhat for direction.
Before any feathers get ruffled, there’s absolutely nothing here to disparage “Control Unleashed” and other clicker training programs. I recommend them to everyone. Kenai just wasn’t at the same starting line–he needed priming before the engines could fire up so to speak.
Just to prove I mean that, when we’re through the exercises in “Pigs Fly”, I’m going back to “Control Unleashed” because I want to be able to let Kenai run free in his field again, with complete confidence in his recall, cats and rabbits be hanged. I want to trust him implicitly.
So I dove right into “Pigs Fly”. I was really amazed to find the exercises began with stuff I’ve been doing: the name game and giving Kenai something new to play with. The main differences? Before beginning the name/response/click/reward/release chain from “Control Unleashed”, I needed to drastically reinforce the clicker itself.
I won’t divulge too much of her book, but the first two steps is click/treat over and over and over without releasing the dog or asking anything of them. If you release Kenai after one or two click/treats, his return isn’t perfectly reliable enough to really make clicker=treat stick.
The other step is name/click/treat in the same fashion. Let the dog stare right at you and drool on your foot while you shovel in the cheese and lamb crunchies for 20 repetitions. My pigs fly “homework” is to do those two things at least twice a day. This I believe is going to be a permanent part of our practices from now on.
Being slightly obsessive, I’m shooting for three times a day, before each meal. Since we do have “homework” from the trainer, I’m using the pigs fly click/treat and name/click/treat as a warm up before the releasing name game we learned in “Control Unleashed” that Lisa uses.
The second major difference is NO MORE LURING. To create a work ethic in a dog who thinks for themselves, ya kinda have to reward them for thinking for themselves. Then they want to do things with you, since doing what you say and how you say quickly turns them off (Kenai!!)
Once ya know which behaviors come naturally to them, you selectively click/reward the ones that are heading in the direction of what you want. Does that fool them into thinking they came up with plan? This book, if you like trainer lingo, almost exclusively relies on capturing and free shaping.
I didn’t realize just how much luring I was doing, using treats and encouragement to get Kenai to touch the stroller or come forward when picking up the broom causes him to back away. I’m thinking with timid reactions, I might still lure slightly, but not rely on it so very much.
He wasn’t going to come forward while broom was in hand, and it wouldn’t matter how long I waited for him to. So I lured one time, and simply click/treated after that. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to phase out the “yum, there’s butter on that broom handle” altogether.
I like the idea of less is more from me–less wobbling around to interest him, less moving backwards to get him to come. That means I’m less likely to tenderize my rump roast. It relieves a fair amount of pressure if I am free to sit there with a goodie bag while he does the thinking and moving.
I actually managed to go blog surfing today, a continuation of checking in with folks. I found several blogs I had up on the blogroll are gone now, so I cleaned up a bit. It’s frustrating, clicking a link and getting an error page. Wish I knew where they went.
Behr’s kinfolk had a lovely play visit with her, which is always the BEST sort of day. Her brother’s in need of a good home, so anyone interested should go zip over to her blog. He’s a handsome blue Dane, who was neglected some. But he’s recovering, and had a good time with sis.
Borias had a scuffle with a cat, belonging to a woman too foolish to think a cat on a leash isn’t a moving target for dogs at an event with 70,000 people. Cats, dogs, dogs, cats…what did she expect? Duh. I thought I was dense. Borias too is a breed with a chase instinct, like Kenai, though Borias is much more polite, waiting until the cat was underfoot to have a rumpus.
Bosley got himself worn out by a country girl fresh off the farm and all lean muscle. Their play day has its own video if you use the link to the right and visit. Logan just had himself a birthday at a posh pooch friendy hotel full of retrievers. The pool, you know, was a popular hang out!
Saturday was the first serious testing of how much the pigs fly clicking was affecting his innate reactions: he was “guard puppy” most of the day. While I was out of the room, he drove Mom nuts pacing between the sliding door and the widow while squirrels, birds, and even a box turtle paraded their bold selves along the deck and tree trunks.
When I was in the room, I would let him notice, get excited, then “Kenai!” and hanged if he didn’t interupt his fixation to look at me and even come to me. I would offer a treat but he wouldn’t take it. He’d go back to the door. So when the turtle of his play-dreams reappeared, I went to the door.
With said soul-thrilling turtle pointed out, 1) “sit”, click, ear rubs, stand up again. Something else to do besides pace, you see. It’s not pigs fly capturing or free shaping, though. 2) “down”, click, neck pats. Again, not capturing but a place to start. 3) Turtle rustling about in the leaves, moi sit on the floor. “HUH?”
I rarely get on the floor, since getting up is an exercise in the follies. Having gotten fatter last year hasn’t helped. But down I went, talking to him about watching the turtle. He did the chest lean, I smooched the lips above my head, and rubbed the long legs.
That BTW is the secret pleasure of having a dog that’s 3 feet tall at the shoulder: a warm chest to lean your head on while sitting on the floor, and uber soft jowels to play with. When they look down to “kiss”your face, all their smushy parts puddle up and are just right for smooching and caressing. It’s a sort of semi-slimey massage.
Cleaning the cabinets, wiping baseboards, sorting through piled up magazines…all provide an opportunity for the “secret pleasure”. It’s a pleasure unless of course they decide to rest their head on yours. Then your spine is squished like an accordian under the cinder block they call a skull. Anyway, back to the turtle saga:
I tapped the bed beside me and Kenai decided to lay down too. We watched the turtle together for a couple minutes, having some together time love. “That was new” he was thinking… It also ended his excitable pacing about turtles.
I never saw the fascination, since it’s not like they can be chased as slow as they are. Swatted, yes, rolled around like a lumpy ball, yes. But not really chased. Still, turtles are critters and that makes them exciting to Kenai’s boy brain.
So as to the question of if my piggy is flying yet, I’d say he’s doing the up-down-flapping-stork sort of take off at the moment, which is still alot better than I was getting. It’s been all of four days as of today, but there is improvement. Now whether he’s going to pull a “got that, got bored” in a few weeks, I don’t know, but I’ll find out soon enough.
Behr “Bear” left me an encouraging comment about “Pigs Fly”, thank you hon! It seems lots of people have had the same frustration as me, trying to train a dog that just isn’t 100% willing.
The first shaping game in the pigs fly book involves a cardboard shirt box. Okay, not a good idea. Kenai’s had this really fun game of smush and smash with cardboard boxes like empty soda cases since he was little. So I need to dig out a basket or something. Then the real work begins–can I figure out free shaping.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 26, 2009
Kenai and his new friend, 16 mo old
http://assistdogautism.blogspot.com is a blog for Clive, one of the first service trained goldendoodles in Ireland. He works for “little man”, a youngster with autism, and from the pics on his blog, I can’t tell who’s smiling more, Clive or “little man”! Clive, you take good care of your friend now, ya’ hear?
It’s a beautiful sort of world that has service trained animals in it. The emotional and spiritual bond that develops between a human and another species is really exquisite…
Then there’s Kenai. We haven’t quite made it to that level of co-operation yet. Right now he’s beautiful but unruly during hormone surges, thanks be to adolescence. He’s not too bad, considering how a bull elephant like him can behave. Still, ugh.
I’ve decided I’m going to take some email advice I got the other morning.
“Handle stressful situations like a dog would: if you can’t eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away…”
That gave me a huge laugh. Thanks Ann!
The trainer came out yesterday, to see what we can do with Kenai’s chase ‘em habits, and his overexcitement around other dogs. This is a new trainer, since the other one just disappeared and was never heard from again.
It seems my area of the country is plagued with a strange indifference, and lack of initiative. Not just with dog trainers. Yahoo groups and such die a slow, silent death too. Not many folks goe to any inconvenience for another person.
Anyway, when (if) Kenai ever reaches a point of total solidity as a service dog, I’m going to take a video and send it to all the folks who said he wouldn’t…including myself?
This trainer will handle your dog for you. In other words, Lisa S will take the leash yanks of a chase’em attempt instead of me. She’s a clicker trainer, using all the same reconditioning techniques I use. Difference is, she’s a new person, an interesting person, a person worth interrupting a sniff for!
Her appearance created the typical exhuberant silliness: Kenai got all wiggly and in the way, BB howled from the living room. I got Kenai settled on his kitchen bed, and Mom turned the lovable beastie loose.
There was Beebs usual can’t-sit-still, sticking his nose up in Lisa S’s face, nudging and bugging her for a solid 5 min. Kenai wanted in on the act, and tried to crawl under the kitchen table (he hasn’t done that before)…you get the idea. Out came the gentle leaders, down went the pups.
Once the interview was done, we strapped on Kenai’s tracking harness and headed out. Right off the bat, Kenai heard a noise and had a look-see. It was call his name, click and reward for looking back, then release him to do whatever. (“Look at that” game from “Control Unleashed, Leslie McDevitt).
Sorry I didn’t get these pics lined up better, but you can see the technique. And my overgrown flower bed there. Unfortunately the rose arbor in the background isn’t blooming yet, but it’s gorgeous when it does.
Next up was the field, and a variation of look at that I call “sniff ‘n look”: wait for his nose to hit the ground, then call his name, click and reward when he looks at ya. That’s the beauty of the look at that game, all the individualized variations you can create.
We spent about 40 min out back, then went out front. The other dogs weren’t around, so she didn’t get a chance to see what that’s like. There was however, a morning dove too silly dumb to just fly away. Kenai’s chase’em attempts were relatively mild, but he responded so well to Lisa’s calling/clicking/reward.
In our conversation, two really outstanding ideas came out: 1) recorded sounds, and 2) dog appeasement pheremones. I knew recordings were used for doggie phobias like thunderstorms or fireworks, but it never occured to me to use them in a look at that variant to recondition Kenai to public sounds.
The idea’s the same as look at that or sniff ‘n look: play the recording very low while the dog is relaxed. If they don’t react, great, let it play and the dog becomes desensitized to the noise. The volume is gradually increased, and the recording is played in various rooms or places.
The the dog does react, use the name/click when looked at/reward to recondition the dog’s emotional response from nervous to expecting a treat. This creates a reaction of enjoyment and relaxation from a cue that used to cause fearfulness.
There are recordings called “puppy habituation”, with all the sounds of a home and neighborhood that some breeders use to acclimate young litters of pups to noises they will encounter when the have new homes. Or owners to help older pups and dogs desensitize.
Before 8 wks there is rarely a fear response, but it isn’t safe to expose the little ones to environments where they could pick up parvo or other puppy illnesses before their first round of shots. These recordings give pups a head start on socialization without the risks.
www.legacycanine.com or www.dogwise.com are the two websites Lisa gave me. I haven’t been there yet, but I will.
Since it’s unlikely these sites will have grocery store, flapping banners, post office, or family doctor’s office sounds, I’m going to have to go searching for a digital recorder on the cheap. I’m sure a pre-recorded CD will have barking dogs, another big reactive noise for Kenai. But if I have to record other sounds myself, I could do the noisy dogs myself too.
I’m also going googling for dog appeasement pheremones. Lisa tells me they are the scent of a lactating bitch, and can stimulate a relaxation response in some dogs. I’m told they don’t do diddly for one dog but work wonders for another.
The way Kenai is with his teddy bear, we have a good chance. He takes its nose in his mouth, wraps his front legs around it and goes to sleep. He still wants my fingers to “suckle” when his hind legs are hurting.
These pheremones come in an electric diffuser like a scented oil plug in, which is really good for when new pups come home, or a dog with seperation anxiety is left in the crate when you go to work. A diffuser would be helpful for pups that have trouble relaxing at home. http://www.dancingdogcafe.com/petsmisc/3-PACK-DAP-Dog-Appeasing-Pheromone-Electric-Diffuser-144-ml-.html is one place I found.
The DAP also come in a collar, for dogs who are stressed when they go places. The med/large will just barely fit my guys. It might be too small, but I’ll figure something out. http://www.entirelypets.com/pheromonedog.html or http://www.entirelypets.com/dapcollar.html is a site I turned up and ordered from.
Some google searching would certainly turn up more, but I was so worn down I didn’t feel like spending much time searching–took the first collar site I found.
I was hoping part of the hour would go to Mom and BB, so I could rest my legs. But alas it didn’t work out that way. I was on my feet, walking, talking, and turning into jello for a solid hour. Ouch. Ooo. Today is rest day. Kenai’s look, sniff, and leave it will be done from the couch today.
Kenai and I meet with Lisa next Tuesday in public so she can see what his nervous behavior is like, as opposed to his excited behavior. We’re meeting at the puppy store, but right next to it is a dry cleaners–noises and commotion galore. So if he’s cool at the chow rack, I’ll herd us over to the cleaners. That should bring out his inner wimp.
Once we’re getting some results, then there’s a laundry list of places to work in, that are much scarier to him than the familar pet store strip mall. No sense in melting him down the first time out, though. After the nerves are under control, we start hitting the down stay spots.
Since Mom and Beebs do need some help, next Friday will be a 2 hour marathon: a few min of Kenai, a few min of BB and back ‘n forth until we’re all melted down into lumps on the couch. If Lisa can stand up to that, I’ll buy her lunch in admiration.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 9, 2009
The Brothers Grin having a good time together last week. You can see Kenai’s “Sgt. Stripes” on his front legs in this pic, my little non-com. Some days my little nin-com puppy! And little bro BB, aka “Runs with a Stick”, is having a grand old puppy time, too.
Today the boys officially become yearlings! They’ve gorged on new bones, played out their Christmas toys, so for their birthday they had a ridiculously long outside time together. Kenai stayed in the kennel, of course, and they ran and ran and ran and ran. Even my wandering off to scout out a new spot for the veggie patch didn’t distract them from the reindeer games.
I’ve contacted a tracking instructor for Kenai’s birthday… perhaps a little sanctioned nose-in-charge time would satisfy Kenai’s old timey hunting dog nature? I’m not getting my hopes up, but how nice it would be to come across some actual help from a professional. Pro trainers have not been good for us in the past;the one exception I couldn’t afford more than a couple sessions with.
I’m hoping the tracking instructor is a creative person, who would be intrigued or challenged enough to help me come up with a solution for safe off leash Toffee Tush excercises. Mr. Don’t-Fence-Me-In loves his kennel play, but I look out over the feild and wish I could turn him loose to run. If he’d come when I call him, I would.
Wonder if he longs for his field romps of old as much as I do? They were wonderful, watching him stretch those long beautiful legs. You wait, the tracking instructor will say, “you need an obedience class”. We’ll see, huh?
One thing I’ve noticed about professional trainers, at least the ones in this area and on the internet–lack of flexibility. To be fair, nearly all trainers are taught a method, a 1-2-3 step approach to dogs, where if you do this, they do that. And specialized trainers like service dog or agility are used to the intrinsic behaviors of certain breeds only.
When faced with a dog/handler team where the way a trainer was taught doesn’t give results, many pros put up a defensive reaction, rather than get creative or learn a new approach. Succinctly put, dog/handlers often must fit within the limitations of the trainer, rather than the trainer working within the limits of the dog/handler team.
If you find a trainer that isn’t out to defend their way of doing things, that works within your limitations, you’ve found a diamond in the coal pile! That’s what I loved about the “Control Unleashed” author, Leslie McDevitt: she works from the dog’s individual abilities. I wish she was close enough, I was rich enough, to take a few classes from her, to have her tailor an approach to Kenai.
But alas, we are still on our own, Brown and me. He’s stuck with me. (Smooch the pooch)
Partner is doing better, the fellow epi/SDit lab who got his bowels inflamed and full of gas right before Christmas. His lady says he’s been wanting to play again so he’s on the path to getting all well. Yay! He’s a good happy boy, that Partner. All playful fun lab! He and BB would be the best of play buds.
And Chloe the hearing assistance girl gave her lady a scare last month too, with her ear. It’s all better, all is believed to be well, thankfully. And Savage hasn’t had any encounters with the brazen wolf pack hanging around his house, and let’s hope it stays that way. Isn’t it amazing how we worry about our dogs as much as our kids or parents or siblings?
When we rely on them, depend on them the way assistance animals are depended on, the intensity of concern seems stronger. I’m idiot-cautious, and sell-the-car willful about my dog’s vet care, always have been. But I’m more cautious and more sacraficial about Kenai than any of my past loves.
Not that companions are any less loved, not by any means. I just think the instinct for self-preservation comes into play as well with service animals. So much has gone into them, so much is needed from them, that the idea of putting one down rather than do the expensive life saving surgery or something collides with more than loving bonds.
Anyway, Kenai doesn’t understand the concept of birthdays, but he does enjoy the added outside time and a new bone. He can have a good day without knowing why. Mom and I will have a great meal; lobster and steak, corn on the cob, and coconut shrimp. All of which is drowning in butter, Kenai’s favorite thing. He won’t get any of course, but who knows, I might give him a drop or two of melted butter on his food.
Right now I have butt in the air, nose in the slipper which will soon morph into carrying around the slipper while batting around the tennis ball. He’s entertaining himself. At least until the ball goes under the couch or behind the humidifyer. Then I’ll feel the vibes bouncing off the back of my head, a cue to get up and fetch for the dog that won’t fetch for me.
Then we had a few moments of “the couch ate my ball” games, where he shoves the tennis ball into the sofa (pile-driving sasquatch paws help), then buries his head in the cushions like some bizarre ostrich.
After this pic and the burrowing games where done, the couch cover was finally replaced with the clean one wadded up waiting on the right side of the pic. It keeps the cushions in place better, so the ball eating couch games last longer. With the new couch cover on, it was to the bathroom for a bit of loud, rambunctious back-talking Sasquatch time.
Happy Birthday, my little yearling boy!
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on January 1, 2009