Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marshall plays Little League

Tonight Marshall charmed the crowds at the Heritage Park little leage diamonds. The only seats left were right behind home plate. An interesting place to be with a little dog who loves to chase balls!

He was all eyes and ears, but held his plotz with just a few corrections and even just sniffed at the peanut shell debri on the ground.

We walked around to different fields with various levels of play. He wasn't too sure as we passed some of the batting cages, but quickly regained his confidence.

He walked calmly by my side...better on the left than on the right.

He even held a plotz as some kids were practicing beside the sidewalk and three balls rolled right beside us.

O Pups Go Visiting

The new Pupstart Center is nearing completion! Today as our wonderful contractors were packing up and preparing to leave, we brought the "O" puppies in for a brief visit. The terms sharp teeth & fast feet sum up this experience pretty well. These little terrors are now 6 1/2 weeks old, and definitely getting harder to herd....I mean 'manage!' But they're still seriously cute, and we are enjoying their babyhood immensely. Decisions are almost finalized about which pups will be going to which jobs, but there's still about a week left to make final evaluations. All of us at DFA are tremendously grateful that Leadership Greenville Class 35 has provided this wonderful facility for puppies and classes. We appreciate their efforts so very much--the Pupstart Center is already making a world of difference to the entire DFA program! (Hey you puppy by my foot....Thou shalt not bite the videographer!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Marshall Update

This weekend was a little difficult because of a chemo treatment for me, but I wanted to report on some interesting behaviors from Marshall.

We were able to meet another puppy raiser at the park early Saturday morning to get some training in. But after that, Marshall hung in there with me for lots of naps on both Saturday and Sunday. I had him on a leash with place nearby the couch and he was very content.

But the interesting thing was this morning. He did something that has been described by some of the other puppy raisers...He wouldn't let up until I got out of bed to go to work!

As I've reported before, Marshall is very attuned to his schedule. Our typical work day is to get up at 6a, eat and play then back in the crate while I get ready for work. Today, we got up at 6a, but I needed more time in bed. I gave him a chew. Usually he goes back in his crate to enjoy it, but this morning, he went in the same room as my other dog, all was well.

When it came time for me to get up, he was done with his chew, but he kept pulling on my hands and barking until I got up. I know it's not good for the "teeth" restriction, but he was persistent. I got up, put him in his crate and he settled right down....job well done, little guy!

Monday, April 20, 2009

More Azaela Festival

Here is Mills (left) with Warren and Marshall (right) with Patrice...and Sherry also manning the booth.

Azalea Festival

Here are some pictures from Saturday's Azalea Festival. Thanks to Lucy, Naomi, Mills and Marshall for taking time out of their busy schedules to entertain the city of Pickens with their brother and pal, McIver.

Check out the new puppy vests. McIver is beginning to feel more like a service dog.

Sharon tempts Naomi with a treat.

McIver patiently waiting for visitors.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lucy Enjoys the Ocean

Lucy really enjoyed the ocean once she figured out she couldn't drink the water.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Learning to Stand

In addition to working on "back" as we were taught in class, this week I introduced Marshall to "stand." He stays pretty well on sits and plotz so I am asking him to stay while standing. He broke a few times, but I was able to walk slow circles around him. If he moved, I put him back and started over.

Tonight, I was also amazed at something. Marshall got his new vest/cape. Typically when we take a walk after work, I have Marshall and my other dog walking at the same time. Our goal on these walks is more for exercise than for training...although a loose leash is required.

Tonight, I wanted to see how Marshall would adapt to his new uniform. So he wore it during our after work walk. Usually the dogs walk side by side, not pulling, but out in front of me. Tonight, with his vest on, Marshall responded greatly to my "easy" and walked very much at my side...even with my own dog out front leading the way.

We walked through what I call the gauntlet--a narrow path between two fenced yards with barking dogs. Marshall showed an interest with perky ears and tilted head, but was easily brought back to my side. Then we practiced plotz/stay in the cul-de-sac with the other dogs still barking. After not very long, Marshall rested his head on his paw as if he expected to stay down for a while.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Puppies on Napping

The O puppies are showing more and more of their personalities. Basically, this one's view on life is, "Don't do anything halfway...even a nap!."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Marshall update

Marshall's "drive" was observed this weekend through some search games. We placed objects in the back yard...well, little plastic eggs with treats inside...while he was in the house. I know it would be better to search for people, but this is what I had....

I walked him around the back yard saying "search." But he didn't really have a clue what that was or why. When he noticed the first egg, it was like his head turned quickly to see something he had never noticed before. I had a party, rewarded the find and we continued our walk around the yard and continued little parties with each find.

Today we worked on directed jumping/running followed by a game of find the ball. I showed Marshall a tennis ball (one of his prized possessions) and hid it under a traffic cone. I told him to find the ball, and did help him a little. After enough of that, I added a second traffic cone and wanted to see if he could figure out which cone it was under. He would sniff around each cone, but then would start digging at the cone with the reward.

I then took him out of the room and someone else put the ball under one of the cones. I brought Marshall back in...and he found it! Now, if I could just borrow a person and play hide and seek. I think this guy just might win!

Another amazing thing...for the past few days, Marshall has been putting himself on place while I eat dinner. I have eaten many cold dinners putting Marshall back on place over the past few weeks really trying to get this message across.

He really is determined when he puts his mind to something good or bad...which makes enforcing his manners all that more challenging. When he gets it he gets it!

More non-shepherd!

Bess is one very cool little reformed rescue!!!

Speaking of Tucker

We have so many shepherd photos that it's even more important to post the really cute ones of the non-shepherds!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


The last report I posted on Tucker at the mall was not good! But since then he's been soooo good at the mall and out in other public places. Must have been hormones that day . . .

But today at the mall he did extremely well in spite of an incident. Two teenage girls allowed a toddler (18mo?) to do a belly flop onto Tucker's back!!! I was sitting on a bench and Tucker was down. He was startled but did not get up, yelp, or wet himself!! I think it startled me more than him. They approached from behind so I didn't even see them coming, and was unable to prevent it before it was too late. To the baby, Tucker was just a big stuffed toy. And the girls thought it was cute.

Most folks ask if their children can pet the dog, and understand when I explain why the answer is no. But I'm sure you've all run into folks that think our dogs mean playtime for their kids! I think these girls felt kind of bad when I explained the situation. I would have really liked to give them a piece of my mind (they should know better), but PR was more important at the moment! They learned something about service dogs and autism today, so the experience was was worth it -- both for them and for Tucker!

The mall sure is the best place for distractions of all kinds (second only to puppy class)! Tucker was already kind of antsy today, so I wondered if this incident would get him riled up and hyper. But he seemed to shake it off and get right back to work. I was proud of Tucker today -- at times like this I can see how far he's come.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"O" litter - cherry collar MALE

This little boy could hardly be persuaded to wake up and pose for his photo. Time will tell if that's a real glimpse of the temperament (we hope so) or if he just needed a nap really badly! Stay tuned for updates. :-)

"O" litter - pink-paws collar GIRL

This little darling is the lightest colored puppy in the litter. As an adult her coat will likely be a very smooth gray with not much black on the tips of the guard hairs. At this point it also appears that she will be a long-stock-hair like her Uncle Leo, who is currently in service dog training with DFA.

"O" litter - smile-face collar GIRL

Here's another very relaxed and placid little girl who will probably be staying on to join the DFA staff. She has lots of red in her coat and should have a very striking appearance as an adult. Hope to find a sponsor for her, also!

"O" litter - blue-crown collar BOY

This little guy is the the only one, so far, who has definitely identified himself as a "keeper." (He wrote us a memo about his career goals....really and truly.....) He will be staying with DFA and pursuing a career as a service dog for autism. Now he needs a sponsor to choose his name!

"O" litter - pink-seashell collar GIRL

The look in her eyes goes back at least 3 generations. (Translation of The Look: experienced puppy raiser needed!) This exact expression is worn by Aunty Handy (mother of our recent "N" litter) and Great-Grandma Avanti, who was a one of the foundation dogs of our breeding colony. Watching genetics and personalities carry through the generations is fascinating!

"O" litter - blue-paws collar BOY

"Hey, Lady! Watch where yer pointin' that camera, will ya? I'm down here....Hellooooo????"

"O" litter - black collar BOY

We put a collar on this boy that is black with white lettering that says "Bad to the Bone." 'Nuff said! He is going to be quite the little character.

"O" litter - paisley collar BOY

Remember how the "Peanuts" characters used to call Snoopy 'fuzzy face?' This little guy is almost too cute to stand.

"O" litter - pink-camo collar GIRL

If you wonder why we put a "camo" collar on this one...just think it through! She's not sure yet where she's going or who she's going into combat against...but she's traveling fast!

"O" litter - Orange Collar BOY

I'm so dark I look black...but I'm not! I'm going to be a beautiful black sable with a brown mask. I'm also very VERY sweet!!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Learning to work at a distance

Watch lead trainer Darlene Houlihan showing the advanced puppy raisers how to introduce their dogs to directional signals and commands involving multiple choices. For instance, when a dog has to decide not only whether or not to "come" when called, but HOW to come--which direction to choose--how can a trainer require a correct response without discouraging the dog from trying? This is important foundation work for DFA's dogs for their future work safeguarding children with autism. A parent must be able to easily send a dog in one direction or another in order to correctly assist a child.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Puppy Raiser photos & comments!

More of our volunteer raisers have shared their photos and their comments about DFA puppies at this link: Be sure to stop by!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New games in the rain

I finally had a chance to get Marshall out to the park to play some new games. It was misting and getting dark, but we pulled out every last bit of sunlight before we came home. Today, Marshall learned about coming to me through a tunnel.

We also played directed jumping; which is an advanced exercise in competitive obedience. Marshall has to sit on his place while I walk to the other side of the jumps (at this point there is a barrier between the jumps). I point in the direction of the jump I want him to take. He did rather well. Sometimes he would guess so we would go back to place and start over. After a few tries, I think he actually figured out he had to watch which way. So...just something new to stretch his little brain. This was also a chance to work on "stay on place" and "sit stay". (Not to worry. The jumps are very low 8". So really it's directed running/stepping. But the idea is to understand the request for heading in the right direction.)

During this outing, he was also distracted by his foster brother barking with jealousy either tied to the fence nearby or in the car. So, another opportunity to work on keeping his attention on me no matter what I'm asking.