Thursday, July 30, 2009

Marshall's Back

Another thing new for Marshall his week...real cookin' in the kitchen for breakfast! (He's supervising a creation of pecan pancakes.)

Marshall was away getting some extra training while I am recouping from surgery. THANKS does not say enough for this extra work that went into him. It truly takes many people to make one service dog.



It's interesting to see the different dog that is resulting from that extra attention AND having enough stimulation during the day. Over the past few days, we've played search games, continued on our collar conditioning and actually got wore out. His retriever 'brother' can get him in trouble, though. I just had to call both dogs off a baby bird that my retriever was trying to share. The good thing is, is that Marshall actually came away from that new tempting 'toy!" His training continues...



Did you know this little guy actually lays down on your feet in the evening after a busy day?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fun in the Yard




Nikki (middle) is a Dogs for Autism dog. She is sandwiched by her best buds, Lucy and Calhoun who are wild and crazy boxers and do their best to teach Nikki lots of bad stuff.


















Nikki smells mischief in the air. Oh no wait a second... ugh LUCY!












Calhoun takes a break from the girls.















Lucy is under the watchful eye of Nikki.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Training


Tucker and Carole try desperately to control Tucker's loving spirit during class and well... all the time. Tucker is a typical golden retriever. He is beautiful, smart, loving and VERY excited about life.



Jason and Hazel look on as Krista and Lucy give directed jumping a try. Hazel belongs to Jason and Krista. She felt left out when Lucy went to class so she comes along for the fun. AND she is super smart too!

Backseat Driver



Nikki is on her way to class. People often take a second look at a red light when they see this pretty lady looking back at them!

Like a good passenger, she always wears her seatbelt.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Next litter coming up


DFA is happy to announce the impending arrival of our "P" litter puppies. This is picture shows "Gryffyn" the momma-to-be. The sire is "Bear," which will make this gang half-siblings to the "M" litter, including Marshall! :-) They are due approximately August 29th.

For those of you watching the fundraising on our website, you already know that we're more or less overloaded with trainees....so why (logical question) you ask are we planning more pups? Easy answer! More places than DFA are in need of these dogs. Part of our mission is to increase the use of service dogs for autism in as many places and as many ways as possible. It took DFA around 10 years to establish a breeding colony of dogs that are appropriate for the specialized function of assistance dogs for autism. Though there is a limit to how many service dogs DFA can "handle" in these early years of program focus, there are many, many more parents, trainers, and even programs looking for appropriate dogs. That's a need to which DFA can contribute--so it makes sense to use these very special parent dogs to produce candidates for the jobs. It's one way that we are able to help people beyond the immediate area of Greenville.

We'll keep you posted.

Looking for my brother

Interesting observation about Marshall last night...

For various reasons I am currently walking my own dog and Marshall, separately.

Last night "brother" got to go first. I walked around the block in one direction.

Marshall was second. Because I had agreed to meet up with the neighbor with her puppy on my next turn around, I decided it would be best to walk the other direction to burn off some of Marshall's energy before meeting up with the puppy.

On our way, around the block, I thought I would see what Marshall would do if I asked Marshall to search for Bo. I remembered, mostly where we had walked and what bushes, my other dog had "visited." So I kind of helped direct Marshall on the path.

But at one point, Marshall's nose was clearly on the ground and he was definitely searching for something. You could tell he was on a mission. I don't think it was a rabbit, because his line did seem to closely follow where we had walked not just 30 minutes before. Unfortunately we came up the path to meet the neighbor for our visit.

So, certainly something we'll have to play with in the future. It was very interesting to watch. I can't wait to develop a real test in the near future.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Camping is for the dogs










Marshall and his foster family just got back from camping. What another camper called "city camping", in a cabin with A/C and TV! The campground is designed for people to camp with their dogs, so Marshall had some work to do on his social skills. But I wouldn't risk taking him to the dog park unless we were the only ones there. He still has some growing up to do.


We walked about a million miles around the roads and through the woods, worked our skills in the Rally-O (a type of obedience) yard, ran in the agility playground (Marshall didn't have a clue what all those obstacles were). One day Marshall watched his retriever "brother" catching sticks in the pond. Marshall likes to retrieve so the pull of wanting the stick got him in the water...but only just a little bit, I think he thought the ground went out from under him. He lifted his legs high, trying to "walk on water." I would have worked with him more, but some other campers came, and I didn't want to test Marshall's "social" skills with strange dogs, so we packed up and left. And, it was difficult to stop laughing!

When it was his time to be left alone in the cabin (crated) he didn't carry on nearly as poorly as his "brother." And I didn't hear either one of them howl when I stepped up to the karaoke mic!

While we pretty much stuck to our daily schedule time-wise, it was a nice break to test Marshall in a new environment, and wear his little heart out! And, although I wish he would have been the perfect angel and not have been so verbal with passersby with their dogs (we had to work really hard on his attention skills-he sat still for this picture!), he wasn't offended by the golf-carts driving past him, and he was quiet at night and in the morning.

Even if he wasn't the star of the campground as I wanted him to be--I think he earned a camping badge!