Saturday, March 28, 2009

First Day

We have made it for nearly 24 hours. What a relief...

Puppy (yet to be named - suggestions welcome) and I go to class on Monday night. Until then our homework for the weekend was simple.
- get puppy used to wearing a collar
- get puppy used to going into kennel
- get puppy to recognize that a click means a treat (positive behavior shaping)
- get puppy familiar with the leash
- get puppy used to being groomed
- get puppy used to going potty outside and try to connect the phrase "better go now" with the results and a reward.

The little girl is so darn cute... I have been really enjoying getting to know her. She is the 8th of 10 puppies - all of whom went to foster homes to start their training for the life of a service dog on Friday, March 27th.

I have perspective on the difference that a service dog can make in someone's life, my son received a service dog nearly two years ago. During that time, I've seen an incredible bond form between them and the dog really is the reason he was able to go off to college and do well. An amazing dog, Miles is. He makes such a difference for Jake, and we are all very lucky to have him in our lives.

I've seen the end result. Now I'm going back to the beginning of the process and learning how to get to the end. I'm eager and excited to shape this little ball of fur into a service dog. As we were told last night when we were handed our puppies - you will have ups and downs, failures and successes - just keep your eyes on the end result - a well trained service dog for someone who really needs it.

So what was our first day like? It started at 5 am with puppy indicating she needed to "go." She made it from 11 pm to 5 am - which I thought was pretty good. We've been on the go most of the day - in and out about 10 times (didn't know a puppy could pee and poop so many times!) I snuck a nap in this afternoon while puppy was also napping.... felt good.

Puppy has totally alienated our cat. They met last night for a brief second when I brought the puppy home and then the cat disappeared upstairs. Not to emerge at all. Very unlike her. She was so quiet and tucked away in some back closet, that I was worried she had somehow gotten out of the house and run away. Thankfully I found her under a bed later and she has expressed her disgust and disdain toward me for bringing yet ANOTHER dog into our house.

Dodger and puppy met late morning and seemed to hit it off ok. Dodger is a very patient dog and he put up with the puppy's energy and nips with the tolerance we expected him to show. He even got a little playful at one point and seemed to enjoy it - for about 1 minute. But he will be fine.

Only a couple little accidents in the house today. We've done a lot of trips outside and puppy does appear to be "connecting the dots" that a treat follows a job done outside. So tonight will be more play - wear puppy out - and hope she sleeps as well as she did last night!