Saturday, April 25, 2009

The First Month Together

I just looked at the calendar and realized that Izzo and I have survived together for FOUR WEEKS! It is hard to believe that it has already been a month since this amazing little girl has come into our lives.

Over the last month she has grown like a weed and has already learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot too!

I’m posting a couple of new pics that I think are cute. How long are dogs able to do the “frog legs” position? Looks like it would hurt but Izzo lays that way often and that amazes me. The other is from when we were working on the “watch” command. (still not giving the verbal command, just rewarding the behavior). I feel sorry for her when she looks up at me and is looking right at the sun so I try to position myself so she doesn’t have to, or at least can be in shadow.

Today was a busy day. Starting with me realizing that we need to do some more puppy proofing around the house. Izzo is getting bigger and is able to climb past some of the barriers we had put in place so new barriers are now being planned.

We spent the day out and about and accomplished LOTS of socialization. We went to the WM High School girls softball tournament in town and met two other dogs, lots of kids and people. Then we went to the river park and checked out the rapids at the dam and saw more kids and people fishing. Then it was on to the fire station where Fireman Ned was moving the trucks out of the garage and washing the floors. Lots of action and motion. We ended up at Petco where we met more dogs and kids and watched shopping carts moving around. Oh yes, and Izzo got to pick out a new toy… just what she needs!

I was very pleased with her behavior today. She did very well with her “4 on the floor” greetings and tried really hard not to jump. I also learned how to give instruction to the people we met who wanted to pet her on how to greet Izzo to help her not jump.

We heard a lot of “OOOOOHHHH what a cute puppy!” today. We also heard a lot of “she is really good” and “look at her watch you…” It is really encouraging for me to see how she has progressed over the last 4 weeks.

Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Learning New Things

Ms. Izzo is doing well.... in spite of my absence for a few days. I was gone for a long weekend to visit my parents out of state and my hubby stepped into the training shoes and did great! I got back to town just in time to catch the last half of class last night. He had Izzo's full attention and took her through her paces in good form.

She gained another pound last night + the 2.5 from last week... anyway she is over 17pounds now and growing fast.

Jake has been encouraging me to get a paw print for her puppy memory book. And I had not gotten it done. He said, "Mom the cuteness factor is 100% based on the size of the paw print. The longer you wait the less cute it will be." So... tonight some new scrapbooking supplies arrived via mail and I attempted to get a paw print. Let's just say there were more paw prints on my floor than there were on the paper! But we got some close facsimile of Izzo's cute little (sort of) paw.

We are supposed to be working with our puppies every night touching all parts of the body. So paw prints were good for the homework check list as well!

Last week we had to expose our puppies to 8 new sounds. The week before that it was 8 new textured surfaces to walk on. This week it is 8 new "moving" objects. We are also supposed to meet 15 new people every week and this week specifically we are to get to a fire or police station.

Izzo LOVES meeting people. And that brings us to the next thing we are working on which is "4 on the floor". That is learning to not jump up when greeting people. This still needs assistance, but she is getting much better. The nipping is also getting better. Partly because she is growing out of it and partly because we are learning how to ignore/deal with it.

Izzo is doing great with her "watch" behavior (no verbal command yet) and her "sit" behavior. She is also doing well going into her kennel. We are also teaching her to start to walk into her gentle leader and backpack.

Oh yes - and I am THRILLED to learn that the WM Elementary School has decided to hold a fundraiser to sponsor Izzo and I through Helping Paws. What an awesome community we have and what a wonderful thing for the school to do. Many of the teachers know Jake (and Miles). Another individual and his HP service dog volunteer at the school as well. So Izzo and I will be making a visit to the school some time in early May for them to kick off there fundraiser. It truly does melt my heart to have this support!!

Thanks for checking in and Izzo sends wet, sloppy, puppy kisses!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Weekend

Izzo had a great party weekend! There were people and dogs galore at our house for the Easter weekend and everyone had a blast. The kids were home from college and the family showed up with food and refreshments. There were dogs for Izzo to play with… 4 of them all together. We were outside a lot and enjoyed the nice weather that we had. The dogs did lots of running around and wore themselves out.

Miles was not sure what to think of this little creature that had taken over his domain. He quickly established himself as the lead dog and didn’t take too much grief from Izzo. After the initial meeting he pretty much ignored her. Izzo pretended to be a big dog like Miles and drank from his bowls while he was home with them. I really thought she was looking like she had grown a lot, but then seeing her next to Miles he looked like a giant dog! I didn’t remember that he was so big!

Let’s see – our homework for the week was getting out and meeting lots of different people in different types of dress. Since we had a murder mystery dinner at our house on Saturday night, Izzo got to see lots of costumes and hats and such on everyone. It didn’t phase her.

We also went to a pet store, visited a groomer and walked down the sidewalk in our little town. Everywhere we went, Izzo got lots of attention. She got her service dog backpack in class last week so everyone seems to have to remark on how cute she looks in it! She is getting used to wearing it and her gentle leader and seems to not be bothered by them anymore.

Izzo is growing fast. She gained 3 pounds from the week before! I’ll be curious to see what she weighs tomorrow night when we go to class again. We’ll keep you posted!

PS - we had snow on April 6th and since it was wet and heavy, Izzo quickly figured out she could push it with her nose and make a little snow ball. Then she would eat it! Fun for a few minutes - thankfully it melted before the day was over.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Survived the First Week

Well we have officially survived our first week!

And Puppy has a name (picked by Jake), we are calling her IZZO. Yes – for those of you who know our family it is our love of MSU Basketball that prompted the naming. Plus, it is kind of a cool name for a dog, don’t you think? We debated many names, and I thought about it long and hard. But in the end, given that it was Jake who got me into this effort, I figured I should honor him and his request. So in the end, he won out and she is truly and sweetly our Izzo.

We go to class on Monday nights and one of our assignments this week was to get our puppies used to their names. She doesn’t know it yet… but will respond on occasion. We are also supposed to be working on getting our dogs to “watch.” This is a common command to get the dogs attention prior to giving them a command. So we are rewarding eye contact, without the word at this point.

Another assignment for the week is just to get her to familiar with the “click/treat” sequence that is used to mark a desirable behavior (we use a little clicker because it is a distinctive sound that is consistently reproduced) and then instantly give a treat. I didn’t think Izzo was making the connection, and then accidentally hit my clicker when I didn’t mean to. She stopped what she was doing and looked!!! I was ecstatic and gave her a treat and lots of praise.

Izzo is doing really well going in her kennel. She is sleeping through the night quietly and goes into it willingly (we use food and treats to make it a happy place for her). So that part is going well.

Probably our biggest frustration is the sharp puppy teeth. Sometimes she gets carried away and grabs pant legs, fingers, shoe laces, etc. We are not supposed to say “no” to our dogs so our strategy is to distract with a toy that Izzo likes to chew. It works… mostly.

Well it is half time – the Spartans are up by two points. I have to go watch the rest of the game! Go Green! Go White! Go Izzo!