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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Joys!

Grace digging into her stocking!  Every year she
gets her nose stuck trying to reach the bottom!

Shelby has been with us almost 15 years.
 She is a pro at posing for holiday photos!

Handsome Owen shows off his stocking before eating all the goodies!
What a good boy he is!

Miss Treasure, the Queen of Pink, with her new pink stocking,
Santa hat, and pink polka dot blankie.

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends.  Hopefully Santa Paws brought you everything you wished for!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Growing Up Deaf

Jasmine is growing like a weed!  Things are getting easier now that she recognizes the signs for good girl and stop that, both of which are very helpful in changing and reinforcing her behavior.  Because she’s been on the road with me since she came home, she is very comfortable in the car.  It’s like her second home now and she settles very quickly and quietly in her crate for the ride.  She has learned to potty fairly quickly on the leash when let outside and in different areas, which is a very handy skill for a puppy to learn. 
Jazzy is learning how to do long flights of stairs.  Each stair is still a small mountain for her, due to her size and going up is definitely easier for her than coming down.  Going up, she gets a running start and just keeps running up until she runs out of momentum.  Then it takes a bit for her to get moving again.  Coming down, I have to make sure the stairs are well lit and I’m not so sure how much depth perception she has, or if she’s just cautious because that’s what puppies do, but she's careful to feel for the edge and how far down the step goes. 
Jazzy loves to play.  She brings toys back very well now and she loves to play tug!  I’m trying to teach her a give cue by grabbing her collar with one hand and pulling slightly towards me while holding the toy in my other hand.  She’s learning to be more careful with her teeth on my skin and will stop herself most of the time.  She has trouble finding her toys if they are more than a couple feet away if they are not moving.  If I toss them, she can track them where they land and runs right to them, but if she doesn’t see them move, she can’t always see them. 
She enjoys her food puzzles and toys, which have also helped to keep her occupied on our trip.  She has also discovered the joys of rawhide and pork chewies, which she had never had before.  Her tiny baby teeth allow me to not worry too much about a chunk getting bitten off and swallowed.  I just give her the bigger sizes of bones.  They are lasting her a long time, and they are great for keeping her occupied when I want a few minutes to type or watch TV. 

She seems to recognize her tactile go potty cue, and she’s even starting to ask to go outside, which is amazing to me because we’ve not been in the same place for longer than a week since she came to me.  Jazzy is learning that being woken up is a good thing and that there’s no reason to startle and jump away.  I give her a treat or a toy or a quick ear scratch to distract her from the startle of it, and she is startling less and less.  This is important to teach any dog, but especially a deaf dog who won't be able to hear you approaching while it is asleep. 

Jasmine is enjoying her first walks.  I am always prepared with a supply of good treats that I can break into very tiny pieces.  I use moist treats so they can be swallowed quickly and I can break them up very tiny.  Puppy teeth often take a long time to chew crunchy treats, and too big of a treat will fill up a tiny puppy very quickly!  I feed her for everything to make sure she is making good associations with her world - feed for walking on a loose leash, anything that is sudden (noises if your puppy can hear, movement, etc), moving things like bicycles and flags flapping, still things like large scary looking trash cans and garden statues, feed for lured sits and downs on different surfaces, feed when you meet new people and children, when you see another dog or cat, for checking in with me, for any new surfaces puppy walks on, etc.  By taking some extra care and time now, while she’s young, I can help her to think all of these things are good instead of taking the chance that something will scare her.  That being said, she is an amazingly outgoing and confident puppy already!
Of course, Jasmine is still a puppy and does puppy things.  Zoomies are still fun to watch, but stay back or you might get run over!  She is starting to respond to a sit signal alone without a lure or toy being held over her nose.  Down still needs a bit of a lure with hand, food, or toy.  Spins are coming along and she jumps over my leg, or crawls under my knee held barely off the floor.  I’m starting to teach her stay by delaying her reward when she sits so she has to sit longer each time.  She’s getting better about staying calm for cuddle time and letting me check her teeth, nails, etc.  Now that she recognizes the good girl signal, it is much easier to mark the moments in which she is calm, and then release her to go play again. 
She will sometimes try to play keep away when I reach for her, so we are doing some hand targeting and me grabbing her collar for a treat, toy or petting, so she sees it more as a thing to look forward to.  She is not afraid to come to me, but she loves to play chase with the other dogs, so wants me to chase her too and will try to start a game. She drags a leash in the house sometimes so I can stop her and not feed into her game, which she thinks is extremely fun!  She has a come signal, but right now I only use it when she is extremely close and coming to me to get a toy or treat.  I don't want to risk using it and have her take off running trying to play keep away! 
One other fun tidbit pertaining to deaf puppies is that you can create your own puppy snooze alarm.  Because Jasmine gets most of her information visually, covering her crate allows me to sleep a bit longer in the morning.  She can't hear me moving in bed, but she can sure see me if she's not covered.  In puppy language, any movement means it's time to get up and play!  So by covering her, I may get to sleep a bit longer.  I taught her that a tap on her crate meant I was still there, by tapping and then sticking my finger through the crate door to comfort her.  She can feel the vibration of me tapping the top of the crate. Now she knows that the tap alone means I am still there.  She hasn't figured out that I need to be awake in order to tap, and I'm not about to tell her!  So, if she starts peeping in the morning, I can just reach over and tap the crate from my bed, and she will settle back down to sleep a bit longer ... puppy snooze alarm! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Light Show

What a lovely clear evening we had to go enjoy this Christmas Light display in Peoria, IL.  My mother, niece, nephew and I drove through the park to see all the displays.  Everywhere we looked there were lights.  Each display was different based on the unique creativity of its sponsor.  Some, like the cars and other vehicles, have moving wheels and parts.  Some tell a story, like the skier that comes down the slope and jumps over the road on his way down the  hill.  Or the two seals tossing a ball back and forth between their noses.  Or the reindeer in the forest practicing flying across the road as cars drive below. Fireworks of lights illuminate the spaces between exhibits.  A volcano spews lights up into the night sky while lighted dinosaurs stand nearby.  All in a lighted wonderland!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Friends - Old and New

Yesterday, I travelled some more, headed for Missouri, to reunite Treasure with some of her old friends.  It was a very rainy and cold day, but I was full of excitement.  While I knew some of these women through email contact, I had never actually met any of them.  These were the women who had rescued Treasure from a less than ideal situation, who had cared for her, and who had believed that there was someone out there who would love her as she deserved to be loved.  I knew there was no way I could even begin to thank them for the wonderful blessing that Treasure has become in my life.  But I knew I was ready to try!

Requi (above) met me as I got out of the car.  She was one of the people who was there at the original rescue, who actually helped to bring Treasure back to the humane society.  I felt like I was greeting a dear friend, even though we only knew each other through emails.  It warmed my heart to see how much Requi still cares for Treasure, as she greeted her for the first time since her adoption in May 2010.  She made many comments about just how perfect Treasure is, but, of course, I already knew that!  And, she was right!

Tracy was the only other shelter worker there who had known Treasure during her stay.  I heard through the grapevine that she wasn’t supposed to be working on Mondays, so I can only surmise that she was there just to see Treasure and I!  Treasure snuggled into her arms like she remembered her.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at just how relaxed Treasure was!  I had been concerned that she might remember the smells of the shelter and be upset that I might leave her there again. 
But I needn’t have worried.  She snuggled in with everyone and enjoyed all the attention.  We even posed her in front of the decorated Christmas tree in the corner!  I had brought Treasure’s scrapbook to share.  And, of course, Jasmine was with us to delight us all with puppy antics!  Like pulling ornaments off of that Christmas tree!

I got to meet Julie, the woman who had first noticed that Treasure and the other dogs needed help.  She had called to ask someone to please go check on the dogs.  I had not planned on meeting Julie.  In fact, she had never been mentioned to me.  But, being the true compassionate rescuer that she is, Julie was bringing in a stray dog that she had finally been able to catch after three weeks of trying.  What a wonderful surprise that the dog had allowed itself to be caught today – of all days! – while Treasure and I were visiting!  And we were able to meet Julie!  And she was able to see and take pictures of Treasure!

And then I met Charlotte (above).  She had also been there that day they rescued Treasure.  She, too, greeted Treasure as if she was a long lost friend.  I could see immediately how much Charlotte cared for her.  We sat together by the Christmas tree and looked at Treasure’s scrapbook.  I felt like I had known her for so much longer than just a few minutes.  To prove just what a likeable person she is, Charlotte actually told the hostess at the restaurant where we had lunch the story of Treasure's rescue and reunion, and convinced her to let us take a group picture inside the lobby between the two sets of doors, where we could get out of the rain! 

It was amazing to meet so many people who were such an important part of Treasure’s journey, and to see where that journey began.  I have been able to put so many pieces into the puzzle of her past.  And, still, all this time later, I am finding more and more pieces fall into place.  It was truly a very special day for me.  I made some wonderful new friends, and I got to share their joy at seeing their old friend again.  My mind and heart are still trying to digest the magnitude of the day.  It will remain one of my very special memories.  Thank you so much ladies, for everything you've done and a great visit!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Take A Hike!

The weather has turned cold and rainy, with a bit of snow thrown in for good measure.  But we were able to take a wonderful hike late last week.  It was a bit chilly, as the sun was setting, but we were able to see some wildlife up close. We saw some deer, and a very brave possum who actually stopped and posed while I took his picture.  We even saw a small flock of wild turkeys take flight in the woods.  It was neat to see such a large bird flying so gracefully through the trees without hitting any!  And, of course, I can't forget the troll ... well, we never actually saw the troll himself, just his bridge and this sign telling us to pay the toll for using it!  I hope we get more nice weather to go hiking there again before it's time for us to leave.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Road Trip!

Ahh, some peace and quiet at 7am.  Jasmine has been up running around and is taking a nap! Time to update the blog!  Traveling with a blind-deaf dog, and a puppy to boot, does bring with it some challenges.  Overall, the puppy has been extremely good!  She's been with us for a week now and the changes are apparent.  She is growing like a weed and I had to move her to a taller puppy pen, as she can now reach the top of the other one.  It was just a matter of time before she figured out how to go over!  I'd rather that she didn't know about that possibility!  She traveled very well ... a 14 hour car ride is enough to make anybody stir crazy!  We stopped often to let her potty and run around and she rewarded me by sleeping most of the way.  Of course, once we got here, she was wide awake and ready to run zoomies everywhere while I was very tired and wanted to go to bed. 

Treasure is always a great traveler, always ready for a new adventure that riding in the car brings.  Even though she knows her touch commands well, she was very distracted by all the new smells along the way and often chose not to potty at our stops.  She smelled every new inch of every rest area and gas station along the way and got annoyed with me when the leash wouldn't allow her to proceed as far as she would have liked. 

Treasure has decided that she is no longer amused by puppy antics.  Jasmine barks at her and tries to get her to play, bouncing on top of her head.  Treasure has become a bit more jumpy when touched now, jumping up and expecting to have it be Jasmine.  Overall, though, she is still very tolerant. 

There are some dangers here that I don't have to worry about at home, so I have to be vigilant.  There are many steps here with a railing on the landing.  Treasure is used to her small set of steps to get to my bed, but we do not have a longer flight of steps at home.  While it would be easy to gate off the steps, the railing has openings that are big enough for her or Jazzy to fit through, and knowing Treasure, she would need to go investigating!  But Treasure is quite content to hang out in the big guest room with my large suitcase gating off the doorway.  It is her new home away from home.  She has an open crate and her blankie, and bones and food puzzle toys to keep her busy.  And she gets lots of cuddle time, too, of course. 

Treasure is really enjoying the big bed here, that she doesn't have to share with any of the other dogs!  Although I did put Jasmine up on it last night to pose for pictures.  Jazzy does not yet understand the concept of height, so ran off of the edge a couple times.  I was right there and caught her, but also let her gently tumble to the floor so she might learn to respect drop offs.  It worked and after the second tumble, she stopped herself at the edge each time.  I'm not sure how much of a drop off she can see, but she did start to feel for the edge with her foot and then stop herself. When she couldn't get to me and there was nothing else left to do, she finally settled down near the edge where Treasure was lying, and I got a cute picture of them both. Oops, Jazzy's up, gotta run!