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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from me and Treasure and the gang!
Jazzy opening gifts

Treasure enjoying her stocking under the tree


Treasure gets her nose stuck in her stocking every year!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Human Fun and Roadside Adventures

While Treasure is having fun on vacation, there are some places that she just couldn't come with us.  So, I brought those adventures home for her to put on her blog.  We went exploring this afternoon and here are some of the fun places we visited.

We visited the outlet stores and explored around Tuscola, IL.  This Amishland's Country Village was a big antique mall set up like a little village with a yummy buffet dinner.  There were very cool wooden plaques with hymns burned into them ... must remember them!  They were quite large and framed on easels.  Lots of cool stuff to see.

Then, on to Effingham to see the World's Largest Cross.   It is called the "Cross at the Crossroads."  It stands 198 feet tall and 113 feet wide.  Very impressive whether seen from a distance or up close!

We ended out the day at Joe Sippers cafe for hot drinks and a rousing game of Hugger Mugger! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vacation Nosework Part 2

More fun nosework hides today.  I tried to challenge Treasure today with hides that we wouldn't normally have access to, and I noticed something else that we need to work more on.  Treasure does great searching while on one consistent surface, but changing surfaces mid-search can throw her concentration off.  Going from grass to gravel, or gravel to grass causes her to stop and turn back to the original surface even though she may clearly smell the birch odor.  It is normal for her to stop and check out a new surface before walking onto it, but then it seems as if she has lost her momentum in the actual search and has to get herself back on track.  This is totally understandable, not being able to see what is ahead of her as the ground is changing below her feet.  But it's not something that I have consciously thought about in our training, that I will now need to seek out for her to do.
A bit challenging with the hide right up next to the building and a moderate breeze blowing.  She went way wide away from the wall to catch the odor and followed it in.  Hide is under the flat rock at the corner of the building.

Hide is slightly elevated on the picnic table bench.  There was an area near the rubble and table with large stones and she was hesitant to cross over it at first even though she smelled the odor.  Also good practice for me to give her freedom to work, yet also steer her clear of all the obstacles.  I'll be happy to start using those doggles!

Hide is in the corner of the playground equipment.  We started down behind the shed and slightly down the hill, wind blowing away from us.  Again, not a set up I have really worked with her in the past. 

Car searches.  Again, going from the paved small gravel to the large loose gravel threw her concentration for a moment.  Hide is in the upper hub cap on the front tire. 

I'm loving having nice outdoor weather and being on vacation so I have time to plan and do hides!  Too much fun!  Treasure was content to sleep a lot of the day after using her brain and her nose, too! A tired dog is a good dog! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vacation Nosework

With such beautiful weather today, and being in a totally new place, I was eager to do some nosework hides with Treasure outside!  My Dad's backyard has lots of interesting places to hide odor ... under a doormat on the patio, in an old tree stump, in the low branches of small trees, near the shed, in an old vase ...
If Treasure has a weakness in her searches, it is perhaps obstacles.  She can't see them, so is not as bold about interacting with them as some other dogs may be.  I have noticed especially that she is hesitant to climb up onto things that she's not familiar with.  At home, she will easily put her front feet up on the couch or the coffee table for a find, but not elsewhere.  When I can, I try to encourage her to feel more comfortable putting her feet up on new items. 
With her recent trick training, she has really gotten comfortable putting her front feet up on various objects that are step height or lower.  She readily puts her front feet up on any new low object now, and then waits for the treat.  Even at nosework class, when we used boxes, she was putting her front feet up on a lot of the boxes, which she had never done before. 
Today's nosework hides were about obstacles and encouraging Treasure to take risks and climb up onto new things.  She found the hide on the patio and easily put her front feet up on the cement, but would not step up onto it completely with all four feet.  We'll continue to work on that if we have time.  But this first hide was also very interesting, because Treasure found another low obstacle in the yard that had some type of animal poo on it (probably that fox we saw!).  She put her front feet up on the obstacle to check out the poo more closely ... I wondered what she'd do and if she'd forget she was searching, but she smelled it for a moment, then hopped off and continued her search for the birch.  I was very proud of her and also impressed, because she had never run across that type of distraction before, yet she kept searching.  Good girl Treasure!
Q tips under mat.
Our next hide was in an old stump.  She found it right away, coming at the stump from the back.  I rewarded her right away, but then used the reward to help her come up onto the stump, which allowed her to put her nose closer to the odor to get her reward right at the source.
Q tips down inside old stump.
Our last two hides were in the low branches of a tree.  I was very curious to see what she would do with this one.  I don't have any small trees, so I was eager to give her this experience.  She found the odor right away, but was a bit confused on the first attempt and circled the tree at first, looking for the source of the odor.  She did come back to it and was pointing it out with her nose.  As I was rewarding, I put food at the source and fed her little bits each time she stretched her nose up it.  At one point, Treasure tried to put her feet up but couldn't find a secure hold.  I did lift her front feet up onto the tree at the end and she could easily reach the source and got her food.  The second tree hide, I left in the same place and did a paired hide there.  She found this one quickly and was very insistent, putting her nose up as close to source as she could, but she never did jump up on it.  I was pleased that her nose was pointing directly to the source, however.  It was nice enough to show me exactly where the hide was!
Rewarding at source in branches.
Assisted feet up to get to source/reward.
Can't get much clearer than that!  Good Girl Treasure! 

Treasure on Vacation

As most of you know, Treasure really enjoys traveling!  Yesterday we spent the day in the car.  It's been a whole year since our last long trip.  I was very pleased with Treasure, pottying quickly and on cue in all the strange areas along the way - rest stops, dirt, grass by a busy road, gravel.  She took it all in stride.  I know she didn't appreciate being in her crate for so long, but it is safest for her to ride in the crate, especially since the car was packed full of other things that might have shifted and fallen into her had I stopped quickly.  But she was quiet and took it all in stride.
After such a long trip, she enjoyed sniffing around the place and playing with her Kong wobbler toy for her dinner.  Then she slept on the bed with me all night.  I didn't bring her steps along, so once she was up there, she didn't have a safe way to get down.  But she sure didn't mind, since it was just me and her ... no other dogs to fight with for the prime spots! 
Today the weather is partly sunny and a very warm 65 degrees!  Very unusual for December, but we're not complaining!  This morning, Treasure and I got to watch (and smell) the two swans at the farm next door.  Swans make a very unexpected noise.  I never would have guessed what they sounded like.  They seemed as interested in us as we were in them and they swam over to our side of the pond for a closer look.  Perhaps it was the white color of Treasure that attracted them?
We also saw a gorgeous fox just on the other side of the fence.  I think we startled it, as it ran away quickly, but it was cool to see it so close.  Dad says there are two foxes that live nearby, lots of deer, and even some coyotes that live not too far away.  I'll have to keep my eyes open and my camera close just in case I'm lucky enough to get a few shots.  A wonderful start to our vacation!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Treasure Trick Photos

Some photos of Treasure practicing some of her tricks!
Spin: depending which side I tap, she will spin in a circle in that direction.  Here she is spinning to her left.

Put her feet up on a prop: she's getting pretty good at this and will quickly step up onto new items.

The shell game: she is super quick at finding which cup has the treat under it!

Walking a balance beam: I keep the "beam" on the ground just for safety reasons, since she can't see how high up she is if she were to slip off. 

Shake hands: if you look closely, you will see me shaking her hand.  She lifts the paw when I give the cue, but she can't see where my hand is, so it's up to me to grab the paw once she lifts it. 

Which hand has the treat?  Another favorite treat finding game for Treasure!

Unrolling a carpet: Treasure is learning to unroll the carpet.  We still have to work on this one, but it was a great picture, so thought we'd share anyway! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jasmine Turns One Year Old!

Jasmine is celebrating!  She is celebrating that she is one year old!
And she is celebrating Thanksgiving!  She has a lot to be thankful for!


I take no credit for the music in this video. 
I chose it because it fits Jazzy's personality perfectly.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nosework - Getting Ready for Christmas!

Today at k9 nosework class, the dogs searched through wrapped Christmas packages to find their odor.  Treasure found all of her hides quickly, with an added bonus that I hadn't counted on.  With all our work recently with Treasure putting her front feet up on objects, she stepped up on many boxes that she ran into while searching.  I knew right away why she was doing it.  It's not something she has done at class before.
Treasure pinpoints the source of the odor ... holes drilled in the top of the box letting odor out.
I hadn't thought about the implications of teaching her to step up onto objects on her nosework activities.  I was happy to see that she just kept searching.  She was not waiting on the boxes for treats or a release.  She would step up and then just kept walking on to the next box. 
After their searches, the dogs got together for a photo shoot which had been set up for them.  It was great fun and we got some wonderful pictures!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Feet on a Bowl, and Other Fun Things!

This week we continued to work on Treasure putting her feet up on an upside down bowl.  I started to move the bowl a short distance farther from my legs.  At first, she put her feet up on my legs a lot, but she realized that she wasn't on the bowl and would hop down to look for it.  If she is nearby and I tap on the bowl, she seems to be able to find it easier.  When she is close and facing it, I gave the feet up cue.  It seemed to work pretty well.  Sometimes she put her feet up even without the cue. 

I also introduced a different upside down bowl, but put it very close to my legs where we started with the first bowl.  At first she was confused.  This bowl is lower to the ground than the first one.  She put her feet up on it, but fell forward over it a few times as she was anticipating a much taller step.  Think about if you are going up steps and you expect there to be one more, but there's not!  And you fall forward.  I hadn't thought about her doing that, as she usually sniffs the bowl before stepping up.  I thought she would notice that it was shorter. 

After a few repetitions, she was much more comfortable stepping up on this new bowl.  We will need to work with both bowls and other new items, so she learns to generalize and get better at judging heights.  While putting her front feet up on a bowl is a trick in itself, I have other plans for what this trick will turn into!  This is only the first step! 
I also introduced another trick this week.  I want to have Treasure roll out a carpet.  I started with a small mat and rolled it up into a tube shape.  I placed a treat near the roll and let Treasure eat the treat from right up next to it so her nose would touch the roll.  At first, of course, she ate the treat and had no idea what to do with the mat.  But by placing the treat farther and farther under the mat, I had her unrolling the mat in no time.  She really liked this new game, and I had to be very quick to roll up the mat and get the treat in place, or she would get impatient! 
I am trying to incorporate working on more than one trick at a session.  I give her a quick break between tricks, picking her up and giving her some loving.  I hope this will become a cue that we are then going to work on something else.  I also want my props to become cues for each trick.  Because she is learning so much and she works with touch cues, I am a bit limited on how many cues I can use to mean different things.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dog Tricks!

Now that Treasure and I have earned her CGC, we need a new project to work on.  Treasure and I love our one on one time training together, and having a goal keeps me on track and motivated with things to work on.  With winter coming up and the sun going down earlier, I decided that our next goal will be to work on some new tricks.  I hope to be able to earn a Novice Trick Dog title with Treasure.  She will need to show that she can do 15 tricks from the list of novice level tricks.  There are many to choose from, so I read through the list to see how many I thought she could learn to do without vision and hearing.  There are eight that she can already do ...
  • Come when called
  • Lie down
  • Find hidden treats (Yes!  A favorite of hers!)
  • Sit
  • Spin in circles (she can spin in both directions)
  • Stay (Yay!  We just perfected this for her CGC.)
  • Walk on a loose leash
  • Find which hand contains the treat (Another favorite of hers!)
The other ones I have chosen to teach her are:
  • Walk a balance beam (a low, safe one, of course)
  • Crawl
  • Put her paws up on an object (may be hard for her because she can't see the item, but I want to try it and see how far we get)
  • Roll out a carpet
  • Shake hands (We started this one a long time ago, but haven't worked on it so it's about time we finished it up, wouldn't you say?)
  • Go through a tunnel (she likes to play in tunnels, but I now need to teach her to go through in one motion on cue without stopping to play in the middle!)
  • Go through a hoop (this one may also be challenging, but I have an idea to help her feel her way through, so we'll see how it goes.)

We have started working on Treasure putting her front paws up on an object.  For our first object, I chose a large plastic bowl turned upside down.  It's not too high.  She can feel the bowl against the bottom of her chest when she's standing, so she can tell how high up it is.  At first I made sure she was lined up right in front of the bowl and I used a food lure to get her to stretch upwards until she stepped up onto the bowl.  I pet her and let her have the treat while her feet were still on the bowl. 
We've been working on this trick for about three weeks now, but I haven't been able to work with her every day.  She will now quickly put her front feet up on the bowl.  She is beginning to be able to find the bowl from a short distance away, but not consistently.  I am using a cue which she responds to when she is already next to the bowl.  I no longer need to use a lure to get her up onto the bowl.  She knows what to do. 
I hope to continue with this trick adding other variables and experimenting to see what else we can do with an upside down bowl!  Watch for updates and pictures as we progress! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting a Canine Good Citizen Award with Your Blind and Deaf Dog

Here’s a link to learn more about the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen evaluation.  It explains the rules and exercises in depth.

There are a few considerations to think about when taking the CGC evaluation with your blind and deaf dog.  Take a few minutes prior to the test to speak with the evaluator about any modifications that your particular dog needs to be successful.  I mention some of them below.

1.        Accepting a friendly stranger.  This one probably doesn’t require any special modifications.  Your dog should remain by your side while a person approaches you, shakes your hand and spends a minute or two talking to you.  

2.       Sit politely for petting.  I spoke with my evaluator ahead of time as to which touch cues I would be using with Treasure.  Touching your dog is allowed during the test, but forcing the dog is not, so I wanted to be sure she recognized that my touching Treasure was actually for the purpose of giving her cues.  I gave the touch cue to sit and then I put my hand lightly on Treasure, which is her cue that someone else will be touching her so she doesn’t startle.  Then the evaluator pets her.

3.       Appearance and grooming.  I brought my own brush and again, this really didn’t require any modification for Treasure.  I touched her lightly to let her know someone else would be touching her and she stood calmly for the grooming and examination.

4.       Out for a walk.  I did discuss modifications on this exercise ahead of time.  Treasure walks with me on both a regular leash and a solid leash.  I felt the solid leash would be more suitable for a situation walking close to me and moving around through a crowd of people and distractions. It allows me to keep her closer and give her clearer signals.  I discussed both options with the evaluator and she agreed with me that the solid leash made more sense in this situation.  We had to show walking together with left, right, and about turns, and two halts.

5.       Walk through a crowd.  Well, it’s a small crowd of several people milling around.  This is when the solid leash came in handy.  Because Treasure is small, it isn’t comfortable or feasible for me to walk hunched over to keep her out of harm’s way and close to my leg.  The solid leash allowed me to give her cues quickly and easily to keep her from getting trampled or tripping anyone since she can’t see them approaching. 

6.       Sit and down on cue and staying in place.  Treasure had to show response to both a sit and down cue.  These cues are again done by touch.  I was allowed to choose the stay position, so I chose a down for this part.  After giving her the cue to stay, I walked away for 20 feet and then turned and came back.  Treasure had to stay down when I returned to her until I told her she could get up.

7.       Come when called.  I use a cue of blowing toward Treasure for her long distance recall cue.  I did discuss this with the evaluator ahead of time as well.  If it’s a breezy day and the test is held outside, it may be worth asking if you can start up close to your dog to give the recall cue and then move backwards, continuing to call your dog, until you reach the 10 foot mark. 

8.       Reaction to other dog.  You and another handler (with a dog) will approach each other.  Your dog must stay by your side and not be overly interested in the other dog while you and the other handler talk for a moment and then continue on your way.

9.       Reaction to distraction.  This is something your evaluator may wish to discuss with you ahead of time.  The crowd may need to alter their distractions a bit.  Some of the distractions used for Treasure’s test were dropping items close to her so she could feel the vibration, banging pans near her – also to produce a vibration, passing very close to and brushing up against Treasure unexpectedly, and running past her while stomping feet heavily.

10.   Supervised separation.  The evaluator will hold your dog’s leash while you leave the area for three minutes.  Your dog is not supposed to be overly upset.  I didn’t need to ask for any modifications for this part.  If your dog is likely to get upset about being left with a stranger, you may want to train in a special cue that lets your dog know that you will be returning.  You can then practice with your dog until it can wait calmly for you to return. 

 I hope this gives you an idea about what’s involved with getting the Canine Good Citizen award with your dog.  Treasure and I hope that you will consider pursuing this award with your blind-deaf dogs as well. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Treasure Earns Her CGC!!

At the NCSR sheltie reunion picnic, Treasure passed the CGC (AKC’s Canine Good Citizen) evaluation!  This had been one of my goals when I first started doing some formal training with Treasure.  I had been sloppy about teaching the stay exercise because it was difficult for Treasure and we rarely had use for it.  But when I got the announcement that CGC would be offered at the picnic, I thought, hmmm …what would be a better place for Treasure to strut her stuff than at the picnic?  So I sent in my paperwork and got to work! 
Her other skills were good because we use them frequently … walking nicely on a leash, sit, down, good behavior with other dogs and people, body  handling and grooming, coming when called, etc.  But that pesky stay … that one would be harder.  Getting the initial stay as I stepped away from her was the hardest part.  I could get her to stay with me right next to her, but that first step away was just too much and she moved to come with me every time. 

Remaining in a sit position for a long period of time is hard for Treasure.  I think this must stem from the spinal issues she had when she first came to me.  Even though she knows the cue for sit and will do it readily, I still (two years later) very rarely see her sit on her own unless she is on her way into a down position.  She will usually go directly from a stand to a down and then back to a stand.  With the CGC, I knew I could choose either a sit or a down stay, so I chose to focus on the down stay. 
With lots and lots of practice, we finally achieved the down stay while I took a few steps away from her.  Then I found the rest of the exercise to go very quickly and easily.  With my dogs that can see, adding distance can be a tough thing for them because they can see me leaving and getting farther away.  With Treasure, once I was a few steps away, I found that I could very quickly go as far away as I wanted to and she would stay in place.  She knew I was away from her, but I don’t think she could tell just how far away I was. 

We then practiced for longer periods of time and with me leaving her in different directions.  We practiced in new places and indoors and outdoors. The hardest time for Treasure to practice was right before mealtime.  She knows that it’s time to eat and she will rush to her crate and wait impatiently for her bowl to appear.  Practicing a down stay outside of her crate at mealtime really tested her knowledge of the cues and her self-control, but it also showed me that she did understand.
Finally, on the day of the picnic, I wondered how she would perform.  I knew that she understood the cues and exercises.  But I also knew that Treasure certainly has a mind of her own!  If she decides to do something, she rarely stops until she finds a way to do it.  If she decides NOT to do something, there isn’t much I can do to convince her otherwise! 

But I didn’t need to worry at all.  She was perfect!  I think she surprised the evaluators, and she delighted her friends and fans!  When we finished the evaluation, they cheered for her!  Congratulations Treasure!! 
Now, on to the next goal … what will it be?? 

Treasure and I celebrating that we passed the CGC!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What We've Been Up To ...

Wow, it's been awhile since we posted.  Summer brings with it so many activities, that it's hard to find time to write about them in between all the fun!  This coming week is Deaf Dog Awareness Week!  Thus, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to catch you up on what the girls have been up to. 
Jasmine continues to keep life interesting for us!  She turns one year old this month.  That hardly seems possible.  We finished up a beginner obedience class this summer.  Jazzy went through a period where she got very cautious around strangers.  I hope this is almost behind us.  It took me by surprise because she's always been so outgoing.  Instead of forcing her, I have just been patient and allowed her to approach people on her own terms as she's comfortable.  She is learning some cute new tricks.  And she still loves nothing more than an intense rough and tumble with Brinks!
Grace is on a bit of a diet, as she has started to gain a few extra pounds.  We play in the yard doing agility jumps and tunnels.  As long as the sun is not too bright and it's not starting to get dark, she can see well enough to judge the height of low jumps.  We are training rally exercises and some canine freestyle tricks, like weaving between my legs, spinning, and backing up. 
Treasure continues to love doing K9 nosework.  She is starting up classes again for the fall, which always challenge us and give us new things to work on.  The weather has been wonderful lately, so all of our hides have been outside.  We've done more vehicle hides and we've ventured out and used different areas of the fields around our house.  She's very intense and continues searching until she finds her way back to the source of the odor.  We've taken a break from therapy visits for the time being.  Treasure has started a raw diet to see if it will help to clear up her many cysts.  However, our therapy dog group doesn't allow dogs eating raw diets to go visiting.  So we will see how the diet affects her and then decide whether to go back to the previous diet and to visiting. 
In a week, we'll be at the NCSR sheltie rescue picnic!  What fun!  Shelties everywhere!  Treasure will get to show off her K9 nosework skills, and maybe some of her tricks!  She's a bit of a local celebrity, so she will of course be meeting and greeting all her fans!  I can't think of a better way to wrap up Deaf Dog Awareness Week! 
Do you know a deaf dog?  If so, do something special for and in honor of them this week! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Treasure's Travels

Treasure has already been so busy this month!  We just returned from a road trip to VA to attend a Suzanne Clothier seminar.  This post is about traveling with a blind-deaf dog. 

When you travel with any dog, there are usually more things to pack for the dog's comfort than for your own!  Crates, blankets and beds, toys, bones, treats, bowls, food, leashes, etc.  And traveling with Treasure was no different.  I packed her ex pen in case we needed it and her crate.  We didn't really use either one, except that she rode to and from in her crate.  But it was important to have them with me in case she needed a sense of home. 

I took her stroller, because I knew we'd be in the seminar setting for most of each day.  She is comfortable hanging out in the stroller in new places and relaxing in it.  It gave her a familiar and safe place to hang out when we weren't doing other things. 

On the breaks, I let her wander on her leash to get some exercise, and we did some training exercises.  I took her food ball and kong wobbler to give her activities to do at mealtimes.  And she had some special chew bones to keep her busy during the down times of the day.  She got lots of petting from the other seminar attendees, which is always the highlight of her outings! 

It's important with any dog to secure them in the vehicle while traveling.  I think it's especially important for a blind-deaf dog.  A dog like Treasure won't be able to see obstacles in the car if I have to stop short and she may be thrown into objects that she didn't know were there, or thrown off a seat that she can't see the edge of.  Or, even if there are other objects that move around the car when I stop, those could hit her as well.  Treasure travels in a crate for my peace of mind and for her safety.

Once at the hotel, I took in our bags first and checked out the room.  It's important to check for anything left on the floor that your dog might get into, but when traveling with a blind-deaf dog, also do a check for any furniture or other items that could be dangerous for your dog.  I also pick up the trash cans.  Although they are empty now, as I start to fill them, if they are already up off the floor, I know Treasure won't be able to reach them. 

After Treasure did her business, I brought her into the hotel and followed her around on the leash while she checked things out.  Keeping her on a leash at first allowed me to prevent her from banging into furniture and walls while she explored.  She loves exploring, so she takes off at a good pace sniffing away.  Once she'd been through the room a couple times on leash, I then removed the leash and allowed her to continue exploring. 

I took a video of her exploring and of her finding me in the hotel room.  I thought it would be helpful to see that a blind-deaf dog will do some bumping into things, but it rarely slows them down on their quest to explore new places.  You can also see in the video that Treasure does not bump into the majority of things in the room.  She bumps into things the most in the corner of the room where the air conditioner was blowing.  I think the moving air currents were a little confusing to her. 

The video was taken that first night in the hotel room, so you can see her actually mapping out a new environment.  She will walk the same area several times to get a good map of it in her head.  The second night returning to the same hotel room, she did a brief walk through to make sure it was the same place, but didn't see the need to map it out or explore too much. 

You can also see her exploring on the bed to find the edges.  When she's satisfied, she then settles down for a snooze.  Treasure really enjoyed not having to share the bed with the other dogs!  She likes to sleep in the middle and stretch out, although she also will sleep with her toes hanging over the edge of the bed ... I think to keep track of where the edge is so she feels safer.  It was interesting to me that Treasure realized her steps to the bed were not there.  She didn't try to get down at all.  

I hope you enjoy the video and that it can be helpful in knowing what to expect while your blind-deaf dog is exploring and mapping out a new area. Watch the video here ...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jazzy meets Balloon!

There's an intruder in the house!  I rarely have balloons in the house, but it was a friend's birthday, so I had one visiting for a few hours.  Jasmine came in from the yard and screeched to a stop way out in the kitchen.  She saw the balloon moving slightly in the living room and was not coming any closer.  She studied it for a moment, moving her head from side to side like she was trying to focus on it, but the more she tried to figure out what this thing was, the more afraid she got.  She was confused as to why the other dogs were running around as if nothing had changed.  

I tried holding the balloon down on the floor so it wouldn't move and perhaps she would feel more confident to come check it out.  She ran into the living room behind me, as far from the balloon as she could get, and she snuck up on it by circling around the coffee table.  It took a long time for her to approach it, even with me holding it still on the floor.  Big brother Brinks thought it was a great toy and was hopping around trying to play with it.  I was afraid he would pop the balloon, but putting him on a down stay nearby helped Jazzy gather enough courage to sneak up on it and sniff it.  And, it kept the balloon safe from harm!

Slowly, I allowed the balloon to move a bit and stand upright on the floor.  Once again, it took awhile for Jazzy to sneak up on it to sniff the strange thing that kept moving and changing shape.  Once I was able to anchor the balloon low to the ground, I played with it myself a bit, bumping it with my hand and controlling its movements.  I guess it looked like I was having fun, because Jazzy inched closer.  Because she can't focus her eyes well, she bumps everything with her nose to find out where in space it is.  She bumped the balloon and it moved away from her.  But, as often happens in situations like these, the balloon then swayed back towards her, and she ran off once again. 

A few more tries, and Jazzy and I were having a grand game!  She would bump the balloon and I would bump the balloon.  Soon she started to bump it over and over again on her own, dancing around and playing on her own.  Any fear had gone away. 

But the whole ordeal wore her out, and she soon found herself wanting a cuddle from big brother Brinks on the dog bed.  How sweet! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Off to the Races!

Memorial Day weekend, Treasure and I joined PAWS for People at the Fair Hill Races.  PAWS hosted a tent in the Children's area for the kids to stop by and read to the dogs.  Treasure enjoyed laying on her blanket in the grass and entertaining visitors - some who read to her, and some who just wanted to stop by and say hello. 

READing is FUN!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good Dog!

Well, it's time for a new double merle article!  Treasure and Jazzy and I have been so busy with outings lately, that there isn't much time to write!  I'll try to post an update on our activities soon, but in the meantime, happy reading! 

Good Dog!

©Debbie Bauer 2012

One of the first things to teach your deaf or blind-deaf dog is a signal that means Good Dog. You will use this signal to teach your dog new things and to reinforce behaviors that you like so they will happen more often in the future. The signal can be anything you wish as long as it can be given quickly and consistently.

Borrowing from sign language, the sign for good involves a flat hand moving from the person’s mouth downward in an arc. Many owners of deaf dogs choose to use this signal. I choose to use a thumbs-up hand gesture since I work with visually impaired dogs as well. It doesn’t require the dog to be able to see up to my face if I am standing. I can put my thumb down closer to the dog’s field of vision. I also use a signal of clapping my hands together to show my excitement.

Deaf dogs also take cues from your body language, so when you give the good dog signal, make sure your face and body look happy. I usually talk to my deaf dogs when I sign to them. Our bodies take on the energy of our words. So if I am using a happy praise voice when I say Good Dog, and I give the signal at the same time, my dog gets more information. My face is happy as I am speaking, and my body motions also convey my excitement. You can also give signals and gestures in many different ways. You can give the good dog signal in a calm soothing way if you don’t want your dog to get too excited. You can give it in a very excited way to get your dog revved up and jumping around. There are many possibilities. Just as we have many voice tones, we have many ways of moving our body.

For my blind-deaf dog, I use touch to show her that she did something I liked. I know her favorite places to be scratched and they convey my pleasure. I still talk to her when I praise. Remember that your body responds differently dependent upon your words and intention behind those words. My touch will feel different to her if I am happy, or frustrated, or tired, or excited. I can calm her with my touch. I can also get her excited and more energetic with my touch.

To teach your dog the Good Dog signal, you will need to find several things that your dog already likes and finds enjoyable. For many dogs these include food treats, toys, a game of tug, petting, going in or out of a door, or any countless other options. Give the Good Dog signal and then immediately do one of these fun things. For the ease of this article, I will choose to use food treats, but if your dog is not interested in food treats, you can use something else.

Do this many times until your dog starts to respond to the Good Dog signal by looking at you intently waiting for that treat. Now start to use the Good Dog signal at other times throughout the day. When your dog does something that you like, give the Good Dog signal and then follow it up with the treat. In the beginning it will help to continue to use a treat after the Good Dog signal to really cement its importance into your dog’s mind.

As time goes on, you can use the Good Dog signal with other rewards. If your dog normally jumps and barks at the back door to go out, you can reward that short moment of calm and quiet with the Good Dog signal and then let your dog out as the reward. If your dog gives you a toy nicely during play time, use the Good Dog signal and then toss the toy again as a reward.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pool pictures!

Treasure is starting to enjoy the puppy pool this year!  Last year, she could not wait to hop out of it.  In her mind, it was only a large water bowl ... one that she should never stand in!  But this year I invented a new game called "hotdogs on a log," and she suddenly thinks the pool is great fun! 

My gorgeous girl enjoying the breeze by the pool. 


Hotdogs on a log!  Treasure's new favorite game! 

It was Jasmine's first time with the pool, and she wasn't too sure about it, even with our new game.  It took her lots of time to get up the nerve to actually step into the pool to get those hotdogs!  But once she got the hang of it, she became a pro!  She even learned to fish out the floating treats by putting her nose into the water.

How far can I stretch?  Notice Treasure coming in from the left side!

It took a long time, but she's got two feet in! 

Yay, Jazzy!  All four feet in! 

And where was Grace this whole time?  Grace has never enjoyed the pool, but she will use it as a large water bowl, stealing sips between wrestling games with her buddies!

Grace (left) and Owen (right)

Grace says, "I am NOT getting in that pool!"