Camp 6 & 5

Fiona and Maggie catch some Z's on our way to breakfast

Fiona and Maggie catch some Z’s on our way to breakfast

We got up at 430 in the morning and were on the road by 445. Declan riding shotgun, Maggie and Fiona in the backseat, we made it to Roseburg’s Denny’s for breakfast with Grandma Estelle. She was driving north while we continued south.

Grandma Estelle would free Bear from his “I’m home alone” small room, and take him to Kristin’s for ten days of Bear camp. He was initially going to stay a week at Kristin’s, but he’d be home alone for two or three days with Heather working and the girls and I driving home, so we extended his camp for a few more days. Knowing how much Bear loves puppies and dogs and playing, I’m sure he will be sad to leave.

Bear posing with a Nerf bullet cigarette.

Bear posing with a Nerf bullet cigarette.

While Bear enjoyed himself at Dog-scent-training camp (yes, Kristin will be training him as well), we were all at Family Camp, in Newport Beach, celebrating my mom’s 70th birthday. All the descendants were there. With maximal sunscreen we had minimal burns. Hours in the sun and in the water were had.

About halfway through, anticipating his week at camp, Declan asked if he could visit Bear before going to camp. This coincided with Dec hoarding my phone. I thought he was downloading some game, but he was looking at pictures of Bear.

Camp 3 and 4

Declan and Heather drive to visit Bear and then on to Gales Creek Camp today. Maggie spent a week at Gales Creek in the middle of July. Declan will be there this week. Both Declan and Maggie spent three days there about five years ago. It is a camp for kids with diabetes. It has been around for 60 years. I believe that it was one of the first summer camps for kids with diabetes.

The stash going to Locks of Love

The stash going to Locks of Love

While Maggie was at camp we bribed Declan to cut his hair off. This was one of the two things on my “must do” summer list. The other “must do” item was getting Maggie to camp. So in one week I was able to check both off the list.

It took some gentle prodding and a bribe to get Declan to give up his locks. Declan stealthily maneuvered between Heather and I, maximizing revenues. In the end it is worth it. Heather already reminisces his long hair. I scoff at this. That rat’s nest was unbearable to manage (and didn’t look so good), though the older ladies loved it.

Breakfast at Denny's

Breakfast at Denny’s

It is really nice to see his face unfettered by frizzy hair.

Camp 2 and 1

I spent the better part of a week running Summer Academy to Inspire Learning (SAIL@PSU). During my time at camp, Declan cared for Bear, taking him on walks and doing quick training sessions and putting him through some photo shoots (see the above cigarette pic and the “smiling” pic from last post). And camp 1 was a small neighborhood camp, traveling around Portland, PDXplore.

Games at PDXplore (Dec slowed down with air friction)

Games at PDXplore (Dec slowed down with air friction)


Low on low-scents

Four girls stuff in the back while Bear sits shotgun.

Four girls stuff in the back while Bear sits shotgun.

We had a pretty good stash of low-scents in the freezer. Opening it up, there would always be a few rolling around and I knew there were some hidden under the bag of corn. Last week, however, I searched around and realized we only had three left. We’ve picked up the training a bit, using more samples. I’m told they last two days of training, but Bear has not mentioned anything to me, so this is all second-hand.

Simultaneous to picking up our training and using more samples, we’ve dropped off on collecting low samples. This is first because it is a pain to grab all the supplies in the midst of a low. My first inclination is to get Bear over to signal. After he signals Declan, then I want to get on with treating the low, and I think Declan wants to as well. Second, the test tubes and cotton swabs are stashed away under the bench with other training supplies, so inertia sets in and I bank on the endless supply in the freezer.

Sidenote: I say “Declan” is low because I don’t remember the last time I helped Maggie with a low. This is not only because she is low in the middle of the night and treats them herself, and because she is not low very often. And about that tub of training supplies, I avoid those not only because they are a pain to get to, shoes piled up in front and, let’s be honest, it is getting more difficult to bend down, but also because Bear found the tub a few months ago and chewed through about five rolls of poop bags and a brush. So going to the tub also reminds me of Bear’s inclination to chew over signaling.


Dec took this picture while Bear slept on his back.

Realizing the end of scent samples neared, I prepared “single serving” scent gathering kits. I put one test tube with four cotton swabs in a baggie. I put one of these in Dec’s kit and two on the counter. And then we primed the pumps by being a bit aggressive on corrections and dosing.

For two days now we have been primed for gathering scent samples. Yesterday Dec had a low but told Heather he was 155 when he was actually 55. He treated the low and by the time we realized he was close to 200. Two days ago he had a low and totally spaced it.

This morning I over-corrected and overdosed. An hour after the shot I checked and he was 400. Normally I’d let it ride to see if it would come down, but today I corrected. We washed the cars and checked blood sugar again. Again in the 400s and again I corrected. He went off to put some money in the bank (part of his allowance has to go in the bank each week). He walked in eating an ice cream sandwich that he’d bought from the market across from the bank. He’d also bought one for me. He is really sweet.

An hour later and he is still high. At this time the NPH (a time delayed insulin) should be kicking in along with all the stacking of insulin I’d been doing all morning.

“Any ideas why you’re so high?” I ask.

“I don’t know. Maybe it is because of the Skittles and the Mountain Dew.” He responds.

Now I love the fact that he goes and buys this stuff on his own, but that would be great information to have before I opened a new vial of Novolog thinking that the other vial had gone bad.

I run up to the hardware store to fashion some non-test tube scent sample holders out of PVC fittings. I get back and Dec tells me he had a low, got Bear to signal, and collected four samples. What a champion.

As for training, Bear is positive about the no-scent, but still is reluctant with the low-scent. He is getting HIGH value treats for the low-scent signaling. We are talking leftover chicken or hot dog pieces. It’s been a week and not a lot has changed. I’d hoped that he’d pick this up quicker.


Back at it

Finishing up the entire new season of "Arrested Development" with Fiona and Heather. Very appropriate.

Finishing up the entire new season of “Arrested Development” with Fiona and Heather. Very appropriate.

After a long break from any formal training, Bear and I went back and had a training session with Kristin yesterday (the photos are unrelated to the training, instead they show what he’s been up to recently).

Kristin said there is still hope, that Bear can still become a service dog. I shared with her my fears that he signals when he sees the scent sample rather than when he smells it, and how he is getting better on walking and behaving in public places. I’m still not sure where we will land with Bear and how serviceable he will be as a service dog, but we did start moving in the direction of a service dog.

Oblivious to students practicing a dance performance.

Oblivious to students practicing a dance performance.

My inclination that Bear signals on sight of sample rather than on scent were confirmed. He is on auto pilot. He sees a sample container and he paws for a treat. Not only that, but he’ll signal when you just hold your hand out pretending to hold the sample. During the lesson we had one scent and one no-scent sample. We present the no-scent for Bear to sniff. He automatically signals before even smelling it. A quick “Nuh-uh” response and turn away with disappointment when he signals on a no-scent.

Cape Lookout with neighbors. Bear under table.

Cape Lookout with neighbors. Bear under table.

Bear needs to think about whether it is a low-scent or a no-scent. During the lesson he continues to signal the no-scent. We continue to turn away. He begins to not signal, to ignore the no-scent. He gets a “good boy!” and a treat. The hope is that he’ll do this three or four times in a row. This does not happen during the lesson and has not happened in the three training sessions since the lesson.

After time with the no-scent we switch to the low-scent. I can see Bear’s frustration and confusion here as he abstains from signaling yet does not get a treat. He needs to connect the scent with the signal and then the treat. He begins wandering off, checking out new corners of the room, sniffing the breeze blowing in from the window.He sits and scratches himself, a favorite of his. All throughout Bear’s attempts to find something else to do, we pull him back to the plastic tube that either has a low- or no-scent.

Chilling with Grandma on Bear's love-seat.

Chilling with Grandma on Bear’s love-seat.

We are reminded of how Kristin described Bear over a year ago, when she was visiting the litter from early on. She described Bear as confident and independent, that he was often the first to do things. A year out confident and independent translate to stubborn, bull-headed, and happy doing his own thing. In more able hands I’m confident Bear would be pretty amazing at this point. However, Bear is in our home, adding one more stubborn adolescent to our potpourri of teen-spirit.  In our hands Bear has become an independent minded dog, looking to satisfy his needs, which includes nutrition (food on the counter), jawing exercises (chewing shoes, books, and other sundry items), and playtime (looking for any dog to play with).

So we are back at it with more focus. We are working on distinguishing the no- and low-scent. After he masters this we will bring back the doorbell for signaling, having it present with and without the low-scent. And Bear will be wearing the “gentle-lead” collar on any walks.


Always a good time with Dec.

Always a good time with Dec.

It has been hot here. The last few days we went to the dog park by the Willamette River. The first day he got in, but didn’t swim. Yesterday morning we went to a park with a casting pond with ducks floating in it. Thinking the grass and muck in the corner was solid ground, Bear stepped in only to be completely submerged in the water. He came out splashing hard with his front legs. Demonstrating his core strength, he was able to pull himself out of the pond after getting his front paws on Terra firma. Later in the day we went back to the river, this time with Declan and friends. We all got in and Bear was swimming after sticks and tennis balls. Once I threw the stick in the water from the dock. Bear dove in after the stick. He was under water for longer than I though he’d be. When he finally emerged, he was splashing hard with those front paws.