Last day of completeness

Bear snoring in the kitchen near the end of the long day.

Bear went in this morning.  Yesterday was his last day of being intact, of having a pair swinging.  So we made the most of it.  It might have been due to the experience at the Holiday Inn (see previous post), or it could have been just trying to get the most out of cyber Monday.  Whatever the reason, Bear had a busy day.

The day begin with the now usual ride to school with Sam, Dec, and Emma.  He is getting better, but still needs some training.  I am also getting a bit better at sensing when he MUST take a poop, when he is yanking to get to some grass.  I’ve learned to simply let go of the leash and get a bag out.

After getting back home, Bear’s usual three-hour morning nap was cut short to sign papers for our refinance (have you seen how low rates are?).  At this point I realized that I could have easily left Bear at home.  The decision to bring Bear was a combination of the Holiday Inn experience and Bear’s increasing maturity.  He is much calmer and able to hold it together for longer periods of time.  At the same time I am more aware of how people react when they see the “Service Dog” vest.

We rode the elevator up to the 14th floor.  Bear laid on the floor while we signed.  He was very still with the help of my foot on his leash, but he didn’t struggle.  We visited the Men’s room.  There was someone else in the restroom.  Luckily the stall was vacant.  At this point I realized that Bear hadn’t drunk any water and was likely very thirsty.  I waited for the other occupant to exit before letting Bear drink from the commode.  (It’s a well-known fact that the water from a toilet is cleaner than the water in the washing machine.)

After the Title company, there were some errands to do.  In particular, we had some stores to visit.  Before shopping, though, I needed some food.  So we went to one of the best places: Chipotle’s.  Bear got to practice his Army crawl while we inched forward in line.  Then he got to lay quietly below the table while Heather and I ate.

Then it was off to Nordstrom, then to Costco, and finally to Wal-Mart.  In general, people ignore the fact that I am walking around with a dog.  I suppose that this occurs when Bear is really behaving himself.  It may be that comments are more common when I have to correct him, put him in a sit, or redirect him.  People say how cute he is, or the fact that I am training him, or ask if it is difficult to give the dog up when they are grown.  I used to respond to these comments, but now I usually smile and nod.

Once home Bear plopped down in the kitchen where dinner was being made, but he quickly fell fast asleep, snoring on his side.  Again his nap was cut short to ride to Sam’s and pickup Dec.  On our ride home we stopped at a field for Bear to run off leash, and then back home.

He slept soundly.    This morning it was another ride to school before being dropped off at the vet’s for the chopping block.

Questions

  • How much will this surgery set Bear back in scent training.
  • How much do we want Bear to be with us when we are not at home?
  • How many Hanukkah presents will Bear destroy?

Chewing

  • Lord of the Flies from Fiona’s English class.

    Dec demonstrating the consumption of Lord of the Flies.

  • Another set of earphones.
  • Dec’s slipper.
  • A plastic Army soldier.
  • Dec’s walkie-talkie (I hope it still works).

 

Lessons

Not sure when the last lesson was, over a month, i think.  At the lesson I realized that my energy and excitement for training is inversely related to the frequency of lessons.  I had to admit that Bear’s training has diminished to walks to the park, with some scent training thrown in there.  I’ll occasionally do a few things at home, like “go to bed”, “rollover”, and “crawl”.  The main reason for the lesson was to work on basic outdoor behavior: tugging on the leash and running next to the bike.

Right off the bat Kristin introduced Bear to a “Gentle-lead”, which is very gentle for the person, but appears extremely annoying to the canine at the other end.  It is a figure eight harness for the head, going around the snout and neck.  Bear started bucking and yanking at his snout as soon as it was on.  It reminded me of the first time we had him on a leash.  He did settle down after some tasty treats and a bit of time.  I am told that after a few sessions with the “gentle-lead” the uncontrollable yanking will disappear simply by pulling the “gentle-lead” out of one’s pocket.  That is how gentle it is to the canine at the other end.  We’ll see.

Next we went outside to run alongside the bike.  Luckily for us it was dry.  The last time I tried riding with Bear on the bike I nearly took his head off while he nearly yanked me down a bluff.  No treats necessary on this one since just running at full speed is such a joy (oh, to be a dog).  The majority of this lesson is to communicate where he needs to be, which is behind the fork line of the bike, and to the right of the bike.  We started by walking the bike with Bear on the right.  If he ever got passed the fork line, Kristin would say “Get back!” as she jerked the front wheel to the right to tap him.  Bear should be scared to go beyond the fork line of the bike because bad bad things will happen if he does this while riding.

Last night I practiced running with the bike, and this morning I rode with him to Maggie’s school to deliver a forgotten lunch.  Bear picked up on it like a champ.  This has everything to do with the reward for learning the lesson.  In fact, Maggie’s school is one of his favorite destinations with many dogs playing in the field at the beginning and end of each day.  Our walks to the school is what prompted me to call Kristin about tugging on the leash, which may be remedied with the aforementioned “gentle-lead.”  So on our ride to his favorite destination, Bear tugged a little bit, but he was very responsive to the “Knock it off” command.  Once we got to the school, he remained behind fork to the right of the bike as we walked to the door.

While Bear learned quickly how to run alongside the bike, I learned how powerful the reward is in learning.  I picked up some new treats while buying the “gentle-lead”, and Bear loves them.  Back at home he actually went to the dog-pad on the “go to bed” command without me standing right next to the pad.

The variety of treats will help in our latest skill to learn from Kristin: Find the scent.  We put five or six shoe-box sized boxes on the floor, putting treats in one of them (this is how they train drug sniffing dogs).  Bear needs to find the box with the treats.  At first the box is open.  Then we close the box.  Then we put a scent-sample along with the treats.  Then we put the scent-sample in random places around the room.  The idea of this drill is that Bear is seeking out the scent, actively finding it, instead of being passive and waiting for the scent.  Later in this game, we can hide a scent-sample at the park for Bear to find.

Mimi donning her new raincoat for the wet Portland weather.

In addition to the new game and running along with the bike, Bear has had a new dog in the house.  My mom is visiting with her dog, Mimi, who happens to be the same weight as Bear’s poops from the backyard.  Mimi is slowly getting used to Bear trying to play with her.  It is a bit awkward as his paw is about the size of her skull.

Questions:

  • Will Bear ever not seek attention from other dogs?
  • Will Declan be able to ride his bike with Bear running next to him?

Items chewed in the past week:

  • Declan’s school book (we’ve already ordered a replacement).
  • Fiona’s Steve Madden boots (apparently they are nice).
  • Four rolls of toilet paper.
  • A roll of paper towels.
  • Two milk cartons.
  • One juice pouch.