So last week we started noticing Bear signaling quite a bit more, starting with the time he barked at me with Declan sitting across from me (Late Update). I believe that he has been signaling at some level, but we have not been noticing. That said, Bear is not on all the time. Two nights ago Declan was getting into bed; Bear was on his trundle snoring. Dec said, “I think I need to test.” Sure enough he was low. We got Bear awake and he signaled, but at some point Bear needs to wake from the scent on his own and signal.
This morning Maggie rolled out of bed and came upstairs, sitting next to Bear. Bear pawed her and then she went and tested. She was low. The challenge in this case is twofold. First, it would be good for Bear to have to come to Maggie, but she is in tune with how she feels. So she will go to Bear when she feels low to give him practice, but the only time Maggie goes to Bear is when she is low. Bear needs to signal when she is low, not when she approaches him. At this point I am not convinced what Bear is signaling. The second challenge is to get Maggie excited after he signals. When he pawed her this morning, she simply stood up and went to her kit to test, quietly telling me that Bear signaled her. Now I wonder how many times has he signaled without any celebration or without any treats.
This afternoon I was running to the store when Dec and Sam got home from school. When I got home my mom, who is out visiting, told me that Bear pawed Declan. Declan quashed the signal, telling Grandma that Bear paws a lot when he gets home because he is so excited. And I agree with Declan, however, when I got home and heard this I told Dec that he needed to test. Though I was expecting the usual mid-afternoon 300+ blood sugar reading, Dec was 72. Though it was quite a bit after his initial signal, we had Bear signal Dec again before treating the low with a juice pouch.
After spending over $60 on chew toys and bones, things have improved. Bear now has a big basket of toys that is depleted throughout the day. (Need to teach him to pick up his own toys.) The basket is refilled as the house gets picked up throughout the day. In addition to more approved chew things, I put Bear in the crate whenever I leave the house. Needless to say, it is not foolproof. Yesterday Fiona stormed upstairs screaming, which is not out of character, but she was screaming that she MUST have a lock on her door. Bear chewed up a hanger and a leather-bound sketch book.
I am able to empathize with Fiona. I’ve had several shoes gnawed on along with books and notebooks. However, I had trouble not laughing with such a big deal about a hanger being chewed up. “It will have to be replaced!” she yelled. I’m fine with that. It is a bummer when Bear chews things up. Now whenever we drive past our local True Value, Fiona points to it and says, “Let’s go and get a lock for my door.” I respond by telling her that Bear doesn’t chew anything anymore. She rolls her eyes. He doesn’t chew as much, at least, it is going in the right direction. Guffaw. And I’ll do a better job of making sure the gate is up at the bottom of the stairs and that your door is latched. Another roll of the eyes.
We go to Service Dog training lessons this Saturday. I needed these classes to start a month ago, and it will be great to get started with Kristin again. Without much direction, and with an adolescent dog, I purchased a few books. My Smart Puppy arrived first. Turns out Bear being a big pain in my butt is developmental. This book should be attached to the puppy when you bring it home. Better yet, it should be mailed to you three weeks prior to picking the puppy up.
Grandma came to town and helped out with some walks and teaching Bear to drop a ball at her foot. Not sure how she did it, but I haven’t been able to replicate it. Bear learned to retrieve a ball for Grandma. Anyone else and it turns into a game of keep-away.