Thursday, February 25, 2010

Onyx's Travels

Onyx loves playing in the snow, and we wanted to share this video that her puppy raisers took after the big snow storms.

These past few weeks, Onyx has been a rambling dog. She went to Cashtown, PA with her puppy raisers Mark and Carol for the Mysterious Journeys Weekend - a weekend of touring the locations of the Ghosts of Gettysburg episode of Mysterious Journeys on the Travel Channel. Onyx spent the weekend at the Cashtown Inn, and she was such a good girl! During dinner, her puppy raisers put her in her crate to relax, but while the speakers were presenting, Carol took the opportunity to practice hand cues. Onyx did great, and she stayed quiet for almost the whole time! Carol used power treats - chicken (one of Onyx's favorites!) and hot dog pieces.

Onyx didn't go with Mark and Carol on the actual tour, but on Sunday of that weekend, she got to play with the Cashtown Inn's dog, Barnum. The owners of the Inn closed off the tavern room so the dogs could play without getting into too much trouble! Carol took advantage of the situation and practiced recalls with Onyx. You may remember from our first post about Onyx that when she's playing with other dogs, she tends to ignore the cue to come. Well, at the Cashtown Inn, Carol had Onyx's favorite treat - cheese whiz - and Onyx responded every time Carol cued her to come! Of course, Barnum usually came too, once he found out there was cheese, but it was a definite success for Onyx.

This past Saturday, she went on the puppy outing to Chocolate World. Knowing that this would be a challenging experience for the dogs, Carol brought the cheese whiz. Onyx was perfectly fine in the parking lot. In the building, she handled the stairs and rotating floor with no problem. But when it came to getting on the car for the ride, Onyx wouldn't do it. SSD Rossi demonstrated how to get on the car, but Onyx still didn't want to do it. Carol and Mark took her outside to relax, then came back to try it again, but she still didn't like those cars.

Even though Onyx balked at actually getting on the ride, she still got good experience being at Chocolate World. She had to go through the turn stile and walk past all the free candy samples Hershey gives away, and she had no problem with either of them. She did fine in the Hershey store and completely ignored the other SSD dogs, keeping her attention on Mark, Carol and the cheese whiz. Chocolate World was very stressful for her, but she still got some good practice. In the photo below, Onyx is the one eating the cheese straight from the can.

From Sunday to Thursday (today), many of our puppy raisers have swapped puppies. This is a great experience for both the puppies and the puppy raisers. The puppies have to adjust to the ways of a new household and family, which is something they will eventually need to do once they become service dogs. It also gives them experience with different handlers, who might ask for behaviors in different ways. For the puppy raisers, it gives them an opportunity to work wtih another dog. They suddenly have a new puppy with a different personality and behaviors, and the training plans and style they use with their puppy might not work with the new one. they'll have to think outside the box. When the puppies return to their usual homes, puppy raisers usually have lots to share.

Mark and Carol swapped puppies with SSD Sienna's puppy raisers. Sienna is a yellow lab and Onyx's sister. So far, Sienna has had several new experiences - meeting new people and dogs and learning to go up longer flights of stairs. She even went to a tour guide meeting and did great! "It'll be very interesting to see everythign that Onyx has learned when she gets back," says Carol.

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