Friday, March 26, 2010

It Was a Full Week for Nubble

As our service dogs-in-training grow and gain more experience, they sometimes get into mischief. On last Monday night, Nubble got into a bit of mischief. He ate baking soda! He mauled the box, and since Donna wasn't sure how much baking soda he ate or what baking soda could even do to a dog, she called our puppy coordinator. As it turns out, Nubble spent Monday night at the vet's office, just in case his electrolytes were out of balance and to make sure his liver wasn't affected. Good news - he's perfectly fine! He did have two unusual side effects, though. He drooled constantly, so much that when he shook, the drool went flying. And his breath smelled terrible! We're all thankful, though, that these were the only side effects!

In our Northeast Division, the puppy raisers take turns selecting public outings for the dogs. Last Wednesday, it was Donna's turn. They planned to take the dogs to Snow Mountain, a ski resort in the Wilkes-Barre area, but the weather didn't cooperate. Instead, they went to the MoheganSun Casino. With a concourse surrounding the actual gambling floor, the casino provided some great exposure for the dogs. (A lot of people asked if the dogs gambled. Donna just told them the dogs were all underage.)

With the support of Meg, the Northeast Division's coordinator, Nubble did pretty well at the casino. As long as Donna kept his attention, he behaved very nicely. She has determined that his biggest challenge when he's working in public is the presence of other dogs. When there are other dogs around, Nubble has a hard time concentrating because he gets so excited. Without other dogs, he does great! This is one thing that Donna plans to work on.

While they were at the casino, Donna worked on stairs with Nubble. Stairs also present a challenge for him because Donna's house doesn't have a lot of stairs, so he isn't used to them. Outside the casino was a long flight of stairs. By this point in the outing, Donna only had a few treats left, but they still used this great opportunity to practice. Every time Nubble put his paw on the next step, Donna clicked and treated. He didn't seem to want to move him back feet, though. At one point, he had his front feet stretched way out in front of him on the stairs while his back feet remained at the bottom. With a little coaxing, he did manage to get up the stairs. a
Although he bolted to the top when there were only about eight steps left to go, he still made wonderful progress.

Nubble drew lots of attention while he practiced stairs. "Everyone walking up and down the stairs was cheering him on, saying things like 'You can do it!' "Good job, puppy!' and 'You're almost there!'" says Donna. "It was really nice."

Because she was running low on treats, Donna gave Nubble lots of praise until they got back to the car. Then she gave him a jackpot of treats so he would know he did an awesome job. Naturally, all that work tired him out and he promptly fell asleep.

While Donna fills up her gas tank, Nubble has gotten very good at just sitting in the car watching her. He used to roam around the car and check everything out, but now when she tells him to stay, he sits nicely on the front seat. They still need to work on stay when Donna moves out of his sight. Right now, he gets up and moves to where he can see her. But it's nice progress.

Donna works in a restaurant, and Nubble went with her to an employee meeting. They were a little late for the meeting because taking a puppy anywhere is sort of like taking a toddler. You need the puppy's vest, clean up supplies in case of accidents, clicker, treats, maybe a bone, etc. As as is often the case, breaks to get busy take twice as long when you need to be somewhere by a certain time.

On the way inside, Nubble started making little growling noises. At first, Donna couldn't figure out what was bothering him because there didn't seem to be anything nearby that would cause that reaction. Then she saw that he was looking at a fire hydrant and realized that he probably had never seen one before. (Donna plans to take him walking in town more often.) He was dancing around, not getting close to it, but after she worked with him, he finally got curious enough to go up to it. After all that, he simply sniffed it and walked away. He didn't seem to care about the fire hydrant after that.

During the meeting, Nubble had another new experience: applause. The first time all the employees clapped, he jumped up from his down, faced everyone, and joined in with his own loud noises. The second time, he jumped up but only looked at everyone. The third time, he was already standing but he just looked and wagged his tail. The fourth time, he stayed down and just turned his head to look at everyone. Nice progress!

They went to Wal-Mart again, and this time Nubble did much better! Meg gave Donna some tips on keeping Nubble focused, and it has really worked. He was very well behaved and was not stressed this time. Donna still had to tell him to leave it a lot, but he did leave it when cued. He walked nicely on a loose leash, and when he did start pulling, Donna was able to quickly refocus him. His focus has really improved. Now when someone comes up and tries to get his attention or pet him, he looks at the people but then turns right to Donna.

With the warmer weather, Nubble has turned into a shedding machine! But even though there's lots of hair to clean up, he and his puppy raisers are having a great time!

No comments:

Post a Comment