Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nubble's Watery Adventures

In our last Nubble post, we mentioned that he and his puppy raisers were going to Ocean City. Everyone had a blast!

The drive down was very uneventful - which is a good thing! It means that Nubble has very good behavior in the car. Although, his puppy raiser is glad that she drives a minivan, because Nubble is just too big to fit comfortably in a Volkswagen Beetle or a Mini Cooper! Once they arrived, Nubble settled right into his new environment. He had no problem sleeping in a temporary home - no barking at all!

Nubble went on lots of walks during his weekend at the beach. Because dogs aren't usually allowed on the beach at Ocean City, Donna and her family checked in with the lifeguards so they would know that Nubble is a service dog-in-training. The lifeguards were very nice, welcoming him onto the beach. Nubble went for his walks early in the morning to avoid the hot sun and sand.

He loved the waves! Donna put him on a six-foot leash, and all Nubble wanted to do was swim! He kept splashing over and under the waves and running in circles. As they were walking down the beach, Donna's feet kicked up little puffs of sand in the water. Nubble tried to pounce on this strange thing until he figured out it was just sand. He also liked the seagulls. He didn't chase them, but he did stare intensely at them. The sandpipers were a little different. Donna used the sandpipers to practice leave it with Nubble.

By the end of each day, he had sand, sand, and more sand in his fur. His puppy raisers hosed him off outside, and even though he wasn't too keen on the cold hose water at first, he soon settled down and got some good practice standing still while his puppy raisers rinsed him off.

He encountered several dogs that weekend and behaved fairly well. He's still working on the concept that not all dogs are play things, though. When he and his puppy raisers were walking on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, another dog came up behind them. Because it was behind them, Donna didn't notice it, but Nubble sure did! He tried to jump for the dog and almost knocked Donna over. When they came across the same dog later, though, Nubble completely ignored him. Donna has learned that she needs to be extremely alert to everything in the environment and to keep Nubble focused on her if there is any chance that he might bolt.

The boardwalk was also great exposure for Nubble because he was around so many people. He took a little while to settle, but once he did, he did great. Whenever Nubble goes somewhere, he always needs a few minutes to settle in, but once he does, he's able to get down to business and work. Later on the boardwalk, he got to enjoy an ice cream cone. Even though he has only had ice cream cones twice before, he knew exactly what was coming when he saw that Donna's kids had ice cream cones. He loves this tasty treat!

They had the opportunity to practice stairs again. Because stairs are so challenging for Nubble, Donna takes every opportunity she can get to practice going up and down stairs with him. He still wants to rush up stairs, and it's difficult to get him to go slowly, but he does go up the stairs now. While they were practicing, though, Nubble backed out of his collar! Luckily, he headed for the beach. Then his recall kicked in, and he came back to Donna when she called him.

He went to Grotto Pizza with his puppy raisers, and did a fantastic job! He did under, and laid under the table for most of the time. He did try visit (putting his head in Donna' s lap) to get attention, but soon he figured out that it was time to relax under the table, and he settled down. Donna was able to eat with the leash nice and loose because Nubble was doing so well.

Nubble does extremely well with certain cues. On the last day, his puppy raisers packed up and put his crate in the car. Then, while they were in the condo, Donna's kids gave Nubble the kennel cue, which is the cue for him to go into his crate. Well, even though his crate was packed away in the car, he knew what to do. He went right over to the spot where his crate had been all weekend and laid down!

Back home, Nubble's water adventures weren't over. The Northeast Division went on an outing at the lake at Bear Creek Camp. Wow, did the dogs have fun! Nubble swam with his buddy SSD Graham. These two dogs' swimming styles couldn't be more different! Nubble swims with his head close to the water, while Graham looks like he's swimming standing straight up! All of the dogs - Nubble, Graham, Slate and Sky - played a lot of fetch. Naturally, they all slept well that night!

Graham's puppy raiser is now raising SSD Burnaby, one of our new puppies from Pacific Assistance Dog Society. Nubble had a chance to meet this little black lab, and she is probably the youngest puppy Nubble has ever met. At first, he did well greeting her, but then all of the dogs got to be too much for him so Donna took Nubble away from all the distractions to calm down. Then, taking their time, they tried greeting Burnaby again. They let Burnaby come to Nubble and made sure he didn't try to rush at her. By the end of the greeting, Nubble was making great progress in how to properly greet a young dog.

Nubble had his evaluation, and he is doing very well for his age. (He's now eleven months old!) The evaluation helped Donna identify areas where Nubble needs some practice and areas where he's doing well.

We'll have more about Nubble soon!

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