Although it’s cooler today, SSD Hale has been loving the warm spring weather! She wants to go outside all the time. She spends lots of time watching the robins, but she doesn’t chase them. Hale has also rediscovered how great green grass tastes! She tears off a few blades and tosses them in the air! Donna, Hale’s puppy raiser, is looking forward to the time when the weather warms up enough to set up the doggie pool.
Did you see Hale at PawsAbilities? On Saturday, March 10, she spent some time at our puppy raiser booth near the Faulkner Subaru car. She played with the enormous Cane Corso at the neighboring booth, but she spent most of her time relaxed on her blanket, watching the people and dogs go by. On Sunday, March 11, she and Nubble both got to go to PawsAbilities! Donna and Lindsey walked around with the two dogs and had a chance to play some games, and Donna was pleased with how well Hale interacted with strange dogs. Hale played Temptation Tower, a game where handlers try to build the tallest tower of dog treats before time runs out – without the dog eating any of the biscuits! Hale did great. She played with Lindsey, but she spent the whole time watching Donna instead of focusing on the tower of dog biscuits.
This past Wednesday, the Northeast Puppy Raising Program went to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Hale did very well! At first, she and Donna sat in the food court with SSD Fred and SSD Cassie. Fred used to get very excited when he was around Hale, but thanks to the hard work of his puppy raiser, he was able to lie calmly next to Hale.
The casino was a great place to practice greetings. People were wonderful about greeting Hale. “Whenever someone asks to pet her, I ask them to stop if she pops up from a sit or a down,” said Donna. “It helps her learn that she can’t bounce around when someone is petting her.” When people asked to pet SSD Cassie after they pet Hale, they would ask, “Does she need to be sitting, too?” Although Cassie is able to stay calm while standing, it’s wonderful that people are so understanding and mindful of the dogs’ training.
With all of the loud noises and blinking lights, the casino can be a challenging place for a dog. Hale had no problem with it! She did try to eat any gum, so Donna had to be vigilant. After they were finished inside, Donna took the opportunity to have Hale practice walking on a grate. She did very well!
And then it was time for the final challenge of the outing – the stairs. You may remember that stairs were very challenging for Nubble, and Donna was a little apprehensive about taking the stairs with Hale. This particular flight of stairs is much longer than the typical flight, and Donna was preparing herself for a difficult walk up them. However, Hale walked calmly next to Donna the whole time. Donna even planned a few stops along the way up, and Hale stopped right next to her. “I couldn’t believe the mindblock I had about these stairs. It turns out, they’re just a normal set of stairs, albeit slightly longer than normal,” said Donna. “I can completely understand how a dog or any animal can have a negative association with something and have difficulty getting past it until they have a positive experience with it. With these stairs, Hale was my positive reinforcement.”
On Thursday, Hale went to Red Robin with her puppy raisers. Donna has been working on “under” with her, and although she doesn’t quite know the cue yet, she is now comfortable going under things and being in smaller spaces. She tucked herself under the table, and stayed there the entire evening. Donna and her family had a very pleasant dinner. When they got up to leave, their waiter was shocked that they had a dog. He had no idea Hale was under the table the entire time, and neither did the people at the surrounding tables. The sentence “I had no idea there was a dog under there!” is one of the highest compliments a puppy raiser can get. It means the dog and the puppy raiser were doing exactly what they should be doing. “I was very proud of Hale that she was so unobtrusive that no one realized it,” said Donna.
Hale has also gone bowling, witnessed a low-flying helicopter, and learned some new skills. We’ll have more about her adventures later this week.