Meet Tesla

Sunday, February 12th, 2017 08:00 pm
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This is Tesla. His registered name is Tesla Leuchtet Den Weg vom LhunThyla ( Tesla Lights The Way - from LhunThyla ; my owner/kennel tag ). Tesla is an AKC registered German Shepherd ( Alsatian ). He is 13 weeks old. I have had him for about a week, but didn't want to post anything publicly till I knew for sure I was keeping him. He is a Galliard, born Waxing Gibbous ( a day shy of Ahroun! ) . Very vocal and likes to tell you about all the things. He has a great personality and is already more like Journey was in his confidence levels, which is a good thing. Certain personality traits about Tesla remind me of Journey and Chakotay both. Tesla's namesake is in honor of Nikola Tesla, famous Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity system, wireless communications, experiments in wireless power transmission, and much more. Tesla coils, anyone? :D The symbology behind "lighting the way" is both toward that namesake, and the hope he will light the way for me as my new service dog. So far he is doing well with basic training and everything he is exposed to in public. His hips and body structure look great; he does the "Superman sprawl" which is an early sign hips should be okay. When I went to meet him and was doing the initial evaluation, he was quite the character. While talking to the breeder, I set my treat pouch down off to the side. Next thing we knew, puppy had picked the whole thing up and was happily trotting back toward the garage carrying it! A metal trash lid dropping right behind him when he wasn't expecting it and umbrella/object testing did not phase him, he had quick recovery. He happily greets strangers and other dogs. As long as the OFA xrays come back good, he will be clear medically. As long as he can overcome any adolescent fear periods he might have, he should be okay behaviorally. Fingers crossed he will be the one. Third GSD is a charm? Lets hope so. I will be setting up a fundraiser to help cover his medical and xray expenses, and so we can get into some training classes for socialization as soon as possible. Anyone interested in donating can send donations to leopardwolf@gmail.com via PayPal. I am offering artwork or creative things in return, based on donation amounts for anyone interested. Thank you for your help and support! Follow along here: http://www.facebook.com/JourneyWithServiceDogs
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Thank you to everyone for their thoughts and concern over me having to go to the ER yesterday. ER finally confirmed what I have suspected for a while - I have Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). And it is probably directly caused by my Sjögren's Syndrome. They gave me a new medication that tries to target TN nerve pain, and it was finally able to break through the agony late last night/early this morning. I went to bed with the lower left side of my face swelling ( inflammation related ), and when I woke up today the entire left side of my face was swollen and eye watering from the puffy around it, making it hard to see out that side. Using an ice pack on it, so will see if that helps reduce the swelling. Otherwise I am stable, still in pain but new med is helping. Follow up with primary doc and Neurology Monday. I am a zombie, will be while getting used to this new med. Recap on what led to this point: I was in so much pain, I hadn't been able to sleep for days ( worse than normal ) because the pain always gets insanely worse at night. I have an extremely high tolerance for pain these days, and my Gaba med normally takes enough edge off that I can "ignore" it ( just suffer through it ). On the second day it was getting to where I couldn't tolerate it anymore. Aunt tried to help by getting me all sorts of ice/heat packs and OTC stuff to dull pain. It got so bad that night/early morning that I almost called an ambulance ( my aunt was asleep and she can't drive at night so only way I could have got to ER is that way or call cab and I was worried Medicaid would not cover ambulance ride and had no way to verify at 2am ). It was weekend, no way to speak with Medicaid people to see what was covered, I just decided to suffer through it. On the third day of insane pain I went through my entire daily dose of Gaba in 3.5hrs and it did nothing. I knew it would only get worse again come evening and I didn't think I could deal with it again without wanting to destroy something from how much it hurt. For pain to hurt me bad enough to make me give in and go to the hospital or ER on a weekend, you know it is seriously bad. So neighbor took me that evening since aunt can't drive at night ( thanks again so much! ) and dropped me off. The EJGH staff was AMAZING. First person we were met with was security, and he stopped me when he saw Ember.... I was seriously ready to destroy someone/something at that point from the severe pain and I was having worried flashbacks of the horrible experience I had several years ago with the security douchebag at LSU hospital ER trying to deny me access if I didn't show him "proof" Ember was a real service dog ( this is against the law ). Thank the gods, this lovely gentleman was far better trained and considerate. He noticed her vest and the patches clearly defining what she was, smiled and said nevermind and told me to go ahead. I heard other hospital staff whispering as we wandered past, all saying "its a service dog" to each other, sounding as relieved she was the real deal as I felt that they recognized what Ember was. They were tons more professional and knowledgeable. That's why I chose to use EJGH general practice doctors for my care, and their conduct in the ER only reaffirms I made the right choice. Compared to the LSU ER horror, getting in to the EJGH ER was quick and rather painless. I was worried it would be crowded on a Saturday evening, and while there were enough other people, the staff had a nice system set up for intake and directing patients. They brought me to an exam room in a wheelchair to avoid me going full syncope due to the pain I was in, worried to make me walk that far down the hallways. I was thankful for that. Ember got to show off what a well trained dog she was and that made her happy. She's been so worried over me the past few days. The nurse helped me into the hospital bed and Ember took her place beside it to wait. I got to watch some HGTV while waiting for the doctor. We don't have live cable anymore so it was a treat to watch. The wait for the doctor was brief. She went over my history and current symptoms, I explained I had experienced this problem numerous times before but this was about the worst it had ever been. After a quick examination she agreed based on my history that Trigeminal Neuralgia was most likely responsible, probably directly caused by my Sjögren's causing irritation/swelling/pressure against the nerve bundles somehow. She wrote me a new prescription to try Carbamazepine, got an additional referral to Neurology for me, told me to follow up with my primary Monday, and that was that. They discharged me with paperwork and took me to wait for a cab in the lobby, and were kind enough to make the call for me and inform them I had my service dog with me. It was while waiting I noticed some tightness in my face on the left side, the effected side. I was still in a ton of pain and rather out of it, but realized after poking at it gently that it felt like swelling, and not realizing it was there before I got a nurse to ask the doctor. Unfortunately since they had already discharged me, it meant I would have had to have gone through the whole intake process again, and my cab driver showed up at that time. Not wanting the poor gentleman to wait or have come out to get me for nothing, I decided it was probably from my Sjögren's attacking the glands or something. I have had milder swelling where the salivary glands are before, figured that was it and decided it wasn't worth the trouble to wait around for them to likely not do anything else for me anyway. Couldn't be medication related because I hadn't started the new medicine yet, so clearly it was inflammation. I figured if it got worse, I could go back. The cab driver was very nice and considerate, thought Ember was just amazing. He called her a Rougarou ( Louisiana folklore / French for Werewolf ) when we first got in and told his dispatch he had "Miss Brittney and her Rougarou". That made me all sorts of happy and geeky, and when I responded showing I knew what the term meant, he was just as delighted. It was a pleasant drive home with good conversation, as much as I was limited to talk at the time. Much thanks to Metry Cab and Mr. Jim! My aunt was able to drive me to the 24-hour pharmacy just down the block, since it wasn't too far and well lit with street lights. Had to wait forever for the new med to be filled. Finally got home. Took meds. Became a zombie. Finally got some rest. Took me way too long to write this so it makes sense. The end.
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This little thing is what has been keeping me busy this past week. She is a 7 week old ( 8 weeks old on Dec 6th ) Rottweiler puppy. After failed attempts to find a dog of the right age/size/temperament/heartworm neg anywhere local for months (50+ dogs again between here and parts of Mississippi), including the recent incident with the touch reactive foster that nearly bit me, my family agreed another puppy might be the best way to go. Except this time no GSD, and lets try a female instead. So here she is. We are doing the same thing with her that we did with Journey and Chakotay, to see what names are fitting. She is a little spitfire, full of spunk and attitude. And damn is she fast. A little whirlwind running around the yard, dashing through all the leaves as she snorks and chomps at them. It's been rainy and overcast so I haven't been able to get a good video of her doing this yet. She is already weighing 14lbs and fitting into the harness I had the boys in when they were at least two weeks or more older than she currently is. She doesn't look like she weighs that much. Here are the names we have narrowed down: Ripley ( Heroine Lt. Ripley from the Aliens movie franchise; aka Badass Bitch. ;) ) Makani ( Wind, Hawaiian; May-Kah-nee ) Kira ( Dusky, dark haired one ) Karma ( Destiny, Listen ) Will share more info and pictures later.

Update On Chakotay

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 06:21 pm
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Chakotay has been adopted! A friend of a friend ( who is now my friend too! ) adopted him. They met and he immediately opened up to her and snugglefest ensued! He knew what he wanted. They are the perfect match for each other. :) Huge, huge thank you to everyone who shared his story and expressed interest in him, and for everyone who has offered their prayers and best wishes through all of this. Gonna miss my dorky fluffball so much. But happy knowing he will make my new friend just as happy as he made me.
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EDIT: Update On Hope Cat: Great news! Radiology came back clean!! No broken bones. Just really deep punctures. The inflammation is pretty bad and there is some infection, so she has been started on antibiotics. Once that reduces the swelling and everything they will assess if there is any neurological damage. She will be FeLV/FIV tested and put up for adoption. Thank you so much to everyone for sharing her story, for your donations, your prays and positive thoughts for her! Since no major surgery was needed afterall, I will be refunding donations and taking down the emergency fundraiser. Thank you again! --------------------- Writing this exhausted and half asleep to get word out ASAP. I got involved with a cat rescue where cat ended up having badly broken leg and was in shock but injury is old come to find out but she was clearly in pain and distress and no use of leg. So I took her to SPCA clinic and they directed me to the shelter portion for a program they have doing 3 day holds to try and find owner and vet/stabilize cat. But she probably needs amputation. I set up a GoFundMe and will spread it like wildfire to hope we can raise the money to help her because the SPCA program might not have funds and if they deem her not adoptable they would otherwise euthanize her, even if she would be adoptable after the surgery and recovery.
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Today started off a bit stressful. Had to get up early for the dog training seminar. Got my coffee and breakfast ( milk and meds yummm ) and got myself dezombified enough. Was right on time, loaded the car. Then my car wouldn't start. Of all the days? Really? Yeeaahh. Can't have it looked at till Monday. Thankfully my aunt could give me a ride.

Got there just in time and got settled. A room full of dog geeks and dog trainers and professionals somehow dog oriented or with their own fearful dogs, and here I am with Ember. Everyone wanted to gobble her up and she would have gladly let them and become one with them if it were physically possible. Everyone was real polite though and resisted the temptation of the cute little black and brindle dog in the room.

The seminar was great. Debbie is thoughtful and has a wonderful sense of humor, and her presentations reflect that. So did the random times a certain image would flash on the screen and she'd lob various dog toys into the audience. Ember was sad she didn't get to fetch them all, but behaved herself by simply watching as they went sailing and squeaking. In the end I made up for it by letting her get all sorts of love from people who had asked, when it was safe to do so.

I was stuck when lunch time came since I didn't have a vehicle. Some nice folks invited us to ride with them to go get lunch, which I thought was very awesome of them. Thanks again guys!

Great topics were discussed and lots of questions were presented and answered. It was so wonderful being surrounded by so many dog and behavioral geeks, that sense of common ground and understanding we all shared. I even got a chance to share my reptile geekery.

Time to speak one on one was limited, but I did have a chance to mention my situation with Chakotay and got some confirmation that we were on the right track. Echoing what I already knew; it is really dependent on the dog, set them up for success and hope for the best. But there is the reality that certain characteristics come with certain breeds and it may need more than behavior modification. Medication can be used to help get things in balance, and once that is used in combination with the training methods, the dog may get to the point where it is no longer needed.

We got a copy of one of Debbie's books and asked her to autograph it, which she was tickled by. Then Ember and I got our picture taken with her. After which Ember got sooooo much loooove from Debbie and anyone else who was still there waiting to speak with her.

Overall a good day.
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My birthday is this week, May 21st. This is the new service dog fundraiser. If you have a few bucks to spare, please consider helping. Pass it along too. Thank you.

http://www.youcaring.com/brittney-steptoe-570453
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Good Sits, Downs, Leave Its, Waits

Working on Stay, Focus and Duration

Multiple Outings To Pet Friendly Stores ( in short time I have had him )

Met 100 New People Before 10 Weeks Old ( yaaay puppy socialization! )

Got Nails Trimmed Without Batting An Eye

Visited Local Starbucks And Did AMAZING down-stay!!! (First "no pets allowed" store exposure.)

AKC STAR Puppy Material! ( Need class and testing eval, but he already does behaviors)



Chakotay will be 10 weeks old this coming Sunday, April 17th.
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Finally have a chance to sit and write a puppy update for those who have been waiting.

Chakotay is the pup's name.

After a week of narrowing it down and seeing which sounds he responded best to, it was between that and Tesla. He chose. He responded far better to "Chakotay" and "Kotay".

Been busy with puppy stuff. Socializing and training. We have gone to local Petco and Petsmart for exposure to new things and meeting awesome people and even a few different animals.

He had an appointment with the vet today, and both the vet and one of the vet techs recognized his name. They kept wanting to call him "Commander" ( the character's eventual rank in the show ). I think they decided they needed to go rewatch the series on Netflix after our visit.

Chakotay weighs 13.6lbs and is 9 weeks old currently. He has big feet and big ears and is a fluffball of an adorable Alsatian. Healthy as a horse and it is obvious he's going to be a big dog as he gets older. Which is just what I need.

Chakotay is a lot more sensitive than Journey was, but he also seems to be learning much quicker and has a better body structure.

Some things ( mostly sounds ) startle him at first, but when we come across such a thing he recovers quickly. I normally recreate the situation if I can, so he can see what causes it. Once he does, he's totally okay with it after I make it into a big happy thing and give praise and treats.

I have pictures and video to upload and share and some funny things I have been taking note of to share.

I have to raise money for upcoming vet expenses and PennHIP Xrays, and puppy and obedience classes. Anyone interested in helping, who can spare a few dollars, please consider purchasing artwork or creative things from me, supporting me on Patreon, or donating to the service dog fund raiser to help us stay on track. Feel free to share, repost, reblog, re-whatever! Thank you for taking the time to read and for your support.

Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LeopardWolf

Support: http://www.patreon.com/leopardwolf

Donate: http://www.youcaring.com/brittney-steptoe-428674

Puppy Names Take 2

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016 02:40 pm
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Originally it seemed like Tesher would be the pup's name. I liked it, he seems to respond to it, and there is symbolic meaning behind it. So I thought. But I like to research meanings behind things. I found that it is actually the Hebrew word meaning "tip". As in giving your waiter a "tip" or "gratuity" at a restaurant. And Tesher-t in Egyptian is blood, red land/desert, or a vessel for drawing water (wisdom/truth - thus teacher?).

So for those reasons alone, we'll probably nix it. The other problem is people I interact with on a daily basis ( thus he would interact with also ) are having difficulties remembering it (and pronouncing it correctly).

Amusingly, the longer fictional name Chakotay seems easier to remember, maybe because of how the spoken syllables flow together. Anyone who watched Star Trek Voyager will know and remember it. In the Star Trek universe, in the language of Chakotay's ancestors, the name means something akin to "Man Who Walks the Earth But Who Only Sees the Sky/Stars".

Some people had a hard time with remembering Journey's name at first too, and that is far more common in usage than the other possible names I came up with for this new pup.

I like unique and "off the beaten path" sorts of things with meaning behind them. Plus it offers far less chance of a "common" name causing a problem in public or confusion in social situations with people who might have the same name or a similar sounding name.

Tesla is easier to remember it seems, simply because of the greatness behind such a name. Genius and inventor. Energy, electricity, spark, brilliance, lightening (tesla coils), all those things come to mind in symbolic association.

Solar might be the easiest of all to remember. There was solar storm activity and solar wind activity increase the day he was born. Solar is Sol, the sun, brilliance, life giver, guiding light. Lots of similar symbolic meanings.

So now I will flail some, edit some training videos documenting progress, and maybe roll a D6 to see which name comes out on top.

Puppy Names

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 02:45 pm
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A list of potential names for the new puppy. Keeping in mind as a working dog, I needed something people wouldn't commonly use in conversation, something preferably multiple syllable so it doesn't sound like a command, and something that doesn't sound too much like any other names in the household / family.


He is a Ragabash, born under a New Moon (amusingly enough).


His father's name is Midnite. His mother's name is River.


Trevor ( I have a Bone Gnawer Ragabash by this name)

Voodoo

Mojo

Tesla

Lantesh

Chakotay

Tesher ( Gift, Teacher )

Hunter

Sounder

Solar

Haze ( State trooper at traffic checkpoint suggested it. :) Foggy night. )

Thor

Draco

Orion

Chance
leopardwolf: (Default)
As I mentioned in my last post, I recently took a trip to Pennsylvania to attend a CPL support class and meet some of their dogs and working teams and to get some hands on participation. I found out all the alert dogs they had available have been paired with other people that were on the waiting list ahead of me, and there are still others waiting. So I wouldn't be getting paired with a dog this year unless they came across one from another source, which is unlikely.

A few days before our flight home, my friend Christy messages me to ask if I had found any new prospects, since she knew what had happened with Journey washing out from the hip dysplasia. I told her what I had just learned from CPL.

It was then that she told me her family had come into the possession of a little male German Shepherd puppy, and that they wanted to give him to me if I wanted him. They know how valuable service dogs are, Christy being an owner-trainer herself.






Shocked and humbled by their offer, but very hesitant to try again because of what happened with Journey and the hip dysplasia, Mike and I began doing some serious talking and considering. It could be up to 2yrs before CPL might find the right dog to pair me with.

I'm not sure how much longer Ember will be able to work. She's starting to show signs of her age when she works on top of her damaged toe issue. She won't be around forever, as much as I hate to think that way. She's 10yrs old, and most service dogs retire around this age.

On top of that, I have to come up with over $5,000 just so I can go and get a dog when CPL finds one to pair me with. That covers the expense of hotel for a month and some other expenses, but there is also needing to pay for travel expenses for myself and someone to come with me, which is another issue.

I need someone to be with me during the entire month of team training. I originally thought mom would be able to do it, but she has to take care of my grandmother and their dog, who cannot be left alone. Mike and my aunt cannot take that long off work. There aren't many other options that won't be awkward or expensive unless I can find a friend or volunteer to go with me.

So after discussing this with family, we finally decided it was worth the risk to try again with a new puppy and for me to owner-train it in hopes it will work out.

Our reasons were pretty simple. If this new puppy works out, I save $5,000 and the stress of having to somehow raise such a large sum all at once, possibly on very short notice, to afford the travel and hotel expenses to stay the month for team training at CPL, in the event I couldn't find volunteer housing or other ways to save on cost. Even if I could I am still looking at over $2,000 for expenses.

If by some stroke of luck CPL does find a dog to pair me with *before* I finish training this puppy and have a chance to see if he'll really work out as an assistance dog, then I always have the option to rehome him if necessary like I did with Journey.

If I end up having to wait nearly 2yrs anyway in hopes of being matched with a CPL dog, we should know by then or even before then if this new pup will work out.

He comes from working lines, his parents look solid and no history of issues, and his paws are huge for his size. He's going to be a good sized dog when he grows up and fills out. He's a lot like Journey in a lot of ways, but also vastly different in many others. He's insanely smart and responsive and already catching on to things fast like Journey did, and he is just making 7 weeks old.

Still, our experience with Journey makes this a very difficult decision. To put that much into a dog only to find out the hip dysplasia is there. I would rather know sooner than later, and there is some sort of version of the OFA hip/elbow screening that can actually be run on puppies instead of having to wait till they are almost 2yrs old for growth plates to close.

The problem is that testing is very expensive from what I understand. It would be worth it for peace of mind to know the dog I am putting work into is proven solid. But on the other hand it would be heartbreaking to spend that much money on the testing only to have worst fears confirmed and find out I am right back to square one again, and with all funds exhausted.


Either way, I will still be on CPL's waiting list. As long as I keep following up regularly and meet their criteria, I will still have the option of getting a dog through them in the future.

Now I just need to come up with a good name for this little guy.



I am still keeping the fundraising active. It can be found here:


http://www.youcaring.com/brittney-steptoe-428674


I may still need the full amount for getting a dog from CPL, either now or in the future. In the meantime I will also need to cover puppy vet costs and related expenses as the pup matures and for x-ray expenses. Any help with this is greatly appreciated.

Decade Dog

Saturday, March 5th, 2016 02:32 pm
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Ember is officially a Decade Dog today. 10 years old and just as silly and spazzy as the day we first got you. You don't act a day over 2yrs. My gross, disgusting Dogmeat creature. I love you. Here is to many more years of the joy and happiness that is you.



Christmas 2015

Thursday, December 24th, 2015 08:54 pm
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Bright and blessed Christmas / Yule to everyone.



leopardwolf: (Default)
We found an amazing new forever home for Journey. He'll be with a wonderful couple who have had Shepherds all their lives. They lost their last Shepherd not long ago to old age, and the gentleman couldn't go long without getting another. They have promised to love him and spoil him. We are invited to come out and visit anytime. They live down by Houma on the bayou, real Cajun country! Journey has his neuter surgery Tuesday ( managed to get a sooner appointment ), he'll recover a few days so I can make sure he's okay, and then he'll move in with his new family. Already teary thinking about it. I'm going to miss this dog so much. On the way home from meeting this couple, it was rainy, and then the sun shined through. There was a beautiful rainbow. I took it as a sign to mean things were as they should be, falling into place as needed.



leopardwolf: (Stargazing Lhunie - SyMara)
Please send your love, positive thoughts, prayers, and healing energy to one of my sweet cats, and her mom Jen. Girlie ( formerly Ash ) was just diagnosed with cancer of the mammary gland (like breast cancer in cats). She will have x-rays and ultrasound done to see if the cancer has spread. Then we'll know what sort of surgery options and other treatments like chemo are available. We'll likely be setting up crowdfunding and accepting donations to help cover costs of surgery and treatments. I will post an update when I know more. So much love for our little floof. Bast keep her safe.



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Today is Journey's birthday! He is 1 year old. Huzzah! To celebrate, he got to pick out some new toys and treats from the store.

He went from being a tiny adorable fuzzball to a giant dork.


Journey as a tiny pup ( 4 weeks old ):






Journey at 1yr old:


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Things have been crazy busy with one thing after another going on here the past two months, so I haven't had a lot of time to sit and write much of anything in detail. Just to make notes here or there of things I wanted to write about.

Training is going real well. This post will include a recap on how Journey did during 6 months of age and during 7 months of age.


6 Months





Journey is too smart for his own good, and he's in the age range of testing boundaries. I imagine it is something like what the "terrible twos and threes" must be like for toddlers combined with independence of teenagers, where in both cases a sort of "selective hearing" develops.

When responding to commands he knows ( sit, down, etc. ) there is a brief delay. It's probably less than 10sec worth, like his brain skipped a beat on processing as he's deciding if he wants to do it or not. It's amusing to me because I have seen it in client's dogs, but with Ember she is so biddable and eager to please, plus she oftentimes tries to anticipate what I want next, she's already doing something before I have the word fully out of mouth, or with my hand signals.

Journey is an intelligent little Alsatian, so I have to mix up training to keep it interesting for him so he doesn't get bored with it. He's highly food motivated, but not as strongly toy motivated at the moment. That could be because I don't tend to keep a lot of toys with squeakers because Ember used to destroy them too fast and the squeaking can drive you nuts. When Journey joined the family, I did purchase various toys that have squeakers to help with training.

At first I wanted to use them for proofing distractions, figuring he'd be enticed by the squeaking. My worry was while working with him in public until he is more solid on everything, I didn't want people thinking it was "funny" to try and purposefully distract him with squeak toys or things making similar noise...... which yes, I have had happen with Ember when she was in working service dog gear, both at pet stores, and at Walmart. People are thoughtless sometimes.

Much to my delight, he isn't too interested simply by hearing the sound, though he will acknowledge it. He isn't overly eager to interact with it unless you get right up to him with it and encourage him to play. We'll see how well that continues as I use various toys with squeakers while trying to encourage certain prey drive qualities.

Another amusement is his lack of traction on most slick surfaces. We have all tile at my aunt's house with only a handful of rugs. Since Journey first started to grow larger, its a challenge for him to keep his legs under him. It turned into a joke with training because getting him into the "down" position was the easiest thing ever, and he tends to prefer it. Which made it easier with some training because he was less likely to break position from a down than he would have from a sit.

He's been so lanky and growing so fast, I think that is partly why his traction is off. So we practice sitting a lot more than he probably likes, trying to get him to that point of not slipping on smooth floors, since most stores have... smooth floors! It's a work in progress.

We have been working with shaping behaviors he'll use for service work since we first started training with the basics. Learning the foundations for fetching objects, holding them, giving them when asked, or taking them from me when I offer, to help build when we move on to objects that are not dog toys or chew things. He's already gotten used to lots of different textures from the beginning, so I don't think it will be too difficult. With his puppy teeth gone I just need to teach him to handle these things with a soft mouth. We have also been working on balance and bracing positions, teaching him how to stand and hold a certain position when I ask and point or make a hand signal.

The final highlight is that he finally lifted his leg! At the end of 5 months he had started to develop his marking bladder and his testicles were dropping, and soon after when he went to do his business instead of the typical full squat, one leg lifted a few inches. He doesn't do it all the time, but he's started doing it more and more frequently.






= = =


7 Months

So many exciting things happened. The first time Journey took the intermittent class in it was a really small class, and both the dogs were small dogs and were over a year old, so he didn't get as much in the sense of socialization as I was hoping for. They let us retake the class, and we did so with a different trainer. By waiting a little longer we got lucky with a much larger class full of various sized dogs with various temperaments, including one that ended up being fear-reactive. It made things very interesting! And it was an amazing learning experience for Journey.

In the previous class the weeks prior, he'd been more inclined to be a puppy and would get excited and playful on leash, and if a strange dog barked and pulled toward him, he'd attempt to do the same, which is normal. Thankfully I could get him to refocus on me and with a lot of "leave it" work, he grew out of that phase.

We got more practice in with the new class, him learning to ignore the distractions of the other dogs pulling at leash, sniffing at him while I asked him to focus on me and ignore them, and ignoring the barking of one and some reactive outbursts from the other. I was so proud of how well he took to it. After the initial group meetup for the first class being so exciting with strange new people and dogs, by the end of the second class he was doing remarkably well with keeping his attention on me when I asked him to ignore whatever was happening at any given time with the other dogs.

The class trainer tried to demo with him because he was more advanced than the other dogs in class, since he had already taken it, and for the fact I have been training with him since he was a tiny pup, and he wanted to keep his focus on me and at first tried to ignore her. Which is brilliant, because I don't want him to listen to just anyone trying to come up and give him a command unless I give him permission or turn him over to someone else to handle.

My reason for this goes back to the whole problem I have had at points while out working with Ember and Journey both for public access stuff, and people trying to distract them by calling to them, making barking noises at them, and even trying to tell them to "come here" or "sit" and other stuff. Most of the time it is kids or teens who have done it, but I have caught adults in the act as well. What makes it worse is when they try, and the dog ignores them... so they try harder! Really people?

I normally turn and address them and give them a polite but stern talking to about why they shouldn't do that ever again if a dog is working. They could risk getting the dog or handler injured by distracting them, and be liable for it. When they are old enough to know better, most of them are embarrassed and apologize. I'd rather educate them than yell at them, but some people really try ever last ounce of patience I have on a given day.

We practiced more with distance and duration. He's pretty solid with it at home, and is getting better about it in public. We have been working on heel work from the base form you learn when you first take the class. He still gets ahead of himself at points but does well on loose leash for the most part without pulling. It's like with most dogs, they move faster than we do and he gets impatient and walks a little faster. So I simply stop or turn about and reposition him before continuing. I am hoping to start building on skills for much more advanced heeling techniques.

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LeopardWolf - Lhunpaurwen - Lhunie

April 2017

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