Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Puppy Sitting

Last week, I had the opportunity to puppy sit another Canine Companions puppy.  Young is the only other CCI puppy in my area, and a super cute four month old 3/4 lab/golden cross (Dante is a 3/4 golden cross).  

Dante and Young got along great.  The only problem was getting them to stop playing!  

They played so hard on Thursday when Young arrived, that Dante was so exhausted on Friday, and for a while I thought he was sick.  Hehe!  I was so impressed with how Dante handled Young "invading" his space and toys.  He shared so well, and was so gentle with Young.  He did show some jealousy over my attention, but got over that in the first day.

Young is such a sweetieMaybe having a teenager in Dante really showed the contrast, but I had almost forgotten how fresh little puppies are!  There was no "Whatcha gonna do about it if I don't?" attitude; just soaking up everything new and really wanting your approval and attention.  So innocent.  Don't get me wrong, while Dante has some issues we are working on, I wouldn't trade his spunk in for the world. :-)

I had a very busy week and weekend with school and such, so we spent most of the time at home.  But Young did get to come to the park and watch my tennis lesson.  My mom took him for a short walk and then to sit and watch.  It is so much fun to watch them take in new surroundings!

We had a great time with Young, and poor Dante was mopey all day yesterday when he left.  I keep telling him that he will see him at puppy class on Saturday, and I think he is getting over it.  ;-)  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Boy Who Never Grew Up

I believe that there is a fine line in blogging too much and too little for the world to see.  While I want to stay 100% truthful, this blog is a representation of myself, Dante, and even though there is a disclaimer on the sidebar, of Canine Companions as well.  

I have made some comments as to Dante's weaknesses, but have not really elaborated much because, well, Dante needs some dignity and I don't think it entirely necessary to air our "dirty laundry."  ;-)  But with that said, we still need to be honest about it.  

 One of Dante's biggest strengths is his confidence.  He has had very few issues with fear that we have had to overcome and is always up for some new adventures.  But being over-confident is an issue that we are still working through.  He has a very assertive personality, which can lead to some clashes and "battles" over who is really in charge around here.  We are still having some episodes of playing "keep away" or out right blowing me off.  Dante is still such a puppy, all he wants is to pull me into a game with him.  Over and over again, we are told not to chase him, and I really do know this is the best way to end itBut is so much easier said than done, especially when he takes off with something small enough to swallow, or my beloved chacos.  But when I just walk out of the room and ignore him, he drops it right away and finds something approved to do.

I seriously wonder if this puppy will ever grow up.  Dante has seemed to have found his own private Neverland, and it doesn't look like he wants to come back to reality any time soon.  I know that Goldens can take longer to mature than some other breeds, but sometimes I can't help but get discouraged because "nobody else's 16 month old puppy does this anymore."  

I keep repeating to myself that He. Will. Grow. Out. Of. This.  I hope.  Maybe.  

To be completely honest, I am trying really hard not to panic.  I have a little over three months until Turn In.  I know I shouldn't worry, because each dog chooses their own path, but I am getting nervous at the prospect of Dante being away from me and left all on his own to show his true colors at CCI College.  Every dog has their quirks, but I feel such a responsibility for him to have perfect behavior.  I know that this is unrealistic.  I really do.  To all of you who have turned in puppies already: did you feel this way?  I sometimes think I am a little wacky, hehe!

And there I go again, writing in a direction I hadn't originally planned.  I am hitting the Publish button holding my breath.  Words of wisdom are always welcome :-) 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Let's be Clear

I am a puppy raiser.  That means that I do not get to keep this dog that I raise, train, socialize, and take with me nearly everywhere I go.  Oh, and I also love him.  Very much.

I have had many people imply that they think I may not love this puppy because I can give him up, but never so bluntly as today.

I made a quick stop at Petco to get some High Value Treats for Dante.  Since it only took me five minutes, I left him in the car with my sister and just ran in myself.  The cashier was asking me about my dog and such, and I told him about Dante and how I was raising him for CCI... my typical spiel.  He asked about what I do in training and such, and I said that I have him for about 18 months, teach basic house manners, commands, and socialization before I give him back to finish training and hopefully be place with someone who needs him.  "So you don't get to keep him?"  He asked.  "No I don't, but someone needs him more than I do," I replied.  "So I guess you don't get attached to him.  I am a real dog lover and could never do something like that to my dogs.  It must be sooo hard on the dog emotionally to just be ripped apart from the one person he loves."  I wish I could say that I educated him on how CCI puppies are so well monitored and how we make sure that they are comfortable with different people and in different houses, and how each of the dozens of people who are involved in their lives loves them to pieces, and they have the most amazing lives of any dogs I have ever heard of.  But I was caught off guard by his bluntness, and was at a loss for words, besides a small amount of defensiveness.  I said something along the lines of how much I do love Dante and that he would do great, and also stressed again that he has an important job to do.

Even though in hindsight I know I could have said something better, I now have thought through it and have an answer for the next person who asks.

But I am writing this to make something clear: I love this puppy with all of my heart.  Yes, we butt heads at times, but when Dante leaves, he is going to take a big chunk of my heart with him.  And as I have said before, that's okay.  You know what?  I am a huge dog lover too.  I have always had a soft spot for Goldens especially.  To be a puppy raiser you have to be a dog lover - more specifically a puppy lover.  But first and foremost you have to be a people lover.  It is the only reason you can give them away, because someone needs him more than I do, and - as much as I am leery about it - will love him as much, if not more, than I do.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dante is in the Building

Outside the FedEx Forum

This past weekend Dante got to experience his first professional sporting event.  

One thing that should be noted is that not every puppy should be brought to such a busy venue.  Dante is very confident and I am not that into watching basketball, so I knew I could spend the whole time really working him, and could leave if he got overwhelmed.

The most annoying thing in the world fun part was before we even got in the building.  We were standing on the sidewalk while our friend went to go get the tickets.  This is when the parade of security started.  I don't really know why they were obsessed with us, but it seemed like they were just excited that they finally got to use what they had been taught on how to treat service animals.  We were the lucky recipients of this "enthusuism."   

Enter Security Guard #1.

Security #1: "Is that one of those service dog?"

Me: "Yes, he is a service dog in training."

Security #1: "Are you gonna take him inside?"

Me: "Yes, I am."

Security #1: "In to watch the game?"

Me: "Yes."     

Security #1: "Well, before you go in we are going to need to check and verify that, and will need to see and document all of its paperwork and stuff."

 Now I am getting a little annoyed.  The thing about service dogs and dogs in training, is that fully trained service dogs do not need to have any kind of identification.  Puppies in training do, as we go on the goodwill of business owners. This arrangement can get a little messy, because people generally don't get the difference between the two, so it leaves me in an awkward spot of having to comply, but still educate, so that the next service dog team that comes through their doors is not met with the opposition that "the last dog had ID, so you should too."

Security Guard #1 walks away.  Three minutes later Security #2 and #3 come over.

Security #2: "This is the service dog, right?"

Me: "Yes, he is in training."

Security #3 looks at his vest: "Ok, can I see his paperwork."

Me: hands over ID card and tries to educate them.

Security #3 proceeds to read the entire card front and back, and then...PEOPLE!  She copies every. single. word. on that card onto her little notepad. "11703...this is his tattoo number?"

Me: "Yes, do you need to see it in his ear?"

Security #3: "No(reads my mom's name) That's you?"

Me: (points to my name right under my mom's) "No, I'm Hannah"

Security #3: "OK.  Oh, this card is expired."

Me: "No it is not. It doesn't expire until August when I return him to Canine Companions."

Security#3: "Oh, I read it wrong.  Can I see you tickets?"

my mom hands over my ticket.

Security #3: "This is your ticket?  You are sitting in this exact seat?  And you're gonna have the dog?  In this exact seat with you?"

Me: "Yes."

(The funny thing is, I only sat in my seat for about 15 minutes.)

Security #2: "Ok, thank you." 

Security Guards #2 and #3 walk away.  My mom, Dante and I go to sit on a half wall to wait for the rest of our group to come back.  And then... Security Guard #4 comes over.  We are still OUTSIDE the building.  He starts the same thing as #1, and I tell him we did it all already, at which time Security #3 yells to him that she "Got it all already."  "Ok," he says, and walks away.

We get through the actual security, and make our way inside, where another plethora of security are heard radioing about "the dog in the building."  Add in the dozen or so (literally) screaming people because this is the last place they expect to see a Retriever, and we have made quite the entrance.  

Now we can get to how Dante did.  He was a rock star.  This dog is amazing.  We took a few minutes to sit and take it all in, and he was great.  We sat in our seats for a little, but it got too loud for him, so we spent some time at a table in the hall/concession area, and walking around with some friends.  It was a lot to take in, and aside from a few distracting moments, Dante did fantastic.

One thing about this crowd is that there were no drive-by petting attempts (petting while walking by, without asking), but full on trying to embrace him, and running up head-on with outstretched arms.  This was probably the busiest place Dante has ever been, so I said no to all questions about petting and to everyone else who didn't ask.  

 By half time, Dante was starting to wind down, and we decided to leave on a good note and while he was still doing well.  So proud of this boy and the situations he has proven he can handle!

View from our seats | People watching | Watching from our seat