Friday, February 28, 2014

Dear Moray

Dear Mor,
You are such a sweet boy!  I love your joy and zest for life, and I also love that you, unlike others in the household, don't roll your eyes when I call you funny names like Mor, but come bounding over to walk through the house between my legs anyways.  
 I love how much you adore your "big brother" Dante, and how you are always trying to be like him.  But I also love how you haven't picked up his bad habbits no matter how many times he yanks that gentle leader off your nose "for you," or tries to make it look like you were the one who stole that dish towel.  I especially love when you dance your Happies (yes, we have coined a new word for Mor's level of joy) after every meal, and how you never get tired of jumping up and wagging your tail in response to anyone's laughter.
First snow.  Yes it's just a dusting, but that's all you can expect from the south!
I love your sweet, innocent heart and love of life.  Bless your heart, you may not be the fastest learner I've ever met, but by golly you love to learn and work!
And as much as I correct you for being distracted, I do love how you are not afraid to make everyone your new best friend, and let them know they are special.
As much as I tease you about how much goes unnoticed while you lead your happy-go-lucky life, I have a love/hate relationship with how you always seem to know the difference between when I'm testing you intentionally, and when challenges just happen to pop up.  I love how you are teaching me to be a better puppy raiser and handler.
Ignoring cookies like a pro.
And I love how you forgive over and over when I do make mistakes.  I love how you let me know if I've pushed you too far, and how you are always happy to backtrack and try again; whether by your fault or mine.
perfect "up" and "wait."
While some times over the last nine months have been rough, I consider it a true privilege to be your puppy raiser and cannot believe our time together is already halfway over.  I look forward, although slightly sad, to our next nine months and everything we have to explore and learn about together.

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Buddy

This is a blog about all things puppy raising, but this is also the blog started because of my dear Mr. Dante.  So, you all get occasional updates about my golden boy whether you want to or not! Ha!
 Dante has settled into life as a pet fairly well.  I think his biggest hurdle to overcome was getting used to being home a lot more.  When he was in training he lived for public outings.  He loves to explore new places, but with a crazy school schedule, and Dante being on pet status now, it's hard to make time for special places to take him.  
Last week I took Dante to our outdoor mall for a Starbucks date and some walking in unusually nice weather.  I think I have forgotten how many people used to stop me and comment about Dante's good looks! ;-)  I am being honest when I say that no less than ten people stopped to tell me how beautiful he is during the 20 minutes we sat on the patio.  And yes, Dante heard every word and it all went to his head!
Dante is so happy when he is out!  I have been teaching and building on some fun things that he had learned in Advanced Training (more on that later).  Dante is a true golden (fine golden/lab cross, whatever), and loves to have something in his mouth all the time.  So I asked him to "hold" things for me while we walked and walked.  He is so proud of himself too!
Stopping to be rubbed by little children, and watching the water fountain with that sweet smile, make for a simple, but oh so fun afternoon with my favorite buddy!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Out of the norm outings always seems to come in spurts around here.  In the last two weeks Moray has gotten to experience and go to several different places outside of our usual schedule of classes, church, more classes, or the occasional grocery or Target trip.  
 Moray has been to just about every government class all year long, so it was only right that he got to accompany us on a field trip to our county's courthouse last week.  This was only his second time downtown in the city, and he did fairly well.  He was rather distracted by the different sights and smells compared to what he gets in our town, and I think that I will have to make it a point to take him downtown once or twice more to get him completely comfortable.

One thing that Moray is always amazing at is "hurrying" wherever I tell him to.  He didn't miss the lack of grass, and willing did his business right on the pavement.  All those hours of standing at the bottom of the driveway with a whiny puppy are sweetly paid off at times like these!
Many times a successful and pleasant outing is a direct result of how the public relates to us and treats us.  Sometimes we are unwelcome places, or they hassle me about having a puppy.  No matter, whenever I take a puppy to a new place, I cannot help but think about that, if only in the back of my mind.  This was a great trip from this point.  Security was great; they did not make either Moray or I go through the metal detector -- just wanded me down, and did not mess wth Moray at all.
On the elevator
Moray was not exactly on his best behavior during our time there.  He was far from horrid, but defitinely reminded me that we have a ways to go in his training.
Of course, he couldn't stay that way for long.  I will admit to being slightly annoyed with him.  Not that I sould have been, because Moray is still just a puppy and cannot be expected to be 100% solid in everything.  We needed to make a stop at Whole Foods before we went home, and Moray decided to be a perfect gentleman the entire time.  Zero pulling on his leash, zero soliciting for attention, and 100% focus.  The perfect positive ending to a very busy day!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I can't complain about this puppy.  Really.  I do not like to compare Dante and Moray, but at 9 1/2 months old Moray has nothing on the level of Teenage Sass that Dante produced.  And I know I can't just judge off of two different dogs, but I have seen my fair share of adolescent puppies when I was a sitter for Guiding Eyes, and this puppy has a special level of sweetness.

Which brings us back to Moray.  He really is one of the sweetest, mellowest pups I have seen.  If I had to describe him in one word, it would be JOYFUL.  There is not one hint of rebellion in him, he just loves to please and spread his joy with a helicopter-tail and the handle of his drag leash in his mouth.

But alas, Moray is not without his faults.  While rebelling or blowing me off has not yet crossed his mind, somewhere in the last month or so Moray has decided to forget how to walk on a loose leash.  Needless to say, most of our training time and outings have been focusing on walking nicely.  

This weekend we headed to the outdoor mall.  We walked the entire perimeter of the mall, and walked through one store.  
 Apparently, everyone else in town had the same idea to walk their dog at the mall on an unusually warm day.  There were several dogs there.  A few little dogs we managed to avoid, and a Great Dane that Moray walked right past.
Moray worked almost all of it without his gentle leader on.  I did put the gentle leader on him for the last ten minutes or so.  We were just coming up to the Dane, and there were quite a few people stopped to pet him.  Moray has not really worked with a lot of other dogs outside of puppy class, and I didn't know what to expect from this dog's owner, so I thought I would rather be certain Moray was under control since there was no way around walking right past them.  I shouldn't have worried, because while the other dog strained at his leash to greet Moray, my little guy looked at him, but walked right past and checked in with me.
I had several requests to pet Moray, and while I usually allow minimal petting if Moray is doing well and I have the time to stop, I did not want to interrupt Moray and throw him off his good, focused streak, so I said no to all of it.  I think there were several people who were annoyed at me for saying no, especially when other pet owners were letting them pet their dogs.  But, it comes with the territory of puppy raising, and while education and PR is part of this volunteer gig, my main responsibility is Moray's success, not being a people-pleaser.
After a quick "Hurry" and water break, we headed in to Barnes and Noble so I could accomplish some studying.  Moray slept hard while I worked.  A successful outing under our belts, and hopefully some reminding of the rules drilled into Moray's head!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Moray loves little kids.  The first couple times I witnessed how enamored he was with them, I was worried that he was nervous about them.  But nope, he just loves them.  He loves to watch them and their exciting, unpredictable movements, and he especially loves when they pet him, hug him, and love on him.  

While it is great that he isn't afraid of them or worried about them, it is not very becoming of a future service dog to be so enthralled and excited whenever he sees children.  My mom and I happened to sign up for the same month of teaching children's church for the toddlers during the month of February.  Usually during the months I help I just send Moray with my mom and she works him for the morning.  It wasn't until after we had already signed up that we realized we didn't know what to do with Moray since we would both be together.  We could leave him home, but that would mean a 5+ hour stretch in his kennel every week, and losing valuable training time that he really does need around lots of people at church.  

 We decided to go for it and see how he does with us.  Today was his first morning teaching the littles, and he did fairly well.  Between Dante and Moray coming to church for nearly two years now, I'm fairly certain the kids don't remember NOT having a dog in church, so there was little surprise about Moray, and they all were very, very good.
My mom showing off Moray's "shake."
Moray did not do quite as well as I expect from him, but he was far from horrible.  He was super excited when we first started, but settled in and was completely calm laid back by the end of our hour and 45 minutes.  
He is getting much better and being calm with lots of little hands (and tugging on his tail!).
I put him on tie down on the table, and gave him a small toy to give him something constructive to do.  He popped up several times, but was pretty easily corrected back into a "Down." The kids were cute and always echoed my commands of "sit" or "down."  I think I'm going to rearrange some chairs so that I can tie him on the other side up against the wall where he won't have kids walking all around and be tempted to jump up.  I'm sure that by the end of the month, Moray will be well on his way to desensitizing to little ones, and listening to only me in the midst of some mini chaos!