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Friday, December 26, 2008

A New "Find"

Well, Dakota was back to work today, the day after Christ-
mas! Of course, since work is one of his favorite things, he didn't mind.

Today's walk was at the Texas State Capitol building. This is a great place to practice Dakota's "finds," where he leads me to certain objects on command (trash can, elevator, and seat, to name a few). On my agenda for today was to teach Dakota the new "find," "find the girls." This is the command for finding the ladies' restroom.

We warmed up with some obedience work, practiced on stairs, and did a few "finds" that he already knows. There were quite a few tourists today and plenty of distractions, but for the most part he settled in and did his work well in spite of it all.

To teach his new find, I took him to within a few feet of the ladies' room, told him, "Find the girls!," walked him to the restroom door, praised him and gave him a treat. He gave me a happy look of, "Oh! Is that all you want?" Of course part of the lesson is that each time we must actually go inside and use the facilities. After that, we repeated the process on the next floor. I stood within sight of the ladies' room, gave him his command, and his tail just went to wagging as he proudly took me straight to the door. He seemed to understand just what I wanted. The Capitol has restrooms on every level so we got lots of practice. I wonder if some of the tourists thought I had incontinence issues? I'll admit it was a bit embarrassing but hey, I was too proud of him to care much.

After all that work, it was time for some fun. Dog park here we come!

Just to add a little extra excitement to our day, Duckie had to throw up in the car on the way home. Don't worry, he's not really sick -- just drank lots of water at the dog park, and that combined with the running around was a little much for him. He's all back to normal and snoozing happily at my feet!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let's Get This Straight

Well, I thought you might like to see what we've been working on. Here's the issue:

Okay, I know it doesn't look too terrible to most of us, but this is what we call a "crooked sit." When a visually impaired person is relying on her guide dog, she will "line up" with his body. If I did that with Duckie right now, we'd walk right off the curb! So, we're trying to straighten up and fly right.

Dakota!! Are you even trying?! Actually, here he got distracted by a dog across the street and is trying to position himself for a better view.

Third time's a charm. What an improvement!

...And here we are getting ready to cross at the crosswalk. Duckie is doing his best to demonstrate the proper sitting technique: toes on the edge, at right angles to the curb. That way we'll cross straight -- and safely -- over.

After all that hard work, Dakota was ready to relax under the Christmas tree. Merry Christmas, y'all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Look what greeted Duckie this morning when he went out! A sleet shower left a light blanket of white over everything...a big novelty for us here in Austin. After spending a few minutes in a futile attempt to eat it all, Duckie gave up and decided it was better for playing and rolling in. What fun!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A day at Cabela's

Today was a big day for Duckie. We got to meet Michelle for a training walk at Cabela's. I thought all the animal displays would be scary for a little guy like Dakota, but he surprised me and took it all pretty much in stride. What did give him pause was...strange to say...the kayaks! So what is it about a kayak that's scary? The fact that it's so big...makes a funny noise when tapped...or is it just how the hanging ones creak in the wind? I wish I knew! Here's Michelle helping Duckie get over his suspicions. Some reassurance and dog treats worked wonders and pretty soon he accepted them...cautiously!

The aquarium really captured Dakota's attention. He loved watching the giant fish. But what he loved even more was when...surprise...his best friend Sammy (Tracy's guide dog puppy) showed up to join us for the last half of our walk! It was a great chance for the pups to learn that although they love to get together for play, this was work time and they needed to pay attention and be well behaved. Duckie didn't want to believe this at first! He was so excited to see his buddy that all he could do was dance around, whine and bark. But after a while they both settled down (more or less) and we had a good walk together. When we were done, we sat down at the cafe upstairs and the people had a soda while the dogs more or less collapsed in excited exhaustion! It's all part of growing up.