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Friday, January 30, 2009

All In a Day's Work

Dakota got to visit the airport for the first time this week. What an exciting challenge! The noise of the parking garage was the biggest obstacle for him -- doors slamming and engines starting just seemed magnified by the cave-like echoes and he was kind of jumpy at first. But once he figured out the noise didn't bother us, he decided it was okay. By the time we got in to the terminal he'd settled in to his work and did well. He enjoyed walking up and down, finding things for me, and working stairs. As usual, he attracted lots of attention!

Here he's licking his lips nervously under the glare of the orange garage lights as if to say, "I don't know about this..."

...But now you can see he's relaxed and hard at work again.

So much to see around here!

This week's new experiences included not only the airport, but also a farmer's market and some new neighborhoods. Of course errands take us to familiar places as well. I think the employees at Walmart are finally starting to get used to seeing us.

Dakota didn't care for the crashing of a long line of carts being returned to the store and stopped in mid-stride.
We waited and watched the men finish their job so he could see everything was all right.

Here Dakota finds the trash can and a seat...

...But guide dog work isn't always exciting. A big part of it is just learning to be patient. Here Dakota waits quietly and watches passersby while I do a little price checking.

It's all in a day's work!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Today we headed off to the mall with Dakota for an after-
noon's training walk. The mall is a great place for training with its many distractions and loud, unexpected noises.

After starting off with some basic obedience, I decided to see if Duckie remembered how to find the elevator.

...Well, my main problem was just holding him back so he didn't mow down the lady in front of us in his excitement! "Steady," our command for slowing down, is practically Dakota's middle name these days. But I was happy with him for finding the elevator so confidently. This elevator is an interesting one because its glass walls allow you to look out as you go up and down. That takes a little getting used to when you're just a pup! Really, he did just fine.

Here Dakota
"finds the button" so we can go for another elevator ride.

Then it was time to walk around some more and do a little work on stairs. Again, the operative word is "Steady."

Dakota's got a lot of enthusiasm, but just needs to slow down and take one stair at a time. Life is so exciting for him right now that "steady" just doesn't come naturally. But he'll get there!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Busy Week

Dakota has had his paws full this week! Tracy needed a sitter for Sammy, so he's been spending some time at our house. Dakota seems to think he should be top dog, despite the fact Sammy is almost double his size. The two spend all their time either play-fighting or cuddled up next to each other asleep. Cute.

We've also gone to lots of new places, and some old ones, for walks. The moment Dakota sees me reach for the leash, or hears the words "go" and "walk" used in the same sentence, he's thrilled! He's really fun to work with.

Here Dakota demon-
strates the
me!" com-
Good boy!

In this picture, a distracted Duckie just hit his head on the yellow plastic thing at the end of the aisle and got a bit scared. We went back, I let him sniff it, and he figured out it wasn't going to attack again. Whew!

Here we're tempting him with a cat toy in a repeat of last week's exercise. You can see he's not falling for it this time! He's much more focused on my yummy liver treats.

And at the end of the, play, play. What could be better?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fun at Petco

Today we met up with Michelle Pelletier, puppy program manager, and Ernie Landy, Guide Dogs of Texas volunteer coordinator, at our local Petco. Petco and Natural Balance foods are partnering to help promote GDTX -- very exciting for us! While Ernie met with the manager, we took advantage of the opportunity for some training with Michelle.

Repeat with me: I will not pounce on the cat toy...I will not pounce on the cat toy...

...And here we are, learning not to chase the mice. Dakota did pretty well, I thought. He's quick to catch on once he knows what you want.

This cheeky little sparrow outside the store didn't know what was good for him. He kept swooping down and pestering us, hopping right in front of Dakota's nose. I was so proud of Dakota for not going after him! I know he wanted to. Self-control is an important skill for a guide dog. We're getting there!

Those of you who have read last week's post will be happy to hear that Dakota's little problem is all sorted out now. I steeled myself against his cute little face, put on my best "mean" voice, and told him, "No! Get in the bus!" That was it. Why didn't I do that sooner? Just look how well he gets in the bus now! Good job, Dakota.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Get In the Bus!

Dakota is only too happy to go anywhere at the drop of a hat, and loves to "Get in the bus." (The "bus" is whatever vehicle we're riding in.) Here's the problem:

...he invariably leaves a paw out! I started off being "nice" and putting it back in for him...then I turn my back and it's out again. I put it back, and then he puts his nose out! I've come within an inch of slamming body parts in the door I don't know how many times! Scary.

Finally this lightbulb went off in my dim brain: It's not that he's too dumb to know I'm going to close the door. He's doing it for attention! We always laugh at him in our exasperation and he thinks he's being cute. He's made up his own little game with this trick. So next time, no more Mr. Nice Guy! I will update you next week but I'm willing to bet that one real verbal reprimand and he'll shape right up.

It's been a great week and I'm really happy with Duckie's progress! Here's wishing everyone a tail-waggin' New Year and many long walks!