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Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hi all, today's blog is brought to you by Dakota.

Yep, it was my birthday yesterday! I'm one whole year old! The whole family was very excited and started getting ready to go somewhere....THEN they told me to "go to bed," and said they were leaving me. On my birthday...can you believe it?! Something about going to see their last puppy, Willie, working with his new owner. Of all the nerve! I was so disappointed that I did not eat any treats or touch the bully stick they left with me in my crate (normally one of my favorite treats) if I could eat at a time like this. Well, Willie must have done a great job because when they came back a couple of hours later, they were very happy and proud, and told me that one day they'd go watch me work too. Of course I forgave them right away. Then they gave me a nice new toy for my birthday and we all went for a walk together to make up for it. I'm going to work very hard at my job so they can be proud of me too!

Here we're practicing the sit command and its implied corollary command, don't eat the giant stuffed animal even though it looks like lots of fun!

Here I'm practicing down while Mom and Dad do some shopping. Sometimes I wish they weren't such comparison shoppers! It sure can take a while. And once they start reading may as well just get comfortable. You'll have time for a nice long nap, believe me! If I get bored, they just tell me how good it is for my training to learn to wait patiently.

...All the same, there's nothing I like better than going on walks, no matter where. I get all ready and then wait at the door for everyone else. They need to get organized, like me!

Y'all have a great weekend...this is Dakota, signing off!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just Look At This Face!

...what does it look like to you? "Cute," "sweet," "cuddly"? How about "dangerous killer"? If not, then I'm guessing you're not a chicken!

Tuesday, I needed a puppysitter for a few hours and Tracy kindly let Dakota come over to the Greenwood School for a visit. We thought it would be a nice day for him to play with her guide dog puppy, Zeke. That afternoon when I came back to get him and asked how he'd been, Tracy answered, "Well, I think the chicken will live..." Ah, those are words you just never want to hear! A glance outside revealed little fluffy white feathers strewn far and wide. Apparently Dakota was just too fast for the poor bird...luckily one of the Greenwood teachers arrived in time to save the day by wrestling it from his mouth. BAD DOG!!

SO...we've scheduled a return visit for Dakota in a couple of weeks. This time I'll be with him, he'll be on leash, and we're going to hang out in the chicken coop doing obedience til he realizes that chickens are just no fun at all. After that, I think Tracy & Zeke are going to join us at the park doing obedience and feeding the flocks of pigeons until the pups get the concept that BIRDS ARE BORING...and chasing them only gets us in trouble!

Dakota's smart and really doesn't enjoy making me mad, so I'm pretty optimistic about this. Wish us luck!

Meanwhile, you can see he's not suffering a bit from all this. Aaah...what a life!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

At the Bookstore

With graduations and weddings coming up on the calendar, it was time to hit the shops for a few gifts. Thursday found us at the bookstore.

Dakota did a good job of finding the door and negotiating it. We're still working on a straight sit at doors -- he tends to want to sit at an angle facing the opening. But we're getting there.

I think I need that one right behind you, Duckie.

After I found a book, I needed somewhere to sit down and look it over. So I asked Dakota to find me a seat. I knew from shopping here before that there was one around the corner -- but he didn't. You could almost see the little wheels in his brain moving as he went to work on the task.

Hmmm...nothing over there...

We moved off slowly until we came to the end of the row and he saw what he was looking for.

Target acquired! Off we go!

He was pretty proud of himself when we got there.

We had a nice chat with an employee working in the card section. She was very nice and seemed interested in what we were doing.

Dakota found card shopping pretty boring....

...until we got to the musical ones. This graduation card played the Hallelujah Chorus, which was something new for him!

Shopping done, it was time for Duckie to find the counter so we could pay for it all.

...what a good job. Now it's time for Dakota to go home and relax in his favorite place!

Monday, May 11, 2009

He's Baaaaack!

Puppies, water, food, and lots of friendly folks...
splash day was great!

No sooner had we entered the doggie play area and let Taxi go than we were enthusiastically greeted by a sopping-wet, sand-encrusted Dakota! He's the same sweet boy as ever. He'd already been playing hard and clearly enjoyed the water. He'd go run around with the big dogs for awhile, then come hang out with us and the Reimers before dashing off again.

The other dogs were bigger and stronger, but Duckie was the fastest!

"Okay, boys, take this game some-

where else!"

"Catch me if you can!"

Taxi enjoyed goofing off with new buddy Floyd.

By the end of the afternoon, the labs looked like wet labs. Duckie looked a little more like something we'd picked up off the side of the road. His fur was full of sand, grass seeds, and bits of weeds and debris. Puppy raiser Aron helped him into the pool for a little rinse. Just look at the brown cloud that explodes around Duckie in the water!

Well, after a bath and several grooming sessions, we're still getting mats out. Also, Dakota's pretty tenderfooted now -- the combination of wet paws and running on rocks really tears up those pads. But it was worth it for all the fun, and everyone's happy to have their own puppies back again!

"I think I could sleep for at least a week!"

Friday, May 1, 2009

At the Movies

On Monday, our family went to see the new movie, Earth. We humans enjoyed watching the incredible cinematography and learning about the amazingly intricate behaviors of animals all over the world.

Taxi's enjoyment of the movie, however, was at a much more primal level: he liked the chase scenes. Every time a wolf went after a caribou, a cheetah ran down an impala, or a shark grabbed a seal, he was riveted. He would sit facing the screen, nose between the two seats in front of us, mesmerized...and I don't think he was rooting for the cute baby caribou either! Well, I guess I can understand that. He's a dog, after all!

The rest of the time Taxi was pretty bored. He would stand in front of me, looking around at the other moviegoers, probably wondering why we were there in the first place. He did lie down once or twice, but not for long. I was proud of him for not whining, though! In fact, he was better behaved than some of the little kids there, who started roaming the aisles two thirds of the way through. That provided a little extra entertainment for him.

Things did get a bit dicey right at the opening scene, which featured two polar bear cubs emerging from a snow cave. They were making that squeaky little baby-animal-sound that absolutely no dog can resist! Taxi snuffled and strained excitedly toward the screen, but I managed to keep him from charging over the seats in front of us. He's probably now under the impression that polar bears smell like popcorn!

"Hey, can I still get the child's ticket if I'm over 11 in dog years?"

In other news, I just learned something obvious this week: never use a leash to restrain a dog with separation issues. I know, I know. What was I thinking? I was weeding in the backyard, and the kids were busy doing something with bugs. Taxi's nose was just a little too much into both activities. So I tied him to the fencepost (which was, I might add, within 5 feet of me and in plain view!), supplied with plenty of chew toys. Not good enough for Taxi. Clearly, he thought, a terrible mistake had been made....he'd been excluded from the pack! He didn't whine, bark or pace -- just lunged to the end of the leash, snapped it easily, and ended up all over me in a big happy pile. Couldn't figure out why I wasn't equally pleased! Soon I was making a chagrined call to the training center for a new leash. Sigh...well, live and learn. Taxi, you big sweet goofball, you're going straight to the crate next time!

Puppy swap back is just a week from tomorrow, and to celebrate, we'll be having a "splash day" at the K9 Country Club in Bulverde. It'll be lots of fun for the dogs, playing and swimming together, and the people get a bbq. Something to look forward to...and we can't wait to see Dakota again! But I'll say this: Taxi has earned his special place in our hearts. A slobbery, cuddly, silly place, but it's there. He's going to be a great working guide one day soon, and I know he'll enjoy the job description...especially the part about being with his person 24/7!