Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve Boat Parade

We were invited to a party on Christmas Eve at Duke and Eric the Red's house.  And since a puppy raiser was throwing the party, Jam was invited and this time Willow got to come as well (Willow is our 10 year old chocolate lab)!

Jam lying down on the deck with his Christmas collar on.
 All told, there were six dogs at the party, five big dogs and one little puppy.  Well, let me rephrase that.  four crazy, boy dogs, one lady, and a little puppy.  Whenever the boys got too rambunctuous, Willow would remove herself from the rolling, kicking whirling mass of boy-dog craziness and come sit next to me or Melisa's mom.

Eric the red was too small to be let off leash to run with the big dogs.  So he watched from the deck.  But he's so happy, he didn't mind.

Eric the red sitting pretty with a big smile on his face.
What was so fascinating about this particular grouping was that there was absolutely no aggression in any of the boys at all.  When they played with the toys, they all wanted to play together, but they were all really sweet about it.
All four big dogs (Jam, Dawson, Trapper and Duke) playing with the same blue tug toy.
 When one of them would end up with the toy, that dog would go over to another and wave it in their face until the game was on again.

Dawson, Trapper and Jam with the tug toy.
This game went on ALL NIGHT.

All four of them wrestling with the tug toy again.
We did make them sit for a photo.

A six dog sit on the steps of the deck: Willow, Jam, Dawson, Eric, Duke and Trapper (and various humans).
I may have Duke and Trapper mixed up.  It's hard to tell them apart.  I'm not sure which one is lighter in color.

I was a little worried about having them all in the house, but they actually did pretty well inside.  There was only one incident of puppy crazies (not Jam!) involving couch jumping, but other than that everyone was on their best behavior.

After a delicious dinner during which the dogs acted very good under the table, we went outside to watch the boat parade.  Music, flashing lights, boats driving back and forth, dancing Santa.  None if it phased the dogs.

While Willow was content to nap during the party, Jam would absolutely not!  No napping, no stopping, no turning it off.  So, when we got into the car to go home, he crashed.

Boat parade = successful exposure! (And a lovely party with delightful friends 8-)  A good time was had by all participants.

Monday, December 26, 2011

I Never Dreamed I Would Do It Too!

There are just some things that you don't ever imagine yourself doing.  In fact, often times, you have dreams about them.  Anxiety dreams, they call them.  Where you dream you are naked in class or in a business meeting.  How will I give this presentation without my clothes?  It's a very upsetting dream and usually indicates a disturbed mind, or at least that you are disturbed about something.  I think.  Whatever.

My dreams usually involve monsters and whales and dark water. No, those are nightmares.  Usually, really strange things happen like a baby with a golden arm appears and then something else happens.  Let's just say that once, on a hike up Sabino Canyon in Tucson, AZ with some friends we were talking about dreams and I told one of mine.  One of the girls in the group looked at me a little strangely and said, "You should really see a Jungian therapist.  They would love to get a hold of you."  Somehow that sounded vaguely threatening, so I never did go find a Jungian therapist and gradually, the whales, the dark water and monsters faded away to plain old anxiety dreams of nakedness. Like everyone else has.  I like to think that my happiness in raising guide dog puppies had fostered a sense of contentment and well being that has provided a safe haven for my subconscious to go on vacation and not have to dream up such elaborate scenarios at night.  Until today.

Two years ago I told a story about Bingo doing the poo hunch in the middle of Westshore Mall and that I picked up his 50lb self and ran him out the door (which was quite a distance away! Pretty good for an middle-aged, out of shape lady!). Crisis averted.  Carolyn then shared one of her poo stories which made me laugh so hard I though I was going to shoot coffee out my nose.  I apologize Carolyn.  I sincerely apologize.  I completely understand now why you did what you did.  But I get ahead of myself...

Today, we took the Jamster to Home Depot.  As we were walking in, I thought to myself, "It's about 3:30, he had a big pee.  That's good. Is there something else I should be thinking about?" Then my pea brain went off to think about Bed, Bath and Beyond, which was our next stop.  What did I need, blah blah blah.  We went in and started walking around.  Fred had a HUGE list of things he needed.  So I said I would go look at bathroom towel racks where I took a lovely photo of Jam as he looked at  himself in the mirrors.  I also got some cute video.
Jam, lying down, in front of some mirrors in the bathroom department.  You would think this would be foreshadowing, wouldn't you?
Then we found Fred and he sent us on this wild goose chase to find shelf doodads, and we wandered up and down aisles and couldn't find them.  We met back up Fred and it is now about 4:15.  The sweet spot for Jam as far as poo goes is right after breakfast, sometimes a 10 am poo and between 4:30 and 5:30 pm. He is REGULAR.  No fooling around.  So as we start to turn down the aisle I feel a little tug on the leash.  I look down and it's the dreaded poo hunch!

CRAP (so to speak!).  Now I have two choices: Let him poo (not a choice!) or take him out (we are far from the entrance).  But, and here's the big question: Has he actually committed himself, or is he just hunched like Bingo?

Mind you all of this is going through my head in a fraction of a second as Fred is walking off down the aisle.

What do I do?  I have to check to see if he is committed.  Otherwise I can carry him. So, I

I reach behind him.

I reach behind him and I feel for poo.

Yep.  He's committed.

In a big way.

It falls into my left hand.  Oh my God.  I have poo in my hand.  My dog just pooped in my hand.  I look up and there are people in the aisle.  Did they see him poop in my hand?  This is a real life anxiety dream only I am fully clothed and holding poo!  And my dog is going to pump out some more!

I leap up.  I can't carry him with a hand full of poo, so a RUN down the aisle with poor Jam running after me like his underwear is around his ankles.  We run as fast as we can to the exit.  Mind you, Jam CANNOT POO IN COAT.  So my main goal (aside from getting poo out of hand) is to get the coat off of him and let him shoot poo out his butt in a safe place.

Right there by the exit is an orange bucket with a garbage sack.  OMG I have to get this poo out of my hand.  I stop for a micro second to throw the poo into the bucket and in that microsecond Jam has squirted out another poo WHICH I HAVE CAUGHT!  OMG.  I throw that one away as well and run Jam out the door and over to the median grassy area and yank the coat off of him.

I can hear the sigh of relief as he finishes his poo.  I can also her the laughter as one of the Home Depot customers walks out to his car.

I tell myself, I have on all my clothes.  It could have been worse.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa's Little Helper

Jam lying on the floor in his Santa hat and Christmas collar.
Today, an odd thing happened.  Jam performed a task, unasked of course, but he did it twice and it was so strange that we think he was moved by the Christmas spirit.

We had a friend stop over and she had two gift bags: one for Fred and one for me.  Since we weren't going to see her at Christmas, we started to open our bags.  Now, we didn't have a bag for her.  Her gift was in a little stuffed snowman, but Jam didn't know that.  As we were exclaiming over our gifts, Jam went over to the Christmas tree, grabbed a gift bag and pulled it over to our friend's feet.

"OH!"  She said.

"Jam!"  I looked at the bag and at her.  "I guess he wants you to have a bag too."  I looked at Jam and said, "No, Jam," and then put the bag back under the tree.  Then I returned to opening my presents as there were still things to pull out of my gift bag.

Jam walked over to the tree.  He grabbed the gift bag again with his teeth and he dragged it over to our friend and left it at her feet and then he looked up at her.

"Jam.  I got her a present.  It's okay."  I returned the bag to the tree.

Jam gave me a skeptical look, but he didn't move it again.

Jam: Santa's little helper.  Making sure all is right with the world and present distribution is fair.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sock Boot Camp

You know from a couple of days ago that Jam has a predilection for socks (new or used) actually clothing items of any kind, but preferably socks.  Socks and hosiery happen to be very dangerous as they can be easily ingested, but then depending on the dog not necessarily easily digested or regurgitated. Jam, happily, was able to regurgitate his sock (twice) and thus eliminate the problem.

However, because Jam is such an incredibly obdurate canine, I have extreme doubts as to whether he learned any lesson from the morning "yak session."  In fact, given a smelly, vomit sock stinking up a low, open trash can and no Mom and Dad around to say No, I think he would be happy to stick his white, freckled muzzle in and grab a tasty, nasty snack.
Example of a sock that came in contact with Jam and has the holes to prove it.  
 With that in mind, I was resolved to start Jam on a strict Sock Boot Camp regimen.
Same sock, underside, more holes. Bad Jam.
Sock Boot Camp?  What is that?  Well, it involves giving Jam lots of opportunities to get a sock and then not letting him actually get the sock.  As our Area Coordinator is always telling us, it is very important that during the obedience training that you dog doesn't succeed in getting whatever it is on the ground that  he is training around.

So, I set up a great little training ground in the garden room and take Jam in there and within about 20 seconds Jam has snatched up the sock and it is like he has Lock Jaw.  Not only that, but the Drop It command is an invitation to PLAY and he is bound and determined not to drop it.

It's like it is high noon and I am John Wayne, old, crotchety and with a sore back facing down a young, good looking Clint Eastwood.  Clint is going to win.

Time to change the rules.  We move the obedience to a different spot.

Now I set it all up and begin again.  ARGH!! Jam just barely grabs the sock.  But this time, I am in control and manage a correction and a cool and forceful Drop It.

It works.  He drops it.  Awesome.

The trainers say that all your emotions go straight down the leash, so if you don't feel like training, don't do it.  If you aren't confident, the dog will know.    Just relax, take a deep breath and believe in yourself and more importantly believe what you are doing is the right thing for the health and welfare of the dog.

Then try again. Worked for me.

Here's our second try at Sock Boot Camp.  It won't be his last attendance at SBC.  He will have many repeated visits as he is probably a repeat offender.  But we WILL get him to ignore socks and open trash cans!

But, even with a closed trash can, problems can still occur....

So, training will continue on an as needed basis.  Because as we know, Jammy is a complete bonehead and will need constant reminders that socks are best left alone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Blues Brothers

Jam is on crate-rest this week, though the term is an oxymoron in his case--he does not rest in the crate at all, especially if Cheryl and I then leave the room after he gets into the crate.

So, for this entire week Jam has been home with me, on Fred-rest, following me around in our regular routine, except without the walks and other fun stuff.

Jam has been limping on his right front right paw for several days now, though he doesn't mind if we touch the paw or leg, and it doesn't seem to hurt him in any particular place. He doesn't lick it or grimace or do anything to indicate discomfort. He just limps. So we're keeping him as quiet as possible.

Years ago I had a friend named John T., a very funny, personable and talkative guy. I've always gravitated toward such people (Cheryl is certainly one of these). John told me that he once picked up John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd hitchhiking and invited them to his house for a party in Little Rock. This was back before Saturday Night Live, back when these guys were completely unknown. (Other people that I know, and trust, have confirmed that this story is true.)

John T. said that the two future blues brothers talked through the entire party, pretending to be characters and telling jokes, until everyone hurt from laughing so much. The incredible part of the story is that John T. could not get in a word at that party; he never stopped talking in my presence.

Some people are just naturally funny, and some more than others. Normally I am very comfortable in my boring skin, down at the very low end of the personality spectrum. But I can't stand to see little Jam so bored, unable to even take a walk around the block. He looks up at me with those eyes, like he is saying "Please let me do something fun..."

Yes, this week we are a couple of blues brothers--the real kind...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jam's New Nickname: Bonehead

We've noticed that Jam has a problem.  It's a bit of a cloth addiction.  He wants to have something soft in his mouth when he gets up in the morning or at night going up and down the stairs.  This compulsion of his usually results in his grabbing a sock, which we make him drop.

He's gotten wise to that.  He now runs into the bedroom, grabs any piece of clothing he can reach, and then runs out of the bedroom as fast as he can.  He's not quite a greased pig, but almost as hard to get a hold of. So things, generally go like this:

Jam runs into the bedroom and spies one of Fred's shirt's on the dresser.  He grabs it and whirls around.  I'm three feet away and scream, "NO! Drop it!"

Jam, sensing that NO is really just a small speedbump on the way to YES, fakes right and manages to get by me.  He races to the bathroom door and then turns at the head of the stairs and clenches the shirt in his mouth.

"Jam.  I am serious."  I say, completely ignoring the fact that trainer Jennifer has told us many times that talking like this is of no use to the dog. "Drop it."  I'm also too far away to make good on my Drop it command, which is bad thing number 2.  Jam, of course, being the stubborn bonehead that he is, ignores me, waits until I am two steps away and then gallops down the stairs.

"ARGHHHHHH!"  I stare at Jam.  Jam has his butt in the air doing a down dog position daring me to come and get the shirt.  Again, I forget about talking to him and talk to him. "Seriously, dude?  I am NOT coming down there."

I think he is laughing.

Another Morning

5:18 am

I wake up to the dulcet sounds of Jam yakking up something in his crate.  I turn on the lights and open the crate door.  He gives me a pained look and walks over to the white rug and promptly yaks up again on it.

Bile.  I look in the crate.  It looks like mostly bile, but there seems to be a pile of something.  I shut the crate door and go to get the toilet paper.  As I am cleaning, I notice that his pile of vomit seems to have writing on it.  What does it say? I can barely make it out.


He ate an entire golf sock.  ARGH!  I clean it all up and throw it away in the bathroom trash can.  Then as I am totally awake now (reading vomit will do that to a person), I take Jam and Willow downstairs for their breakfast.  I have no appetite.

Jam, as usual, scarfs his breakfast down and then as I am fixing myself a restorative cup of coffee, he disappears.  "Fred, have you seen Jam.  Is he in there with you?"


"Crap.  I have a bad feeling about this."  Bad feeling as in birth of a blockhead.  I run back upstairs and Jam meets me at the head of the stairs licking his lips.  Another bad sign.  "Jam.  What have you done?"  I run into the bathroom and look around.  Nothing looks amiss.  I look in the bedroom.  Same there.  I go back into the bathroom.  Then it hits me.

Vomit sock.  Oh no!

I walk over to the trash can.

I look in.

No vomit sock.

Jam in his Santa outfit looking handsome and not like he would eat a vomit sock.
He ate it.  Again.  You wouldn't think this handsome boy would eat a vomit sock would you?  But he would.  In a heartbeat.  He's a blockhead.  A stubborn, stubborn boy.  He's the puppy that tried for 55 minutes to get up on the front seat on the way home from Southeastern Guide Dogs.  Why are we surprised?

So what did we do? We got out the hydrogen peroxide and we made him throw it up.  With his breakfast.

Lesson: Get a new trashcan with a lid! AND make sure all socks make it into the laundry basket!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Convocation

Friday was the wrap-in and the holiday convo.  The wrap-in involved visiting pre-k, wrapping presents with them, writing notes to the kids where the gifts were going to go (they were being donated to a local charity), and then going to the all school convo where there was to be much singing and revelry.

Of course, Jam had to be dressed in his holiday attire, provided by his number one fan English teacher Caroline Clarke.  Once we got to pre-k, the biggest challenge was to keep him from mouthing the little kids.  When he is excited, he goes to take your hand in his mouth and that was his first reaction upon entering the room.  So, we walked around and around and at various times tried to visit small children to see if he had calmed down.  He did.  Five minutes before we left.  By that time, he was so exhausted he slept the rest of the day and most of this weekend!
Jam is laying down on the gym floor with his Santa hat on and his Christmas collar on.  He has his head on his paws and looks tired.
 Here he is getting ready to sleep during the holiday convo. Below is a shot of him waking up and looking around.  He has no idea what is going on and little care about it either.

Here is Jam with his head up (Santa hat still on!) looking sleepily to the left.

He has so little care, indeed, that when the Highlander Band began to play that he just gave up and fell asleep.  DURING BAGPIPES AND DRUMS.

Poor baby.  It's rough being so cute and popular.