Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dewey Steps Up

By Fred
The dogs know that one of them must take me for a walk before they eat. It doesn't matter which dog takes me, and it isn't a long walk--just a short one within the house. We're all standing in the kitchen. It's time to eat, and the last thing they want is a delay, especially a pointless one. Normally they'd love to walk anywhere and for any reason, but it's meal time, and they really, really don't want to walk away from the kitchen.

"Who's gonna take me?" is what I ask to no one in particular. Not "heel" because it isn't a command--I just want one of them to take some initiative. When Coach was here, he always immediately volunteered to walk me--Coach loved being in charge and he loved having a job. Willow always sits in the same place and smiles--she's not playing the game at all.

Jam knows the drill because I've done it since he was a small puppy. Jam seems to enjoy the whole thing but he always sticks his head between my legs and makes this odd little noise and wags his tail. But he just can't see the wisdom of walking away from breakfast. So we wait sometimes.

When he was smaller, Dewey watched all of this passively. He watched Jam playing hard to get. Then several weeks ago Dewey volunteered to take me. And most mornings now he's the one takes the initiative, and he seems very proud and happy about doing it.

Compared with most dogs, Dewey doesn't make much of a display of his emotions. He's been shy and laid back since he was small. He has a tiny smile, and just a slight tail wag from Dewey is a sign of real joy. I guess I can relate to him pretty well.

He is certainly less charismatic than Jam, but he's a wonderful dog. We hope that when he goes IFT he won't get lost in the crowd, not like some shy young kid from a small town.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dewey Loves to Crochet

We all want to think that at a certain point we can let our guard down.  We can become a bit complacent when our puppies get a little older.  They behave so much better.  We trust them so much.

But we have to remember that they are still puppies and we are still puppy raisers.  However, I was still surprised to walk into the yarn room to find that Dewey had gotten one of the yarn balls and pulled it into a snarly mess.

It wasn't his fault.  It was my fault.  I had left the yarn out in the open.  The cabinet door wasn't shut.  The full bag of yarn was hanging ajar.  What dog worth his snout in curiosity wouldn't have investigated this gold mine of interesting smells?

Here is the yarn room.  My tall cabinet filled with yarn. One cabinet door open.
An open yarn bag gaping wide at dog head height and hanging off a knob on the buffet.
Trainer Jen has told us that if our pups have a fondness for something (socks, shoes, etc.) then you need to start setting those things out and then rewarding the pups for not going after them.  Set them up for success.
Dewey sits calmly by the silky orange ribbon as I try to rewind it.
Who's fault was it that he had failed? It was mine.

Now, I have to plan on being the one to make him succeed on avoiding yarn in future.

I recently became the sponsor of the Knitting and Crochet Club.  We knit and crochet baby hats for premies and babies at hospitals.  I just stored a big box of supplies without a lid under my desk and Dewey found it.

Dewey and the baby yarn for premie hats.
Now I will be buying a big storage tub with a locking lid on Sunday for my office.

It seems obvious to me that yarn is a red light item for Dewey.  So starting next week, we will be playing some yarn avoidance games, perhaps even some video, to get Dewey to the point where he isn't so interested in yarn.

We'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quality Dewey Time

By Fred
My typical Tuesday trip with Dewey became untypical today. Normally we take a long walk through Dunedin before eating, but today was rainy. My shirt was soaked after just crossing the street. So we walked back and forth a few times under the awnings on Main street. With Dewey, short walks and long walks are equally OK. He is the king of cool.

I ordered fish as usual, but it wasn't quite the same. More peppers, less fish. This was an omen of bad luck, though I didn't know it at the time. Dewey went right to sleep under the table--he is so good at restaurants now, even today with the wind howling outside and rain bashing against the windows.

The rain let up just as it was time for us to leave. Good luck, I thought. So we hurried to the car, I put in the key and turned it. Nothing. I had left my lights on in the parking log, and the battery was dead.

AAA said it would be about an hour before someone could come. Fortunately, the skies were cloudy and a cool breeze was blowing. We opened the doors. I texted my bad luck to Cheryl, and she responded with sympathy. I was feeling pretty mad at myself, then I noticed Dewey smiling at me. What a good boy. He spends much of his day waiting and never complains.

I texted Cheryl back and told her that Dewey and I were bonding. In reality, he was giving me a lesson in patience. Too bad I still don't have any.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Officer Buckle and Gloria

Spring Break seemed to put us out of sorts.  We were not able to post as much as we would have liked and so we need to catch up on some Dewey stories.

Right before we headed off for Spring Break, we had the great pleasure of being invited down to Lower Division to read to the Kindergarten.  We had a special book picked out: Officer Buckle and Gloria. It's about a safety officer who gets a service dog to help him with his school visits.  Little does he know just how much Gloria the dog is doing to rev up his speeches!

Dewey contemplating the book Officer Buckle and Gloria.
Dewey was very excited about going down to Lower.  Well, Dewey doesn't get charged up about anything, but he did seem very happy about the opportunity.  He loves the little kids.

Some of the students pointing at Dewey. 
The students were VERY excited when they saw that Dewey was part of story time.

Dewey and I at the front of the class with Mrs. Edwards to the left.
I had to explain that Dewey was going to listen to the story. We were HOPING that Dewey was going to be a good boy and listen quietly.

Dewey sitting in front of me as I explained to the students about the story time rules.
Dewey sits down very politely in the front row.  All of the kids in the first row are SUPER excited as they are the closest to Dewey. We start the book.

Dewey is sitting in front of me and staring up.
I start to read with lots of animation, after all, I am a frustrated actress living inside of a librarian.  So, my many dramatic voices come pouring out in the different characters of the book.

Dewey gets very interested and gets up to take a look

Dewey sits up to take a closer look at the book.
I tone it down a bit.

I go back to reading, Dewey sits by my side.
Dewey sits down at my side, but soon, I have reached a crisis in the book and Dewey becomes worried for the characters.

Dewey is standing and looking at me wondering why I am so worried.
Officer Buckle has reached a crisis in the book!  I tell Dewey that he is just going to have to sit down and wait to hear the end like everyone else.  The students laugh.

Dewey making sure I am ok.
Dewey slowly goes into a sit. Then into a down.   He is waiting for the story to calm down.  What will Officer Buckle do? What will Gloria do?

Everybody is looking at the book to see what Gloria is going to do, including Dewey.
In the end, Officer Buckle makes the right decision and he and Gloria become partners again and save the school from safety disasters.

View from the back of the story time of everyone watching me flip the pages.

And Dewey? Well, Dewey got to dream about being the best guide dog ever because he had fallen asleep. Finally.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Scary Camouflage

Coffee.  All I had on my mind was getting a cup of coffee before the cafeteria closed before 9.  We were walking at a fairly brisk pace and had just turned right down the main hallway toward the senior mall when Dewey stopped short.  

"Dewey?" Nothing.  I noticed that his ears were up and he was staring intently dow the hall.

I looked down the hall.

The view down the hall: a large camouflaged backpack with a beam of sunlight falling on it.
There were two backpacks on either side of the hallway, but Dewey wasn't looking at them.  He was staring straight ahead.  Intently.  There, in the bright sunlight, was Caleb's oversized camouflaged backpack.

Dewey was not going to go any closer.  I tried the happy voice.

Nope. Nothing.

I looked at Christina.  She went over the backpack and kneeled down beside it.

She tried the happy voice, "Dewey! Come! It's okay!"

I tried the happy voice where I was beside him, "Okay buddy, let's go! You can do it!"

Dewey walked forward a few steps.  He looked up at me.  He looked at Christina.  He walked a few more steps. We kept up the happy voices and he kept slowly walking.  I decided not to come at the backpack directed and we took a wide arc to come at it sideways.  Dewey's pace increased.  His nose started twitching. Christina was still calling him in a happy voice.

He was always in a forward motion. Finally we arrived at the backpack and Dewey came right up to it and sniffed.

He backed up two feet and then approached the top again, opened it with his nose and got a good sniff.

"Well, that's nosey," I said.  I closed the top. He sniffed the backpack up and down.  It was no longer scary.

Dewey leaning against the backpack.
We came back about 15 minutes later with my iPhone to take photos. He walked right up to it, no problem.  Fear conquered.

Good job Dewey!