Not quite a training log

But I’m trying to get back in the swing of blogging regularly and logging Jack’s training. It’s been wonderful to be able to look back at the logs of what I did with Kaylee- both useful, and emotionally rewarding- and I know it’ll be worth the effort to do the same thing with Jack.
Jack has now hit double digits as an ‘official’ service dog in training, passing the 10 hour mark this week. His training around the house is going really well, and he’s reliably waking me up on a schedule /and/ for unscheduled times when the alarm I’m asking him to alert to (a specific ring tone on my phone) goes off.

His training in ‘public’ reminds me just how far we have to go- but he improves every time we’ve gone out. So far, he’s been to our local outdoor pedestrian mall for Santa photos, a few local parks, and several different pet supply stores. Attention is a WIP- he’s doing well at low distraction levels, though, and Leave It needs me to sit down and actually teach it more deliberately instead of redirecting. Bad trainer, no cookie. LLW also needs some work. I’ve begun teaching heel more specifically, as I’ll want him to actually heel casually while working and not just walk on a loose leash.

Working around other dogs still needs more work, although he IS getting better. He met Jen’s wolfhound bitch Lene on Friday, and other than a ‘o.0 wow, you’re big’ moment, he thought she was pretty cool and tried to initiate play, but was pretty relaxed after I asked him to chill out and lay back down. He’s definitely /capable/ of the impulse control I need. Speculating on what breeds are in his makeup is endlessly fun; his temperament is very generic good-drivey-dog, he has no particular herding or hunting instincts that I’ve found yet, and he’s just such a mishmash. He’s got a shepherdy muzzle except for the length and definitely shepherd eyes and voice, but his structure and ears definitely aren’t. ACD x BYB Akita was one suggestion we came up with that’d explain his body shape and coloring and most of his features, but the temperament on that cross sounds like a nightmare, and Jack is SO amiable that it just doesn’t seem at all likely. Who knows? Not me, and it doesn’t matter in the end, but it sure is fun to speculate. :)

Deep Thinking – Service Dog Blog Carnival #5

This post is quite a departure from the normal fare that will be found on this blog, which is meant primarily for dog training and my own dogs. However, since Jack is, or will be, hopefully, a service dog in training – and I’m supposed to be hosting the next Service Dog Blog Carnival in December- I really wanted to participate in this one, which closes tonight (10/23/11).

A blog carnival is a collection of posts from bloggers who blog on a certain topic or theme, all inspired by the same prompt/theme. In this case, it’s achievement- it’s hosted by Cyndy O at Gentle Wit.  Because this topic is fairly personal (and not really about dog training), I’ve put it behind a jump. It’s also REALLY rambly. So read on at your own risk.

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Welcome home Jack

After re-doing the site and blog- I’m moving all my dog blogging over here from my general/art blog, although some things will still be crossposted- I thought it was appropriate to make the first new post to be about Jack.

Texas Husky Rescue was kind enough to allow me to pull, foster, and adopt a really wonderful malamute mix named Jack through them. He’s my new service dog prospect, and while I really wasn’t LOOKING for a malamute mix (I’ve been keeping an eye on local shelters for suitable prospects, but I was mostly sticking to Aussie, BC, and collie-type mixes), this boy was on his last day in the shelter, sick with a URI, and just too special to let go. So I figured I could foster him for a day or two- he was gorgeous, surely he’d be snapped up before he was even healed up from his neuter, right? Well, yes, he was- but for the first time in better than 10 years volunteering with dogs, I failed fostering.

Jack is outgoing, people-oriented, easy to motivate, and has a strong desire to engage with people. He’s definitely got a sense of humor (his favorite game is piling toys on me while I am asleep), and he likes to fling toys at my head instead of putting them in my hand when I throw them for them- but he loves to retrieve, and in general, seems not to have gotten the memo about northern breeds being aloof or not liking to retrieve. He was found as a stray, and had apparently had some foundation training as a younger dog (he’s approximately 18 months old based on his teeth and general demeanor)- he came to me knowing sit, down, and shake- and picked up on the clicker ‘game’ very, very quickly. He’s just joyful to train in a way that I adore, and in general, once he understands what I want (and he’s a VERY good guesser), he’s willing to do it if there might be a ball or a treat involved.

Will he make it as an SD? I hope so. Despite his apparent breed mix (and I’ve spent YEARS talking people on the Dogster Service & Therapy Dog boards out of huskies as SD prospects, because most really AREN’T suitable), the breed traits that are generally the most problematic aren’t traits that he has. He’s still got a long way to go- but I have hope.  He has at least 6 months of serious training ahead of him-  I’m hoping to get his CGC and his RN at Glen Rose in January, and the process of getting him ready for that should bring him up to the standard I expect for a dog beginning public access training. Yes- that’s 8 weeks- but I have faith we can do it.  There’s still health testing to pass, and some of the activities I’d hoped to do with my next dog (ie herding and likely dock dogs, although he could surprise me) won’t be in the cards, there are others that I know I enjoy just as much. And I have hope. That’s a big thing, right now.