Thursday, June 28, 2007

Settling in

Thank you to everyone for all your congratulatory messages! Suzan and I feel so loved and supported we can't help but be a stellar service dog team!

Monday was our first talk and demo at the kid's summer camp. I think Suzan did great even though she doesn't remember too much. I did pretty good myself except when Suzan let me off leash to "find the phone". She didn't think about all the service dogs in training around the room and I have to admit that I got a bit (OK a lot) distracted. But hey, I hadn't seen them for a while and we were trying to catch up. The kids really liked it when I opened the door, remember when I was having trouble with that one?

On Tuesday we went to a doctor's appt. and shopping at Target. I did great at both places! It was funny though because one of the Target employees kept futzing around in the aisle we were in and we were there a long time. Dad says it's not paranoia if they really are watching you!

We also went to a vet appt. for one of my feline siblings, Nile. I don't think he was too happy to have me along. Boy can he growl and hiss, what a Mr. Grumpypants! At home he is a really nice guy as far as cats go but get him to the doctor and he's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dad met us there and stayed in the exam room with Nile while Suzan and I waited in the lobby.

It's been so hot here that we've stayed inside more than usual. Suzan taught me to pick up my food dish after I'm done eating and give it to her. I get a breath freshener biscuit that's waiting for me on the counter, I think it's a good deal!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Day 14 - WE DID IT!

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

Woohoo!!! We passed the public access test with flying colors!!! Suzan and I are an official service dog team with an ID and everything! To celebrate we all had steak tonight - even me!

Thank you everyone for all your encouragement and kind words over the past two weeks. It really helped to get over the rough spots. Suzan says that the biggest thanks should go out to my puppy raisers, the Beaman family for all their love and dedication in raising me to be the best service dog partner I can be. Being a puppy raiser requires a LOT of time and effort and they opened their hearts and home to me and to Suzan and Jon too. Suzan said we are especially lucky because our two families were brought together because of me!

I will continue my blog (but probably not every day, that's a lot of work!) to let you know what we are up to. We will be doing our first demo tomorrow for the My Wonderful Dog kids' summer camp. Suzan's a little nervous, she doesn't like speaking in public but she's hoping that because it's about me it will be easier. I will try to help her. That's what I do. I AM A SERVICE DOG!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Day 13 - Dry Run

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

We started out at the training center today and I opened the door and shut those cupboard doors forcefully just like Auntie Nora predicted. I even opened the refrigerator door which I had never done before!

Then we were off to the mall to go through a dry run of our public access test tomorrow which went perfect! Suzan is so proud of me! Here is a photo of me doing an "under" under a table at lunch. I did almost everything I did yesterday plus I had to "down" next to a french fry and ignore it. That was hard but I did it. I love french fries, especially when they're hot. I think I love them even more than peanut butter!

I surprised Dad today. Suzan showed him how I could pick up a quarter off the floor and give it to her. His jaw dropped, that was funny!

Suzan thought you would enjoy this photo of me with my new fire hydrant toy box for Loganland. For those of you who are late coming to my blog, Suzan is setting up the backyard to be Loganland, like Disneyland but for dogs. I hope to have my doggie friends over to play. This is my off duty face. When my vest is on, I put on my work face which is very serious.
Well, wish us luck tomorrow! If all goes well we will be an official certified service dog team this time tomorrow!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Day 12 - Transactions

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

Today we worked on transactions where I'm in charge of the money!!! When Suzan buys something when she is using her scooter and the counter is too high, I can help her. Suzan puts the money in a special pouch and I do an "up" and then "give". I can then get the change back in the pouch and even take the package and carry it if it's not too heavy. You should have seen me carrying a plastic bag around the mall. Suzan said I was a really good helper and I really liked doing it!

Can you believe that we have only two more days of team training left?! Tomorrow and then our public access test on Sunday. We are going to bed early so this will be a short post. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 11 - A Ball at the Mall

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

Things are really coming together now! Today I pushed the cabinet and regular doors closed pretty consistently and got the big door opened quite a few times.

Our field trip today was to the mall. Suzan and I did really, really well. I got the handicapped door button for her, stayed in a down when someone stepped over me, allowed children to pet me and stayed focused and even let a "friendly stranger" take me a few feet away and come back. See photo of "friendly stranger".

We also did the escalators! Now this is something special that not all service dogs are trained to do. But since Lauren is such a good trainer and we knew that Suzan might have to use one with me, we carefully trained for it. I love escalators! I think it's because such a big fuss was made over me when I was learning to do them. Suzan knows that we have to be very careful and we'll take the elevator if we have a choice.

My business cards sure came in handy today! Lots of people were interested in what we doing and I even heard some of them comment on what a good dog I was!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day 10 - Surprises

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

I had some wonderful surprises today. Lauren, my puppy raiser came and helped out at our team training. She's a great trainer and had brought me to ClickerExpo last year. I have to admit I was pretty excited at first but then I settled down and focused on what Suzan and I had to do. I did better at opening/closing doors and closing the cupboards!

We went on another field trip to the same place and practiced elevators. Suzan did better today too! We even went in a glass elevator, that was really weird. At first I wasn't sure what was going on but I got to eat peanut butter from a tube and all was well. (Can you tell that I really like peanut butter?!) Someone asked us if it was special doggie peanut butter! It isn't, but maybe the peanut butter folks should market it as that.

We walked around outside at the farmer's market, Suzan said I did great! Even with all the people and trucks going by and a band playing. We've had a request to post a photo of Suzan and I together so Lauren took one today. Here it is...

The other big surprise came in the mail addressed to me and Suzan from my Auntie Rochelle. She runs a great website called The Land of Pure Gold which is "the largest Golden playground in cyberspace"! It's a nonprofit that celebrates the canine-human bond and raises funds for canine cancer research. It has tons of great information and is very well done, you should check it out! We belong to a forum there that has some of the nicest people, including my Auntie Nora and Uncle Bob and Auntie Sheila who have posted here on my blog.

Auntie Rochelle sent us a package to "celebrate your new working partnership". There was an organic bunny "for all my hard work" and some wonderful cards with a "Queen" Golden on them for Suzan to "remind her who is important". He he he. Thank you Auntie Rochelle!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day 9 - Field Trip!

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

Today we did MORE retrieves! Good thing I'm a retriever! Worked on that darn door some more. I'm getting it open eventually but it's taking quite a few tries. Needs more work, wish me luck.

We took a field trip to a place with handicapped door buttons and elevators. I did great with the buttons and actually I did great with the elevator too, it's Suzan that's having some problems with this one! Trying to maneuver the scooter and me into the elevator takes some getting use to. Suzan has to approach the door and tell me to "wait" while she blocks the door with her scooter so I'm not in any danger. Then I "go through" and she follows and we have to figure out the best place to be in the elevator so we can get back out easily. I think we're going back to that place tomorrow for more practice and I heard that they also have a glass elevator!

We went to lunch afterwards and I was so tired that I didn't even notice when Suzan dropped crumbs on my head as I was lying there! Early to bed for both of us tonight. G'night!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Day 8 - Week 2 Begins!

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

Wow, I can't believe that we're starting our second week of team training already! Starting tomorrow, we'll be taking field trips each day, that will be exciting!

Today we practiced even more difficult retrieves with the items in a hard to reach area under very low benches. I got the dollar bill first again!!!! And I finally picked up the heavy mystery can that I hadn't been able to do before. The final item was very challenging and Suzan and I had to figure out how to get it. "Take it" wasn't working, free shaping wasn't working and finally Suzan directed me to "under" and then "take it" and I went for it! Success!!!!

I also carried a plastic bag full of other plastic bags (how silly is that!?) around the center walking by Suzan's scooter. Piece of cake!

I'm still having problems with opening a door using a strap and pushing a cabinet door shut with my nose. I'm just not forceful enough, Suzan said I need to eat more spinach.

We stopped at a store on the way home and Suzan dropped her cane while standing at the register counter. She cued me to pick it up and I did. This was for real, not just practice!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Day 7 - A Day of Rest

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

We slept in today and didn't have to go to training class but we still practiced. I did really good at finding the phone and picking up Suzan's cane. We also played a lot today which is very important for a service dog. We work hard and we play hard! I have a great fenced in back yard and we had fun fetching and going in my pool. Suzan is going to make Loganland in our back yard, like Disneyland but for dogs!

Here are some photos:

Oh, Suzan just reminded me to tell you about the unbelievable thing I did yesterday. She was on the computer at the dining room table and the TV was paused after playing a TIVO recording. The TIVO timed out after a while and the TV came back on. Suzan would have liked to turn it off but didn't have the remote handy. Well, without cueing, I retrieved the remote from the couch where Suzan had last used it and brought it over to her! Suzan thinks I read her mind, I'll never tell!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Day 6 - Rinse and Repeat

The Making of a Service Dog Team - Suzan & Logan's two week team training

OK, no rinsing but there was a lot of repeating today! More "retrieves" but today I went after the metal things first. Most dogs don't like metal so Suzan thought that was strange. I have to keep her on her toes! More "backs", more "ups", more "unders" and more "push"es. I was having trouble with the "ups" on the door again so they started putting peanut butter on the door. That worked! If you're ever at My Wonderful Dog and you think the door smells like peanut butter, now you'll know why! I think I did a pretty good job of cleaning it all up though.

We went out to lunch and then to Sam's Club after training. Suzan said I was perfect! Here I am at Sam's Club...

We met a woman whose daughters will be going to the My Wonderful Dog teen camp and we gave them my business card. I worked at the teen camps for two seasons, it's a great thing. The kids come for a week and learn about service dogs, disabilities and community service. They learn how to train us using positive reinforcement/clicker training and they take us to the mall and to the movies at the end of the week. I saw a lot of movies!

We also got ice cream on the way home!!!! Kimball Farm opened today and they have great ice cream and free doggie ice cream!

Suzan and I are doing so well, we have the day off tomorrow!!! I'm really glad, we need it! We still have homework though. Suzan says we have to come back and blog because she wants me to tell you what I did today that was unbelievable. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Day 5 - Let my Love Open the Door!

Our fifth day of service dog team training and I think Suzan and I are getting it! We did a bunch of retrieves again, "ups" and "backs". I finally got the door open by tugging it and now my challenge is "push". This is where I use my nose to push close a cabinet or refrigerator door. Suzan says I just need to put a little more "oomph" into it. Easy for her to say! Noses are very important to us dogs and we have to treat them with care. But I will try harder tomorrow!

My favorite thing we did today was "find the phone". I'm very good at that one!

Guess what Suzan got me? Business cards! It's not as silly as it sounds. When I have my vest on out in public, people shouldn't pet me. Suzan thought it would be nice to give children (or even adults!) a card that explains my job and why it's important that I'm not distracted when I'm working. She's heard that it's one of the hardest parts about having a service dog. Having to tell everyone that they can't pet me, or try to get my attention or especially try to feed me! So please make a service dog's job easier and pretend we're not there. And don't worry, we get plenty of kisses and loving from our partners and our families when we're off duty! Thanks!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Day 4 - I Did It!

You will all be happy to know that I retrieved Suzan's cane last night after we blogged!!! Yay!!! Then we read my friend's Emma comment about using a strap and tried that this morning. We like that even better, thanks Emma and Mary! It prevents Suzan's cane handle from being slimy, is easier for me and since Suzan has a whole wardrobe of canes it makes them consistent for me to work with.

At team training today we did more retrieves! When all of the following things were placed on the floor for me to pick up guess which one I chose first? Metal dumbbell, wooden dumbbell, plastic dumbbell, purse, dollar bill, paper plate, water bottle, mitten, plastic bags, metal spoon, and screwdriver. I ended up picking all of them up but I chose the dollar bill first! Suzan was very proud of me! :)

We also practiced "under" for getting under tables and such. Very useful at restaurants. And then we did "up" with my front paws on a bench, table, wall, and then an open door. I did great but I didn't like the door so much, it's kinda weird when it moves but I guess that's the point. I'm supposed to shut it.

Our last thing we were working on was tugging a lever door open. We got through the "take it" and "hold" of a tug strap and we're working on "back". We'll continue with that one tomorrow.

We breezed through our homework tonight! Cane - no problem! Cans - no problem!
Look what was waiting for us at home!!!! Tied to our newspaper box was a beautiful doggie balloon and other balloons that said "it's a girl"! And an adoption/welcome home card for ME!!!! Suzan's very thoughtful friend Caren really surprised us! Thank you Auntie Caren!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Day 3 - Retrieves for the Retriever!

The third day of team training and we have homework! More "heel" (left) and "place" (right) practice, place is hit or miss. We need to practice tonight. Suzan wonders if the scooter is throwing me off?

We also did a lot of retrieves today (remember the "take it", "bring it here", "hold" and "give" sequence?) Plastic dumbbell, wooden dumbbell, plastic bags, paper plate, metal spoon, screwdriver and a bottle of water. Oh and that darn cane! I was bestest with the paper plate, the bottle of water and the cane were the most challenging. I need to learn to pick up the bottle by the side and not the top unless Suzan doesn't mind dog drool on the cover! I still didn't get the cane yet. I'm putting my mouth on it but not picking it up. More homework!

We also worked on "leave it" with squeaky toys and balls flying by me. I was having trouble with it when I was just standing there or walking by them. But when I was in a "sit stay" I was a champ! The ball even hit me and I still paid attention to Suzan. So Suzan has to remember if I'm distracted by a squirrel or a bird to have me sit or down.

We did our homework and it was interesting. Even on a full stomach (Suzan meant to practice before dinner so I would be more food motivated but she forgot!) I did very good heels and places when Suzan was standing. When she sat on a chair they weren't quite as good but better than with the scooter. (The scooter is at the training center so we couldn't practice with it.) And I actually lifted the cane off the floor! I didn't really move it but we got further than earlier today! Suzan says it's a good thing she is patient!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Day 2 - Go Throughs and that Darn Cane!

Our second day of team training! Today we practiced another way to go through a doorway. Suzan stopped her scooter before the doorway or narrow pathway and told me to "go through". I then go through and turn around and face her and back up as she moves forward with the scooter. We worked that one out and went in and out of so many doorways today, practicing them both ways. The "go through" way and the "wait" way like yesterday. We're not sure which one we like best but it's nice to have both options available depending on the doorway.

Oh I forgot to tell you that we worked on me picking up my leash and giving it to Suzan yesterday. I'm really good at that! We also worked on a retrieve using the leash. You wouldn't think it's as complicated as it is but there are four parts to it! "Take it", "hold", "bring it here" and then "give"! And Suzan couldn't reach out, I had to "give" it where her hand was.

Today's training wasn't quite as smooth as yesterday but we still did OK. We still have to work on "heel" which is me being in position on the left. (without my butt swung out!) We also did "place" today which is just like "heel" but on the right side.

Our biggest challenge was trying to pick up Suzan's cane. We had to up my treats to cheese for that one! Remember I told you how complicated a retrieve is!? Well we only got up to "take it" and used what is called shaping. I got clicked for moving towards the cane and then clicked for touching my nose to the cane and then clicked for putting my mouth on the cane. That's as far as we got. I was distracted and it looked like I was getting a little stressed (panting) so we stopped while we were ahead. Suzan said it's OK. We're both going to have our good days and bad days and I'm not a robot after all! If I was I guess I'd be that Japanese robot dog, the Aibo! But they're not cute and fluffy and sweet like I am. We'll try again tomorrow!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Day 1 - The Journey Begins!

Logan here. Today was the first day of my two week team training with my new partner Suzan. Well, she's not that new. We have an advantage over most other service dog teams. You see, Suzan is a volunteer with My Wonderful Dog, the program in Maine that trained me so we've gotten to know each other pretty well over the past two years. I lived with the bestest foster family in the whole world! While I am going to miss them big time I know this is what all of our hard work was for. And it paid off, Suzan and I did really good today! Every day for the next two weeks we are going to train together and then on the final day we have to pass a BIG test! THE PUBLIC ACCESS TEST!

I knew something was up when Suzan came through the kennel area and asked me if I was ready to work! I could hear her in the other room going over a Team Training Manual and then they came and got me. I was a little distracted at first then realized that this was serious! We practiced "dress" with my vest, "watch me's" and walking with her scooter without surging ahead or falling behind. Then to make things more interesting we had to do figure eights around a couple of traffic cones. No problem except when Suzan mixed up clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Going through doorways was our little bump in the road. We had to figure out how to get me and the scooter through the door together. Suzan went up to the doorway, stopped and told me to wait as she continued through and then told me to follow. At first I wanted to move when she was moving, then she was having me wait too long but we finally got it all sorted out. I'm sure these two weeks will be like that as we figure out how to work together. Oh and we use a clicker which helps us to communicate. I know I've done what she wanted when I hear the click, then I get a treat which is usually food. Today I worked for Liver Biscotti!

We then got to take a break and play!!! That was fun!!! Suzan and I played with a squeaky toy and I did really well fetching it and bringing it back to her. This is really important because it's one of the ways she is going to make sure I get my exercise. Suzan can sit in one place and throw a ball or toy and as long as I bring it back and give it to her. Suzan has M.S. so fatigue is a big issue for her. She says she only has so many "coffee beans" of energy to work with each day so she tries to save them for the important stuff! Her standing and walking endurance are limited so she uses a scooter for long distances or busy days like today or when she's not sure if there will be seating someplace. It's a cute scooter, bright red. I think I look really good next to it!

Back to work and this time we practiced sits and downs while scootering around in a circle. Sits were a piece of cake, downs were a little more challenging. Suzan had to keep repeating the cue, a little firmer each time. And I need to remember to stay parallel to the scooter and not too far away. This one might take a little practice!

Next on the agenda was "come". I did that one really well even when they took me out of sight of Suzan. I heard her say "Logan, come!" and off I went because I really wanted to get back to her. Each time I did it a little bit faster!

So that was our first day of team training! We were both tired and came home and took a nap. Stay tuned for Day 2!