Sunday, December 12, 2010

Do Our Dogs Pick Us?

...but Mom, he followed me home, can I keep him! The Hollywood version shows that little kid hanging flyer's all over their small town, and either finally keeping that pup, or having to hand it over to it's rightful owner, thus learning a lesson. Much like fairy tales, these screen plays always have a message or "moral of the story." Everyone has a story about the dog that picked them, and of course some of these stories end better than others. It's been my experience, that yes, our dogs pick us! I've witnessed this in the dozen or so adoptions that I've had the pleasure of facilitating this past year.

More often than not, a rescue dog will arrive here at Sit & Stay, rattled at the notion of being exposed to strange people, and dogs. Regular readers of my blog know the story of Bea-Bea, the nearly Ferrel ACD. Many of these pups have never had a regular feeding time or consistent diet, never mind a roof over their heads, or the occasional caress of a loving human. It takes some time, and patience, but they all come around eventually. The fact that nothing bad happens to them, and the example of confident, fun loving dogs all around them helps too. Then again, romping or flat out running in an open field as a reward is all the motivation some of them need.

On other side of the coin, we have dogs show up that are considered over-confident by some. These guys have been surrendered to rescue, or dumped at the shelter for being "too much to handle." I personally love these high energy guys, 'cause they mean fun, fun, fun! Guys that come to mind are Kansas, Ocala the Red Aussie's; Little Bear the Blue Merle Aussie; and my own, Titan- one word, Frisbee. These kids personally benefit me, as much as I do them; I need to burn energy too! Plus, they give me an excuse to put off other boring tasks. Now, the ones that can be most difficult, are those that are withdrawn, and fearful.

They're dogs like Lucille, "the herder that wouldn't"; Filly the nipping BC/Spaniel; and a little guy named Hank, the pacing Maltipoo. Most of these guys are the product of puppy mills, and are usually paying clients. It seems people are still buying dogs from flea markets, pet stores, and back-yard breeders. It also seems that the "designer-breeds" have helped these mercenary minded breeders to avoid those birth defects, that are so prominent in over-exhausted gene pools of some pure-breeds. However, we still see that anti-social behavior that comes from being separated from their mother, and/or their siblings, only to live in their own filth, devoid of human, and canine interaction before they're purchased. What they learn is how to fear, and pace in place!

How do I handle these situations? I wish there was a "water fountain" answer, but there isn't! The best plan of attack is to do nothing, but rather to be patient, and to observe. I need to find their patterns, and their thresholds before I can even consider an appropriate treatment. Now, treatment is never pinning a dog down, or scaring them with a stick, and hanging them by their lead! Corrections should be non-emotional, and minimal; a firm, but gentle leading to their crate, or verbal "ah-ah" is enough. The only way to get lasting positive results from any dog, is by finding what motivates that particular dog, and to feed into it! What you really want is a dog that makes his/her own good choices- this is the result of "positive training technique."

...enough of preaching Jesse, get to the fun stuff- you know the Hollywood thing! Oh yeah, that's right they find us, don't they?

I've had this discussion with Gisele Villieux many times, and yes we've found this to be very true. Especially, on October 16Th, 2010- the DogLiberator's first annual reunion. We had some seventy folks here with as many, if not more dogs. They all looked so happy, and proud with their choices in their companions; so did the people. That choice is made at that very first meeting. Naturally the dog, and their new owner feel the connection, but we fosters in rescue literally see it.

The dog greets a new person, or people. It's usually more stressful for the people, because they think they're making the decision. When in reality the dog, and I know better. If the dog likes them, I can visibly see the stress melt away to reveal, the joy beneath; in the human that is. It's at this point, I suggest they take a walk out of my sight. It's very cute, because the dog usually shows them around, as if to say "let me show you the real Sit & Stay Doggie Daycare."

When they return, I don't ask a question, or for that matter say anything. It may be rude, but I really don't hear what the humans say either. What I'm waiting for is the dogs answer; no nonsense, it happens every time it should! The dog looks up at them, quite relaxed, then turns and walks to me. They sit in front of me, and look up at me very soulfully. Then I swear, with their eyes, and a graze of their head on my knee, they say, "I'm gonna go home with them, okay?" That's it, they walk back, and gaze into their new owners eyes, "okay, lets go now."

If you haven't guessed, it took me so long to get around to saying this, because I cry every damned time; Hollywood knows a good story when they see one. The answer is Yes, our pets choose us, every damned time!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Marion County Commissioners Vote 5 to 0 in Approval of Sit & Stay!

Essentially I’m here to address you, the board, in order to get permission to hang banners to mark the entrance of my flag driveway. Which, as I understand was the basis for that anonymous complaint.

That was the opening of my presentation at the final zoning hearing; read-on to see it in it's entirety.

My “home business“, is exactly that.

I have changed nothing on the property, nor in the house, save some cleaning, painting, and regular upkeep that’s not required by our zoning status.

*I’d also like to point out that I’ve received no opposition to my application by the addressed buffering neighbors. Plus, the classified, and the property posted notices brought forth no objections either.

As I’ve pointed out on the permit application plan, there will be a minimum of traffic impact on the roadway, property, and to the adjacent properties. Intake hours are Mon-Fri from 7am-11am. Pick-up hours are on the same days from 4pm-7pm. The property will be sealed off outside of those times, and both intake, and pick-up will be restricted by an intentional modest capacity. As it is after all a home business, and I have no plan of expanding at this location.

The term “doggie daycare” is used loosely, and is mainly intended to point out that it’s a dog friendly environment to perspective clients. My target clientele are responsible dog owners that want a place to board their wards that is a safe, natural, home setting as to have the least impact on their otherwise happy pups. Many of these folks are looking for an alternative to negative stimuli such as enclosed, and restrictive, high traffic, and jail like kennels. A larger portion of my clients are looking for training, and socialization techniques that they can apply in their own homes.

In addition, I specialize in positive training technique programs, such as our One on One AKC Canine Good Citizenship Prep Course. Often, recipients of the AKC CGC award go on to participate in therapy programs for our ailing, and elderly human residents in rehabilitation facilities.

As a dog trainer, I take great pride in familiarizing myself with any and all of the continuing education on that subject, as well as the newly introduced dog socialization techniques.

*That alone can be considered a full time job, but I choose not stop there.

I feel obligated, but enjoy giving back in the form of helping our local 501(c)(3) dog rescue organizations, such as The DogLiberator, Max’s Pet Connection, and The United Yorkie Rescue to name a few. These organizations make general practice of saving dogs from euthanasia in their eleventh hour.

I take my pro-bono work for these organization as a great source of pride. Their dogs often come to me devoid of social skills, and/or household manners. In addition to the day to day therapy of these pro-bono cases, I also help to facilitate their adoptions, in a meet and greet form, with a 100% success rate for over 12 dogs in the last 12 months.

You see, members of the board, I’ve always been the guy that friends, family, and their friends have come to for advice, and pointers regarding their pets. Just to point out one case: my southern most neighbor, Mrs Dorothy Hull, has been hospitalized twice in the last year for over a month. I’m the guy that took her dog in, feed her cat, and watered her plants…all free of charge.

The fact of the matter is, I was doing exactly what I propose to do, before the anonymous complaint. Whom was incidentally not anonymous to me at any point in time. That person was trying to impose her opinion on me on the July 4th weekend, when one of my client’s dogs fled my property in fear of the a neighbors fireworks.

The complainant found the dog, and returned him complete with a heated lecture that I told her I respectfully did not need, nor appreciate. That was the only thing that’s happened out of the ordinary at my place in over a year. It’s obvious that this person doesn’t live in the zoning departments designated buffering neighbor list, and was for lack of a better explanation, was a personal issue that I could have handled better ,if perhaps, I’d bowed to her.

I was taken back by this persons general attitude, as I’ve never received anything but accolades for my work, before or since. I offer some evidence of this in the form of some testimonials, and references, and one direct letter to the board.

The zoning staff initially recommended the board decline my application, based on my proposed plan. They offered an alternate list of stipulations for approval.

I have no issue with these stipulations, save numbers 9 & 10.

#9 requires I have the driveway apron inspected by the Marion Co Trans Dept, Whom I believe actually built or approved the of already, as it was installed originally as a part of the Hwy 42 expansion project.

#10 refers to a CO on the residence that is not, nor will be altered in any way shape or form. I use free standing crates for nap times, and overnight beds for my personally owned pets. In addition, the only other form of confinement indoors are some spring type baby gates within existing door frames of the 1800 sq ft home, that I reside in alone. My clientele are after all looking for that alternative home setting for their dogs.

At the zoning hearing on August 30th, a board member asked how I proposed to keep up with the waste from the dogs on the large 1.97 acre property. I perhaps didn’t answer to his satisfaction, as he was the only vote against approval.
The backyard area is not so large I can’t keep up, as I spend a large portion of my day out there.

The much larger area, I’ve designated as the fully supervised exercise area on my site plan, is where I practice with my personally owned competitive Frisbee, and agility dog athletes, I police that area for waste on a golf cart that’s outfitted with a waste bucket and scooper. If I see droppings, I pick them up. I’d also like to remind the board that we are in fact on agriculturally zoned land, that’s formally pasture, and in ear shot and sight of existing cow pasture. If your not familiar with a working cow pasture they come along with “dung beetles” that often beat me to the punch. Also, the neighboring cattle rancher has several working dogs in his employ, that I’m very familiar with as well. I bag the waste daily, and take it to the county dump facility along with my household trash weekly.

The fact is that 20 dogs do not have nearly the impact of say 2 cows, some goats, a pig, a rooster, and some chickens would have on that same property.

I sincerely thank the board for your time and consideration here today…if there’re any questions, I’d be very happy to answer them at this time?

My speech lasted 8 minutes, and was followed by 15 minutes of Q&A, then another 15minutes to refine the verb age...

Bottom Line: We're Back in Business!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Week of Kids and Dogs!

I seriously need a full time assistant! That's not the cry of an overwhelmed man, nor is it bragging, it's the fact that so much is left unshared here at Sit & Stay. This became vividly clear to me this week, when I introduced a Dad and his two Daughters to their new Dog. There's nothing more meaningful than the child and dog relationship! I mean, it ranks up there with "mother and child". I got a full dose last Saturday.

It took me back to the memories of pestering my folks for a puppy when I was around seven; I took this on as some sort of mission and heard things like, "someday", "maybe Santa will bring one", "we need a bigger yard sweetie", "okay, okay, we know, you want a dog!" I was determined to have my own dog, and these answers just fueled my imagination.

"Someday" was a word from fairy tales, that always end well. Santa was never more than 12 months away; I wrote him. We saw houses with huge yards for sale daily; I was quick to point them out. I would not take "no" for an answer! Especially since a pasta company was giving a puppy to the kid that wrote the best letter. Nothing worked!

Fairy tales aren't real; Santa didn't come through; we didn't move, and don't get me started with that pasta company! I was a learning to be a pessimist at age seven. However one night that spring, my Dad was late for dinner, it was storming outside.

He came in from the rain all hunched over something wrapped in his jacket; he was drenched, but wasn't concerned with that.

My Dad sat on the floor, and unfolded his jacket to reveal a 10 week old puppy. I freaked! I finally had my own dog, and didn't care that he didn't look like "Lassie" or "Rin Tin Tin". He had a very familiar sounding bark though, it reminded me of a favorite cartoon. Does anybody remember "Dino the Dinosaur"; hence his name.

It was no time before I had "Dino the Poodle", doing tricks. We had all of the obedience skills down in no time. Soon after, I had him sitting pretty, praying, and eventually walking around on his hind legs. Fetch was his favorite, and he cherished his toys... that's why he bit my sister. It wasn't that bad, who said she could take my dogs bone anyway? Of course I get it now, and he went to a good home, but it was quite a blow to me. Even then I knew that there had to be a better way; "someday I'll do something about it." I've heard many similar stories since.

When I read a dog, named Charlie, was surrendered to a shelter by a young man age sixteen, the memories all came back. I'm sure he was devastated, he'd apparently had Charlie for a good while before she ate one of his folks chickens. I'm pretty sure she just played with it to death. I don't believe she ate it. Many of us have been through something similar, especially we in the dog care community.

Thanks to far too many people to mention Charlie's story continued on a positive note when she was adopted by a great family that "gets it." Alice, Carlos, and their sons lost a Border Collie to a inoperative tumor some months ago. When they saw Charlie on The DogLiberator's Petfinder posting, she stirred up the Border Collie lover in them. Alice and Carlos have already expressed how well they're all getting along. Even the family Shepard, that may have been a concern for some, but not these dog savvy folks. They made all of the right moves.

Unfortunately not all adoption stories go as well. We at Sit & Stay pride ourselves in rehabbing "problem dogs." We're aware of some TV popularized techniques, that require a dog surrendering, but who wants a "zombie-dog" that's more inclined to cower than play. I must admit, I've tried these techniques, and I'm here to tell you all "there is a better way." It requires we be smarter than a dog; we can handle that, can't we?

Many people expect a trainer to "fix" a dog, and they expect to pick it up all repaired, as though a dog is a car, or a computer. It doesn't work that way! Dog owners need to invest some time in that relationship, and real education is key. It doesn't have to be a drudgery, but rather, it should be fun. We can't allow ourselves to be discouraged, but rather, learn from our mistakes. We're supposed to be these evolved beings, yet cave men understood their dogs better than many modern humans ever will. There is no animal more in tune with we humans on the planet! This is why it burns me deeply to continually hear a human's blamed a dog for anything "bad!" It's ironic that much like a computer, bad in bad out, is what we get with dogs.

When I hear an adult gets a dog for a kid, and that the dog connects with him immediately, I love it! When I hear that same dog has been returned to rescue due to a bad interaction with an adult, I question the adult human. What have you done to prompt that dog to "act-out?" The kid had no problem. Of course, the kid didn't put that dog in an uncomfortable position. If so, a growl or warning wouldn't make a loving kid retaliate! It's we adults that take failure as something that we must push our way through.

I had that same dog here for weeks, and in that time, saw no issue that couldn't be turned around, by just ignoring, or distracting him by crying into my hands. That's right, even a so called "red-zone aggressive case" will want to see what happened to you if you're crying, or hurt! I've seen one "bad dog" after another show up here to act as perfect ladies and gentlemen. It's not that hard, just treat them with the respect they deserve! They have a mouthful of weapons #1, and #2 if they're a rescue who knows what they've been through? I would never assume a dog can tolerate a prodding, poking kind of kid, before I expose them to a kid in a controlled situation. But,...

Kids meet dogs with no expectations, they don't need to be told much more than be nice, and don't hug the dog, let it love on you first. It's hardwired into our DNA to interact with them on a respectful level. We humans learn abusive behavior, and dogs learn to be "mean" or afraid in the same way. I've never heard anyone tell a kid, "don't play with the puppy, he can hurt you."

Of course, some dogs come through ready to rock a kids world. Often, we see dogs that are surrendered due to economics. Some folks have to move, or get too old to handle the walks, or the vigor of a dog. Maybe they just got too much dog for their lifestyle. Such was the case with Kansas the beautiful red Aussie. His folks did the right thing and surrendered him to The DogLiberator rescue. He came here as a foster, mostly because we have tons of room to run. Kansas was a pleasure, but he wasn't here long.

Less than a week after his arrival, I got a call from Tony who was super interested in Kansas. He was well qualified, and the active sort that lives near the beach- perfect! We scheduled a weekend meet.

When I saw the two little girls get out of the car I thought, this couldn't be better. The look in the girl's, their dad's, and Kansas's eyes made me melt inside. After they left together, I wiped away my tears...holy dog crap! I got so caught up in the moment that I forgot to take pictures. I could have kicked myself! Surely I had just missed capturing an incredible, and instant bond that's second to none- that of a child and dog.

I stole the photo,'cause I clearly need a hat cam or something!!!! Luckily, I can always draw a picture for you with words.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Little Dog Makes a Huge Impression!

Bea-Bea Update!!!

This very cool puppy has come a very long way, and grown some as well!

Bea-Bea is becoming more, loving, and focused every day. She's well house trained, and loves her crate- good stuff happens there! We haven't done much leash work, because she comes running ever time she hears her name called. The only time she gets out, and she does, it's to be near me. Bea-Bea looks forward to lots of "mushy-time" when we're relaxing at night. She is super social with dogs, loves the kitten, and has learned how much fun people are too!

I'd love to see her go to an agility home, she's primed and ready for an experienced "shaper." Bea-Bea shows some interest in the ball, tug toy, and Frisbee, but much prefers to run alongside the others that participate. Bea-Bea really looks forward to running alongside the golf cart, and has a good vertical leap too.

She easily clears the baby gate, but has fun stalling on top of it now; she's very athletic. I'm not an agility guy, but I'd love to see someone put her through a more agility specific evaluation. It's not a requirement, so long as she goes to an active home, but...

Don't wait too long for this one; if I do start working agility, I may have to keep her myself!

This Australian Cattle Dog Mix has been this weeks focus for me, and the "canine crew" here at Sit & Stay. Ezzy, Esmeralda, first came to my attention when I saw the collective cry for help to bail her out of a S Florida shelter. This posting was a "call to arms" to the performance/rescue dog community at large; it bounced from coast to coast.

The chain of communication and custody is a short list of people that consistently go above and beyond to improve the lives of every dog they can. Thanks to Stacy Bonner McIlvenn, Andrea Rigler, Chris Engel, Karen Dale Avick, Holly Ryerson, Gisele Veilleux, and Caroline Tart. Caroline helped Ezzy with the last, four hour, leg of her journey here, her new foster home.

When they arrived at my door-step, Ezzy was reluctant to come inside. With a little coaxing, and some nudging we finally got her to her own room for that first night. I don't think she's been indoors much in her first year of life. I set her up with her own dog bed, complete with night-light, fresh food, and water. She tucked herself into the furthest corner away from the baby gate, and successfully hid from my "crew" until potty time the next morning.

It was a little tough not getting emotional that first morning. Ezzy was literally rattled; her little 30lb frame was visibly shaking. Amazingly she ate the cup of food I left her. However, it was roughly an hour before Titan, my Border Collie, seemed to have a calming effect on her. That ,in my mind, was the beginning of her new life. By mid-day she showed signs of a dog learning to be comfortable in her own skin.
That "first day" I ran into a little complication, when I praised her for doing her business outdoors. My "Izzy" got so excited that she blind-sided me with a reverse vault off of my mid-section. The name "Ezzy" needed to change; I wanted to make a connection to the disc dog community, but "Disc" is too masculine...ha,ha! Okay so how 'bout "bee?", no, that will bring Titan running! Maybe "Bea-Bea"; she loves it, and I only get one dog when I call it out! For the most part, I didn't do much more than allow her to assimilate herself into our routine the first day. That included moving into her own crate in my room at bedtime; she wasn't happy.

Bea-Bea's second day started with a game of "I'm not touching you." She'd approach, sniffing a foot away, then haul butt in the opposite direction. I broke from my usual restriction to the day rooms for everybody, so the sweet little girl could move into my space of her own accord. Basically I set her up to move a room closer to me each day; by day four that restricted area would find her with me. At this point she's got no real social skills, but she hasn't displayed any anti-social behavior whatever.

By the third day, Bea-Bea started showing a real sense of belonging. This step in the right direction began with her "air tag" game right out of the crate. Then she moved outside with the pack, and relieved herself immediately; she is housebroken. Three days here means exposure to tons of new stimuli. There are people in and out, as well as other dogs, and tons of activities. Bea-Bea loves to run along side the golf cart, and shows no intention to break out to leave us. I've been running her slowly, because she was spayed right before she left the S Florida shelter. By the end of the day she's touching her nose to me before she darts away. Bea- Bea's not aware, but she's also been funneled another room closer.

Her fourth day with us was a breakthrough day. Not only is she now mouthing me in a hit and run fashion, but she's looking to me for direction. In addition, Bea-Bea has no issue with walking in her crate on her own. That first night she did a hand-stand, quite naturally, rather than allowing herself to be nudged inside...funny stuff! Once more her free roam zone has been choked down, finally to one large room with me and the others. On this day Bea-Bea discovered the TV.
I'm kicked back watching the tube, zoning, when I realize she's trying to find the source of those sound and movements behind the set. Then she came over to me, as if to ask for an explanation. Of course, she took-off when I tried to touch her...almost. Well, I lost interest in watching TV, and got a big kick out of the repeated tilting of Bea-Bea's little head. Her perfect ears were moving independently, and her blue/brown eyes were bugging-out. She's very alert, but her nervous energy is diminishing into a more focused, playful energy.
Day five of Bea-Bea's stay with us started with a walk on lead to our driveway gate; about 5 minutes. She started off between my feet, then against my left leg, and finally in the heel position quite naturally. When we got to the gate I praised her tons, and let her off lead to follow me back to the house. She's really starting to enjoy the security of home life, that was so alien to her on "day-one."

Now I'm tethering her to me with a slip lead, in short intervals. She's showing less resistance to my touch every day. This week I plan on working more one on one play. It was apparent from the beginning, this young dog somehow spent a year devoid of positive stimulus. Bea-Bea's current favorite recreation is butterfly catching, there are dozens out today. She's so intense, and seems to enjoy getting some air under her...? Now, this very athletically built little girl may have a performance life ahead of her. "B"... "off Titan!", is super fast, and agile!

I'm very proud, and honored to have been mentioned with the likes of the performance, and rescue "personalities" that made this pups rescue possible; no pressure. This week promises to be full of more new, and fun adventures, for this playful piece of molding clay. By the way, she's also good with "Murphy", the kitten.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quotation/ Poem of the Week

I lie belly-up
In the sunshine, happier than
You ever will be.

Today I sniffed
Many dog butts — I celebrate
By kissing your face.

I sound the alarm!
Paperboy — come to kill us all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I sound the alarm!
Garbage man — come to kill us all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I lift my leg and
Whiz on each bush. Hello, Spot —
Sniff this and weep.

I Hate my choke chain —
Look, world, they strangle me! Ack
Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack!

Sleeping here, my chin
On your foot — no greater bliss — well,
Maybe catching cats.

Look in my eyes and
Deny it. No human could
Love you as much I do.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program

Carson and Joan, demonstrating how to react to another dog with the assistance of Charlie "G", and our own Nina "Beans"!

What are the judges looking for?

The test is broken down to ten parts, and is basically meant to show how well they behave on leash in a typical social environment. Your dog needs to allow a friendly stranger to approach and speak to you in an everyday situation. They need to allow that stranger to pet them, while remaining calm, and polite; no jumping or pawing. Then, the dog needs to allow that stranger to brush, examine their teeth, paws, ears..etc.

The fourth skill you'll need to demonstrate a short controlled walk on a loose leash. Next, the handler and dog must show that they can pass three or more people, a simulated pedestrian and public situation, in a controlled manner.

Responding well to commands is required as well. Sit, Down, and then Staying in place. Followed by coming when called, the proctors will ask you to drop the leash, take ten steps from your "pup" while in the Stay; they will have you pause, and now use the Come command. That sets you guys up for the next segment; reaction to another dog.

Now, you're asked to demonstrate that you can approach other handlers and their dogs in a polite manner, allowing you to greet and then shake hands with the other handler(s). If you can do all of that, you only need to work on two more skills.

If you regularly work with your dog in public, you're all to familiar with dealing with distractions; the slamming of a car door, kids screaming, a bird or squirrel in the dogs line of vision...etc. The proctors will most likely drop something or create a loud sound, and then evaluate your dogs reaction, and your control. Almost done!

The last requirement can be the most difficult. While we want to build a strong bond with our dog, we need to encourage them to be secure with others too. You'll approach a stranger with your dog once more, but this time you need to ask that person: "will you watch my dog?" Hand over the leash and get out of sight for three minutes. The proctors will look for them to be comfortable and calm: no excessive whining or tugging on leash...this can be tough, but you can do it!

Practice, patience, and consistency are key. Even if you have no plan to get involved with volunteer, or therapy work, it's a good idea to work with your dog on these skills. Everyone knows their dogs need physical exercise, in order to keep healthy; it's equally important to exercise, and stimulate your pups mind. A working dog is a happy dog; they need to know they're earning their keep.

I'm certain you can find a qualified local trainer that will help you to communicate your and the public requirements of them. I've been fortunate to meet tons of great, dedicated, and caring positive dog trainers in person and can too. There's an incredible trend of responsible dog owners, handlers, and trainers today. Training should be fun, and above all positive; dogs, like us, learn quickly when they're having fun. Your good dog, should, and can be great!

Our star students, Joan and Carson, are coming by for a play-date today! They're two of three supervised visits away from completing the pre-requisites required by "Caring Canines." At that point the only thing left to make them "official" is the convented AKC CGC award.

We're doing one more mock-up of the CGC test here on the 25th, then they're going for it on the 29th. As Joan reminded me, I said "Carson will do great" in these pre-rec's; "the best" of the current group moving through that program. I'm very proud to have been a part of this teams success. Get'em, calmly, guys!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Campers of the Week!

The Groeninger Pack!

Mister, he's so photogenic!

Lila and
Charlie with Our Izzy

We hit a few of bumps in the road with these guys in the beginning; not human nor canine error, but rather mechanical malfuntion. I would like to thank the Groeninger family for their sense of humor, and understanding.

When Lisa dropped the entirely adopted pack on Friday, I mentioned my plan to cut the grass. That got put off for days, it's tough to spend five hours on a lawn tractor without A/C to retreat to afterwards. If you're a facebook friend you know the hellish weekend I had here at Sit & Stay. It was basically a comedy of errors. All of which ,I'm convinced, due to the heat wave complication; again, the dogs were the easiest part of my day!

Mister, a three year old Mini Aussie, was adopted from a breeder. He's very cute, and can really cover some ground; it's a blast to watch him running with the others! This little guy is athletic, a typically Aussie trait. He's also got a common Aussie scepticisim of a particular type of people: strangers, men, women, etc.
I'll put it this way, Mister loves the ladies. He's not really fearful of me, his dad, or other men; he'd just rather listen to, and be around women. I can't say I blame! He's got no issues with other dogs, and I often find him cuddled up with his siblings.

Charlie is a three year old Papillon Mix, and the ultimate cuddle bug. He shows no signs of a problem rescue dog, an a joy to have around. His thing is to sneak (so he thinks) up to me on the sofa. He'll inch his way up, as close as I'll let him, but does understand if I draw a line. It's fun to watch him test that imaginary line. Charlie's little, but he can hang with the big kids. If I'm not paying attention, he and his larger sister compete for the sofa.

Lila's a two year old Border Collie; if you know me you also know I'm partial to the breed. I'm always amazed to hear that a dog a great as she, was in a kill shelter. The Groeninger's adopted her about three months ago. I'm guessing she got comfortable in her new home quickly, because she settled in here within the first hour.

In addition to the boarding services, I'll be evaluating Lila's obedience level; Lisa would like to get involved in some volunteer work with her. So, when that re-uniting excitment level wares down, we'll do a little mock CGC with Lisa and Lila. I love to see clients as dedicated, and active as I have lately.

Well, we've all survived that first week inspite of all of the obstacles. The last few days have been a rip. Lots of running, playing, along with some instruction and bonding as well. Lila, Titan, and Izzy are great running partners; that's not to say Mister and Charlie just watch, they're in the field working their little lungs and hearts to the max too.

So the field is freshly trimmed, the A/C is pumping, and all is well in my tiny sliver of world I call Sit and Stay The Villages. Oh yeah, Mister is starting to warm up to me, a man; he got crazy excited when I greeted him this morning. In fact, Guess who's hanging with me right now?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Off Season; What's That?

Here in Central Florida, Summer is considered our off-season. So why are we having the best month since we started here? I know it's been a while since my last entry , but I spent last week on Long Island in order to bring my Dads cremains to the family burial plot. Besides the Fathers Day connection, we thought it would best to handle these family functions when business is light.

I left my assistant, Amanda, in charge of the facility; she did an excellent job! The amazing thing to me is the calls and correspondence must have tripled over the last month. As recommended by law enforcement I didn't make my absence public, and handled the transition as seeming less as possible. That said, I came home to more bookings than I'm accustomed to, what a rush!

Yesterday was no exception, the usual inquires, some long term boarders went home; our day campers came and went, and a couple of tours with perspective clients. Then the highlight of my day, an intro-session to a new clients training program.

Carson a ,Border Collie Mix, and adopted rescue dog and his Mom Joan showed up a little late, but no demerits were issued as they traveled over an hour to get here- I'm flattered! Carson and Joan are the first recipients of our re-vamped training manual; Amanda and I are very proud of it.

Joan adopted Carson from The DogLiberator. He was then known as Carter, "Mr McDreamy", first of all 'cause he's beautiful, and secondly for his loving and gentle presence. Gisele was spot-on when she saw his potential as a service dog, and Joan is running with it!

Together Joan and I are preparing Carson for the Canine Good Citizen Certification; he's a shoe-in. He's got a great calm about him, but is very attentive. In reality Joan and Carson will be doing the work, I'm just here to point them in the right direction; when we first spoke a couple of months ago she asked all of the right questions as well. Since then the two have built an incredible bond.

The first meeting can be a little overwhelming to the handler and dog, so we try to keep it casual and fun. Dogs learn so much quicker when they enjoy themselves, and so do we. Next week the review/testing begins; the biggest advantage to one on one training is in the Q&A time, and I'm certain Joan with have tons of questions- she's a great student.

The question I'm asking myself is "can I keep up with the off-season?" The answer is, hell yeah... and loving it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Quotation/Poem of the Week

Why own a dog? There's a danger you know,
You can't own just one, for the craving will grow.
There's no doubt they're addictive, wherein lies the danger.
While living with lots, you'll grow poorer and stranger.

One dog is no trouble, and two are so funny.
The third one is easy, the fourth one's a honey.
The fifth one's delightful, the sixth one's a breeze,
You find you can live with a houseful of ease.

So how 'bout another? Would you really dare?
They're really quite easy but, oh, Lord the hair!
With dogs on the sofa and dogs on the bed,
And crates in the kitchen, it's no bother, you've said.

They're really no trouble, their manners are great.
What's one more dog and just one more crate?
The sofa is hairy, the windows are crusty,
The floor is all footprints, the furniture dusty.

The housekeeping suffers, but what do you care?
Who minds a few noseprints and a little more hair?
So let's keep a puppy, you can always find room,
And a little more time for the dust cloth and broom.

There's hardly a limit to the dogs you can add,
The thought of a cutback sure makes you sad.
Each one is so special, so useful, so funny.
The vet and food bills grows larger, you owe BIG money.

Your folks never visit, few friends come to stay,
Except other "dog folks" who live the same way.
Your lawn has now died, and your shrubs are dead too,
But your weekends are busy, you're off with your crew.

There's dog food and vitamins, training and shots.
And entries and travel and motels which cost lots.
Is it worth it you wonder? Are you caught in a trap?
Then that favorite one comes and climbs in your lap.

His look says you're special and you know that you will
Keep all of the critters in spite of the bill.
Some just for showing and some just to breed.
And some just for loving, they all fill a need.

God, winter's a hassle, the dogs hate it too.
But they must have their walks though they're numb and your blue.
Late evening is awful, you scream and you shout
At the dogs on the sofa who refuse to go out.

The dogs and the dog shows, the travel, the thrills,
The work and the worry, the pressure, the bills.
The whole thing seems worth it, the dogs are your life.
They're charming and funny and offset the strife.

Your life-style has changed. Things won't be the same.
Yes, those dogs are addictive and so is the dog game.

Unknown Poet

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quotation of the Week

The dogs in our lives, the dogs we come to love and who (we fervently believe) love us in return, offer more than fidelity, consolation, and companionship. They offer comedy, irony, wit, and a wealth of anecdotes, the "shaggy dog stories" and "stupid pet tricks" that are commonplace pleasures of life. They offer, if we are wise enough or simple enough to take it, a model for what it means to give your heart with little thought of return.

Both powerfully imaginary and comfortingly real, dogs act as mirrors for our own beliefs about what would constitute a truly humane society. Perhaps it is not too late for them to teach us some new tricks.

Marjorie Garber

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Camper of the Week!

This interesting looking little guy is "Dragonfly"; he's one of our charter members here at Sit & Stay. "Drags" is a Peruvian hairless mix that came to us with some anti-social behavior.

He lives with two Chinese Crested, and gets along fairly well with them, but he had no tolerance for any other dogs, or people when he first got here. In fact he seemed uncomfortable in his own skin for the first several visits here. Everything scared him, including something as natural as a sudden breeze!

My first course of action was to simply find any sign of joy from him; as in most anti-social cases, this meant observing him and above all patience was key. His nipping was sort of cute and didn't require gloves; he doesn't have many teeth, and with one good eye his depth perception isn't what it should be either.

You might think that would be enough of physical problems, but no, "Drags" also has just one functional ear! We make a point of not "babying" him though, he has no idea that he's any different, so why feed into that? Now that doesn't mean "manhandling" him either, but rather encouraging him to have some fun!

Now, Dragon knows all of our residents, and a good number of our regulars. His confidence has improved by leaps and bounds- it's easy to catch him enjoying himself. The first thing he does when he walks in the door is to greet me, as if to say "when do we get to play?"

Dragon's folks, "The Gordons", are incredibly supportive of our efforts here at Sit & Stay. Mrs Gordon donates time to "Max's Pet Connection", one of the local rescue groups we work with as well. We're looking forward to Dragon and his siblings "Butterfly" and "Fa" boarding with us in the near future- I'll be sure to take tons of photos to share with everyone!