|I am a Eukanuba puppy, says Euka the puppy.|
I slip on her working girl cape and gentle leader while she's still in the backseat of the car, then lift her out to explore. A moment is needed to evacuate the puppy hydration tank before we step inside the center. This is her first time meeting so many other CCI puppies outside of her litter and I'm prepared for the excited response her quick little puppy brain will command of her agile peanut sized body.
Ha ha, just kidding y'all. I really did think I was ready for her puppy reaction, but that was just me being silly.
Hi! Hi! Hi! Hey! Hi!, says Euka. Hi! I'm Euka Don't! who-are-you-do-you-like-to play-piranha-attack-i-sure-do! i'll-go-first-and-debone-you-rawr!
Oh sure, the girly girl gets some slack for being a ball of electric energy driven by a two month old random puppy thoughts. But let's work on some self-control here. I walk her aside and give her a few minutes so she can observe the room and process all this activity going on around her. Euka's a clever girl and it doesn't take long for her to understand that all the older pups are in a calm Sit or Down. She wants to play, but senses the mood of the room is different. I realize we're working on a puppy timer that's about to ding. I'm looking forward to starting the training session to get her moving again.
On the left is Everett looking rather confident after stepping up and onto a novel surface. In the background is Ella on the balance beam following the lead of her puppy raiser, Maggie.
Other training stations are designed for the older puppies and we find we needed to tweak things just a bit to ensure that the session ends on a positive note.
A Sit or Down is an implied Stay for a service dog. Fully trained, a service dog understands that he is to stay in place and be alert for the next request of his handler. Some of the stations were designed to build on the foundation of this behavior.
A young pup is introduced to this, then the puppy raiser increases the duration and distractions over the next few months.
And as nothing should feel weird under service dog's toes, or even his furry butt, there are novel surfaces about for the pups to perform Sits and Downs. Here on the right we have Euka going for extra credit by sitting on the station sign and the plastic sheeting, the little over-achiever.
Oh! But what's that jingle we hear, puppies? Could it be? Look pups, Santa Claus showed up to introduce you to the novelty of a traditional myth sporting a full beard and fuzz trimmed clothes. That right kids, even Santa is part of your training today.
But let's pause here a moment and think this one through. How many photos have you seen of a screaming kid propped up on Santa's flocked knee? I'm not talking just miserable, but the kid is out and out scared spitless and possibly a little swampy in the knickers. What brings this about, do you think? The fella's generous facial hair or the victorian era fashion sense perhaps? The wafting essence of Stranger Danger? It's all a bit heavy for some kids to process.
So what about an adult dog that has never encountered such a thing before? Lookit, a highly trained service dog is just not a fella that is gonna raise his hackles and startle bark at big, bearded men. So we start now.
Heyya Santa! Heads up there, big guy! We gotcha a puppy alert, code blue & yellow! The Ohio Four pose rather nicely for an adorable portrait of calm repose. What's that you say? How did we do it? How many people did it take to make this happen? Oh, merely just a few experienced puppy raisers at hand, plus a professional CCI trainer. Pretty helpful that Santa is a puppy raiser too. Yeah, and that squeaky toy to get all four pups to at least face the same general direction.
From the left is Everett, Ella, Euka II and Emma.
Santa does love puppies. But we knew that already, didn't we? Euka gets a extra lovin' squeeze from the jolly old elf.
Four puppy noggins, so many things to discover. From a curly beard to shiny boots to flashing Christmas lights, and just what is in those boxes anyway, it took a few shots to get these critters all looking one way.
But look again to see what's missing here.
Discomfort, fear, lack of confidence. Right, stuff like that. Not a snippet of negative response. A fine gift indeed to the puppy raisers of the Ohio Four.
Here at the Sword House we wish a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season to all of you. Be safe, enjoy renewed family time and make some new memories, y'all.