Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Kibble Vulture

Kibble Vulture

Ah, a memory from the photo archives.  With that shiny black nose, Micron was still a puppy in training for CCI in this shot.

The hyper-alert ears, that watchful stare. Body language is suggestive of one being on patrol. What does this remind you of?  Looking like a bird of prey, I'm reminded of a Romulan warbird.

What? Just me? Is that too Star Trekkie for y'all?  Alrighty, how 'bout Snoopy pretending to be a vulture in a tree. That image might reach more folk than my obscure geek reference.

When the kibble hits the pan, says Micron. I'm your dog for the job. I'll take care of everything and make it look like it never happened. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A toddler says No

(Social media disclaimer. As I talk about Eukanuba, it is as an employee of P&G Pet Care. However, anything I say in praise of Eukanuba supports my personal belief that we make some great pet food now. No kidding, y'all. It's totally true) 

A question for you. So, what does a puppy experiencing the canine equivalent of the Terrible Twos do?

Whatever she wants, of course.

We're going through a phase here at the Sword House. Where the word No happens a lot. Oh, but even that is in competition with the puppy raiser. Like a toddler, Miss Euka is becoming aware of her ability to make her own decisions. Events where the otherwise solid recall, Euka! Here! is met with a passive-aggressive response of I don't know what that annoying buzzing sound is, but this blade of grass is worth a leisurely snort. And our Euka is a clever girl, right? If she finds me in a distracted state, she'll ensure that I'll repeat a command once or twice just to watch me do it.

This is a behavioral period where a puppy raiser needs to stay focused. If the pup's rewarded with getting away with a delayed response to a command, by having me repeat it, this will be a beast to fix later. So Sit means Sit, little missy. I'm only gonna say it once, then me and you are gonna have a stare down. A raised eyebrow and head tilt from the puppy raiser, then Oh! You mean Sit! I know that one. This whole que pasa thing from the puppy isn't fooling me. At five months old, she's aware of proper behavior.
Yeah, we had one of those weeks.

Euka is with me during the workday; most days you'll find us at the P&G office where Eukanuba is headquartered. And many times, the mighty Micron, an office veteran, is with us as well. So Euka's been getting rather comfortable down here on the cube farm and makes herself at home. Which means she's been taking on a rather casual attitude lately. You know what, Food Lady? she tells me. I feel like barking at Micron. He's just laying there and it's really annoying me. woof woof bawoof rawr . . .

Euka! Quiet! I say. Use your inside voice, girl. Ah, but this is a reminder that she's just a pup and so we'll be heading out to the play park at lunch where I'll run the snot out of her for a while with a yellow tennis ball. With luck, we'll meet another pup out there and they can detox together.

For an extra adventure this past week, we moved some folk around to different desks and we are enjoying a new cube neighbor, Gail.  Euka likes our new neighbor and finds her very interesting. She want to spend more time with Gail and is vexed to find herself ignored when the rest of us are deep in the throes of getting work done.

Euka is tethered to my desk, compliant with our office pet policy. A generous range, however, with two leashes connected to give her a wide area to command. Ah, but not wide enough. Euka can't reach around the cubicle wall to see Gail. What's a girl to do about this? Right, you know the answer.

Whatever she wants.

If you can't go around the cube wall and you can't go under, there's nothing to do about it but try going over.  I see a flash of yellow head appear in my peripheral vision.  A moment of denial - no, that couldn't be - but the sound of puppy claws trying to gain purchase on the cubicle panel on her way back down brings me back to reality.

Familiar with the term Prairie Dogging? It's when your co-workers' heads pop up collectively from all over the office to see what that sound was. It's like a flippin' gopher field in here. Witnesses always make these things better.

Holy sh. . . really, Euka? Dang it, ok now we're gonna see how long you can hold a Down. No, no, right here. On the bed under my desk. Yep, that'll do for a bit. Self-control, my love. It'll do you good in life.

At five months old, we know this is an important time to start proofing the basics too. We'll be hitting the public venues now.  Euka's sporting her big girl cape while we visit the library and make quick stops at Starbucks, like we did yesterday. 

We meet a family, a mom and her two young girls, just outside the library. Is she working? asks the mom.  She is, I said. But she's here to learn proper greetings, too. Let's have her sit and then she can be petted.

Sit, Euka. Holy cow, she does. Huh. Well, this is going quite well. This is Euka, I say. She's a puppy in training to . . . Ack! Euka! Off!

Euka has had enough of this sitting nonsense and jumps up to lick one of the girls on the lips. Well, crapola. I'm sorely embarrassed, but not yet defeated.

Ok, I say to the girl as she uses the back of her hand to swipe away the puppy french kiss. You can help me train her, right? Let's have Euka sit again. If she tries to jump up, just put your hands behind your back until she sits back down. She only gets petted if her butt is on the ground.

Ah, lovely. That goes much better.  We enter the library where they have no idea of my first name, but still ask about Puppy #1 Inga. And Puppies #2 and #3.  And things go well here on our first walk through. We greet adults, children and a babe in arms. A pretty Sit, no jumping and the occasional Shake. Good girl, Euka, I say each time. Well done.

I know these puppy terrible two's won't last. I just gotta stay strong. Keep focused and pay attention to reinforce the good stuff.

Because after this, we're going into the puppy tween period.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Hero sammich

Heroes for a young pup. Euka is a hero sandwich, so to speak.
When I grow up, says Euka II, I want a pink nose just like yours.

Of course you do, says Jarvis. And you will. It's the trademark of a CCI dog. Pay attention to your lessons and do what your puppy raiser tells you.  Then maybe some day you can be a pink-nosed Facility Dog, too.

Euka nods her head and puts on her serious face. She's watching her two new friends, Jarvis and Nanook, copycatting everything they're doing this afternoon. Which is pretty much laying quietly during the CCI graduation. The two older dogs are wonderful role models for our ornery puppy.

Euka has met working dogs Nanook and Jarvis. And I loved watching her watch them. Nanook is a Facility Dog with his handler, Cynthia, at Michael's House Child Advocacy Center and Jarvis works with Margie at Triangle Therapy Services.  Both are focused on working with children.  Awesome stuff.

More on what Canine Companions for Independence Facility Dogs can do is at CCI's website: CCI Facility Dogs.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Growing room

Euka II, a beauty in the making at five months old
Ready? Ok, here goes.

Two truths and a lie, y'all.

1. My sister is fifteen months older than me.

2. I'm the quiet, reserved one and she's the outgoing one ready to spill every embarrassing story of our growing up together. To anyone really, but especially to people we've just met.

Ours was blue. And ate
orange traffic cones for lunch.
3. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 18. Which is kind of embarrassing when said sister discloses during first impression events.  But to my defense, it's really hard to pass the Maneuverability test with a '68 Buick Wildcat. The flippin' thing was the size of a tug boat. You could host a Pampered Chef party in the trunk alone and still have room for a wet bar.
So yeah, I made it easy for you. I'm actually the older sister. Heh, but you know what's funny? After she tells people we're sisters, I immediately declare her the eldest.  We look nothing alike, so folk will look from me to her and do a vague head tilt while they process this. Oh, but the best part is when she vehemently denies this, which of course makes her look totally guilty.  You know?  She doeth protesteth too much.  Hahahaha, good times.

Except for the pesky age thing, it's good to be the eldest sibling. I didn't have to fuss with the hand-me-down tradition, for one. I'm thinking about this with Euka II this week. As CCI puppy #4 for us, this little girl is not so lucky in avoiding hand-me-downs from the pups before her.

The E Litter reached their five month birthday on Valentine's Day, February 14.  A milestone age as this is when the pups transition from their puppy capes to their big dog training capes. 

By this age, it's starting to get tricky to tie a neat little granny knot in the belly straps on the puppy cape.  So I'm ready for the larger cape with the snap buckles. A seemingly little detail that actually makes life just one step easier with the puppies.

From Left: Euka II, Emma and Everett at eight weeks
Here's a shot of three of the E's from last November when they'd just reached Ohio soil. Brand new puppy capes covering withers to butt secured with cute bow ties under their bellies. Adorable.

Ok, now let's take a look at our five month old Euka in that same cape today.

Is it even possible to get a belly wedgie?
Yowza.  Well, it was hard to breathe with that cape. I mean me, I couldn't breathe while bending over trying to tie that cape under her belly. It's same reason I get professional pedicures. I can't hold my breath that long bending over to reach my toes.
Anyway, it looks kinda silly too, that cape. Like little kid flood pants after a growth spurt. I pull out Yaxley's old training cape, a hand-me-down for Miss Euka. We're both ready for the next step up in the pup-in-training fashion department. 
Huh. Well, maybe.

Sure, I know what you're thinking. Just tighten up the straps, dummy.  They are tightened, people. That's it, nothing left to cinch up there on our pale petite beauty.  See that ten inches of strap hanging below the svelte waist? Our baby still has some growing to do.

Ah, no worries though. We'll get our girl looking snappy and professional, ready to meet her public. Off to find some Velcro strips.


As a comparison, I went back to look at the post we did for Yaxley's Five for Five and see that the fella had some growing room at five months old too.  Yax was 41 pounds at this mark, Euka II is 36.  Then check out the photo at Micron at end of the Yaxley post. Fifty three pounds of fluffy yellow puppy. What a moose.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Euka II wants to be your Valentine

Euka II wants to know if you'll be her valentine.

Aww, that's sweet. But she also wants to know if she can get off this frozen chair. She's losing feeling in her nether regions.

It's 29 degrees on this winter morn. The metal lawn chair is glittery with a coating of frost. And  Euka II is sitting nicely while wearing her Eukanuba pink scarf like a rock star.

Single handed - by myself, y'all - I managed get the pup on the chair, next to a heart pillow and to wear a scarf long enough to get some photos.

If I achieve nothing else with this puppy over the next year, I got this.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A belly rub with fame

As I listen to a presentation on Different Thinking Styles, I'm reminded of a story from a few years ago when I was working for a construction contractor. We brought in a business consultant; an expert in planning.  He handed out sketch paper to the leadership team and asked them to create a picture of where they envision the company to be in ten years.

The construction managers, those who had oversight over the making of Dayton skyscrapers as they were, drew pictures of high rise buildings and cranes. Drawings of cities being reborn. 

The Finance guy made an organization chart.
I have no language-based thoughts at all. My thoughts are in pictures, like videotapes in my mind. When I recall something from my memory, I see only pictures. I used to think that everybody thought this way until I started talking to people on how they thought. I learned that there is a whole continuum of thinking styles, from totally visual thinkers like me, to the totally verbal thinkers. Artists, engineers, and good animal trainers are often highly visual thinkers, and accountants, bankers, and people who trade in the futures market tend to be highly verbal thinkers with few pictures in their minds. (excerpt from Thinking the Way Animals Do, by Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Dept. of Animal Science, Colorado State University, Western Horseman, Nov. 1997, pp.140-145
For anyone unfamiliar with the name Temple Grandin, a very nice bio can be found on Wikipedia, which is well worth the time to explore. Briefly, here's a summarizing statement of Dr. Grandin from the Wikipedia website.

Temple Grandin (born August 29, 1947) is an American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, autism activist, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. She also created the "hug box", a device to calm autistic children. The subject of an award-winning biographical film, Temple Grandin, in 2010, she was listed in the Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category.[2] 

What's missing from that first Wikipedia paragraph is that Dr. Grandin was diagnosed with autism at age two. At a time when autism diagnoses were uncommon and resources available to families were frustratingly few. Temple Grandin is a woman commited to breaking through barriers for people with autism. She is an fierce advocate, speaking out to raise awareness and understanding. At the presentation I attended last week, she focused on how some of our visual thinking youth are being overlooked for employment in big business.

Euka II gets a belly rub from Dr. Grandin
Society must recognize that different people think in different ways, Dr. Grandin tells us. She believes that all minds, no matter how different, have something to contribute to society. And if different minds are nurtured and brought together, they should be able to solve new and complex problems.

In the business world, verbal thinking is not better than visual. Just as visual thinking is not better than analytical. We need to understand how each person's view is critical to the success of a business.

Temple Grandin is a much sought after speaker and I was jazzed to be able to attend her presentation. Her website has a schedule of her upcoming presentations.  I encourage anyone who wants to understand more about Autism and Asperger's to attend one of her talks.

So, speaking of different ways of thinking. You know I've never been the kind of girl to shy away from a bad decision. So it seemed reasonable to me that I would take Euka II with me to the talk. Sure, I knew it'd be about two hours or so. But Euka's a good girl, so mature for her four months. Whenever she's in the office, the pup sleeps much of the time. She'll be fine.

In hindsight, I recall that while she does get some solid nap time in during the day, it's only in the afternoons. This, after she's spent all her energy in the morning being a four month old puppy.

Criminy, was she fidgety. In an auditorium of four hundred folk, she was happiest when reclining in the aisle way. Little Miss Curious, she wanted to check out every one of the faces behind us. At one point, I looked down to check on her and see her on her back, legs spread wide like the girly goods needed a close inspection. Oh my. 

A reenactment of her behavior in the auditorium
On the plus side, I see that relaxed posture as some serious confidence in the pup. I mean, really, who does that? In a filled auditorium, with the occasional outburst of robust applause, she's got her soft belly exposed to all in a cocky bring-it-on attitude.

Dang, girl.  Ok, so duly noted and now let's see how well you can do an Under, Euka. I bring her closer to my chair and under the table top. A service pup in training must be invisible at these events, I tell her.

To be honest, it was a struggle. The pup is convinced all these folk are here to observe the ethereal pale beauty that is Euka II. And to see the view from all possible angles. But after two hours of negating exhibitionist behavior, at least I've got a clear idea of what to work on next with the princess.

And like the parents who give their kids raisins at church to keep them still, I'm offering up dog biscuits as bribery.  Euka!, I whisper to her. If you put your legs together and lie down over here, there's a cookie in it for you.

After the presentation, Euka worked on her calm greetings with folk passing by. She was so good!, they said, offering a palm up for a Shake. You wouldn't believe she's just four months old.

Huh. Well, I say. She does have her moments. I just hope the next presentation we go to is in the afternoon.
C'mon, you said to teach her everything I know.
My work here is done.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Master of the Hunt, Part II

I'm half German Shepherd and half bad ass.
That's right, I'm 100% Booyah, baby.
On last Story Sunday, Master of the Hunt, we presented a challenge to identify any one of the breeds that you think makes up this funny lookin' All American blend that is Jager.

From the comments left on the post and on the Raising a Super Dog Facebook Page feed we have:

fox terrier (2)
cattle dog (2)
border collie
Shetland sheepdog
Labrador retriever
Brittany spaniel
German shorthaired pointer

All fine guesses and the only thing I would add would be squirrel or raccoon and maybe a little bit of Kowakian monkey-lizard*.  The best part is that there's nobody that can prove us wrong. So we can't deny Jager's claim to his German heritage. There might indeed be some rottweiler condensed into that little body.

My thoughts? Considering his early diagnosis of dermatomyositis, a congenital condition that is seen in collies and Shetland sheepdogs, there's a solid chance of Sheltie in there. And I can see it around his ruff, so that's easy to believe.  Then there's the liver colored schnozzel pad and the orange spots that marks a Brittany spaniel.

But good grief, that attitude of his. Freaky and predictably unpredictable. Hyper alert to the unusual, like the neighbors getting home and closing their car door. Yapyapyapyapyapyap, says Jager.

All appearances aside, the dog has some terrier in there. It has to be true. All packed into his funky little head. You might say there's inside that fuzzy exterior, there's a terrier wanting to get out. Real bad, too.

Which does explain why he answers to the name of That's Enuf Jager! Quiet, big guy.

*Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) and About Jager

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Master of the Hunt

My feet are cold.
Ok then, says Jager. I've got everything packed, think. Can you give me a ride to the airport?

I'm lost in a good book on my Kindle Fire, so it takes me a moment. Looking at Jager, our little All American Breed, I say, Say what? Holy cow, what are you on about this time?

I...think...I...have...everything...packed, he says slowly so I can understand him clearly this time. Got a chew toy and the squeaky tennis ball, but I might need some help carrying the dog bed. A couple of days worth of kibble too, but they should have more for me up there. 

Up WHERE?! I want to know. Are you going to Mars or something? There's nobody on Mars with dog food, Fur Brain.

Not Mars, you cookie tosser, Jager says. He actually rolls his eyes at me. Alaska! Well, actually Anchorage to be on the spot with it. I'm going to run the Iditarod this year and need to finish my training before March.  These rockin' abs aren't going to stay in shape on their own, you know. Some stiff competition this year.

Oh my, I say. Ok, first of all, you were wanting to take your little self and go to Florida for the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. And we had to have that awkward discussion about the necessities of being intact for such an event. As in "not neutered". My head is still reeling from that fun talk. Never mind that your family lineage is so questionable that I wonder if there's something other than canine in your DNA.

You know, my nose is a little kinda
cold too.
And now the Iditarod, Jager? They'll be using a spatula to pry your frozen pampered terrier-ness off the landscape by the first checkpoint. You are not equipped for that kind of adventure and you know it. You, my love, are a house dog.

Oops, too far. Now I've hurt his feelings. I'm getting that Shrek Puss-in-Boots watery eye look. Behind that tough exterior is a delicate flower. I forget sometimes.

Jager is one of those who-rescued-who stories. We brought him into our home in our pre-puppy raising era. Back when I was still heartbroken over the tough loss of my beloved Dog of all Dogs, The Kaiser. I wasn't ready to love again, but Jager showed up to show me how terribly wrong I was about that. He was a dog of the streets, rescued once then abandoned, and finally brought to a pet rescue group. He was moved around in no less than seven foster homes in a year's time. One of those hard to adopt dogs with a nervousness about him that had folk wondering about his intentions. Even worse, a chronic medical condition that was the final deal breaker for potential adopters.

Then we met.  [Cue the theme from Love Story or that nice little tune from Dr. Zhivago. Whichever one makes you tear up a little.]

My kid saw him first. We weren't at Petsmart for the adoption event, but still we stopped to look at the dogs anyway.  The hole in my heart left by Kaiser was not going to be filled by any of these dogs, I knew that. We can pet these dogs, give 'em some human loving and move on, I said. Then the kid wanted to see the freaky little terrier shaking in the crate. Seriously? Ok, not a prob, we're big dog people after all. This thirty pound dog with the skinny noggin isn't a fit for our family.  Fine, let him walk the dog for a few minutes and get it out of his system.

One scared little spotted dog
Right. I signed the foster application before we left the store and a week later we brought the quivering spotted dog home for my first and only rescue fostering experience. Oh yeah, you guessed right. We adopted Jager after the two week trial period. We have someone interested in Jager, said the rescue group. Oh, no you don't, I said. We'll be keeping him. I totally suck at dog fostering.

Ok, so now let's fast forward to seven years later. Or we could measure the time in CCI increments instead. That would be four CCI puppies later, Jager is standing before me ready to defect from the Sword House.

I understand where he's coming from. I do, I get it.  He went from Top Dog to Will you stop making those growly noises, Jager!  In all the hubbub about CCI puppy raising and Micron's therapy work, well, it seems the spotted dog was moved into the background.

And with his seventh Gotcha Day coming up next month, this conversation about the Iditarod is making me feel pretty darn bad. The little spotted dog deserves better.

Ok, how 'bout this, kiddo? I say. Let's put your skills to the test, shall we? You're a hunter as your name suggests, right?

Snowflakes taste like . . . ok, they
taste like water. That's pretty much it.

The flappy ears perk up. Yeah? He says. Yeah! I'm the Jagermeister. I am the Hunt Master, ja!  Oh! Oh! Can I catch another mole for you? I know where they live. It's just a quick dig down to their evil lair and I can have get that hole dug up for you in a flash!

Indeed. I say. I've seen you in action on that one. That was remarkable, watching the turf fly. Let's stay above terra firma today, ok? I have a different idea.

Squirrels? The tail is wagging now. Ooh, that nasty 'possum with the jagged teeth living in the wood pile?

All good ideas, I say.  But too easy for a pro like you. A hunt master like yourself needs a real challenge. Go grab your squeaky tennis ball and let's go outside to see how many times you can catch the thing.

Yes!! cries Jager and he runs to find his favorite ball.

Best day EVER! he says, making funny little growly noises.

I am Jagermeister, Master of the Hunt. There's a 'possum
back there in the wood pile and the nasty little bugger is mine.

Ok, what d'ya think? Want to try to guess the different breeds that make up this freaky little spotted dog? We've been around the fellow for a few years now and have our own semi-educated guesses, but we love to hear other folks' thoughts, too.

What's your thoughts about this All American blend? Leave your guess in the comments and let's see how we all match up.

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