I've been helping to train Kuno on single paw touches and two paw stands. We had fun with this. Sometimes he gets a bit excited and doesn't wait his turn but he's learning. It's important he learn about teamwork because that is really what a service dog and Handler are all about. It's not just someone knowing how to get the dog to do something and it's not just the dog knowing to do it. We need to be able to communicate back and forth with our Handler in multiple ways. We need to know what pull means go and what pull means stop. It's really teamwork. Even Kuno and I work together as a team and often go out together on either side of our person. We have to listen and feel for our signals very carefully so we know who is being asked to do what. Because we're training Kuno in handling we do many circles and figure eights and corners. With two dogs, we always need to be sure the one on the outside speeds up and the one on the inside slows down so there's continuity. We have to insure we both make the decision to turn the same way or it could be mildly disastrous. I suppose it's like that for people too, if you don't communicate clearly what you are doing and what you need, those that are on your team can't necessarily help you. And it's just as important that when need be, one person is able to speed up and the other slow down to accommodate one another. But most of all you need to be able to communicate what direction you're going to each other so you know who is going down the path with you.
This is Kuno. He is my successor. I am helping to train him in my duties so that one day I can retire. I made sure that they went with a taller dog and a male for strength. I want to make sure that if my person needs a dog that can handle helping by bearing more weight, that he will be able to do so. He's about 20 months old now and regularly been seeing our trainer, Adam, from 780 kennels in the county of Parkland near Edmonton. However I go and supervise as Adam and my person work with Kuno. He's only been with us for a couple months, and already he's settled down nicely and listens far better. Generally he's very well behaved and he does try hard to please. He's also an extremely good-looking Young man. If I were a couple years younger, I'd probably be into roughhousing with this one. He's awfully cute. More importantly though, he's very loyal, very intelligent and generally behaves beautifully. Sometimes he has an idiotic puppy moment and on occasion he gets a little too close to my Buffalo knee bone but a tiny snarl and he understands and behaves better. He hasn't even tried to eat the cat once. By the time I'm done with him, he is going to be one outstanding Rottweiler service dog.
The weather was really nice and it was a good night to go for a walk at the dog park. However it gets dark quickly now so it's important to make sure you're safe. Kuno had a fabulous time as there were other dogs on the other side of the pond and he could hear them going through the cat tails and Tall Grass. He would go bounding into the tall grass on our side of the pond and you could just hear it move as a steady Swoosh. He sure can run fast when he wants. But then it got dark and my person took out her magic tube of light and made it glow. Next thing you know I'm being called to save the day. The tube of light was in the grass. It didn't shine very far from there. I wasn't too sure about picking it up. I've never had to pick up something that glows before. However she said it was the right thing to do. I picked it up and it glowed so much further! It was so bright it was almost blinding. However she was happy with me and I got cookies and she could see all the way to the car from that point on.
We went to the X-ray room today! My person's good ankle was swollen with strange bruising and a very limited range of motion and in a great deal of pain lately so the doctor wanted an x-ray. It can be really hard to tell on her if it's an actual injury or an inflammatory response coming from her CRPS. Hopefully it isn't a spread of her CRPS. Being on 24/7 pain meds might also mask an injury early on and it doesn't become apparent until it's far more serious and much more painful. We had already been in one of the medical rooms where they debrided a bit on her other leg, which was extremely painful for her so I did my best to keep my head rested on her for comfort. Then they wrapped her left side in compression which I don't think is very comfortable either. Then we headed down the hall for x-rays before going home. I've been to all sorts of Diagnostic Imaging places before including x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIS. Depending on the location, what they are Imaging and the risk of radiation, what I have to do varies. Sometimes I need to stay beside the bed and get up and move around as directed to make room for the technicians. Sometimes, like today, I'm laid down beside a wall and I need to stay until my person is done and be ready to go to her as soon as she calls. Sometimes the technician needs to lead me out of the room or behind a wall and I have to sit there and Obey them and stay until they tell me I can go back to my person. This is one reason example of why you shouldn't talk to service dogs that are working. We are trained to ignore a lot, but not often are we trained to ignore human beings. We need to be obedient when medical personnel have to step in and handle us. So generally we listen to a human when they give us instruction. If you call us while we are working with our person, it is possible we might turn to you and that might cause our person to fall. So please, let us do our job in peace. Otherwise, please speak to our Handler instead of to us.
It was a miserable rainy day today, so after I took our person to the nurse's office, we ended up with cancelled plans and spent most of the afternoon just napping and watching movies. She doesn't usually do that, especially on the weekend so I suspect she's not feeling very well. Despite that, it was done raining and quite calm out tonight so we did some night walking and night training with Kuno.
When he's at our trainers, Kuno always wears a flat collar, but when he's doing leash work at home, he wears a halti. This is because he does have the ability to become very strong if something were to happen that caused him to react. We haven't run into anything like that though. He actually has a very good Halt and stand and he will stay still beside our person if he's told to, even if there are exciting things going on. I usually just have a hands-free leash on and work using the verbal commands. Because he's still learning, Kuno is on the left using the heel command and I am on the right using the close command. I like it when we practice the four point turns with him because depending on the direction, I get to be the lead dog and I don't even have to have any guidance. We didn't stay out too long this time. Like I said, I think our person wasn't feeling very well. However it doesn't seem to matter how much pain she's in, how sick she feels or how tired she is, she always makes time for us for both training and exercise. She takes it very seriously and she's very dedicated to us. That's part of why I am so dedicated to her.
Another day. Another biscuit.
It's been a long time since I've had a day off completely. In fact there hasn't been a day without an appointment for over a month. If I wasn't taking my person for IV antibiotics, I was taking her for wound dressing changes. Today we went to the nurse's office because on Fridays she gets leg bandaging changed, the arm wound dressing changed, the dressing for her PICC line changed and they take tubes of blood off of the line . Then we have to go to the hospital and drop the blood off at the lab . Then we went home and got Kuno to take to Doggy School .
After all that, I think we need a before dinner nap.
As if i wasn't busy enough, now I have to help train this silly giant baby. Although he's really smart sometimes he just gets silly. I tutor him and help him with his homework. Adam, the trainer, will be disappointed in us if there isn't improvement by next session. That might mean less treats for me! A lot of hours go into making a service dog. It's not just about being able to walk on a leash and pick up a dropped item. Over 200 hours will have gone into preparing Kuno before he goes to take his provincial Public Access test. He will need to have obedience that's above reproach, develop his friendly demeanor and learn to be very patient, be desensitized enough to various sights and sounds and smells that he won't feel a need to react to them and many other skills that he will require to go out into the world on a daily basis and assist our person. He has a very calm nature, a desire to please, and it's more important to him to please our person then it is to give in to the desire to chase cats or bunny rabbits when we're out on a walk. With the help of Adam at 780 Kennels in training and hours of committed practice from our person and an example like me, there's no reason why he shouldn't succeed.
It wasn't so hot out today so my person took Kuno and I out to the park before the sun went down. Aside from that the only place we had been was to the nurse's office. The park was pretty much a recreational outing for me. I noticed she worked hard with Kuno though. He seemed to enjoy it though. He would run ahead quite a ways and she would call him in and most of the time he would run right back. He had a good leap into the pond. We worked on some extended sits and staying while our person walked a fair distance away and then came in when we were called. He usually gets up and walks a few steps and I get the extra treat because I haven't moved. But tonight he was really good and stayed where he was supposed to.