Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

There is a lot to be thankful for today! I hope that you and your family have a lovely day, just like we're planning. Turkey and all of the trimmings, family and friends (dogs, cats and humans) all around us...all tucked into a warm little house.

I just gave John a big hug to thank him for everything he does for made him laugh, so that's good.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flyball (I hope!)

Hi all~
I'm trying something new...testing out a video from this past weekend's flyball tournament. Hopefully it works! The first dog you'll see is yours truly...don't blink or you'll miss me!

Flyball Video

I'm having trouble making it anything other than just a direct link...sorry! If Mom wasn't so computer illiterate, I'd have her help me!


Monday, November 24, 2008

And I'm the one being denied access...

We were out to eat last night at Golden Corral...with the flyball team, after a great weekend of flyballin'. I was under the table, as usual, fast asleep. Flyball makes me very tired!

The table next to us had numerous kids of all ages, running around the entire building. The parents were sitting at the table talking and having a lovely time, while the kids ran everywhere. Mom almost tripped over them twice. At one point, they came over about 6' away, crouched down and started barking at me. Being a good Service Dog, I remained quiet and polite. Mom however, had enough...and turned to talk to the kids. She told them "Don't bark at the dog." The kids stayed there, and kept "woofing". Mom was tired and cranky, and finally turned around and said loudly, "LEAVE THE DOG ALONE!". There might have been a little growl too.

The kids ran off. The parents didn't notice a thing. But the kids left me alone.

And I'm the one people don't want in restaurants. *shakes head*

The world is a crazy place...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why it's so important...

Mom is always telling puppy owners about the important stuff. Why it's important to crate train, why it's important to have your puppy eliminate on cue, why it's important for your puppy to handle being alone, and more.

It's hit home this week, why she lectures them so much.

Xander tore an ACL this week (on Tuesday), and he's on strict crate rest and leash walking.

Luckily, Mom practices what she preaches, and things are going smoothly. Xander's a bit depressed because he can't run around with all of us, but he's doing okay. His leg hurts a lot, I can tell.

Mom has him in a crate in the office, so he can see everyone. He has a big cushy bed and lots of stuffed Kongs and chewies. He can only go out in the front yard (the back yard has steps), and only on a leash...luckily he potties on command and on leash. Mom keeps saying that this would be much harder with a dog not used to going in a crate or eliminating on cue. She thinks of all of the dogs she knows that can't do stuff like this, and groans just thinking about how to take care of them.

We're off for the weekend to a flyball tournament...the good thing is, I get to take Xander's spot, so I get to run more! But poor Xander, he's gonna be so sad. Mom's gonna have to make sure she has lots of peanut butter (his favorite) for his Kongs.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Meeting the mail carrier

A blast from the past for the picture today...a Score-pup pic!
Bryce went out and met the mail carrier he can cross two things off his socialization checklist...a mail carrier, and gloves, since she was wearing latex gloves (to sort the mail). He was all wiggly and happy to see her...a very good meeting!

It's important for all dogs, to be introduced to people in uniform and people that work around the house. Most of us know a dog that barks at the mail own sister, Inara, is crazy when she comes to deliver the mail. (Mom's nipping that little habit with the help of the Control Unleashed, Look At That game) It's much better to give the puppies good experiences, rather than having to fix problems down the road.

It's important for all dogs, but especially important for Assistance Dogs...we see people in uniform all of the time when we're out in public, and often times, they're not real happy to see us. I can't tell you how many irate security guards, and managers have come over to try and deny us access. So often times, those people in uniform that we see have really threatening body language. Dogs have a great ability to read it's important for us to have many, many good experiences so we have a solid history of meeting nice uniformed people. That way, we don't get upset and bark or get nervous around them when they're heading towards us.

Score for instance, as a puppy, met firefighters (in boots and suits), police officers, security guards, mail carriers, and anyone else that would hold still long enough for Mom to rush up and shove Score in their face for petting and treats. I think she's planning on doing the same for Bryce. She's crazy like that. (BTW, Score ADORES people in uniform, to this day)

I am fine with people in general...I don't care what you look like or what you say or do, I just stick with John and ignore most everyone else. Mom didn't work with me with this really, it's just how I am. She says it's mostly because of my breed. Aussies are not bred to be everyone's friend...we're reserved by nature. She says it makes for a good Assistance Dog, as I'm friendly but concentrate on the job at hand.


Monday, November 17, 2008


Well, John and I have have homework.


Mom says it's something we have to work on together. Seems I'm getting too excited when we go out places this season, and I'm chomping too hard when I go to tug John's coat off. We were at a fundraiser tea yesterday...(for Caring Carroll, a coalition in our county that helps with non-medical needs of home-bound residents)...and I went to tug John's coat off, and Mom heard his yelp across the room.

So she's making us work on this at home...and teaching me to remember to use a soft mouth. It's been a while since I've tugged off his coat in public...and I guess I forgot. (Yeah...I forgot, that's it) Mom said that she's gonna make John work on this, because she's tired of hearing him yell "OUCH!"

I'll keep you updated on my progress...a Service Dog's training is never done! *sheesh*

~SDS *with a new, improved, softer mouth*

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hearing dog prospect?

He's got places to go...
Mom says she has never seen a puppy so attuned to noises in its environment like Bryce is. Fidos trains two types of Assistance Dogs...Service and Hearing. The Hearing Dogs help people who are deaf or alerting them to sounds. The trainers know usually around a year old if the dog is really interested in sounds or not. You can tell when they're puppies too...but it sometimes will change as they grow older.

But Bryce is the first one to pay attention to every little noise in the house. Mom swears he's a Hearing Dog in the making. He listens to the TV when funny noises happen, he listens to all the bells and whistles in the kitchen, and even went to investigate the dripping water noise from the downspout while he was playing in the backyard. Just now, she was bringing him into the office so she could keep an eye on him...she started closing the door as he was coming through, and he stopped to investigate the sound of the hinges (they're new and they squeak a tiny bit).

He's a bold puppy, so he usually investigates or tries to...rather than noticing a sound and running away scared. Mom's having fun by letting him go see all these noises, and making happy talk when he goes the source of a sound.

Bryce has a long road ahead of him, but he's already making great strides towards being a wonderful Assistance Dog...maybe a Hearing Dog like my friend Chloe!


"I Rescued A Human Today"

I Rescued A Human Today

I rescued a human today.

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them. As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life. She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I
would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

~Author unknown~

Thought you'd all enjoy this poem we found today!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Meet Bryce!

Meet Bryce everyone! He's the newest puppy at Fidos. He'll be staying with us for a while. We're all less than impressed. He's not big enough to wrestle with yet. Mom says that will change soon. We'll see...

Bryce is a blue merle, smooth collie pup, 8 weeks old...donated by Terry and John Peters, Misti Morn Kennels. John's first SD, Charlie was the merle, smooth collie. I thought John would like Bryce better than me...but he says he's not stupid...he knows me too well.

Bryce is a noisy puppy...but that's getting better. He's really good about retrieving stuff already...he's playing with all sorts of things, even a set of keys! He also loves to tug...which gets him in trouble when he tugs clothing when he's not asked! Bratty pups make good service dogs though!

You'll probably see more of him in the coming weeks...but this was just an intro. Pardon his silly ears, they're being taped so they "tip" at the top...rather than point straight up.

I'm back off to bed...this puppy tires me out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Taking puppy out...socialization thoughts...

Mom has the guest spot on my blog I'm going back to sleep, and she's wide awake and home with a cold. :) Enjoy!


Today I wanted to discuss socialization of your puppy. I am in charge of all of the Puppy Raisers for Fidos For Freedom. One of the aspects of puppy training that we focus on quite a bit is that word everyone hears when they get their new pup: Socialization. I think that many people misunderstand what we are talking about when we bring up this term, so I want to break it down, as I see it...especially in talking about puppies in the Service and Hearing training.

First and foremost...we want these puppies out and about experiencing as much as possible. Eventually these pups will grow to be a dog that goes out with a client to many places...restaurants, shopping malls, subway trains, zoos, etc. We want the puppy accustomed to as many things as we can.

Of course this means that they have to meet new people. We want puppies to meet people of different shapes, sizes, races, genders, ages, and abilities. When I have a new baby (8-9 weeks) puppy in training, I shove him/her into the arms of anyone who dares "Awwww" over the pup. I was at Fidos last night with the newest pup, Bryce, who is living here for a few weeks. He saw little kids, teenagers, adults, people in wheelchairs, people in walkers, people with and without their own dogs on leash. Many people held him and everyone petted him. He was wiped out when he got home. He will continue to meet new people as he stays here...I'll take him out to meet the mail carrier, and the UPS driver. He's met the neighbors all around, kids and adults. He'll go to the vet and have happy visits with everyone there.

This sounds like a lot of time, and it can be. But we don't stop there. Socialization is not just about meeting humans. The puppy needs to meet other dogs (adult and puppy), and as many other types of animals as possible. Bryce has met the two cats (one fluffy adult, one short-haired kitten), he's met the guinea pigs and rabbits. He lives of course with Sawyer and the others, and meets other friendly adult dogs. Bryce and the neighbor pup, Cocoa (6 mo. shih tzu) had a playdate yesterday in the yard. We'll have a bird boarding with us over Thanksgiving, so he'll get to meet a bird in a cage. I make sure that all of these experiences are positive for him. We were at Fidos last night, and there were many dogs out and about in the building. Some dogs strained at their leashes to meet him...and I made sure to protect Bryce from those dogs. Whether friendly or not, they were being pushy, and I didn't want him scared. He met adult dogs that were easy-going and friendly to him. First and foremost, protect your puppy! Meeting adult dogs that don't like puppies, for instance, is not going to help in the long-run. Heading out to the dog park with the puppy...not a good idea. Set up play-dates with other puppy owners, find a good puppy class, meet up with friends who have puppy-safe adult dogs...these are what you should do instead!

In addition to meeting all these new friends, we still have more socialization to do! It doesn't end with humans and "other" animals. ;-) Another aspect of the socialization includes the environment the puppy is in. This means the puppy should experience more than just your house and yard. Of course young pups aren't completely vaccinated, so you want to be careful about where you go. The training center is a good place to go, so puppies come along to classes with me during the week (more people and dogs to meet too!).

I want the puppy to experience different surfaces under their feet...slippery floors, mulch, carpet, uneven surfaces, rough surfaces. I want the puppy to eat in different their crate, in the car, in the living room, in the kitchen, up on a taller surface (on a table, couch, etc), in the grass, etc. I want them to play with different items...stuffed toys, hard toys, water bottles, metal keys on a ring, soda cans, the list is endless. Eating out of different containers...ceramic, metal, plastic bowls, frisbee, etc. This is all part of the socialization. It's not just meeting people!

The last thing I want to mention is that I always stress quality rather than quantity. It always makes me think of the line, "First, do no harm". It is up to you, as the puppy parent to make sure that all these experiences are positive and fun for the puppy. If the puppy is worried, scared, unsure, do not push it. Protect the puppy from potential harm: a big dog rolling the puppy, a surface that the puppy is scared of, whatever it might are the one in charge, the puppy relies on you.

~Sawyer's Mom (aka Erin)

One of the guidelines I follow, and recommend to my puppy raisers is the "Puppy's Rule of Twelve" by Margaret Hughes. I print off a copy for each of my puppies, and I circle each thing that they do or experience.

Make sure all experiences are safe and positive for the puppy. Each encounter should include treats and lots of praise. Slow down and add distance if your puppy is scared!

By the time a puppy is 12 weeks old, it should have: (If over 12 wks start right away)

Experienced 12 different surface: wood, woodchips, carpet tile, cement, linoleum, grass, wet grass, dirt, mud, puddles grates, uneven surfaces, on a table, on a chair, etc...

Played with 12 different objects: fuzzy toys, big & small balls, hard toys, funny sounding toys, wooden items, paper or cartboard items, milk jugs, metal items, etc...

Experienced 12 different locations: front yard (daily), other people's homes, school yard, lake, pond, river, boat, basement, elevator, car, moving car, garage, laundry room, kennel, vet hospital (just to say hi and visit, lots of cookies, vaccinations) grooming salon (just to say hi) etc...

Met and played with 12 new people: (outside of family) include children, adults (male and female) elderly adults, people in wheelchairs, walkers people with canes, crutches, hats, sunglasses, etc...

Exposed to 12 different noises: (ALWAYS keep positive and watch puppy's comfort level-we don't want the puppy scared) garage door opening, doorbell, children playing, babies screaming, big trucks, Harley motorcycles, skateboards, washing machine, shopping carts, power bost, clapping, pan dropping, vacuums, lawnmowers, etc...

Exposed to 12 fast moving objects: (Don't allow to chase) skateboards, roller-blades, bikes, motorcycles, cars, people running, cats running, scooters, children running, squirrels, horses running, etc...

"The Puppy's Rule of Twelve" is something that I am very proud of, and would like to keep ownership of. Please give me full credit when using this on your website or any other form.

Positive Paws Dog Training ©2002 - Margaret Hughes

Adapted with permission from Pat Schaap's "RULE OF 7's" for 7 week old puppies

Thank you,

Margaret Hughes, owner of The Puppy's Rule of Twelve

P.S. That's Score and his first girlfriend, Twister, at the top of the page. Back when they were about 10 weeks old in puppy class. Twister is currently up for adoption...I'll post a link to her page soon.-Erin

Monday, November 10, 2008

New puppy in the house!

We have a new puppy in the house...the newest member of the Fidos team...a baby smooth collie, blue merle with tan and white...and blue eyes.

He's currently driving us all crazy, but Mom is getting pictures of all his be ready for cute puppy pics!

I've got to go, he's trying to get the computer cord now! Mom says I have to get off the computer so she can deal with him!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

A sad day...

I found out today that my first "Dad",Larry, passed away this morning after battling melanoma. He and my first "Mom", JoAnne, were the kind folks who brought me all of the way from Missouri, where I was found wandering on the streets, to my new home in Maryland.

They are on a message board that my brother Ripley runs, for Aussies and their families. They saw my plight (needing a ride to MD from MO), and immediately jumped into action. Instead of taking a leg of the transport for an hour or two, they took their weekend and drove all the way. They only had a short time visiting with my brothers and Mom, before having to turn around and drive home. All for me, a little red Aussie. (the pic is from my first week home) Mom still tells people this story, and raves about how there are still wonderful people in the world. If not for these two, I wouldn't be here today writing this blog...I wouldn't have a great place to live, and a job I love.

I just wanted to tell my first Mom, JoAnne, that we're all thinking of her and the rest of the family during this sad time. For Larry:

In Memoriam

With you a part of me hath passed away;
For in the peopled forest of my mind
A tree made leafless by this wintry wind
Shall never don again its green array.
Chapel and fireside, country road and bay,
Have something of their friendliness resigned;
Another, if I would, I could not find,
And I am grown much older in a day.
But yet I treasure in my memory
Your gift of charity, and young hearts ease,
And the dear honour of your amity;
For these once mine, my life is rich with these.
And I scarce know which part may greater be,--
What I keep of you, or you rob from me.

George Santayana

In sorrow, ~SDS

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Different rules...

Those of you that are Assistance Dogs out you have different rules depending on how you are dressed (or undressed, as the case may be)?

This morning, Mom sat down at the kitchen table and had some breakfast and a cup of tea. Our house is cramped, so we're on top of each other a lot. This morning, I climbed up onto the foot stool behind her, and put my front feet in her lap. Then I smiled nicely at her. She laughed, and John was looking on from the kitchen. He asked, "what is he doing?". Mom said, "He says he would like some tea." (which was true) Mom being the bad trainer that she is (but gooood mom), let me have a lick of tea. Trouble was hot (she claims she had no idea...but then told John something about "consequences"). It burned my tongue a bit, so I shook my head all over, spraying tea everywhere. Then I licked it off of Mom's hands. My tail wagged the entire time.

Mom laughed and told John that his Service Dog was spoiled, and that he NEVER would have let Charlie do that (Charlie was his first SD).

Mom says that I can get away with stuff like that (when I'm polite and cute) when I'm "out of harness", meaning that I don't have my official SD vest on. They know that I wouldn't ever think of doing that when I was out in public or in my vest.

There are quite a few things that I do out of harness, that I don't do when I'm officially working. I tend to make a lot of noise at home...I like to moan, whine, and generally talk back to Mom and John...but in public, I rarely make a noise. I like to lay on the couch next to John at home, but wouldn't dream of getting up on furniture when I'm out and about, even at someone else's home (unless invited of course). When I'm in my therapy vest, I go out of my way for petting...when in my SD vest, I will accept petting, but pay attention to John despite the petting. I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of anything right now...

We dogs are amazing creatures, aren't we?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama family will adopt!

After listening to the new President last night, we were quite excited to hear that the little Obama girls would be getting a dog! After looking it up online, Mom found out that they will indeed be adopting a dog!

Yea! A rescue dog in the White House! I know how great rescue dogs are, just look at me! This will do great things for shelters all over the country, I'm sure of it!

~SDS-former stray

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We were part of this historic election today...John, Mom and me...we all went to vote. Of course they didn't give me a ballot, but I was there! Mom told John to tell people that I whisper in his ear and tell him how to vote. ;-)

We were in and out in less than an hour...the lines were long, but not horrible. The lines kept shuffling forward, so I was up and down a lot...I finally just stood up and shuffled along with the humans.

I got two "I Voted" is on my SD vest, and the other is firmly attached to the top of my head. Everyone giggled when we walked past the line of voters.

The best part of voting? The Girl Scout cookie booth right outside the door...we walked off with two boxes of cookies (Chalet Cremes and Thin Mints). Got to vote for US president, and got GS cookies? Fabulous!

Pics will up later!

PS...get out and vote if you haven't yet!

Monday, November 3, 2008

We'll all together again...

Hey all...isn't it great to have your family around? Don't you love when your friends and family are one and the same?

Mom took the others (Ripley, Xander, Inara and the two cats!) to Indiana with her last week. She went to a Girl Scout convention...she even took Summer (SDiT). But she left me here with John. (which is what I wanted of course) I sometimes get annoyed at my siblings, and snark at them. Mom says she always thinks I'd prefer to be an only dog...with John as my only human companion.

While they were in IN, mom hung out with Auntie La-la, and my Grumma and Grumpa...and even my little cousin Katie and Uncle Drew! Mom loves to be around her's always such fun, even when they're having a bad day. Mom and Auntie La-la act so silly when they're together, you'd think they were kids still...and Uncle Drew acts silly too...Auntie Kico just rolls her eyes when he is with them. She says he "reverts" somehow. Who knows...I just know that they all act silly and have a good time together. Mom would hate to be an only child.

Guess what though...I don't like it either. I was really, really excited when everyone came home last night...I pounced on Mom and WOOO-WOOOOO'd at her. Then I started wrestling with Score, and even chased Inara around the house a couple of times. Mom was really surprised! She said that I must like having everyone around after all! I maybe should act nicer when they're around now...we'll see...