Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where do I go?

As a Service Dog, I can go pretty much anywhere...because I help John. I can't imagine being left behind...I hate being left out. I think that's one reason I make such a good SD, my overwhelming desire to be a part of whatever John is doing.

Of course John always makes sure that I'll be safe...he's not going to walk me across broken glass, or a dangerous grate in the sidewalk. I look out for him, but he also looks out for me. We went to the National Zoo a few years ago...and went to go into an aviary of sorts...with monkeys loose inside. The girl at the desk told us that we could not go inside. John asked why. She said because of the monkeys. John told her that I wasn't going to eat a monkey...and that we assumed that the monkeys weren't going to eat me. She went and asked a manager...and he said, "sure". So we went inside.

Didn't see any monkeys.

Would Mom have seen monkeys if I hadn't gone in? Perhaps. But that's the risk she takes...going along with me and John. No monkey viewing.

John is my advocate...he speaks up on my behalf if he thinks the "no dogs" verdict is silly. He didn't get rude...he just wanted to know why she thought it was bad idea. Some folks with an Assistance Dog might have just said, "Okay" and walked (or rolled) away, and not gone in the aviary. Not John. He wants to enjoy everything that other people get to enjoy. I can't think of any place so far where he's hesitated about taking me. Of course, he's got lots of experience with having a that might be it...he may have fought these battles previously.

Like I said in a previous post...the partnership is a two-way street. I work for John, but he also works for me. He keeps me safe, happy and allows me to work to the best of my ability. I stay by his side at all times, and he keeps me by his side at all times. No turning around and saying "Okay" for him. He ventures into unknown territory with me by his side. That's what it's all about.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rules of for thought...

Mom ran across Steve White's 8 Rules of Punishment from last year's Clicker Expo...and has been pondering it lately. It's next week's discussion for puppy class too. Here is the list...more thoughts on this later.

Eight Rules for Using Punishment:

1. The punishment must be something the animal dislikes and something the animal does not expect.

2. The punishment must suppress behavior. (This is, in fact, the very definition of something that is a punisher.) If something is being used for punishment, but it does not suppress behavior, it’s ineffective and often just plain abuse.

3. The punishment must be of the perfect intensity. Too much and there will be negative fallout. You’ll end up hurting your relationship with the animal and loosing more than just that behavior. Too little and the punishment will only serve to desensitize the animal and build resistance.

4. The punishment must happen immediately after the behavior it is to be associated with. Otherwise, a clear enough association between the wrong behavior and the punishment will not be made.

5. The punishment must be associated with the behavior, but not with the trainer. Otherwise, the trainer becomes part of the punishment and the animal starts fearing and disliking the trainer.

6. The punishment must happen every time the behavior occurs. If punishment does not happen every time the behavior occurs, the behavior gets put on a variable schedule of reinforcement. Depending on the behavior and how often the punishment actually occurs, the animal could decide that performing the behavior was worth the risk of getting punished.

7. There must be an alternative for the animal.

8. Punishment must never be used to the extent that punishment outweighs positive reinforcement (from the animal’s perspective, not yours!)

If you can’t follow all 8 of these rules, you’re probably better off avoiding the use of punishment. Heck, even if you can follow all 8 rules, you’re probably better off avoiding the use of punishment, as punishment can result in so many unintended and undesirable side effects.

~SDS (Who is glad Mom tries to avoid punishment!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Right Fit

A partnership won't work well if the fit isn't right. Sure, there are always ups and downs in any relationship...but overall, a good relationship has two willing partners that work well together. The relationship between a dog and his/her human partner is no different...especially if that dog is an Assistance Dog.

There is a big difference between a person that uses a dog for help, and those people who have pets. Mom uses our talents as Service Dogs at home, but she doesn't have to (she's lazy). She's not relying on us to go about her day. If she drops something, or is clumsy getting a door open, it's not a big deal. If John does the same thing, it's a big deal in his day. Many things in his life cause him to struggle...and that's why I'm here to help. If I can save him time throughout the day, to make his life easier...I'm doing my job. But as I said, that fit has to be right for it to work.


Mom knows people who are waiting for dogs...dogs that can help them...dogs that can make their life easier. Some are waiting for program-trained dogs, some are searching for a dog that they will train themselves, and some are training dogs that they already have. It's a long-road, no matter which way you chose. John was matched with Charlie (his first SD) for 10 was good fit. They worked as a seamless team for all of those years. In between Charlie and me was another dog...who was not a good fit for various reasons. I came along, and it was a good fit from day one. What made me a good fit for John? I'm an active dog...and I like to move fast when I'm out. John likes to put his scooter in rabbit mode (as opposed to "turtle mode") and zip along. At the same time, I also like to snuggle and have no problem with down time. John has a lot of down time...when he parks his butt on the couch...he stays for a while. I'm okay with that too. I'm I can go anywhere, anytime and not worry about anything. I'm smart...and learn quickly...which is good because John doesn't get too committed to training. I pick things up after a few repetitions and some click/treating. So John doesn't have to spend a long time teaching me a new behavior. Also, I make great leaps in my training...and don't have to be shown it makes training easier for John. Teach me to pull the drawer open? I'm go a couple of steps further and do a paws up, tug out your pants and bring them to you.

That's teamwork!

We know a lot of Assistance Dog teams...and we love to see a good pairing. That's part of the fun of working with dogs like me, according to mom. Finding that good match. A slower person that shuffles along...does not need a fast, active dog. That person that zips along in a scooter does not want a dog that pokes along. The person that has trouble getting up off the floor can't be helped by a small dog. A dog that LOVES to retrieve hopefully will go do a person who drops a lot of items... So on and so on.

The right fit is important with any matter if they are working or not. Makes me think of those AKC commercials they played on TV for a while...don't get a basset hound if you like to jog, for instance. :) Don't underestimate the importance of the right fit.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Did everyone get their corned beef and cabbage tonight?

Mom made us dog treats made with corned beef lunch meat and mashed potatoes...yum! She and John went to the local volunteer Fire Department for a St. Patty's Day dinner...corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, ham, green beans, carrots and dessert! It looked delicious, but they didn't give me any!

I was a good boy though...and laid under the table quietly...with people coming and going all around me. John answered lots of questions about me...but he's used to that. ;) More often than "What does he do for you", he gets "What breed of dog is that?" lol More and more, we run across people that know what Service Dogs do...a woman tonight told us that she'd just watched a TV show all about raising Assistance Dogs. That's good to hear!

We've been busy lately...a couple of flyball tournaments in a row...come up and see us in Gettysburg, PA this weekend if you're in the area!

Mom is getting her new Fidos Service Dog in Training next you'll be meeting "Denver" soon!


PS...yes, I wore green to pinches for me!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Finally some good weather...

John doesn't go out much when it's cold I've been a bit bored lately. With the deep snow, it makes things we haven't done anything. Nothing much to write about. I don't even like to go out with the other dogs and Mom if John doesn't go. I did play with Mom in the snow a little bit this past week...I was desparate!

I bounced right out of the frame!

Finally now we have some good weather...and I hope it sticks around. Mom said something about raiding the piggy bank and going to a movie this afternoon...that'd be cool. She said Watchmen...whatever that is. I can sleep through any movie...action or otherwise.


Catching snowballs!

Maybe John will go outside and through my Orbee ball today! Paws crossed!


See ya!