Sunday, January 24, 2016

January Update

Well January is coming to a class soon and we have been busy busy. We have been working on new situations and working on tasks. We also have a new addition to our family. My mom's dog Tucker, a 10yr old Bichon, will be living with us. He was getting lonely everyday that my parents went to work and board with living in a RV park with no yard. So he came to live with us lol. Luke is really enjoying having him.

So here is our January update:

Ara had a colonoscopy Jan 8th - Luke was able to go back into the procedure room while she was put under, he licked her hand until she fell asleep. It was his first time being around all those machines, noises and her being put under.  They allowed us in early for her recovery and Luke laid next to her on the bed and once awake helped keep her still and in the bed, as she kept trying to get up and leave. He did awesome and everyone was very accommodating and happy to help with his training experience.

We also had several doctors visits this month and meet some new doctors and people. When we are in a waiting room or a place where Luke can not do an under I usually have him lay down behind my legs or at Ara's feet. At the GI doctors I had him lay under my chair, a nurse came in and was there for 20 -30min and as we got up to leave out came Luke, she was surprised and said "I have been in here over 20min and had no idea you had a dog in here".  I love to hear this because it means he is doing a great job and behaving as a service dog should.  This pic is of Luke doing some DPT and interruption for Ara at a doctors office. 

Ara has been doing half day school and Luke goes in with us for drop off and pick up. He is getting use to all the noises (doors shutting, kids yelling, people walking on hardwood floors ect) and movements of people through the building and in the halls. Ara got her first BookIt voucher so we went out to pizza hut last week. Luke did awesome and tucked away quietly under the table, ignoring dropped food ect.  

And lastly here is a video of Ara and Luke working together at Walmart. It is short but cute :)

video



Monday, December 28, 2015

.....and we are back

Hey everyone, I am so sorry that I have not blogged in a few months. We have been very busy with Ara's doctors appointments, her starting school and we had a huge surprise in our lives, I am currently 17wks pregnant.

Training Luke has been going very well and we have had a lot of great opportunities in the last few months. It has also been a bit sporadic due to our hectic schedules right now, that is why owner training can be so hard sometimes. We have had several set backs, retraining, reproofing things because of lack of time to train. Thankfully we are figuring it out and making it work :)

Ara is doing very well in half day school, we are hoping she will be able to do full time in a few months. Luke goes to drop off and pick up with me and is exposed to lots of busy noise, voices, door banging ect. He still hates to see Ara walk away from him and him not be able to go. The school is very willing to have Luke at special occasions now and with Ara once he is fully trained and ready.

Over Halloween we got to meet many people in costumes and do some night time training in crowds. He did so great, no costumes bothered him, he even got to say hi to a warewolf man and other scary costumed people.

In November we had many doctor appointments but not many other outings. Luke was out from work for a few weeks, thankfully it was just a cut on his paw and nothing too bad.

December we got to see Santa and Luke was so excited to see him. I am so thankful for the Santa in Billings who made it such a great experience for Ara and Luke, it is so important that dogs in training have those great experiences as they do have lasting effects. We got to ride in a Christmas cart parade and meet many new people. We are also working hard on team work and Luke working for Ara and taking directions/ques from her. Ara is working on giving commands and when to use them.

That's all for now hopefully will be able to update more regularly. Remember to follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/servicedogforara and Instagram @servicedogforara


Friday, October 2, 2015

So good to have space to train again

I did not realize how little space we had to train with at our old place. At our new home we have a very big grassy area perfect for Rally O and our other training and we have another space that we are working on for when the weather is bad (will talk about this more after the project is finished). There are also more training opportunities in our new community.

We have been working on team work with out me being right next to them. Luke knows my commands over rule Ara's but he also needs to be able to listen to her and see her as a leader. Our whole goal is for one day them to be an independent team. The both need to be confident and trust in each other so that is why we are working on this.

I know some people think it may be odd that we practice dog sports. Most dog sports take a great deal of focus, obedience and build confidence not to mention burn off extra puppy energy.
"Rally is a sport in which the dog and handler complete a course that has been designed by the rally judge. The judge tells the handler to begin, and the dog and handler proceed at their own pace through a course of designated stations (10 - 20, depending on the level). Each of these stations has a sign providing instructions regarding the next skill that is to be performed. Scoring is not as rigorous as traditional obedience." - AKC Site http://www.akc.org/events/rally/getting-started/

If you think about the skills required it goes hand in hand with a lot of the training done for service dogs.

It is just so nice to have a big yard and places to do more training. We have been slacking off for a while now and really need to buckle back down and get to work.  Did you know Luke has over 400 hours logged of training and public access work.

This month is Luke's Birthday he will be turning two years old on Oct. 26th. I can not believe how fast the time has flown. He is a special boy and has made a huge difference in Ara's life. To celebrate I will be making some homemade dog goodies for him. Also if anyone is interested I also have an amazon wish list set up http://amzn.com/w/2193N6BF9ZT9Y everything on the list will help with Luke's training and care :) 




Thursday, September 17, 2015

We have Moved

We made the very hard decision to move last month. We hated to leave Montana (and I miss it terribly) but we are now in Florida and settling in.  Luke did awesome on the long three day trip and he is getting use to the new environment aka lots of rain and a new house...lol 

The good news is that we have a very nice grassy yard to do more training in. We will also have many more training opportunities here in Florida as well. Here is what we have done so far.

3 Day trip - wow what a looooong trip. Luke did great in the car. He also had his first ever hotel stays and did very well. He softly woofed a couple of times when someone ran down the hall or he heard another dog barking, but overall he did wonderful. 

Florida Museum of Natural History - We went to the museum with some family and it was super crowded. Luke did great and assisted Ara through out the day, Ara on the other hand struggled with the large crowd and excitement. 

Chili's - We went out to lunch after the museum. As we came in Ara had to use the potty so we headed that way, then were seated. The water brought Luke some water which was so nice. Luke did an awesome under and slept through lunch. As we got in the car my mom asked "did you see the other service dog" I said no, she proceeded to tell me that it was a German shepherd and as soon as the other dog saw Luke it started whining and pulling on its leash. She said she was so proud of Luke for ignoring the other dog and being focused on Ara and guiding her. Made me very proud too.

Walmart/ Publix - there is always a walmart :) and oh how I have missed Publix.  We worked on something a bit new for public. We worked on the "hold" command. We have worked with this at home and on walks but never in a store. Luke did great and did not budge until I gave the release word.  I have to say he is amazing at generalizing commands from situation to situation.

If the rain ever stops this week we may start up doing rally o again. We are also working on Ara giving commands and walking with Luke as the leader. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Going to the Zoo

Last weekend we went to the zoo. It was a great outing with friends and we even got to work on some of the public access test items, I have no worries that Luke will pass with flying colors. The test is not required by law but I think it is a nice test to video tape as proof of behavior and training in public situations.

Luke always draws a lot of attention from the Tigers and Wolves. The bears dont seem to care one way or the other...lol Here are some pics from the day.



The other outing we had this weekend was going to walmart. Funny story - I needed to grab a few goodies for our upcoming trip and Daddy took the girls and Luke to the sporting goods area. After about 15min or so I see Luke and Ara heading my way, with Ara holding the leash and Daddy and Molly a little ways behind them. Luke lead Ara right to me and stopped. I always hold the leash as we are still working on Ara being in charge and Luke's pace when she is. Apparently Daddy did not realize this and Ara wanted to be in charge...lol  They both did very good with Luke guiding her at her pace and listening to her.  I guess it is a good testament to all the training we have been doing.
A bit later Ara started to get paranoid and anxious while we were in the check out line so Luke did an awesome passive block the whole time. So very proud of these two.

We also had OT. Luke even dressed up...lol He did a great sitting block as well.

As I announced on our facebook page A Service Dog For Ara we are moving to Florida in the next few weeks. We are just not getting the medical care and services that Ara needs here in Montana. We believe we will get better care and services in Florida plus we have a big support system there with lots of family. We will miss Montana greatly and all our good friends here. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

All the Places We Go and Luke the Teenager

So it has been over a month since my last blog entry. Things have been really busy and unfortunately Ara's health has become worse which has caused some slacking in Luke's training. This is the hard part about owner training, whether for yourself or a child. When health issues arise or life gets busy/complex it can effect your dogs training. Usually it just causes delays in training but depending on the situation it can cause negative effects and take longer to get back on track, such as being lax on obedience and allowing bad habits to form.  With Luke we are behind in where we were a few months ago and yes he has picked up a few not so great habits at home. However we are working on them adding more structure into our training.

Luke has also hit a teenage stage of doggy life and yes it is just like teenage kids...lol. Again adding a bit more structure into training but also having a lot of fun with training such as doing rally practice and just running around playing fetch.

Here is were we have been this last month and some of the training we have done. (Note: I am not listing everything in the post as it would just be to long since it has been a month since our last post)

Training - Dog Shoes - It is very hot now and to protect Luke from the hot asphalt he will wear dog shoes. (Thank you Grammy for the shoes) We started out just putting them on then taking them off then gradually increased the amount of time he wore them. It only took a few days for him to get use to them. Last winter we used mushers secret for the snow and ice melt, this year we will probably use the shoes once the winter snow starts to fly.

Walmart - (yes I know we go there a lot we dont have many grocery stores here) - Working on guide tasks, find out, car and dad, vocal commands (are near perfect), "say Hi", distractions (such as dogs in carts ect), and working when Ara is having a hard time.  With Ara's health getting worse it has made shopping very hard. Luke is having to learn to work even when Ara is not totally engaged with him or when her body is making odd movements (movement disorder).


4th of July - Luke really showed he knows his stuff and can focus during the 4th of July events we attended. There were tons of people, lots of pet dogs, loud noises and people dressed up. He did great guiding Ara through the events, even when we had two dogs rush us and get up in his business ( I really dislike those flexi leashes). None of the loud noises from the fire trucks, fire works or air horns bothered him. He did all vocal commands, blocking, and even alerted to Ara's overload/anxiety. We were watching the parade and Ara was doing so good. Luke was sitting behind us while Ara and sister were in front of the curb to get candy and see the parade. Luke broke his stay and went to heel position on Ara and did a nose touch. This was the second time I had seen him do this when we have been out some where so I just waited to see what happened. With in just a minute or two Ara says "I need to get out of here. go home" since Luke was already there she was able to grab his vest and we were able to leave quickly.


BBQ Fest - This was an extremely bad day for Ara. Here body was just fighting her at every step. Luke did great with all the people and the distraction of lot of food smells. He also did good with vocal commands for guiding her in the crowd such as over right, over left, stop, come around ect and blocking both front and back. He also ignored all the other dogs that were there.

Appointments - Luke is doing really good with applying DPT in public and it has been a huge help for Ara. We also worked on guiding tasks, paw touch, down stay, under,  and "say Hi" . Luke did have some teenage moments during a few of our appointments but nothing too bad.


Zoo trip - Our little zoo is very accommodating and we love having a family pass to visit. Luke did the best ever this last trip. He totally ignored the Tiger following us in her exhibit, the wolves playing and all the other animals. He walked next to the stroller perfectly and would check on Ara frequently. He also helped her with being on a raised platform and blocking
  



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Big Adventures this week

We had some big adventures this week. I have found my rally gear and will be doing some at home rally practice starting this new week. As always this week we worked on obedience and even a few new tasks and had some really neat outings.

Luke is very reliable with finding exits, finding the car and finding dad in a store, paw touch and. He is really good at following vocal directional commands (right, left, stop ect), obstacle avoidance (still working on terrain/elevation changes), stairs , under, around (giving Ara space), block, DPT and Distress response. We are still working on behavior interruption, retrieving dropped items, and tactile stimulation (in different situations).

The two new things we are working on is turning on/off lights and closing the door. Ara does not like going into dark rooms and is sometimes afraid of the door being opened at night, so we are teaching Luke to help in this area. He will go into a room and turn on the light, once she is in bed he will then turn off the light and close the door.

Now on to our adventures:

Geocaching - Thanks to another service dog team Musa the Marvelous we have discovered geochaching and are hooked :) We did three searches this weekend and are 2/3 which is not bad for just getting started. We have found a micro tube and a small container. Here are some pictures from the two finds. It is a great way to get out and enjoy your local area. Ara was in charge of Luke the whole hike. We were even passed by several bicyclist, in which Luke ignored them.



Here are some videos from the first find of Ara and Luke working together.


Our second big adventure was going to Jurassic Quest. It is a display of over 50 life size dinosaurs and many of them move and it is very loud. Luke handled everything like a pro nothing phased him and he was able to guide Ara through the exhibits and even over to a quieter area to help with a mild panic attack. Here are some pictures and even a video of our fun.