Friday, September 23, 2011

Bailey Update

Hey all,

I thought I would give you an update on Bailey.  He's loving not being a SD.  He's much more relaxed and joyful.  Going to the dog park is one of his favorite things ever!  He loves playing with all the other dogs.

Around people he doesn't know, he's still nervous.  He leaves the room when one of my aides comes.  Since he's not my SD, this behavior is ok.  If people leave him alone, he's ok.  He now loves my dad (remember how he used to growl?) and he will stick his head on my dad's lap and look up like, "Please pet me."  He's a very happy and spoiled dog.

Here's an album of pictures.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

Hey All,
 So I have been getting several emails asking me questions regarding Bailey and his retirement. So here’s a list of frequently asked questions that I would like to answer for all of my readers.

Why are you retiring Bailey?

I’ve decided to retire Bailey because he’s been telling me (through his body language) that he is unhappy when working in public. In addition he is uncomfortable around strangers and will sometimes growl at them in public. Also Bailey has shown me that he is generally just a shy dog. I have two aides and a physical therapist whom Bailey has seen 2-3 times a week for the past five months. He still will not go up to them and anxiously keeps a distance from them. These people are no longer strangers and he still has issues with them. At fifteen months old this is not something that Bailey will just grow out of. This is a part of his personality. Just like with humans, some dogs are just more social than others.

He seems so well behaved, why does it matter if he’s not comfortable in public?
Bailey is an incredibly smart dog and a super good boy. But lots of dogs are smart, that doesn’t make them a good candidate for service work alone. Service dogs must LOVE to work for you, not just in the home but in public where there are many strangers, distractions and surprises. If he’s not comfortable working in public it means he is stressed. Stressed out dogs, if pushed too far can be dangerous.

How can you tell that he doesn’t like working in public?
I can tell by Bailey’s body language. His eyes are constantly darting around anxiously. He never wags his tail. He never opens his mouth in the natural dog behavior of panting (aka smiling).  This is especially apparent when strangers come near to him (even if they are ignoring him). He immediately pulls away in fear  (and Bailey does not usually pull away from me) and basically tries to hide and kind of just “shuts down”. Another way he is telling me he is uncomfortable is he will sometimes growl at a person nearby ,but never in an aggressive way so I know it’s not a “protective” type thing.

What if Bailey stopped growling at strangers? Would you work him then?
No. Even if Bailey were to stop growling at strangers that wouldn’t mean that he was comfortable with them or happy working in public. It would simply mean he was “trained” not to growl. That would actually be dangerous because then he wouldn't be able to communicate his fear which could lead to him communicating by eventually snapping at someone.

If Bailey became more comfortable with your aides and people visiting your home, would you try to work him then?
It would be awesome if Bailey was more comfortable with the people in my home. In fact since I’ve stopped working him he has become way more relaxed with people in my home. I think this is because he is less stressed in general and now just gets be a happy pet. I know if I started working him again his stress would come back and might appear in the form of anxiety in the home or something new.
I owe it to Bailey to listen to what he’s telling me and not try to force him to do something he is just not comfortable doing.

Is Bailey unhappy now that he’s fully retired and no longer a SD?
Actually the opposite, he thinks he’s just won the lottery! He now gets to go to the dogpark and play with other dogs which is one of his favorite activities. We’ve also been mixing little treats like left over chicken into his food now that I don’t have to worry about him not paying attention to yummy smelling food at restaurants. Also he gets the same love and attention and now has a stronger bond with my parents since he is not “my” SD but the family pet.

What’s happened with bailey, is it uncommon?
Service Dogs in training are carefully screened and chosen based on their temperament, breeding and family health history. Even after this strict process the success rate for a dog to become a SD is about 40%. I knew these statistics when I began owner training so I’ve always known they’re was the possibility that Bailey wouldn’t want to work or wouldn’t turn out to be the right candidate for service work.

What does a “happy service dog” look like?
This is a happy service dog...

As you can see this SD has no problem with people and/or objects getting close to him. He looks around but it is not with anxiety more curiosity. When people approach him, he  is comfortable and inviting not shy or pulling away. I know this service dog’s owner and I know for a fact that he is very happy when working.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bailey Update

So I know I haven’t been blogging for a while now. And I feel it it time to tell you all why. I hate to have to write this but I have noticed Bailey is not happy when he’s working outside of the home. He seems very nervous in public, even though I stopped working Bailey for six weeks and just focused on fun socializing outings. This made a huge improvement with his growling but when in public his eyes are constantly darting around on alert and he backs away from people when they get close. Also he still growls at people randomly. Although I have consulted professionals regarding this behavior, his growling is so inconsistent that we have not been able to pinpoint it to a specific trigger other than him just being generally uncomfortable around strangers.

He is able to relax and fall asleep when he is on a "down" for a long period of time, but if a person walks near to him he pops up and is on nervous alert again. At home he is great with me but not everybody else. He's incredibly smart and loves doing tasks for me, but he is still not comfortable with my two part time aides. One of which he has seen twice a week for the past four months. I haven't even been able to take him out when those aides are working. Of course we could physically get the leash on him but because I can see he is too nervous I was not working him when accompanied by those aides.

I know this is not a fear stage because looking back at his behavior and our training I realize now that he has been randomly uncomfortable with strangers since I first started working with him (ugh! Hindsight is always 20/20). Of course all dogs have “behaviors” that can be worked on. For example Bailey sometimes gets really excited when he sees other dogs. This is a behavior that with some work he can overcome. In comparison him being nervous and shy around strangers  (and even some people who aren’t strangers) and generally just unhappy while out with me in public is not a “behavior” that can be trained out of him. At this point it is a part of his personality. Just like with some people he is a shy and sensitive little guy. Training cannot change him into an outgoing, stranger loving dog.

 The most important task I want my SD to do is be a social facilitator by performing trained interactions with people (like taking stuff out of there hands when someone tries to give me something that I can't grab). And to just be friendly which encourages strangers to talk to me (everyone loves a friendly dog). I talked some more with my current trainer and the trainer Bailey lived with for 5 months. Both of them support my decision to retire Bailey as a Service Dog and are encouraging me to pursue a program dog.
One consistent thing that everybody notices about Bailey is that when he is around other dogs his confidence sky rockets. Obviously I can’t have a Service Dog that needs an additional emotional support animal (haha). But this is really comforting because I know if I get another dog in the future Bailey will be ecstatic about having a friend in the house with him.
 So you might be wondering what this means for Bailey now. Well for one thing he’s getting to do more fun activities and can now go to the dog park and just be a playful pet. He is absolutely no longer going to be my Service Dog so my family and I have been transitioning him into getting used to be a family pet and not going everywhere with me. So far he is really enjoying his new status. Of course this doesn’t mean that he will no longer be receiving any training.  All dogs regardless of working status should be stimulated with basic behavior and play training. Bailey loves his speak command and gets so excited to show off. And I will continue to work on his “dog distraction” because even as a pet he still needs to be well behaved when we’re out on walks. Once I get a program dog I will still do ”Bailey and Me” time, such as dog parks and walks just the two of us and Bailey will continue to get tons of love and attention.

Of course I really wanted Bailey to work out as my SD so this really sucks but I have always said if Bailey's not happy working then I won't make him work. He’s telling me he doesn’t want to work and I am listening. Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bailey Update

So I know I haven't blogged in a while but I've been having some health issues (nothing serious just annoying and tiring). I've decided to give you a more general update rather detail everything that's been going on in the past few weeks.
On February 24th Bailey turned one year old! We celebrated with a hamburger birthday cake with Kong stuffing frosting. Mmmmmm!  We made the burger cake a bit big and when Bailey got it he didn't know how he should eat it. He basically ran around the yard with a big chunk of burger in his mouth. It was too big to eat but he refused to drop it because he was afraid we would take his prize away. Eventually my Mom got it away from him and cut it into smaller pieces for him to enjoy.
The week after that we visited my trainer and Bailey's brother Liam so that they could also have a birthday celebration together. My trainer invited some of their other poodle pals. They had a great time running around the tennis courts together and then all eight dogs enjoyed a frozen yogurt banana birthday cake. Here's a video from the celebration.

Bailey is back to work. He's doing so much better with his growling at people. Now when he's working he almost never growls. I'm so happy that I could start working him again. He's also doing way better with my various aides and even solicits attention from them. In hindsight I should have given him a break from working right when he came to live with me. I know now how stressful it was for him to make that transition. But now it's clear how much he loves it here and whenever I visit my trainer he tells me it's time to go back home after just a couple hours.
 In other big news Bailey has a couple new tricks up his sleeve. He now "speaks" on command and just a couple days ago learned how to "shake hands" with people. It's so cute and he picked it up in about 10 minutes.I think from now on with my blog I'm going to just give updates to my readers as bigger events and successes take place.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Week Seven

On Saturday I discovered Bailey has an ear infection again. So I made an appointment to have it checked out. When my Saturday aide came over Bailey was still very shy and wouldn't even walk past her. Because I am still not working Bailey and I had errands to run I left Bailey home alone for twenty minutes and he did great.
   So I planned to sit outside with him on Sunday at Starbucks but then I woke up that morning with a bad migraine. So that kind of ruined my plans. Bailey was really worried about me and even brought me over his favorite toy (the tick) to make me feel better. Awwwwww!
   On Monday I was feeling back to normal so we played fetch with the ball and Bailey was amazing. Later that day I took Bailey to a park near my house. The park is completely fenced except for one opening. We played fetch while Bailey was on the long leash. He wasn't bringing it back perfectly because I just wanted him to have fun and play whichever way he preferred. There were two little boys at the park following him at times and running around near to him at other times. Bailey was great and never barked or growled once at the noisy kids.
 Tuesday was Bailey's vet appointment. We had to wait in the lobby for quite a while until the vet could see us. Every one loved Bailey and was standing around him asking me questions and talking to him. He did great even with all of the attention. He does have an ear infection and their doing a culture to find out what kind since he JUST got over the last one. He also did great with all of the dogs in the waiting room, two Akita's, a golden and a Border Collie. When Bailey got home from the vet he surrounded himself with all of his favorite toys to comfort himself after his traumatic morning. Later that day I took Bailey for a walk and a man using a walker went passed us. I thought Bailey might be confused/scared of the walker but he paid the man no attention at all. Bailey hasn't been growling at my Dad so I was a bit surprised that he growled today when my Dad came home. I have no clue why.
  On Wednesday it was raining. Bailey loooooves the rain and had to be dried off a million times that day. Since we couldn't go outside we worked on the light switch. He followed me from room to room and when I stopped at a light switch Bailey would turn it on. What a good boy!
  Yesterday I had another trainer come and evaluate Bailey's shyness and growling. He growled at her when she came over(which I was hoping she would see him growling so that she could better evaluate the problem, so this was actually beneficial). She said he definitely has a lot of fear and it is something that needs to be addressed immediately. Luckily since he is so young she feels that he can probably overcome it with the proper training. Her evaluation was encouraging and I'm going to be working with her some more in the near future. Bailey was a lot better with my Thursday aide last night. He asked her for attention(which he never does normally) and hung out with her most of the night.
   Today I kind of had a "me day". I had a doctors appointment and afterwards went out to lunch. I left Bailey home with my Mom and she said he hung out with her the entire time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Week Six

Saturday morning Bailey played fetch with my Mom. He's a pro now- gets the ball  and brings it back. My new aide came over on Saturday and Bailey was slightly better. When he was lying down in his bed he let her pet him. That evening I was watching animal planet and discovered Bailey was reacting to the dogs on the television program. He would start barking and then run from inside to outside the house looking for the other dog that he heard. This is definitely something we need to work on.
  On Sunday my Mom and I took Bailey to the park. It was full of people and dogs. We sat on a bench and let Bailey watch everything around him. He did well. He talked to some of the other dogs but was quickly redirected. He did growl at one man who had the hood on his sweatshirt over his head. But he let another man pet him.
  On Monday my Physical Therapist came over and Bailey did really well with her. He said Hi and even licked her hand.  Later that day we played go get help. Then I wanted to do an experiment. Because my aide is always the one who says "go get help" I was afraid Bailey would always associate the word 'help" with only her. So I asked my Mom to go hide outside and say "go get help". As soon as he heard those words Bailey dashed out of the house into the backyard to find her. What a good boy! I had a haircut appointment that day and decided to go in my manual chair instead of my electric one. I always take Bailey for a walk in my manual chair. So when I left he was a bit confused but did very well while I was gone. After I came back I did take him for a walk. On our walk we encountered four different dogs and Bailey did great. The first three dogs were always on the other side of the street when Bailey saw them. But the fourth dog walked past Bailey just a few feet away. Bailey did his bark/growl noise but was quickly redirected.
   On Tuesday we had a big day! For Christmas I asked my parents to schedule a photo shoot for me and Bailey. Today was the day. Bailey got a bath in the morning  so he would be handsome for his close up. After lunch we headed to Hollywood to an area that was full of people, smells and the city hustle. Bailey did amazing! We were there for over two hours and Bailey had to sit, lay, look at the camera and pose over and over. I can't tell you how impressed I was with his performance. After our shoot we both were exhausted and Bailey crashed out.
   So on Wednesday we both needed a chill day. We worked on go get help. Here is a video from the session.

After lunch we went on a walk at the Rose Bowl. Bailey did great. At one point three little dogs on a walk with their owner came up behind him. He looked back a couple times but that was all. Because I discovered that Bailey reacts to dogs on the TV, I wanted to play clips of dogs and work on quiet. Needless to say this is going to be a sloooow process.
  On Thursday we went to the college campus again. It was lunchtime so the campus was full of lots of noisy people. Bailey did great and even said Hi to a young man reading a book. He also did great when the gardeners were working in our yard later that day. He barked once to let us know they were here and then quickly settled back down.
  Today we played fetch with a tennis ball and boy did Bailey do great! He fetched and returned the ball about ten times in a row each time dropping it near to me. When the pool guy came over he let out one bark of acknowledgement and then totally ignored him. After lunch I wanted to take Bailey to the park This was his first time there and he loved it. It's a pretty big park and we played "go find Eva". It was so cute watching him run full speed across the park to find me.
This is two weeks of "operation no growl" and I know I said I planned to give Bailey two weeks off. However he is still growling so I know he needs more time. We'll do more socializing next week.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Week Five

This has been the first full week of "Operation No Growl". On Saturday we had a chill day. My weekend aide was here and Bailey is not that comfortable around her yet so he just hung around out back and ignored her. The challenge came when it was time to take Bailey for a walk. He would not go near her and when she would try to get close to him to attach his leash he just ran away. So we made it his decision to come to her and just waited.  My aide just ignored him but kept some peanut butter in her hand and pretty soon he came up to her and she was able to put the leash on him. He was totally fine after that and enjoyed his walk. Later that day my Mom's friends came over unexpectedly. Bailey didn't do much barking or growling and even was wagging his tail quite a bit, but at times still acted timid.
   On Sunday I left Bailey in the house without me for the very first time. Because I'm giving Bailey a work break, I couldn't bring him to the market. My Dad said that he just slept the entire time. When I returned home he was super excited to see me and gave me lots of kisses. Then my Dad and I took Bailey for a walk. He growled (talked) to some dogs he saw and was unsure of a passing woman who was wearing a hat. He growled mildly but was quickly redirected.
   On Monday we had a visit from the handyman. Bailey barked when he first came to the door but was really chill after that. He even hung around out back with him, but at a comfortable distance. When my physical therapist came Bailey was great with her and said hello. That day he also had a play date with his friend Lucy. They are a perfect pair. They play really nicely together. He play-bowed for the first time.  My friend and I had two very tired dogs that night. Here's a video form their play date.

Bailey has also mastered the doggy door. He now runs through it back and forth with no hesitation.
   Tuesday we worked on fetch and speak. He did well , he is such a pro at fetch and return. I also took him to the Occidental College campus again today. We just sat by the bookstore and eating area. I figured out one of his growling triggers...keys. I think Bailey associates the sound of keys with the sound of a dogs collar tags. Whenever he hears keys he seems to be looking around for another dog. Then we took Bailey to Petco. There he said Hi to another dog and overall did well.
   Wednesday was a very interesting day. Since I figured out Bailey was reactive to keys I wanted to start working on desensitizing him to the noise. So I thought if I had my Mom jangle some keys and then my aide tell Bailey "leave it" that he would start to ignore the noise. Boy was I wrong. I had my Mom jangle the keys from  the other side of the yard and Bailey went nuts. He kept barking and running back and forth around the yard even when all was quiet. I then tried to show him that it was a set of keys making the noise but he was so amped up that he couldn't even recognize that the noise was coming from the keys. After that Bailey was on edge all day and every little noise set him off. I thought it would be good to get him out of the house (and distracted from the incident) so we went down to the Rose Bowl for a walk. Bailey was a bit shy with the first person who tried to pet him, but after that was really calm, and never growled once. One woman who was petting Bailey told him that because she had a dog too that she was his "auntie". Ummmm...Okay?
   After that I had some errands to run so I decided to leave Bailey at home with my Mom. Because of the key incident Bailey was really agitated and barked the whole time I was gone. When I got home I brought Bailey into my room and closed the door. That made Bailey calm down and he soon took a nap. What a day!
  On Thursday Bailey was back to normal. We again went to the College for a walk. It was lunch time so the campus was full of people and noise. Bailey did awesome. At one point two dogs walked by. Bailey saw them but did not growl or bark at all. Yay!!! Later that day our pool man was in the backyard and Bailey didn't know it. When he saw him come around the corner he barked quickly to let us know but settled down right away.
  Today we met up with one of my old professors from the College. Because we were meeting him in a campus building I decided to put a vest on Bailey just for a short time. Bailey was a bit shy during our visit but just settled down next to me without any growling or barking. Bailey did stand up and give out a bark a couple different times (not sure what he was barking at) but he was quick to settle down again. Later today we went on a fun walk (where we were not trying to get him to say hi just have fun). The drama of today was the discovery my Mom made...Bailey had a tick! Since this is a new occurrence for me as a dog owner, my aide and I took to the internet for advice. I'm happy to say we successfully exterminated the tick. I found this odd because I give Bailey a monthly dose of sentinel which is supposed to deter ticks from clamping on to him. The most ironic thing happened today. My family got a package of thank you gifts from a friend of ours and inside was a present for Bailey. Guess what it was a  stuft animal Tick! Haha.
  I think Operation No Growl is already starting to work. I'm excited to see how well he does next week.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Week four

This past Saturday Bailey and I just chilled. On Sunday Bailey and I went to the mall with my Mom. We went into one shop and my Mom went into the dressing room to try on some clothes. We stayed outside and Bailey just laid down next to me the entire time. What a good boy! Then we went to get some ice cream. When we sat down to eat the table next to us was full of loud teenagers. Bailey was nervous at first and growled a little bit in their direction. My Mom kept talking calmly to him and he quickly settled down. After that he didn't give the teenagers any more of his attention. After the mall we stopped at Ralph's and Bailey did really well inside the grocery store.
  On Monday we played "go find Eva" (his favorite game) and did a round of fetch. He definitely understands fetch now. After our afternoon walk we went to Starbucks. Bailey did great inside the store but on the way out saw another big dog and made a fuss. He wanted to say "Hi" pretty bad but I redirected his attention.
  Tuesday was a big day. First we worked on fetch aka "go get it". He did really well. Then I wanted to work on his "stay" command. Sometimes when we're playing "go find Eva" he gets so excited that he doesn't wait for the command before he runs to find me. So I had my aide tell Bailey to "stay" and then walk to the other side of our yard. Bailey didn't want to stay and as she was telling him to stay he growled at her defiantly. We both cracked up at his mini temper tantrum. Eventually he did really great with his stay command.
  On this day I also made a big decision about Bailey's training. I'm giving Bailey a break from work for the next few weeks. I need to work on his confidence with strangers so we're going back to the basics. Because I want Bailey to feel comfortable around all people I'm taking him out as a pet to encourage more positive interactions with strangers. I'm also letting people pet him so that he will feel comfortable and not growl or cower away from them. So on this day we went to the Occidental College campus where I knew he would encounter lots of new people. He let three different women pet him and took a piece of steak out of each of their hands. But he still acted a little shy around them. He enjoyed this walk around the campus and didn't growl at anybody.
 On Wednesday I began training a new aide. Bailey was a bit intimidated by this new person but did take treats from her. Later that day we went to Petco. We were walking through the store when Bailey suddenly began to growl and bark very agitated. My aide and I looked around and couldn't figure out what he was upset about. Then we realized he was standing in front of a display that included three fake dog mannequins made out of white cloth. We started busting up with laughter. We showed Bailey the fake dogs and once he sniffed them he was no longer interested in them at all. Also in the store Bailey said hi to a man and a woman without growling. At the check out Bailey also greeted three little dogs without making a scene.
  On Thursday Bailey made a visit to the vet's office. He was there for a follow up exam to check on his ear and I wanted to do the preliminary x-rays that would identify if he had any early signs of  hip or elbow issues.
During the visit Bailey was very chatty to a Rottweiler sitting next to him. Part of the time when Bailey is growling he's actually just talking. I can tell because sometimes he's in a very comfortable posture and is just kind of tilting his head back and half boofing half growling. He also did really well with the vet and her technician. He stayed very calm around them and let them pet him. Bailey was given a clean bill of health and his joints look perfect. Yay!!! This is major news because if Bailey showed any signs of future joint problems then I would not be able to have him as my Service Dog. He was much better with my Physical Therapist this day and let her pet him as well.
 I started a new command on Thursday "speak". The tactic I used was to just introduce the command and often when a dog can't figure something out he/she will bark in frustration. At that point you praise them for "speaking". Well when Bailey was told to speak he used every trick that he knew to try to get the treat in my aides hand. He sat down, he laid down,he rolled over,he gave me kisses and at one point he jumped up off the ground excitedly as if he had figured it out and then proceeded to run around the yard in a quick circle. It was hysterical. Bailey did become frustrated but never made a peep!
  Today I wanted to work on speak again and the same thing happened. So I tried a new technique. I played a cd of barking dogs which of course caused Bailey to bark. When he did he was given tons of praise saying "good speak" along with his new favorite treat, freeze dried liver. He started to understand and after a few minutes was speaking on command. We then gave Bailey a bath and headed over to the Rose Bowl for an afternoon walk. He let five different strangers, including three men pet him without being shy. This was an excellent week.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bailey's third week

So last Saturday I met up with some friends of mine for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. I of course brought Bailey. It was his first time meeting my two friends and he was a bit nervous at first but didn't growl or bark at all. And soon he was taking pieces of steak from each of them. We were there for over two hours and Bailey did amazing! He laid down on his mat the entire time except for one instance. An employee began sweeping the carpet near to Bailey and since this was a new thing he did stand up and let out a bark. But he quickly settled back down on his mat and had no more to talk about after that. The next day Bailey and I enjoyed a day of just chillin.
On Monday I began teaching Bailey a new task. When somebody hands me something such as a credit card, brochure etc. There is always an awkward moment when this happens, because people don't realize I can't grab something out of their hands. So I want Bailey to reach out and gently take it out of their hand and drop it onto my lap. Bailey is not a mouthy dog, meaning he really doesn't like to carry most things in his mouth. and has no interest in fetch. So I am working on the command "hold" and asking him to hold something in his mouth until I say "drop". Even though it was our first time doing this he seems to get it since these are natural behaviors for him that I'm building off of. After that we played hide and seek and he did great!
On our walk we saw a man hanging out in someones yard. It was hard to tell if he lived there and was inspecting the bushes or if he was a random guy. He looked a bit frazzled and was in pajama looking clothes so it was a little hard to tell. He did say hi to us but since I was unsure about him Bailey and I didn't stay too long. Bailey did growl at the man, but I just walked him away. We did see another dog being walked on the other side of the street. He saw Bailey and really wanted to say hi. But Bailey was great and just ignored him. We then took him to the grocery store and he did awesome.
On Tuesday we worked on "hold and drop" again with Bailey's kong toy. He did well. At one point he dropped the kong on the ground and it bounced off the concrete and landed perfectly in my lap.That was pretty funny. During our game of hide and seek he came bounding through the house to find me and did a comical slip and slide across the wood floors. When we were getting ready to go out Bailey heard our neighbors cat Thunder for the first time. When Thunder is in our yard he is very Very talkative and wants desperately to be invited into our house. Bailey started barking and became very excited about this new presence. I certainly need to work on Bailey's new distraction...cats! Because of this Bailey was kind of distracted when I was running my errands, but still did pretty good.
On Wednesday we practiced the light with me just rolling up to the switch and looking at it. He got it immediately and did this several times with different light switches throughout the house. My trainer also came over for a visit this day and Bailey was super excited to see her and started wiggling all over the place. Very cute! She brought him some presents, a new ball and a stuft free beaver toy which he loooooves! Later we went to Starbucks and a man came up to Bailey which made him growl with anxiety. Luckily the man was really cool and talked to us for a minute. Pretty soon Bailey was going up to him comfortably and seeking a pat on the head. Yay progress!
  On Thursday we played "Go get help". At one point my aide hid under our writing desk and Bailey became so confused trying to find her. He ran around in circles (right past her a few times) until he finally looked down instead of up and saw her. It was so cute. During another round I was inside with Bailey while my aide went to hide and Bailey turned on the light in the dining room without me asking him to. Later we played the hold and drop game but this time tried to ad "fetch" into the mix. He's starting to get the idea that when someone throws something he should bring it back and not just run away with it (chase is his favorite game). My physical therapist came over and this is the first time she's hung out with him since he's been home. Because she took my advice and immediately ignored him after walking in he didn't do his usual growl/bark routine and after a while came in and sniffed her. At one point my PT and my aide were in conversation and Bailey was being completely ignored so he walked over to the wall and turned on the light switch to get our attention. Too funny!
  Today was Bailey's first play date with his old buddies back at my trainer's house. We drove over to her house and at first Bailey didn't seem to care about where we were at. But then we went out back and he saw all of his friends, including his brother and became super excited. He played and played and played. After that we came back home and Bailey crashed out. We took him to Starbucks and he did great.
Bailey is finally comfortable here and I notice he's sleeping a lot more. I also feel much better. For the first two weeks I felt like I had to know where he was 24/7. That meant little to no relaxing time for me. This week while I have been working on the computer I have been able to just let him do his own thing. I have felt much more relaxed and I think he has noticed that.Here's a video of Bailey's first play date.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bailey's second week at home

So last Saturday I got woken up at 7:30am by my dog. Apparently Bailey needed to go to the bathroom and decided the best way to get my attention would be to turn on the lights. I cracked up! On Sunday we went to the supermarket and he did well. Okay so I now realize I need to start making notes everyday because I'm totally blanking on what we did Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I took Bailey to his new Vet for a basic check up. I loved her! She gave Bailey a clean bill of health (minus a small ear infection). Later that day my friend Lauren brought over her dog Lucy for a play date. OMG did they have fun! They were zooming around the yard and both of them were very tired at the end of their play date. Here's a video from that afternoon.

On Thursday I worked with Bailey on using the doggy door. He was a bit hesitant but got it pretty quickly. But I'm still not confident that he will use it on his own when he needs to "get busy". This will come. That afternoon we paid a visit to the local fire station. I wanted to expose Bailey to more encounters with men and my trainer recommended a fire station. I brought along some juicy steak (which I've never given to him before) and every time he relaxed around the fire men he got a piece. Eventually one of the fireman was able to hand him a piece of steak without him getting nervous.
   Today we played "go get help" and even though it's been a while he did great and remembered how to play the game better than my aide. Then it was bath time. Bailey was a super star and even though he didn't like getting a bath he stood quietly during the whole procedure. Today at Starbucks it was teenager city! He did great considering the whole place was packed with giggly, chatty teenagers who kept bumping in to him. He even let one girl pet him and showed no signs of nervousness. He is much more comfortable here than last week.

Friday, January 7, 2011

First week home

Happy New Year everyone! So I picked up Bailey on Monday and he was clean and poofy. My trainer was definitely a bit sad to see him go. When we got home I brought Bailey into my bedroom and showed him his new bed and toys. I knew that he would be a little nervous his first day/night with me. So I didn't want to work on any tasks I just wanted to let him get use to his new home in his own way. That night he was pretty restless and paced my room, not knowing exactly what he was supposed to do. So that night I pretty much got no sleep.
  Tuesday was also a chill day and Bailey seemed to be a bit more comfortable. I took Bailey on his first walk in his new neighborhood and he really seemed to enjoy it. We also went to Starbucks and Bailey was "on duty". He did great! Later  that day I received Bailey's new crate. This crate is a bit different than your normal metal box. Because I knew I would not need a big crate set up in my room 24/7  I decided to buy a collapsible one. The one I got is very similar to a camping tent and is tall enough for him to stand in. So I thought "Great I'll be able to get some sleep tonight". Oh how wrong I was. That night I put Bailey in his new crate and he began pacing within it. So instead of hearing clicking toenails on my wood floor I heard swishing and crinkling noises as Baileys paws moved over the nylon tent material. So I just let him back out. He actually did really good and settled into his bed for the rest of the night.
  On Wednesday we had a big day! One of my friends from the online SD community was visiting L.A. and we went to meet up with her. I took Bailey to his first metro station to meet up with my friend and her SD Max. Bailey did awesome and ignored a little dog he saw and the loud trains flying by. When he saw Max he barked and was a little apprehensive. But after a few minutes he warmed up and wanted to play. Max definitely wanted to play too.
  So we took the boys to a large picnic area in Griffith Park. My plan was to put Bailey on a twenty foot leash and let him play with Max. But Bailey had other ideas. We got to the park and took off their SD gear. Boy were they excited. As we were walking out onto the lawn area Bailey and Max were jumping around one another and the snap on Bailey's new collar (first day wearing it by the way) came undone. Bailey took off happily running full speed away from us. I was a bit nervous but luckily the park was almost completely empty so I didn't have to worry about cars, kids and other dogs.
  He zoomed by us with a big smile on his face a couple of times before he finally stopped and sat down. We put his collar back on and walked a little further on the field. Then it happened again and I knew that he had a defective collar. So we put the collar on one more time and I just decided since the boys were having so much fun and we were in such a secluded area that I would let him play off leash. Boy were they happy. It was so awesome to see them playing and chasing each other around the park.I could tell Bailey definitely needed to blow off some energy. Surprisingly Bailey was very cool with my Max's mom. Usually he's a bit shy. But he let her pet him and took treats from her. I think seeing Max interact with her helped Bailey to quickly figure out she was a friend. Bailey definitely slept like a rock that night. Yay!!!
  On Thursday I took Bailey to Petsmart (guess what for) and Old Navy. He did great! Of course being in Petsmart surrounded by other animal lovers Bailey got tons of attention. But he was "on duty" and did really well ignoring all of the people and other dogs. At Old Navy he did fabulous. But was kinda freaked out for a moment when he saw the headless mannequins. Those things kind of freak me out too. I have decided to alter my "no-petting" policy. I think that because I have been so strict about it that he now gets a little nervous when people come up to him. I want to show him that there is nothing to worry about. So right now I am going to let select strangers pet him. I think I have nothing to worry about concerning him soliciting attention so I don't think that will be a problem. He slept very well last night.
   Today we started up with his task training again. I brought him into my bedroom and my aide asked him to "get the light". At first he kept hitting the doorknob and trying to push it up. (the knob is right next to the light switch). It was pretty cute. But soon he realized the knob wasn't moving and he turned on the light many times. We then did hide and seek, and he did pretty good. He's much more comfortable here now. All in all a very good first week.