Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Silky's brother receives his recall date

Stefano has been recalled to begin his formal guide dog training. He'll leave in two weeks and go to the Guide Dogs campus in Oregon.

We're really proud of Stefano and hope he does well in training. He'll be the second puppy from our club in training. Don is in phase 7 right now - GO DON!! Genevieve, whose family moved to our area from San Francisco, is in breeder evaluation.

Stefano's recall brought it home to us that Silky will be recalled soon. There are three other puppies in our club about the same age: Desta is 3 days older than Silky and Stefano, Quebec is 2 weeks younger, Nougat is 4 weeks younger than Quebec.

Here's a link to the Mt. Tam Guides web page for photos of all the pups. Mt. Tam puppies

Silky & Quebec have a night on the town

Quebec's family invited us to an afternoon event in San Francisco during the holidays. We thought it would be a great practice outing for Silky. Silky is on the food protocol for dog distractions and greeting people. Since the event was in downtown San Francisco in the Mark Hopkins Hotel, we knew Silky would encounter all the busy city noises, the busy streets and the busy hotel. And it was a rainy, gray, cold, windy day to boot. Inside, though, the place was dry and warm and packed with people. Perfect practice grounds for Silky's people distractions and overly exhuberant greeting behavior. And since Silky and Quebec were together all the time, there were lots of opportunities to work on Silky's dog distractions.

Silky's checking in with the boss; Quebec's checking in with Silky. The puppies did really well around all the food and legs. I don't think anyone's toes were stepped on -- at least not puppy toes.
 Jim must have just said what a nice event is was. "Nice" is Silky's marker word and must be followed by a piece of kibble. The hardest part about working with the food protocol is to avoid saying "nice" unless we're marking Silky's behavior. No more "Have a nice day", "Nice work", "Nice weather we're having", etc. The red bait bag has become a permanent addition to both Jim's and my wardrobe.

Nice loose leash, Jim. Oops, I said "nice".

There are a couple of puppies in there somewhere. Really.

Silky's calculating the trajectory to this woman's face. Can I get in a good lick?  Actually, Silky kept all four feet on the ground the entire afternoon. (See the red bait bag?)

Silky has responded very well to the food protocol. In the past week, she's started actually checking in with us when she sees a dog coming our way. She looks at the dog, is obsessed for half a second, then looks up at us. As soon as she turns her head to a neutral position and relaxes her ears, she's rewarded with "Nice", followed by a piece of kibble. It helps that she's a lab and that labs will do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g for food.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year's Eve @ SFO

Silky took Jim to the San Francisco airport on New Year's Eve to meet Jeff and Leslie's plane. Jim parked in the huge parking garage, then he and Silky walked through all the cars, across pedestrian bridges, maneuvered through crowds, rode the tram to the terminal and finally settled in next to the baggage carousel.
Silky takes it all in stride. What a girl! She's maturing quickly and is basically unflappable on outings.
Silky's 14-month birthday was December 24th and her 1st anniversary living with us was the day before that. We had a lot to celebrate during Christmas week. Here's a picture from 12/23/09, when I picked her up from the San Rafael campus.

It's fun to look back over this past year and see Silky's progress - both physically and in terms of her behavior. And even though she's becoming such a lady, she still has her puppy-clown moments -- plenty of them.
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