Monday, July 4, 2011

Kristal & Marmite

Marmite. You love it or hate it, so they tell us. And Kristal loves it.

Now 11 weeks old, she's just starting to challenge my authority... a bit early for the teenage stuff. I call her indoors and she will sit down at the far end of the lawn looking me directly in the eye... what's in it for me? she's thinking. Well, what's in it for her is a slight smear of Marmite on my finger as a training treat. She loves the stuff. She has her own jar so that I don't find myself double dipping. Yuk! Not too much... just enough so that she thinks she's had something.

Small pups can sometimes choke on a solid treat if they run up to you excited and panting. It goes down the wrong way and can be fatal. Never give a  pup a treat when it's excited or panting. And don't allow it to grab at food. Hold onto the training treat until the pup is composed and calm. Ensure that your pup learns good manners. WAIT is a really useful command for many situations.

In addition to Marmite, Kristal has discovered cobwebs. Yes, she loves them. Licks them up like candy-floss. Someone said cobwebs are made from a protein... must be some flavour in it I guess. It's not something I encourage, but hey, it's difficult to find staff these days.

I know I'm a working dog but gimme a break!


Leadwork is coming along well. She's a bit bouncy and wants to run rather than walk, but she's listening to my voice and is starting to STEADY when I use this command and also to WAIT when I pause. When she lunges forward too much I make her stop and calm down before we proceed. Stroking the shoulder is very calming. Eventually she'll learn that if she doesn't walk in a steady manner she's not going to get very far. This is important with a big dog breed because pups don't stay small for long. And once they've put on some muscle you can be in trouble if you haven't already established some discipline by voice. Leadwork takes time and you sometimes have to get out there just as a lesson rather than a walk.... because you know you're not going to get very far. You'll be stopping and starting over and over until the message gets through. Short 10 minute lessons to start with. It's worth putting in this time and effort very early on before going for a walk becomes a test of strength. A dog constantly straining against its collar will not be having much fun, and nor will you.

Keeping Kristal cool hasn't been much of a challenge because, let's face it, the summer has not really arrived yet. But when it is hot it's important to keep pups cool. Forego the trip to town. Hot pavements are very close to a small pup's tummy and so feel even hotter. Kristal discovered she liked to paddle in the washing up bowl. Next stop the River Lea, although in general, Guide Dogs are discouraged from becoming water dogs. It would  be very inconvenient for a blind person if their dog jumped in the pond in the park during lunch break from the office! For the same reason, we have to discourage a dog from becoming obsessive about balls. Balls are a no, no for Guide Dog pups. They're just too tempting.

I heard some Guide Dog pups get to live with people who have a swimming pool!

Kristal had coffee with Kenna, her sister, once again. And they'll probably meet up this weekend too. They're both growing fast. It will be interesting to see whether they remain so physically alike as they mature.

Now, don't ask me which one is which!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

The River - aros 1

The river has been dry for months.
But now the spring has sprung anew
and soon this tantalizing trickle will
become a torrent... gathered here
on my slightly outdated Dell.