Emma is a Labradoodle service dog for a young man with Cerebral Palsy. Her job is to assist him with putting his arms back on his arm rests, picking up his room, cleaning up her toys, helping him undress, making/turning down his bed, deep pressure and getting help when he needs it. She will have other in home tasks that will make his daily life more independent.
Over the weekend I realized Max was coming down with an ear infection and needed to run him into the vet today. As any pet owner knows, Mondays at the vet office is the busiest. It has to do with the dog having a medical issue arise over the weekend and the pet owner selecting Monday to run them in to get it taken care of. I had pre-planed on Sunday to run Max in for his ears, so the need to run Emma in for the same reason didn't actually put me out today.
Emma's owner called on her way to my home to drop her off. Her owner was headed to work, so she didn't have a lot of time to talk when dropping her off, but wanted to let me know that Emma had thrown up in her crate while they had been in church and she'd noted her ear was inflamed and smelled bad. I told her I had planned to run Max in because of his ears also, so I would just drag her along.
In the end it was a good thing. As I said, Mondays are terrible at the vet and I spent almost 3 hours in the lobby with her and Max waiting our turn. Since I had Max with me and Dr. Hunter's back is bothering him after almost 30 years of vet practice, I asked that Max see the other vet. This extended out time in the lobby as we waited for a specific vet instead of the next available vet.
The other vet was a male vet whose last name I didn't get. He's young and friendly and very caring for his patients. He was informed Max hates being placed on the table and gladly worked with Max on the floor. He checked both of Max's ears, which is easier said than done, and told me they are intact, but there is water on them. This is altering how Max hears sound and changing how he senses his balance a bit. It explains a lot about Max's recent jumpiness when work. It also explains his fussiness when riding in the van, he's getting a bit car sick in the van and is complaining to me about it.
After checking Max and giving him lots of treats, something he encourages to improve a dog's experience in the vet office, he then fed Emma several treats and worked on her ears. She has a yeast infection in her left ear, her right ear is okay. Since gun dogs have a lot of inner ear hair, especially around the canal, he plucked out the gummed up hair from her infected ear. She moaned in appreciation for getting the gooey stuff out and then he put ear cleaning solution in and cleaned the ear out. He got a lot of gunk out of her ear, poor baby.
Even so, she's in high spirits. She enjoyed training today and played a lot. I can tell she isn't feeling well, but she's not grouchy or sulky about it. She's just tired more and sleeping more. She's not as energetic as normal, but she's still a happy girl who wants to take in life.
In the lobby of the vet she explored the shelf unit a bit after we trained for the last of her morning meal. Once that was over and the excitement of being in the lobby was past, she settled either against Max's ribs or against his haunches and watched the rest of the people and animals in the room. She was so well behaved the people waiting with us were complimenting her and Max constantly. What amazed them the most was while two of the other dogs cried and barked and fussed constantly, she fell over on her side with her butt touching Max's and fell asleep.
Emma is working on Level 2: Step 4 Zen. I tested her today on leaving a treat, uncovered on the floor for 10 and 30 seconds and she did fantastic. I then started working on dropping treats for her to ignore. She is almost through ignoring dropping treats as well. I had figured she was close to this point last week when a treat dropped by me and she looked at it and then to me without trying to take it.
I will review the Come Afters and ensure she's worked them also before advancing her Zen training.
Emma is working on Level 2: Step 4 Target. Today I started her toward Step 5 of Target, which is closing a cabinet door. This will be the first of her task training and an important one for her handler. She'll be able to close doors for him and open them as he needs on cue. Tonight I placed the post it note on the door of the cabinet to teach her to target the door.
Things went a bit askew as I opened the door and a big German Shepherd nose moved in and closed it. I opened it again and again Max closed it. I kept having to tell him to back off. Emma finally got the idea and shut the door a couple of times, but accident, but I spent as much time making Max stay away from the session as I did clicking her.
Max enjoys certain lessons and when he sees I am doing something he knows well will step in and do the task for me. I gave up on the cabinet door and took her back to my recliner and placed a post it note on my end table and low and behold I had a German Shepherd nose stuck to the note!
It looks like Max's Mat training has become a priority now that Emma is in the lessons Max loves the most.
Emma is uncertain about the post it note and what I want from her, so I will remain on her targeting a post it note on different locations until she's targeting without thinking about it. She's not there yet, so we'll continue to work on it this week.
Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Down. Last week I mentioned that Emma had a case of the popups when doing her down. I couldn't, for the life of me, convince her to stay down longer than six seconds. Today she stayed in a down for 10 seconds 3 times and 11 seconds once. She still needs to be able to stay in a 10 second down without laddering up, but she's gained back some of her patience again and I can once again work with her on her duration.
I will continue to work this step until she's comfortable with it and can do it several times without needing me to ladder up to 10 seconds first.
As I mentioned earlier Emma visited the vet today. Though she had a lot of uncomfortable work done, she was happy to be there and enjoyed herself. Her self control and ability to work in stressful environments is amazing for her age. When I went to weigh her I had her target my hand and she stepped on the scale. This was something she refused to do the last time I weighed her at the vet office. Once on the scale I cued her into a sit, which she did promptly. A wonderful advancement in her training.
She now weighs 18.4 pounds.
Emma is maturing nicely. Her self control in some areas has improved and in others has faltered. When she arrived she generally ignored the cat, but now has started to chase her in the house. Since this is the second week she's decided chasing and stalking the cat is a game she can play, I will again tether her to me when I am pre-occupied and can't pay full attention to her. I don't want her to develop a cat chasing habit and want to nip this in the bud now.
I have noted I need to reteach Down from the beginning when facing the door. She does a nice sit, but does not recognize the hand cue or verbal cue at the door. I will begin that work tomorrow.