The scourge of table scraps

From the beginning, my family agreed NOT to feed Bambi table scraps. Not only because begging is annoying, but because a service dog cannot be begging in public, or snatching up food from a restaurant floor.

This was a good plan until my father moved in. He loves the dog and the cat, and when he thinks we are not looking, he drops pieces of his lunch on the floor for the dog and cat. The dog and cat even fit over it scraps, a little. Everyone says, just tell him why she cannot have scraps. I did that, and he just got a little more sly about it, and told me that when she whimpers “I do not mind”. Hmmmm, it is not about her annoying you, Dad.

She has not transferred this behavior to the rest of the family yet. Bambi knows she will get nothing from us. But I am afraid when we get to restaurant training, she will not understand that food dropped on the floor is not hers.

We will continue to try, but I think it is hopeless. He will not stop and she will not be trained to ignore h the food dropping.

Teaching “touch” and the beginnings of retrieving a pill bottle

Bambi and I went to Wal-Mart yesterday. This was her second trip there, and being a Saturday, it was busy. She was shaking the whole time. I kept her seated in the top of the cart, so she was close to me. So many people and all so busy. I am afraid I am not a big fan either, but sometimes you have to go. It really makes you the center of attention when you have a service dog, even though that is the last thing you want with a panic disorder. I think I will get used to it, but will she? She is a good girl and she adjusts well.

In the afternoon, I had her touch my two outstretched fingers with her nose, click and treat. She seemed to understand what I wanted very quickly. Around the fifth try, I added the word “touch”. Five more times and she was finished for the day.

I bought two pill holders today. They will be used to teach her to retrieve medication for me when needed. They are both red and made of metal. They are big enough that she can not swallow them, and metal so she can not get into them. I set one on the floor, and she immediately noticed the treat bag first. I had her attention, but she did not know what I wanted her to do. I pointed to the little red thing on the floor and she looked at it….click and treat. She looked at me, and barked, and danced a little, not knowing what I wanted. I moved the pill holder a little and when she looked, click and treat. She was still a little confused. Finally, she looked at it again, click and treat. She started to get the idea, so we did this about ten times, and gave it a rest. It was a good start.

The training begins again

I have been unable (and possibly, unwilling) to train Bambi since March. It is time to get started again. The advantage is that Bambi and I have gotten to know each other better. I can read her expressions and body language better than I could before when she was younger. She can read me better as well. The glitch is, she has become the family pet. She chases the cat, barks at the front door, and shoves toys in everyone’s face when she wants to play.

We started at the park, with a review. She has never lost “sit”, “down”, “stay”. The rest of the commands, she needed a good review. She needs to get the basic commands down again, so that she never fails. Then, we will start on teaching her to retrieve medication, and help (my husband). I took her to Wal-Mart and put her in the basket. This was her first trip, with her service vest on, and she was very nervous. We got a ton of “awwwww”‘s, but also a ton of looks, suggesting disapproval at having a service dog in a grocery store. She probably gets more of those than a larger dog, because many people still believe a Pomeranian is just a pet that I am putting a vest on so she can hang around with me. Pop culture television does not help, since they show service dogs as “emotional companions” and poke fun at it. Although funny for the show, not helpful for the rest of us.

It has taken a lot of strength (thank the Lord) to get back to work. Since March, I have had major surgery to stop the anemia, had my elderly father move in (he has leukemia and a hole in his heart, but still gets around a good bit), continues homeschooling an autistic son (while working with the school to write an extensive IEP so he can return to school, his choice), and run a daughter around that is in a competitive color guard that made it to State (Go Lancers!!). I wrote that all in one sentence to emphasize how incredibly crazy it has been for someone with a panic disorder. Thank God I do not have a job outside the house. Training a dog would have been just icing on a crazy cake. Although, I could have used her help, had she been trained….irony.

Today…back to Wal-Mart to get a fish bowl for my son who won a fish at a school function last night. Bambi needs to get desensitized to the crowds and riding in the cart. She will also get more “touch” practice, as the beginning of retrieving medication bottles.

Blog on an unscheduled break :)

Sorry, I have not been writing. I have been going to many doctor’s appointments trying to find out why I am anemic. After being used as a pin cushion, I am on the way back to good health. Yes, the picture below is truly my arm with an IV stuck in it. I am having iron infused today. This is a 6 hour process. Luckily, I am having it done in a chemo center so the room is quite comfortable, and the techs are fantastic with needles, expect ally in good veins.

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Back to Bambi’s progress. She is still having occational accidents on the floor no matter what I try, but I am still looking for the non-standard suggestions. My trainer comes up with new ones. Each time I see her. She is so patient with Bambi and I. Otherwise, She is learning a relatively long list of commands.

Her trainer, Linda at Your Canine Coach, and I have started making videos for her website and future training DVD. We both are learning as we go, but I am enjoying it. I hope she is too. Maybe I can post some samples soon of the videos.

I plan to be on here more often soon.

Confinement after spay….is driving Bambi crazy!!!!

Bambi was spay on Friday of lat week. The technician went over the instructions for her care with me and it seemed straight forward to me…..until we got home.

They said to keep her confined to 10-14 days. The first two days we kept her in our bedroom, with the cat having no access because they love to wrestle. I stayed with her, and was soon finding it hard to sit around that long. On Monday, I called the vets office and asked if she could go on a short walk around the neighborhood. The receptionist came back to the phone with an emphatic “no” from the vet, at least 7 days for a short walk.

Very soon, Bambi was showing her boredom. No matter how much I played gentle tug-a-war with her, or held her or rubbed her belly, she was going nuts. She started nipping at my face, and growling at me when we weren’t playing. She was jumping at me, which has to be worse for healing stitches than a short walk. After 3 days she was peeing in her kennel at night. She seemed to have forgotten ever command I ever taught her, she would not sit, stay, down, quiet, nothing. She was barking randomly for long periods of time.

We are now at 6 days, and I have to say, we are cheating. Her stitches look great, they look healed although I am sure internally, there is still healing to be done. But today, she is going on a short walk, along with some carrying. This is just to get her mind going in the right direction again.

Has anyone else had this much trouble with the recovery from a surgery?

Taking it too fast!!!

Did I mention I have a panic disorder? This weekend I have hit the wall. All that has been required to volunteer for the Red Cross and it being within the Evans Army Hospital has set off my nerves. I tried to take it slow. I told them at the beginning that I just wanted to volunteer a couple hours a week. The Red Cross understood and was thankful for whatever I could give.

Then came the Army…….I started going through the list of things they required. Orientations, security background checks, immunizations….the list goes on. They are used to working with soldiers. Soldiers who’s schedules can be dictated by security and health services. When they have an appointment, it is during working hours and it is their job to be there on time. They are given time by their supervisor to be there and are expected to be there or they get in trouble.

I come along and they start telling me when I will be there for an appointment, when I will return for a second appointment, and then shove me off to the next office who does it again. I have to be home during these times to homeschool my son. Did I also mention, I am not in the Army? I was in the Navy 20 years ago, but that was a long long time ago. I am then caught between walking away quietly and telling someone off with big ugly words that would ruin their day.

I walked away and went home, half way between crying and screaming the whole way home. In my hot little hand is a stack of post-it notes with appointments written on them (“do you understand military time” asked one woman).

I am still homeschooling my son all day, training Bambi in between and taking care of my family at all times. This was too much. I have spend this first day of the weekend calming down and discussing my dilemma with my husband. We came to the conclusion that it is time to back off. I will get the second Tuberculosis test (who does two?) that has to be done two weeks after the first, and cancel the rest until later.

Bambi is not ready for working as a therapy dog yet and will not be for quite a long time. No need to hurry.

Bambi gets spay today

I dropped of Bambi at the vet this morning to be spay. She is just now 6 months old. There is 6″ of snow that hit the ground last night so I was not sure that we would not have to postpone but they were ready and they’re only 1/4 mile down the road.

I miss her already. :(. They should call in about an hour when she is awake.

Update: Bambi is fine and resting nicely. They told me to keep her from jumping. Hmmmm, working on that in training, but have not been to get that under control, but we will do our best. She also has her new microchip. :)