Sunday, December 25, 2011

Boy! Does Eli love to run around!! Most of the time it is impossible to catch him. He has not been too bad out in the yard, though. I have been reinforcing "come." It usually works and when it does not immediately work, it eventually does.
Eli has been getting more curious about the horses...and also a bit braver around them.
I can not imagine what it is like for such a tiny little guy to be looking up at something so much bigger than he is.
Eli and Mei-li seem to be getting along better. There have not been any brawls as of late. Oddly enough, Mei-li seems to be more sociable these days. Perhaps Eli had a positive effect on her.
I do not like this feeling that I can not do everything I need to be doing for Eli. He makes me proud so often. In fact, he attended his first basketball game last weekend and was excellent. People were astonished that he was not affected by the buzzer. He visited with a friendly stranger who was sitting next to me in the bleachers. The only "negative" thing was that he wanted the squeak toy that a baby was playing with. I guess Eli needs to learn that he can not have anything that squeaks.
I am just disappointed that we were not able to get to the Agility class this month. I know it would be beneficial to Eli's ongoing training and skills reinforcement. There will be other classes, I know. But feeling like we have been at a stalemate is bothering me. Eli, though, seems unaffected and just as happy as ever. ♥

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Our plans have not worked out and I am being very hard on myself for it.
My cell phone decided not to work correctly, which turned out to be a system error with my carrier, and I did not get the reminder for our first Agility class. I was so upset about that! Eli and I will have to continue waiting. I have just been feeling horrible for Eli ~ feeling like we are in limbo right now with training.
When Eli is working he makes me super proud. He amazes other people, too. I have to say that I can not remember having a dog as smart as Eli is.
When Eli is not officially on the clock, he has gotten into a routine of bad habit. This is where he is not making life a little easier for me. This is when I feel I should have gone the other way and tried for a mobility assistance dog rather than a medical alert dog.
I am sure that Eli is having issues because of the relationship between him and his big sister, Mei-li. Eli habitually urinates on my bed. There is an ocassional urination on a chair in the living room, but almost every day I find that he urinated on the bed. We have one comforter and blanket which are not even the right size for the bed, but they are the closest to being big enough. The comforter is dump material at this point because it's been washed so much and is torn to shreds. I am getting so frustrated with this behavior. I take him out constantly because I am trying to prevent it from happening. Sometimes I feel like he saves it just to do the deed on the bed.
This has made me rethink his ability to work. However, he still exhibits the drive to do his job and I do not want to disappoint him. When I look at him I am beginning to feel like I am failing him somehow. I also can not imagine not having him around, but am I giving him the best life he can have? Eli is obviously feeling stressed about something. I do not want him to be unhappy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What To Do

Eli is on My Dog Training Center's list for the upcoming Introduction to Agility class. Not only do I think Eli would have a lot of fun doing agility and would be great at it, agility is beneficial for reinforcing commands between a service dog and handler, as well. I have really been looking forward to starting this training together.
Eli is a little over nine months of age now. At this point he is beginning to grow into his adult personality. He continues to display very good manners in public and certainly knows he has a job to do. While he does not want to be bothered, he accepts a friendly stranger when I hand him over to the person. It still amazes me how many people just do not know service dog etiquette. People reach for him, talk to him, make noises to try to get his attention...these things make for a stressful outing for both me and Eli.
Eli growing into adulthood has been producing some changes with our family dog, Mei-li. In general, Mei-li does not care for other animals. On ocassion the two get along and play together. Lately, however, there has been more battling between them than friendly play. It breaks my heart to think that Mei-li and Eli seem to be increasingly unable to live peacefully together. Of course, Mei-li was here first. Recently, too, she has been wanting to go everywhere I go. Because of that it seems Eli has been marking me, or at least marking where I spend time. He has taken up marking my side of the bed and even my recliner. There are times when Eli really seems uneasy. He gets nervous and even my husband says Eli seems to be feeling insecure about something. It is very painful to me to think that neither Eli or Mei-li are living the happiest lives they can due to not being able to live in harmony with one another.
I do not know where to go from here. This is an extremely sad situation. I cannot imagine what it would be like for Eli to retire as a service dog and live with someone else. I have a feeling it would devastate him. I know he would be looking for me. Not only that, but all he knows is being with me constantly. If he had to spend time alone it would probably crush the little guy's soul. What do I do about Mei-li, though? As I type with Eli laying on my shoulder, Mei-li is laying on my pillows in the bed. This is something recent she has been doing. It seems as though they are fighting over me. Yet, Mei-li has always been more of a "daddy's girl," so I do not understand it. I hate to think that she is going to be miserable every day of her life now. The fighting between them is just getting worse. If they are jealous of each other I do not know how to fix that.
I suppose there is no easy solution. I just do not know what to do.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Eli, Being Eli.

I have been able to recognize that Eli became comfortable with the other members of my family during my hospital stay. He continues to demonstrate a sense of easiness being with my husband or one of my children rather than with me on occasion. However, Eli still very strongly wants to be doing his job and is always interested in where I am and what I am doing.
I feel I have to revert a little to when I had to hold onto him all the time. Praise and reward him for being with me to reinforce that he is supposed to be with ME. Not that being comfortable with others is a bad thing. It certainly is not. It was one of the components of the Canine Good Citizen Test. We just have to remember the fine line between being a service dog and being a pet and how easy it is to cross that line. Such is the life of a service dog, though. Lifelong skills reinforcement and training.
One question that comes up with Eli being a service dog is why I carry him. First of all, Eli is a 7-pound Chihuahua mix. He accompanies me everywhere I go and it is just safer for him if he is not invisible on the ground by me all the time. Secondly, ADA Regulations state that a service dog should always be within touching distance, or no greater than a foot away from the handler. With my mobility issues and use of a cane, if I had to control Eli or protect him in a situation I would not easily be able to stoop down to pick him up. Aside from that, Eli's job is performed more efficiently the closer he is to me. Above all else, in my arms is where Eli is happiest. I am happy to have him there and equally as happy to be able to ask another family member to babysit for a moment.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Long Time Apart

This is the longest Eli and I have been separated and, honestly, I'm very worried about the effect it may have on his training.
My husband and children brought Eli to the hospital to visit me. He behaved excellently and made me very proud. I wish I could have shown him off to everyone.
I have been told that Eli does spend time at home wondering where I am. Where I am is in the hospital. I have been in the hospital for four days so far. Thankfully Eli does not seem to be overly anxious at home without me. He is handling his supervised separation well, but does keep an eye out for my return. Poor little guy.
It seems he and I will be a little more busy upon my discharge. We will have to work that much harder on reinforcing skills. Eli is very smart, though. I know he will pick everything right back up. It is what Eli WANTS to do. <3
*??)  CRySTaLLyNN                          
?..??..*??) ?..*?)
(?..? (?..` ? God understands our prayers even when we can't find the words to say them.*??)
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Service Dog

I think Eli is pretty proud of his accomplishments. Not only is he a Canine Good Citizen, but he has been registered with Active Dogs and has met the requirements to become a member of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners.
Eli is growing into himself. He is eight months old now and has already accomplished so much in his service dog career. Everywhere we go, people are amazed at how well-mannered he is. Of course, we are constantly questioned because people do not believe such a tiny dog can be a service dog. Thankfully, we received his official service dog badge with all of his qualifications noted. Eli's official vest is still being made, but we are hoping to receive that within a week or so. We even have a small AKC Canine Good Citizen patch to stitch onto his vest so everyone can see his award.
Eli is extremely smart and very aware of what is going on with me. I still sometimes think of how nice it would be to trade-in my "grandma cane" for a service dog that could assist me with mobility. However, I cannot imagine life without Eli at this point. He wants to be with me and is genuinely disturbed and focused on finding me if I am out of his sight. If I go outside for a moment without him, I am sure to find Eli sitting in a window watching me.
The staff at my neurologist's office absolutely adore Eli. They cannot get enough of him there! The MRI technicians got a kick out of how he missed me while he sat with my husband during my test. When I was finished, one of the technicians stated that she "had to see" Eli's reaction when he saw me again. He did not even have to see me. He heard my cane and immediately perked up and began wagging his tail with excitement. In the waiting room before one of my appointments, Eli allowed the caregiver of another patient to hold him and love all over him. He was friendly with her, but definitely did not take his eyes off of me. I was so proud of him.
Eli and I could not make this session of Agility training. I am excited to participate the next time the class is offered, though. While I do have some control over Eli, when we are outside and there are things to distract Eli he does tend to lose focus. Agility training will, hopefully, strengthen that focus. I am looking forward to anything we can do together throughout Eli's lifetime of service dog reinforcement. I know Eli feels the same way. 8)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I was doing some research on some of the next steps in Eli's ongoing training as a service dog. I found a few interesting things.
First of all, there are a lot of Chihuahua service dogs out there! It was fantastic to see all the pictures of handlers with their Chihuahua assistants. Second, I was surprised to find out how beneficial agility training is for service animals. I think Eli would love doing agility work and would probably be pretty good at it. When he and his big sister, Mei-li, run around, Mei-li hardly keeps up with him. And when Eli plays with his Aunt Delmi, my mother's German Shepherd, he keeps right up with her. The benefit of agility training with a service dog is that it strengthens the dog's compliance to command and improves their courage and stability. My concern is that I do not know how I would keep up with Eli in an agility course and, obviously, as a service dog he is supposed to listen to my command, not someone else's. I will have to investigate this avenue further.
I am trying to figure out if and/or who I should register Eli with as a service dog. It is not a legal requirement to have registration and other than the schools trained service dogs are placed from, it is difficult to find an agency that seems reputable. I am definitely ordering some photo tags, though.
I am having an asthma exacerbation. I went to the emergency room at Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, Connecticut yesterday and brought Eli with me. He was behaving perfectly! The nurses loved him, as did the patient next to me. Eli was being pleasant with everyone and was not being a threat in any way whatsoever. He was fine with people touching me. Fine with all the commotion and noises. The hospital security guard came in and requested identification and paperwork for Eli. The guard was pretty gruff about it, but I showed him Eli's badge and also provided the documentation I carry in my bag, even though it is illegal to request documentation. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability. Regardless, I complied because I was not in the mood for an argument at that point, considering I could barely breathe. The security guard disgusted my respiratory therapist when he stated that infection control people may come in to talk to me about a dog being in the hospital. The therapist stated that the patients in the emergency room are more infectious than my little dog. That is very true!
Anyway, after a few minutes the Emergency Room Director came in and asked if I needed to have Eli with me. He stated that patients expressed concern about having a dog in the hospital. First of all, therapy dogs are in the hospital all the time. I explained that Eli just passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test, that he is clean, up to date on all of his vaccinations, and had been behaving perfectly. The Director continued to insist that Eli be brought out to the car. This was disturbing. What if I had been brought by ambulance or my husband had not been with me? What would he have requested I do with Eli then? Eli is trained not to leave me and does not like to be without me, especially knowing that I am in need of medical attention. The patient's daughter next to me spoke up and said that her father was happy to have Eli around and had no problem with him accompanying me. The respiratory therapist could not believe the Director had my husband leave with my service dog. Yes, my husband finally conceited and left me alone in the emergency room and took my dog home. I guarantee that I will be filling out the questionnaire the hospital sends out following treatment.
Upon the advice of the respiratory therapist, the emergency room doctor consulted with my primary care physician and decided to admit me for further care. I discharged myself against medical advice.
There is a NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services) dog walk in Putnam, Connecticut this Saturday, September 24th. This walk benefits Canines for Combat Veterans. Lisa, from My Dog Training Center, LLC, will be conducting AKC Canine Good Citizen tests and may do demonstrations with her Cocker, Kach. (Eli loves playing with Kach!) The event will also feature the "Big Dog Show." They are expecting to have a number of pet education, animal rescue and other related groups in attendance for the event. The promoted idea of the event is the role service dogs have in a disabled person's life and how having a canine companion instills a sence of confidence and independence in the handler. Also, that a service dog is a cost effective alternative to physical and psychological therapies. I think Eli would be a wonderful addition to the event. I would love for him to show off his "here." Most likely he will have stage fright, as I have learned from class. But it would be awesome to show how Eli uses my cane as a focal point for staying by my side. I know Lisa would be very proud of him if he would demonstrate that skill, as would I. 8)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Doing His Job

Around four o'clock in the morning Sunday I proceeded to become very ill. Eli was in the bathroom with me when I became sweaty and light-headed. Before passing out, I unlocked and opened the bathroom door.
I am unsure as to how long I was out, but upon awakening I could hear Eli running back and forth from the master bedroom to the living room, where my son was sleeping on the couch.
When I was finally able to get up and leave the bathroom, I found Eli sitting on my son, trying to wake him up.
I am so proud of him! Even though his attempt at getting help was unsuccessful, he definitely tried. I had a discussion with my husband and my son about responding to Eli, especially when he is not with me. The problem Eli had with getting my husband's attention was that he is unable to get onto our bed by himself. We will have to get Eli a set of doggy stairs.
·. ¸ .·´ *•*CrystalLynn*•*•*
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eli is a Canine Good Citizen!

My little punkin' seed passed his CGC test! I am ultra proud of him.
I was very nervous. My anxiety increased when we had to regroup so I could get Eli to execute his stay. When we returned to the test room, Eli did it and I was ecstatic! One thing I did have to change is that I had to leave my cane behind as I walked away from him. Eli and I have been working so much on "here," which uses my cane as a touch point for him. When I left my cane behind to walk across the room, Eli stayed put. We are definitely going to have to strengthen his stay so that I can walk away with my cane. He knows what to do, though, and that is fantastic for a seven month old.
To my surprise, Eli really liked the "friendly stranger," Natasha. (I think her name is Natasha. My heart was in my throat, so I may not be remembering her name correctly.) He was great with her. He also did very well on his reaction to Lisa's German Shepherd, Rose.
I honestly prepared myself for not-so-good results today. He was a bit anxious when we arrived. He has not been there in a few weeks and he walked around with his tail tucked tightly between his legs for a little while. With all the pressure and everything we have gone through with our move, I did not expect Eli to execute the test points as well as he did. Believe me, there were glitches! That said, through it all Eli is a good boy. I guess I am doing a pretty good job helping him along, too. 8)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Canine Good Citizen Test Time

Our family has relocated and is getting settled into our new home. Making our move more stressful was the fact that the storm we had knocked out power for six days. Our new home is supplied water by a well, which made for an extra yucky situation. We survived.
Eli will be taking the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test at My Dog Training Center tomorrow afternoon. I can not say that I am completely confident.
We had an incident at a department store last week. I was walking through the store, carrying Eli, when an older woman reached over and grabbed for him. I jumped. Eli snapped at her. I got very upset at the woman and loudly said that Eli is a service dog and people can not be reaching for service animals. Eli had a hard time getting over the situation, probably because my heart was racing and I continued pretty upset, and he kept growling until I decided to end our shopping trip. Since that happened, Eli has not been open to greeting strangers. Not that I blame him! I, too, have been nervous bringing him into public places since that happened. We have been out and things have been touchy. It is getting better, though. We were able to go to a department store supercenter yesterday and Eli behaved perfectly. I was impressed and proud of him, especially since the door person questioned how a Chihuahua could be a service animal and wanted to examine his service dog in training badge closely.
Moving does not only stress out the human members of the family. It also affects the furbabies. This adds to my anxiety over the CGC Test tomorrow. I have been telling myself that it is not hopeless if Eli does not meet the qualifications for passing the test right now. I confirmed with the trainer, Lisa, that Eli would be able to retake the test. I am just going to feel terrible if Eli does not pass. I already feel as though I have not been able to train with him and practice as much as we should because of moving and health issues. When we do work together, Eli does an amazing job. However, he usually is great at home. It's when we are at the training center that there are issues.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

My beautiful maternal grandmother's name was Irene Viola (Wonoski) Seraphin. She lost her battle with Lymphoma and, ultimately, Leukemia thirteen years ago.
I remember hunkering down with my mother and brother for Hurricane Gloria in 1985 in our apartment on Vandale Street. The same apartment we lived in when we got the news of my grandmother's cancer diagnosis.
Twenty-six years later, here is Hurricane Irene. I can not help but think about all the things my grandmother did not get to know about me. She was alive until my daughter was about two years old so she did get to be a great-grandmother in her lifetime. Grandma Seraphin did not get to meet my son, nor would she know that my husband, the father of my two children, and I married in 2001 and recently celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.
Amos was my grandmother's black and tan chihuahua. She loved Amos and she would adore my little Eli, though she would not like the reason I have him.
Due to the hurricane, Eli's Canine Good Citizen test was postponed. I am a little worried about the test since Eli did not get a whole lot of practice for a few of the elements, especially with all that I have been worried about and busy with lately. Of course, Eli has no idea that we are going through a hurricane. He does sense that I have been concerned and stressed about many things. One of them being Eli's test. He always amazes me, though. I just need to have confidence.
My grandmother fought her battle with cancer for many, many years, even though she was given only months at the time of her diagnosis. Like the strong-willed Polish woman my grandmother was, Hurricane Irene makes me think about what my grandmother might say to me if she were alive today.
Weather the storm. Ride it out. Don't worry about the aftermath until it's over because you did what you could to prepare and now it's out of your control. That's the way it is.
·. ¸ .·´ *•*CrystalLynn*•*•*
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Six Months Old

Eli is growing up so fast. It is hard to believe the little guy is already six months old.
The ability that Eli has is incredible. He certainly turned a skeptic into a believer! Yes, Chihuahuas can be fantastic service dogs, as long as the dog has the drive to work. Eli absolutely wants to work for me.
We have bonded so well during these first six months of Eli's life. He is very in-tuned to me and vice-versa. Eli is most comfortable when we are together, though he accepts an ocassional separation. Not that he likes being apart. He accepts it.
We are already nearing the end of Canine Good Citizen class. Training Eli with this element really is a joy. I admit that pets we have had in the past came into our family and did not receive any kind of specialized training. The reason I have focused so much on Eli's training is because he did not enter our family as a pet. I wish I had known how beneficial this form of training is for pets, as well. It really does enhance your bond and affords your pet the opportunity to be well-mannered. Training provides your pet with a higher quality life and intellectual stimulation. It is all part of being a responsible pet owner.
Having a service companion is hard work, but when it makes having a disability a little easier, it is well worth the time and effort. Eli is an amazing companion for me. Though I did not believe it could possibly be true, a Chihuahua really is the perfect match for me. I am hoping Eli will develop a little more confidence as he gets older and I can not wait for his rebellious teen period to be over. However, I would not trade him. I may joke about it, but Eli is here for me and is here to stay.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Eli's doing wonderfully since his surgery last week. He healed up nicely and did not need to wear that Elizabethan collar after the first day.
We have been busy. Our family is preparing for our move at the end of the month, preparing to have our horse at our house, and Eli and I are practicing our skills as much as possible. Eli has been in so many different environments and meeting a lot of friendly strangers.
He accompanied me to the urgent care department over the weekend. He was such a good, well-mannered boy at the hospital. Eli also went to the dentist's office with me. The first time, I left Eli in the waiting room in my husband's care. Eli spent the time during my cleaning worrying about where I went, but he patiently waited for me to come back. The second time, Eli came with me into the room while my son got sealants. Eli seemed unphased by the noises and equipment. I was very proud of him. Then, Eli went to the ophthalmologist's office. Again, he looked at the machines, but didn't seem scared of anything. The only noise Eli made the whole visit was a tiny growl when the doctor let him sniff his hand. I was sitting down.
I handed Eli off at the pharmacy this morning. He went to the lady and was fine, but did not care for the second lady who came over to see him. He growled at her. When I took him back, the first lady reached for Eli again to pet him and he opened his mouth. I explained that we are working on exposure to friendly strangers. However, it's probably my fault for allowing the interaction at that time. I knew that I was starting to feel unwell and I am sure Eli was in an extra-protective mode at that time. When I fail him like that, I really tend to beat myself up over it.
At Tractor Supply, Eli was very friendly with one of the men who works there. That surprised me. Eli was also very friendly with a man stocking shelves at Stop & Shop. I can plainly see that Eli does not want to be friendly when something's going on with me, or when something is going on with him. I carry him when we are out in public, and this helps reinforce that Eli may only relieve himself when I let him know it's okay to do so. His cue to me that he has to do his business is "talking" to me. It is not a growl or a bark, but a "smile" with noise. I do not know how to explain it. I am trying to see if I can get him to say "mama" when he does it because he sounds like he's saying "mama" sometimes already. Anyway, if we are somewhere he can not do his business, he gets pretty grumpy. I can not blame him for that. Everyone gets grumpy when they have to go, but have to hold it. Those are the times, too, that I have to refrain from allowing interaction with friendly strangers because Eli just is not in a social mood.
We have Canine Good Citizen class tonight. I am not feeling too well today, but hopefully Eli can focus on the task at hand and get through the class. After tonight there's only one more class and then the test. I hope Eli and I can focus on our training enough so that he indeed becomes a canine good citizen.
·. ¸ .·´ *•*CrystalLynn*•*•*
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011


On the advice of our trainer, Lisa, at My Dog Training Center, Eli and I are working with my cane as an aid to loose leash walking and heeling.
So far, it is working out decently.
The idea is to entice Eli to touch a target on my cane while we are walking together. I put a hair band on my cane. I stuck a yummy treat inside the hair band and gave Eli the command to "leave it." Eli gets into heel position on my right side, which is different from what we had been doing as I previously had Eli on my left. Lisa feels that Eli being on my right and being able to walk on a loose leash will make it easier for me by not having both hands holding something while walking. It definitely makes sense! To be honest, I did not think it would be possible to have Eli walk to my right. I do not know everything, obviously, and am very grateful to have Lisa.
Anyway, once Eli is at my side and ready to go I move forward and give Eli the command to "come." In intervals, I ask Eli to touch his nose to the treat attached to my cane by telling him, "here." When we have finished our short walk, Eli gets back into heel position and is rewarded with the treat.
Due to his surgery yesterday and the illness I came down with, we have not been able to do a lot of practicing this week. It drives me nuts, in a way, because this Friday is the third week of Canine Good Citizen class and the test is just three weeks away. Eli and I are going to be cramming in the coming weeks, but we are also going to be moving to our new home at the end of the month. This is going to be a real challenge for us. However, where there is a will, there is a way.
Eli's "stay" is beautiful. So is his recall.
Saturday and Tuesday, although they were big moments of separation, were good in the sense that Eli had the opportunity to prove himself while he and I were apart. Saturday was horrible for him because he knew that I had something wrong and his instinct was to want to be with me. He was nervous and looked for me, which is great as far as being a service dog. He did not freak out and bark or pace consistently, which is great as far as the CGC evaluation. While I do not know what Eli's behavior was after I left the veterinarian's office Tuesday, I do know that he transitioned from me to the tech quietly and accepted the idea of staying there with her. He definitely was happy to see me when I arrived to pick him up, though.
Throughout Eli's recovery from his surgery I will be taking it easy on him. I have to for my own sake, as well. We will be practicing a little bit here and there and continuing to reinforce and refine our skills as handler and companion. I can not let Eli fail!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tiny Elizabethan

Eli is now sterile. Going through surgery earned him an Elizabethan collar for seven to ten days. Poor tiny dog.
His weight this morning was 5 pounds, 9 ounces. Handing Eli over to the veterinarian assistant went amazingly well. He let her take him without an issue. He was a very well-behaved little pup.
Eli's incision looks good. There are no stitches, so we do not have to worry about a follow-up appointment to remove stitches. He was very groggy for about two hours after I picked him up. He seems pretty hungry, but I'm feeding him by hand, one kibble at a time, to make sure he does not eat too much and end up vomiting.
It is going to be difficult keeping the E-collar on Eli for a week. Practice is not going to go very well, either. We will do what we can, though. Who knows? He might surprise me.
`*.¸.*´ CrystalLynn ~~~
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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rough...or is it "Ruff?"

There is a glitch in our training. It's called Pleurisy and I have it. Pleurisy is a painful infection in the membrane that surrounds the lungs.
The chest pain I had for over a week climaxed Saturday morning. I felt I needed to be seen in the emergency room, but I was concerned about Eli. Unsure if he would be allowed to accompany me, the choice was made to have Eli stay home with the children.
As soon as I checked in and was brought into a room my husband inquired about the hospital's service animal policy. Security informed him that Eli would be allowed and I hoped my husband would go home to pick Eli up. He did not. Instead, we continually sent text messages to our children asking how Eli was handling himself.
After seven-and-a-half hours in the emergency room, I returned home to a very-happy-to-see-me little pup.
The children told me Eli sat at the bottom of our stairs looking up to the second floor, watching for me. I absolutely hate that our first time apart lasted such a long time. I really should have taken Eli to the emergency room with me.
The pain is exacerbating other MS symptoms. Eli seems content to just lay beside me right now, but we have work to do. I have been trying to practice Eli's stay, but I honestly have no stamina. There is no way I can work on our walking. Hopefully this pain subsides soon because the trainer, Lisa, gave me a great idea for using my cane as Eli's target when we walk and I am pretty excited to try it.
Eli had fun at Canine Good Citizen class on Friday. He got to play with Kach, Lisa's two-year-old Cocker. Eli will be so happy if Kach gets to play with him again this week. The plan, though, is that Lisa is going to try to have someone attend class and help us by being a 'friendly stranger' to practice some of the CGC test elements.
Poor little Eli is going to have a stressful week. He has his neutering on Tuesday. As if leaving him Saturday was not bad enough, Tuesday I will be leaving him in a strange place with strangers who will be doing strange things to him. Eli is going to deserve a BIG reward next weekend!
`*.¸.*´ CrystalLynn ~~~
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wow, Eli!

I know I write this all the time, but Eli is such a good little dog.
I am beginning to get anxious about Eli's upcoming surgery. I have been practicing leaving Eli for a minute or two with my husband or one of the kids and Eli watches for me to come back, but he is okay. I gave no thought to leaving Eli with strangers who will be prepping him for surgery in a "strange" place AND with me out of sight. Poor puppers is going to have a heart attack. I am so nervous about it.
Eli experienced an apartment inspection this afternoon. The inspection included testing the smoke alarms. I thought for sure that Eli would bark like a madman when the alarms went off, but he proved me wrong and made me proud.
We have been practicing separation as far as Eli holding a sit while I walk away. This is an element in the Canine Good Citizen test. I have been training Eli to stay by me, so this is a tough one for us. However, I am showing him that I come right back so he is becoming a little more comfortable with it.
We have one more Canine Good Citizen class before Eli's surgery. I am a bit afraid that going through the surgery may set Eli back a little, but I hope it does not. I have a feeling that the August 5th class might be unproductive. Eli does have a way of making me feel guilty about doubting him, though.
`*.¸.*´ CrystalLynn ~~~

Monday, July 25, 2011


Eli has been a very busy tiny dog...and has been handling his full calendar extremely well.
Canine Good Citizen Class began Friday. Sadly, or perhaps fortunate for us, Eli and I were the only ones there. The trainer, Lisa, reviewed the test with me. We discussed some of the things Eli will not have a problem with and focused on the questionable areas. We did a little practicing, too. Eli and I have some tasks to strengthen, but I have confidence in his abilities.
Eli went on his first hayride and attended his first baseball game this weekend. He was around many, many strangers and handled himself beautifully. He did a little bit of barking at the Connecticut Tigers' mascot. I expected that he would not know what to make of a big tiger walking around. Of course, Eli was doing his job of protecting me from the weird thing that was walking around the ballpark. It was great, though, that I was able to assure him that the big tiger was not a threat and he accepted the mascot's presence. I was very proud of the way Eli was able to handle the crowd and all the noises that were going on at the ballgame. He was very popular and got to be friendly with a lot of people. One lady commented on how cute he is...well, a lot of people were commenting on how cute Eli is...but this lady said she has a mixed Chihuahua and could tell the difference between her mixed breed and Eli because of Eli's face. I could not bring myself to tell her that Eli is not a purebred.
I brought Eli to a local pond one very hot evening so he could swim. He gets very excited about children and loves when children pet him. I think Eli liked taking a dip in the pond with all the kids. He was pretty well behaved on the beach, but for one lady who walked behind us with a Black Lab. It was one of those situations where I was sitting on the stone wall, becoming overheated, and Eli felt he had to keep others at bay. Once again, I was able to get him to calm down and accept that we were sharing the beach with all the other people and dogs and everything was okay. It was not like he wanted to tear the other dog apart, either. Eli was just letting the other dog know that he was not welcome to visit us. I think if I had gotten up from the wall and socialized Eli would have been more accepting. However, I really was feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and very overheated. This is where my disability sometimes gets in the way of strenuous training with Eli.
Eli is super accepting of new experiences and situations. I am trying to make sure that Eli gets exposed to as many things as possible while he is still very young. He is an amazing little guy and is proof positive that Chihuahuas really are smart little dogs. Beginning to train him as soon as he came home at eight weeks old was such a benefit for both of us. I would love to help someone else adopt a Tiny but Mighty companion to be their service dog because I am so impressed by Eli's dedication and abilities. There was a time when I could not believe a Chihuahua could possibly be a service dog, nor was I thrilled about the idea of my service dog being a Chihuahua. Now, I can not imagine it any other way and I love to talk to people about how incredible Eli is.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

5 Months Old

Eli went to a busy restaurant with me for the first time without being in his carrier. I was hesitant to leave the carrier behind, but I wanted Eli to feel the confidence I had in him. He amazed me! He laid down on the bench next to me, on top of my bag. He looked up when the waitress came over to take our drink order, which startled her. I imagine it would when you don't expect a tiny dog to be over in the corner. The waitress must have said something to the manager because he came over and politely told us that "pets" are not allowed in the restaurant. I picked him up so the manager could see his vest and also displayed Eli's badge and all was fine. Eli laid back down as if I never disturbed him. Even when a bunch of waitresses were going to the table next to ours with a birthday dessert, clapping and chanting the restaurant's birthday message, Eli did not make a sound. I was expecting him to bark a little. That is my fault for a momentary lapse of faith in him because he was perfectly behaved. I was able to have a delicious steak dinner without any disturbance whatsoever from Eli.
Yesterday afternoon was Eli's first time at the disc golf course. He got to run around with Mei-li, who gets to be off-leash at the course. I did allow Eli to be loose, just dragging his leash behind him a few times. I was pretty concerned that a hawk might swoop down and drag Eli off, though. That would have been devastating and I would never forgive myself. Eli never went too far away and repeatedly looked at me to make sure I was still there. Funny enough, a couple of times I became pretty overheated and tired and that is when Eli would stop completely and want me to pick him up. After I rested and cooled down a bit, Eli was free to romp freely through the grass again. He loved it.
Now that Eli's five months old, it is time to really get down to brass tacks. He will be getting neutered at the beginning of August and should be nicely healed by the time he is six months old on August 14th.
At six months old, and after being house-broken, well socialized and demonstrating a solid obedience skill set, the intense, specific service dog training begins. Eli's first professionally-based training will be the AKC Canine Good Citizen Course.
A service animal should be accepting of and friendly to strangers. The CGC Test, which follows the Course, shows that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation, ignoring the dog. I think that is the important part to highlight ~ IGNORING THE DOG. Eli has been doing very, very well with friendly strangers when I have given him the cue that I want him to. It is only when someone reaches for him that he will let that person know he is not receptive. This is important to public awareness of service dogs. They are NOT pets. They are working and have been trained to do a specific job. That job includes obeying the commands of their handler. Service dogs are not out in public for everyone to love.
Another portion has the dog demonstrate a welcome to being groomed and examined. Eli really surprised me when he went calmly with the groomer the other day and did not so much as flinch while she trimmed his claws. I do not think Eli will have any problem with this at all. Eli will also be looked at for how well I take care of him. He has to be clean and groomed and must appear healthy.
Some other areas of the CGC Test is the ability to walk together with a loose leash, and to be able to walk through a crowd without jumping on people or pulling the leash. I generally carry Eli because he is so small. I really do not think he would jump on other people and when I do walk with him he does pretty well on a loose leash. However, that is why we go through the Course before taking the Test.
Sitting and staying in place is something Eli does well with. Reacting to other dogs is another area that he seems to be fine with. In fact, Eli was approached by two dogs on the disc golf course. One was a Boston Terrier, the other a Labrador. In both cases, Eli reacted pretty well. He was polite, unlike Mei-li, and just waited to see if the other dogs were there to play with him. Of course, the Test looks for the dog to not want to go toward another dog. That will be an area to work on, though Eli has been recognizing that wearing his vest means that it is not playtime.
Passing the Canine Good Citizen Test will be a huge leap forward in Eli's service dog training. He certainly proves he is loyal to me, which is one of the first criteria in being a service dog. Typically, service dogs perform such tasks as pushing a lifealert button, retrieving a phone or pressing an assigned 911 button, retrieving dropped items (which Eli already does ~ my inhaler, my cell phone, pens, etc.), fetching items, retrieve the cable remote or other household items, pulling a wheelchair (which I can not imagine Eli being able to do ~ haha!), offering stability while standing or walking, grabbing clothing (another thing Eli already does), helping remove shoes, or even running for help.
The real fun is about to begin!
`*.¸.*´ CrystalLynn ~~~

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Buzz

Not only is Eli keeping me busy, the hot weather is wiping me out. Eli is really showing that he knows when I am starting to have symptoms, which is very good. Now he just needs to be praised for his behavior during the symptom and the more things occur, the earlier Eli will be able to 'warn' me.
He is on my medication schedule. When it is time for me to take my medications, Eli does not leave me alone until I take them.
Eli is learning to bring me my cell phone. We still play "bring it" with his toys and he knows what that means. He showed me that he has the ability to carry my cell phone, we just have not been able to put the whole concept together yet.
This afternoon was Eli's first time at the groomer. He was not there to be groomed. We were dropping Mei-li off. However, Julie at Wags to Whiskers offered to trim Eli's claws for me after I announced my hesitancy to tackle the task. Eli was great for her! She held him in one arm while trimming his claws with the other and commented that he did not flinch or even make a peep. She could see that Eli's a pro at being handled. Yay! 8)
I am definitely seeing that Eli's demeanor is terrific when I hand him over, providing him the cue that I want him to be friendly with someone else, and he certainly has been being a social butterfly. Eli has been making friends with new dogs and new people. Our horse moved to a different barn so Eli has been meeting new people there, as well as new horses and all sorts of other animals. He met a few chickens, a big domestic turkey who was equally interested in Eli, the turkey's wife, and a very big and very dirty pig.
On a side note; I taught Eli the sign for "sit" and he now sits when I sign. I think I will implement more sign language into Eli's command library. One thing that happens to me with multiple sclerosis is I lose my voice. It has happened more often in the past two years than it ever had. I have a feeling that teaching Eli sign language will end up being beneficial one day.
`*.¸.*´ CrystalLynn ~~~

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Following my meltdown as a result of the negative behavior Eli began exhibiting, I was provided with information which really helped ease my mind.
I like one point: "There is no such thing as the 'MAGIC' dog. You have to train the dog."
Another piece of reassurance I received from the trainer, Lisa, at My Dog Training Center, is that no one should be reaching for a service dog. Eli has a job to do and for him to do his job he needs to acknowledge that there will be people around me, but he needs to expect that others will not be grabbing at him. She emphasized what I stated previously: If I give him the okay to welcome a friendly stranger, Eli should recognize that I am telling him something I want him to do. Also, Eli does pick up on my body's cues and will react accordingly. If I have stress due to a symptom or situation, Eli is doing his job by protecting me.
Eli is three-quarters Chihuahua. Chihuahuas have a natural tendency to bond to one person and be protective of that person. Therefore, Eli is the perfect little guy to do the job I need him to do.
He is my 4-pound, 15-ounce wonder and I refuse to give up on him. I do have concerns about the aggression when he receives his "jackpot" Dream Bone treat. I feel, though, that it's not so much Eli who needs correction, but Mei-li, our Lhasa Apso. She steals Eli's treats from him. Additionally, I am able to pet him while he is enjoying his treat UNTIL Mei-li gets too close. At that point, Eli becomes nervous and guarded.
The next step for Eli and me is the Canine Good Citizen course, beginning July 22nd at My Dog Training Center. Lisa will be able to observe Eli's behavior and will be able to coach us through any issues. I am really looking forward to it! 8)
No more vaccinations for Eli for a while, but he is scheduled for surgery on August 2nd to be neutered. (((Sorry, little buddy. ♥)))

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Well, it seems as though Eli's developing some negative habits that I am having a hard time correcting.
A service dog can not be nippy. I believed Eli was exhibiting positive behavior by keeping people from reaching for him while I am holding him. Especially when I was not feeling well. However, he nipped at a lady the other day who was very familiar with service dogs. She told me he will not qualify as a service dog with that behavior. I thought to myself, "If you're so familiar with service dogs, why are you trying to pet him!"
Eli also demonstrated some food aggression yesterday. It made me very sad. I know it's because our Lhasa Apso always steals things from him, but when I pet him while he was chewing on a bone, he was growling at me. 8( He never did that before. My husband also tried petting him and Eli got even more aggressive toward him.
Eli and I have really bonded. It breaks my heart to come to begin thinking this won't work out. I do not think I would pursue another service dog. I am hopeful that there will be a way to readjust this negative behavior.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Write It Down!

The twenty-fourth day of June, two thousand eleven. I was finally able to use a "doggy bag" as this marks the day that Eli pooped outside for the very first time. So far it was the only time, but it is forward progress and I am a proud pooch- momma.

Eli spent some time playing with Aunt Delmi this morning. He submits to her and it is very cute to watch them play together.
When another person attempts to give Eli a command he looks to me for direction. It is such a positive behavior and makes me quite happy that he is showing that he wants to get information from me.
Because Eli has been demonstrating good behavior he has not been in his carrier when we are out in public. He has had no issues as my co-patron. Eli is very accustomed to car rides and seems open to new experiences. He was very good during the trip to drop my son off at camp and behaved brilliantly while walking with me there, even with all the strangers around. Eli also accompanied me to the Social Security office this week, followed by a quick stop at Taco Bell. In both places, Eli made me very proud.
Tomorrow, Eli will be making the lengthy trip with me and my husband to pick our son up from camp, then will be meeting more new people when we view a home our family is looking to rent. Hopefully Eli makes a good impression when we meet our potential new landlords.
Eli gets to attend his second horse show on Sunday. I will not be upset with him if he gets crabby, as horse shows tend to be very long days with a lot of commotion. The first show he went to was smaller and did not last as long as this weekend's show will. He is comfortable around the horses, though. And, I found out that Eli loves hoof trimmings.
As far as tricks, we have been reinforcing what Eli already knows while adding different elements. We are still working on "roll over." I know he can do it! I have to nudge him to begin leaning, but he rolls himself over even when obstacles interfere with the smooth execution of the trick. So, he is rolling himself over and not just being pushed over. With practice he will get the entire trick done on his own. Just like finally pooping outside!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


At four months, one week, and one day old, Eli weighs 4 lb., 12 oz., using my food scale. He returns to the veterinarian on the 30th of this month for his Lyme booster, then he should be done with the vet until he goes to be neutered in August.
With the hotter weather and my heat intolerance, I do not have the physical ability to work with Eli as aggressively. I certainly haven't stopped. I simply shorten our formal training and practice sessions.
Eli's name recall is solid no matter where he is or what he is involved with.
"Bring it" is executed beautifully. I feel as though it may be time to begin adding non-toy objects for Eli to bring to me. He can definitely carry things. He has impressed me with some of the things he has picked up and carried. Obviously I will not be requesting Eli to bring me anything unreasonable. I will not let him fail! 8)
Even though Eli's big sister, Mei-li, eagerly waits for someone to share some of their meal with her, Eli does not expect a helping. He has only been to one restaurant with me and was kept inside his carry bag. He was pretty unhappy, but I did not expect his first restaurant experience to go over perfectly. One thing we do not do often is go out to a sit-down restaurant. Because it is such an infrequent thing, I am sure Eli will take a while to get used to that idea. I am happy with the fact that he is not expecting food when I am eating, though.
The exacerbation of my symptoms has given me the opportunity to see Eli demonstrate his intuition that something 'wrong' is occurring. Eli uses his mouth to get my attention. He gets worked up and playfully bites my hands when my body temperature rises. Even when I take a shower, Eli comes around the curtain to check on me, which is really cute. When he does, it reminds me that it's about that time to turn the water temperature down a little more toward the cooler side.
When my head hurts, Eli tends to lick behind my ears.
Eli acts grumpy toward other people when I am not feeling well. Particularly, people who come near me or try to interact with him. It is like he is telling them, "My mom does not feel well and I have a job to do. Please leave us alone." Interestingly, Eli does not display negativity toward my husband or son. Could it be that Eli observed that they assist and recognizes they are 'good' to have around when I am not well?
This whole thing absolutely amazes me. The intuition and interaction between tiny-but-mighty little Eli and me is really becoming incredible.
¤•You can't keep people from having bad opinions about you, but you can keep them from being true.•¤

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Eli's a Puppy Kindergarten Graduate!

My boy completed Puppy Kindergarten!
I will quote from the trainer, Lisa, at My Dog Training Center. "He did wonderful today. I was pretty proud of him. Being that there were distractions and he eventually stepped up shows that he is ready and willing. Don't look at the challenges, rather look at the successes!"
I was not sure what was catching his attention through the window in the training room this morning. It turned out to be a lady with a dog. Then, the test "course" was marked with numbered cones. Oh my word! Eli has never seen a cone before and wanted to know all about these new things. He is such a character!
Just as I suspected, Eli was full of himself this morning. Half the puppies did not come today for the last class. My nine-year-old son was disappointed because he wanted to meet the pups. My son really liked the German Shepherd puppy, Sin Jin. (Not sure how that is spelled.) He wanted to tell his owner that he likes his Shepherd, but he did not get the chance to.
Eli eventually paid attention to me and did what he was supposed to, earning his Puppy Kindergarten diploma.
If there are inquiring minds out there ~ Eli's trick for graduation was giving me his paw, then giving me a high-five. 8) He performed that brilliantly. ;)
His next adventure, as far as professional training goes, will be the AKC Canine Good Citizen course through My Dog Training Center.
I do have some disadvantages to working with Eli. Multiple Sclerosis hinders me in so many ways. What I loved the most about training at My Dog is the wonderful advice and tips the trainer, Lisa, gave. I need to get myself a stick! ;) Not to beat anyone with...but to extend my "arm" to Eli's level.
This afternoon, Eli visited at my aunt and uncle's place for the first time. He behaved excellently! They have a kitty, which Eli was curious about, but he was in his vest the whole time and did not try to get away from me to engage in play. Eli remained very calm and quiet throughout the whole visit. I was quite pleased with his behavior.
Afterward, our family went to my dad's house to work on the vegetable garden and Eli got to play with his brother, Wrinkles. The two of them always have fun playing together!
It is interesting to observe the differences in their manners. Wrinkles thought nothing of running right through the freshly rototilled garden, while Eli would stop short right at the edge of it. Eli always makes sure to check in with me while he is busy at play, too. At one point I went inside to fill a bowl of water for the pups and Eli was immediately aware that I was not outside anymore. He stopped playing and waited at the door for me to come back outside. I even notice that Eli tries to bring playtime close to where I am. He is doing such a beautiful job watching out for me. ♥

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Countdown to Graduation

Puppy Kindergarten graduation is two days away. Hard to believe it's already here! I also thought that Eli and I would have his trick for the test all set by today...but we do not. I have no idea what we are going to do.
Eli gives paw like a pro. That is sort of a lame trick, though. I feel like I have been working with him enough that he should be able to do something terrific for his graduation trick.
I have been trying to teach him to roll over. This is the first trick Eli has not caught onto immediately. I did read somewhere that Chihuahuas have a difficult time with rolling over. Eli will do it if I coax him into it, but he will not do it by himself. Since I have to coax him, we probably have to forego that idea for Saturday morning. Unless I can get him to roll over solidly on his own, I guess I have to choose between giving me his paw and possibly adding his high-five, or having Eli show everyone that he can "leave it." (Leave his treat in front of him without eating it until I give him the okay to do so.)
Eli does a marvelous job inside on his recall. He is also doing beautifully when he has his working vest on. He is really showing that he recognizes the behavior that is expected of him when he is wearing his vest.
Another thing that Eli is doing, which I found out is NOT a negative behavior, is that he gets nippy when someone reaches out to pet him while I am holding him. I had been very concerned about that. However, Eli is actually telling the person reaching for him that he has a job to do and he is not supposed to be touched unless I have indicated to both Eli and the person that it is okay. To do that, I am not supposed to be holding him. I am to put him down and get him into a sit. Then, Eli will know that the all clear has been given and it is acceptable for him to welcome the 'friendly stranger'. Amazing, huh? So, we will be working on that aspect going forward.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Punkin' Seed

I had to make the little punkin' seed a new sweater because he's chilly today and he outgrew his other sweaters already.
Eli had his first "accident" this afternoon. I felt horrible.
Yesterday when I got home from the barn, after Puppy Kindergarten, I was pretty desperate to get upstairs. Normally I would bring Eli with me, but I figured he needed a drink or something. He did run into the kitchen so I made my way upstairs. I was really hurting after class yesterday. Anyway, my husband said Eli went nuts looking for me. That's a very positive thing! There he was, too, sitting at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at me.
Eli has learned to get up the stairs to the second floor of our apartment. This is a recent development for him. So recent, in fact, that he has not attempted getting back down yet.
We were doing some work together for a while this afternoon and I gave him one of his "jackpot" Dream Bone treats. He was pretty occupied by his bone so I thought I could just go upstairs quickly and he wouldn't even miss me. I was wrong.
I could hear him coming up the stairs looking for me. It made me laugh and I was very proud of him for coming to look for me. Then, I heard him tumble all the way back down the stairs. 8(
I am such a horrible mommy!
If I expect Eli to do his job, I have to give him the opportunity to do his job. It is his job to be with me at all times. The poor little punkin' seed was trying to do his job and ended up falling down the stairs. He seems to be fine, by the way. I am pretty shaken up by it and learned my lesson, though. He got another Dream Bone...and a few other treats...because I felt so bad for letting him down like that.
My reason for posting my mishap is to show Eli's desire to serve. Not only does he look for me, but if I get busy and he lays down on his own in his little bed, Eli always has his eyes on me. I do not even have to make a sound. If I look in his direction, he looks up at me. It's wonderful, and amazing to me, that this little guy has such an awesome ability to be here for me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Four Pounds, Six Ounces and a Trick

Eli had a tough time getting his Lyme vaccine Thursday afternoon. I think because we have been to the veterinarian so often over the last couple of months, he has come to know what to expect when we go there. Since it was so traumatic for him, I did not request a weigh-in this time. Instead, I put Eli in the bowl on my food scale and weighed him today. He is really getting to be a pork chop! His growth rate now is becoming a little depressing, as his weight today is 4 lb, 6 oz. Just a few days ago his weight was an even 4 lb. I was hopeful that Eli would stay on the small side, but it's looking like he will end up being a 7 to 9 pound Chihuahua. Well, that means he will still be smaller than his feline sister, Scribbles. I think he has just surpassed the size of his guinea pig brother, Big Papi.
Puppy Kindergarten went well today. I knew that Eli would play with the other puppies by the last class. He was engaging play this morning, but only from behind. Once the other puppy turned around Eli ran away. Next week is graduation day with testing to include engaging the pup, the execution of a sit, a down, having the pup stay in both a sit and a down position, the "come and touch" command, and the pup has to do a trick. If Eli gets too playful in class he will never listen to me. I am sure that will happen next week, since he really came out of his shell today. Looking forward to it!
Hopefully Eli will behave for the test. Now I just have to figure out what trick to have him do. He does wonderfully with "leave it" and even did it for me in class this morning. I was pretty surprised, as I thought for sure he would not do it with the other puppies around. He gives me his paw and he even high-fives me, but we are also working on learning "roll-over." I guess the biggest factor will be which one I think can be recreated in front of everyone. Of course, that depends on Eli's mood next Saturday morning, too. ;P

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Leave It

Eli is working on a new trick this week and he is catching on quickly, too. I put a treat in front of him and ask him to "leave it." He is not allowed to get the treat until I tell him "okay." Even then, he waits for me to push it toward him and actually give it to him, which I think is pretty cute.
Eli has a new car seat. It does not make my fifteen-year-old daughter happy that Eli has been designated shot-gun. It is definitely safer for him to travel in a secured car seat and also allows him to stay checked-in with me, which is his job.
We are continuing to work on recall this week. Eli is doing a great job with it. "Now" is our emergency recall word, which means he is to come to me post-haste. He also knows to make an appearance when I call his name out. We use "come" when walking on leash. That means I want him to be walking with me or that he needs to stop pulling in the opposite direction.
Eli is learning the heel position nicely. The trainer suggested getting a thin dowel to stick a treat on the end of. This would extend my arm to keep him in a sit or down position while I walk around to his right side and have him in a heel. I have not been able to get a dowel yet, but Eli is still doing well with this. For the most part, he does quite nicely holding his sit and his down until I release him. Even then, just as with leaving the treat, Eli continues to hold until I physically touch him to 'nudge' him out of his position. This is a good thing, as it shows his willingness to work.
Mei-li has been getting pretty aggressive with Eli and that is really showing in Eli's behavior toward her. I am very displeased by it. He plays with Aunt Delmi well and has been playing with his big sister Scribbles just fine. Eli also loves to get together with his brother, Mr. Wrinkles. Sometimes he and Mei-li even play together. I was pretty disturbed by his reaction to the other puppies in class last Saturday, though. Since then, I am noticing an increase in aggression between Eli and Mei-li. Mei-li does like to come over and try to steal his treats when we are working together. Eli may be thinking that the other puppies in class are trying to get his treats, too. I do not really know. I certainly hope this negative reaction can be corrected. Eli has not shown any food aggression toward people. I have worked with him very consistently on making sure he would not be food aggressive because Mei-li is. When he eats, I pet him, stick my hand in his bowl, put my hand on his treats when he is eating them, and I have even taken them away from him. He has never had a problem.
Eli goes to the vet again Thursday. He will be receiving the first of his Lyme vaccinations. I was anxious to find out how much weight he gained, so I put him on my food scale over the weekend. He weighed an even four pounds. Eli must have gone through a growth spurt a couple of weeks ago when he gained 15 ounces. My daughter said she thinks his growth spurt answers why he was so crabby. Eli does tend to get crabby when he needs a nap or when he needs to poop...which still has not happened out of doors.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Perfectly Puppy

Eli had a fantastic morning in Puppy Kindergarten class. I did not even have to use the table today, which was wonderful. He was executing his commands brilliantly. Eli made me a very happy handler, indeed.
One area of concern was that he was showing his teeth to the other puppies. Today was the first time Eli has done that and the trainer told me to redirect him. I was surprised that he behaved that way, but I think he is getting that from his big sister. Mei-li shows her teeth at Eli quite often and does lunge at him. I really do not want negative behavior rubbing off on Eli. Hopefully it will be nipped in the bud. I know he gets grumpy when he is tired and we did have an early morning. Still, Eli can not behave that way. It is unacceptable.
We had an early day today because my daughter did the Ag Days Open Horse Show at the Brooklyn Fairgrounds. Eli went to his first horse show! And ~ he witnessed his big sister, Mindy, and nephew, Sir Cyclone O Fire, take Champion in both the Junior Division and the Open Division. Eli was excellent at the horse show. Whether he was at my side on leash or in my arms, he was a very well-behaved pup around all the people and horses. He did not bark, he was not nervous, and he did not even relieve himself in public. Eli was awesome!
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Eli's Big Weekend

I say "weekend," but it was Monday and Tuesday of this week and Monday was the last day of a long holiday weekend.
Eli got to experience new places, new things, and new people. We went down to visit my cousins at their cottage on the lake about an hour from home. One thing about Eli is that he has never been car sick, thankfully.
Eli seems to know that he is expected to be on his best behavior when he has his training vest on. Of course, he is still just a puppy and it would not be practical of me to think he will behave impeccably all the time. I am trying to get him to realize that it is okay to play, but he needs to wait for me to release him. Eli continues to demonstrate that he wants to stick around wherever I am and does come close, making eye contact with me to "check in" while he is playing. I have been rewarding that action because it is a very important thing for him to do.
Eli had no problems with the "friendly strangers" he met. What was even more awesome was the interaction he was able to have with his big sister, Mei-li. It may have been because we were on neutral ground, but the two of them had fun running around, chasing each other. They even got to go swimming in the lake! Mei-li hated it and jumped right out. She is such a diva! Eli really did not know what to think of it at first, but he swam around a little. I was not in the water. However, he swam toward my direction, knowing I am the one to take care of the 'situation' he was in. I think Eli might have enjoyed more swimming time if I had been in the water with him. Of course, when he got out he ran around the yard at the cottage like a tiny little lunatic. He was having fun, though.
Eli's adventures did not stop there. The cousins have a boat! Eli didn't know what to think about riding in the boat at first. He did a little whimpering for a few minutes. After he realized I had him securely and we were all having fun on the boat, he settled right in and literally enjoyed the ride.
Another first for Eli and me happened Tuesday evening when the cousins treated our family out to a sit-down restaurant! Eli's first time in a restaurant. I was slightly nervous because I had not really prepared for going to a restaurant. I kept Eli in his carrier and gave him a chewy bone, but he still whined a bit. I was probably not supposed to give him the chewy. I was overly concerned with trying to keep him quiet during our time in the restaurant. Plus, I had not yet prepared myself for the restaurant experience so I was not completely sure of protocol. Eli did eventually quiet down and we did enjoy our meal. It was really nice. I have to say that I was pretty proud with my three-and-a-half month old puppy. There aren't many 15-week-old puppies that would tolerate being in a carrier on the floor of a restaurant for over an hour as well as he did. And, the only way he will be perfectly behaved in a restaurant is by taking him and practicing how he is expected to behave.
On the downside of the weekend, it is now Wednesday and Eli and I have not been able to do much practicing with our homework for Puppy Kindergarten. I did try a few times. I will really have to focus on our recall exercises over the next few days. He is such a good boy. I don't think he will have any trouble getting it. Although, Eli spent three entire days outside over the long weekend and NOT ONCE did he poop outside still! I can not believe that he insists on holding it in until he gets inside to his puppy pad. I thought for sure he would have to go enough that he would ultimately need to just go outside. I was proven wrong and am left baffled.
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 28, 2011

Eli's third Puppy Kindergarten class was today, which means we are already halfway through. He did better in class today. He went into down position when I asked him to this time. Of course, we were using a table. He was doing very well holding his sit while I moved away from him and was also holding a down. Then a little boy from class came up to Eli and got him all excited and he was not doing well listening to me from that point on.
Playtime was a bit less stressful for Eli this morning. He was not playful with the other puppies, but he did not stay hidden under my chair. Maybe by the final class he will be playing with the other "kids".
Eli did experience a little socialization with friendly "strangers" this morning. He had no problem being held by others and demonstrated the positive sign that he was still looking for me while being friendly with someone else.
We did an exercise in class to teach the puppies to give "paw". I did not expect that and found it funny that Eli already learned that trick this week. I liked the point of training the dog to have that interraction with its handler.
This afternoon, we went over to "Grampy's" house for a cookout. Eli was very excited to have his brother, Wrinkles, to play with all afternoon. He was trying to play with the two older dogs, but they would rather not have much to do with the youngsters. Though the 23-year-old Chihuahua was being pretty protective of her "baby", Wrinkles.
Even though Eli was very busy playing, he made sure to check in with me often. When I called his name, he came right to me and sat. He absolutely tuckered himself right out! He had a quick rest in my arms, then played some more, then had a longer nap in my arms in the early evening before running around with his brother again prior to us heading home for the night. As soon as we got home, Eli snuggled up under his Red Sox blanket and slept the whole night through. I woke him up at 8 a.m. when my alarm to take my medication went off.
Would you believe that even though Eli was outside all afternoon long, he STILL did not poop outside?!?! I don't understand it...

Friday, May 27, 2011

First Time For Everything

This morning I had my first confrontation because of bringing Eli into a store.
Other than a quick stop at a fast food restaurant for some take out, I have always carried Eli in public inside his carrying bag. I stopped at a store this morning and got everything situated in the cart. The kids needed some shorts, so we proceeded to go into the clothes department. Next thing I know, one of the store associates is coming up behind me, asking if I have a dog. I acknowledged her, but before I could say anything she stated that only service dogs are allowed inside the store, then asked if he is a service dog. I told her that he is and she requested proof.
Now, I would eventually like to be able to take Eli in public without him having to be inside his carrier. Honestly, he can not alert me while he is inside the carrier. So even though Eli had his vest on, I understand that the store associate was probably unable to see it. However, I do have a badge on his carrier that identifies him as a service dog.
In anticipation of someone eventually questioning Eli, I carry a copy of his service dog paperwork and letter from my doctor in my bag. I am glad, though, that it did not come to that because when the associate requested proof I was able to direct her attention to Eli's badge and that was satisfactory for her.
I am thinking that I may need to order a second badge for Eli so I can have it attached to his vest or leash in the event we are questioned when I do not have him inside his carrier.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pork Chop

Eli went to the veterinarian this afternoon for the last of his first series of distemper vaccinations. We will be back there in two weeks to begin his lyme series. Yes, we will be seeing a lot of the vet techs at Quinebaug Valley Veterinary Hospital over the summer. They just can not pump him with too many vaccines at once because he is too little.
I was a little disappointed that we were brought into an examination room that did not have a scale in it. I mentioned to the tech that I was hoping to see how big Eli had grown since our last visit, so she went and got a scale. I felt badly for making her do that.
Eli is a little pork chop! He weighed in today at 3 lb, 15 oz! That means he gained almost a pound in two weeks. I wonder if it's because of all the treat pieces he's being rewarded with during his training lately? ;)
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

Eli and I have been working very hard this week on reinforcing commands. I am still having difficulty getting him "down" on the hardwood floor, though he will occasionally. He definitely prefers to be on a surface that has texture.
Eli has gotten much more comfortable going potty outside. However, we continue to be unsuccessful with eliminating feces in the out of doors. I will be so excited when it finally happens. Shower time has been going beautifully now that treats come from behind the shower curtain. The bathroom has become a postive place for Eli.
The little guy learned a new trick this week!
I was unable to get a better picture of him doing it, but Eli now gives me his paw. I attract Eli's big sister, Mei-li, when I have the treats out and am working with Eli. Mei-li has known to sit, give paw, and lay down for a while. Her daddy and I have been trying to get her to roll over. She understands the concept because she goes from an upright laying down position to turned on her side when she is asked to roll over, but she has yet to do a complete roll. Anyway, when I asked Mei-li to give me her paw, Eli sat next to me and lifted his paw in the air. So, I asked Eli to give me his paw and he immediately put his paw in my hand. 8)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good Grief

Eli's second Puppy Kindergarten class was this morning and the pup's making me look like a liar. ;P The little booger...

We began practicing "down" in class. The trainer asked me if Eli has already been doing "down" and I told her that he has. Do you think he would do it in class? Nope!
He sat like a pro. He held his "sit." When I asked him to go "down" he would not do it. I believe the problem lies in how we work together at home. In order for Eli to be looking me in the eyes, I put him at eye level when I work with him. I also don't have his training vest and leash on him, and there aren't five other dogs and 9 other people.
He still did not want to socialize with the other puppies today. He started to slightly warm up to Petunia, the second smallest pup in the class.
When we did some leash practice, Eli was fantastic. I expect that of him, though, because he is recognizing that his job is to always be near me.
There are no issues with Eli responding to me when I say his name, but this week's homework is to continue practicing and possibly adding difficulty. People are already marveled by Eli's compliance to me when I say his name, no matter where he is or what he is doing. Does that mean we stop practicing? Of course not! I stated before that training is a life-long process.
Eli and I need to work on "down." He will sit anywhere, anytime, and he will stay sitting even if I walk away from him. The fact that he would not go "down" for me in class made me realize that we need to fortify that command and practice in a variety of settings. I like that the trainer said not to give the treat reward hand-to-mouth, but to put the treat down on the "magic ground" so that he stays down, eating his treat until he gets the marker to release. (The "magic ground" being that the treats are coming from the ground and he does not have to get up to get the treats from me.)
Guess what else we will be working diligently on this week? Potty! Eli is going to do both businesses outside this week if it kills me. (And it might! ;P)