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)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Love Wrapped in Fur

It is evident that Eli and I have developed a bond. Even as I sit at my computer to balance the checkbook or type up a blog, Eli sits in his bed with his toys and all I have to do is look over at him and he looks back at me. I love to see that he already has the desire to "check on me."
We have had a great week of going potty outside. My limitations certainly make it difficult to catch him and get outside every time he has to go. Even so, he knows to use the training pads.
Eli and I have practiced the Name Game at least 76 times this week thus far. When I say "at least", it's because I don't always go to my notes to mark it down. I am sure we will get the remaining 24 practices in prior to Puppy Kindergarten class tomorrow morning. His response to me saying his name is incredible!
The method of using marker and treat rewards in intervals to hold a sit has gotten better this week. It definitely works better for Eli to not receive the treat reward. However, he has gotten better at realizing that I want him to stay sitting until he hears my marker to "release" his hold.
Leash walking is going beautifully. Eli rarely tries to go a different way, but when he does I stop and remain turned in the direction I want him to walk until he complies. The only time I am finding that he tries to insist on his own direction is when he wants to go inside after he potties. I have been using the marker and reward when he pees outside and have been taking him into our apartment afterward to reinforce that he did what I wanted him to do outside. He has not yet pooped outside, though. When we are inside, I keep him on leash as he sniffs around, then we head back outside to finish going "potty." That is when he gets antsy outside and insists on going back in. I don't know what it is about that part of going potty, but he refuses to do it outside. I started to take some of his feces outside to show him that they are outside and that it's a good thing that they are outside. Hopefully he will get the picture soon. When he does insist on going back in the apartment, I insist that he "sit" calmly at the bottom of the steps before I bring him in. This is just an added thing I am implementing to let him know that I am in control and if he wants something he has to earn it.
Eli is the most loveable dog! He is even trying very hard to get his big sister, our Lhasa Apso, to love him. He won't quit, either! Our diva is beginning to warm up to him on her terms. She lets him know when the love is unwanted. Eli needs to learn to respect that.
Eli had a big week of socialization. He's been at the farm around all the horses and does very well. I can not imagine what a horse looks like to this three pound little pumpkin! The horses blow on him, which is so funny. Again, I have to picture being Eli getting blown on by the nostrils of a horse. I can only relate it to being in a warm wind tunnel. I wish I knew what he was thinking when it happens.
He was also reunited with two of his litter brothers this week, as well as his sire, dam, and "weird uncle Max." He only saw the latter three through a baby gate, but had a wonderful time playing with his bigger litter brothers. Yes, Eli is the smallest of the litter. Amazingly small, actually! His litter brothers are solid and probably at least twice Eli's size. Eli is 'delicate'. Seemingly much more fragile than the others.
Eli's on the left. The middle one is now "Clifford" and lives with our friend. The one on the right found his home with my dad. His name is "Mister Wrinkles." It was a little heartbreaking to separate them. Chihuahuas are like potato chips ~ you can not have just one! However, Eli is a working dog and too much playtime with other pups would be detrimental to his training. We will get together with the other boys occasionally, I am sure of it. Of course, there will be opportunities to play with Aunt Delmi, too, over at mom's house.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It does not matter what Eli is doing, if I say his name he looks. He is making me so proud of him with the way he is demonstrating his willingness to learn and do. As far as the Name Game exercise for Puppy Kindergarten homework this week, we have practiced this task 50 times as of this writing.
He and I had a wonderful breakthrough today, too. It was the first time Eli went potty outside!! I was so excited, I think the neighborhood heard me say, "Yay!"
Eli and I took a pretty long walk on leash this morning. He did such a fantastic job! I had no choice, since my car had to be parked down the road in the field so the street sweeper could clean up around the neighborhood. I am struggling physically today, but I had to get to the car and took the opportunity to let Eli walk beside me on leash. Let me tell you how perfect Eli and I are for each other ~ his little legs go at the perfect pace for my gait. 8)
Eli seems to know that I am in pain today. He has been calmer than usual, not expecting me to play with him as much. He has been curling up in a little ball in my lap and resting with me often.
Oh! We had a great shower experience this morning, too! I had been bringing a couple of treats into the bathroom when I shower. Eli whimpers quite a bit when I am out of his sight behind the curtain. I was just giving him treats to keep him occupied, but the trainer mentioned handing out treats to her dog while she is in the shower so I thought I would try something different this morning. I took Eli's treat container and set it on the shelf next to the shower. When he was quiet, I said, "yay" and gave him a treat. It made my shower a bit longer than usual, which is not that good for me because of my heat intolerance, but I know there are sacrifices I need to make if our relationship is going to work. I started out by providing the marker and reward right away when he stopped whimpering. Then, I waited a couple of seconds. Eli ended up not really whimpering at all, but just making a little peep every now and again and when he was quiet for a few seconds, he got his marker and reward. It was wonderful! I hope this marks the beginning of more pleasant shower time for both of us. 8)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

First Day of School

Today was Eli's first day of Puppy Kindergarten!

I was surprised that he was being antisocial. He had a great time playing with Aunt Delmi yesterday. I was sure he would enjoy interacting with the other puppies in class, but he wanted nothing to do with it. He hid under my chair and looked to me to pick him up and make him safe. I guess that's okay. It's what he's supposed to do, isn't it?
We learned some interesting things together today. Much of what we learned, we came home and told daddy about so he can start using the tips with Eli's big sister, Mei-li.
We got right into working on our homework for the week. I was using the word "focus" for Eli to look at me and that was going really well. In class, we were playing the Name Game, saying the puppy's name, having him look, giving him a marker word (mine is "yay"), then rewarding him with a treat. Eli took right to it! Again, though, we have been practicing the focus on each other. Our homework assignment is to practice the Name Game 100 times this week. So far today, we have done it eight times. I am also doing it when he is distracted with something else, just for the practice. He is excellent with it!
Our other assignment is to work on staying at the "sit" for up to 30 seconds. The way this is supposed to work is that he gets told to sit and as soon as his butt is down he's given the marker word, "yay", then a treat. He is then required to stay sitting until I tell him "release". As he stays sitting, he gets a "yay" and a treat in increasing increments. With Eli, however, as soon as I give him a treat, he picks his butt up. I then have to tell him "sit" again. He will sit for me for 30 seconds if I do not give him the treat reward, but reinforce the sit by telling him "yay". The trainer says it is important not to let the puppy fail. I'm not sure if I should keep him at the sit without a treat reward until I want him to release his sit. Perhaps I should not have started this kind of training on my own.
I used to work with the clicker. Someone in class was using a clicker with their puppy. I think Eli recognized the sound, poor confused Puppers. I do not use it anymore for exactly the reason the trainer stated in class today. I do not always have it with me and I am not always quick enough with it because my hand does not respond to my brain fast enough. Therefore, the clicker will not be an effective training tool for me and Eli.
Puppy Kindergarten is going to be a fun six weeks for us. I am nervous about the test at the end, but I am pretty confident in Eli.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three Pounds

As the title states, Eli tipped the scale at a whopping three pounds, exactly, at today's veterinarian visit. Looks like he and I will be frequenting the vet's office in the coming months. They can only give Eli one vaccination every two weeks because he's so tiny. We go again on May 26th.
I am thrilled that Eli and I will begin Puppy Kindergarten at My Dog Training Center ( this Saturday morning. I am hoping to continue training with Eli there, including going through the Canine Good Citizen class. I have to admit that I am a little nervous about this, as I have never taken part in something like this before. I am already feeling self-conscious, too, about my limitations. It will be interesting to see how Eli does when there's a group, not only of other people, but other dogs. I have a feeling we will be back at square one. That's okay, though. It will be a terrific experience!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Wow! I am astonished by Eli's compliance. He picked right up on the command to "focus" on me. I tried it when he was being held by someone else and he immediately turned and looked right into my eyes. We were practicing this morning, too, and my husband commented that Eli kept his focus on me even though the closet door was being opened behind him and jackets were being hung up. I didn't even think about the distracting factors until my husband commented.
I am hoping to begin professional training this weekend. I am very optimistic that Eli will do an incredible job.
We will be increasing the level of difficulty with regard to executing commands. I am going to have Eli hold "stay" longer in both a "sit" and "down" position, and am going to extend the distance I move away from him. Of course, I am going to have him keep his "focus" longer and will be including more distractions.
Eli and I still need to work on leash walking and housebreaking. These areas have been quite difficult. It's not Eli's fault, either. I have a hard time standing or walking very long. I had Eli outside with me yesterday and I ended up losing my balance and fell. We always run into issues when all the children in the neighborhood are home, too. He is a magnet! It is impossible to work with him outside when there is a constant circle of neighborhood children around us. It's good for socializing him, but we get nothing else done. I am hopeful that we will be able to make positive strides, particularly with housebreaking. I do not want to have to keep puppy pads on the floor any longer.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Eli's First Week of May

What an amazing week!
Eli and I did a lot of work together and he is really doing a wonderful job. I am so proud of him!
"Down" caught on quickly. So now, Eli will "sit", lay "down", and even listens to "stay" pretty well. He's doing much better on leash and obeys the "walk" command. Off leash, he does not go too far away from me and when I tell him to "come", he's right there.
I am so excited that Eli has even learned to "focus" on me. We certainly have to strengthen his "focus", but he is looking me right in the eyes and holding it for a few seconds. It probably doesn't seem like a big deal. Remember, though, that he is a 12-week-old puppy with lots of energy. I think it's incredible that I am able to get him to hold a gaze.
We had a party over the weekend, too. My husband and I renewed our wedding vows in honor of our 10th anniversary. I probably let Eli get passed around more than I should have, I'm embarrassed to write. However, I was given report that he whimpered and looked for me. That is a very positive thing! He certainly got a great deal of socialization and behaved wonderfully.
Eli has a weird quirk when my mom comes near me. I will have to bring this to the attention of the trainer when we get one. It seems Eli has something against my mom, especially when she touches me. I may have to try not holding him, but making him sit on leash next to me to see if it helps.
This week, I am looking forward to strengthening his obedience to the commands we have been using. Eli has his second vet appointment on Thursday afternoon. People are telling me he looks like he is getting bigger, so we'll see how much he weighs Thursday. And yes, I have to really work on housebreaking Eli. My mobility issues do make it hard. I am sure he'll catch on in no time. I have been sure to tell him "good boy, potty" when he uses his puppy pad. I'm hoping he'll recognize the word "potty" for going outside. There's no doubt that Eli tells me when he has to go. It's just up to me to force myself to get outside with him.
Much to keep working on! All in all, though, things are progressing brilliantly.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What Will He Do?

The job responsibility of a Medical Alert Service Dog is simple: Allow their owner to live confidently with medical conditions. Especially the "invisible" ones.
The dog's personality is of extreme importance, as he or she must be owner attentive and eager to work. Eli's training to be an alert dog will be a life long process requiring a huge amount of dedication and effort.
The crucial aspect in Medical Alert dog training is the attentiveness to the owner. This can not be stressed enough. Eli's training in this regard will begin with a simple "focus" command. This is done by using treats or positive praise to have him focus his attention to me. When his complete attention is on me, and not the treat, Eli will be rewarded. After continual practice, Eli will make the connection that his undivided attention on me is a good thing. Then we will be able to incorporate using the command word, "focus".
The theories as to how dogs know their owners will present symptoms differ and no method is proven. It may be an odor or chemical that the human body emits which is detectible to the dog, or it could be that the dog notices changes in body language. Additionally, each alert dog has its own alert technique, which can include whining, barking, pawing, excessive pacing, or blocking the way. For these reasons, again, communication between the dog and owner is vital for the owner to understand the situation and allow the dog to help.
The training of detection has to include the symptoms. Eli absolutely must spend 24 hours a day with me. When symptoms occur, the connection needs to be made between a reward for Eli and the symptom I am experiencing. Observing how Eli responds is critical to knowing what his warning sign to me will be. If I am having a seizure, for example, someone else will need to acknowledge the response Eli has to the seizure by giving him praise or treats. This process will teach Eli that his sense of the upsetting situation I am going through is not a scary thing that he should hide from, but a "trick" that is a good thing for him. As the symptoms occur more, Eli will associate his reward with the symptom and will provide his warning signals increasingly sooner. Also, the more perceptive Eli becomes, his main focus will be detection and he will frequently "check in" with me, even while playing or sleeping as long as the strong connection is there. This, of course, makes this time of bonding ever more necessary.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Met the Vet

Eli is snuggling up in my arms now, taking a little rest after an eventful afternoon.
He was excellent at the veterinarian's office. Not a peep came out of him! Dr. Blakeslee checked him over and gave him a clean bill of health. She weighed him first so I could finally find out that he weighs 2 pounds, 12 ounces. She said his teeth are nice, his eyes look good, his heart sounded perfect, and he felt nice and healthy. She said Eli is developing very well, especially for being the runt of the litter. She also said she can see that he received some of the sire's Toy Chihuahua genes, though it's difficult to guess how big he will become because he has a mix in him.
Dr. Blakeslee didn't want his experience at the doctor's office to be too traumatic for him, so Eli only had his distemper vaccine today. She also gave him an oral dose of wormer and he began Interceptor for monthly heartworm preventative, too. His next appointment is May 12th. He'll start his rabies vaccine series then and I believe she said he'll get a Lyme vaccine at that time, too.
Dr. Blakeslee was surprised to find both of Eli's testicles. She said they're usually still hiding up in the abdomen at 11 weeks. I told her, "Those have to go!" Eli will be able to have that procedure done at the beginning of August.
Eli had no flea dander at all. I told her that I put Frontline on him the day after I brought him home. She was pleased to hear that.
Eli was so well behaved, even when two German Shepherds were barking. Since we were in the area we stopped at a store and Eli remained so quiet inside his carrier. Back out in the car, though, I discovered that he had an upset stomach. Poor little guy! It must have been from the distemper shot. I let him have some sips of water and cleaned out his carrier before we started off again.
We stopped at my mother's house to give Eli a break from his carrier. I had him on leash with his vest, so after he had some more to drink, we practiced walking in the yard. This was a new yard for him and he made me very proud because even though there were new smells and different things, he walked nicely with me. I introduced Eli to my mom's dog, Delmi, but through the kennel. Delmi's a German Shepherd and without my mom home for Delmi to listen to, I didn't want to take a chance. Eli was fine. He sat next to me while she barked playfully. He didn't bark back, but definitely seemed uneasy and was looking to me to make sure the situation was alright.
While typing this up, Eli woke up and asked to get down to play. Looks like his tummy's feeling better! 8)
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