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Dobky

by Kyler Laird last modified 2010-03-27 16:59

Labrador Retriever/Poodle ("Labradoodle"), male

joined us: 2008-07-23 (3744 days ago)

This dog has passed the Delta Society Pet Partners evaluation and has passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.

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more photos

2008-07-23: I learned of a doodle in need of foster while at the Wolf Park seminar last weekend. By the time I reached the International Doodle Owners Group rescue coordinators a foster home was already located for that dog but they had a dog in Kentucky who needed help. He was an owner relinquish without much time at a shelter. I said I'd do what I could.

Today I flew to Greenville, KY to retrieve this dog. He was accompanied by two wonderful helpers, Bob and Zach of the rescue Jack's Place.  They had taken outstanding care of this boy.  Not only did they pull and transport this fortunate doodle but they also arranged to have him groomed, neutered, vaccinated and more.  It was such a treat to pick up a dog in "ready to go" condition!

The new guy was very timid but not "spooky" like I would have expected.  I had to carry him into the plane but he was quite agreeable once inside.  I tethered him and he quickly settled on the floor.  He was hot but once we were at a cool altitude he calmed and fell asleep.  Upon arrival he stirred but not anxiously.  When we stopped he poked his head out the door but wouldn't dismount.  I left him tethered to the plane while I got the tug and he finally jumped out on his own.

We were late in returning to West Lafayette so we went straight to a lunch meeting (about therapy dogs in hospitals) at a local restaurant.  He charmed everyone and was easy to handle.  Afterward we went to the farmers market.  He didn't want to get out of the Jeep there so I sat in back with him and worked for awhile so he could get accustomed to the crowd.  He still wouldn't budge.  Finally I opened the side door and he got out with me.  He seemed relaxed with the crowd and was surprisingly easy to manage on lead.

I knew he hadn't been chipped so we made a stop at the clinic.  Chipping was not a problem at all and he was also easy to weigh (69 pounds) and manage around other dogs and while I was handling other business.  I was pressed to come up with a name for his records and I kept saying "We've been calling him the doodle boy in Kentucky but we don't have a name yet."  Finally I just put it together and labeled him "Dobky".  I figure it's temporary and will encourage someone else to pick a better name.

Back home Dobky seemed excited to hear the other dogs.  Gus was still outside so I let them meet through the fence.  Dobky's whole demeanor changed.  He seemed so happy to see another big dog.  The other seven were going crazy inside and Kitty finally released them.  Then they were crazy at the fence.  Dobky took it all in stride though and never seemed overwhelmed.  For introductions I brought him into the house with Grazie.  She quickly laid down the law with him and that was that.  Next up was Morgan.  The sparred a bit but were very congenial.  Jarreau entered and immediately flipped on the floor.  Marley was delighted to have another young dog available for play.  Finally I just opened the door and let everyone mix.  It went quite well and Dobky was soon part of the pack.  The coolest part was that I got to see him transform from his swayback slink to a proud erect stance.  It was quite a change!

While other dogs are banished to the kennel at first, Dobky gets to stay at our house.  In large part that's because of all the work Bob and Zach put into him but it's also because he's a sweetheart.  I look forward to helping him excel.

2008-07-24:  I've been trying to distract Dobky from licking his sutures but today I noticed that the area was red and seemed to be slightly separated (but not gaping).  I put an E-collar on him and took him to the clinic when we went to class.  He had just separated the skin but had not damaged the (internal) sutures.  He's on antibiotics.

2008-07-27:  The E-collar didn't keep Dobky from bothering his sutures.  I tried Bandguard and it seemed to do the trick.  He's not worn the E-collar for a couple days and he's doing fine.

Dobky has gone to playgroups a couple times and he does well.  He can be a little pushy but it's easy to call him out of a group. 

Dobky's a bit of a "Velcro dog," wanting to be with me a lot and pushing hard into me when I try to ignore him.  From the moment I got him (see the photos by the plane) he would freeze anytime he was uncertain.  He continues to do that.  If I really need him somewhere I carry him but I usually just leave him and he eventually decides to follow me.


2008-07-28: friends visit by Kyler Laird
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We invited a couple of Kitty's friends to bring their children to meet the dogs. One family might borrow Bob soon.


2008-07-30: Peyton's bath by Kyler Laird
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I arranged to meet some people to introduce Peyton today. I knew that he wasn't smelling great so I loaded the dogs from home (minus Marley who was already being groomed and Grazie who went with Kitty to the farmers market) and headed to the kennel to bathe Peyton.  Wrangling the other dogs took about as much effort as bathing Peyton.

Peyton was clean when I got him so this was his first bath with me.  He was easy.  It was a pleasure to work on him.  The other dogs also did a remarkably good job of waiting while I bathed him.  Then we all went out to play!


2008-07-30: Norwood family visit by Kyler Laird
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It's been awhile since the Norwood family visited us. The boys are growing! They got along beautifully with all the dogs. They especially liked Conner and plan to borrow him next week.


2008-08-02: "152 nails to trim..." by Kyler Laird

"152 nails to trim.  152 nails.  Grind one down.  Move to the next. 151 nails to trim!"

I've been neglecting nail trimming.  I didn't want to try the new dogs until I felt more comfortable with them and I was really reluctant to handle the crazy-long double rear dewclaws on Harley and Dexter.  And I'm lazy.  But Grazie, Marley and Bob have Pet Partners tests tomorrow so I decided to do them.  Then Kitty helped so I decided to do the rest of the dogs.

O.k., it wasn't quite like that.  I was trimming Bob first.  We were outside and I put some pieces of raw venison medallions on the table.  Bob is so easy that I didn't grab any meat treats for awhile.  Then I heard something and turned to see Harley coming off the empty table.  Grrr...  So I decided to switch to Harley.  He struggled a bit at first but Kitty gave him lots of treats (Ewww!  Meat!) and I sat on him.  It took quite awhile to grind down over half an inch from each of his four rear dewclaws.  By the time I finished he was lying on his side and relaxed.  I was sweating.  I cuddled with him for awhile before switching back to Bob.

Bob makes nail trimming so easy.  It's remarkable how calm he is about it.  Since Grazie is testing tomorrow I did her next.  She was happy to get treats during the trim.  Marley tests tomorrow too so I did him next.  That was a breeze, especially with his recent haircut.  He's such a sweetie.  (He's lying on my leg as I type this.)

I was feeling refreshed after Marley so I decided to try Dobky.  He tends to "freeze" whenever he's stressed so I was hoping he'd just hunker down and let me trim.  He was a bit more active than that but he did well, especially for his first time.  He got a lot of meat.

Another set of long dewclaws remained.  I've been wincing whenever I see Dexter's rear dewclaws and it was time to tackle them.  I was expecting it to be quite a chore but Dexter was a doll!  He was so good about letting me grind and grind on him.  He even remained standing the whole time.  I was impressed.  Dexter was the big surprise of the evening.

Jarreau...oh, Jarreau.  He's a handful.  Nothing new.  I finished on Morgan because I can always count on him to be solid.  I'd say that he's stoic about nail trimming but I'm not sure it even bothers him.  He's so confident and trusting.  It's a joy to work with him.  And that's it!  No more nails to trim...except my own.  I really gouged a couple with the grinder.


2008-08-07: jogging to campus by Kyler Laird

Yesterday I took everyone but Grazie (3 family + 4 foster dogs) for a quick jog around University Place.  Harley had a seizure early the next morning so I thought it might have been too much for him.  Today I went on a longer jog to campus with only six of the dogs (3 family + 3 foster).  It was comfortable.  I kept my guys on the left and the fosters on my right and they all did well.  Bob, of course, lives to run and always pushes me.  Dobky is often in trail but sometimes comes up with the others.  I keep a close eye on Dexter because I always wonder how he'll do with others on the trail but we passed and were passed  a few times and he ran right along like a gentleman.  O.k....there were a couple bunnies and a squirrel that ran in front of us.  That did cause a bit of excitement but it was easily managed.

The dogs do fine even though we're running in 80F weather. We stopped half way and had some drinks but most of the dogs were not interested. (Dobky was happy to drink from my bottle.) I'm looking forward to going on longer runs as the weather cools and the dogs get the rhythm.


2008-08-08: playgroups by Kyler Laird

Kitty and I took all the dogs to playgroups, as usual.  The kids were walking Dr. Banker's dog, Zeus, out as we arrived.  He got mobbed a bit but everyone handled it well.  He's getting so big!  But he still acts like a puppy.

Judo, Keowee, Peyton and Conner were already out of the kennel and had been playing for awhile when we arrived. Keowee was too much for a Dalmatian in the large area but Judo was still playing there. Layla ushered us down to the agility area to help with evaluations of a couple Yellow Labs. Grazie, Jarreau, Dobky, Peyton and Dexter quickly entered there while I worked on the gate so we could use the playgroup area with a tree. The dogs roamed while I worked on the gate. Morgan joined Judo in the big area and Harley was invited into the adjacent playgroup. By the time I fixed the gate I had only Bob and Keowee. I wandered over to check on the evaluations.

Everyone in the evals was doing remarkably well. I expected my guys to be a little high-energy for the Labs. There was one outburst. I didn't see what started it but I did see Dexter getting chomped by a Lab a few times and he kept moving away. I called him and he came to me. The Lab had a bunch of white fur in his mouth. I was so proud of Dexter!

During evals a guest joined us to see Dobky. He was more social with her than I expected and she took him for a walk in the playgroup corridors. I was impressed that he did so well.

After the evals I moved my dogs into the area with the tree. We were adjacent to some very small dogs and Dexter was especially interested in them. Eventually I took Dexter on-lead to see them. There was a Boston Terrier with his owner and a smaller terrier(?) girl, Morgan, who was "stay and play." Conner was also in there but he didn't come to see us. Dexter did great with the little dogs. After the Boston left I let Dexter go off-lead with the tiny dog. (We joked about taking a photo and calling it "stay and pray.") Eventually I just opened the gate and let tiny Morgan meet the rest of the big dogs, including Harley who had joined us by then. There were no problems at all.

Oh!  One more brag on Dexter.  We've always had to help him into the Jeep.  Today he jumped in all on his own both to and from playgroups!  I think he's lost a bit of weight and is feeling more comfortable but I'm sure that the peer pressure (literally!) of seven other dogs shooting/squeezing past him helps too.

Good people. Good dogs. It was a good day.


2008-08-09: jogging by Kyler Laird

I played volleyball this morning, then went to a birthday party in the afternoon and had a jazz party in the evening - all without the dogs. I needed to give them some activity but I didn't have a lot of time...and then I got a work call and had even less time. I decided that I'd jog with the dogs to our evening party to meet Kitty and I'd grab the Jeep and drive home to shower so Kitty could be there on time and we'd end up with only one car. It didn't work that way though.

I took only six dogs again, leaving Grazie and Harley at home. I ended up with the skijoring belt I use to connect the dogs on top of the waist pack I wear to carry water, my phone, etc. It seemed a bit more comfortable there so I decided to try it for this trip. We took the path along Lindberg, through the Celery Bog and as we came up the hill we passed a young lady with her dog. For some reason Dobky was having trouble right then and was dancing out it front of me. I tried and tried to just pull him back into position without stopping because I wanted to keep up the speed as we passed the other dog. And then Dobky's collar snapped open. It's no fun having a loose dog at the side of a busy road, especially a new dog who doesn't yet respond to his name. Fortunately he stayed close and checked out the other dog. I asked the dog's owner to grab Dobky and she did. As everyone mobbed her dog I looped a lead around Dobky's neck and we were quickly jogging again.

It wasn't until I was waiting to cross Salisbury that I realized I'd lost my phone. I flipped around and retraced our steps. I kept thinking that it must have happened during the Dobky incident and I was relieved that when I reached that area it was there in the grass where we'd pulled around the other dog. (I'm guessing that the skijoring belt pushed the phone from its spot when I was twisting and bending.)  We went straight home and Kitty got one of our collars to replace Dobky's faulty quick-release collar.


2008-08-12: general update by Kyler Laird

I've hit an especially busy time and I've been neglecting the dogs and my updates. I'm going to stuff this entry with updates.

On Monday I took Grazie and Bob to the clinic for their Delta Society Pet Partner health screenings. I took Harley along because he's still drinking amazing amounts of water. Everyone seemed in good shape so we decided to test some more samples from Harley. (Kitty submitted those samples today.)

For a long time, I've been feeling like the dogs need more than just "free play." Taking them all for walks is difficult but six of the dogs at our house are getting quite comfortable with jogging. (I've been leaving Grazie and Harley at home during our runs.) We've been doing a 5-6K path that loops into campus. I'm trying to get the dogs accustomed to being in public and especially on campus before the students return. They're tired enough and "in the groove" when we reach campus so they don't react much to people around them. I'm hoping that this will be such routine that they'll be comfortable when students return.

Dexter...oh, Dexter. He's rolling on the floor with Jarreau as I type. Marley is in on it too; Kitty just removed a big glob of white fur from his mouth. They are all such great playmates. Dexter frequently initiates play with them and they go for hours.  Dexter is doing great at eating from my hand every meal.  He goes right into his crate when we ask and he doesn't bark when we leave or return.

Dobky is standing into Kitty to be patted right now. He'll do that for several minutes. I haven't worked with him beyond the general stuff around the house and during our runs. I'm trying to get him to be comfortable and confident before I push much more on him.

Bob delights in our runs. He's always in the lead. Such a Husky. Then he crashes at night. I love tired dogs.


2008-08-13: short jog by Kyler Laird

Kitty took Marley to the West Lafayette Farmers' Market this evening and then they went to a friend's house for dinner. With only seven dogs at home I decided to take everyone for a jog but I didn't want to push Grazie and Harley so we just went across the road and around University Place. We ran into some residents in back and when we stopped to talk I think the entire dining staff came to greet the dogs. It was good to see everyone and the dogs behaved beautifully. I am especially pleased that the foster dogs are so social without being overbearing (although Dexter does like to thoroughly greet everyone).

Allison wrote that Keowee is staying with her again and keeping Mackie active. She also told me that everyone's samples came back "normal" today. That means we're still trying to determine why Harley drinks so much. I'm taking him to the clinic for another blood draw tomorrow.


2008-08-15: playgroups by Kyler Laird

The weather was beautiful this evening - sunny but not terribly hot, especially in the shade. We arrived at 5:00 with all eight of the home dogs and the four kennel dogs were already out. Judo, Keowee, and Peyton were playing in the main area while Conner was in an evaluation with a tiny Pomeranian in a small area. Conner was his usual - relaxed and off to the side.

We mostly milled around the corridors for awhile. Layla requested a big dog to introduce to the Pom so I sent Jarreau. He did beautifully, of course. Eventually I also sent Grazie, Morgan and Harley to meet the Pom. I also took Dexter on-lead at first but he did a great job and I quickly released him. Dexter provided a wonderful example of how barking is not always aggressive. Layla narrated as Dexter did a full play bow and barked repeatedly to invite one of the small dogs out from under the chairs. Although he's a bit overwhelming he's always careful with the little dogs.

Bentley, the Dalmatian, arrived soon after we did. Peyton was a little too much for Bentley so Peyton got to join the house dogs in the second area while Judo, Keowee and Mackey worked on Bentley. There were several heated exchanges and the monitors had their hands full keeping control of the situation.

Peyton wanted so much to be with his buddies that he popped the (weak) gate a few times so that he could run in the corridor along the main area. It's not that he's "mean" - he's just so active and driven. He needs someone to give him a lot more attention. I had no problems retrieving him and the others each time and herding them back into their area.

Dobky didn't get any special activity. He obviously would have enjoyed sticking with me the whole time but I wasn't yet comfortable putting him with new small dogs. It's not that I think he'd do anything wrong but I just don't feel like we know each other well enough to ensure that he'd behave appropriately. He's really gaining confidence though. He often goes head to head with the other dogs, not fighting so much as just asserting himself. Morgan has been incredibly forgiving of this behavior. Although Morgan has given Dobky some corrections they've all been minor.


2008-08-18: library run by Kyler Laird

We didn't get to run yesterday so I was especially longing to hit the road today. Then, of course, I had an afternoon meeting that ran long. I was hoping to run six dogs to the library to meet Kitty and the other two at a concert there. I fed the dogs late and we were way behind schedule. I didn't want to run them right after eating but after 45 minutes I had everything in order so we went!

This would be a test of how well the dogs do in public. We took the path along Lindberg through Celery Bog and then joined Northwestern at Cherry Lane. There was a fair amount of road and foot traffic but not nearly as much as there will be in another week. The dogs did well. They quickly get the rhythm and Bob is doing well at playing the lead dog and following my calls. I rarely get tripped...unless my shoe comes untied (as it did today).

Coming through campus was a non-event. The dogs pretty much ignore other people. I can usually keep them in line by just picking up the pace if they get distracted. It was a good quick run to the library and then I picked up Harley from Kitty and walked to the restaurant while Kitty drove with Grazie. Kitty got a parking space right by our table so I put the foster dogs in the car with Grazie. The boys stayed on mats by us while we ate. Jarreau and Morgan did great but Marley was constantly breaking his stay. The dogs in the car got a lot of attention from passers-by.  Although Grazie hides in the driver's footwell, the other dogs seemed fine in the car - alert but content and not at all bothered by the busy area.


2008-08-19: dog dinner by Kyler Laird
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Four of our friends came over for dinner and brought a Great Pyrenees and a Standard Poodle puppy. Things went pretty well but the Pyr was a bit overwhelmed by all the dogs. Marley and the puppy, however, had a glorious time playing by themselves.


2008-08-22: playgroups by Kyler Laird
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I returned from the farm just in time to load the dogs and head to the park. The kennel dogs were already out playing. Bizet was with the little dogs. We joined the bigger dogs in the main area. All the dogs there were cool so I brought Bizet over to join us.

Dobky and Bob were a bit too interested in Bizet. Once, when Dobky was chasing Bizet Peyton broadsided him. I could imagine that he was "splitting" - trying to diffuse the situation.

Some young friends joined us and did a great job with the dogs. It was a good night.


2008-08-23: Purdue students visit by Kyler Laird

Toward the end of last semester some Purdue students contacted me about working with the dogs. What a wonderful opportunity! I've always had this hope that I could get students involved with working the dogs and I know there are students on campus who miss their own dogs or wish they could have their own but can't because of their housing, schedules, etc. The students took a couple of the dogs out for tours of campus last year and did a great job with the dogs. I looked forward to their return - and today I got the call!

The ladies were already at playgroups when I arrived. We talked about the current group of dogs and some of the changes coming to the group. There's still a lot to resolve but I'm excited about getting more people involved and getting dogs on campus for socialization. There are wonderful possibilities.


2008-08-23: more students return to campus by Kyler Laird

I caught a brief nap after playgroups and then fed the dogs. After waiting an hour we still had some sunlight so I took everyone for a run to campus to get a glimpse of the weekend before classes start.

We take the trail along the golf course and then through the IM fields to Purdue West. I could hear the band playing as we approached. They were practicing right where we turn to head toward the RSC. Even though they made some startling sounds and were milling around the trail, the dogs did well staying with me and keeping pace. We needed to go off-trail a few times due to traffic but the dogs didn't get spooked by any of the activity.


2008-08-28: another run for Harley by Kyler Laird

I've been getting fairly comfortable taking six of the dogs for a run most days. Harley has become so much more active lately that I've been considering taking him with us. I wasn't going to take him tonight but he was so excited I just couldn't leave him again.

Harley was pulling hard at first but then he settled back after about a mile. Then we ran around campus and he was really dragging. I stopped a couple times to check on him but each time he'd start pulling again so we'd resume. As we approached Slayter Hill Harley just dropped. I wasn't about to push him to continue. Kitty was out with a friend so I asked them to provide sag wagon service. Waiting with all of the dogs at the busy corner was a good experience. Everyone seems comfortable with all the activity except Marley is spooked by skateboards.


2008-08-30: busy Saturday by Kyler Laird
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There were a couple evaluations at playgroups today and we were also short on staff so I went for the whole time. Well, I arrived a bit late but I made quite an entry. I unloaded my dogs from the car and was mistaken about one of the new dogs, Lough, (for evaluations) being through the second gate. Instead, he got swamped by my guys in the entry area - quite an initiation. He handled it well, though!

Playgroups were uneventful after that and I had time to talk with Onyx's owner. I had completely neglected her request to try a playmate for Onyx. At first I was thinking that one of the doodles would be good but then she asked about Dexter. Of course! Dexter lived with a cat, has great housetraining, and his original owner was also a young woman. Dexter went home with Onyx. I neglected to mention that Dexter has difficulty getting into cars and I realized it just as I watched him start to enter her car. Then he high-tailed it out of there as I headed for him. I gave him a boost and it sounds like he did fine after that.

I visited Dexter later and took his crate and some food. He'd been doing fine with Onyx and seemed relaxed in the fenced area with Onyx. I just set up the crate and tried not to bother him. I look forward to hearing how he does.

I had Harley and Dobky with me and we headed straight to Global Fest in West Lafayette. Even though it was finishing as we arrived they got lots of attention and they did beautifully. Afterward a bunch of us went to a restaurant in Lafayette. Harley and Dobky got lots of attention while waiting for everyone to arrive and then I hitched them to the fence near the restaurant entrance. They continued to get nearly constant visitors throughout the evening.

I was amazed at how well Harley and Dobky did with all of the people, smells and sounds. I've traveled the country with lots of great dogs for many years so I have fairly high standards when it comes to being in public. Although I would expect my family dogs to maintain downstays in public without being tied, these guys were awesome and didn't seem to mind be restricted by their tethers. They were rock solid not spooked and social but not pushy. These are wonderful dogs. It was a delight to have them with us and they were fantastic representatives for our program.


2008-09-02: project Dobky by Kyler Laird

With the two biggest dogs out of our house my attention has turned to Dobky. When we had four foster dogs at home it was just too much to feed everyone in the kitchen so I let Dobky and Harley eat on their own while I worked the other dogs, especially Dexter. Now that there are only two foster dogs, and Bob is more like part of our family, Dobky really sticks out as needing some training.

From the start, everything about Dobky was a chore. Getting him in and out of the plane, car, crate, house, bedroom...I often had to (and still sometimes do) just lift and place him where I needed him to be. Dragging him would require a cleanup. I decided to take it easy on him and not push his comfort too much. I wanted him to have some time to get comfortable with his new situation without being stressed by too many rules. In fact, I like that he "hunkers down" when he's stressed/unsure about a situation; it's much better than running or snapping.

So Dobky has had about a month of doing things more or less his own way. Our runs are the only time I require him to "toe the line" but that hasn't taken much effort at all. He weaved around me a time or two at the beginning but since then he always runs in the perfect spot just to my right and slightly behind me (a mirror of where Morgan runs). He'll occasionally venture out ahead if we're approaching another dog but I just start running and he falls back in place.

With the other two fosters gone I've been requiring more from Dobky recently. I've returned to waiting for all the dogs to sit before going outside. I've never had such a hard time baiting a dog to sit as with Dobky but now he does it on his own. (I started waiting for him to sit briefly for his food weeks ago.) I'm also feeding him with the other dogs so he has to maintain a down stay from before I start filling bowls to after I've cleaned the bowls. That's been a bit of a struggle but now I just stand over him and he's starting to relax.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to get Dobky ready for CGC testing and then I look back and think how truly easy he is to train whenever I give him some attention. He's just different from the other dogs. Where others will go nuts offering behaviors for a chunk of meat, Dobky just freezes. He's such a wonderful dog though! I love how he behaves in public. His recent night out with Harley showed me that he has the potential to be fantastic, especially at things I can't train.

Dobky is lying on the couch next to me as a type this. I'm going to stop now so I can give him a big hug and think of ways that I can make it fun for him to do the things I need to do.


2008-09-13: full day by Kyler Laird
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We've been staying busy and I've neglected to make updates so I'm going to catch up here.

On Friday I was contacted by Indiana Spay and Neuter because they were full of dogs. They have a striking blue-eyed white Husky but I'd decided I'm over my quota of Huskies. Instead, I decided to help an older doodle, Delaney. Delaney was dropped at the kennel Friday evening. I was told his face was caked with burrs so I went there this morning to shave him. By the time I arrived the groomers had squeezed him into the schedule and were almost done with him. They'd uncovered a weeping cyst on his chest and a substantial fatty lump/tumor/? elsewhere. A doctor had checked the cyst and said it will need to be removed so he'll be in surgery next week. Despite his problems I was told he was a nice guy by everyone who'd encountered him. (While at the clinic I also learned that GP has little interest in kittens.)

With Delaney's care covered I decided to get everyone out to play for awhile (including Maisie and Barouch, who are boarding) and then I bathed Judo. He'd been blowing his coat for awhile and really needed to be brushed but I put him straight into the bath. GP stayed with us to get accustomed to the grooming area. Judo handled the bath well and allowed me to use the blow dryer on him without complaint. I took Judo home after the bath and he got along well with everyone at home. Later I took him to the LayFlats festival for the Almost Home Humane Society. Well...I tried to take him but I screwed up and let him get loose while loading him in the car. He took a tour of the neighborhood with me in pursuit, refusing to come to me even when I was very close to him. Kitty finally got him while I circled to watch for him at the main road. He'd taken a dip in the pond so I hosed him clean(er) before departing.

At LayFlats Judo was the only dog with a van full of cats. He got some good attention and although it was very loud there he behaved well and seemed comfortable. As we were preparing to leave a young couple submitted an application to adopt Judo. It's time for him to find a great home where he's appreciated.

After LayFlats we returned home to feed everyone. Kitty helped Judo with the house dining rules (down stays). While hanging out with us Judo was great and even went into a crate on his own for awhile. We returned to the kennel that night with all the dogs and pulled the kennel dogs for a late play session. Although GP had not met the house dogs and Delaney had not met anyone there were no major problems. Delaney warned everyone that he was uncomfortable by growling at fast-approaching dogs. Also, when we left Judo got pushy with GP and got a bit of a smack-down but although it lasted awhile there were no injuries. I like GP.

After dinner we returned home by way of the grocery and all of the house dogs did well while we waited for Kitty to do the shopping. They got a bit of attention and handled the passing shoppers without a peep.


2008-09-21: Art on the Wabash by Kyler Laird

Kitty wanted to attend Art on the Wabash after church but I knew the dogs were in need of a run. We hadn't been out for awhile so I ran with the boys while Kitty and Grazie drove to Tapawingo Park.

I decided to take a "short cut" through Happy Hollow Park, starting at the pedestrian entrance from Salisbury. We immediately encountered a walker with his older Husky. We talked for awhile and I hope to hear from him again. Then we ventured into the park...I didn't realize how challenging it would be. There were lots of steps and then the path turned to single-track on steep hillside. I experimented with trying to run ahead of the dogs and then letting three go in front and three behind me. Splitting worked well.

Dexter had been a bit of a pain, always pulling hard to the right, so I connected him to Bob. That usually works well but he got a little loopy a couple times and once he even fell off a small bridge, dragging Bob along with him. They were hanging by their collars (but able to stand) for awhile as I tried to get the other dogs stable. Bob slipped out of his collar and I was horrified to think of trying to chase him through the park with the five other dogs. Fortunately he quickly returned to me! I gave him some water and tightened his collar. After that incident it was fairly uneventful. We had a pleasant run downhill and along the river to the park.

I stopped at the edge of the park to call Kitty but we were already starting to draw a crowd. That's how it was the whole time; we could barely move because people were constantly wanting to pet the dogs and ask about them. I enjoyed it and I think the dogs did too. Lots of children came to greet the dogs and everyone behaved beautifully. We saw some other dogs and a little one visited us. I don't know how much of a difference the short run made but I couldn't have asked for our pack to have done better.

After Kitty had her fill of art I ran the boys to Puccini's to meet her for lunch. The dogs all seemed ready to get into the Jeep so I left them there while we ate with friends who we noticed were also eating outside. Our waiter was generous with water - the dogs quickly drained a couple pitchers.


2008-09-25: night outing by Kyler Laird

We've been at the kennel late the last few nights. Yesterday and today we had a couple of my cousin's dogs, Bella and Bear, Lab. siblings, staying at the kennel.

Everyone is doing so well! Judo and GP had a little spat late in our visit but it was without injury. Delaney was such a gentleman, as usual. He has gotten much more relaxed with everyone and is just a delight. I need to get a collar for him but he's been so easy to handle; I often just let him wander and he'll follow me wherever I go and even get in his kennel on his own.

The new guy, Chewie, is finally out of isolation. I was told that he'd been eliminating in his crate and I wanted to get him out at night to give him a chance to make it to morning. When Kitty pulled him from his kennel he was clean! She brought him out after all of the big dogs and he was amazing. We kept him in the entry area and added a couple other dogs. I was concerned that Bob might overwhelm him. Instead, he slipped through the gate and straight into Bob!

Chewie is truly amazing. He never makes a noise and seems completely unfazed by much larger dogs charging him. He poked Grazie a few times and got some corrections from her but he didn't cower a bit. Kitty and I both held him a few times and he seems as comfortable in the air as on the ground. I'm always looking for little dogs who break the stereotype of being scared and yappy. This guy seems perfect. I'm looking forward to working with him.


2008-10-01: a day of firsts by Kyler Laird
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What a day! We had a lot of firsts. Dobky had a hair cut when I got him but it's always blocked his eyes. Kitty took him to be professionally groomed and he looks great! She said that he did well with being bathed, clipped and dried. I love seeing his eyes and he's so handsome!

When dapper Dobky rejoined us we pulled T-bone for introductions. He quickly became comfortable with the Poodley boys and Grazie. I was a little concerned that this young intact GSD might not do well with the rest of my guys but they all did a wonderful job. Eventually T-bone joined our entire group. I was impressed with how Bob and Dexter readily accepted T-bone. Morgan even approved of him. I am delighted to have T-bone in our crew.

After such a great success I was quite hesitant to pull Crockett but I wanted him to get to be part of the pack. Again, I started him with Jarreau, Marley, and then Grazie who he'd already met. (He took a hunk of fur out of Grazie's head yesterday but they were fine today.) I watched carefully as Dobky entered. He can be a bit pushy but he held back with Crockett...for awhile. They stood against each other a few times and neither would relent. I just needed to step between them or give a vocal distraction to break the tension though.

Dexter was no problem at all with Crockett and so I moved on to Morgan. I did not expect Mo to be so quick to forgive the young punk so I put on a glove and held Morgan while everyone entered the main playgroup area. Crockett did not even show an interest in Morgan for quite awhile. When he did approach it was not an issue. I finally let everyone play freely and it went surprisingly well. Crockett was careful but joined in playing and did not get over-stimulated by some of the big guys running and playing a little rough.

As I was getting ready to leave a playgroup was about to start and some of the monitor's dogs arrived. One of the little dogs was very excited and ran along the fence creating quite a stir. I was too far away to reach the dogs before Morgan and Crockett bumped into each other and had an extended spat. It lasted a long time but was fairly controlled. I stood in the middle of it but they both stayed clear of me.  Finally I wrapped Crockett's neck and he immediately stopped without any struggling, almost as if he was relieved to be done. He showed no aggression toward me.  Morgan's leg was injured but I think he'll heal easily. The dogs were fine together as we left.

We had time to return home, feed the dogs and then go to University Place to meet another handler with her dog, Tanner. I took Dobky and Kitty took Marley. Normally we crate them and Dexter while we're gone so I decided to leave Dexter free in the house. That seemed to work alright.

The boys were great at UPlace. I enjoy seeing Dobky's eyes and it was fun to have two freshly-groomed Poodle mixes. We chatted with several residents while waiting for Tanner. He's a big guy and seemed anxious during the visit but was well-behaved. We visited the room of one resident in Assisted Living who saw us on our way into the building and called to request us. It was a perfect introduction to UPlace. After that we headed to the Health Center and after a couple visits in the hall we let the dogs play in the courtyard. The boys had a great time and Tanner did well at getting them to run.

Despite my failure to control the situation with Crockett it was a banner day. I think T-bone is going to be a great dog and I'm confident that Crockett will learn to relax around other dogs. Marley and Dobky did a beautiful job at politely visiting people. (Dobky seems to be a little spooked by the elevator and bathroom. We'll work on that.) It was so much fun to be around Tanner! He's a big boy and gets a lot of attention and he's very well trained. Although harvest is starting soon I'm going to try to get back into regularly visiting UPlace.  I enjoy sharing it with new teams.


2008-10-02: therapy dog class begins by Kyler Laird

The latest therapy dog class at Klondike Canine Academy started last week. Waynetta attended with Aries but Kitty and I had a funeral to attend. This week we got to start working with Peyton and Dobky. And Layla brought along Chewie for some training too!

We arrived in time to give Aries, Peyton and Dobky a few minutes to run before class. Aries hadn't been around these guys and he was a little tense but they were alright after a few minutes. Aries did well last week but was a bit frustrating this week. He's a good guy and I'm confident he and Waynetta will work together to make progress.

I wasn't expecting much from Dobky but I love how calm and attentive he is. It's hard to do stays with a dog who constantly wants to touch me but I'm trying to appreciate him and let him develop at a comfortable pace. We spent a lot of time just relaxing with each other. He is not at all bothered by the other dogs.

Peyton was the big surprise of the evening. I was surprised Kitty even agreed to work with him but the real shocker was how well they did together. He was a bit wild at first but Kitty stuck with it and soon I saw them working like a real team. She really brought him along nicely.

And then there's Chewie. He's just wonderful. I enjoy seeing the little guy and he is certainly stuck on Layla. He's recovering well from his recent surgery.

Speaking of surgery...T-bone was out on hospital side this evening. He's been a challenge for the staff there. I'm looking forward to getting him back out to play with everyone.

Oh...and then there's Keowee. Tonight we got a call that he was out running the neighborhood again. I drove over to find Allison not far behind him but he would not return to her. I kept driving the neighborhood hoping to spot him if he crossed a major road and then I got the call that he was closer to home. As I drove that way I saw him in the road and pulled over, opened the door and offered him a ride. He hopped in, panting hard and bleeding from a cut dew-claw pad. I think he'll be alright.  Huskies...


2008-10-03: Friday playgroups by Kyler Laird
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Waynetta called me today to ask about bringing Aries to meet my pack. She wanted to keep away from playgroup times to avoid other dogs so we met at 3:30, just before playgroups. Aries, of course, did fine meeting everyone. We eventually added the kenneled dogs and Stan joined us. They were doing so well that we stayed for playgroups.  We had a good bunch of dogs and were joined by Sunny and his sister, Leia.

Everyone got along beautifully until the very end when we mistakenly tethered GP and Chewie to the same person to return to the kennel. I looked over to see GP holding Chewie in his mouth. I made my way through the gates to them and GP quickly dropped Chewie who ran off and squeezed through a gate. He was a bit scratched but did not sustain any major damage. GP had a bite on his nose. I wonder what happened.

We were all ready for dinner so I took our dogs and Aries home. I crated Aries and Dobky (separately), leaving the normally-crated Dexter and Marley free in the house with the rest of the dogs. Kitty and I joined Waynetta and Stan for dinner then returned to find the dogs all doing well.


2008-10-04: Saturday socialization by Kyler Laird
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I arrived well before playgroups to work with Crockett some more. We ran it just like the other times, starting with the Poodle boys, Grazie, then added Bob and Dexter. Dobky and Bob are both very confident with Crockett but there weren't any situations that couldn't be defused with some well-placed sounds.

Morgan and Crockett showed that they obviously recalled what happened last time the met. They were quite vocal with each other when Crockett initially arrived. I hesitated to bring them together again but decided I could manage them as long as no one else appeared.

I clipped Morgan to me in the main playgroup area stood behind the gate with him as I unlocked the gate. Crockett came through the gate looking for Morgan but I blocked him with a jacket. Morgan was not interested in engaging and Crockett quickly left to check out the new space. Crockett made a few more passes and showed some interest in Morgan but Mo seemed to get the message that I was in charge of handling the pushy young guy. In fact, he was pulling toward the gate to get into the other playgroup area, away from Crockett.

I decided that Morgan would not be a problem and unclipped him. I stayed on my toes and blocked Crockett a few times but let them get progressively closer. Eventually they were tempering themselves, making passes but not displaying aggression. (Crockett's hackles make quite a display when he's "on.") We ended the socialization and returned Crockett to his kennel without incident before playgroups started.

After returning Crockett I released Peyton, GP and Delaney to join us for playgroups. T-bone is still recovering from surgery and Judo is still on loan with Onyx. The kennel dogs were full of energy and Peyton was especially boisterous. We were joined by other dogs for playgroups, including Judo.  I discovered that Judo has been doing very well with Onyx, giving her nearly constant play. Although he hasn't hurt the cat, he has been chasing. We'll work on that.

I figured my pack had enough play already and I was trying to leave quickly but got delayed. Apparently Marley had a run-in with GP and I looked over to see GP grasping Marley's butt firmly in his mouth. Again, GP quickly released his grip when I reached him and Marley did not seem physically injured. GP did not seem at all bothered. I'm thinking that perhaps he's found an effective way to deal with pesky dogs. I'd like to convince him to use a different strategy. I'll need to be more protective of him.


2008-10-05: church retreat by Kyler Laird
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We've been staying busy and have not participated in the church retreat this weekend but we wanted to at least be there for the Sunday service. We loaded the house dogs and made it just in time for the start of the service. The dogs stayed in the car and did well waiting for us.

After the service Kitty and I took the dogs for a walk to the nearby campgrounds. The dogs were excited but did alright walking at our slow pace. We returned and put them into downs while we ate lunch. They're not like our old pack; instead they were constantly breaking their stays, mostly to get attention from the many adoring people who surrounded them. I couldn't fault them for that so they got a lot of slack. We had large and small dogs, and people of all ages visiting them. They did well with everyone. I was especially impressed with the foster dogs, Dexter, Bob, and Dobky.

I'd pulled out the Trikke for the kids and before we left I put Bob and Morgan on it. They did a great job of pulling, even taking commands at a great distance from me.

After lunch we drove to a nearby Niches property for a hike. It was a narrow track so I let our three dogs lead and the foster dogs lagged behind me. Kitty took Grazie.


2008-10-06: harvest begins by Kyler Laird
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We began harvesting today. Because we're doing soybeans and I have a spiffy semi truck now, I decided I should be able to handle it as the only driver. Kitty was home with our dogs so I wanted to take a kennel dog with me. I've wanted some one-on-one time with Crockett so I picked him up around noon. He was fabulous in the car; he stayed in the back, didn't make a sound and seemed relaxed.

I misunderstood when Dad was leaving for town so I was a bit hurried when I arrived at the farm. Crockett and I jumped in the truck with Dad for a lift to the shop where a grain truck had been repaired. Crockett was excited to meet Dad at first but once I got Crockett positioned he was fine. We bailed out at the highway and walked a bit to the shop. Crockett pulled, of course, but he seemed to at least have the notion of heeling and I encouraged him to hang back with me. When I went inside to get the key for the truck I don't think the woman behind the counter saw Crockett...until he put his paws on the counter. It didn't seem to bother her and Crockett was being good-natured. We hopped in the grain truck and Crockett again settled for the ride. He's remarkably relaxed for a dog who has been kenneled and not usually allowed to play with the others.

After dropping the grain truck in the field we headed back to the house to get my semi. Again, Crockett pulled quite a bit for the first half mile but then settled into a decent heel. At the house I left Crockett in my Jeep while I wrangled the semi into position. That took awhile but he seemed content. Crockett also got to meet Dad's dog. The boys had no problems with each other although they wanted to play more than my lead would allow.

Crockett made himself comfortable in the back of the semi and we headed to the field. We met our neighbor's dog there and Crockett did well with him too. We had time to wait for the other truck to be filled so I came back and settled on the bunk to do some work. Crockett joined me a couple times but was never pushy.

When the smaller truck was ready we took it to the elevator. I wanted to check on contracts after I dumped so I took Crockett inside with me. He pulled a bit but was easy to manage in the tight office spaces and, as always, kept quiet. Back at the farm we returned to work in the semi until it was full. I marveled at how well Crockett does. He's always quiet and relaxed, a great companion.

After I returned Crockett to his kennel that night I released the other dogs. I had a report that T-bone (wearing an e-collar) got loose and had a fight with GP (who was on a trolley line) that day but they were fine until they got outside. They got a bit growly with each other a few times but it was easy to manage. Both dogs seemed a bit desperate for attention so I tried to provide it. Peyton and Delaney were doing their usual - Peyton was zooming and Delaney kept checking in with me, just looking for an ear scratch. After I got the guys back in their kennels I pulled Crockett again for one last outing before going home.

I get frustrated when these guys get into fights but it's a joy to spend time with them. They're all such wonderful dogs who just need more attention. It will be a challenge to provide that during harvest but I'm looking forward to pulling one of them each day for awhile.


2008-10-11: long day by Kyler Laird
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As I was heading to the farm today I got a call that Fang had arrived at the kennel. Oh! I'd almost forgotten about him. I agreed to help IAMRA move a Malamute to Merrillville and asked that he be dropped at the kennel for me to transport when weather allows me to be out of the fields. I wanted to personally handle the intake so I stopped in to meet the transport. I enjoyed talking dogs for awhile and Fang ("Fangman") seemed to be an easy-going guy. Once the transporter left I decided to take Fang with me.

Fang was well-behaved in the car and at the farm. He got along well with the other dogs there. I was hoping to use him as transport from field to another but as soon as I jumped on my scooter he gave up interest in pulling me. Instead he trotted along behind me.

I wanted to return home in time to take Kitty to a festival in town. As I hurried to put away trucks I forgot to grab my computer. I didn't realize it until I was half way home so that made me even later. I dropped Fang in his run with some food and water and hurriedly grabbed the first three dogs in the line - Peyton, Crockett and T-bone. T-bone was just in a fight yesterday so I thought I'd hold him close to me while Crockett and Peyton played. It didn't work that way.

We were outside only a minute before Crockett came at T-bone. T-bone reacted and even though I had his collar we suddenly had a fight. My wrist was in the way but Crockett inhibited his bite (fortunately!). Unfortunately T-bone wasn't pulling any punches. As I'd pull dogs apart one would always come back for more - even Peyton was beating up on T-bone. I finally stopped the fight and noticed Crockett holding a front paw. Dang! He'd had a pad completely split open. It was bad.

I put dogs away and bandaged Crockett (with Layla's assistance by phone). I got him back to his run wearing an e-collar, wiped up most of the blood, and let GP and Judo out. They were so good! I love getting GP's attention. When I returned I found Crockett missing the end of his bandage. Grrrr.

I considered taking him to the emergency clinic but I know there's not a whole lot more they'd do for him other than start antibiotics.  I decided to bandage him again, being a bit more thorough.  I took Fang out for awhile and returned to see the bandages intact.

I finally got home, very late, but we took Dobky and Morgan to town.  The boys did well with the crowd and loud music.  Dobky is especially calm and got a lot of attention.  The food booths were closed by the time we arrived so we had dinner at Red 7.  The boys did downstays the whole time and Dobky only got up once (to be petted by a cute waitress - hard to blame him).  We also happened to meet an enthusiastic young man who is interested in using therapy dogs in a program with adults who have special needs.  I look forward to discussing that more.


2008-10-14: dirty dozen by Kyler Laird
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We got a bit of rain today so we weren't in the fields. I spent the day catching up on work but when Kitty returned we took the dogs to the kennel to play. It's been a long time since they've been out to play.

After we unloaded I watched our guys while Kitty brought the kennel dogs. T-bone was first and I put him in the far play area to chill for awhile. Judo, Peyton, GP, and Fang followed and went in the adjacent play area. (Crockett is still recovering on hospital side.) It didn't take long at all to integrate that group with our guys. Fang is so easygoing and GP is just a sweetie who wants my attention.

Kitty took Morgan inside to have his leg wound checked and I strapped the muzzle to T-bone. I love the muzzle! T-bone is not thrilled with it but it's a wonderful tool. I brought him right in with everyone else and he was fine. There were several instances where I would have worried if he hadn't worn the muzzle but they weren't a problem at all tonight.

Dobky followed T-bone very closely and made frequent dominant gestures. T-bone mostly ignored him. Morgan and Kitty returned and Mo seemed almost disinterested in T-bone. I didn't expect that.

Everyone was doing so well that I thought we deserved some time in the big park area. I haven't had so many dogs out there in awhile. It was wonderful to watch them run. They picked up a few burrs but it was worth a little cleanup.

After returning the kennel dogs Kitty and I went to dinner with our pack. Dobky joined Morgan, Jarreau and Marley in a down stay (off-lead) and did well. Everyone was mellow during dinner. It was a good night.


2008-10-17: drizzly Friday by Kyler Laird
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It's been raining so I've not been at the farm as I was expecting. I took Mackey and Keowee out for a walk in the middle of the day and then I got to attend playgroups around 4:30. It's a good thing I got there a little early; only one monitor was there and we were getting a lot of clients. I took over the "big dog" section and my guys had a blast.

I'd gotten a call earlier from a couple friends we know from the Lafayette dog park who wanted to visit. They came and enjoyed seeing so many big dogs getting to play without anyone going crazy. I hope to see them bring their dogs soon.

It wasn't until others left at the end that I could pull the kennel dogs to play. I was expecting the mix of my tired guys and the fresh and nutty kennel dogs to be a challenge but they got along quite well. There was a minor scuffle between GP and Marley once when the dogs were all packed by the gate but that was all. T-bone wore his muzzle the whole time and seems to be doing alright. I'm in no hurry to discontinue the muzzle.

Later tonight I returned to the kennel to spend some time with Crockett. Poor guy! His left leg has been bandaged against his body and he's wearing a "no-bite" collar to keep him from bothering his foot. It reminds me a bit too much of my dog Garbo when he had osteosarcoma. Crockett will be better soon though and I'll try not to upset him in the meantime.  It was drizzling while we were outside so perhaps I'll get to spend time with him tomorrow too.


2008-11-02: Crockett's outing by Kyler Laird

Today we dropped Bob at the kennel to rest and took Crockett to the farm with our other six home dogs. Crockett was muzzled for the ride and stayed on Kitty's lap. At the farm he ran with the other dogs and seemed generally alright although his pad still looks awful. It was hard to keep it covered all day even though he rode with me.

At the end of the day we left all of the home dogs in the semi in the field while we shuttled trucks. We returned after about ten minutes and I saw Morgan running toward me on the road. Then I quickly spotted the rest of the dogs in the field! Somehow the door to the semi had opened and all of the dogs were free - but Jarreau chose to stay in the semi. (Good dog, Jarreau!) Kitty collected the dogs as I struggled to muzzle Crockett. They all seemed happy to hop into the Jeep but they still avoided Crockett even though he was muzzled and tethered in the back.

We returned Crockett to the clinic and I released all of the dogs in the kennel. Bob stayed tethered to me as he hobbled about. Everyone else did their usual without giving Bob too much grief.


2008-11-02: corn harvest by Kyler Laird
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During soybean harvest I was able to take a breath every so often and write a bit about the dogs and Kitty stayed at home with our dogs there. Since we've been in corn I've hardly had a spare moment. Kitty and I take all of our home dogs (Grazie, Morgan, Jarreau, Marley, Bob, Dexter, Dobky) to the farm in the morning. On the way I pull up a gravel lane in the middle of a couple 'bean fields we've already harvested and I let the dogs run to the end of it where I collect them - except for Bob and sometimes Morgan, who get to chase us back to the road. The dogs are ready to relax a bit  after that.  We load them into the semi and haul grain non-stop all day. Kitty drives the semi and a tandem truck while I drive two tandems. Most of the dogs wait in the semi but we pull a dog or two to go with us in the smaller trucks. We head home well after dark and feed the dogs at home. Kitty and I often go out to eat before or after we visit the dogs at the kennel.

The dogs are generally doing well at the farm. Besides their brief morning run, they often get to run free in the fields and around the barns. The Poodle mixes do especially well and Dexter is doing much better.  Morgan got confused and started to run down the road after Dad's truck once but Kitty called him back. Once when I let the dogs out in the field Bob just started running. He'd obviously slipped into "Husky mode" and was not going to return. Morgan ran after him and they were gone, headed toward the barns. The crops were harvested in the area and I assumed they'd wait by the barns so I didn't worry but when we finally had a full load and headed that way I didn't find the dogs. I got the Jeep and drove all around the farm multiple times without spotting them. Finally I returned to the trucks in the field and there was Bob. I stood on top of the truck and saw a black speck moving my way on a road between a couple of our fields where I didn't even think to look earlier. Morgan was happy to jump in the Jeep when I reached him and I was sooo happy to have him return safely.

Bob and Morgan's instincts got them into trouble again yesterday. We had a bit of a wait for a load as we finished a field so we were all in the semi. It was warm and I had opened the windows. I jumped in the combine to talk to Dad and decided to ride with him as he finished, leaving Kitty with the dogs. Then I got a frantic call from her. I ran back to the end of the field to find Morgan and Bob playing "tug" with a rabbit. (The rabbits come out as we finish a field.) Bob was obviously injured. I think he broke a toe jumping out of the semi. Grrrr...

The kennel dogs are doing wonderfully. Peyton and Judo love to play every night. GP still snuggles close to me a lot but he ventures out more now. Fangman goes between hanging out with me and playing happily with the other dogs. And T-bone is a joy - he is playing well with the other dogs but he craves attention from me. I often call him and he immediately stops whatever he's doing and comes dashing to - and into - me. He is going to be a super dog.

Chewie and Delaney are staying with Layla. It sounds like she's found a home for Delaney but he's had a couple seizures so she's trying to address that before he goes. Chewie is doing well and has recovered from the rough handling GP gave him.

Keowee is still living with Allison and causing some frustrations. He's not doing well in playgroups these days. I had him out with my usual dozen over a week ago and he kept getting into fights. It was like a barroom brawl - as soon as he'd start something several other fights would erupt. There were no injuries but I did break the small camera I usually carry so I haven't been taking many photos recently.

Last Sunday was Dogtoberfest and it seemed to go beautifully. It was windy but the weather was otherwise good. I stayed out in the playgroup area the whole time with my dozen dogs. We were the "playgroup demonstration." All of the dogs were out there most of the time (three hours) and Maddie joined us for awhile too. They did remarkably well, especially for such an extended time and Maddie's first time with many of the dogs. We had some potential adopters visit Peyton and I think one made an application (through IDOG) for him.

The elevator doesn't open until noon today so we're getting a late start. I might swap Bob for Crockett on the way to the farm. I'd like to find a less-demanding foster home where Bob can recover. Crockett has been getting a lot of attention at the clinic, often hanging out in the office along with Chewie, but he's a little stir crazy. He got through to his second set of stitches and removed them Friday morning. We've decided to just let his paw heal on its own. He needs an outing though.


2008-11-06: busy days by Kyler Laird
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Harvest continues but things are happening with the dogs too. Yesterday the grain elevators closed early so I called Jasper County Animal Shelter about a Giant Schnauzer I'd promised to check. I had just enough time to drive over to see him before the shelter closed but when I looked at their online listing I didn't see him. The ACO told me that a breed rescue in Arizona had arranged for him to be pulled. (Yea!) While I was on the phone she asked if I knew anything about Newfoundlands...

Newfoundlands?! Why, yes, I've enjoyed a few recently. In fact, just the night before I was delighted to play with one of South Central Newfoundland Club Rescue's Newfs, Shiloh, at the kennel. She's a Landseer and I'd discussed her wonderful personality with her guardian who told me that Landseers have "the goofy gene." I had already been thinking about having a Landseer of my own. And it turns out the Newf at JCAS is a Landseer!

I arrived at JCAS and made my way to the Newf, Huntley. He seemed small and not so Newfish when I first approached him in the run. Then I got him outside and could see him from a distance. He's a beautiful boy - and very much a Newf, even though he's a bit small. Huntley came from a breeder in Missouri, is 11 months old, and was relinquished because his owner moved. I liked him from the start. He needs quite a bit of training but he's a good playful boy.

I hadn't told Kitty about Huntley and she was waiting inside the semi in a field with our six dogs when I returned. (Bob goes to the kennel for the day to take it easy on his toes.) The dogs were so excited when I got out with Huntley. I soon released them from the semi and everyone played in the field. Huntley got along well with everyone from the start. I was relieved because I didn't know how we'd get him home otherwise; I hadn't brought my usual gear (muzzle, etc.). Instead, I ran him a bit alongside the Jeep and then tethered him in back with the others. He rode home without incident.  Kitty even said that she liked him.

At the kennel I established Huntley in his run and sent Bob home with Kitty and the other dogs to eat. Then I pulled the other kennel dogs and Shiloh to play. We had to hurry a bit because Peyton's family was coming to visit! (Peyton was adopted through IDOG.) After they arrived I put the other dogs in the kennel and we set to work bathing Peyton.

I had to take a business call so I left Peyton's new mom and her little girls to bathe Peyton. Everyone did a great job and I decided it was time for Peyton to see his home. It was delightful to send him off with his new family.

Today it rained at the farm and we returned early enough for the CGC/Therapy Dog class at KCA. I called Peyton's family and they joined us there. The class was canceled but Peyton and his family got a quick clicker training intro.

After class I played with our usual kennel dogs and Shiloh. I returned Shiloh to her run and then got Huntley. (Shiloh and Huntley are both intact.) Again, Huntley got along well with everyone although GP was a bit stiff with him. Eventually I released him to play off-lead and he had a grand time trying to chase T-bone around the yard. Once all of those dogs were returned I pulled Crockett all on his own. I look forward to working him with other dogs again but not tonight.

When Kitty returned to take me to dinner we took a few photos of Huntley. My little camera broke awhile ago so I haven't been taking photos during the day. It was hard to get a good shot of Huntley inside at night but I wanted to share him here.


2008-11-12: 2008 Farm Dog Awards by Kyler Laird

Harvest is a month of waking early, driving to the farm, hauling loads of grain all day, and returning late at night. It takes a lot out of the people involved but it's also a challenge for the dogs who accompany us. The dogs get many opportunities to travel in various vehicles, run off-lead, and meet other people and dogs while investigating endless new smells. The dogs are also expected to be able to go from full-out running in the field or pulling a scooter on the road between fields to relaxing in a truck without disturbing the driver. The demands expose strengths and weaknesses of each dog.

All of the dogs have been a joy at the farm this year. Their presence is a complication but it also reduces the stress of harvest. They truly "pay their way" as it's farm income that pays for the care of the dogs. Here is a small recognition of some of these wonderful farm dogs.

Most Improved: Dexter p1020871 Dexter had a rough time at the farm at first. He broke a nail getting into the semi, he would pull like crazy on lead in the fields, he wouldn't get in or out of any of the vehicles without force... By the end of harvest I frequently let Dex run off-lead, he was leaping into and out of the Jeep and trucks, and he was a delightful companion. It's been very satisfying to see him go from being frustrated to being happy and confident in this environment.
Most Enthusiastic: Bob p1020833 Bob and Morgan jumped out of an open window in the semi to catch a rabbit. I was in the combine when Kitty called to tell me and by the time I ran back to them they were playing "tug" with the rabbit. (No, I didn't get a photo of it.) Bob managed to break two of his toes in the process and is wearing a splint for a few weeks.
Best Truck Imitator: GP p1040342 GP looks a lot like the semi: white with some black spots, burly and stout. He was a wonderful companion inside it also. I enjoyed having GP nuzzle alongside of me while we waited for loads.
Most Poised: T-bone p1040373 T-bone literally came straight from the shelter to the farm and he was always alert yet relaxed there. He did well on- and off-lead, out in the fields and inside the trucks.
Mr. Congeniality: Huntley p1020859 Like T-bone, Huntley came to the farm straight from the shelter. Huntley, however, immediately joined six of our house dogs for the ride home. Although he did not return to the farm, he showed a remarkable ability to get along well with others there.
Mr. Farm Dog 2008: Dobky p1020825 Dobky was quite a surprise on the farm. He has been so timid at the house but he blossomed at the farm. He fit right in with the other dogs in the semi but he was also happy to accompany me in the other trucks on his own. He always settled right into his seat and never complained, often snuggling his head against my thigh without being the slightest bit disturbed when I'd poke him while shifting. I quickly dispensed with using a lead for Dobky both at the farm and at the grain elevators; although he became more adventurous he would always stay nearby and return to me. Dobky has been extremely timid about getting into and especially out of vehicles since I got him but he now jumps in and out of the grain trucks with minor trepidation. If I notice that he's unsure I just place my hand lightly on his head and he immediately relaxes and moves confidently.

2008-11-16: weekend update by Kyler Laird

It's been a good weekend. Since finishing harvest we've been catching up on some of those things we'd neglected for the past month.

On Thursday I took Fangman to the farm with me and planned to take him to Merrillville to meet his transport to IAMRA. Unfortunately I blew my whole day when I got the semi stuck backing it out of the barn (into a hill...). Fangman must have barked for two hours while I worked on it - not a big help. Maybe he was cheering for me? Fortunately the IAMRA transport kindly drove the extra distance to meet me in Rensselaer since I was running so late. Fangman has been good at the kennel but people have already submitted applications for him so he'll be in a home soon.

On Friday Judo went home with Remi's family. He's going to help them see what it would be like to have a second dog. Originally it was a weekend trip but now it sounds like Judo might also take a Thanksgiving trip.

On Saturday Crockett's new family visited the kennel and drove him back to Minnesota. I think he's going to enjoy being an only dog with his own family.

On Sunday we had a long meeting after church. I came home part way through the meeting to let out the dogs and decided to bring Dobky with me when I returned. Dobky lacks obedience of basic commands but his personality gives me confidence that he can be unobtrusive. Indeed, after we arrived to church we joined a break-out meeting and he remained calm, quiet and nuzzled at my side. When the groups gathered together Dobky was absolutely solid in the crowd and nuzzled into me when we all sat in a large circle. The people sitting on our sides were both interested in Dobky and would occasionally reach down and give him a pat. I decided to let him decide how to respond and he was perfect; he would nuzzle and solicit more attention but then return to me when the other people disengaged. I am delighted with Dobky's personality. He's going to be an outstanding therapy dog.

Upon returning home we quickly gathered Dexter, Morgan, Marley and Jarreau (leaving Bob and Grazie due to their paw injuries) and headed to the kennel to catch the end of playgroups. There I learned that playgroups had been canceled (even though the weather seemed good to me) but there were a couple people and dogs there. I only have three dogs at the kennel now - GP, T-bone and Huntley - for a total of eight so it seems a bit sparse to me. Everyone seemed to have a good time though. Huntley and T-bone play all the time. Dobky tries to reign in T-bone, who does his best to submit but continue playing. GP ventures out a bit but usually wanders back to get attention from me. I enjoy grabbing his beautiful face and then rubbing his back while he leans into me.


2008-11-24: catching up by Kyler Laird
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Once again, things are going so well that I've neglected to write for
awhile.  The kennel dogs, GP, T-bone and Huntley are doing great and
were out for playgroups (with my house dogs only) Friday, Saturday and
Sunday.  GP hasn't chomped at a dog in awhile.  I've even been letting
Maisey (Cocker Spaniel) and Baruch(sp? small Poodle) out of the kennel
with the boys at night.

T-bone and Huntley are incredible buddies.  They can just play and play,
taking turns rolling for each other.  T-bone is so much faster than
Huntley but he takes it easy to give Huntley a chance.  Besides not
chomping on other dogs GP is simply an all-around dear.  He continues to
stick close to me most of the time, looking for a butt scratch.  I enjoy
snuggling his big ol' head.  Unfortunately the kennel dogs all seem to
be just a bit under the weather.  I've asked the clinic to check on them.

At home, we're mostly dealing with Bob.  It's been three weeks since his
paw was splinted and he went for a check today.  I'm told he had some
nasty sores but his toes are healing well.  He got a fresh splint,
antibiotics and orders to take it easy.  Bob has done an amazing job at
leaving his splint alone all this time and I feel terrible that he's had
these sores.  He's always a great dog but I can imagine he's even more
friendly since his injury.  He is often curled up at my feet and is so
compliant when I ask him to do something.

Dexter is a delight.  The Great Pyrs are such a challenge sometimes but
then they turn out to be such sweeties.  Dexter has "crate" down pat and
often goes into his crate on his own.  He's normally crated with Marley
because they both sometimes chew when unattended.  (I figure they can
chew on each other.)  Dexter's barking has diminished but he still
alerts for new people and vehicles.  During the day Dexter occasionally
walks up to look deep into my eyes and at night he curls up against me
in bed.  Dexter is great with the dogs too.  He and Jarreau are frequent
play buddies but Dexter will also tap at the door just to go out and get
thrashed by Morgan and Marley too.  Sometimes it escalates just a bit
too much and it only takes a small reminder from me for everyone to take
it down a notch.

The relationship Dobky and I have continues to grow.  As with Dexter,
there were times when I almost gave up on him but those are distant
memories, replaced by appreciation for his outstanding personality.  We
have a long way to go in our basic training but I'm confident we'll make
it.  In class on Thursday the instructor, Allison, brought Keowee but he
was barking a lot while she was trying to teach so I took him and left
Dobky tethered to the wall.  Keowee needed attention and Dobky was
content to stay there alone, watching me.  He even did a great "stand for
exam" and "clumsy/rough petting" all on his own.  Eventually I returned to him and
was clicker training him alongside Keowee.  Dobky is incredibly
resistant to any form of coercion - even leash pulls - so he forces me
to develop better ways of working with him.  It's a joy to see him gain
confidence and trust, and it's fun to have a dog who is so calm, quiet
and cautious in public.  Dobky continues to nuzzle against me at night.

Our family dogs are doing well with the rescues.  Grazie did get
crosswise with Dexter once (perhaps over a dropped piece of kibble?) and
made sure he understood that she's in charge.  Dexter's deference was
adorable.  Morgan has mellowed with age and is often content to take
abuse from the other dogs.  It especially surprises me how he lets Dobky
bark and chomp at him when Morgan is playing rough with another dog.
Marley and Jarreau get along with everyone and are often rolling around
with Dexter.

Judo is doing well with his foster family, playing with Remi.  Chewie
and Delaney remain with Layla.  Delaney is likely to be adopted by
Layla's brother-in-law but Delaney has had some seizures so he's under
observation for now.  Chewie has recovered from his stint in GP's mouth.


2008-11-27: Thanksgiving by Kyler Laird
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Dobky was groomed yesterday and Kitty reports that he did a wonderful job; he was calm in the bath, stood still for the groomer all day and even had his nails trimmed.  The groomer was especially impressed by how well he handled the power drier.  On the way home Kitty and Dobky met me on my way home from the farm at the WL Farmers Market where he seemed relaxed in the crowd.

I decided to take advantage of Dobky's recent bath and the beautiful weather by walking Dobky to University Place for a visit. We still need to do a lot of work on heeling but we'll get there. At UPlace we were greeted by staff in the hall and Dobky was solid as usual. He is incredibly easy to manage. He is not at all exuberent or pushy. He's very slow and deliberate but he does show an interest in people. At the health center we stopped to talk with some people who wanted to see Dobky and he was perfectly patient. He holds so still that sometimes I worry that people will think he's antisocial...and then he'll edge forward just enough to be petted. After our visits I walked with Dobky through the halls and let him roam the courtyard for a bit before we returned home. He's a joy.

Kitty and I were guests of Bastian's family for Thanksgiving dinner. As always, Bastian seems like he's lived there for years and his family adores him. It's extremely rewarding to be able to match a wonderful dog with a wonderful family.

After we returned home and fed the dogs there I headed to the kennel. It's full but my three are all still in runs of their own. Tomorrow there's only room for two of them. I'm working on that.

I let T-bone, Huntley, and GP out first. They all get along fine these days; GP's days of chomping on Huntley seem to be over. Maisey, Baruch and Ranger joined us. I enjoy seeing everyone get along so well and it's comforting that they all head back into their runs with little prompting.


2008-12-07: 2008 Christmas Parade by Kyler Laird
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I considered entering the parade along with the clinic/kennel but delays pushed us beyond the deadline. Although I was disappointed I was also a little relieved. Then I got a message from a friend telling me about a parade entry open to all local rescues, organized by Patricia Wolff. I finally got in touch with her a few days ago and she was very welcoming.

I've been fretting about how to handle all of our dogs in the parade for quite awhile and it all came together today...barely. I finished modifying Grazie's old Radio Flyer last night; it has a new undercarriage and a modified steering tongue to fit a new DogWorks hitch I just received. Morgan took it for a test drive this morning and even though he hasn't pulled in ages he pulled like a pro. I spent the rest of the morning making lines for a sled, rubber sledge, and old tire. It was down to the wire when I loaded the house dogs in Kitty's vehicle and headed to the kennel.

While Kitty secured two parking places near our parade start position I let the kennel dogs out. I had almost decided not to bring Bozo but Kitty said she got some volunteers at church so I decided to load him also. The four kennel dogs (GP, T-bone, Huntley and Bozo) were a tight fit in the back of my Jeep but they got along well.

We parked and met our friends John and Sue who had offered to walk the Pyrs. They've had family Pyrs of their own and I appreciated having them available to handle GP and Dexter. My car full, however, was not easy to wrangle. I finally clipped Bozo on a tether in the car but in doing so allowed T-bone to escape. It amazed me; I've never let a dog get past me like that and this was a bad time for it to happen. Fortunately we had good help. Sue quickly got to him and almost had him in hand when a cat appeared and he was off again. Soon he ran my way. I think he was going to try to duck past me but I took no chances and dove at him for a solid tackle. He didn't seem bothered by the firm handling.

It took quite awhile to set up the wagon, sled, sledge and tire and get the dogs connected but we were blessed with fantastic help and it all just happened. Eventually we were on our way down the street. Morgan pulled the wagon with Bob and Grazie, with Rae trying to contain the riders. Huntley and T-bone, lead by Audrey, pulled the tire. Rachel walked Dobky. Sue took GP while John walked Dexter. Kitty handled Marley and Jarreau. And I hooked on to try to stabilize T-bone while guiding Bozo, who was connected to the rubber sledge which was in turn pulling a plastic sled holding a bunch of gear I brought. It was a rough start but we were starting to get the hang of it by the time we reached the starting position a couple blocks later.

The group had a truck pulling a flatbed trailer with bales of straw. Kitty quickly decided to ride along with Jarreau and Marley. Bob wasn't staying in the wagon so he went on the trailer too. Dobky went back and forth, giving Rachel a workout. Allison met us with Keowee and also handled T-bone, leaving me to guide Morgan and Bozo.

Although we arrived after the 2:00 start time we still waited another thirty minutes to move. It's good we didn't show up "on time!" Morgan was raring to pull the entire time and it was good to move. As we moved, the fire engines came in behind us. Yeow! They were very loud. Of our group, only Jarreau was bothered by it but Kitty remained in control of him. The organizers graciously switched us with a couple cabs so that we had a few yards of buffer and that made it much less painful.

Along the route everything went well. The dogs quickly settled into their roles. I was delighted to see Sue and GP working the crowd. From Sue's description, he's a natural, basking in the attention from the children. Huntley was also working the crowd but he looked a lot more awkward doing it. He certainly is enthusiastic! Bozo had quite a load to pull so he didn't cause me much of a problem and he seemed at home in the busy environment. Morgan, of course, pulled like he'd been doing it every day, weaving back and forth across the street as we waited for the slower moving traffic, with Grazie waiting patiently in the wagon.

At the end of the parade we loaded most of the dogs and gear onto the truck and trailer but I decided Bozo still had some energy so I ran back across the river to the car with him and Morgan pulling an empty wagon (except for when I rode in it a bit). They were both great on the return trip. It was a beautiful way to end a beautiful afternoon, full of wonderful weather, dogs, and people.


2008-12-14: AHHS Santa photo by Kyler Laird
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After church, a meeting and lunch we rushed home to grab the dogs at the house and get them to Almost Home Humane Society for a photo with Santa. The dogs were all tightly wound and I think they expected to go to the park to play. Instead they had to behave among other dogs, people and...cats! It was challenging but we pulled it off with plenty of help from the AHHS staff and the wonderful photographer, Karen Weatherwax, who touched up this photo (we didn't all fit in the normal space) and supplied it to us electronically.


2008-12-15: Carroll Elementary visit by Kyler Laird

We've gone to Carroll Elementary School annually for a few years. This year there was only one other person who could go and I couldn't decide who I wanted so I took all the Pet Partner boys from the house: Morgan, Jarreau, Marley, and Bob. It was cold and icy but we got there in time for Jarreau and Marley to relax a bit while we waited in the library for the sixth grade classes. The boys were spirited and entertaining. It was a good group and I enjoyed getting to share the dogs with them Kitty graciously swapped in Morgan and then Bob. That added even more energy to the crowd but everyone handled it well.

Back home, the other boys, Dexter and Dobky, are doing well. Dexter is wonderful; he's easy to manage, he heads right into his crate whenever I need him there, he wants so much to learn, he looks deep into my eyes for silent conversations, and he comfortably curls up on the couch with Kitty and on the bed against me. Dobky is a bit more of a challenge; he still hunkers down whenever I need to quickly direct him to do anything, causing me to refine my approach to gently handling him. He's worth it though; he's almost always at my side, sitting beside me and looking for my hand on his head, lying next to me on the couch (like now), or snuggling on the bed. We have CGC testing this week and I'm thinking about testing with Dobky but his attachment to me is a bit of a problem; he does a passable job with most everything except the stay and supervised separation.

Usually Kitty goes to the kennel with me at night after we eat dinner out but tonight we just snacked a bit after a big lunch so I went on my own. The kennel is nearly empty again. It was a bit eerie to have it be quiet as I walked back to my guys. But then Bozo noticed me and started bouncing off the walls and calling to me. He's in a run with a top cover on it because he jumps so high. Although he hasn't gotten the workouts he deserves and has quite a surplus of energy he is learning to control it and rarely jumps on me anymore. He's discovered that sitting gets my attention much faster.

T-bone and Huntley aren't nearly as much in my face. They play on their own and don't seem to need my attention. I'd like to get them out on their own more but it is fun to see them play. Their energy is boundless and it feels like they would play forever if I let them. Bozo is in the mix with them now and they run around attached to each other like one big ball of fur occasionally punctuated with teeth. They all do well at playing with safely playing with each other. On Saturday we even used Huntley and Bozo to help with a playgroup evaluation of a big dog we know, Murphy. Everyone did a great job.

Finally, there's my dear sweet GP. GP is usually at my side at the kennel, wanting his back scratched. His fur has returned beautifully and tonight I brushed it a bit. Although GP and Bozo have had a brief spat or two, I now feel confident with them together. GP gets bumped by the other dogs when they're playing and hardly seems bothered at all. Kennel visits are stress-free and fun.

Oh, and our friend Lily, the Great Dane, is still at the kennel. She's really getting the routine and comes right out with the guys. Although she doesn't play with them she's much more comfortable being in the yard with them running around her and I think it's good for all of them to have her there.


2008-12-19: GP the TD by Kyler Laird
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I visited the kennel this morning to check on the dogs and discuss their medical treatments. Huntley got a lepto booster and then I let them all play for a bit. I was enjoying GP so much that I decided to take him to University Place for a quick visit. It was perfect! Everyone he met adored him. We roamed the halls, visited a room in Assisted Living, and walked through the health center to play in the courtyard awhile. We were also called into the physical therapy room as we passed. GP was such a natural everywhere but it really showed as he worked the room there. It's a joy to walk with GP as he heels nicely at my side but it's awesome to be with him as he works his magic with people who appreciate his attention. I look forward to working with GP. He's a great one.

I returned GP to the kennel and went home for some work and rest before taking everyone back for playgroups. Playgroups were canceled due to cold/ice but we had a young family interested in seeing Dexter again. I quickly mixed the house dogs with the kennel dogs and even though many of them had not yet met they all behaved well together. The dogs kept me busy with cleaning when the couple arrived to meet Dexter but Kitty got to talk a bit. Dexter was quite interested in them this time and was so sweet. We're planning to take Dexter to their house tomorrow afternoon for an intro.

After playgroups I dropped everyone but Dobky at the house. Dobky and I returned to University Place to meet Amy, Tanner, and Amy's mom. Tanner is always a sweetie on visits there and he seems to be relaxing more. He especially enjoyed playing with Dobky in the courtyard.  And Dobky is his usual - calm and deliberate, often seeking attention from the residents.  Dobky is even doing better on the elevator.

Kitty and I went to dinner with Amy and her parents. On our way home we let the kennel dogs out again. They all do such a good job and continue to do well with the client dogs boarding there who come out to mingle with us.


2008-12-24: Christmas Eve by Kyler Laird
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My sister, Renel, is at the farm with a friend. They brought Dad to Lafayette to meet me and Kitty for lunch today. Renel's friend is a dog enthusiast and wanted to see our pack so after lunch I headed home and took the house dogs to the kennel to meet everyone. The dogs did well with each other despite Sakari not knowing any of the kennel dogs. Huntley and Bozo were jumpy when my family arrived so we all headed to the park area so that the dogs could spread and run. We enjoyed walking the park but then I realized that the dogs had found the burrs along the fence. They were all a mess.

After my family left Kitty and I returned the kennel dogs and washed our eight. Kitty brushed while I washed. The Northern dogs were easy but the hair of the Poodle mixes held the burrs tightly. I was hurrying because we needed to get to church at 6:30. (Kitty had a reading in the service.) We just barely made it home in time to take quick showers (I was soaked.) and get to church.

After the service we were invited to join Bastian's family. There we enjoyed wonderful people and food, chatting and singing into the night. As always, it was a delight to see Bastian with his family. He is greatly appreciated.

It was late by the time we returned to the kennel but the dogs seemed to be alright from their earlier outing. We pulled Garbonzo, Sophie and Bizou and they all did well with the big guys. After I returned everyone but T-bone and Huntley I pulled Keowee, returned him, then pulled Mackey.  They are making remarkable improvement and both dogs initiated play with T-bone.  I felt like I spent all of my time cleaning and managing dogs and didn't get to play with them as much as usual. I'm looking forward to returning with more time to spare.


2009-01-10: It's been a hard dog night. by Kyler Laird
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The CGC test at Klondike Canine Academy (KCA) has been rescheduled several times for weather but it was held today despite the ice. In preparation I bathed GP yesterday at the kennel and brought him home to spend the night. He wasn't an easy addition to our household of seven dogs. Although he's been around the other dogs he was still quite growly with all of them. I worked hard at managing and comforting him and he did alright. He seemed relieved to be out of the kennel and enjoyed sleeping while I worked. In the afternoon I took him to University Place to meet Lindsey with Sunny for a bit of practice for the CGC test.

Dinner was the big surprise; GP readily went into a down stay with the other dogs, ate his food, and waited until he was released. He was near the entry to the kitchen, however, and I diverted my attention after dogs passed him without incident but something happened when Morgan walked by him and they were suddenly in battle. I hauled GP away but Morgan still sliced his left ear (which has other problems already). Neither dog seemed too bothered by it and although they were obviously cautious I had them back together soon. At night I kept GP in the guest bathroom but after a late night outing I allowed him to roam freely. He curled up beside the bed, putting the other dogs on alert but we slept without incident.

This morning the dogs lined up for breakfast but everyone squeezed together far away from GP. GP broke his stay a couple times after he finished his food but before I cleaned the dishes. I returned him to his spot and finally released everyone but hovered over GP to prevent a skirmish. Morgan waited to move until I specifically directed him to leave the kitchen.

We arrived at KCA just before the test time of 11:00. After an introduction by the evaluator, Leslie, we watched a couple of teams test and then I ran Dobky. He did well with everything but my greatest worry was that he'd botch the "supervised separation." In practice sessions he only lasted seconds before crying out for me. I've noticed that Dobky "hunkers down" anytime I grab his collar and try to lead him somewhere so I grabbed his collar and lead him to the evaluator. He resisted a bit as I pulled him along and then I handed over the lead. I walked out of the room and he stayed relaxed for the entire three minutes. Dobky is a CGC dog!

Lindsey wanted to watch me with Dobky before she went so she was next. Sunny had been a handful yesterday at University Place and I didn't expect him to do well. He surprised me by doing an outstanding job and Lindsey handled him beautifully. It was fun to watch them working together. Another CGC!

GP had been snuggling against Amy during the tests and seemed relaxed. I took him next and I mostly hoped he wouldn't do anything too embarrassing. We had hardly worked on heeling, hadn't done recalls, and I'd only tried downs with him during meals. He did lead me during "out for a walk" but I was able to keep his attention and he even sat when we stopped. His sit was fine but it took a long time to work him into a down. (I finally asked for his paw first and then he gave me the down.) He broke the stay as soon as I rose to leave but when I placed him again I think he got the message that he was to stay. I was delighted at his recall but I think he amused the spectators because I energetically called to him (only once) and he slowly rose and lumbered over to me. That's just his speed. He had no problems with walking through the crowd, supervised separation or any of the other exercises. CGC! I enjoyed showing everyone what a great dog GP is.


2009-01-17: a busy week by Kyler Laird
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I've been neglecting to write but we certainly did a lot this week. We finally got some decent snow and on Wednesday I took out the big sled with Morgan and Dobky in wheel and Bob in lead. We just went a couple miles, down Lindberg and back, but it was fun. (Well, except when Bob veered off the trail into oncoming traffic a few times.) The three dogs were just about right for pulling the sled on the hard packed snow . I'd dressed to run with them but I got to ride almost the whole way.

Much of the snow on the trails was quickly cleared and I kept hearing about record cold temperatures so I was inclined to stay inside for awhile. We still made it to the kennel every night and it always seems pleasant there when I'm dressed appropriately. On Thursday I bathed T-bone and Huntley at Klondike in preparation for a visit to University Place. I took them home with me and they did alright but I got distracted and allowed T-bone to mark a couch.

We met Amy at UPlace and she brought Bo. He's a handful - two handfuls, even, so I took him while Amy and Kitty handled T-bone and Huntley. These three all have a lot of energy and are difficult to focus but they're still wonderful and have outstanding potential. It takes a lot to keep them from jumping on people but it's fun to see them interact with the residents and the dogs get appreciative comments constantly.

Yesterday, Friday, I decided it was time for another run. I've had an ice fishing sled that I've been wanting to try for awhile. Work was a little rough and I didn't get to go out until it was getting dark but I'm so happy I did. I ran with the six boys like usual but this time I clipped Bob and Marley's harnesses to a line connected to the sled. Grazie rode in the sled atop a cushion. She was tethered to it but she didn't seem to have much inclination to leave her perch. A long stretch of bungee eliminated major shocks and seemed to give her a pleasant ride. It was good for the dogs to have something to pull.

Today we volunteered to be at the West Lafayette Public Library with a sled after the Caring Paws reading program. I didn't know how to get the big sled and all the dogs there so I sent that sled with Kitty. (She went on campus before the library.) I wanted to tire the dogs a bit so I ran with them to the library just as we did yesterday. Grazie rode almost the whole way, jumping out once to relieve herself on the trail and again so that she could run alongside as we went through campus. At the library I connected Morgan, Dobky and Bob to the big sled as a demonstration. We had several children come out to see all of the dogs and check out the sled. I enjoyed the opportunity.

Tonight we returned to University Place with Bo, T-bone and Huntley. Again, they all took a lot of management and yet they were so very appreciated by the residents. We visited a couple rooms on the second floor of Assisted Living we'd not had time to visit on Thursday. Everyone did well in the elevator and we had a great time hanging around on the second floor.


2009-01-25: Pet Partners tests and Windsor Hall callout by Kyler Laird

I was out late last night providing technical support for a concert and then spent a long time at the kennel letting out some client/friend dogs. I'd considered bathing and doing some last-minute training of Dobky and Dexter before their tests today but I decided sleep was more important.

After church (and a carry-in) I had plenty of time to go home and let the dogs play as much as they wanted. I returned to church with Dexter and Dobky for the Delta Society Pet Partners testing sponsored by Caring Paws. I was happy to run into Amy and Tanner who had gone first and, of course, passed! (Yea!)  I'm excited to have them as part of Caring Paws.  Amy has been integral to LTDR and has done an outstanding job of fostering Bozo the Malabrute.

When it was time to test with Dexter I realized I needed to hand off Dobky to Kitty, who was in a meeting. After a quick jog through the church I was back to test with Dexter. He was so social! I think he thoroughly greeted all of the volunteers and they were all very patient and kind to him. This was an immense help to us as we settled into the test. Dexter did alright during the test and I was especially pleased with how well he followed my lead. Although it was slow compared to other dogs, I even felt good about his "down," something that had concerned me. The most challenging part of the test was meeting the volunteer with the neutral dog. We did it twice and I realized during the first pass that it wasn't the dog who had his interest; he wanted to greet the volunteer! I really stayed on top of him the second time and he narrowly passed.

I got to rest a bit while Allison tested with Keowee. It's been awhile since I tested with Keowee but I was confident that he'd do well for Allison. I heard from a volunteer that he was very attentive to her. She has given him much-needed attention.  They passed!

Dobky and I were the last team of the day. I've learned to love Dobky's slow, controlled movement and thought it would serve us well in the test but I worried that he might simply freeze and blow one of the exercises. Indeed, he was a joy to handle but he zoned out for awhile as I tried to get him to "down" and then he was enjoying getting patted by a volunteer so much that at first he ignored my "come" command. It took a few tries but I was amazingly relieved when he finally rose and ambled over to me. Whew - another pass!

We returned home and I caught a quick nap on the couch with Dobky curled in a ball against my legs. I didn't want to move but I was excited about the callout we had at Purdue's Windsor Hall. Kitty and I took Dexter, Dobky and Bob to Windsor at 6:30. We arrived right behind Waynetta and Stan who had Maddie Bea and Aries. Amy followed soon and we were escorted inside. Bob was the most energetic so I took him and Kitty took Dobky. That left Dexter for Amy, who I thought was a good match for him. I brought up the rear of the group and heard a commotion as I entered the building. It was Dexter - he wasn't handling the slick floors and stairs well. I grabbed his lead and pulled him alongside Bob. He came along but it was obviously a challenge for him.

Downstairs, we gathered in a large room and our hosts cleared some tables and arranged a lot of chairs (20?) for the presentation. I wasn't expecting to see all of the chairs filled but the students just kept coming and soon spilled out into another section of seating. It was a great crowd! Not only were there many students but they were all wonderful with the dogs and very engaging, showing great interest in the dogs.

I rambled on about therapy dogs and University Place for about 30(?) minutes and afterward we again got to meet many of the students as they enjoyed the dogs and spoke with us about their interest in volunteer opportunities. This was an impressive group. I'm looking forward to working with them.

After the presentation we took our dogs home and met Amy, Waynetta and Stan for dinner. I got a couple e-mail messages about volunteer opportunities as we spoke about how exciting it was to work with these students. We have a lot to learn but we see great possibilities in this program.


2009-01-27: Mintonye Elementary by Kyler Laird

Waynetta lives close to Mintonye elementary and has even visited there with Maddie Bea but today Kitty and I joined them, along with Jarreau, Marley and Dobky.  Maddie is always rock solid but Dobky really impressed me today.  Even though the other two boys were tightly wound Dobky remained calm and steady.  He was a joy to work.

It looks like we'll be visiting Mentonye regularly and we might bring guests with us.  I'm looking forward to seeing where this relationship goes.


2009-01-31: first University Place visit with Windsor Hall students by Kyler Laird
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LTDR was invited to a callout at Windsor Hall one week ago and the students have already followed through with their first visit to University Place. Waynetta brought Maddie Bea and Kitty and Kyler brought Grazie, Jarreau, Marley and Dobky to University Place. Six students joined us around 2:30 and we quickly handed off the dogs to the students and escorted the group to Assisted Living and the Health Center. The students all did a fantastic job with the dogs and we enjoyed getting to know each other and the residents.


2009-02-12: busy February by Kyler Laird
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I was sick last week and have been non-stop busy all the time, it seems. I've been neglecting updates so it's time to recover a bit.

Sunday, February 1 started our first draft class at Klondike Canine Academy. I've been asked to help people start pulling with their dogs for years so KCA made it happen. I pulled out a bunch of vehicles and used Morgan, Bob, Dobky, Marley, and Bozo to demonstrate them. By the next class (February 8) students had received their custom-made harnesses so we put their dogs to work with various sleds. We instructed in the barn, taking turns with dogs connected to light loads, starting with empty orange juice jugs and progressing to plastic sleds and even the kick sled and car tire for the especially strong dogs. I closely managed the loads while Allison baited the dogs. Everyone did great! At the end of class we moved outside (beautiful weather!) and let some of the dogs drag some sleds around the agility area.

On February 3 I helped South Central Newfoundland Club Rescue with Rodney, a dog who had been stuck in the Gary pound for awhile. A kind couple met me in Rensselaer where they handed Rodney to me with the information that "He stinks but you'll get over it in about 20 minutes." I left the back windows open for the ride home and the smell was still strong. Rodney was a sweet guy though. At the kennel I let him stretch his legs out back and then I had some calls to attend so I worked on Rodney's matts in the bathing room. He was a little excited at first but after an hour he stopped squirming and I made fast progress. It was quite a hack job but I think I finally got all of the matts. The bath went smoothly after that and then Rodney returned outside to meet the rest of the dogs. Despite being a young intact male he has done well with everyone.

On February 5 GP joined me for an in-home visit with a physical therapist. His size and demeanor suited the situation well. It was relaxing to handle him.

That night we had a CGC class. Kitty handled GP while I took Huntley. Two Purdue students came to work with T-bone! I was talking to rescue about Rodney and was running very late so I just handed T-bone over to them cold but they did a great job of handling him. Peyton was also there with his family. His girls came to visit us a few times as I worked with Huntley.

I'm often greeted at the kennel by Jack standing up behind the grooming half-door, silently keeping watch over everything. His family takes wonderful care of him and it's been a joy to see his transformation from the crusted dog no one wanted to the beautifully groomed and loved dog he is today. On the sixth I came in to see him particularly well-groomed and his mom showed me that she had groomed his butt "poofs" into hearts. Oy!

On the seventh I finally brought my new kart back from the kennel to the house and took it for a test ride. It was freshly modified by a local shop to accept a wagon handle and I'd briefly demonstrated it in the training barn with Morgan pulling. This time I tried it with the team pole and added Dobky. I'm still not a big fan of the team pole configuration and we ran into some problems with it on this short test run but the kart generally pulled well on the street. A couple days later I made modifications to the team pole and harnesses and added Bob and Marley to the front (in addition to Morgan and Dobky in wheel position). We zipped around the Celery Bog Nature Center without any problems. I ran ahead anytime they needed guidance but generally stood on back. Grazie rode most of the way but then trotted alongside awhile. This is going to be fun!

Bozo spent some time in the kennel while Amy was out of town. He did alright but he was, as usual, bouncing off the walls. Although he got along well with Rodney at first, on Bozo's last night in the kennel he kept lunging at Rodney, even while I was holding both of them. Rodney always declined to engage but Bo tore into him anyway - as much as Bo ever does. Bo isn't out for blood so I didn't worry about Rodney's health but I wanted Bo to understand that it was beyond appropriate levels.

I spent much of Tuesday the tenth in Rensselaer with Dad. It was a trying day and I ignored phone calls and messages until I was heading out of town. I had a voice message from a rescue in Illinois who needed to pull dogs from the shelter there so I stopped and called. There were two dogs in the shelter who needed a transport but were alright for awhile. The third dog was with the rescuer's mother, north of Rensselaer, because the pup was quickly returned by its adoptive family and it was easier to drop him there. She already had dogs of her own and this little guy needed to go elsewhere. As we talked about this young male Yorkshire Terrier/Schnauzer mix I realized that he might be just what I'd been seeking. I decided to head north on I-65 to get him. His caretaker had become attached to him already so I tried to avoid stress by leaving quickly. I took him outside and got to know him a bit with a quick walk and some petting. As we left, she called to me that he already knows his name, Buffy? or Buddy?. I decided to go with "Buddy" as he was a good buddy on the way home.

At the kennel I quickly introduced Buddy to the big dogs. He didn't hesitate in the least and easily blended with them. He and GP did growl at each other a bit but that was brief. After they played in the yard awhile I brought everyone into the bathing room because Huntley was sorely in need of a bath too and I decided everyone could use an activity. I bathed Huntley first while Buddy got to know the other dogs better. T-bone was especially playful with him and GP was simply patient. Huntley was amazingly stoic and mellow during the long process of thoroughly cleaning all his fur. Buddy was just as well-behaved as Huntley in the tub but it only took a moment to bathe him and I used less shampoo and water than one of Huntley's legs requires. I took a call while I dried the dogs, then we headed outside briefly. I was already late for dinner with Kitty.

I really didn't want to have Kitty upset during this dinner with friends so I put a crate in the back of the car and left Buddy inside. Buddy didn't make any noise on the way there so I didn't mention him. I took him for a quick walk partway through dinner and then he was quiet on the way home. I left him in the car at home while I tried to figure out what I'd do with him. I'd mentioned to Kitty that I needed to transport some dogs and I asked if it would be alright if we hosted the Schnorkie for awhile. She said that would be alright so I got him from the car.

I brought the crate into the house first and pushed it through the front door into the pack who had already spotted Buddy. Buddy was tethered to me with a long stretch lead and after getting the crate inside I expected to turn and see a scared little dog pulling away from my pack back toward the car. Instead, I looked down and saw that he had walked right beside me into the house and went ahead to greet the pack. It was almost spooky how calm everyone was. Buddy definitely has a way with other dogs. He's getting the routines at our house and even picked up "down to eat" on his own. I crate him next to the bed and he only complains a little about going there. He seems to be house trained and shows no interest in escaping through the gaps in the fence.

Yesterday (February 11) another visitor joined us. Marty is a Poodle mix who has had some difficulties and can't stay with his family. He's been relinquished to IDOG and they've asked me to evaluate him to determine if he's safe enough for their people to handle. I visited Marty in the morning after I let the other kennel dogs out to play. Marty barked at me fearfully through the gate but quieted as I backed into him. I sat with him for awhile but he continued to growl at me most of the time. Finally I left because...

We had another visit to Mentoyne Elementary! We took GP, Marley, and Dobky. Waynetta met us there with Maddie Bea and a Purdue student joined us to handle Dobky. I kept GP most of the time and helped Kitty wrangle Marley. The dogs all did well and I especially enjoyed seeing GP make such a great impression. After our classroom visit we talked with the principal about other possibilities and he was very encouraging. As we talked, several interested students passed his open door and he would invite them to come inside to greet the dogs. Later we all went into the hall and talked with several teachers who stopped to enjoy the dogs. I'm going to enjoy working with this school. Thanks, Waynetta!

GP returned home with us and then went back to the kennel for Buddy's initial vet check. I tethered him to Buddy; GP makes a good anchor. It's rewarding to see GP do so well with a little (young intact male!) dog. After the checkup I let the kennel dogs play a bit and then I returned to Marty along with Buddy. Layla joined me and we discussed his behavior. I was finally able to loop him with a leash and we took him outside for a bit and then to the geriatric room for a little quiet time. Marty seems fearful but not otherwise aggressive. He was not at all disturbed by Buddy. I slipped a couple times when handling the leash and got "air snaps" as a warning when Marty could have easily bitten me. I took Marty out again at night after the other dogs were back in their runs. It'll be awhile before he's comfortable enough to evaluate but I can see him relaxing already.


2009-02-14: progress by Kyler Laird
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This afternoon Buddy and I attended the "Petite Pals" playgroup session for little dogs. It's quite a difference for me to be around the small dogs and I'm working hard to teach Buddy not to jump. Buddy does as well with the little dogs as the big guys. After playgroup we let the kennel dogs run with Buddy. Marty was still difficult to lasso but he did well out on-lead with the others. When I took Marty inside I tried feeding him by hand but he would only eat food I dropped on the floor near me. Anna is doing well with everyone although Rodney still gives her a bit too much attention.

At 3:00 Kitty and I took Dobky, Dexter and Buddy to meet two students and make the rounds at University Place. Dexter was highly driven but we did alright and they especially enjoyed playing in the courtyard.

After dinner tonight we headed back to the kennel. This time I let Marty out off-lead with the rest of the dogs. He is definitely warming to me, nosing me a couple times and also initiating play with me...from a distance. I wasn't sure how I'd get Marty back into his run but he followed us as we returned other dogs. I tried feeding him again and he readily took the food right from my hand gently. We're doing much better.


2009-02-28: Saturdogs by Kyler Laird
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After working a bit this morning Buddy and I headed to Mr. & Mrs. Tire. I gave away most of the tires I prepared for the previous mushing class and another one starts tomorrow. I loaded six tires of various sizes while Buddy waited patiently in the Jeep. Buddy often trembles in the car but he always behaves perfectly and won't bolt when I leave the door open.

Next we headed to the Petite Pals playgroup at Klondike Canine Academy. Layla said she'd bring Chewie to work on his dog-dog interactions so Buddy and I retrieved Anna from the kennel. Anna is a big calm sweetie and I thought she'd be a good "big dog" for Chewie to meet. At playgroups there was some concern about Anna but that quickly dissipated. Anna seemed to love getting some attention inside on her own and mostly flopped on her side for a belly rub and she was perfect with all the little dogs who came to check her. Chewie was interested in Anna yet reluctant to approach her. He finally got close to her at the end of class while we were all talking together.

After Petite Pals I let the rest of the kennel dogs out in the kennel yard. Regular playgroups were starting as I put away the dogs so I left T-bone and Huntley out to help with evaluations. Later I also pulled Anna to help with evals. They all did a great job with a variety of dog being evaluated. I've not been to playgroups in a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of evaluations. It's a thrill to see new dogs learn to play with other dogs and it's especially fun to watch my dogs interacting with them.

As the last evaluation was finishing I pulled Chewie for some play. He'd been away from the other dog since Petite Pals so we called him over and I coupled him to Buddy before putting them in the main playgroup area. It was a wonderful match; Buddy helped Chewie explore the area and meet other dogs. When Chewie fixated on a dog and started barking Buddy would wander away, dragging Chewie along. After a 10 minutes or so I uncoupled them and Chewie was fine.

As I left playgroups I pulled Marty from the kennel. At home I swapped Buddy for Dobky and then headed to University Place to meet the Purdue students who have been helping us. Kitty met us there with Grazie. They'd dropped in at the West Lafayette Public Library reading program. We all made our usual rounds. This is the first time I've had Dobky out in close contact with lots of strangers and he did very well. He sometimes sought interaction and sometimes avoided it but not strongly. He readily handled anything I asked him to do.

After UPlace I left Marty in the car while I fed the other dogs. Then Kitty and I took Marty to meet some friends who have been interested in adopting a dog. They happen to be Peyton's neighbors and were impressed by him so we thought we'd take the opportunity to show them our latest doodle. Marty is perfect waiting in and riding in the car. When we arrived, he was excited and pulled a lot on me but inside the house he was impressively relaxed. We sat and talked for awhile and I eventually unclipped Marty. He wandered a bit but immediately returned whenever I'd call him. We gave a brief demonstration of clicker training and Marty was a good participant.

We ordered pizza for dinner and it was just a few blocks away so we all walked there. I let Marty wander on the stretch lead most of the way but held him close when we arrived. It's going to take some work to get him to heel well but he did alright. Back at the house Marty had his dinner while ours was prepared. Then he settled under the table and slept through our meal. Our hosts were concerned that he'd beg throughout the meal if he stayed in the room so I think he impressed them.

It was good to see that Marty can do so well both as a therapy dog and a family dog. I enjoyed exercising him in these roles and he made it easy. Back at the kennel I released him with the other dogs for our usual night outing and he seemed content to return to his run.


2009-03-07: a full Saturday by Kyler Laird
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Marty visited us today while his family went out of town. He was very anxious at our house but finally settled in the corner behind the chair where I work. I took him with me when I headed to the Petite Pals playgroup with Buddy.

I kept Marty on lead during PP and worked with him. He is amazingly easy to train. We distracted all of the other dogs there to play and they were all following Marty's lead, looking for treats. Buddy was especially persistent; he has learned that sitting, not jumping, is a good way to get my attention and I often turn to see him sitting and waiting for me to notice him. Chewie is picking up this behavior also and is now looking for my attention instead of barking at dogs and people. At the end of PP I let Marty play with the other dogs and we soon migrated outside. Chewie and Buddy are a great team; I enjoy watching them zip around in circles around me. Marty was great with other dogs as always but he was a bit head-shy and uncomfortable at first. By the end of class he was relaxed and he's become quite comfortable with my occasional wrestling.

After PP we headed out to the "real" playgroups. I pulled all the dogs from the kennel then Amy arrived with Tanner and Anna. Finally, Kitty arrived with the rest of our home dogs. We had an active section but the dogs all did well together. I don't recall a single skirmish.

There were three evaluations during playgroups and our pack did very well interacting with the new dogs. Buddy continues to show his value both in greeting new dogs and helping Chewie be more comfortable. (They were tethered together again today for awhile.) Anna plays the role of "gentle giant" beautifully but barks loudly (from a down) to implore the little dogs to play with her. GP continues to impress me; he is gentle with everyone and tolerates Marty's frequent mounting without appearing disturbed at all. GP and Chewie had no problems together. Chewie has recovered well from the first time they met. Huntley and T-bone play together constantly and it takes a bit of management to ensure that other dogs don't jump into the middle inappropriately but they're a good source of activity.  Morgan kept a low profile, perhaps trying to stay out of GP's way.  Bozo looks great with his newly-blown coat and he played well with everyone.  Dexter and Bob even played together a bunch when everyone else was in the evaluation area.

After playgroups we ran home and quickly turned around with Bob, Marley, Jarreau and Dobky for a visit to University Place. We met Amy with Tanner and Anna along with five Purdue students. UPlace wasn't very active today but we did get to stop and talk with several appreciative residents. Despite having spent so much time at playgroups the dogs all seemed to enjoy running in the health center courtyard also.


2009-03-11: Mintonye and Purdue Pre-Vet Club by Kyler Laird
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This afternoon we had our regular visit to Mintonye Elementary. Kitty and I took Jarreau, Anna, GP and Buddy. Buddy stayed in the car, Kitty took Jarreau, and our hearty Purdue student handled GP. We met Waynetta and Maddie there. Anna and I brought up the rear and immediately provoked a confrontation with Maddie at the door. Waynetta handled it well and I later took some time to properly introduce the girls. We had no problems after that.

It was Anna's first visit after passing her CGC test on Monday. She was a joy to handle and was attentive yet relaxed. Jarreau was a bit nutty as usual but Kitty controlled him well. Maddie was perfect, of course and so was GP. (As we were leaving I even heard one of the teachers say something like "Oh, that's GP. He's always so good.") I finally remembered to bring the brush from the car today and our most dog-fearful student brushed a couple of the dogs!

Anna came home with us. I thought she had settled but apparently Grazie gave her customary warning and got a vigorous neck shake. Anna didn't hurt her but it made an impression. Everyone gave her wide berth after that...except Buddy, of course. She relaxed at my feet while I worked.

This evening we headed to Purdue well before our presentation to the Pre-Vet Club. Kitty headed inside with Buddy while I walked Morgan, Marley, Bob, Dexter, Dobky, and Anna. It was fun to walk with them but I could sense that they expected a group run. We met some students outside and walked in with them, making friends in the hall and startling some VIPs coming out of the Dean's conference room.

We finally stopped blocking traffic in the hallway and met even more students in the lecture hall. We got a lot of wonderful attention. The students and the dogs all did beautifully. Waynetta and Maddie soon appeared and we had quite an impressive group. The dogs were excited to see everyone but settled when the meeting started and stayed in downs without much management.

After I was introduced I blathered on for at least my alloted 20 minutes and then answered questions from a couple students. We had a lot of interest in volunteer opportunities and I wished I had a menu of activities for the students to join. Instead, I encouraged them to tell us what they'd like to do. We're already getting mail and I'm hoping we can do well at tailoring our offerings to the students.


2009-04-05: rainy day catchup by Kyler Laird

It's been non-stop here for weeks (or months?). Whenever I don't have work to do there's something for the dogs. Today, however, it's raining and I feel like I can sit and write for awhile.

This morning Buddy went to church and was perfect as always. He slept on my lap most of the time, perking up at the performance of Four Dead in Ohio (The sermon was about Kent State.) but quickly settling again. He was very social afterward. I usually have him walk everywhere but there were lots of people so I held him the whole time and he seemed completely comfortable with that.

A bunch of us went to lunch after church and Buddy did fine waiting in the car. We drove directly to the kennel afterward to meet a couple students. Playgroups were canceled so we had the park to ourselves. We had a good gang. Our regular kennel dogs, T-bone, Huntley, GP, Bozo, and Marty were joined by friends Keowee, Ranger, and Meka. They played in the rain for over an hour without incident.

At home we're adjusting to Dexter's departure. He's joined a family in Ohio and I hope he has a great life there. It's always hard for me to see a dog go, especially to a distant home. Dexter deserves a great family of his own though.

Speaking of Pyrs, we have one I haven't even mentioned yet, Cody. He's an IGPR dog who needed a place to stay between foster homes. Cody's in a new foster home now but will return to us soon while his foster family leaves town.

LTDR foster dogs are doing great. Anna is learning to play with Tanner and making lots of little neighborhood friends. Aries came to University Place and Waynetta let me handle him while she took Buddy. Both dogs did very well there as has Tanner.

Dobky attended his first Caring Paws function and did a fine job as a reader dog at the new Klondike Branch library. He has a great personality for this activity. We continue to visit Mintonye Elementary and Dobky goes almost goes with us because I know I can hand him off to someone else and he'll be easy to manage.  The other regular at Mintonye is Maddie, handled by Waynetta.  Maddie is so perfect that I sometimes forget about her.

We completed our second series of mushing classes recently. Bob and Morgan were my class helpers/coaches. While Morgan tolerates the activity Bob revels in it. I love putting him to work pulling and I enjoy watching his spirit inspire other dogs.

GP received a wonderful adoption application recently and I blew it. I took too long to respond and the applicant found another dog. Although I hate that I botched a great home for him I do like having him available. Even more so than Dobky, I know GP can be handled easily by other people around visitors of any age. It sure is nice to have "easy" dogs.

And then there's the rest of the kennel dogs... T-bone and Huntley are full of spirit and love to play with each other. They're both regulars at playgroups and are often requested by name. Bozo doesn't go to playgroups unless I'm there but he's had lots of requests for walks. He's been on campus a couple times and he is easy to manage when he's dragging his tire. Huntley needs a tire but he's too young. He's started class with a volunteer though.

And Marty...oh, what a good dog he's become. It's been such a pleasure to watch him develop. He continues to do well with other dogs but he always circles around to me. He sits in front of me for attention and gets his head patted and his face scrunched. I play with him by shoving him round and round and pulling his tail if he doesn't flip around toward me quickly enough. He's turned from fearing touch to seeking it and it really shows when he's in a group of students. At first I was careful to warn everyone about his sensitivity but now it's not an issue.

There are lots of plans on the horizon for LTDR. I've flown to Wisconsin and Kentucky to look at trailers and I'm hoping to purchase one soon. That will bring us lots of possibilities for activities on campus and all across the country.


2009-04-29: Dead Week Dogs at Purdue by Kyler Laird
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Wow! We pulled off Dead Week Dogs and it was a great success. The dogs were wonderful, the students were a delight, and our volunteers made it all go smoothly.

I've been kicking around the idea of having dogs on campus as a study break for a long time. When the Windsor Hall and Pre-Vet Club students joined us I pitched it to them and got their support. Things happened quickly after that. Sarah Hanson at DRS helped us with reserving the RSC tennis courts. Christie Dewert of Windsor Hall handled the event planning form and got immediate approval. Kristin Bahleda arranged for Pre-Vet Club members to help. Suddenly all the pieces were in place.

Today it all went surprising well. I started configuring the tennis courts around noon. The tough part was securing the doors and after a few failed ideas I finally settled on a simple spring mechanism. It made opening the doors difficult but I was reasonably sure it would keep the dogs inside.

At 4:30 I took Huntley and GP from the kennel along with my gear and made the final preparations. Volunteers arrived shortly after that and we immediately had students descending on the dogs. I'd tried to imagine how to handle all sorts of problems but none appeared. Everyone seemed to be relaxed and enjoying the interaction. We stayed waaaaay late but I just couldn't turn away people who wanted to meet the dogs. Fun!


2009-05-20: Mintonye and the Farmers Market by Kyler Laird
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Dexter returned to us last weekend and it's been good to have him again. It's been sunny here but not dry enough to plant so I decided to take him to Mintonye Elementary. Kitty took Morgan, Waynetta brought Maddie Bea, and Buddy tagged along with me, of course.

Inside, Dexter was the social butterfly, straining to greet everyone, and doing a wonderful job of dealing with hard patting and young fingers in his eyes, ears and mouth. Outside, the class took a walk and I let Buddy run free which was great fun to watch. Morgan was a bit demanding, always wanting to do tricks for treats but he did alright. And Maddie is such a perfect lady as always, making our guys look like a bunch of...boys.

After our regular visit we were asked to attend a Winn Dixie party for another class. The kids had a snack and then visited with the dogs for a bit and were very polite and appreciative. It was a good, relaxing visit.

Later in the afternoon Stan and Kara joined us at the West Lafayette Farmers Market. Morgan and Maddie stayed home but we added Dobky and GP. Dexter was, again, very social at the market and all the dogs did great with lots of handling by children, especially Buddy. Kara took Dexter for awhile and he did so well that she decided to take him home for a couple days.

Tonight on the way to the kennel (with Buddy and GP) I took a crate to Kara for Dexter. He's been doing beautifully, even ignoring her cat. Huntley wasn't at the kennel. Christine had already gotten him and she reported "He ran back and forth across our back yard for a solid 10 minutes when we got him home. He was so happy."


2009-06-21: LTDR participates in first Zionsville Pet Parade by Kyler Laird
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[more photos of the parade by Chris Bucher Photographs]

Jane Rose of Indy Great Pyrenees Rescue notified me that IGPR would be marching in the Inaugural Zionsville Pet Parade as part of “Pet Friendly month."  I delayed responding because I wasn't sure how many people I could bring but finally said I'd be there and listed off the dogs I'd bring. Jane suggested we have our own entry.

I decided to use this as a test run for the semi trailer. It was certainly an adventure. It took quite a bit of work to get everything ready to go. In the morning I headed to the kennel and loaded T-bone and Bozo into crates. It was already hot but the trailer's air conditioners made a huge difference. I drove to the house to load Kitty and the dogs in to the tractor and we on our way to Zionsville.

Amy drove separately with Tanner and Anna. She scoped out the parking lot and I was relieved to hear that it was empty. I quickly parked and started laying out equipment. I pulled the wagon, kart, and tire, then laid out the chain picket line I made last night. Finally I pulled each dog to go on the line. The line worked well but putting Buddy next to Bozo was a bit of a misstep.

While I harnessed the dogs, Kitty and Amy loaded the big red wagon with ice and bottled water. I connected it to Morgan first and Kitty was concerned that it was too heavy for him to pull on his sixth birthday (because she had a hard time pulling it). While I was hitching the other dogs Mo' walked off with the wagon a few times. I decided he'd be fine.

Morgan was solo on the wagon, T-bone and Bozo pulled a truck tire. On the kart we had Bob and Marley in lead, Jarreau and Dobky in wheel, Buddy and Grazie riding, and Dexter running alongside. We headed to the parade a little after IGPR left but we had to take the long way instead of trying to negotiate the stairs/ramps they used. Even though we blocked traffic on the main road for a little bit everyone was very kind to us. A policeman recommended that we take Main Street because it was already blockaded. In doing so we became our own "pre-parade" but as we arrived at the parade starting point I could see that everyone was heading our way so we veered off and went around the block to end up behind them. We were just in time to fall in behind IGPR. Fortunately Christine and Garrett had been there with Huntley and had already checked in for our entry (#34).

The parade was short but fun. The dogs had already gotten quite a workout and they were just becoming manageable. We put water down each time we stopped and it was good we had a wagon full. It was fun to halt the dogs; they relaxed and lots of people came to take photos each time. Then when I called "hike!" the dogs (especially Bob) would lunge ahead and I could hear spectators responding to it. While I wrangled the dogs on the kart, Amy walked Tanner and Anna, Christine walked Huntley, and Garrett graciously handled Bo and Tibby on the tire. I was so thankful for the great help; it was a lot of work but I think it impressed people.

At the end of the parade we gathered with other participants, including several Miss Indiana Pageant participants. I enjoyed talking to everyone and felt extremely comfortable there.

The IGPR folks were headed to Serenity for lemonade so we backtracked the parade route to join them. A couple boys were admiring the dogs so I asked if they'd like to ride and invited them to jump on the back of the kart.  I'm sure I should have gotten a parental consent waiver and provided them with protective gear but I just jumped on the side of the kart and called "hike!" instead.  The boys seemed to have fun and their father thanked me.

I parked the dogs in front of the restaurant and spent probably 30 minutes talking with folks who wanted to know more about them. Finally I took some of the dogs in to join Kitty and Amy. We sat and talked with a local family who'd called me a couple days ago about a dog. The restaurant owners also relaxed with us. Lots of people stopped to visit the dogs and chat with us. And we ate a wonderful Father's Day brunch! It was a delightful way to spend the afternon.

Finally it was time to head home. The dogs were exhausted so I ran back and drove the truck to them. A local officer informed me that there are "no trucks on Main Street" but told me to just be quick. I like this town...a lot.

We had a couple hiccups on the return trip but finally dropped off the dogs at home just in time. They were all about to burst. I headed straight for the kennel and relieved T-bone and Bo before kenneling them. They were more than ready for dinner.

Quite a successful day! It will be interesting to see what comes of all the wonderful people we encountered.


2009-06-26: Dexter goes to the library by Kyler Laird

Dobky has been so good at reading sessions that I've been spoiled. I was thinking it would be easy to take him again today. Kitty took Grazie last time and did well with her. Kitty's out of town so she suggested I take Grazie today. But I thought it would be fun to try Dexter. I knew he might be a challenge but his personality seems like a good fit for the task.

As usual, we were running later than I'd like but we arrived on time. Dexter was a little nutty (pulling hard) as we walked inside and encountered the automatic doors and tile floors. When we walked in the room Keowee hailed us and we greeted him briefly. I enjoy seeing Keowee do so well. I didn't want to distract him though so we took our position on the other side of the room.

Dexter quickly settled on the blanket with me and immediately fell into his role as the children arrived. Dobky is outstanding at simply holding a position and being present and Dexter did well at that but he showed more interest in the readers. With only the slightest bit of suggestion a couple times Dexter would watch the readers and occasionally push his head forward into them for petting. After about 35 minutes I could sense that his attention was waning but he did a wonderful job for the full hour.

I was so impressed by Dexter's performance that I decided a treat was in order. We stopped at Silver Dipper on the way home for a frozen yogurt cone. At first Dexter took the whole cone in his mouth. (I've lost more than one cone to Grazie when she does that.) I asked Dexter to "go easy" and he was incredibly dainty after that. He would even stop to take turns with me.

I had an errand to run at the church and I wanted to visit the administrative assistant, Karin, there. She'd just put down her big dog yesterday. When we arrived she was busy with someone else so Dexter and I handled my errand in the balcony. We were up the first flight of stairs before I recalled that Dexter had a problem with stairs in a foster home. Hmmmm...I can imagine there was some hesitation but he did fine. It didn't take long to fix the audio computer's problem and we returned to the office.

Karin had one of her little dogs with her and she was quite concerned about introducing her to Dexter. I naively suggested that she forego the leash and just let the two dogs meet. Fortunately Dexter was as patient as I expected him to be and Karin was relieved that her dog had another friend. We stayed for awhile and Karin appreciated getting her "big dog fix."

We returned home for awhile and then I took Buddy to retrieve GP. GP was on loan to a friend, Fritz, whose dog died recently. It sounds like GP has been doing great and I appreciate Fritz's care of him. He kept GP longer than I expected but Fritz is traveling this weekend and in the upcoming weeks so it was time for GP to return.

I decided it was a good evening for a little outing so I took Buddy and GP to Camille's. GP doesn't hold a stay like the other dogs so he required a bit of management. (Buddy tried with great might to hold him in place but I don't think GP even noticed.) GP was quite an attraction, of course, and we had several families stop to meet him and Buddy.

Back home there was the usual tension but GP didn't have any major contact with the other dogs. Before heading to the kennel I decided to take everyone for a walk. I connected Grazie to Morgan and let him lead us on the bungee lead. Buddy was clipped to my shoe as usual. I held GP's lead and used my regular chest lead for Dexter. Bob, Jarreau, Marley, and Dobky clipped to my skijoring belt. The dogs quickly settled into my rhythm and we enjoyed the beautiful evening. I was especially impressed that the Pyrs fell in trail so nicely; normally Dexter is pulling hard to the side.

The walk went without incident but when we returned home GP was still uncomfortable, especially with Bob. I decided to take him with me to the kennel. He was a bit growly with both the new dogs and his old cohorts but I protected him and avoided incident. I think he'll be more comfortable there for awhile.


2009-08-25: first "Dog Day Tuesday" at Saint Joseph College by Kyler Laird
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We took the truck and trailer along with the eight house dogs, GP and Jacks to Rensselaer today. This was the first Dog Day Tuesday at Saint Joseph College. We spent much of the day at Counseling and Health Services. About twenty students visited us there.

We started the day with GP, who was just perfect. Dobky lasted the whole afternoon while we rotated through Jarreau, Bob, Morgan, Marley, and Buddy. I wanted to try Dexter but neglected to get him and I decided against using Jacks and Grazie today.

The dogs were all appreciated but GP, Dobky and Buddy were certainly the standouts.  I'm looking forward to trying Dexter and Anna.


2009-09-03: first visit to Cumberland Elementary by Kyler Laird

Kitty and I took Buddy, Dobky, and GP to Mr. Brantley's first grade class at Cumberland Elementary. Miss Edelen’s class joined us for a total of about 40 students. The kids were wonderful and the dogs did a great job too.

We gave some history of each of the dogs and talked about how to safely meet dogs. That week we made the class newsletter.

We plan to return with more dogs and gear. The classes will be studying the Iditarod and we'll use the dogs to enhance the lesson.


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