Cassie and Sully

Cassie and Sully
Aw! Aren't they cute together?


Sully enjoying the snow

Big Boy!

Big Boy!
Sully in his vest and Gentle Leader

Sully and the vacuum

Sully and the vacuum
Okay, so he's not so good with chores.

Getting Bigger!

Getting Bigger!
Such a handsome boy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hey all of you Sully supporters! I've got news. After almost exactly 2 years of training, the difficult decision was made to give Sully a "Career Change". Looking back, Sully was exhibiting signs of anxiety very early on - but I didn't realize it. After it was pointed out to me, well - frankly I wasn't wanting to see it! Darn it! I wanted this boy to be a service dog!! However, it became more and more obvious - and as much as I hated to admit it, I saw it too. While he was a champ at learning the tasks, he was really spotty on actually performing them. During training sessions at the Helping Paws Center, he would often show the most stress - head hung down, panting, backing to the end of his leash, and "checking out" (not doing anything I'd ask - even for really good treats!) The staff at Helping Paws tried everything. One of the trainers, Maureen, even took Sully to her house instead of evaluating him at the center. I was worried that it was something I had done (or not done!) But I was reassured that it wasn't a training issue - Sully can easily perform (almost) all of the tasks expected of a service dog. But some dogs just don't have the emotional fortitude to be a service dog. So, Sully has been adopted by our family. When I got the word that Sully was leaving the program, it was a bittersweet moment. Relief coupled with disappointment. I had SO wanted to see him walk across that stage with his graduate! What a handsome service dog he would have been! On the other hand, training for the last few months had been really tough - I couldn't escape the feeling that I was forcing a square peg into a round hole. His stress was getting worse. Getting him to jump into the car with his pack on was nearly impossible. At a time when we should have been backing off on training treats, I was having to increase the "tastiness" - relatively simple tasks needed cheese. Or bacon. Sully has acclimated nicely to being a pet. He's fairly certain his new bed is in the middle of ours. (Sorry, dude. Not true.) He's still not crazy about riding in the car, but he's more willing to get in, knowing his training days are behind him. Someday, I think we'll try training again - of a different kind. Sully's personality would be terrific for a therapy dog. He's a first-class snuggle bunny.I could totally see him snuggled up in a hospital bed with some kid recovering from surgery. Or letting a nursing home resident scratch his super-soft ears. We all have our strengths. Sully will find his. For now, we'll let him have a nice, long break! I can't say enough about how wonderful Helping Paws is! Through all of Sully's training, I have felt supported, encouraged and appreciated. This is a fabulous organization - filled with wonderful people. Thanks for reading my barely existant blog - (definitely NOT my strength!) Someday, I'll update when Sully finds his next career. For now, I will be spending my time making jewelry and supplying it to galleries. With a very happy dog at my feet!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sully's Fabulous Weekend

Sully's long-time girlfriend, Cassie, came for the weekend.

Sully and Cassie have a history together, going back to the first few weeks after they went to their foster homes. Cassie's mom and dad are both teachers, so when Cassie was little, Sully and I would occasionally help out by going over at lunch time and letting her out, feeding her, and playing with her. Or, more correctly, let her pound lumps into Sully. But don't feel too sorry for Sully. He probably doesn't want anyone to know this, but Cassie was the smallest of her litter. He was the second - biggest. Yup. Sully got it handed to him by a runt.

Fast forward to this weekend. Sully is now enormous. Cassie is still tiny. (Like, 20 lbs smaller than Sully.) And she has him wrapped around her little...toe. First, they careened through the house like mad dogs. That lasted about a minute and a half. Then, Sully noticed that Cassie is, well - a girl. He suddenly became a teenaged boy. He couldn't stop staring. He was smitten. He kept sniffing her. Trying to engage her in play. Nudging. She decided that she really just wanted to sit and have her ears rubbed (by people). Sully could have been a part of the carpet, for all she cared.

Eventually, they did play. And Cassie had the upper hand. If Cassie wanted the toy Sully was chewing on, she would simply stand up, bark one time, and wait for Sully to sheepishly slink away from the toy, leaving it for her to gnaw on. They would wrassle - and Cassie usually was dominant.

Sunday, however, Sully figured out for the first time in their relationship that he actually is bigger. And heavier. And stronger. A LOT. While he knew from experience that he shouldn't make any amorous advances, (that got a big snarl from Cassie the first night) he found he could actually muscle toys away from her! And scrunch her flat as a pancake! Suddenly, Sully was confident. He pranced. He teased her with toys. He even attempted amorous advance #2. (Okay, so that didn't go so well.) But Sully became a big boy dog this weekend, no doubt about it. And I think Cassie is okay with it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We're Mall Walkers!

Sully and I headed to the mall this morning to do some training. This is going to be a great thing to do! It wasn't horribly busy, but there were enough people there to make it interesting. Sully is pretty sure that people exist on this earth to meet and greet HIM, so he's always a bit shocked when people pass him by without stopping. He did a fairly good job of greeting those that did stop to say hi - even shaking hands/paws with one man. We worked on Loose Leash Walking, Drop, Sit, Drop Stay, Sit Stay, Sit to Greet, Shake, Side, Heel, Front - and we attempted to do some retrieving, but he was too distracted. I got a lot of good eye contact (Watch) from him, and...he didn't lift his leg on anything, so I count the trip as a total success! Go Sully!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Is it spring yet?

Sully and I are SO ready for spring!

Wednesday night at Awesome Adolescent class, several people talked about dogs they knew that had blown out their ACL or a hip or torn this or that running in the frozen, pot-holed yard.

So, until it warms up, Sully is cooped up inside. His exercise comes from repeated "get-bring-gives" in the house. Or, all out "zooms". 66 pounds of muscle, tearing around the dining room table, careening into the living room, sliding and crashing into the front door, pushing off and running full-tilt back to the dining room for another lap.

I figure we can work on "over" today - we'll both get our exercise running back and forth in the kitchen, jumping over the step. Maybe I should wear more appropriate shoes this time. Slippers are not the best footwear for "kitchen steeplechase". (And, if I forget and leave my slippers out in the open, we can work on "bring" and "GIVE"! after he enthusiastically grabs one and dashes for the far reaches of the house with his "prize". We're working on returning the slipper without first "de-fuzzing" it.)

Stay warm, everyone! I highly recommend running and jumping in the kitchen. Much cheaper than turning up the heat.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Baaaaaack!

Well. I guess I have proven one thing. Blogs are not my "thing". In fact, I had entirely forgotten that I HAD a blog, until I was falling asleep the other night. I have lots of strange thoughts just as I'm falling asleep. Just ask my husband. SO! I'm not going to catch up all the things that Sully has been doing since the last time I posted. But, I've decided to do a little bit every day. Really. No! Really!

I can tell you that Sully is nearly full grown - he's nine and a half months old and weighs about 66 lbs. The top of his head is about 3 inches above the top of the dining room table when he's sitting down.

This week, we're learning how to untangle our paws from the leash. That will become "fix it".

We're also learning the beginnings of "over". We're supposed to set up some kind of barrier for the dog to jump over, and as they do, click and treat. Sully is so big that nearly everything I've set up he merely steps over. Or, in the case of my aerobic step (which I thought was a GREAT idea!) he steps on it, then over it. But he knew I wanted him to do something, because I had the treats and the he would get on it, look at me. Nope, that wasn't it. How about, get half on, half off? Nope. How about....lay down on it? Poor guy. He was trying! Finally, I figured out that he'll jump over it if he's going fast enough. Which means I run full tilt through the kitchen with him right on my heels, trying to click as I watch behind me. It's very fun, if you're a dog. And pretty aerobic for the trainer!

Well, more tomorrow. No! Really!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blog FAIL!

I've decided I'm a terrible blogger. I looked at the date of my last post - Sully has practically quadrupled in size since then! So much happens in such a short period of time! I can't keep up. But, here I am. I'll try to get better!

As I said, Sully has grown. A LOT. He's now just under 30 lbs. His puppy fuzz is gone. His baby teeth are falling out. He's dating. (Just kidding. Wanted to see if you were paying attention.)

He still has one of his behaviors from when he was tiny. He "sneaks". He goes out of my sight, then when I go to find him, I duck behind something so he can't see me. Then, he goes into stealth dog mode. Very slowly, head down, he creeeeeps up to me, and POUNCES! He's very gentle - the pounces are quite tiny and barely clear the ground - so I'm not discouraging it. We also play a form of hide and seek, which he loves. I toss a treat into another room, then scurry in the opposite direction, hiding quickly. He nabs the treat, then comes looking for me - he knows I have another treat! This game is part of his "homework". It teaches him that being with me and coming to me is a positive thing.

He's got a pack. A blue one, with the Helping Paws logo. He puts it on, with the cue "get dressed!" He's starting to develop the "get undressed" behavior, by backing out of it when I lift it up. He sits and waits on command. We're working on "drop". (Laying down). He retrieves and "gives" the object.

When he wags, he uses his whole body.

His feet are still enormous.

He has an electric toothbrush. (The disposable kind. Not the expensive, recharging kind..) Loves it.

He leans. On walls, the sides of his kennel, the interior of the car, your leg. He's a leaner.

Well, I'll try to update again soon. Really.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gotta love antibiotics!

Whew! I think we're finally done with puppy diarrhea.( I know. Not the most pleasant of topics.) But from what I understand, something a lot of folks go through with little ones. We were going crazy trying to wean Sully off of the bland (rice and eggs, or rice and chicken, or rice and ground beef) diet he was on. Every time we would try to get him back on normal puppy chow, the poor little guy was dashing outside to create another pile of goo. Turns out, it wasn't the food that was the issue. It was a UTI! His little system was so inflamed and irritated from the urinary tract infection, it was affecting his stools. The diagnosis of UTI certainly explained the constant trips outside, and the numerous accidents - and finally, piddling in the kennel. Now he's on a bland, prescription diet, (doesn't THAT sound appealing!) probiotics and antibiotics. UTI's are kind of hard to detect in puppies - I mean, they piddle all the time anyway! And, if they're "going" on grass, you can't see if it's bloody or odd looking. He wasn't licking himself (more than normal) and it didn't seem painful. Live and learn. (We had stool samples checked several time for parasites, another common cause of diarrhea.) It is such a relief to figure out the cause!

The neighbors, who already have me pegged as some kind of loony, think I've gone off the deep end. ("Uh oh. She's cheering and clapping - about puppy poop. Should we call someone?") ("And did you see what she's wearing? In public? What's up with her HAIR?!") Okay, I've pretty much lost all dignity. I appear in the front yard in my "jammies". Not designer, classy jammies. Purple plaid flannel pants and a tee shirt from some event. Whatever shoes I could get on as I raced out the front door, puppy in tow. My hair just gets that way when I sleep, okay?? I just hope and pray someone isn't out and about at that moment. But they always are. The guy that delivers the paper has given up talking to me. He greets me with a cheery "Good morning!" and I just mumble something unintelligible. Some woman walking her dog came over to meet Sully this morning. I told myself she wasn't dressed in her Sunday best, either. But at least her hair was all going in one direction. I think Sully will be learning to use the run in the back yard this weekend. He's not crazy about it. (See photo) But it's much more private, which will go far in repairing what's left of my pride.