Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last thing -- "Like" this photo please

I just found out a photo I took of Orent is up for CCI's holiday card photo. Whoever gets the most "likes" on Facebook wins! So far Orent's winning, but only by a bit. Help us land him a major deal in holiday card publishing by clicking this photo, then "liking" it on Facebook.

Two posts in less than 2 hours? How lucky are you!?!

Yea, we know, we have been bad puppy writers. But between a teenage dog, a new 7-year-old pomeranian, and buying a house (gasp!), we've been a teeny tiny bit busy. But now we have news!

Orent just returned home from a 10-day road trip all the way to Iowa and back. On his trip, he performed his role of dutiful service-dog-in-training to a T. He waited patiently under restaurant booths, slept soundly in the backseat, slept soundly in his crate, slept soundly on family members' floors... and did I mention he slept soundly in a Kinkos?

But by far the best moment of the whole trip was when we got to ditch Orent for a day in the caring hands of Carol and Becca, who work at Max's Grandma's nursing home. Orent spent the day visiting with various older people who were in the Health Center for people who need more on-going care. It was a smashing success for Orent. I think it's best to just let our email update from Max's aunt tell the story:
A great day for all! Orent was a big hit - one lady who never seems to notice things or come out of her room came out twice to see him. They walked around and visited people in rooms, people were thrilled to pet him. Best part - he seemed to have special affinity for alzheimer's patients. One in particular walked with him often. Others just seemed to really enjoy his company. They were thrilled that he loved to put his head on their laps. 
After lunch, he came in from his walk into the office and wanted to head up to your room - he remembered which room it was and headed to his crate for an hour and a half nap. 
A number of the staff were really taken with the idea of the program. Carol Enfield looked up his blog and more about the program.  I think she would love to have a dog at the home. 
Trouble the cat made sure that the residents didn't forget him. He marched around and made his presence known while Orent was being introduced and petted. Orent was unconcerned about Trouble.
All around, a successful road trip with the labrador. He only has 2 months and 2 weeks left with us before turn-in... it's amazing how time has flown!

More photos are up on Orent's Facebook page - Facebook.com/OrentII


Orent & the gang have had a busy summer, but we promised stories from the Finger Lakes and pre-school, so we'll share some highlights.

  • Orent learned to swim! We took him and Brady to play in a creek and they both thought that was highly over-rated. Who wants to go plunging into cold water that's suddenly really deep? No-one but Max, apparently. So we thought, "gee, our water-loving Labrador's kind of a wimp..." and were sad. Turns out, we just hadn't found the right approach. The next day (warmer!) we took Orent to one of the Finger Lakes, where there was a looooong, shallow entrance into the lake, nice and warm. There, he loved dolphin-leaping out for thrown sticks and swimming back with them proudly. And then wiping his face on strangers' towels (sorry kind strangers!!!) Now that we're back home he pretend-swims in kiddy pools, laying on his belly and splashing his front legs purposefully.
  • Both dogs were troopers in the car, with Orent sprawled peacefully across the whole back seat, and Brady learning to sit patiently in the passenger's lap, no matter who that passenger was.

  • Pre-school was a great success. Orent was fine, being pretty brave around kids of all levels of enthusiasm, and keeping his calm focus on Kaytee (and her bag of kibble) the whole time, while I talked about his life and answered questions. Below he shows off "lap" 

  • He even got thank-you notes!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2 bits

Only a few minutes for a blog post. Hopefully more later about our epic 5-day trip to the Finger Lakes, with Orent and Brady in tow. But for now...
  1. I'm trying to decide by Thursday which photos to submit to CCI for consideration for their 2013 calendar. Would you mind wandering over to this photo album on Facebook and liking the photos you think I should submit. Not much time, so like away!
  2. There are some great blog posts ahead about our recent adventures. As I said, we've just returned for a pretty great adventure in the Finger Lakes region of NY. Look out for a blog post on that, plus an update on Orent's trip to preschool a few weeks ago... when our program continues!
And a third bit, just because:

Orent gets socialized to a campfire!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On the road again

A story of Kaytee & Orent traveling... alone!

Orent came on a grand adventure with me today -- to New York City. I had a meeting w/ my boss in Brooklyn, and she's always wanted to meet Orent, so I decided I'd drive and bring him with me.

Orent's been to NYC before, but both times were with a 2nd person to help with doggy socialization. NYC is a scary place for dogs. I mean, the strollers alone are so big, they could crush a small buffalo!

Before we could start our journey, we had to get the car tuned up. Orent came with me to the repair shop (without a vest, because I'd forgotten it, but it was all good with the folks there). He was super patient while all the smells and sounds swirled around him. I was so proud!

Orent at the repair shop... no one even noticed him!
With the car tuned up, we set out on the road. At first, he was a dog who couldn't settle down. That probably stemmed from me having to slam my breaks and him sliding off the seat -- he was belted in, but still! -- and onto the floor. He didn't want to lay down after that shocking experience.

So I gave up getting him to lie down, and just drove. We hit some traffic, and every hard break from then on caused him to wake up and stand up. Poor dog... but I'm sure he'll get over it.

In NYC, we expertly navigated the moms and babies, guys on bikes, construction workers, and the like. We didn't do such a good job navigating puddles. Orent wanted to drink the water so bad! But we persevered, and made it to my boss's apartment.

Orent had a hard time settling down, and we all were hungry, so we figured we'd get lunch at a Yemeni restaurant below her apartment (yep, Yemeni... it was amazingly good!). Shockingly, after a few failed attempts to get my attention, Orent laid down and fell asleep for almost our entire two-hour lunch meeting.

He's lying down, in a restaurant! That's pretty much never happened before
After the meeting, we headed back to the car. One thing Brooklyn lacks is places for dogs to pee! All of their trees are fenced in where we were, so there weren't even little bits of dirt to pee on. So I tried to put the dog between two parked and said "hurry". You won't believe what Orent did! He jumped up over the curb, over the 1' tall fence around the tree, and started peeing next to the tree. But what could I do? I was actually pretty proud of him for jumping, since he's been such a wimp about that of late. And besides... fenced-off trees are dumb. Orent clearly recognized that and decided some rules are just made to be broken!

On the drive home, we stopped and went into a NJ rest stop (the very same one where we took this photo when he was a brand new little squish-face). Those places bustle with seventeen million people at all times of day, so I figured it'd be a good place for Orent to get some socialization. Also, I needed coffee and I certainly wasn't abandoning him in the car. Nothing much to report from this socialization... mostly I'm just documenting it so I remember to include it in the puppy report.

We hit some pretty bad traffic on the way home, but Orent, as usual, was cool as a cucumber... even at 6pm (dinner time!).

Maybe we'll take more "just us" road trips in the future since this one went so well. I still can't believe how relaxed he is about the world. It's actually kind of freaky!

Taken at a red light, don't worry Max!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Woof is for Weekend!

Hi guys, it's Orent again. Learning to speak and then to blog is really fun! I can tell you all about my weekend because my humans have really been slacking on their blogging.

Yesterday I got to go run with my friend Buddy and play in his pool. I pretty much thought that was the best day a guy could have, but then! We went to see the ocean again. Every time we go I like it more and more. This time, I didn't feel silly when the sand tickled my toes, and I wasn't scared to go into the ocean... at least, I wasn't scared when it didn't get my belly. Then I got cold and yeah, maybe a little nervous.
Me and Brady, my new little big brother, at the beach
But I liked chasing my squeaky tennis ball and my new brother and jumping over the waves into the surf. I liked being on a long leash so Brady could chase me, and I really liked when Max took his socks off so I could grab one. Well, I didn't like being told "Don't! Drop!" after that... socks are so soft and smell so good, why can't I chew them?

Anyway, back to the beach. You'll never guess what happened next! There were cars on the beach! Big ones with big wheels. Even if you'd said "jump!" I couldn't have jumped into them, the wheels were taller than Max. A whole lot of them drove on the beach and then there was a big bonfire.

Me, Max, and a big, big truck
There were lots and lots of small humans there and some of them petted me. They said I was a good dog and they laughed because I'm only 1 year old and Brady is 7 but he's a lot smaller than me! Some of them were about Brady's age, and they thought it was cool that they were older than me. I thought it was cool that they scratched my ears and rubbed my belly! I was good, too, and held my "sit" almost the whole time! And there were other puppies there but I ignored them... the kids were more fun.

When we got back in the car for the hour-long ride home, I was so tired I fell right to sleep. Max says I fell asleep while I was climbing into the car, but I think he's exaggerating. Who's writing this blog anyway, buddy?!? Brady says I even slept through the tuna hoagies they ate (in the car) for dinner and missed out on the dropped tuna. I wouldn't have eaten it anyway, I told Brady. He rolled his eyes and said, "yeah, just like it wasn't you who ate the cat's lunch (twice) and my dinner and breakfast this week?" Again, whose blog is this, guys?!? Mine!

Yeah, getting to go swim with Buddy and in the ocean all in one day was awesome. I paid the price the next day I guess. The humans said "bathtime" and we went to the PetCo in New Jersey where I got a shower. I don't like those. I wasn't scared of the slippery ramp (yay me!!!) but I still DO NOT LIKE having the water sprayed on me. It makes me grab for my cookies and try to back away and generally act unhappy. I tried something new when the cookies weren't coming fast enough... speaking for them. It did NOT work. They people said "DON'T" and I did not get cookies. Why do I sometimes get cookies for speaking and sometimes not? Being 1-years-old is hard work...

Thanks for reading my blog! If you have a chance to talk to my humans, can you tell them that I promise to be better and not eat Brady's food or the cat's food or go into the recycling bin looking for cardboard if they promise not to get gates for the hallway... I like my freedom, and I'll try not to abuse it any more... it's just those things smell so good and taste so good and are so fun to play with... hey, did you refill the cat bowl? Yummy! Oh! Sorry... maybe those gates are a good idea.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

12 for 12 (from Orent himself)

Orent learned to speak (finally! We have a video below), so this month, the reflections come straight from the puppy's mouth!
  1. "Adult Eukanuba is big and crunchy! I love it! I just wish I could have as many individual kibbles as I used to be able to have when they were small..."
  2. "I have a sixth sense about when its six pm... because then it's dinner time!"
  3. "I learned a new skill. Aggressive visiting is what my people call it. I put my head on whatever body part is near me -- legs, arms, even toes -- and press down and give my best puppy dog eyes. I'm especially good at this at 6pm... did I mention that's dinner time?"
  4. "I still love kiddie pools full of water. Maybe this year, I'll learn to be less scared of creeks and rivers!"
  5. "I got a new little brother, and he confuses me. He barks at me, but I'm not allowed to bark back. But then one time I got kibbles for barking at him, because I was still learning to speak. Now I get really confused and bark at him, and get told to be quiet. I just don't understand... (shakes head)"
  6. "Sometimes when I play with my friends, it's hard to remember to pay attention to my people. But then one time, I actually remembered what "here" meant when we were out in the big world, and I left my friend Buddy and came running. I got like eight kibbles for that!"
  7. "Even though I am one whole year old, I still don't understand these things called doorways. Why aren't they good places for napping? How is it that I always seem to end up on the wrong side of the door opening?"
  8. "I am really, really good at jumping... except at the groomers, and at home, and into the car, and at my friend's house, and... anything that's not a new thing to jump on. Why would I want to jump on things I've already jumped on."
  9. "I am a California dog! This hot weather -- even if my people say it's only 78 degrees, it feels like a million to me. And when it was cold, all I wanted to do was snuggle. Why can't it be a perfect 55 degrees every day, like it is where I was born?"
  10. "I am officially agile! I can do nearly everything in the dog agility course, like the tunnel and the triangle... well, except the teeter totter. That one's too scary."
  11. "I get distracted super easily these days. I mean, life is just really hard and I've got all these hormones and.... SQUIRREL!"
  12. "Nothing phases me... nope, I'm Mr. Chill Dog!"
And now, Orent speaks:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

11 for 11

Orent turned 11 months old last week, and here are 11 things we are remarking on right now.

  1. Orent has a new "brother" named Brady -- a tiny, 7-year-old papillon/pomeranian mix who barks a lot and has gobs of energy. In comparison, Orent is a silent, slow, dopey dog. The contrast couldn't be more stark. Wherever Orent ends up, let's hope they don't need a dog that moves fast or barks!
  2. We're starting to think more about Orent as an actual service dog, now that he has grown into himself. For example, when he pulls on the leash now, its clear he's very strong and we need to get better at Let's Go in case someone needs him to walk patiently by their side.
  3. Speaking of being strong... today, Orent pulled me (Kaytee) over. Literally. He was on his long leash, chasing a frisbee down a (soft and grassy... thank god!) hill, and he got up so much speed I couldn't keep up. Next thing I know, I'm flying to the ground and the dog is racing ahead. Fortunately, Max's dad got the dog's leash and I am fine. But man, he got STRONG!
  4. He's exceedingly lovey. He'll probably be an emotional support dog for someone, considering all he wants in life is to lean on you and tell you he loves you.
  5. He's learning to do more commands without bribes/lures, and responds to corrections, which is a very grown-up dog thing to do.
  6. On the other hand, he's scared of putting his vest and gentle leader, and won't do it without bribes.
  7. But it's not that simple! It seems sometimes he has two brains -- brain one is slow, dopey dog that doesn't know what commands mean. Brain two gets turned on whenever food is around, and that's when he remembers what commands mean. It's not bribing, per se... it's using food to turn on the light switch that activates the part of the brain that remembers what commands mean.
  8. He now officially lets us cut his nails! 
  9. He loves to run, and to be chased around. His favorite game is "On your mark! Get set! Go!" which is basically where someone says that and then goes running off in a direction, and Orent runs along beside. This works best when Orent has something (a stick or toy) to hold in his mouth, because otherwise he really wants to carry the leash.
  10. He can destroy most toys in less than a day, and some in less than an hour. We've basically stopped buying toys that aren't made out of special (expensive) plastic at this point, because it's just not worth it.
  11. See below...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The best compliment yet!

There comes a time in every great service-dog-in-training's life where he or she achieves something no one thought would be possible -- he becomes invisible!

Today, Orent was invisible in plain sight at the liquor store. We stood in an insanely long line waiting to buy wine, and he was right by my side. When we got to the register, the lady said "uh, manager, there's a dog here." and the manager looked right at me and said "what? where?" Hard to believe she missed him, but he was right by my side and she didn't notice him for a few seconds.

I explained that he was in training, and she said "ok, fine". She must've been convinced by his good behavior or something, because she was super skeptical but she let him continue along.

But of course, all good things come to an end. Right now, he's tearing up and down the hallway chasing his tennis ball, making a massive racket that is undoubtedly driving my downstairs neighbors nuts. I bet they wish he was invisible for real!

UPDATE: while I was writing this post, he finished eating the head off his frog friend. This, if you're keeping track, is actually Frog Friend II. Frog Friend I died a slow, painful death as he was ripped limb from limb over the course of several months. Frog Friend II lost his head in less than two weeks! Poor Frog Friend II.

Monday, March 12, 2012

10 for 10

Orent turned 10 months old on March 9th, while we were attending the Puppy-Raiser Workshop. We learned a lot about him at the workshop and have lots to share for his 10 for 10 post!

  1. In typical teenager fashion, he has forgotten that "down" is a command he knows. Despite learning it shortly after "sit," when told "down," he sits and looks at you with innocent eyes. Unless there's a bribe like a toy or a treat. Then suddenly the light dawns!
  2. Despite last summer's unsuccessful attempts to get him to swim, this weekend he went plunging boldly into the ocean (at least up to his belly!) so there may be hope for him yet!
  3. He's super snuggly, and loves to lean (not so good) and roll over for belly rubs (great).
  4. He's finally forgotten that once upon a time he got to eat three meals a day, and has stopped looking at us aghast when we come in from a mid-day outing without stopping by the food bowl.
  5. He doesn't hate having his nails clipped any more. It's not his favorite pastime, but it's not a fight, either.
  6. He's shy of other dogs except CCI dogs. This weekend he met dozens of new CCI labs and retrievers and was ready to play (rough!) with each one from the moment they set noses on each other. Then on the way home he met a handful of new dogs and was shy and submissive around them.
  7. He loves to run and has gotten sooooo much faster! He loves to chase down rolling toys, to run for frisbees, and especially to be chased by other dogs. However, despite being faster than he was, he'll never be the fastest dog in the play yard!
  8. He likes babies. They make him wag his tail and sniff enthusiastically. I wonder what makes them smell so good!
  9. There will never be another toy as fabulous as a stick, in Orent's mind.
  10. He performs well for an audience. In puppy class, on outings, and at the workshop, he looked away from distractions, followed his commands, didn't pull on the leash, and was generally a star of the show. On the sidelines trying to be good and listen to the trainers teach the people... well that was another story!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finally learning...

It feels like we've spent so much time teaching Orent basic skills, like to wait to eat until we say "ok", and to get into the car when we say "car". One skill it seemed like he'd never master is to chill out in public. Whether it was an activist meeting or a trip to a friendly restaurant, Orent was "Mister Pop-Up-For-Attention". It's like he learned that if he didn't settle down, we'd spend a lot of time trying to get him to chill out and lay down.

Well, this weekend, we tried something different. First, we took a road trip all the way to Delaware (why Delaware, you ask? why not Delaware?!?), and decided to eat at Iron Hill Brewery. The wait staff and manager were really friendly about Orent, and sat us in a fairly quiet part of the restaurant, with not a lot of people around, so we could try our new idea - ignore the dog until he learns to settle down, and when he lays down on his own, give him a treat. And... it worked! He was fairly wander-y for the first 30 mins of dinner, but we kept him on a short leash and eventually he got bored trying to lick the floor or follow the wait staff from table to table. He settled down and... much to our amazement... fell asleep!

We were so pleased! Also, the food was good and the beer was better. Hooray exciting trip.

But it wasn't over! We wanted to go to the "museum of the road" or something like that in New Castle, but when we arrived, it turned out to be nothing more than a Harley Davidson. However, it did mean we got to have an impromptu photo shoot. Too bad there were no side cars for Orent to jump in, and no doggy goggles for him to model...

We finished the road trip with an adventure to the Petco in Wilmington, to give Orent a bath at the self-serve tub & hose. Sadly, the grooming area was closed (Orent was not so sad!) so we bought him an "indestructible" toy instead. 

Wanna bet on how long until the toy is destroyed?

PS - Sorry it's been so long since we've written a blog. Life with Orent has become pleasantly routine... but who knows, maybe March will present lots of interesting challenges to blog about. If you want to stay up to date with the week-to-week of Orent's life, like him on Facebook (the link is to your right). 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bad puppy mommy!

Oh dear, I've been bad. First, I haven't written anything for three weeks! But most importantly, I really failed at being a good puppy mommy today.

I'm trying to give the dog a bit more freedom. I work from home, and he spends a lot of the day chilled out on his bed, chewing his bone. He's gotten better about being left unattended (as long as the bedroom door is closed so he can't steal socks!), so I've been letting him wander the small apartment unsupervised when I'm home more frequently.

This afternoon started out fine. He took up residence in the bathroom, on the rug, in front of the space heater... no trouble there! I guess considering how skinny he is, he just gets cold.

The trouble happened when Max got home. I'd fed the dog around 6:15 as usual but didn't take him outside. When Max got home, we got to talking. Next thing you know, the dog is wandering into the office. I start to pet him and he starts to pee... on the floor... just like that! Oh dear...

So I whisk him outside while Max cleans up the mess. He finds another puddle on the floor and cleans that up. When Orent and I get back upstairs, we realized Orent had gotten into more trouble than we thought in those scant five minutes he was unattended.

Somehow, during the five minutes that Max and I were talking in the office, he'd gone into the laundry room, ate all the spilled kibble off the floor that he'd been told not to eat (repeatedly! dense dog), went into the trash can, got a toy that had been thrown away out, destuffed it, and then set to work on the dryer lint in the trash.

So, bad puppy mommy, bad. No kibble for me!

Also, anyone know if dryer lint is, like, poisonous? He seems fine, and we use good not-too-toxic laundry detergent... I guess we'll find out how much of it he ate tomorrow!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Orent II, Weekend Warrior!

I learned this weekend that Orent is finely-tuned into the weather. When it's too hot or too cold out, he hurries outside to hurry (tee-hee!) and turns to come right back in. But this unseasonably gorgeous weekend (60ยบ! In January!) he has lingered longingly every time we went out for a potty break. Yesterday we got to do a bit of outdoor adventuring, having lunch outside, taking our Christmas tree to be chipped, and romping a bit in the neighbor's yard. But today I knew we needed to do more playing!

So... we started the morning at a bakery I've been wanting to try almost since I moved to Philly. Funny how having Orent gives me an excuse to have all sorts of adventures. Anyway, they were very dog-friendly, even if Orent was a bit restless. See the previous post for photos of that!

Then, we took him to the doggiest place in all of Philadelphia, Rittenhouse Square. It's in the fanciest part of the city, so you see teacup dogs and purebred everything (though I've yet to see a fully groomed Afghan hound, I'm sure that's just poor timing on my part). And you see mutts and pitt-mixes because, after all, this is Philly. Maybe even more than dogs, you see kids, too, playing in the dry fountain all winter long.
Orent meets a young friend

"mmm... Pastries for me, too?"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Puppy-days!

It's been a while since we posted an update about how Orent is doing in life and training. There's a lot to tell, so I'll try to keep it to the best parts. If you want more regular updates about Orent, why not "like" him on Facebook!

We started our holiday celebrations with the aforementioned trip on the Amtrak to Charlottesville, VA. Orent was perfect! He slept most of the ride, and managed to make it all the way outside of Union Station before hurrying, thus saving us a major embarrassment. In Charlottesville, Orent got to meet Max's parents' dog, Lucy. Lucy does not like other dogs, but she and Orent got along OK. Eventually, she decided she'd stop barking at him and tolerate his presence. When they played out back (in the fenced-in yard - woohoo!), Lucy took the role of personal trainer. She sat down and barked at Orent, and Orent ran circles around her until he was too tired to move. Sadly, I never got a photo of that, but I do have this nice one of Orent and Max in Union Station!

On the way home, we only had one tiny issue - Orent refused to hurry next to the train while we stopped in DC for a short time. So we ran outside the train station (quite far away), Orent hurried, and then we ran back to the train and made it back with time to spare. Phew!