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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Surprising Puppy


FLD Gus ambled into the living room ahead of me and headed directly to Gypsy's bed.  He didn't bother to drag it over to the rug as usual; rather, with a sigh he plunked into it where it sat.

"How did he do?"  Andy asked.  FLD Gus and I were home from our second puppy-class at Leader Dogs for the Blind.

I want to know who switched puppies! I replied.

I was surprised when a calm FLD Gus, eyes on our instructor, seemed to listen intently as she explained what to expect in that evening's class.  I was surprised when FLD Gus (mostly) ignored an energetic puppy whose raiser sat next to us.  I was surprised when, during our "heeling" exercise, FLD Gus whined a warning that he had to "park"--and I was able to get him outside in time.

While FLD Gus is still a puppy with a long journey of learning ahead, it was obvious from his good behavior in class that he IS learning.

First we practiced skills introduced two weeks ago; all the puppies showed improvement.  FLD Gus heeled with less backwards walking; he looked up at me when I said his name (Name Recognition); he sat when told, at my left side instead of turning his body to face me.

Well, more times than not.

Then we learned the new skills we'll be working on for the next two weeks.  "Down" from the heel position, and "Leave It."  I've been working with FLD Gus on both of these at home already, but we haven't tried "down" from the heel.  As I anticipated, when I introduced this "down" command to Gus in class, he was not compliant.  I stepped on his leash and slipped his front legs out with either hand--and Gus immediately grabbed at my hands with his mouth.  No hard bites (some progress--yes, he's learning bite inhibition!), but I know we're not past this puppy problem.

Something to work on...


"Our Gus is back," Andy said in exasperation.  This morning FLD Gus woke up with more than his usual energy.

In self-defense, I took him on a mile and a half walk to the library to return a book and pick another one up.  Gus slid to the floor without a command when I took a seat inside to wait for Andy with the van.

Library patrons and workers strolled by to check out the cute puppy in his blue bandana.  "How old is he?" each of them asked.

Eleven weeks, I answered, at least a half dozen times.

"My, what a well-behaved puppy for so young!"

They didn't witness his wild antics this morning!

(FLD Gus weighed in at 19 pounds at class yesterday!  Yikes--that's six pounds in less than two weeks.  My little guy is growing.)

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