November was a very special month for me. I turned 1 year old! I celebrated with some extra special treats…and a brand-new toy. Birthdays are sweeeeeet!
Cathy says “puppydom” will last a bit longer, though. Physically I’m big and very strong, but my brain…well, it has some catching up to do!
But, my puppy brain has been fully engaged in learning new behaviours. It’s been a month full of learning new things.
Cathy and Chris attend classes every week – so they can learn how to teach me what I need to know before I go on to advanced training and get ready for life as a service dog. Most of our classes are on Zoom – and I know when my yellow cape goes on and I see other dogs on Cathy’s laptop…it’s time to learn!
For example, last week, we were learning about staying on my bed – even when there is a kibble just within my grasp. Oh…that was SO hard! But, when I’m a service dog, I must be able to listen and wait patiently – no matter how much I’m drooling over something tasty nearby.
One of my favourite behaviours I’m working on is “touch.” I smush my wet nose into Cathy’s palm and hold it there for as long as she wants me to. Later, the advanced trainers will teach me to touch things like elevator buttons and door openers.
I really love to learn. The nice people at PADS say, “Cowan has a lot of drive!”. What behaviour is my favourite? Well, I like them all, but I have to say the one I like best is “search.” Cathy spreads some kibble on the ground…then says, “search.” I rush to find every last one of them (I never miss one)…then return to her for some praise (and maybe more kibble). Chris said this game helps me learn to recall and to disengage then re-engage with my person. Whatever. If it involves food…I’m in!
You may not know this about training a service dog to be…but I rarely eat from a bowl. Chris and Cathy measure out my food for the day and then give me bits at a time as rewards as we go through our day. Otherwise, with all the training we do each day…I’d get very fat!
While I don’t have regular meal times, like other dogs I know, because I have a yellow service dog vest – I can go to a lot of places where other dogs are not allowed.
So, since the weather has turned cold and rainy here on the “wet coast,” Cathy has been taking me to the mall a lot. It’s warm and a good place to train while we do laps and get some exercise.
I don’t say this to make any pet dogs who can’t go into stores, jealous…but have you ever been into a shoe store! Millions of shoes…dog heaven!!
I’ll update you again in December. I hope all my friends, 4 and 2-legged, have a wonderful holiday season!
Submitted by: Cathy Demers and Chris Wright