Monday, September 2, 2013

POPPY: 9 Month Puppy Report

Poppy - 9 months - Guide Dog Puppy
Poppy went to stay at Guide Dogs of America for 5 days to be thoroughly tested and checked by their trainers and veterinarians. They want to make sure that she is on track and developing properly.
I was nervous.
"What if she is too pushy and willful?" I thought. 
Another puppy I know was dropped at 9 months for being "too self-pleasing".
YOU know that we just went through episodes of Poppy stealing food so I was afraid I would hear back with a similar report. "Too obnoxious."
Instead they called her shy.
She's a happy bully around these parts. An incessant puller on the leash. A hearty eater and player.
But Yvette, the trainer, said that Poppy lagged behind when they went out walking. That she was "soft" and needed extra support. Don't get me wrong, Yvette loved her. She said Poppy was a snuggler and a sweetheart who did really well with her commands. 
Going to Sha's class every Sunday and working with her at home has paid off. When Yvette called her to come Poppy ran to her easily. She knows: Sit, Stay, Lay Down, Leave It, Heal, and Come.
But on the written report I got back, the category for STRESS was marked with the word "High." 
High stress.
That shocked me.
Since she's been back home Poppy seems different. Humbled? Maybe. ...Traumatized? That's dramatic, but there is an element of distress in her that I never saw before.
Somewhere in that little blond head is a new awareness that the world is not all about hanging out and playing with people and other doggies who love her. Commands are something more than a way to get treats or shine in front of her puppy class. This was Poppy's first real GDA experience with TRAINERS. Trainers who have expectations and don't take any silliness. It was not entirely pleasant for Poppy.
She always followed me happily from room to room. It was one of her personality traits that made me think she would be an excellent guide dog. She's bonded. She likes closeness.
But before, when she followed me there was eagerness, an expectation of something good right around the corner. If I could translate her body language it would be "Oh goody! What's next?"
Now when she follows me there is a touch of panic in her eyes, "Don't leave me."
The kennels at GDA are concrete. There is no soft bed or blanket or even a snuggly toy. I think being alone in the kennel was hard on her. The second day they gave her a roommate but I suspect the fear had already set in. And I still see it knocking around in there. 
The closest thing I've ever seen to discomfort in Poppy was when Sha corrected her in front of the class and then gave her back to me. Poppy made the whole class laugh by looking pleadingly into my eyes and trying to disappear into my leg. She couldn't have been more clear, "Get me out of here!" 
As I write this she is sleeping beside me. She could be on the dog bed a couple of feet away but she would rather be one inch from where I am. Or maybe the tile floor is just cooler. I don't know. 
I will keep my eye on the situation and let you know how she progresses.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Counter Surfing, What Finally Worked?

No more bacon and eggs for me.
Dean's breakfast is safe once again.

After the rattling can failed, Sha, the dog trainer made a crazy suggestion that I yell at the counter.

"Bad counter! Bad!" I whipped that granite with a dishtowel and chastised it soundly for giving up Dean's breakfast. I yelled at the dishwasher too because those dirty spoons were "Not for sharing!"

Poppy was shocked! She wanted no part of all that hostility. Her little tail went down and she slunk away to the living room to hide behind Sally.

Now when I cook she stays out of the kitchen. Her pilfering days behind her. I hope. ;)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Poppy's Counter Surfing

Who's down with OPB? (Other People's Breakfast)
Poppy has become a fiendish counter surfer. Haley's crepes. Dean's bacon and eggs. I turn my back for a second and they are GONE.

The solution? 8 pennies in a thoroughly dry soda can. Tape up the top and tie a kite string to the tab. Set a trap with a delicious piece of string cheese as bait and when she grabs the cheese the can comes tumbling down, making a terrible loud noise which frightens her and puts a stop to all this nonsense.

I thought we would get a good laugh, watching Poppy get her well deserved comeuppance. But the laughs were on us. The can met it's match. It fell off the counter and made a huge rattly sound just like we wanted it to.

Poppy couldn't have cared less. She didn't even startle. Just wolfed that string cheese down like a hungry Miami street dog. (shout out to Sam)


What now?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Six Months of Poppy

Lisa with Sally, Poppy and Buddy

My sister Andrea came to stay with us for a while and brought her dog Sam. I'll let her tell you how it worked out:

Sam the handsome newcomer

A d j u s t m e n t  T i m e  !!
Sam does NOT like Poppy!!! All her jumping, frolicking and ROUGH N' READY puppy-play chaps his alpha-male heiney! 

She's a handful under normal circumstances, and Lisa has a lot to do today. So now she's out doing it and my job is to just take care of all  4 dogs. Sally,  the would-be alpha who with her diminutive size cannot achieve dominance over Poppy, but remains vigilant nonetheless.  Buddy, who good-naturedly submits to Poppy's endless shenanigans, though he usually just lays there like a punching bag, letting her bite him to her hearts' content. 
Patience. We all have a lot of adjusting to do.  I'm staying in a really nice room!  Baby gated so that Sam can be segregated.

Ouch! Poppy has no mercy for Buddy

Life is all about change when it isn't about maintenance.

Buddy doing his level best
We cracked the code. 
Alone with these 4 dogs, including "new-comer," Sam, used to being the Alpha at home;  completely intolerant to 8 month-old Poppy, how to make them into a pack that can co-exist peacefully,   if not happily?   Poppy's style of play wasn't at all agreeing with Sam.

Poppy's style of play is pretty obnoxious
I kept doing "group" activities with all 4 for about 30 mins.  Running around the yard.  Coming back and and "sitting" for treats. Again and again.  Poppy just kept on trying to puppy-style play with Sam and he just grrrrowled and got all hateful - but I wouldn't let him go full-force.  But she is HARD-headed.  Finally I took them all to the front door, like, "what we gonna do now??" And poppy did her usual try at grabbing at Sam.  He'd had enough of her just gave her an unequivocal response semi- attack that shocked her out of her innocence. Not enough to hurt her, but enough to clearly state his boundary.  The light bulb went ON.  She backed OFF.   She steers Clear of him now.
I wanna see if Lisa notices when she gets back.

Lol. That picture says it allllll! Crammed in next to security blanket Buddy.....he's all wagging, she's all inhibited and embarrassed, once bitten twice shy no joyous tail waggin. Good, she needed that dose!

PS. Lisa noticed right away when she walked in the door.  "What happened??"  she exclaimed when she saw all the dogs gathered together by the front door to greet her and Haley when they got home.  The change was evident.   Poppy was keeping a respectful distance,  and Sam wasn't bristling.   A knew understanding had been found.  Although Poppy snuck in a few hopeful kisses while taking their evening walk...she hasn't completely given up! 

Surprise! In the end Sam couldn't resist Poppy's charms.

"Someday I will be a real guide dog." - Poppy

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kennel Camp at GDA

Poppy went to "day camp" at Guide Dogs of America today. It looks like jail but the kennel director promised me that the puppies have a great time playing with each other. Then when they come for guide dog boot camp at 16 months of age adjustment is a breeze for them. One of the problems GDA encountered was that many dogs were dropped from the program because of "kennel stress". Since they started the "doggy day camps" the kennel stress has decreased substantially!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Five Months of Poppy

First time at the beach
Poppy went to the beach and experienced the ocean for the very first time. It was HEAVEN for Poppy. She loved the sand and the smells, the waves. We walked for 2 hours in the surf and if I had unhooked the leash I think she would have thanked me in English. The experience was so magical for her.

Perfectly matched playmates

A lot of love
Poppy requires a LOT of exercise and a LOT of play. She doesn't even notice when a dog tries to dominate her. I don't think she realizes how aggressive she is. Her BFF is a pitbull named Lucy who is the only dog who can match her energy. They have a ball together.
Dean and Poppy at Poquito Mas

Thank God we started taking Poppy to restaurants early on because she really absorbed good restaurant behavior.

Lindsey took Poppy to school with her
Lindsey took her to Chaminade High School and Poppy went to class with her. I was prepared to go pick Poppy up if she was distracting or unruly but she surprised us all with absolutely PERFECT behavior.

Pretty Poppy

Poppy is TERRIFIC at riding in the car

Not allowed on the couch

Poppy and Buddy L O V E

Monday, May 13, 2013

Four Months of Poppy

Happy Half Birthday Poppy
Poppy is six months old and growing up to be a strong healthy young lady.

She is curious about everyone and everything. The most important thing to her is love. In the morning she wants hugs first, not food or to go outside. She follows me from room to room in the house and goes with me everywhere. Except the mall, she is puppy non grata at the mall until she learns to go pee pee and poo poo BEFORE we hit those marble floors.

Haley walks Poppy around the golf course

Poppy takes takes a 3 mile walk with me most mornings around Balboa Park. She likes romping through the grass and is fascinated by the geese, ducks and swans.

Poppy faces off with a swan hopping like a kangaroo
Her favorite dog training class is Sha Newman's class on Sunday mornings and she is actually pretty good in it. Sometimes we put the dogs in a sit and walk away, humans walking around the circle. So far Poppy hasn't been the one to break the stay. After class the dogs have an off-leash romp and get all their energy out.

Poppy and Danny romp after class
We went to the GDA Puppy group this month and Poppy did their skill course, which had several different stations where the puppies demonstrated their ability to listen, wait and understand.

Poppy's A+ report card from GDA ;)

The great thing about these GDA meetings is that we get to see all of Poppy's litter mates. Cute cute cute puppies.

What happened to her leash?
Poppy's favorite thing to do it CHEW. Dean's classic car, the rugs, the walls, my flip flops, yoga block, many leashes and hundreds of chew toys. At some point during this short car ride Poppy managed to turn her leash into a useless pendant.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Three Months of Poppy

Poppy is 38 pounds now and my finger is black and blue from a popped blood vessels. She loves to pull.

Last month I realized that everyone else was taking their puppy to class even though they hadn't received their shots and also using treats for training purposes!!! Let me tell you, when training a tiny puppy to understand english treats are a BIG help. They already get so much adoration and approval.

Poppy, Buddy, Sally

Poppy is making great strides.
We started class with Jessica K who used to be a guide dog trainer for GDA and she gave me useful tips. My favorite was "get a leather leash" it doesn't cut into your hand so much.

Dean and Haley training Poppy at Jessica's

Before we could take our second class I took Poppy for an overnight stay at GDA and she got spayed.
She was beside herself with excitement when I dropped her off and she saw her friends Carter and Lorri. Compared to the other puppy, who was there helping her puppy raiser give tours to girl scouts, Poppy was shamefully ferrel.

Too cool for school

I came home feeling sick to my stomach. Was I doing Poppy a disservice? I'm not a dog trainer. Buddy and Sally are only trained to get along with me and my family.

Noelle Nasca, dog trainer
My sister Noelle, on the other hand, is an amazing dog trainer. Everywhere she goes dogs are transformed by her presence. Do you understand what I am saying? Not that she is a good dog trainer, but when untrained dogs come near her they magically act exactly like fully trained dogs.
She just knows how to speak "Dog". They understand her gestures, her tone, her words, and the look in her eyes.

Unfortunately she lives in New York State. Here's a video of her well trained dog, Uta, attacking MY big padded arm.

I put feelers out to a few other puppy raisers and I got a call from a woman named Ronni who cheerfully assured me that I could do this.


Down Poppy
She hooked me up with a dog trainer near my house named Sha Newman. Sha used to be a GDA trainer and now she works for Guide Dogs of the Desert. Every Sunday morning Sha has a free class for any dog associated with GDA or GDD and she so very kindly allowed me to come with Poppy.
Sha's class was inspiring for me and Poppy was thoroughly fascinated.


Sha was funny and frank and totally accepting and supportive. She loved Poppy. The class was filled with nice people and cute dogs. I am looking forward to rapid growth in understanding for Poppy and her raisers.

The Final Frontier

 Poppy seems to have decided that her favorite place to pee AND POOP is the mall! Yuk. No matter how long I walk her back and forth in the grass outside the mall, as soon as we step inside, the first thing she wants to do is poop. A little later... pee.
Why Poppy, why?

Your welcome, Nortdstroms

Monday, April 1, 2013

Irritated = Irritating

Poor Poppy, I think her incision must be itchy today. She is supper whiny and irritated.


I've given her pain killers and extra food and love. But somedays only a nasty, stinky, gross pig ear will do...

makes her happy

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Poppy Got Spayed

Awww, my sweet Poppy girl having one new experience after the other. Just spent three days in the hospital kennel and is coming home with stitches.

Poppy got spayed! They don't wait around at GDA. The lady who grooms my other dog told me that when you spay a dog this young their head doesn't grow anymore so they end up having a small head and fat body. The girls at GDA laughed out loud when I told them that. I really hope that's not true. The dogs I saw at graduation looked like they had normal heads.

Poppy is accepting of the cone. She has no expectations that life is supposed to be cone free so she has no resentment about wearing it. But she doesn't like it. She won't go on the grass with the cone on so she is pooping and peeing in all the wrong spots, like the living room, the flower beds, or right in the middle of the walkway.

She's on drugs too, Rimadyl, which is an anti-inflamatory. I think it makes her loopy.

The cone has turned her into Puppy-non-grata. It hurts like hell when she runs into your shins! I saw Buddy finally growl menacingly at her. He has to let her know that she is hurting him. She followed me around the backyard where I was gardening and each time she sniffed a newly planted flower the cone dug it right back up. Sigh.

Is this what recovery is going to be like?

Ahhhh, much better!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bad Girl Bad Girl, Whatcha Gonna Do?

I knew I put three blueberry muffins on that countertop. So when I came back and there were only two I figured that Dean ate one. Then I realized that Poppy was no where to be found. She had scurried upstairs and was busy wolfing down that muffin, paper and all.


likely to re-offend

Monday, March 18, 2013

Poppy Goes To The Store

We took Poppy to Target. She found a toy dog that barks and moves.

Why is she so obsessed with corners?


Friday, March 15, 2013

Poppy Sitters

Babysitter needed
Dean and I attended a heating and air conditioning convention in Las Vegas for Kilowatt. (I bet you didn't even know there were such things ;)

Thankfully GDA gave me a phone list of people willing to puppysit and Debi and her husband Ken were available. Debi and Ken had raised Jazzy for GDA so they knew all the Do's and Don'ts of puppy raising.

Debi with Poppy and Jazzy
Poppy became fast friends with Jazzy and got to meet all the the people at the Harley Davidson store where Debi works.

Home again with Haley
Poppy reunited with Buddy and Sally. There were lots of kisses, jumping and chasing.

Home again home again...

Thanks Debi & Ken for taking care of Poppy!