Working Weekend Saturday, Jul 30 2011 

The weekend is here at last, and after sleeping in this morning, Holly and I still had some work to do.

At first, not much was planned for the day, possibly a walk around the local lake to practice basic obedience, and tasks. So when my mom decided to head over to Fredy’s to pick up some supplies for a project she’s working on I decided that Holls and I would tag along.

I rather suspect that the Fred Meyer staff are getting sick of seeing the pair of us around, we seem to be gracing their aisles at least once a week.

Holly waiting and watching.

While we were checking out, a couple children noticed the “big doggy” and proceeded to tell their mom. The mother told them about how she was a Service Dog in Training, and she was learning to help people, so they shouldn’t try to pet or distract her. They admired her from afar.

I couldn’t help but grin, people here are so wonderful when it comes to being educated about Service Dogs. It means so much when people actually read the patches and refrain from petting. Bravo for those people who are educated!

Outside the store, even in her lighter vest she was still really hot.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, where sun is rare, and anything over 70 degrees is considered summer heat, we are currently being subjected to baking temperatures of over 80 degrees. Holly wasn’t the only one panting as we made a beeline for the market across the way to pick up some groceries.

Holly, waiting, again.

Too many people and by the end I was getting really disoriented. My mom could have helped me getting to the car, but Holly did her job well.

Here's the car, found it!

We opted to wait in the car while mom hit the pet store for some guinea pig feed for my sister’s pet piggy. It was really, really warm.

Big ears, big nose, big tongue, Holly's just a big girl.

We made a five second stop at the library to drop off some books, and then headed home.

All in all, a very successful day for everyone. Holly improves in focus every time we go out. Car rides are also getting less and less stressful for her.

For one last picture:

From left to right, Zoe, Holly, and Dozer. The peanut gallery.

Both Zoe and Dozer are staying with us while their owners are gone on trips. They are the Terrible Trio. All sorts of mischief happens when these two are together, but they do it so happily you can’t help but laugh.

Hope all of you are having gorgeous, successful and air-conditioned weekends!

Kat & Holly

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Busy, Busy Day. Thursday, Jul 28 2011 

What a busy day it has been for the Pretty Princess and I.

We got up early, went out for a short walk, and loaded up to go see my therapist. Holly was excellent in the car, she lay quietly ate her treats, and waited for us to get to our destination.

In the car while we're on the road.

 This is huge progress for Holly and I. When I first adopted her she hated car rides. The whole ride home from the shelter where we picked her up she panted, and whined, shivered, and drooled. Now she’s able to ride quietly and calmly in the back of the car. I’m on the lookout for a good seat belt for her, so if anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them!

At my therapist’s office she was very, very well behaved. There were only a few times when I had to remind her not to sniff, or pull. The rest of the time she either had her head in my lap, or cat-napping on the floor. For the sake of privacy of those who work and go there I won’t be taking any pictures from the inside of the building of Holly.

A wink for me from the Pretty Princess as we prepare to load up and head out.

We then headed over to Freddy’s so my mom could pick up some stuff. I took the opportunity to wander around with Holly, practice her warning cue, basic obedience, focus, and ignoring other people and interesting smells. She did beautifully with her obedience, and ignoring people. She tried to sniff things occasionally, but a quick redirecting cue and she remembered her manners. Her warning cue still needs a bit of work, but practice makes perfect. Focus was excellent in the beginning, but by the end she was starting to need more reminding. Much better and longer than she’s done before.

Yes mom?

In the clothes section, practicing being invisible.

A few minutes before we left admiring the scarves.

So all in all, today’s training outing has been a complete and utter success! This was also the first time that Miss Holly worked in her new harness, it was wonderful, she was sooo much more comfortable.

The rest of today will be spent in more fun, doggy activities.

Until later,

Kat & Holly

Training to Fun Photos Tuesday, Jul 26 2011 

So Saturday was a training day. Holly and I spent a lot of time working on tightening up placing. Like coming to the front, going around me to heel position, and lying across my feet when asked.

After about a half hour of working on positioning, basic cues, and tasks, Holly and I were getting a little spacey. So we moved on to just goofing off:

Rolling in the grass.

Stopping for a sniff.

And a scratch.

Back to rolling.

Happy girl!

What's that?!

Taking a break.

No treat???

Please???

Which turned into a fun photoshoot around my neighbor’s rose bush.

Caught her lip

Prancing Pretty Princess

We finished yet?

Squirrel??

Then zoomies in the yard with my best friend’s dog (visiting while she’s on vacation), Dozer.

The ears!

Turn on a dime

Here's Dozer trying to catch her and make her pay for running over him.

Finally, excitement over, both Holly and Doze were out cold for the rest of the day.

So comfy (?)

Looong hound legs, and the Schnauzer lump.

Until later,

Kat & Holly

Comfort at last! Saturday, Jul 23 2011 

I’m very very excited to announce that Holly’s new vest/harness is ready to go to work!

When I first started training I got her a pretty standard butterfly vest. Unfortunately it took her a long time to adjust to it, and she wasn’t very comfortable for her. She has an extraordinarily deep chest, which the vest wasn’t meant for. It fit awkwardly, and not quite right. Also, whenever she’d sit, her elbows would get caught in it. Here are some pictures of the old vest:

See, elbows get caught.

 

Now, I’ve been lusting after a SD harness from Freedom Designs USA. You can see pictures of Ollivander, handled by Veronica Morris, of the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, showing off his Freedom harness Here.

While Freedom Designs make amazing harnesses, I’ve also heard about their nightmare customer service. I really can’t risk losing that kind of money so I showed the pictures of it to my mom, and asked if she had any ideas on how to make it.

Over the last few weeks, going off of pictures, we put together a Freedom Design look-alike. It got finished last night, so here are a few pictures of it.

Left side view.

Top view.

Right side view.

Since we were going off of pictures, with no solid measurements for the vest part, it came out a little too small to put patches on. So, we made a cape to go over it. It snaps over top of the rings, and is just for when we’re out light, with no need to have pouches or anything like that.

Right.

Top, without patches.

Left. I dragged Holly out of bed at around midnight to try it on and get pics, so she's pretty groggy.

After we made sure it fastened well and fit, I sewed the patches on.

Top with patches.

Side shot with patches.

Holly and I haven’t gotten a chance to work in it yet, and the pouches are still a work in progress, but Holly is acting much more comfortable than she did in her first vest. The straps aren’t up in her armpits, and when she sits she doesn’t catch her elbows in the vest. So far so good! Hopefully I’ll get out today and work her in it.

Until later!

Kat & Holly

Shrinks and Snacks Friday, Jul 22 2011 

Today Holly and I went to meet my psychiatrist for the first time. Since the intake was a disaster (me not Holly) I wasn’t really looking forward to it. However, it went better than I could have hoped, for both Holly and I.

Unfortunately, because I was kind of panicky this morning I completely forgot the camera, so no pictures of Holly being a complete little angel. I recently stopped using a halter on her, since she hated it, and it was causing way more trouble than it was worth. She focused well, and responded pretty quickly to cues.

I was a little worried about how much she’d sniff, since this was the first time we’d been at the clinic without the halter. She only needed to be redirected a few times before she settled down for a nap.

One thing we need to work on though is her lying on my feet. She likes to kind of sprawl out on the ground. While this isn’t a problem now, it wouldn’t be polite to let her do this in places with narrow aisles, or with a lot of people going in or out. So that’s tomorrow’s project. Plus it’s really good for grounding.

On a completely different note, my lil’ sister and dad got me a present today. I feed Holly raw, and always joked about feeding her a pig’s head. Well, today, my dad and sis were at an Aisian market and picked up half of one for me. Holly wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, but gave it her best shot.

*****WARNING: Not for the weak of stomach!*****

Is this food?

Yup, it's edible.

Being stared at by food is just a little disturbing...

Num.

Holly didn’t finish it all, so hopefully she’ll get the rest of it tomorrow so I don’t have to store it in the fridge again. My mom really wasn’t too keen on the idea…

While I’m all for raw feeding, I love it, and will always try to feed raw, I think that from now on I’m going to avoid anything that stares at you. It’s just a little too disturbing for me. Also, scraping part of the brain of the walk wasn’t too fun, I’m not kidding either. The picky princess didn’t want to eat it, so it was up to me to clean it up. Can’t wait to get back to steaks and chicken quarters!

Until later,

Kat & Holly

Sugar, Spice, and Everything… Nice? Tuesday, Jul 19 2011 

So, while this has nothing to do with SD training. It’s fun and kind of silly.

Today was bath day. Holly was starting to get a little greasy, so it was tub time. This time though, I thought it’d be fun to try a new grooming idea that I recently heard about on a dog lover’s forum I frequent.

Some people enjoy pampering themselves with sugar scrubs, which helps exfoliate and rejuvinate the skin. I came accross this recipe for a dog sugar scrub:

Mix a couple spoons of brown sugar and enough olive oil for it to become slushy. For dogs with exceptionally dry skin, add a teaspoon of honey.

Rub the mixture gently on the dog’s skin for a few minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and wash as normal.

I used raw, white sugar, since we had no brown sugar around.

Oil and sugar mix.

I rubbed it in and waited for a bit.

But moooom...

Top view before rinsing.

After waiting a few minutes I rinsed it out and used her normal shampoo to finish everything up. Holly was really happy when it was over.

Out? Please??

She has a very unique way of drying herself off. She licks herself dry.

Getting all the wet off.

Paws too.

 Now, several hours later, the drama of bathtime is over, and life is good again.

What bath?

 

To be honest, she came out a litter greasier than she started out, but it’s probably because I didn’t wash her out thoroughly enough afterwards. It did do an excellent job of making all the loose hairs easy to brush out. I’ll do it again sometime, but not something I’ll do too often.

Until later,

Kat & Holly

So it Begins Tuesday, Jul 19 2011 

I’m Kat, older teen girl. Diagnosed with disabling Social Phobia and Agoraphobia.

Life with a disability is no picnic. Luckily I’m not alone.

Holly is my 5 year old Service Dog in Training. She has been in training officially for about 3 months now. I adopted her two years ago from the local Humane Society.

This blog is going to be about our journey as a Service Dog team. About training a SD, living with a psychiatric disability, and the lifestyle that it entails. I hope that it will be helpful to at least a few people out there. Thanks so much for dropping by.

Holly at our local lake on a SD training session.

Kat & Holly