Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Anniversary!!

It's our anniversary! Eclipse has now been home for officially four months!

He's doing so very fantastic! His skin and coat have never looked better and he's never been at a better weight. In fact this is the first time in his life that we're attempting to find a "maintenance" amount of feed him since if he gains anymore weight he'll officially be a fat golden! His eyes are bright and rimmed in black and his ears are rarely not perked unless he's sleeping or is dieing of heat. Our poor golden boy doesn't deal with heat well, but neither do I so it's a lot of early morning outside work and inside play with lots of water and ice cubes. Although he does have a new-found love that helps him deal with the heat. We may, for the first time, have a water dog! We went to the river yesterday and he was running through the water happy as could be! He still isn't sure if he's a fan of having his feet not touching the bottom but we're going to try in a swimming hole that has very little current and see if that changes his mind a bit. If we had a bigger yard we'd have a kiddie pool for him but there's no room for one here, someday soon though!

We're also making great strides with his comfort level outside. We have a secret though, it's only through the magic of turkey bacon that he's progressing so much. Ever since he's been home it's hard to keep his attention long enough to get him to do his positional commands because there's just SO much going on around him. We've tried a number of things but most high value rewards we tried caused him to have awful gas. Turkey bacon doesn't do a thing to his digestive system and makes him so comfortable outside that we're starting to play the "Look At That" game from Control Unleashed and after only a couple seconds will go from the end of his leash staring down a cat to back at my side. He's even accepting and working for kibble outside in our driveway! The progress we are making is stellar although walks are on hold until we make much more progress and it cools back down.

I can't believe he's been home for four months now! It's amazing each day he spends with us he gets to be more and more like the chill pup he was before he left as a pup in training. Although, I'll admit that we didn't do anything special today, we hung out with him in bed and he got some cuddles in and he ate a leaf (silly golden) and was very curious about the weed eater but not afraid at all. He's a happy boy and we can't wait to see what the coming months and years hold with him!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Retriever!?! (Catch Up #5)

Once upon a time, and this time just so happened to be a long time ago, Eclipse was interested in retrieving toys. He still does at times but they're not the most interesting things to retrieve outside for him, something natural is, because natural's best, right? He loves chasing and chewing on sticks and the more they snap, the better. He's really a Golden Retriever in one respect at least, the juries still out on whether he's a swimmer or not!

^Boing, I'm a rabbit!
^Sit, Wait^
^The puppy's got a good solid implied stay, I had to release him before he'd follow Eclipse!
^Yum! I didn't let him chew it much as it had some paint on it^
^Try it!^
Remy's head is nowhere near as big as Roo's just the angle

Catch Up #4

Copper and his young owner, Brooke spent a couple days with us last week to give her parents a break from the rambunctious 16 week old golden puppy. Eclipse and Copper had a great time and by the time Copper returned home everyone had a renewed desire to work with the puppy and I gave them some ideas on how to work on threshold respect with him and expend his energy through mental exercise and I let them borrow some of my dog behaviour/training books. Copper is going to turn out to be an amazing dog, I just hope they put up with him during this difficult stretch and use the tools I've provided them and keep him around to see how amazing he will be! They have used my ideas so far and have borrowed Eclipse a couple times to let the goldens expend their energy just romping in their backyard. That works well, as it's extremely helpful to Eclipse as well! The hard thing is Brooke goes in for surgery this coming weekend and Copper won't be allowed to be too close to her for the next 3-4 months due to infection. This means not only will it be extremely difficult to ensure a close bond between the two of them but it also means the rest of the family will have to step up and maintain his training and advance it and he'll likely be spending a good amount of time at my house. We'll make it work though, I'm determined to do everything in my power to ensure this puppy stays with his family as I know if they give up on him in 2 months they'll just get another puppy and start all over. Even if it means that we have to have Copper at our house every day for the 3-4 months, we'll make it work....
Eclipse was trying desperately to sit on Copper's head! It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen him do!
Viscious Goldens!

Breather needed!

After only a few hours of constant play they decided they could rest for a bit. Eclipse obviously chose his typical spot at my feet!
Copper's growing up to be absolutely gorgeous! I kind of wish he were my pup... but it's nice to be involved with a pup even though he doesn't live with us!
He's even great with the kids even though he's never been around them before
Just so you don't think Eclipse is the dominant one at all, Copper certainly asserts his dominance in very obvious ways.

Catch Up #3

About a week and a half ago Eclipse went on his first ever hike and surprising swim! He's kind of been on hikes but not any real hikes so it was nice to take him on his first one (last year during hiking season a lot was going on with him and I don't think anyone involved with him at that time felt up to hiking!). He seemed to enjoy it and was very polite on the trail as it was a pretty busy Sunday afternoon.

I don't have any photos of him actually hiking as I only have my slow little camera and he was mostly off-leash for the hike and out of range of good photos with my camera. Here are some of the amazingly beautiful country we're surrounded by in this area of Oregon, though.
At the base of this waterfall is a small pool and Alex and our friend decided to take a swim. Eclipse desperately wanted to get in the water to be with his dad but couldn't find an easy way down.
Right after this photo he hit a wet spot and fell in, but it was a graceful fall, everyone who didn't see him slip but saw him falling thought he'd jumped it. I was afraid it was traumatic to him, but it doesn't appear to have been.
Unfortunately the only safe way to get out of the water was on the other side of the creek so while Alex tried showing how to get out he kept trying to run back to me but he couldn't find a way up. He only tried it a couple times then I walked across the bridge and he ran straight to me. A couple that were standing there commented on how much of a momma's boy he is and through our talking it turns out they're big fans of Dogs for the Deaf in Grants Pass, OR. I then educated them just a bit that if they're ever interested in raising Canine Angels is also located there and uses volunteer raisers unlike DFD. Always educating about service dogs, even though Eclipse is just a pet now!
^The most relaxed I've seen him in a long time in a brand new environment!^
^Eclipse and Arthur the little dog we're currently watching^
It was a great outing for everyone and Eclipse was so relaxed after less than a 1.5 mile hike that he was perfectly content in the car!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wrap It Up Already!

We're not done with our catching up posts yet, but those will continue shortly. In the meantime I'm looking into some ways to further facilitate our behaviour modification attempts. It's extremely difficult doing behaviour mod when your dog can't have high-value rewards (although I'm going to try boiled chicken and some plain cooked steak and maybe some turkey bacon) because he's so stressed/distracted outside that he doesn't want kibble (who would!?) and even the canned food in the food tube isn't effective anymore because it's just the same old thing. We are going to try some more foods as well as peanut butter in the food tube and maybe plain yoghurt mixed with his canned food to see if it intriques him but I'm not holding my breath. Due to that we're beginning to look into some alternate ways to "take the edge off" to where he'll be comfortable accepting food rewards and we can continue with the behaviour mod.

Note: The methods to be mentioned are not excuses to be able to slack off on our behaviour modifications but they are tools that we may use until we get Eclipse's anxiety to a managable level that we can work with simply using typical behaviour modification techniques.

One of the tools we want to try is not medical, at all. In fact, it's simply a shirt. Okay, so maybe not so 'simply' but it's based on the same principles as weighted blankets and TTouch. Dogs have pressure points, in putting constant pressure on those points you can greatly decrease a dog's anxiety. This particular pressure wrap, as they're known, is meant for noise reactive dogs but would likely help with Eclipse's anxiety when staying at home, riding in the car and on leash. It's called the Thundershirt and doesn't look like a crazy training aid (which is a big reason I like it!).

The Thundershirt is $36 so not too expensive and they have a money back guarantee so if it doesn't help we would send it back, get our money back and the wrap would be donated to a shelter or rescue to help the homeless dogs. I could see it really helping Eclipse though, and a bonus, I think it'd look good on the boy!

We're also looking into dietary supplements. Tabatha has used Rescue Remedy on him before and has some left over that she's offered us to try so I think we'll give the Rescue Remedy a shot and see if we notice any improvement.

There are other dietary supplements I'm doing research on as I'd like to find a supplement that is given daily with the meals as Teddy could benefit from it as well. We will keep you all updated.

I think I'm going to go get me a pressure wrap! Maybe it would help my ever-worsening anxiety as well.

Ally & Arthur (visiting 6/7 year old miniature poodle/mix, the other dogs are at home with Alex while we babysit)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Catch Up #2

Visitors!

Tabatha's Melody and Sammie came and visited a couple weeks ago for just one night and the next morning. It was very peaceful considering there were five dogs in our little house, although granted four are older and two are lazy Bassets!
Sammie
Teddy checking out Melody
Sammie on the couch Melody on the floor looking a bit like Snoopy (or Eeyore, take your pick)
Eclipse and Sammie chilling on the couch
Oh, the life!

Catch Up

We haven't been just sitting around like bumps on a log... Okay, so maybe we have. I'm back to babysitting for my sister which is nice to have the additional income without sending my anxiety skyrocketing. In our free time we've been doing quite a bit and now it's time to play catch up!

A few weeks ago we joined Coreena and her Goof Troop at the dog park near her home for some much needed expending of energy. Here's some photos from the joyous event!
^Eclipse layed down in the car of his own initiative less than 3 minutes after we left the house! Granted he's "tethered" to the seatbelt for safety reasons but we're making very slow progress but it's still progress!
^Eclipse and Eva are as in love as ever (just believe me although I'm pretty sure he's biting her face here!)
See, I told ya!
We've watched this little Pit mix grow and Eclipse still enjoys her company
(5/6 month old Marley)
Then it was back to Coreena's where Eclipse and Eva had fun barking at things outside
(I promise to you that Eclipse is not superimposed into this photo)
If you look close you may be able to see his hackles despite the position of his tail. His hackles are regularly seen... everytime he's startled or sees another dog while on leash or in the yard
Yet cuddle time with Dad may just be the best thing yet!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Touching You

I have a Golden Retriever. This Golden Retriever knows service dog commands. This Golden Retriever knows how to act around little people. This Golden Retriever knows when you need a hug. This Golden Retriever knows when you need a laugh. This Golden Retriever enjoys going for bike rides. This Golden Retriever knows how to wiggle his way into your heart. This Golden Retriever makes everyone who ever meets him fall in love with him. This Golden Retriever, my Golden Retriever, is named Eclipse.

I know Golden Retrievers are special dogs that make people fall in love with them over and over and over again. I know they're quirky and crazy and loving and special. I know almost everyone who has ever met a golden retriever wants one. I know all this, and yet I didn't see it for the longest time. To me, Eclipse is special, even for a Golden. Maybe it's true and he really is, maybe I'm just biased.
I think this last weekend some who love Eclipse beyond belief were able to, for the first time, see Eclipse on his new home turf and find some closure. I know that the more people who experience Eclipse fall in love with him and desire to own a Golden that is just like him. The amount of people who have asked me to train their could-be-sometime-in-the-future golden retriever to be just like Eclipse is astonishing. I know that no amount of training will make another Golden be just like Eclipse but I don't know how to tell others that. Eclipse is something special alright, whether it's due to his mother's malnutrition while he and his littermates were in utero or if he would be like he is as a perfectly healthy dog it's hard to say, but he is the way he is and that's all that matters.

One of the most amazing things is that in exactly one month from today he'll have been in our home as our pet for as long as he was with us "in training", one day after that will be the longest he's ever been in one home. Okay, so the time isn't the most amazing thing, what is has to be the fact that he's becoming more and more like he was when he left as each day passes. We've always loved Eclipse and were so happy he came home but he did come home with some baggage. Things are improving and now instead of running from his crate he runs to it! Walks, we're making some progress on although it's slow and tedious work, it's necessary.
Starting today we'll be buckling down on his service dog training a bit more not because it's needed regularly, but because it will be needed every now and then. The local dog trainer we use has a number of people interested in turning their pets into service dogs and there is a public access seminar coming up. Many of the people have zero idea what it takes to have a working service dog and how they should behave in public so even though Eclipse is now just a pet he'll also be a sort of "demo dog" for the day to show people how a working dog should enter/exit vehicles, settle in public and walk through stores. I know he'll do great as we'll just be at Petco and we'll pay Petco some visits to work on manners between now and then. Hopefully he'll be able to show off some of his "skills" as well! He's been begging to tug off socks so he's been getting to do that regularly along with picking up his toys and turning off lights and showing people his retrieval skills. He's a happy boy and we're working on getting him out on regular bike rides and working his brain with frozen kongs every morning while he's along.

I have a Golden Retriever. A Golden Retriever who is a piece of my heart. A Golden Retriever that I've never seen happier. A Golden Retriever that still has the ability to touch people and make their lives happier. A Golden Retriever that may, someday, get to be a therapy dog and get his CGC for real. Someday, when we get this Golden Retriever more comfortable with himself, which may only come with time.

I have a Golden Retriever, who if you met him, would touch you deeper than you thought possible.