Friday, October 29, 2010


Since I know pictures are what you're here for, there's plenty in this post!

Coreena and I took Tiki to the vet today for her shots. The little gal weighs in at 15.6 lbs at only 10 weeks 2 days old! Pictures do not do her size justice!
 She handled the shot and dewormer like a champ! 
 The wait was very short despite us "walking-in" rather than having an appointment, she handled that well too!
 The only thing she didn't handle well was the block for the microchip implantation...
 The poor thing was not a fan!
 I wasn't a fan of the $37 price tag on them implanting the microchip! I've done it tons of time and for free!
Even though that's a stress yawn... she's sleeping quietly now, although not from the shot! She's been full of it for the two hours since the shot and it's her normal naptime! :-D

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tiki's Lessons for Me #1

 Pretty much every dog I interact with, train, or raise teaches me something, which is the way it should be. Tiki is no different. At 10 weeks she already taught me a couple lessons.

Barking in the crate means more than "I'm bored" or "I have to poop". Tiki is a pretty vocal puppy in the crate but not in the typical manner. She doesn't cry when she first enters the crate, it always takes a bit. Sometimes she does have to poop (she's been waking us up about once a night with diarrhea, but hopefully we've got that kicked now!) and sometimes she is just bored. In the x-pen it's boredom when she cries so she gets a rawhide with peanut butter on it (well... will again once we've for sure gotten the diarrhea kicked).
After we first picked her up she cried in her crate. The only thing we could figure was she was hot. This puppy does not like being hot! She'll cry in her crate if she's too hot. She also cries in her crate if she's lonely or scared. At this point she's not a real fan of being alone. Smart me forgot that last night while she cried for an hour because her crate was on the other side of our room from our bed... Simple solution at least, moved her crate next to Alex and she slept soundly until I got her up, an hour after Alex was up and around.
In other news, she's doing great! She's outgoing, loves playing with Eclipse, isn't afraid of our steps, tries to get in and out of the car by herself, and is learning manners and cues.
We are doing the NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) with all the dogs, including Tiki.All that means is they must do something for anything they want. If they want outside, they have to sit, if they want a love, they have to do something (we can love on them as much as we want, but if they ask to be loved on we ask them to do something). Tiki's getting the idea quickly and it's not so uncommon in the service dog world, it's just never called that *grin* She's beginning to understand "sit", "Tiki", "come here", "Better Go Now", "Wait", "Release" and the beginnings of zen. We're going to mostly be doing the Sue Ailsby Training Levels with her as well as putting her in obedience classes possibly starting next week. We are doing clicker training with her and she already know that "click means treat" so all is well. She's going to the vet Friday for some shots (they missed the 8 week shot I believe, so we're going to do some juggling of shots) and we'll get a weight on her then. She's a big girl, short and stout. I love me some good ole' English, blocky-head labs!
I'll update again soon, right now it's dog, kid and me nap time I do believe!

Ally w/Tiki, Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting To Know You

Okay, no more teasing. Alex and I got a puppy. She's a 9 week 5 day old purebred female black lab donated to Canine Support Teams by Oak Canyon Labs. It's no coincidence that we picked her up when Charlie went back for training, we found out two weeks ago that she'd be ours and so Charlie's recall was pushed back so we wouldn't have to make the 1800 mile round trip twice.

Her name? Oh yes, sorry. CST was amazing enough to name her Tiki for me. We found out we could raise here the same day Tiki the elephant died. Coreena asked if they would be willing to name her Tiki for me and they did! There's something amazing thinking about the legacy Tiki the elephant left behind and all the good Tiki the puppy could do.
 ^First bath, mid-shake^
^She makes my heart melt a little bit^ 
I got her Saturday morning but am just starting to really get to know her personality. We made the trip in 35.5 hours, total. We left Friday at 7 p.m. and arrived hom Sunday at 6:30 a.m. We only stopped to sleep once for a couple hours (well, Mom and Coreena slept a couple hours...). Tiki was such a trooper on the trip! To begin with she whined because it was hot but once she settled down she just slept the whole way! She's turning out to be a great sleeper and has only had one accident which was entirely our fault since we left her in the x-pen too long. She's very quick to relieve outside on-leash on any surface which we are so thankful for considering the storm front that came through!
^Oh, sweet chubby puppy!^ 
I didn't want to raise a puppy until Eclipse was at least 2 years old. Coincidentally we arrived home on the morning of Eclipse's (and Eva's, Echo's, Eola's, Jasmine's and their two other siblings') birthday!
We bought this big dog bed from Costco Friday afternoon... the dogs all rotate who gets to sleep on it and they all look so comfortable curled up on it... I have a feeling we'll be investing in at least three more!
At this point Tiki seems to be a very confident puppy who isn't afraid to try things. This confidence may make things challenging, but right now I'm just thankful to not have an anxious puppy. She seems to be fitting in well. We are allowed to take her out in public before she gets all her shots, we just have to carry her. I haven't decided yet if we will or not, maybe a few quick in and outs but no big outings as there are other ways to socialize a puppy and I feel if you socialize correctly, you have more opportunities to help the dog be successful and well-adjusted.

Oh, Tiki, welcome home!

 More photos and stories to come!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tiki Love

The elephants scattered around our house remind me of my Tiki :-)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saving What's Left of My Sanity

I have a reactive dog, a reactive dog that still needs exercise.

Since we've moved Eclipse's walks have been non-existent. I'm working on a new (to us) leash walking training program, so when we do go on "walks" it's just in front of our house and the dog-less neighbor next to us. The first time we did it he did so great that I took up to the road (we live on a gravel alley) but he froze as his feet hit the concrete. I see a lot of desensitizing to the concrete in our future. The hard part is that 20 yards from the beginning of the concrete live two big mixed-breed dogs. I have no issue with the dogs, they're actually very pretty dogs, but they are barrier aggressive, meaning they charge the fence with their big barks and scare the poo out of Eclipse. So at the very beginning of our walk he's on edge and extremely stressed. Which means every fence after that has a big scary monster behind it. I can not justify forcing him to experience that stress to wear him out every day, so I don't. The good news is we're going to start working with a trainer on Eclipse's reactivity thanks to her bomb-proof dog. We'll even be able to simulate a barking dog behind a fence (Eclipse's biggest stress inducer) with one of her other (harmless) dogs.

In the meantime, though, how do we survive? Eclipse is a smart dog, so we do a lot of training. Currently we're working on a nose touch (nudge is the command) but we're starting from scratch since if you offer your hand he licks it, if you offer a target he bites it, so we're re-training this one. We're also desensitizing the head collar thanks to natural peanut butter in a food tube, it's slow going since he's had almost 2 years of hating the head collar but I have faith we'll get there. He almost always gets his dinner out of the Kong Wobbler for that small amount of stimulation and I plan on getting him a Tug-A-Jug and a buster cube as well to challenge him a bit more. He gets part of his breakfast in the morning (before 5 a.m.) when I get up and the other part I freeze in a Kong with peanut butter (when I remember to!) and he gets that when I get back with the kids between 9 and 10 a.m. The frozen Kong takes him 45 minutes to 2 hours to finish with depending on how hard I freeze it. Thankfully after that much work he's ready for a nap.

Just yesterday we added another tool to our arsenal. My mom has been wanting to get rid of her treadmill so we got it. Eclipse wasn't trained initially to walk on the treadmill with positive reinforcement but since he has been rewarded for walking on it and does so willingly. Yesterday when we got it moved into our bedroom (although it probably won't stay there, we're just waiting until we have all the furniture for the guest room so we can get everything arranged at once) and all set up Eclipse went and stood on it and just looked at me. So I turned it on for him and he walked for a few minutes, his tail just wagging as fast as it could! Even Teddy and Kira are getting the hang of it. For now I'm waking up 10 minutes early, feeding and pottying the dogs then letting Eclipse walk on the treadmill while I get dressed and ready for the day. He will eventually be walking 15 minutes in the morning but I cut him off at 7 minutes today since he hasn't walked that much regularly in quite awhile.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Always, and Forever, Tiki

It's been a long week for a number of reasons, and unfortunately it's been a hard time for the local community. Wednesday morning, Tiki the elephant died. You may remember that my first job at 17 was working at the local free-range zoo with the elephants. Tiki was the smallest elephant and the gentlest. She, along with Alice the other female, were 36 years old when I worked there, which is not even quite middle-aged for an elephant just like humans. She was the calmest, most even-keeled elephant at the park. As such she was the matriarch and the first one new employees got to be around and eventually, the elephant everyone learns to handle first.
She was such an amazing creature. She's been sickly for a long time and had ulcers on her front legs from laying down to sleep at night due to not feeling well. When we'd treat her ulcers a silent tear would slide down her cheek. I'm not humanizing her by saying she was literally crying as I am now, but when you look into an elephant's eyes, when you know what they're feeling, they do feel amazingly human. Tiki (along with her herd members Alice and George) taught me so much about using positive reinforcment training, they taught me about animal behaviour, body language, humanity, understanding, commitment, compasion. Handling Tiki was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done and I wanted so badly to go work with and get to enjoy her for one more summer. Unfortunately a woman severely misunderstood something I said and got me fired from the Safari in June not even 3 hours after I went back to work there. I know it's a part of the grief but my anger toward that woman for ruining the time I would get to spend with my Tiki is very very great right now as I know that next summer, even if I were to go back, nothing would be the same for my Tiki wouldn't be there.
At more than 4 tons she was one of the gentlest creatures I've known. I have a photo of her, with a small feather on her head and while it was just in the hay that she'd been throwing on her back it truly portrays what made Tiki, "Tiki".
While I haven't been near her in four years, my love for Tiki will never end and I will forever be thankful for the lessons she taught me. I just, I can't believe she's gone and I fear for the mental health of Alice and George as well as for the future of the elephant barn at the Wildlife Safari. Without a Matriarch... humans can only do so much. Maybe, just maybe I'll pull it together enough to go visit the memorial set up for Tiki and add some pictures from our time together. I think I should... or I'll forever reget it.
 I suppose that now, and forever here-after, it will all just be a distant memory.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Surprisingly enough the weather is still very decent, decent enough to walk in flip flops no less.

Coreena and I took advantage of the nice Oregon fall evening by walking the dogs to the park on the same road we used to walk all the time as pre-teens. The gorgeous small town road brings back so many memories and just feels like home. So happy we live a block away from my lovely little road.
 And what would a walk to the park be without working on "up" and "jump" discrimination on the playground equipment?
 Of course obligatory photos as well.
 The sun settling behind the western Oregon hills.
 Yeah, Kira and Teddy joined us well.