Puppy walking

An adventure in looking after a puppy until it is old enough to be properly trained as a guide dog for the blind.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ears in action!
The trip to the vet went well in the end, no poop pun intended. I rent from Enterprise and while I quite like them as a company (and they come pick you up and drop you off), they were an hour and a half late with the car. This set me back a bit. I got my hair cut and then got a trunk full of groceries and a carton of various wines from the LCBO. By the time I got back to the house and had unloaded the groceries, it was 2pm. I managed to have a little lunch and then stuffed Rockwell in the car and we were off to Guide Dogs. Halfway out the ‘hood, the passenger seat belt warning chime was still bonging so I had to stop and do up the seat belt. Rocky was roped to the thing that lets the seat move back and forward on the floor but he had enough room to sit up on the seat (covered with a towel of course) as well and jump into the driver’s seat when I wasn’t in the car. Anyway, we got to CGDB at 2:44 and our appointment was for 2:45. Yay! Then I saw there were three dogs ahead of me and one in with the vet.

One of the dogs waiting was a year old Lab, well on her way to becoming calm and listening to her handler. While the other three puppies were bouncing off each other, this Lab stayed off to the side even though she was very interested in the proceedings. I am hoping this might happen sooner as opposed to later with Rockwell! 25 minutes later, the vet said it could have been anything that Rockwell picked up that caused the diarrhea and unless it persisted, not to worry. She agreed that the only way to administer Pepto was with a syringe, so there is no trick to that. She inspected the rash and said it looked like the previous one just hadn’t been knocked out yet. So when the diarrhea clears up, it’s back on two weeks of antibiotics for Rockwell and then he should be done with that nonsense. When we finally got back to the house it was after 4pm. Rockwell got half his dinner and still hasn’t complained about the rations. This morning, he got a regular breakfast and had a soft but formed poop so I think we are getting back to normal.

In response to Laura’s question in the comments yesterday, here is what I understand about dogs’ signals to go out so they can relieve themselves. Uma never had a real signal either - she would just sit by the door until someone let her out. I guess after a while, someone will say, “hey, where’s the dog?” and then they will notice and let her out. As an adult dog, when she would have diarrhea (for any non-dog owners out there, this is quite common in all dogs), she would sit by the door and if you didn’t notice and she really HAD to go, she would whine to get your attention. This happened only a very few times in the middle of the night during 14 years and each time, she somehow made it clear she had to go NOW. Two nights ago, that is what Rockwell did too. He was in our room with the door shut and he paced around and scratched and then sat by the door which is loose in its frame so it bangs a little when you lean on it. This was enough to wake me up and when I asked him to go back to sleep, he didn’t. He persisted until I got up and we went out. It sure doesn’t sound like a fool-proof method but it seems to work. Plus, for everyday type eliminations, we let the dog out often enough that he shouldn’t have to pee in the house (although he did do that last week but again, I blame myself). Now a question back to Laura. People have asked me how do blind people pick up their dog’s “business”. I was told by CGDB that they arrange to have a sighted person do this for them and that is why the dogs are trained to poop on a rigid schedule, so the whole thing can be planned and coordinated like a military proceeding!

Hmm, here we are, back to talking abut poop again.


At 9:29 a.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger M-Fax said...

Im tired just reading about your day haha.

off to walk Bosco. I am revisiting the story of how I got Bosco this week so come by for a read.

At 9:48 a.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger JuliaR said...

M-Fax, I was tired at the end of it, I can tell you. And after 4pm, we left Rockwell at home and went to Chapters and out for a bite and didn't get home again until 7. But it beats working for a living.

I'll be by your blog later!

At 11:22 a.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger Sam said...

Adding in on the poop discussion... :P

I spoke to a friend that works with a Canine Vision dog. She said that she tries to stand right beside her dog when she tells them to 'go' so that she knows where to pick up when they finish. She also said she has worked with dogs that walk while doing their business, causing a bit of a problem as she has to 'search' to make sure she's cleaned up everything.

I also remember being told at one point that my puppies should be comfortable being touched during relief. Then if they are paired with a blind handler, the handler may place their hand on the dogs back while they go in order to know the approximate pickup location.

Mr. Calvin is doing well as going in one place, so I will start working with him on being comfortable with me standing right beside him, and eventually with me touching him.

Glad Rockwell made out well at the vet!

At 12:41 p.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger L^2 said...

Hi Julia,

I'm glad the vet visit went well yesterday, and thanks for answering my question. I know every school has different ways of dealing with these "issues", so I am always interested to hear how others do it.

In response to your question, at Leader Dogs I was taught to clean up after Willow. A strict schedule helps to know which times will need to be cleaned up after. However, like in my case, not everyone has someone else at home to do these things for them. I know some shools in the States that don't teach their students to clean up, having them either just leave it there or rely on someone else to do it. However, I guess Leader Dogs' philosophy is that with the independence we gain through the dog guide comes responsibilities we should be able to handle independently.

So, as Sam mentioned above, at Leader Dogs they taught us to put a hand on our dog's back to make sure it is doing its "business", and this way we can also tell when the dog has finished. Then they made us feel around on the ground near the dog (with a bag-covered hand) until we found what we were searching for to clean up.

It is a little more difficult for a dog that walks while it goes, like Stella sometimes does, but I can usually put a stop to the walking by standing directly in front of her or just placing a hand on her chest.

At 1:05 p.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger 8675309 said...

Hi, Julia! Great discussion going on here...=^)

At Guide Dogs of America, puppy raisers are instructed from to relieve the dog on leash and gently stroke the dog's back while it is obeying the "get busy" command; we start training them to get used to that from day one.

I can't believe ANY school would not teach their guide dog users to clean up after the dogs! That's horrible, and it does the visually impaired community a great disservice by leaving such a bad impression in the mind of the public.

At 1:26 p.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger Amstaffie said...

You've been pretty busy while I've been "out of commission" for a while.

I can relate to Rockwell & his urgencies on having to "go"... After being sick this last time, boy, can I relate.

Hope he's feeling better!

At 1:38 p.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger JuliaR said...

Sam, Laura and Jenny, this is interesting from a logistical viewpoint. I pat Rockwell when he eliminates, on the head, on the back, wherever, just to get him used to people touching him all over. In fact, he submits to much poking and prodding from me on a regular basis and I think it helps him to be relaxed under all kinds of circumstances. I hadn’t thought about a blind person having to feel around for the poop however. What if they have very little or even no sight at all? Things could get messy fast! And Uma was a moving pooper. She would dribble turds over ten feet or more, walking around with the trademarked hunched back. She looked deformed! I felt like an acolyte, following behind and gathering up pearls of wisdom. At least Rockwell gets it all over with at once.

Now that I know more about this, I would volunteer to pick up poop for someone with a guide dog. I really don’t mind poop and I know how to handle it with no fuss and flush it once I have it. None of this putting it in the trash can for me. I don’t know why people get all weirded out by their own dog’s poop. It’s a perfectly natural process and we humans do it ourselves. Good grief.

PS Jenny you posted twice so I just “eliminated” one.
Amstaffie, glad to see you are back in action!

At 2:44 p.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger Sam I Am said...

We are glad your visit went well at the vets,I didnt know that I learned somthing new today .My mom had something to say funny about my poop.My mom always picks up after.

thanks for the smile! :)

At 5:14 p.m., December 07, 2005, Blogger JuliaR said...

Sam I Am, is that funny thing your Mom said at http://derapp.blogspot.com/2005/12/its-dogs-life_06.html ? Pretty stream of consciousness! It’s a very good thing, dog or not, to learn something new every day. And kudos to your Mom for picking up. We walked by some un-picked-up poop on the way back from our walk this afternoon. Soon I will have Rockwell trained to say “tsk, tsk” when this happens. Well okay, maybe not soon.


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