Thursday, December 17, 2009

Right Place, Right Time

Did you ever find yourself somewhere - not anywhere special, not even anywhere significant - and then think that you were somehow meant to be at that exact spot, at that exact time?

A friend called Kevin and asked him to visit, so Kevin decided to go and take Pivot along with him. When Kevin got to his friend's apartment, there were several children out playing, including his friend's son, who Pivot has met and played with several times.

Pivot bypassed all of these children, and made a straight path for one particular boy. The two of them started interacting with one another, and they both lost interest in everything around them except each other. Pivot, who had decided he was tired from a long day of socialization training and had quit obeying awhile before, followed this boy and his every command (the boy had asked Kevin for the commands).

The boy lit up as Pivot sat and gave high fives and gave love, and did it all over again. They went for a walk, did some more tricks, and then the boy laid down with Pivot, and fell asleep using him as a pillow.

The boy's mom came down to get him and began talking with Kevin. She had seen the way they were interacting, and Kevin explained our plans to certify both Pivot and Bella, and during the conversation he mentioned that we would like to include our faith in some form when we begin taking the pups for their therapy work.

She told Kevin that he could come pick up her son anytime; to go to church with us, to come to our house to play with the pups, to go out to the dog park with us, whatever we wanted to do. He was surprised, because this mother didn't even know his name, and asked her about that. She said she didn't need to know his name. She said she had lost her faith, and that she hadn't seen her son smile that much in years.

Somehow, Pivot knew tonight which child he could affect in a positive way, and again he showed how intuitive and how influential he can be. We know that he, not us, is destined for wonderful things, and are just glad to be a part of it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Pawgress" {of four-month-old pups}

The pups continue to grow by leaps and bounds, and continue to make wonderful progress in all aspects of their training.

Bella has started to show her size. When we got her she seemed very small for a saint bernard, and it was especially hard to see the rate of her growth next to her monster brother, Pivot. She is making improvements with potty training, crate training (she never minded the crate, but preferred sleeping outside at night and now enjoys the sanctity of her crate during the wee hours), and with her behavior training. She sits and heels well, and is still practicing stay. She prefers being at your side at every moment! Socialization is easy with her; anyone who will pet her is an instant friend. She has also decided she doesn't mind a bit of pampering now and again.

The trainer we've consulted with directed us on how to help the pups master basic commands before he begins working with them himself. Pivot has done this, and then some. He does the basics on verbal command, and can do most of them with visual (silent) commands, as well. Then he decided, in typical child-like fashion, that he was bored and challenged us to keep him interested. He will sit and lay down, stay in position with distraction and when you leave the room for several minutes, roll over, give high fives, and give love (good old fashioned puppy kisses). Here's a sample of what our pup has been working on:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Crate Training a {LARGE} puppy

Last week Pivot turned four months old. He also outgrew his crate. His crate that our full grown collie, Chloe, happily fits into. Ruh-roh. So much debate ensued about how to handle this situation.

The crate training is going extremely well. All three dogs use their crates as their own comfy little den. In fact, two nights ago when Pivot had had enough training, he went and climbed into his crate, knowing once he is cocooned in there, we won't bother him with sitting and staying and giving high fives. And we know that when he is in there for the night, we won't wake up to find he has used our furniture as a chew toy.

We definitely don't want to give this up. But do we go up one size, knowing that in two or three months, we will have to upgrade again? Or do we just bite the big one, and buy the crate that we know will fit him comfortably and reasonably six months down the road?

So we do some measuring. We measure Pivot now. 30" tall. Wait... 30 inches? At four months? But the vet told me last month that Pivot hasn't even hit his growth spurt yet! Surely this is wrong. Measure again. 30".

So I google Great Dane and height. He should be between 20-25" and be between 30-36" at his full grown height. Okay, so maybe my tape measure is wrong. Again. 30"

Wowza. So, we go for the crate that will fit him in six months. Assuming he doesn't get taller than the highest point on the average growth chart that I'm looking at. Assuming he isn't some mutated ninja dane of some sort that consumed massive amounts of super growth hormone while in the womb. Assuming he doesn't grow to be larger than my sofa. Speaking of that, it's hard to type when fingers are crossed. ;)

Here is the result: