Monday, June 20, 2011

The Reason We Do It

Here's a picture of Biscuit with her new visually impaired handler, Lila, taken on Puppy Raiser Day with Donna and Marv. I know it was a long time coming but oh so worth it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Obedience Tips from Saturday's Meeting

Keep these things in mind as you practice obedience or are out on exposures:

- Praise your dog whenever he's doing what you want him to do, whether it's a smooth forward walk, a sit, a stay, or any other command. Let your pup know you are happy with what he's doing, to build his confidence. Touch can be an effective means of praise, too, with a pat on the head or stroke of the ear.

- Keep a loose leash; this not only allows for quick and effective leash corrections but also puts the pup in the position of having to decide how to behave, enabling you to teach her to behave appropriately. It's OK for the pup to pull slightly on a forward walk, but she should not be choking or dragging you down the street. Read more about this in a great Blue Coat Journal post from SEGD trainer Karen Mersereau.

- Walk with your pup moving along the left side of the sidewalk.

- Stop at all street crossings, wait (with the pup standing), then say "Forward" and proceed; do not stop on the other side of the street.

If you remember to do these things, don't forget to praise yourself. Good job!

Inaugural Meeting of South Pinellas Puppy Raisers

On Saturday, June 11, we had the first meeting of our new South Pinellas Puppy Raisers group, comprising the one-third of raisers from our old Pinellas County/Suncoast Puppy Raisers group who live in and around St. Petersburg, Florida. We met at Panera on 4th Street and had the good fortune to be joined by Marcy's brother Bob and his new service dog Bison.

We started with a walk along busy 4th Street, with a detour in the crosswalk that also served as an impromptu lesson in managing road rage for some impatient drivers. We then experienced entering and exiting Bob's van using his wheelchair ramp, followed by sit-stays and down-stays as Bob and Bison weaved past the pups without incident.

Then we went inside for refreshments to help support our kind hosts as we gathered in their community room for announcements and discussion.

See more of Larry's great meeting photos here.

Announcements worth repeating:

- The most recent puppy manual is always our main resource for how to raise a SEGD puppy. We will work to clear up anything that is missing or ambiguous in the manual, but if a training guideline or rule is in there, we should be following it. Always keep in mind that we do not own the puppies we are entrusted to raise, SEGD does; any exceptions to what's in the manual are at the owner's discretion, not the puppy raiser's. Because the manual is large and changes to it can be hard to keep track of, corrections to anything said are always welcome!

- As stated in the current puppy manual, the cutoff age for puppies being petted in coat is 10 months old. (This corrects information posted previously on our old blog.)

- Puppy Raising Services (PRS) has clarified that puppies should not greet in coat at all and should not play on leash in or out of coat. Puppies should also not be permitted to roll on their backs while in coat.

- Be sure to fill out and send to me the appropriate evaluation form if your puppy is 4, 6, 10, or 14 months old this month.

- Please return your completed hurricane preparedness form to Ashley in PRS or to me.

- Please complete SEGD's puppy raiser satisfaction survey by the end of June.

Congratulations to Donna and Marv and Diane and Glenn for their recently matched dogs Biscuit and Lucky, respectively. Good job!

Our thanks to Bob and Bison for coming to our meeting, helping us get some valuable wheelchair exposures, and giving us new insights into different kinds of service dogs.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to Chuck and Debbie (with some fantastic assists from Don and Donna and Marcy) for the tremendous foundation they've laid in Pinellas County for the three new puppy groups in North, Central, and South Pinellas. We'll do our best in South Pinellas to continue their tradition of dedication to producing the best guide dog candidates we possibly can!