Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Mia...


Catching Mia wearing Santa's hat was a trick.  She wanted to eat the hat or run off with it.

Mia is learning to take off gloves and socks. We are also working on "stand", "front" and "side".  It can get pretty confusing, even to us.

Mia and her family wish you 
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and 
Happy New Year 2009!  

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mia has begun collecting items of personal interest...

Mia has developed a bit of kleptomania.  She is pretty good as long as we are in the room with her, but if we leave for a moment we can't trust what she will do.  She likes to find things from the counter or other places like closets and baskets.  She is very quiet when she does this and often we come back after just a few seconds and she has some prize or another.  Usually she doesn't chew things, but there have been exceptions like George's eyeglass case or anything paper.  Here she is with one of her latest prizes!

We are working on the command "leave it" and she is getting that pretty fast.  Also she in learning to go to her bed when someone knocks on the door.  The hardest thing lately is the command "shimmy" which we have to catch her doing.  Some of her classmates are doing this already.  The class handout says it could take 1000 times to learn this.  Yikes!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The continuing saga of Mia...

Mia is learning to like the snow and cold.  She is obsessed with the wood chips in our yard and likes to eat them, even though they are not good for her.  If we don't catch her eating them eventually she will throw them up.  We learned "leave it" in class tonight and cannot wait for her to learn that command so we can use it for the wood chips.
Our cleaning ladies are getting to know Mia.  Mia waits quietly in her kennel while they clean.  We showed them what Mia is learning and how I brush her teeth.  They want to know if next month when they come whether Mia will have learned to brush her own teeth!   :-)

Mia now weighs 39.6 pounds.  She is still not very big for a lab and we are curious how big she will be when she is fully grown.  In two weeks she will get her hips checked and we hope they are good, so she can be a service dog.  Dogs with hip problems have to find new careers as demonstration dogs, pets, or therapy dogs.  We'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's new with Mia?

For those of you following the story of Mia here is an update.  She graduated from puppy class and now is an awesome adolescent.  Many of you readers know something about adolescence, your own or your children's.  We have found the best thing is to make sure she gets lots of activity, after which she is a good dog.  

Her sister Rosie came to visit and we could see Rosie was the dominant of the two.  Eventually they worked it out and could have some fun together.

We are having fun thinking of new things to teach Mia.  George has combined watch and kiss for a trick that will make you smile. (He never could teach me that one.)  I have her carry the newspaper from the bottom of the driveway.  She gets very excited as soon as we step out the door in the morning and trots up the hill with the paper in her mouth like it was a fantastic prize.  
This week she was allowed to go a few more places. We visited the dry cleaner's, the barbershop and Kraemer's hardware store.  She was very well behaved.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The dishwasher lesson...

Mia would love to come lick all the dishes we put in the dishwasher.  We can understand how tempting this is, and our old dog drove us nuts trying to get at those dishes.  We decided to train Mia to wait for the dishwasher to be closed, and then she gets a treat.  We have her SIT and then add the command to WAIT.  It is working pretty well, and she loves the reward at the end of loading all the dishes.
Mia also paid a visit to the Satin Dolls tap dance practice, where Bonnie dances.  All the dancers think Mia is doing a fine job.  Mia demonstrated a few of the things she does, like close the door to the costume closet and pull off a glove.  Someday she will be able to help her owner get undressed.  We also have her give us the glove back, or pick it up if she drops it.  

There was frost on the ground this week and she didn't seem to mind it at all.  We are thinking about all those trips outside with her this winter.  Brrrr.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mia loves her bowl and she loves George...

Little Mia is learning she can tell us she is hungry by flinging her bowl around.  Here is a picture of George trying to ignore her while reading the paper.  It is pretty hard to ignore.  She also likes to hide her bowls, and at first they were hard to find.  Now we know her favorite spots.

The lovely fall weather is perfect for walks and field trips.  Both George and Bonnie took Mia out in the community this week.  Mia went to two pet stores and practiced outside the stores in the Glen Lake area strip mall, and also practiced walking on the green light and waiting on the red at a busy intersection.

On Thursday Mia went to the vet for surgery so that she will not have puppies.  She came home on Friday and took a nap.  She seemed back to her usual self by Saturday except for a tiny incision on her belly closed with 5 staples.  We wish we could bounce back as quickly as she has.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Mia's teacher Sue comes to visit...

Mia's teacher came to visit and check on how she is doing with the Dow family.  It seems like things are going ok and we got a lot of tips on training her.  It is important to wait for Mia to do the right thing before she gets her treat.  It is also important we only say the command once and wait for her to do what we ask.

Mia had a hard time with all the good smells that Sue brought with her.  By the time we were done Mia was a very good puppy! 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A great time at the gala...

On Saturday night George, Bonnie and Mia went to the Helping Paws Gala.  It was the first time for all of us.  There were service dogs of all ages, and puppies and dogs in training everywhere.  George made sure Mia entered the crowd slowly and she looked at him for direction.   She was on her best behavior with no mishaps.  There were over 400 people there!

The keynote speaker was Jenny Peterson who told the crowd how having a service dog changed her life.  She motivated everyone there to support the work of Helping Paws.  There was an auction which raised a whole lot of money to keep the program going, and there were lots of wonderful people who had a good time.

As far as Mia's training, she is learning many new things.  She is pushing the practice light switch, moving to the side position and will retrieve just about anything.  We spend lots of time on eye contact and walking with a loose leash.  She is one of the smallest puppies in her class, and Sue, our teacher, called her a peanut!

Mia goes to Jeanine and Richard's house for the weekend...

Mia had a wonderful Labor Day weekend and so did we.  While we were with friends in Northern Minnesota, Mia was having a great time with Jeanine and Richard at their home.  It sounds like she is a good visitor, and Helping Paws makes it possible for the service dogs in training to be cared for by other volunteers.  This means that people who know the program and usually have trained dogs themselves do the doggy care while the training family takes vacation!  

We were lucky that besides being a good dog sitter, Jeanine is a good photographer.  This photo is really making the rounds as a screensaver.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mia is getting out.....Mia plays ball...

Above you see Mia in her seatbelt.  She really prefers this to riding in the kennel.  Below you see Mia with a crazy thing that happens now and then when both (or one) of her ears gets stuck in a flopped over position.  She'll hate us for this photo when she is grown up!
This last picture shows what happened when I was teaching Mia to push a basketball with her nose.  She did it like crazy, and kept pushing it under the table just when I would take a picture.
She is learning fast, but we are learning that dog's don't generalize their behavior.  What that means is what she does fine for us at home, she doesn't do as well in class.  Fortunately the teachers are patient and seem to believe us when we say she works for us at home.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mia is studying and playing hard...

Here are some pictures of Mia in class with George and Bonnie.  All the dogs are making so much progress.  Mia is learning to shut door and drawers and how to give a kiss, and we keep learning the fine details on how to get just what we want from her.  Her favorite items to  retrieve are silverware and the cellphone.  Next week maybe she will be texting
Yesterday Mia went to the HP golf event.  Way too much excitement to be on her best behavior, but she loved it.  The good people there  were happy to see her.

Here she is in the garden. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mia goes to Van Vac

Mia is with George and Bonnie this week at a cabin near Ely.  There are lots of nice people in nearby cabins and a few dogs.  Mia is learning about water.  So far she has gone in up to her tummy.  
Here she is learning to play with a friend named Blue.

Here is Mia looking like a teenager.  She is working on rolling over, waiting, shake, and lots of retrieving.  It is great to have a whole week with lots of time for her training. 

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tonight was the puppy party...

Here is Mia's new bed from LLBean.  Do you think she will out grow it?  Notice her favorite toy, the Flail a Fowl.  It was purchased at the church auction and we highly recommend it.  (This is not product placement paid for by the maker of the crazy toy.)

Tonight we went to the Helping Paws fundraiser at the home of Tim and Rosie Owens.  It was a lovely evening and the puppies, and several older dogs had a great time.  They are wearing their packs and gentle leaders and look very professional.  It was an elegant party, with perfect weather and a gracious home overlooking a beautiful wetland.  Elegant except the part where the puppies played like crazy in a small pen.  They are more sturdy than we realized.  This week we are working on "drop" which means we have to catch her dropping to the floor and then click and treat.  It works best when she is tired.
Here I am in my new pack!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Here's what is new with Mia...

Mia is getting taller and learning things very quickly.  She is learning to walk with a "loose leash", to watch our face in anticipation and to accept us as "in charge".  She cries less and is sleeping better.  She goes to the sink to ask for water and drags her bowl around when she wants food.  She is practicing retrieving with a variety of household objects to get ready for her job as a service dog.  George is working hard training her three times or more a day, and going to class every Wednesday night.
Tonight we got this official picture of her to share with you. Later this week Mia will go to a puppy party to raise money for Helping Paws.  She is looking forward to playing with her siblings!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mia meets her "grandparents"...

Part of training Mia is to meet as many types of people as possible.  She is already a very social dog, so this has been easy.  Grandma Marge says Mia is just what she wanted us to get, a chocolate lab.  Mia surprised Grandpa George by nipping at his finger.  She responded right away to Grandpa Jack's commands.  At Emerald Crest she found her spot for a nap under Grandma Catherine's chair.  The staff and other residents there are happy to see her, too.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mia is a social girl......

We have been very busy making sure Mia has a good social life.  She has been to the pet store and to the Hill grandparents' memory care.  The Dow grandparents have been to visit as have Laura and Kyle.  I will post the grandparents pictures the next time.
We have been taking walks around the neighborhood and meeting lots of people.  We went to th
e Chambers' house and met Kay and the guinea pig Callie.  Mia and Callie rubbed noses.  Derrick, our neighbor is volunteering to help with walks and Mia thinks he is great.

The nights are improving as long as George stays close by.  Bonnie, Sarah and Michael are acting as training assistants.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Our first week with Mia...

We are all having fun with the puppy and she seems to be settling into our family.  She is glued to our feet where ever we go.  The first two nights she cried, but now the last two nights she has slept about 7 hours.
Yesterday she tried out the frog sandbox with about an inch of water in the bottom.  Then she helped me plant flowers and played with all the empty plastic cups in which they were grown.  Later she went to get grandma and grandpa Hill to come to our house and sit on the porch.

George is doing the training with really quick results.  He is making sure she knows he is the boss and she seems to get it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mia is here, and totally adorable

Wow, have we been busy.  On Friday we met our puppy, a female chocolate lab we have named Mia.  Because we had to leave for our daughter Sarah's graduation from college in Iowa City, we had help from two wonderful volunteer families, Melanie and Janine.  On Sunday we were able to pick Mia up on our way home, and have been busy with her ever since.  She is very social and follows us around.  She likes her collar and leash and is very willing to go into the crate.....except that once we shut the door and especially in the car she is very unhappy and vocal!  Last night was a long night and I am tired and so is George!

Just now she has stopped crying, so I think I will go up to bed and hope for a better night.  Wednesday is the first class with the puppy.  It will be great to see all the trainers with their dogs.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Friday we meet our puppy...

We just found out we will be able to meet our puppy on Friday.  Because we are heading down to Iowa City for Sarah's graduation, we have a great Helping Paws volunteer who will watch our puppy for us until Sunday.  Once we know if it is black or brown, and male or female, we can hone down our list of names.

We are busy puppy proofing and have been to the pet store for supplies.  Helping Paws has lots of helpful rules so that we don't give our puppy anything dangerous.  So far we have learned all the things we did wrong with our first dog!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The count down to bringing our dog home has begun.....

We are so excited to be getting close to bringing our puppy home.  Helping Paws has told us we will be getting a Lab. Black or brown, male or female. The puppy will arrive the day we bring Sarah home from her U of Iowa graduation, May 18, so she will be a big help with the first few weeks.

George has started the class to help get us ready and is reading the notebooks.  All of us are thinking of good names for the dog, which can't be any of the names already given to any of the Helping Paws service dogs. 

It was June of 2007 we decided to volunteer to train a dog to be a service dog.  The big day is finally in sight!