'Merlin' brings a touch of spring magic to the south
After a few months in the States, we are back into the puppy-raising routine: early morning/late night/middle of the night toileting, basic command training, scrambling to snatch a forbidden object from puppy’s mouth and happily cuddling a soft-as-down, adorable golden retriever puppy.
Farewell Jasper, Welcome Merlin
Just a day before our placid, gorgeous, and simply wonderful dog, Jasper, strolled out of our lives, in wobbled 12-week-old Merlin and the adventure begins all over again. Now at a little over 5 months, this too-cute-for-words ‘cream puff’ is busy discovering the rules and boundaries and has generally settled in well. He responds to several commands, is toilet trained, is learning good house and garden behaviour and intently observes (and often blunders in enthusiastically) to try to ‘help’ as ambasadog, Fleur, shows him how the tasks are done. When not doing lessons with Fleur, this wee boy loves to play; those big, floppy-mop ears of Fleur’s are just too irresistible.
Merlin is taking it all in stride as he experiences gondola rides, road trips to Dunedin, Wanaka and Invercargill and travelling on the Earnslaw vintage steamship to Walter Peak.
It didn’t seem so long ago that Koko arrived as a gorgeous roly-poly, fuzzy wee ‘bear’. Now at 11 months Koko, under the tutelage of Tony and Vivienne Campbell’s skilled and conscientious raising, has developed into a mature, well-mannered and very sweet lad. The Campbell’s have these words to say about Koko:
One of the wonderful rewards of reaching 65 years of age is the receipt of a free bus pass. We swing along the highways and byways of this beautiful region; glacial lakes, towering mountains and sunny, blue skies make the whole experience special. And to make it even better, we take along our 10-month-old puppy in training, Koko. He is now a seasoned ‘bus boy’, known to all the drivers who greet him gladly. He hops on, smiles at the driver and finds a sunny patch of floor on which to settle. He loves to hop off again, looking forward to another walk of great excitement and discovery. What a buzz for pup!
In terms of what our not-so-little Koko does well, that varies depending on his puppy mood. Following a nice long walk, tired and no doubt hungry, he is very good. He is excellent at untangling himself on the command of “fix it’. He fetches his lead and does a retrieve putting the item on your lap. He enjoys the game of “Hide and Seek” using the whistle recall and opens the door on the command of “tug”. We work diligently on walking at “heel” and he improves steadily.
At the supermarket Koko is excellent walking nicely behind the trolley and at the checkout goes down and stays by the wall, resisting the admiring attention he attracts.
Koko has a very affectionate nature and is generally a pleasure to be with but oh so active a boy!
Juno and Jasmine
Since arriving about a year ago, these siblings have enjoyed a variety of socialisations and frequent training sessions together with their raisers on the main street of Arrowtown followed by a cuppa at a local coffee shop. Now in the final months of their basic training, their raisers have the following to say regarding life with their puppy this past year.
Eric and June Simpson are the raisers of Jasmine.
When Jasmine came to me as a small pup, I knew things were going to be interesting because recently having “lost” my three dogs after 15 years of companionship, I was out of touch with puppies and puppy training. However, I need not have worried; one look into Jasmine’s eyes told me that here was a dog with intelligence, ability and a sense of humour. Indeed, as she has grown and matured she has shown all of these attributes.
I met an old chap a while ago who has had a lifetime of training dogs. He said that when getting a puppy he always looked into its mouth. If the roof of the mouth has a black mark in it he reckoned that was the ideal dog to train. This, of course, may be an “old wives’ tale”, but Jasmine has that mark! He also said that the most challenging dogs to train were those with brains. Jasmine certainly has brains and has been a pleasure to train, though at times she has looked at me with those wise eyes as if to say, “Why should I do that?”
I have growled at Jasmine at times, been frustrated at times and laughed with her at times. She has taught me to be patient and understanding, and together we have formed a good bond which is essential. I have allowed Jasmine to romp around our garden now and again…just free to be a dog. She enjoys this and always comes when whistled or called.
Do dogs have a sense of humour? You bet they do! Jasmine knows when I am “taking the Mickey”! One time when playing with her, I pulled my jersey up so that my head disappeared. At first she was a bit frightened wondering, I suppose, where my head had gone. However, doing it slowly a couple of times more, she got on to it and biffed me over as I was kneeling down. Now if I do it, she straight away gives me the “biffo”.
And on the subject of intelligence: A little incident happened a few weeks ago. June and I were sitting in the lounge watching TV and had lit the open fire . A large spark of wood jumped out onto the carpet unnoticed by us but not by Jasmine who got our attention by diving at the spark and telling us something wasn’t right. This was an immediate reaction by her and showed she is a thinking dog, especially since she has had no previous experience with fire.
I may not have covered all the bases with Jasmine, but what I have tried to do is turn out a dog with good behaviorial traits and a happy dog that will go on to be a SPECIAL dog.
David and Kim Wright are the raisers of Juno.
The most intriguing adventure for Juno recently was his visit to Dunedin to be in the city for the Rugby World Cup clash between England and Argentina. The young boy was in a hotel full of Argentinean supporters so he was almost learning his commands in Spanish! Later going down into The Octagon and being surrounded by all the English fans singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” was all handled with great aplomb...considering he is a good Kiwi pup and a staunch All Blacks supporter.
About our time with Juno…what can I say? For, a start, it has been a pleasure to have him this past year. Being an intelligent and energetic dog sometimes, I must admit that it’s been quite a challenge, especially in his younger days, to get him to ‘toe the line’. Hence somewhere along the line, David has had to take over the disciplining and most of the training. It’s been really worth it, as he is very good now…obedient (until he gets bored!), smart and with that nice combination of being gung-ho yet reserved at times.
We haven’t any doubt that Juno will someday be a very good, able and loving mobility dog for some fortunate person.
Fleur continues to carry out her ‘ambassadogial’ duties, giving us opportunities to talk about Mobility Dogs, demonstrating mobility dog tasks when called upon and keeping the ‘new kids on the block’ in check. She recently demonstrated to a group of interested visitors the various tasks that mobility dogs do. In September Fleur assisted Grant with follow-up training for a working team in Invercargill, providing dog distraction opportunities and gentle play training. (Tough job but some dog’s gotta do it.)
Our SLD puppy club continues to meet monthly for training, demonstration by puppies, problem solving, free controlled play and socialisation both for puppies and raisers. After the business portion of the meeting, raisers and sitters enjoy time together over a cuppa and biscuits.
We close this journal entry with a note of gratitude for…
~the opportunity to make someone’s life easier by raising puppies for the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust,
~our wonderful puppy-raisers and sitters who so selflessly give of their time and energy,
~the support we receive from everyone on the Auckland Mobility Dogs team.
Judy and Grant Reid, SLD Puppy Club Leaders/Raisers
Posted: Thu 20 Oct 2011
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