17 May 2008

About This Blog

Welcome to our blog. I don't know how exciting it will be or that I will get things posted every day, but we're trying to offer a way for those who want to to follow our training progress and hear about our experiences. I'm writing in English because that way my family and friends can read it, but it can also help anyone else in Denmark who needs a service dog. The DK laws are pretty vague and it is hard to find info. I'm in Denmark and I'm doing it myself.

Because of joint problems that cause instability and pain, I have a lot of trouble getting around. Walking hurts. Sitting hurts. Sometimes lying down even hurts, but it tends to be the best option for me. There isn't any fix for this, or so I'm told. Physical therapy and massage can help some, but I can't be fixed. I have to find a way to get as productive a life as I can out of my condition and I want to do what I can myself.

Molly came to live here in February of 2007. She was about 3 and a half months old and was a shy dog. We were told her parents were working dogs--we bought her from a dairy farm and a lot of dairy farms use BCs to move the cows. Her mother was a little short haired girl and her father is a big furry guy. We could tell she was a short hair and looked a lot like her mother. We were also told she'd been placed once and returned.

She bonded with us very quickly. Husband is the fun guy that plays and stuff. Rebecca does most of the training, sets more limits, and it home during the day.

We'd had her almost a year and she'd tried working on sheep--she has potential--when my health had taken a turn for the worse. I started needed what a service dog could offer and Molly was there, so we tried for fun to see what she could learn. She could learn and fast.

At this point Molly's primary tasks are retrieve and carry. She can fetch items we point at and bring them to me or husband on command. She can also take items from our hands. She can carry items to either one of us for return, even if we are in another room or the other end of the house (great for passing silly love notes). The best of this is that she picks up crutches for me when I drop them, something I do often when I need a hand for something or lean them up against something and they fall down. Bending down for me is painful to say the least, but also often ends in a fall or me needing help to straighten up again.

Additionally she's learned to help me undress so I don't have to struggle to get out of things when I'm sore and tired. She takes my shoes, including cowboy boots, and socks off for me when we get in the door. She can also pull my pants off if I just loosen them and slide them down so I'm not sitting on them. We're still refining these jobs before she can do them in public (the shoes, I mean, of course), because I change shoe styles a lot and wear really supportive ones like hiking boots and cowboy boots so they're hard to remove. When Molly is frustrated or a task is really challenging, she talks. Talking isn't acceptable in public, so we're fine tuning with different value treats (better ones for quiet work, lesser ones for noisy work). Also just more and more practice is helping.

Molly has really been a great help with housework. Hate bending down to empty a front-load washer or dryer? Train the dog! Molly pulls the items out of the machine for me and hands them to me. I can stay standing or sitting and put the items into a basket. Once the basket is full, she can drag it across the floor to wherever I need it. Then I can hang the laundry up as I can hold to it. Once the laundry is dry, I put it into the basket again and she drags it off to wherever I want to fold it. Or to somewhere out of the way until later.

I can also fill the basket with other items I need to move and can't carry, like books. Then she pulls away as happy as can be.

Since she learned to take and give items, Molly has shown herself to be my husband's dream dog. She's a total neat freak. As anyone who has lived with me or ever seen my bedroom can confirm, I suck at keeping things organized. I'm better than I used to be, but when I hurt or am stressed out, I forget to keep things clean. If I leave a sock lying on the floor, Molly will find it and bring it to one of us. If I'm in a hurry to lie down when I get in and leave her leash and harness just lying there instead of hanging them where they belong, Molly will deliver. And deliver. Until one of us puts it somewhere that makes sense or she can't reach it. I could tell her leave it and she'd quit, but we're encouraging this trait. Molly hates things out of place even more than husband and I need the persistent training.

Our main training guideline at the moment is:

The Level Book

I really recommend this resource for anyone with a dog to train, even if you just want a good family pet. It's a great positive training resource and it will teach you to think like a trainer just as much as it will teach your dog to behave. It's also great for bonding with your dog and it helps make your dog WANT to please you. It can't hurt to try--everything is positive. You just need some treats. A clicker helps, but you can make a sound with your tongue or something to try it out if you're not sure you want to invest right away. They are really cheap though.

So if you want to follow our training and see how things go, look back once in a while. I can't promise tons of pictures, but I will try to throw some in once in a while.

1 comment:

Samantha said...

Hi there Rebecca, glad to see you have started a blog. I shall keep checking in to see how Molly's training is going.

Can i request lots of Molly pic's too! :-)