Another month has sped by since I last reported to you about my life as a Hero Dog in training. I’m 15 months old now and I weigh a healthy 60 pounds. Dr. Marcie gave me a clean bill of health at my last check-up.
I spent a few days with a puppy sitter this month while my family went out of town. I had a good time! It was fun to go somewhere different and learn how other people live. I showed Bev and Dan how I love to deliver the newspaper and I tried to be on my best behavior.
Jay and Petra took me on a little trip to the cabin in West Virginia where the real snow is!!! I got to play in some really deep powder… what a blast!! Jay thinks I’m a St. Bernard in disguise. We went for long walks and I got good and tired out from running, leaping, and digging in the deep snow.
Other than our regular outings around town, Petra and I made a trip to the USO at Ft. Belvoir. Maggie and Hero Dogs Indie were there as well and we had a chance to meet lots of GIs and tell them all about Hero Dogs and what a great service dogs like me provide. I showed off a bit and they were very impressed with the number of commands I know. I was picking things up and pressing that “easy” button and bringing things to Petra like a pro!
We’ve been going to class every week. I’ve been learning “paws up” and “paws off.” We’ve also been working on combination commands like “take it,” “paws up,” and then “drop.” I was a little confused at first, but I’ve got it now. I’m also learning to “turn.” That’s tricky for both of us… it’s hard to get my bottom turned around just right! I work really hard and Petra says that I’m a quick learner. I do get distracted sometimes at class because I enjoy seeing my buddies! Sometimes we get to go to the field after class and play. That’s my favorite part!
Luckily there is always something going on since I don’t much like lying around with nothing to do. I’m very happy to “work” and we always seem to be practicing something. Petra wants me to “side” and “heel” really close to a wall so that I learn to not take up so much space. She’s always dropping things for me to “take” and I get lots of practice opening and closing cabinets in the kitchen. We’ve been working with the “easy” button. Petra says that I need plenty of practice so that I can press the “handicapped” door button. Petra drops the leash a lot on our walks but I pick it up for her so that she doesn’t get away. I “wait” before I go out the door, and I’m learning to “leave” all those yummy things that fall on the floor.
We had some cool outings this month. I took the Metro for the first time. We got on the train and I laid “under” the seat. When the train started moving, I got a little nervous but I stayed put. We took the Metro to Rockville where we met the other Hero Dogs at the Fire Department. The fireman dressed up in all of his gear and his oxygen mask for us. He didn’t scare me a bit! I got to go into the ambulance and lay next to the bed. I walked all around the fire truck and checked everything out. I’m kinda nosey that way.
We went to Towson University and attended a gymnastics meet. I had to sit in the bleachers for a long time, and it was pretty boring until the Towson Tiger came by and gave me lots of lovin’!! I also spent some time with a group of young gymnasts. I showed them how I could “say hello” and “sit” and “down” and I gave them all Hero Dogs business cards so that they could check out my puppy page… ”Hello girls!!”
We go out regularly to the grocery store, the bank, and the post office. We go to the mall… boring… and go for walks in the neighborhood, the woods, and the Rio Lake. I sure wish that I could chase after all of those ducks and geese, but I’m not allowed to… I’m going to be a service dog!
January has been a very cold month. It doesn’t bother me much but it takes Petra forever to get motivated to go outside. First I have to beg at the door for a long time and then she needs to put on a coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots and all that for just a short walk up the road! We have been playing fetch in the yard a lot and I am getting some good exercise chasing the balls and the frisby.
We had our quarterly Hero Dogs meeting and all the Hero Dogs were there. Was that ever exciting! It was very hard to concentrate on what Petra was telling me since there were so many distractions…???? Tail, Grant barking, Rosie looking so cute, Franklin way out of my reach plus there were new puppies that I wanted to meet! After our meeting we all went out to lunch together. We dogs had to sit under the table while our adults ate pizza We were all pretty tired from the excitement of the class so after a while we settled down and had a nap.
Petra takes me out on most of her errands. The people at the Safeway know me now and I have been passing out business cards to the new people we meet. They are always so impressed that I can hand them the card…although sometimes it’s a bit damp…People are always interested to hear about Hero Dogs and they say that I am so well behaved. That makes me feel very proud. I get a little impatient when we go out to lunch though. Those humans need a long time to eat their food! I’m usually ready to go way before they’re done. Petra says that I need to learn to be more patient…ho…hum.
December has been a months of firsts for me. I had my first birthday on December 16th. Petra made me wear a silly hat but I did get a cozy new bed to lie on! Another first was when my family actually brought a great big chew toy that looked like a tree into the house! I was told not to touch it although it sure looked like something I would enjoy playing with. They even hung balls all over it and expected me to “leave it” alone. I know the rules around here and learned pretty quickly that this big branch was not for me!
I also experienced my first snowfall. I went outside and looked up into the sky… it was so quiet and these little cool flakes fell onto my face. I was very curious! We went to Jay and Petra’s favorite place in West Virginia and that’s where the real snow was! I loved running in the deep powder and burying my head deep into the snow trying to catch a snowball. We went on long walks and then I had long naps by the fire… also a first. We also went to a place called a ski area where there were lots of people sliding around on long skis. I stayed close to Petra… I didn’t want to get run over by any of those things!
Petra and I have been working on lots of commands. I am pretty good at pulling open doors, drawers, and cabinets, and I am getting better at closing them. I continue to practice unloading bags, although sometimes it’s hard to give up something that smells really good. I now know that when Petra says “leash” I need to pick it up off the ground. She seems to drop a lot of things. The other day I picked up a credit card and a quarter at the store and Petra was very proud of me!
When we go out, people are always very interested to hear what all I am able to do. Petra says that I am able to understand about 30 commands! That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it!!!
Petra tells me that I am going to be a really good service dog. I’m not sure what she means… but I have been working really hard lately and trying to learn all the things that we are taught in class. Petra says that her head is spinning because I have so much to learn.
Sit-stay, heel-wait, wait-go through, stand-wait, come, stand-wait-brace, take it, under, drop, let’s go, kennel, leave it… sometimes I don’t know which way is up so I just sit, smile and look cute! That usually does the trick and Petra laughs and gives me an extra piece of chicken! In addition to all those commands, I am learning to pick up a crutch and bring it to Petra. That gets a little tricky sometimes since that thing is pretty long and I almost knocked myself out with it!
We go out together pretty regularly now. Let’s see, we went to another CFC event at the Pentagon and that was pretty cool. I was my perfect charming self! We went to a college volleyball game. That was very exciting but I couldn’t quite figure out how or where to lie down. Luckily Petra brought along a new toy and that game was over before I knew it! We went on a field trip to the mall with my favorite Hero Dogs, Rosie, Gracie, and Ike. We worked on pushing the handicapped button to open the doors. Never knew it could be so confusing to go through a doorway! We practiced going up and down the stairs and we rode the glass elevator. Petra has been taking me shopping with her lately… boring… I tag along and make the best of it. When she stands there and looks at something for a long time I just “settle” and wait for her to move on. I know that when we get home we’ll get to go outside and play in the yard.
There was this one day called Thanksgiving and we had a lot of people come to the house and eat at a very long table. There was lots of commotion and I was pretty excited to have so much company. The house smelled really good but I was happy with my dinner of kibble mixed with pumpkin.
So, now you’re up to date! More news next month!
My month started off with a visit to the doctor and an operation that little boy dogs sometimes get. Dr. Marcie said that I was a very good patient and I got through it with no problems. It’s the week after the operation that was no fun since I wasn’t allowed to run or jump or play. Petra made me lay around a lot and I must say that it was pretty boring! But it’s all good now and I’m back to being my happy, energetic self!
I love being outside and checking on the squirrel population and chewing on sticks and chasing balls in the yard. We’ve been on some nice long walks in the woods. I love that since I get to splash around in the creek and try to get rocks out of the water. Petra says we won’t be doing that again anytime soon though, since I came home with lots of ticks on me. We’ll continue our walks on pavement. On our walks in the neighborhood, I’ve met up with some new puppies. I am very gentle with them. I lie down on the grass and let them chew and climb all over me. We don’t stop to play with the big dogs… I am learning to pay extra special attention to Petra as they walk by.
I’ve been to the grocery store several times now. I think Petra is beginning to trust that I will behave properly. I try to walk right behind the grocery cart. I think I’m getting pretty good at that. My favorite part of grocery shopping though is when we get home and I get to help unpack the bags. They always smell really good but I’m pretty good at taking things out and handing them to Petra. I’m even opening and closing the cabinets as she puts things away.
We have been working on perfecting some of the commands that I learned a long time ago. I have to learn to “sit” at random times, not just in front of Petra. I have to learn to “stay” even when she is not in the room. Petra is so proud of me since I have finally learned “stand” and “place.” I’ve heard those commands over and over and over again but never really understood what she meant… now I’ve got it!! Petra is trying to break me of some of my bad habits, like not coming when I’m called and chewing on things that I’m not supposed to chew on. I know, I know… but sometimes I just can’t help myself!
That’s all for today… time to go check on the squirrels!
Summertime seems to be over and the pool has a cover on it that I’m not allowed to go on. There are lots of leaves, sticks, and pine cones in the yard, and I’ve been helping clear them off. I love being outside in the cool air, and we’ve been going on lots of walks.
Petra and I have been to a couple of Charity Fundraising Campaigns this month. I’m not quite sure that I know what that is, but we go inside these big office buildings, and I get to meet lots of nice people that want to know all about Hero Dogs. Petra tells me that I must be on my best behavior. We show the people some of the things that I am good at, like “take it,” “sit,” “down,” and “watch.” We went to the Pentagon and we were escorted up elevators and down lots of long hallways. I was a little unsure about the whole situation, but there were lots of dog lovers there and they gave me plenty of attention.
We went to the Hero Dogs Training Center several times this month. We have our training classes there and I always learn something new. I’ve been working on listening to commands with lots of distractions…. like food on the ground and baby puppies barking at me. That’s pretty hard, you know. I would much rather play with puppies than come when Petra calls me. I also had to learn to walk right past that piece of food on the floor and not eat it! I always get rewarded for playing by the rules so it’s all good!
After class we usually go play with the big dogs. They’re so cool, but I have lots of respect for them. I especially like to play with Radar… Libby, she doesn’t have too much patience for a rough and tumble guy like me, so I let her be. They let me play with their toys and we run around in the yard and wrestle and chase each other. I am usually ready for a good nap when we get home.
Jennifer took us on a “field trip” to the Metro with Rosie and Stacy. We practiced getting on and off a bus, and I learned how to back myself in front of the seat. I need some more practice doing that. It’s a tight squeeze for a big dog like me. We also took the elevator up to the trains and practiced getting on and off the Metro. That was a fun day, except that I didn’t get a chance to play with Rosie, and that was really disappointing.
I got to spent a few days with Susan and her family again. Petra packed up all my stuff, and I have a lot of it, and when I saw where we were I was sooo excited! I love playing with them and their dog, Hallie. We went hiking on the Billy Goat Trail and the C & O Canal. I also got to go along to Hallie’s agility practice. There were lots of dogs there and it was really hard for me to stay and watch from the sidelines.
I am nine months old now and people tell me that I am really a good looking Golden Retriever… and so well behaved! Well, I try very hard, even though there are always so many distractions when we go out… other dogs, kids running and playing, good smelling stuff on the ground, birds, and especially squirrels!
We’ve been practicing walking behind a shopping cart, we’ve been in elevators, and I’m learning to walk with Petra slowly up and down stairs. I am learning to leave food that I find on the ground, and to lie down and “stay” for a long, long time, and how to go to my “place.”
We went to the beach recently and I played in the waves and dug deep, deep holes in the sand. What a blast that was!
We’ve been to Washington, DC a few times and walked in the big city and around the monuments. There were lots of new sights and different sounds… and squirrels… but they didn’t worry me a bit. We’ve been walking on the C&O Canal, where there are more squirrels, around lakes, and around the local soccer fields. I went up my first elevator, and we did some shopping, and we make frequent visits to Petco, the bank, and the post office. I also spent a few days with Susan and her family, my favorite puppy sitters.
At home we’ve been working on all the standard commands that I need to know. I know how to “leave it” even if I don’t want to, I can “pull” open the door and “sit” before and after going through. I “wait” for the next command, I “take it,” and “drop.” I’ve even helped Petra unload the grocery bags. Petra asks me to “settle” at her feet during dinner, which sometimes takes a really long time so I just take a nap.
I love “working” for treats… especially the good ones. Mostly, I love playing in the pool, chasing after balls, chewing on sticks, and just hanging out being a happy dog!
Happiness is a cool swimming pool! It has been sooo hot lately and I am loving chasing balls in the pool and swimming laps with Petra. It’s been stressful in the house since there was no air conditioning … whatever that is. All I know is that it was really hot. I didn’t even want to go on our regular walks or play with JD…it was just hot everywhere!
We didn’t have class so that gave me more time to work on my new commands. I’ve been working on waiting before we go through a doorway, checking in with Petra when we are walking and learning to stay and wait while Petra walks around me in circles….funny! I am learning to pick things up from the floor and dropping them into a basket or bringing them to Petra from across the room. I’ll do just about anything for a piece of chicken or carrot!
I’ve been on a few fun outings. We went to the grocery store one day and it smelled really good in there. I saw my reflection in the mirror at the meat counter and barked at it. Petra put a quick stop to that and told me that that wasn’t allowed. Other than that she said that I behaved very well and walked along with the shopping cart. We met some friends at Panera one morning and I waited very patiently under the table until they finished with their coffee. We also went to a really fun Open House at the Hero Dogs training center. I saw all the other Hero Dogs there and we got to meet lots of nice people. I even got to see my brother Franklin.
I’m pretty happy just doing regular dog stuff! I hang out on the tennis court and practice being a “ball dog” and carrying the tennis gear! When we go for walks I’ve met some pretty interesting characters…I’ve seen deer running across the street and I really want to chase them! I saw a box turtle in the front yard and was very curious to find out what was in that shell. I grabbed a frog in my mouth…yuk! I’ll never do that again! I’m getting pretty good at catching flies and love to chase lightening bugs and butterflies. And how do those birds stay up in the sky????
So much to learn!
This past month started with a vacation at my puppy sitters while my family went away. Petra packed a big bag with all my “stuff” and off I went to spend 10 days with the Lusk family. They had a big black lab named Haley and we had lots of fun. We went on long walks together every morning and I especially enjoyed playing with Kate and watching her do agility exercises with Haley. My puppy sitters reported that I was very well behaved and that I would be welcome to come back any time.
We’ve been going out on some fun adventures. We visited Tracy at Towson University and I saw my first squirrel there. Did you know that they can climb straight up a tree? I was very surprised! I ran around and around that tree and he just disappeared…straight up! We also went to a Flower and Garden Show in Leesburg. There were sooo many people there and dogs and things to smell and stuff all over the ground to eat and it was very hot. So many people wanted to stop and talk to me and learn about why I was wearing my Hero Dogs vest. I was overwhelmed but Petra said that considering how hard it was for me to concentrate I behaved very well. It was a very long, hot and exhausting day. I slept all the way home.
Another big outing was to the Andrews Air Show. Now that was fun! So many people came by the Hero Dogs booth and wanted to meet me and the other dogs. I showed them all how I could “take” things up off the floor and “sit” and “down” and “give”. We even went outside and watched the Blue Angels perform. They were very loud but that didn’t bother me a bit. I got my picture taken in front of a big helicopter and with some GI’s who thought I was just so cool! What a great day!
I have graduated from Puppy Kindergarten and am now in Level One classes. I love going to the training center and seeing Rosie and the other dogs. I work very hard in class and am learning how to behave like a special service dog. I know all the basic commands and in addition I can pull on a rope to open the door and I am learning to pick things up and dropping them into a basket. When we go out I am learning to “settle” and wait patiently. Petra is very proud of me and I always get rewarded with special treats!
There has been a new discovery in our backyard. It seems that there is a swimming pool underneath that cover I loved to play on. I got a little too curious leaning in after a bug one day and I fell in. What a surprise…and I can swim!! I’ve been a little apprehensive about going back in again but Petra says that it’s okay as long as she is there with me. I’m a very good swimmer but I drink too much water while I swim and loose my breath! I’ve got all summer to practice.
I feel like I am really growing! My legs are getting long and I can almost keep up with JD. Sometimes I run so fast that I don’t know how to stop…pretty cool!