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A Taste of Team Training (Videos & Pictures)

Team Training is officially over and we've graduated. YAY!!!

Now, we're headed south by train to San Diego and ComicCon — the ultimate test and solo flight of our fledgling work together. Eeep!

Below is a selection of videos and pictures capturing our later days here at Team Training. My apologies for not keeping up a bit better. It's been grueling and exhausting, and I only just had time last night to look through everything.

So, without further ado:

At the quietest mall ever

How we go up stairs

How we go down stairs

Watching a movie at the hotel

Navigating a 4th of July festival crowd

Arriving at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
(Bonus points for those who spot the special guest star)

Beautiful, sunny, crowded day at the Aquarium

Down a steep ramp to the loose sandy beach

Walking alone along the packed sand with confidence for the first time in forever!

And the best part of all — bed hugs!!!!

Team Training Day 6: Guest Post by marijee

Hello all! I am marijee and I have been hanging out a bit with Mal, Leo, Kami and Leslie. Mal asked me to do a little blurb about my visits… so here I am!

First of all Leo is absolutely gorgeous. The pictures are great, but seeing him in person… just wow!  This guy is so affectionate… yes, I got a Leo hug, kiss and a groan! You might think a hug from a 70 pound dog overwhelming, but he is so careful and you never feel like you are being crushed… just loved on. It’s wonderful!

Leo and Mal are working great together. We were out in the rain today at the Corvallis Saturday Market and Leo ignored other dogs and people. Leo listened to instructions from Mal and I thought they both synced really well. Mal was really good at praising Leo and giving him positive feedback.  Leo really seems to want to please Mal and she is using the training tools from Leslie to make it all work.

Leo’s harness is really cool. It looks like it’s comfortable for Leo to wear… and very utilitarian. I love the zippered bag on top that holds Leo’s water bowl, waste bags and Mal’s wallet. Mal doesn’t have to carry her purse around… I think that’s a real plus!

When I first met Mal in January, and then when I picked her up at the train station last week she was using a cane. There was hesitancy in her walk and she seemed cautious about being bumped by the crowd. Looking at Mal today I saw a changed person. With Leo guiding her, the cane was gone and she looked confident and happy.  Leo is going to be such a tremendous help to Mal, physically and mentally.

Mal has such a great support and training team with her. Kami is a wonderful lady who is Mal’s support person. One really cool thing about Kami is she is very knowledgeable about taking care of animals. So she not only helps Mal with daily tasks, but helps with Leo, too! Leo thinks she’s great as well!

Leslie, Leo’s trainer is really amazing. She is always teaching and giving information to Mal to help her and Leo to become a great team. Leslie is so devoted and passionate about her dogs and the training of Service Dogs. You should check out her website and see the Mobility Dog stories.

I am so happy I got the opportunity to meet Mal. I just want everyone to know all the money you gave is so well spent and Mal is so deserving of your generosity. You are helping to change Mal’s life for the better.

**Fist bump** LOL!

Three short videos by Kami:

Team Training: End of Day 2


Well, we've made it through two days of intense, technical team training. Meaning we're working on our timing, using the proper commands, and stringing several steps together to perform a task (like going down the stairs). We've both been pretty tired at the end of the day. Leslie is very pleased with our work together and our progress. She's upping the challenge for us tomorrow to harder tasks in more distracting, busy places. I don't even know what else to tell you other than it's all going very well.

Here's a picture from this morning at the hotel, where he's hanging out on his ad hoc bed:

And here he is playing with a new friend during free time a bit later in the day:

Finally, a stunning pic of a happy dog from the same free time session:

More next time!

Leo and Mal
Team Training Starts Tomorrow (Today)!!!

I'm here, I've settled in, I've read his book, and I'm as ready as I'm going to be.

The journey begins in just over 12 hours (noon PDT Monday, June 25th).

Wish me, wish us luck!

It's Official: Team Training in 2 Weeks!!!!

Yes, you read that right. Team Training for Leo and I will start June 25th. SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! And our Primary Support Person, Kami, will be there with us almost the whole time!!! (I didn't even think I'd have a Primary Support Person, which is why I've never mentioned it.) I'm SO excited, can you tell??? I don't even know what else to say other than I'm ready, Leo's almost ready, and the logistics of travel, accommodations, rental car, and ground transportation are all in place. I'm sooooooooo grateful to each and every one of you who helped to make all this possible. Seriously, couldn't have done it without you.

Here's a recent video clip of Leo in his fancy, custom-fitted, custom-made harness practicing his new skills with Leslie:
Here Leo and I are doing Harness Training: curbs and street crossings. I repeated the approach at the far curb, when Leo placed a rear foot on the curb. He quickly learned that we only continue on our way when he "marks" the curb with his front feet only. He also does an excellent job waiting at the down curbs until I step down first - providing resistence to my forward and downward momentum.
Notice that she's no longer using the clicker and there are no treats in her pockets. The former is because he's graduated in his learning to a level where he no longer needs the clicker as a marker for desired behavior. The latter is because Leslie discovered that he's not food (or toy) motivated. His treat of highest reward is a hug, followed by "scritches" — pats, scratches, strokes, caresses — and verbal praise. How awesome is that?!? His highest reward is being loved on. I flove that about him — we are such a perfect match, lol.

I cannot WAIT to see him again. Soon. So very, very soon.

More for y'all then, too!

Much love and many hugs,
Harness Training! (Pics)

Well, there's no way around the truth. I've sucked at updating here for a while now. Sorry about that. I've been in a terrible funk, no lie.

Anyhoo, here's the current news:

Leo blew through Advanced Training in under a month. He loves being out in public and hearing what a handsome dog he is while he people watches. Unlike my previous dog, it's not about interacting with other people, it's watching us do what we do that he seems to enjoy. Once he started his public access work, it's like all the Foundation Training suddenly clicked and it all made sense to him. He was so fast, his harness wasn't ready when he was, lol. It's been fitted and is finished now, so he's officially in Harness Training, the final training phase. He loves his harness and is doing very well learning new skills and responsibilities. My big man is almost ready for me. In fact, you might see us together at Comic Con. No guarantee, only a possibility, but I'm excited nonetheless.

Here are some pics of my handsome man sporting his new hardware:

Happy dog :-)

He's got quite the mane, hasn't he? His name fits him in more ways that one!

I'll try to do better about updating now that we're getting close to Team Training, but no promises. Please know I'm doing my best. Thanks again for all your love and support!

A Crown of Asphodels

This story is a collaboration written with Alby Mangroves under the penname Mal and Alby for the Beyond the Pale 2 Contest. Be warned, there are *Dark Themes.* We hope you enjoy reading our story — many thanks to LJ Summers for her Beta expertise, and to LightStarDusting for pre-reading support.

Hysteria — A once common medical diagnosis made exclusively in women and widely discussed in the medical literature of the late 19th century. Sufferers exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, and loss of appetite for food or sex. Sigmund Freud famously tended to numerous patients afflicted with the above issues in addition to neurological symptoms such as numbness, weakness/paralysis, loss of speech, fainting (syncope), and gait problems (Astasia-abasia) with no neurological cause. His theory that psychological distress transforms into physical symptoms, gives the condition it's current name: Conversion Disorder.

Laudanum (aka Tincture of Opium) — By the 19th century, laudanum was used in many patent medicines to "relieve pain, to produce sleep, to allay irritation, to check excessive secretions, to support the system, and as a soporific." Laudanum contains all derivatives of opium including morphine, heroin, and codeine, causing it to have a profound vomit-inducing effect. Innumerable Victorian women were prescribed the drug for relief of menstrual cramps and vague aches. Nurses also spoon-fed laudanum to infants and children, primarily as a cough suppressant. The Romantic and Victorian eras were marked by the widespread use of laudanum in Europe and the United States.

Pharmakon — A Greek term meaning both poison and elixir; it is that which wounds yet also heals; the cause and the cure. It is a complex term meaning sacrament, remedy, poison, talisman, or intoxicant. The modern day word "pharmacology" stems from the same root.

Gramercy Park, New York, Spring 1884

"Do try these eclairs, Isabella, they're really quite delicious." Her mother drones, and Isabella's eyes lower demurely to her plate to prevent an inappropriate display of spirit.

She is far too upset to eat, and regards the sticky-looking pastries with what she hopes is polite detachment and not the revulsion she actually feels.

"Young Mr. Newton has recently accepted a position of some prestige with the Bank of New York, my dear," her mother continues. Apparently, she aims to fill the morning with incessant appraisals of Michael Newton's credentials as a proper suitor for her prized daughter.

"Please, there's no need for all this formality, Renée. Let us call him by his Christian name, Michael."

Abigail Newton titters, and Isabella's blush rises against her will, knowing it will be misconstrued. She can feel all eyes on her, measuring and calculating.

"Yes, of course, Abigail." Renée defers while under the table Isabella pinches the fleshy webbing between her thumb and forefinger to stop herself from crying. She can't bear to look at either of them right now, busy as they are assessing her like livestock.

Sitting stiffly erect so as not to crease her cream silk morning gown, she quietly endures the remainder of Mrs. Newton's visit. As protocol demands, her eyes remained downcast, her conversational gambits polite and appropriate, and she is sure that Mrs. Abigail Newton sees her as the pinnacle of virginal humility and, therefore, a good match for her only son.

Inside, Isabella is screaming.
What's In a Name?

In honor of the Westminster Kennel Club's dog show over the last couple of nights, I thought it was appropriate to offer up this post. I've watched dog shows off and on over the years, and at one time in my life, I showed cats (which is and isn't a whole different thing).

I have long wondered about pedigreed dog naming conventions because while a dog might be registered as Sir Glittersparkle Snarksalot, he's mostly known as Henry or something equally banal and completely unrelated to the fancypants name. (Generally speaking, that's not my experience in the pedigreed cat world.)

While I was up visiting Leo, his breeder, Barb Robinson, sent a parcel of goodies for Leslie and I. In there was a copy of a Canadian (yes, Leo came from the Great White North, lol) Collie magazine that included a full page ad (pictured below) telling the world that Leo is now being trained as a service dog. Clearly, she is very proud of him. As you'll note, the ad features not only a gorgeous picture of Leo, but also his fancypants (registered) name: Chippenhook's Gold Nugget. Chippenhook is her kennel or family name, so technically his name is Gold Nugget.

*scratches head*

How do you get Leo from Gold Nugget? or Gold Nugget from Leo, know what I mean?

So, I asked Barb to answer this question as a way of addressing the pedigreed dog name thing I've wondered about for years. Here is her fascinating and informative answer:
Some breeders name litters thematically or use a particular letter for each I started late, I will never breed many litters so don't think I need to use those methods.

As a breeder I am excited to plan a breeding and very excited and worried to get them on the ground (born).

I start thinking about call names as soon as they arrive. I taught high school for years and had some memorable students and have used their names for call names for my puppies. For example a brother of Leo's (a tri)... I named him Evan as he is a gentle, smart soul and reminder me of a student named Evan. The woman who bought Evan renamed him Tippy but he will always be Evan to me. He is now a registered therapy dog.

Sometimes the name just comes to you. Leo's mom is Velvet... she looked like a piece of velvet cloth when she was born (I taught some fashion & clothing construction courses). Her registered name is Chippenhook's Velvet Slipper... her daughter Niki (who looks like Velvet) is Chippenhook's Shiny Shoes. Linking the names helps you remember pedigrees too.

Leo's name comes from a famous dog named Am Ch Lochlomon Interlock, he lived in Ohio.... born in 1973. He is behind many of the collies I admire. I have attached a head shot of him... a handsome collie!

(name misspelled in pic... should be Lochlomon)
A few years ago I met the woman who bred Lochlomon Interlock..... she is an interesting character. I did some more research when I got home and saw that Interlock's call name was Leo. So I thought if I ever have a handsome male like him, I would name the puppy Leo.

I name my puppies by the time they are 3 weeks old as I think they are "real people" by then.

My Leo was big (over a pound), strong & handsome when he was born. He was the pick of the litter at 8 weeks. He is line bred on a dog from New York state, Am Ch Marnus Golden Ruler (Leslie loves this dog too) call name Piper. Leo's mother, Velvet is a grand daughter of Golden Ruler..... Velvet's brothers who have a resemblance to Piper have registered names Autumn Gold, Heart of Gold & Good as Gold in honour of Piper.

Because Leo does not have much of a white collar.... he is mostly sable, I decided to go with the name Gold Nugget.

My kennel name is after Chippenhook Creek that runs through the dairy farm I grew up on in eastern Ontario. I knew when I retired from teaching in Stratford, Ontario I would move back home...... can't take the love of country out of me!.... I now rent a house on the farm.

I hope this answers your questions about Leo's name. Any more questions... ask away. 
A Special Training Session

Leslie continues her education as a trainer by booking private training sessions with Michele Pouliot. I was lucky enough to attend one of Leslie and Leo's sessions while I was visiting recently. These videos are a beautiful example of platform/clicker training where Leo is learning the "left heel" position (his future working position).

Notice, he is loose (not on lead) while working and must find the proper position on his own. Also note how much fun he's having — one look at the smiling face and wagging tail tells the tale. Leslie reports that at the very next training session just after I left, Leo was no longer standing perpendicular to her as he is in these videos. This work is considered to be Foundation Training, the first stage in Leslie's training protocol.

I recorded their work together for everyone. (on my iPhone, handheld. sorry for the shaky camera work.) Enjoy!

So I Went And Met Leo For The First Time...

While he was training.

He's a snuggle bug.

These are pictures from our epic night of snuggling on the couch.

I have videos of training session - another post in future (baby pics, too!)

It was wonderful!

I'll write more soon. Been too tired and depressed since home to be up to much. 

Started a new school quarter, too. 

Didn't want to keep peeps waiting any longer.

He won't be ready for team training/placement until May/June.

So here's some pics of me, Leo, and Timmy the cat trying to get in on the snuggles!


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