Monday, July 13, 2009

Training update

It's been a busy few weeks here, so we don't have a lot of pictures or videos of Dempsey to show. However, there was a very nice story in the Wall Street Journal this weekend about service dogs for Iraq vets, which I can recommend you read.

Some quick Dempsey updates:

  • Dempsey got some new stamps in his "puppy passport" (actually, it's more like a visa). He is now cleared to visit hardware stores and garden centers! Doreen and I were so excited to take Dempsey someplace that "civilian" dogs can't go, we took him to the Home Depot the same day we got clearance. Sadly, it was anticlimatic: Dempsey didn't seem to realize he was anyplace special. Oh well, I guess that's a sign that the training plan is working.

    The most exciting thing we saw at the Depot was actually outside, in the parking lot: Dempsey witnessed his first car accident. It was only a fender bender, but it was loud enough and close enough (about 4 parking spots away) that he was scared. Dempsey was nervous and jittery afterwards, and I was worried he might become afraid of parking lots, but I'm happy to report he's doing fine.

  • Dempsey has learned to put on a necktie. One of our homework assignments was to teach a new skill and develop our own training plan, which Helping Paws usually gives us. This was a good exercise in learning how to train and troubleshooting training problems. The necktie, in addition to being really cute, is also somewhat useful: We plan to have Dempsey dress up when he does demonstrations in front of audiences. We named the skill "go formal," though with the tie as loose as it is, it looks more like "happy hour" than "go formal." We'll put up some pictures once we tighten it up, so to speak.

  • Dempsey is also learning how to bow. (The training process for putting on a necktie is called "shaping," while the process for the bow is called "capturing." I wanted to practice doing both.) We got this idea from Maeve, another Helping Paws dog, who uses the bow as a curtsy during demos. Since curtsies are for girly dogs, I need to come up with a new name for the cue for Dempsey. Originally I was thinking ojigi, after the Japanese custom of bowing, but I'm afraid it sounds too much like "oh jiggy." (As much as I try to keep up with the Hit Parade, when I need to consult the "word maven" at Random House to figure out what a word means, you know I am not the mac daddy-o. Did I get that right? I give up.)

  • We are putting "semper fido" on hold for now. "Semper fido" is a belly crawl, and we imagined Dempsey would look like a Marine in one of the old war movies, a knife clenched between his teeth as he crawls under the barbed wire to attack the enemy. Alas, Dempsey is not allowed to clench a knife, and he can only crawl for about 2 feet, and only on plush carpeting. (On any other surface with less traction, he just flails his legs.) It's a sad performance that would embarrass any real leatherneck, so we're waiting till his coordination improves.
Since we don't have any new pictures of Dempsey, here's an old file photo of him at 8 weeks, taking a nap. They do grow up fast, don't they?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dempsy!! Cute 8 week old picture of you above. Mom LOVES to hear about the training updates!!! I am just 13 weeks, and we are working on a few is not quite sure exactly what we are doing, but she spends a lot of time with me with treats. I can sit and down and almost paw-up for a treat. But, I really just want the treat at this point.

    Will check back soon!
    Come by for a visit!!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose