The Holidays and the New Year

Yara asleep on the sofa bed

I know in my last post I promised that I’d be back with many an update and photo after the holidays, but things have just been far too hectic and crazy to sit down and write everything out. All in all, though, everything has been pretty good and I’m glad to finally be on an almost normal schedule and routine with Yara.

My uncle’s wedding was an interesting experience. I was very shocked that both Dolly and Yara had their own program1 and gift bags. Aside from some soft whining throughout the ceremony, both dogs were very good. I’m sure we were quite the spectacle walking in late with two dogs, especially since we were sitting right up in the very front! At the reception word spread pretty quickly about the dogs. It did amuse me that no one could keep the dogs straight as to which was whom and I must have explained how to pronounce Yara’s name about a hundred times. They both seemed to really enjoy all the attention they were getting, but once the waiters started circulating with the hors d’oeuvres, Dolly became quite a handful and as we were staying the night at the mansion, Dad put her in one of the rooms for the remainder of the reception.

Yara, on the other hand, was on her very best behavior. She did whine a bit here and there, but for the most part she was content to just lie on the floor. I did give her a few breaks both outside and in my room to relieve some of her pent up energy and de-stress a bit. Not surprisingly, she didn’t touch her dinner or breakfast the next morning, but she did eat some treats from her gift bag.

We spent the rest of the days until Christmas at my father’s and it was a mixture of fun and stress with the two dogs. Dolly’s such a timid and submissive dog; not to mention old and fat. While Yara is still full of puppy energy combined with being in yet another new place. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But after a few days they seemed to be all right with each other. They even slept together a few nights on the same dog bed! And despite being very much out of shape, Dolly got quite rambunctious a few times — once they got so excited and crazy they crashed a chair into one of the fish tanks in the living room and caused a rush of water to slosh out the back!

The biggest thing I noticed was they were both extremely jealous of one another. If one girl had a toy, the other would steal it. If one girl was being paid attention to by one of us, the other would shove her way in to get petted, too. Yara was especially annoying with her lack of rear-end coordination — she kept slapping everyone with her long tail, including Dolly. She got her full on in the face more than a few times! The absolute funniest thing had to be the slight identity crisis that kept going on with them. Every time I’d call one dog, the other would charge up to me. Or if I gave one girl a command, the other would listen to me. Though, there were a few times both girls would promptly “sit” or “down.” Usually when I was trying to get one dog to come and the other to “stay.” It was very amusing and only a little annoying.

While I was at Dad’s, I did notice that Yara had somehow ripped a pad near her wrist. Of course I discovered this the Saturday before Christmas and had no ability to call my vet! There was a good chunk of dried pad hanging off that I think she’d been chewing on. She didn’t seem bothered by it and as it wasn’t on her paw I didn’t think it was a huge deal. Keith looked at it and said it appeared to already be healing up and wasn’t red or oozing anything. I have absolutely no idea when or how she ripped the pad, but a few days later she gnawed off the excess bit hanging off, which promptly ceased my worrying.

Since we’ve been back home, things have been pretty mundane. We’re finally working with a pretty regular routine now and Yara seems to be adjusting fairly well. She was a bit off color about a week ago and she got sick in the middle of Walmart much to my embarrassment, but otherwise we haven’t had much issue. The weather has been horrible for outside traveling, though, so we haven’t had much chance to do curb work which is annoying. Megan called last week to check up on us and I made a point to note that as we’re due for a home evaluation at some point. Hopefully we’ll be able to find somewhere decent to work whenever Fidelco comes to see us.

I’ve got many a cute photo of the girl, but for now I tease you with this photo to the right because it makes me laugh:

Yara lying next to me on the bed covering my mouth with her paw

And on a completely different topic, in the last few weeks I’ve gotten a lot of comment spam here on the site. If you leave a comment and it doesn’t show up, it probably isn’t an error, but rather it got dropped into moderation. Don’t worry, I’ll see it no matter what, so please don’t try and resubmit. :)

  1. Instead of the normal place cards, everyone was given a little program that detailed the events of the ceremony.

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and yours a very safe and joyful holiday season!
Me and Yara sitting in front of our decorated tree[Photo courtesy of the wonderful Megan, our Fidelco instructor.]

Yara and I have a busy schedule through the holidays, starting off with my uncle’s wedding this afternoon at The Belvedere Mansion. Which is to say, we’ll probably be rather absent for a bit; but fear not, we promise to be back in the new year with many a witty post and adorable photo. :)

Our Last Day

Yara’s started just ignoring her breakfast the last few days. Yesterday, she actually vomited while we were out, but she wouldn’t eat any of the treats we bought so I guess she’s fine enough. Last night I gave her two cups of food for dinner rather than the standard cup and a half and she ate it all up, albeit very slowly.

Anyway, we went to Crossgates Mall yesterday. Megan and I both were rather surprised that it wasn’t more crowded, but still we got a good share of pedestrian traffic to work around and a lot of strange obstacle work. Yara did excellent, as always. She walked me into another store front window that kind of jutted out, but all I did was drop the handle and she worked right around it the second time. We did some escalator work (read: gave me heart failure). I loathe escalators with a fierce passion, but Yara didn’t mind them at all. In fact, she kept indicating them when we’d pass by another set and would bring me right up to them even when I’d try to work her passed. It was amusing. We also did our first elevator and I think this time Yara nearly had heart failure as it was a glass one and she seemed rather positive if she got too close to the edge she was going to fall off or something untoward would happen. Poor baby. She was fine once I moved over a bit so she could turn in the opposite direction and not be so preoccupied with her possible demise.

Yara curled in a ball, lying in the corner by the front doorLater on, we went out to dinner at Pinhead Susan’s for our “Fidelco meal” and it was pretty packed. Yara was a total lazy bum and lounged out as much as she could under our table and my chair. Surprisingly, I’d never eaten there before! We’d had a slice of pizza at the mall, and I actually had some breakfast, but I was starving by the time we arrived and hardly could decide on what to get. I had some turkey artichoke dip sandwich thing and it was pretty yummy.

Today was our last official “day” of training and so we did all our paperwork and I signed my contract. Then, since it’s literally freezing out, we went to Walmart and did some laps while we shopped around. Nothing too strenuous and Yara was a total angel the entire time. She didn’t make even one mistake; I’m incredibly proud!

With the exception of a trip to NYC that will happen “sometime” that finished up everything we needed to do for our training. I can’t believe how fast it went! I’m kind of sad, to be honest, but I think it was really a very thorough ten days and I definitely learned a lot. As for Yara, I think it’ll be a wonderful match.

I leave you with one more grainy cell phone photograph above and now I am off for I am quite hungry. More updates on my lovely girl to come.

Free at Last

What a fun and tiring day!

We walked a slightly different route downtown today and got to practice some more turns and halts. We also incorporated a bit of steady to both avoid slipping all over on the ice and also to ease her force when pulling in harness. Yara’s very responsive to verbal commands so I found it totally unnecessary to use the harness cues to get her to slow it down. I really like that, Dolly was always very hard to get to slow down and it used to drive me insane when I was walking on less than perfect ground. Megan told me later that she is very happy with our progress and while there’s still a lot to do she can see the foundation there to build on. She’s noticed both Yara and I seem more settled and relaxed with one another and I fully agree.

Yara’s being very finicky with eating. I’ve been saving what she hasn’t finished and mixing in new food and last night she dug through her food and mostly ate the fresher kibble. This morning she didn’t touch her food. So I decided that tonight I’ll try all new food and I tossed the leftovers. I talked with Megan about it and she seemed to think it’s a sound idea, she even suggested mixing in some of the “cookies,” or meat treats, Fidelco provided me to further entice Yara to eat.

Today’s obedience included working on leave it and both sit-stay and down-stay. With the leave it exercise Megan would distract Yara with a treat and I would tell her to leave it and then get her to target me. We increased the complexity a bit and I think Yara had some fun working her way through our logic. She’s so funny sometimes, she gets so excited and starts anticipating what we want and she’ll just plop her butt down into a sit right on top of my foot! Megan seems pleased with us, she said that Yara’s very attentive to me and looks right at me when I give commands. Very good indeed.

Yara lying on the floor with her back against my dresserOh, and we tried using a prong collar today. Yara’s much easier to control with it both in and out of harness. And unlike the gentle leader she isn’t so incredibly distracted by it. Megan mentioned that as time goes on I probably won’t need anything more than the flat martingale-style collar that Yara always has on and judging from how responsive and eager she is, I tend to agree.

The pièce de résistance for all of us, I think, came afterwards when we let Yara have some free time! We both expected her to tear around the house like crazy and she did do a bit of jumping around and running about as we all walked through the house from my bedroom to the living room. But as soon as Megan and I were sitting on the sofa, she came over and settled herself down by the coffee table near us. Both Megan and I were quite impressed. She’s calmed down so much in such a short time. Megan said I should feel free to give her more free time tonight and tomorrow morning with a few stipulations such as making sure she’s fully relieved and keeping a good watch over her. So, after Megan left and Yara had been given a drink of water and been taken out to “park,”1 I gave her another bit of free time.

Free time for Yara seems to equal nap time. The photo above is horribly dark, I know. It’s very hard for me to take pictures with my cell phone so I’m extra poor with the photographic skills, but I wanted to share it regardless because (a) it cracked me up and (b) you can see her belly! The pictures make her look more darker and black than she really is, but that’s because my cell phone isn’t really a great camera.

Tomorrow we’ll be doing some work in Albany, most likely in the Pine Hills area where I used to live. I think we’re also going to go out to lunch and see how Yara does in a restaurant.

  1. Spell it backwards.

The Terrible Twos

Yara a dark sable German shepherd dog, is pictured lying on the floor looking off to the left.Pictured on the left is my new furry companion, Yara. She’s just over 28 months and, as to be expected, very much a two-year-old dog.

Yesterday was a pretty laid back day. We didn’t do too much beyond letting her explore the house and some basic obedience. Not surprisingly, I learned that I’m not so great about “dog-proofing.”1 Yara discovered all kinds of stuffed animals to try and chew, fish food to sniff, and all manner of things to knock off shelves and tables. Her tail is very long so this isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s clearly going to be an adjustment to have such a young dog again. She’s also quite the whiner, which I found out is rather a common German shepherd thing. Thankfully, she gave me a bit of a reprieve towards the end of the day because I never would have gotten to sleep!

Megan gave me a bit of information overload, I think, but we went over everything from basic care to putting the harness together. One thing I learned was how to “target” with Yara, which is something of a game that Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation uses. I need a bit of practice. We also worked a bit with using a gentle leader on Yara. I found it gave me more control over her when she was being especially exuberant or “mouthy.” I’m not sure Yara enjoys having it on all that much, though.

Today, we do harness work for the first time. Currently it is 23°F and it’s not going to get much warmer! There’s a chance it may even snow!

  1. Dolly has spoiled me.