I have had what I thought was a tooth ache for days now. Dentist could not fix it. Am taking Advil like candy. Never had this before. It's debilitating and the one thing on my mind is -- stop the pain. I now realize that the statement I've been making for over 25 years to persons I've trained assistance dogs for is the absolute truth-- "If your dog is not in good health, if it is experiencing any type of pain, it can not do it's job properly--do not expect it too". Therefore, keep your dog in good health at all times. I am living proof of this. When I'm feeling up to snuff I get my weekly post done on time. This week, with the aggravation of not only my tooth but now both my upstairs and downstairs teeth "barking " at me, I completely forgot to do my blog. And since the only thing I can concentrate upon is getting rid of the pain it just made sense to hit hard, the fundamental fact: working dogs must be kept in good health in order to do their best work. Take all necessary preventative steps to insure that your dog is feeling good and if something is off--- get to the vet.
Alzheimer's dogs can come in any size, shape, color. So, for those of you that already have a dog that you feel would be able to learn the Alzheimer's dog's work task---you do not have to be concerned about your dog's size.
For those people who do not yet have a dog I would strongly advise that you get my book CAREGIVER FOLLOW ME because I have addressed, in detail, exactly what ingredients (traits) you want to have in your dog so that you have set the dog up to be able to learn what it has to know. Why not make it as easy for yourself as trainer and your dog as student?
Now is the time for you to stack the deck. I have also given you the actual test that you will be using in order to test various dogs to be able to determine that you have the best canine trainee possible.
As I've stated in the book, it is not a full proof test but it is the best that the world has to offer. After you've tested a few dogs you will understand what I mean when I say that you can actually see the differences in the dogs you've tested.
I am a firm believer that it is wrong to ask a dog to do something that it can not do. There is such a big difference between not being able to do something as opposed to won't do something.
You want the dog's attention to be on you. To help facilitate this, you will use some form of correction collar on the dog. These collars are designed to gain the dog's attention quickly, and if used correctly, in a humane manner. You will not manhandle your dog. Rather, you will let the dog know that together, you are in a schooling situation; you as teacher, the dog as student. When you have the right size collar placed on the dog correctly, the collar is attached to the lead properly, you are holding the lead appropriately, and using both collar and lead as directed, you will be amazed at how quickly your dog responds to you as a dog handler. I repeat:
1. Have the right size collar for your dog.
2. Have the collar on the dog correctly.
3. Have the collar attached properly to the lead.
4. Hold the lead appropriately.
5. Apply a suitable "Pop-and-Release" attention-getting correction.
(The above photo shows a dog trying to forge ahead. The collar is probably on wrong and definately the handler has no slack in the lead. This is a good example of using the correction collar and lead incorrectly. The handler is sabotaging everything. The dog is choking as it strains against the collar/lead and the handler has absolutely no slack left in the lead to make any correction that is needed to help the dog understand what is expected of it. The dog's not learning anything positive.)
If you fail to comprehend and perform any of these things you will jeopardize your success, like the two poor dogs on this page, they are uncomfortable and unhappy. Rather, set yourself and your dog up for success, not frustration and failure.
Even though she had been having hip problems for the past year, she had only slowed down alittle. Just yesterday she was cruising around the back yard, digging in the dirt, having a great time. We went to bed last night, everyone of the critters tucked into their beds scatter around my bedroom. We slept great. Got up and MJ's back legs would not hold her up. Looking into her eyes I knew. She's now in my "critter resting place" behind my barn in my woods with all of her friends. I know for certain they were all there to greet her as she passed over the rainbow bridge.
I found Micki-Jean languishing in an animal shelter. She was a stray. No one knew anything about her history, only that she did not have much longer before they were going to to put her to sleep. She passed the assistance dog test with flying colors so I scooped her up and brought her home. She delighted me. I guessed that she was part corgi, part spaniel. Her front legs were shorter than her hind legs so she always sat crooked, and she usually had one ear up and alert, the other at half-mast. To me she was beautiful, with a comedian's personality. She was known best for her "Betty-Boop gait. Micki knew all of her sounds for hearing dog and Alzheimer's dog. She was a tremendous canine advocate for assistance dogs, performing demonstrations whenever I needed her. She has gone from my hands but never my heart.