Thursday, November 29, 2007

Week 3

Tonight was Week 3 of Palmer's obedience school and for the first time, we witnessed the magic of the Gentle Leader. We walked at the park today with about 10 other dogs (of all shapes, sizes, and personalities) and Palmer didn't bark, growl, or lunge at any of them. Why? Because of the Gentle Leader! It is an amazing leash training system that puts pressure around the dogs snout to communicate leadership in a non-aggressive way. Our homework for this week is to use the Gentle Leader whenever we take Palmer out for a walk.

After the park walk, we came back in to do some more recalls -- this time with our backs faced to the dog. Images of last week's recall failure flashed through my mind. I was short of breath and nervous that our practice over the Thanksgiving break wouldn't pay off. I walked to the end of the room, turned around and called for Palmer. Palmer... Palmer, Come here! A few seconds later, Palmer was by my side! Good boy, Palmer! We're making progress.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Well wishes & Bad habits

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes... the Palmer pie is doing just fine. Lab results came back normal and vet said it could have just been a brief case of gastroenteritis. At least I have peace of mind.

In other news, Palmer seemed to enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend as much as I did. We both:
  • Sat around and did nothing for 3 days straight
  • Overstuffed ourselves with food and treats
  • Spent good, quality time with our loved ones

Unfortunately, over the 4-day weekend, my dad, Johnny, and I picked up a horrible horrible habit of holding Palmer to sleep. Just before the holidays, I had given Palmer a really thorough bath. He was so soft and smooth and smelled so squeaky clean that it made for ideal cuddling conditions. On separate occassions, we each gave into the irresistable temptation but together vowed it would never happen again! Take a look:

The last picture of Palmer and me is hilarious because neither of us woke up when my dad took the picture! And, my mom said that Palmer tried multiple times to pull his feet up onto the couch to be more comfortable but as he dozed off, they would slide right back down again.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Visit to the Vet

I brought Palmer to the vet today because his entire body was shivering and trembling uncontrollably this morning. I tried to Google his symptoms but that only made me worry more so I scheduled an appointment with the vet. When we went, she didn't find anything from his physical exam but will call me about the lab results tomorrow. Will keep you posted...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Come here, Palmer!

So, Johnny, Palmer, and I attended our second session of obedience training tonight and we had our very first obedience test. Our instructor pulled out a 10 foot lead and the 'test' was to see if your dog would 'come' when you called him from across the room. That's fine and dandy if we were at home, I thought, but in the middle of the room, surrounded by strange and overly active dogs? Johnny immediately turned to me, gave me a quick pep talk, said 'You can do it!' and started humming 'Eye of a Tiger'. I started to sweat ...

I was so nervous, I didn't really listen to the instructions so I was happy to see that they started on the other end of the room. The first dog that went was a beautiful little sheltie. Palmer and I watched as the 'teacher's pet' pranced with the instructor to the other end of the room (the instructor suggested earlier that she move up to the intermediate class because she was 'too advance' for the basic class). Pshh. So anyway, as expected, the little sheltie-girl trotted over to her owner right on cue.

Next up was a big lovable chocolate labradoodle named Jasper. He has this dopey, happy-go-lucky attitude and right when his owner called, he leaped and bounded his way over... but got distracted at the last minute by some peanut butter on the floor and made a quick swerve to the left. But, his owner grabbed his collar and the recall was considered a success.

A big drooling monster of a dog was next -- the massive mastiff, Casseus. He overpowered his owner (a docile, gentle senior) just in walking across the room, surely he wouldn't 'come' when called! There's gotta be one dog that messes up before its our turn to go!! Not Casseus. From across the room, his owner yelled powerfully, Casseus, boy. Come here! Casseus!... and good ol' Casseus came.

A few dogs later, it was Palmer's turn. All of a sudden, it was cold in the room and my body was shivering. I must've been experiencing some higher level of nervousness since my normal reaction to tense situations is to sweat (so I look like I'm sitting in a sauna). I unhook our lead, and attach the 10-foot lead to Palmer. The instructor walks with him to the end of the room. Ready, set... Palmer! Come here Palmer! Palmer! ... nothing. I look over and Palmer is happily sitting at the foot of the instructor waiting for a treat. Again, Palmer! Palmer! Come here Palmer! and I see him wagging his tail, sitting patiently, priding himself in his discipline to sit. He thinks he's going to get a treat. 'Maybe if I sit here longer', he's probably thinking. I hear the oohs and the aahs but here I am, calling for a dog that won't come! Last time... Palmer! Come here! Palmer! Finally, Palmer hears my voice, breaks out of his trance, turns to look at me... and comes running. Oh Palmer!! We have a lot of homework to do this week!

Back to School

I know you dedicated readers have been disappointed in the lack of posts day after day but here I am, posting for the first time in almost a week. My apologies.

So since our first day of school, we've cut Palmer's food portion in half. He's still chubbs (as Johnny would say) but his poopie routine has drastically changed. He goes much less and not in a regular pattern as he did before. I think the weight loss and bathroom habits will stabilize eventually, so we're trying to stick to the plan. And in case you were wondering, yes, we still give Palmer treats (doggie treats, some peanut butter, etc.) but as us human-folk are taught... all in moderation.

In addition to downsizing his meals, we've divvied up his food ration to create multiple 'training opportunities' throughout the day. Instead of one or two daily meals, Palmer gets 15 to 20 smaller portions of food. Each portion is used as his reward for sitting when given the hand signal. As our instructor pointed out, in one week, Palmer would have 'sat' anywhere from 105 to 140 times successfully. Great pointer for you doggie parents out there!

Anyway, I think that's enough of an update for now since I am anxiously anticipating our 2nd class tonight. Here is a picture of Palmer planting a big wet one on Auntie Rachel, Auntie Janet and me (thanks to Auntie Genee for taking the great pics!):

Thursday, November 8, 2007

First day of school!

Palmer, Johnny, and I attended our first day of obedience school tonight! Here's how it all went down:

We arrived about 15 minutes early to class to fill out some paperwork and settle into the indoor class environment. When we arrived, we were greeted by very friendly staff members and about 3 other dog/human participants (and more to come). Right away, Palmer started wimpering and whining so we quickly grabbed a seat that was lined up along the wall. The staff was still setting up (filling dog bones with peanut butter, collecting paperwork, etc.) so when they placed partitions between Palmer and the dog to the right and left of us, I thought it was standard procedure. Really, the instructor picked up immediately that Palmer had anxiety and fear of the other dogs so the partitions were there to help ease Palmer's panic. We were the only ones in the entire class that needed the special partitions!! Here's a pic of Johnny comforting Palmer (you can see one of the partitions).

Anyway, the class was great and Johnny and I really like the instructor. At one point during class, she brought each of the dogs up in front of everyone to teach the dog to sit and to quickly assess the dogs health and behavior. Palmer was the second dog to go up and, because of all the practice he gets at home, he did amazingly well! In fact, he sat so well that we got special dispensation from the homework they assigned at the end of the class! If you haven't seen before, once Palmer realizes you have treats in your hand, he'll enthusiastically slam his butt down into the sit position to get his reward. If you step back with the treat, he'll follow and slam his butt down into 'sit' again. He'll follow you around, sitting after every step... until he gets the treat. Anyway, it was a very proud moment for Johnny and me!

So, after the 'sit' exercise, our instructor quickly assessed Palmer (in front of the whole class, mind you). The first thing she told us was that Palmer was fat. How embarassing! Turns out, we've been feeding him up to twice the amount she recommends. The second thing she told us was that his right ear had been broken. That's why his right ear perks straight out instead of up. It pains me to think of what he's been through -- but the ear perk? It's absolutely adorable!! The last thing she told us (this time, not in front of the entire class) was that Palmer's obviously been through some traumatic event and that he's still very fearful of other dogs. She advised us to never take him to a dog park and also gave us a few tips on what to do when Palmer is interacting/socializing with other dogs.

The class was delightfully insightful. I absolutely cannot wait until our next class! More updates to come...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

2 months

This Thursday it'll be 2 months that we've had Palmer and we will celebrate by going with Palmer to obedience school. Johnny and I are as nervous as can be! Anyway, thought I'd post a cute picture of Palmer with Auntie Ann the day after we brought him home. Thanks to Auntie Janet for capturing the Kodak moment!