Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pebbles's Holiday Weekend

Pebbles had a really big week this Thanksgiving holiday! She traveled down to Cincinnati on Tuesday to spend the holiday with Maddie and her family. She went to so many new places (which had so many new smells, so it took a while). She went to Graeter's Ice Cream, a local retirement home, and to Maddie's aunt's house to play with her new best friend, Digory. Digory is also a 4 Paws dog in training, and they both have tons of energy. They played together for hours at a time and it was so fun to watch her run around with another dog.

While Pebbles's was out and about, she also was able to interact with lots and lots of different people. In the past she had shown some nervousness about meeting new people (especially boys and kids) but she was excited about everyone that she met this past week. She's already improved so much just in her three weeks with us!

Although Pebbles had a great time going out around Cincinnati and playing with Digory, she still managed to cause a little trouble at Maddie's house sometimes. Maddie's dogs are both miniature dachshunds, aka MUCH smaller than Pebbles. They are also much older than her and pretty much all played out. But, that didn't stop Pebs from bothering them all weekend long, trying to play with them but it ended up more like beating them up. She didn't understand the difference in size, so she thought that she could rough house with them like she did with Digory, but that didn't work out so well. She also managed to jump up onto every kitchen counter and grab at least one item from each garbage can around the house.

But, other than that, it was a great weekend with Pebbles! Check out some of her pictures from Thanksgiving below!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Terrible Twos

It's our second week with Pebbles and she's starting what we're calling her "Terrible Twos". Of course, she's still an amazing dog and we love having her around, but she hasn't exactly been the easiest puppy to deal with the past few days. She's starting to get very comfortable in her new home, which is great, but there's a fine line between comfortable and too comfortable. Pebs is starting to test our authority, to see exactly what she can get away with and what she can't. Whether it's blatant disregard to our commands, jumping up on the couch, grabbing things from our laundry basket, or chewing up our living room rug, she's done it all.

We've had a couple of different methods to combat her behavior. We use lots of positive reinforcement (treats) for when she's giving us the desired behavior. We also really try to get her out and about as much as possible to use up that excess puppy energy. So far, she still has plenty of energy to spare. Ultimately, we really think that the only way to get rid of her bad behavior is to remain consistent at all times, rewarding her for good things and immediately addressing the bad. We're not worried at all about any permanent issues, but we'll definitely have some trying days ahead of us.

With all that said, there have been plenty of positive things that have happened with Pebbles over the past few days as well! She's continuing to make more and more friends with Wooster students. She's also been much better at staying calm when meeting new people, especially boys, who she had difficulty with earlier last week. Also, we're all so excited for our informational meeting all about Pebbles and the 4 Paws For Ability program! It's Monday, November 19 in Lowry 119 from 7-8pm. If you want to stop by to learn more about her program and what we do, to see about getting involved in the 4 Paws program on campus, or you just want to play around with Pebbles, we'd love to see you there!

Pebbles also learned a new trick this week! Here is a video of her showing off.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

First Off-Campus Outings

Pebbles went to her first public establishment on Tuesday night with Maddie, Colleen, and Taylor. We walked several blocks to the local drug store to purchase hot dogs, a delicious special treat that Pebbles loves. We have decided to only use hot dogs when we are teaching Pebbles new tricks or for encouraging behaviors she needs to work on. It was wonderful to be able to walk into the drug store without anyone questioning us to why we had a dog in the store. People seem to understand that the vest identifies service dogs. Since it was our first time taking her into a public store, it was nice to not have to deal with disgruntled store owners not wanting “pets” in their establishment.

Pebbles was extremely well behaved and did not get into any mischief while in the store. Her only hurdle came as we were exiting the store when a truck with a loud muffler was idling in the parking lot. The loud noise seemed to scare her. However, we had her sit and when we did not seem phased by the noise, neither was she. I would say her outing was a success! She was well behaved and got hot dogs!

On Friday night, Pebbles got the opportunity to experience an Airport! Maddie and Heidi drove with Pebbles to the Cleveland Airport to pick up a friend. She did great the entire way in the car. When we arrived at the airport, there weren't a lot of people at the baggage claim area, which was probably good being that it was her first time in this new environment. We walked around and a family with 4 small children walked past and really want to pet Pebbles. In her past experiences with kids, Pebbles has been quite nervous with them coming up to her, however, she did pretty well with these ones! I gave each of the kids a treat to hold in their hands, and I told them that Pebbles would come up to them. She was a bit cautious at first, but she eventually took all of the treats and let the kids pet her. We picked up our friend and then drove back to Wooster.

Pebbles is gaining more and more experience each day, and we're thrilled to continue working with her :)

More photos on her Facebook page


Monday, November 5, 2012

Pebbles' First Day

Today was Pebbles' first full day with us at the College of Wooster. She's perfect in every way! For the past 6 months she's been training at a prison with the inmates, so she knows quite a bit already. She is pretty well potty trained, she has learned to sit, lay down, high five, handshake, walk on a leash, and is very polite. However, there's always room for improvement, so we're working on perfecting all of these commands, and most importantly, getting her socialized. As a service dog, she will be exposed to all different types of people, sounds, and places, so we want to get her used to as many different situations as possible. It is our hope to be able to take her to class, to Lowry cafeteria, around town, and into stores and restaurants without her getting distracted from her "work" in these surroundings. From her breed (bloodhound/lab mix), she will most likely be a Search and Rescue dog, or an autism dog, but this is all based on how she does in her testing at the end of her training with us. We knew from the start that she would be an energetic little one, but us five are certainly up for the challenge!
So here's what we've been up to so far: We all slept in the living room with her last night, just so she wouldn't feel too alone on her first night, and she slept all through the night without making a sound. In the early afternoon, I took her out for a walk around campus to get her acquainted to the area. We had a few issues passing small children and people with their hoods up, but otherwise Pebbles did an excellent job of heeling and walking nicely around campus. We then went in to the Lowry Student Center where Pebbles was greeted and by many passing students. She did a very good job of staying calm and letting everyone pet her and play with her, and she really enjoyed all of the love. Bringing Pebbles to Lowry was also a great way to start informing students about her and 4 Paws and educating them about what we were doing. Later in the evening she took a stroll through the library, meeting new people and continuing to amaze us with her behavior.
We've still got a ways to go with the work that we hope to accomplish, but so far we feel that it is going quite well, and we couldn't be more excited about the months to come :)

Here is a short video of her training so far.


Sunday, November 4, 2012


Today is the day! We are on our way to Xenia, Ohio to pick up our new dog, Pebbles. We are getting her through the 4 Paws For Ability program. The way this program works is that they will give us a puppy (ours is a 6 month old bloodhound/lab mix) and we will foster and train her for the next 7-10 months. We will be taking her to puppy training classes, potty training her, and teaching her proper behavior to become a service dog. At the end of her time with us, we will return her to 4 Paws where she will go through testing to see which type of service dog she will be best suited for. Being a bloodhound mix, she will most likely be a search and rescue dog, or a seizure dog. The training we do with her is really important because we are laying the groundwork for the work she will be doing to improve someone's life, so it's crucial that we stay disciplined with our training and do the best we can to prepare her. We will be taking her around campus and around the community to get her used to different surroundings and get her used to working with her vest on. So if you see a cute pup with her training vest, don't be afraid to come up to us!

We are extremely excited to start working with Pebbles and help make a difference. We will post photos once we get home!

-Taylor, Colleen, Heidi, Rachel, and Maddie (TCHRM)