Tags: alsatian wolf dog

My Mind Escapes Me

Update On Tesla / Service Dog Stuff

I haven't made any updates in a while about Tesla's training progress. Nothing too ground shattering had happened, just working through his adolescent stuff. It was all going fairly well, he was doing well at doctor's appointments and in public, fine in pet stores and anywhere else we went. Bracing well, starting to retrieve objects in public, more challenging scenarios.

But then there was an incident involving a pack of nasty reactive dogs belonging to an irresponsible neighbor of family we visited. They were constantly fence fighting trying to antagonize Ember and Tesla, who ignored them.  At one point the bad dogs started fighting with each other right next to the fence, and because I was near the fence when it happened, Tesla ran toward me and them, to defend me.

I stepped in to stop him, grabbing his collar to hold him back, because the other dogs were small and I was worried he would be blamed for hurting them or of him getting hurt. I lost my balance and used my hand to steady myself on the ground. The most aggressive of those bad dogs pushed through/under the chain fence at that point and nailed my hand while trying to get at Tesla, and the whole thing got Tesla real upset.

I actually ended up having a pain induced syncope episode and passed out after I managed to stumble deliriously inside with partial tunnel vision.  I had to go to the emergency clinic and report the incident. Then went through a horrible experience of having an allergic reaction to the antibiotics they gave me as precaution for the animal bite.
Ever since that happened, Tesla has been reactive to other dogs and more protective in general.  Any time he sees dogs in public, he has outbursts.  I have been working for months trying to re-socialize him, and just when it seems like we have progress, something happens to undo it.
Like the amazing day of Tesla going with me to the hospital for doctor's appointments and radiology stuff. Got all sorts of comments on how well behaved he was, etc. Then we stopped by our local pet store to see friends and get his claws ground, since I was having bad wrist trouble.
He was fine with dogs already behind the counter, peeking over to see them curiously while we waited our turn. A man suddenly comes in despite that I was right against the door and there was clearly no space with big Tesla standing there too. The guy had some sort of Pekinese or similar, and the dog was straining at the leash panting like crazy pulling to get into the salon... right into Tesla's face.  Which triggered an outburst.
It's difficult. I now feel like I am "that person, with that kind of dog".  I have worked with dog reactivity, but none of my own personal dogs have ever been this bad off.
I am at a point now where I don't have much choice but to consider Tesla a washout. Unless I can drastically change the behavior to where it wouldn't be a liability.  I don't have the money for taking him to repeated long term reactive dog classes to try and sort the issue out, and I am not sure it would fix things enough to allow him to ever not have that liability. Unfortunately assistance dogs cannot be reactive in the way he is acting.
He'd be perfect for Schutzhund IPO work.  Which is the next thing we are going to try, to see if putting the reaction under controlled environment and command will help him understand he should not react that way unless asked to do so, and only in the IPO "game" situations. It's sort of like a kid going to karate.  They learn discipline and skills and time and place for using those skills and energy, in controlled environments or situations.
Even with the specific training, there is no guarantee it will work well enough that I can keep working Tesla as my assistance dog. Even with the right training, he probably never will be 100% again.  There might be too much liability if there is even a slight chance he might become reactive at the wrong place and time.  Granted, this could happen with ANY dog, even one who has never shown any reactivity.  They are animals, not machines. At this rate I don't have many options.

I will probably need to get another dog, if by some miracle I can't make Tesla work out. I run into the same problem as before.  As much as I want to keep Tesla and I am really attached to him, I don't really have the financial means to keep 3 large dogs ( Ember, Tesla, and whoever new dog is ) if I do need to start all over again and get another dog.  Especially since we'd be looking at a larger breed like a mastiff type dog. I'm just not sure I can try owner training again,between the financial and emotional strain. Raising these dogs from tiny pups and then them being perfect except for some random fluke reason, too much emotional hurt in it and feeling like a failure when I have been forced to rehome them.

I am still on CPL's waiting list, but have not heard anything back besides forms to update my information periodically.  I am not hopeful I will hear anything anytime soon.


I am at a point where I am ready to give up if this working dog training doesn't work.  Maybe I'll just become a hermit and not leave the house anymore.
This week starts the Schutzhund IPO training with someone I was introduced to who has experience with police K-9s and military working dogs. He is familiar with the most high drive of working dog lines, which will be a valuable asset in trying to reshape Tesla's behavior.
Fingers crossed this will all somehow work out. I will post more updates along the way.  Positive thoughts for us are greatly appreciated.
lwdoodle

In Boxes, Crafty Things, Dogs

In Boxes
So busy.  Driving back and forth to Texas, trying to find the energies and lack of pain to sort and pack up more things.  Helped Mike get settled in to the new place. Things didn't go the way we originally planned; when do they ever?  Lack of Uhaul Northeast side meant all of our belongings and furniture that was at his grandmother's ended up having to stay there.  Which meant he only came with what he could cram and Tetris into his car, most of that room being taken up by his work computers and chair and work necessities, and a handful of other stuff he could jam in.  So once again we started with nothing and had to get new furniture and things, with the hope his family will go and take pictures of the stuff we left and sell it so we can get some money back for it, but the likelihood of that happening anytime soon is slim. Lots of stress, the move almost not happening because Mike's pay drops so drastically from the supposed "cost of living" difference. Which is horrible that companies can do it and base it however the hell they base it off local rent costs or whatever, because when you base it off a city that has reduced prices because of the nearby military base then of course that might be cheaper - only if you live on the base and have access to the reduced base prices. But the rent isn't. And milk and other things still cost as much when you are on civilian side.  It's disgusting that by relocating to get closer to work, it basically set him back to his beginning pay rate, removing 3yrs or so worth of raises and a promotion to a higher position.  But job opportunities and affordability long term is better, so it was worth doing. It just means things are going to be insanely tight for a while.

Crafty Things
I have all sorts of things going on and in the process of being completed art and creativity wise and with related efforts. The ceramic rattles are completed, but they were one of the first things I moved via car to ensure they wouldn't be damaged. I will get pictures of them next trip and get them posted online for sale, though I might ask Mike to take a few teaser shots of them I will share via Patreon for anyone interested in catching them before they are released to the general public.  Most of my art supplies are going to be packed away until they can be relocated, but I will try to keep out some basic things like a sketchbook, my Wacom for digital, and maybe a few other odds or ends. All of my corals are doing well.  I have finally grown some out enough to where I can frag them, and plan to have those frags up for sale when I do.  Moving the tank and its inhabitants is going to be all sorts of insanity, but I already have it planned out and hope to document the process and share it later.  I have been prepping plants for bonsai and doing my annual collection of flowers for drying. The Sweet Olive and Gardenia smell so wonderful.  I have a few ceramics items that are glazed but not yet fired, so I really need to run the kiln and fire them before they get packed for travel.  Making of new items is on hold for the moment.
Dogs
Ember stayed with Mike so I could focus more on working with Tesla individually, similar to how I did back with Journey.  Training has been a little slow going with all of the other crazyness going around, and my body having an absolute fit. My ankle has been messed up over a month now, making it painful and hard to walk.  Poor Ember was getting to a point where I was having to give her more medicine when she was more active going places with me, and it was clearly effecting her behavior and her ability to alert accurately, to where I decided it was in her best interest not to work her anymore.  As a DDR line descendant GSD, Tesla is a very high drive dog, and far more challenging to work with.  I'm still not completely certain he has the correct behavior for assistance dog work.  He'd be excellent for Schutzhund and IPO activities without a doubt. In fact, I have been in contact with a local Schutzhund club and we went out this weekend to meet some of them and see them work their dogs.  Tesla even got to become acquainted with some nosework for tracking. Tesla is insanely strong for his size, and he has a beautiful bite and grip when engaged in play.  It's just honing in the focus and building the self control over those instincts, and helping build his "on/off" switch that might prove to be an issue. He is a puppy though, so I am hoping I can shape it and use that drive to our advantage, in a controlled fashion that will make him the best working dog he can be.

Going back to the topic of size, that is really the only other concern I have with Tesla. I am not sure if he will be big enough.  His growing rate is more closely resembling Chakotay's, which was on the smaller side for a male Shepherd.  Journey was huge by this age, but he also had obvious physical issues as a result despite my best efforts to do everything right to ensure physical soundness.  You just can't beat genetics.  Still, at 4 months old ( going on 5 ), I feel like even Chakotay was larger by this point.  But it could just be that I am so worried about if Tesla will work out or not after Journey and Chakotay washing out, that my mind is playing tricks on me.  We went in for Tesla's last round of puppy shots/ rabies vaccine. I discussed it with the vet. With his current rate of growth, unless he hits a huge growth spurt, she isn't sure he will be more than 60lbs.  He is a very strong little dog, even now.  But I need the size. He needs to be tall enough for full mobility assist and have a sound structure for the weight bearing support work and counter balancing.  Once again I am not sure how this will play out.  If he ends up being too small, I might not be able to use him, even if he is physically sound otherwise. Ideally a person my size should have a dog no less than 80lbs, preferably 100lbs+ for the mobility assist I require. With Ember, I fudged a lot and always used an additional surface/wall/furniture/whateve
r so I didn't hurt her.  Now I am to the point where I can't do that anymore, even if Ember was still young and workable, my body just can't tolerate as much as it used to. I need a larger dog.  I am really hoping Tesla will be that dog.
lwdoodle

Meet Tesla



This is Tesla.  His registered name is Tesla Leuchtet Den Weg vom LhunThyla ( Tesla Lights The Way - from LhunThyla ; my owner/kennel tag ).

Tesla is an AKC registered German Shepherd ( Alsatian ).  He is 13 weeks old.  I have had him for about a week, but didn't want to post anything publicly till I knew for sure I was keeping him.  He is a Galliard, born Waxing Gibbous ( a day shy of Ahroun! ) . Very vocal and likes to tell you about all the things.  He has a great personality and is already more like Journey was in his confidence levels, which is a good thing. Certain personality traits about Tesla remind me of Journey and Chakotay both.

Tesla's namesake is in honor of Nikola Tesla, famous Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity system, wireless communications, experiments in wireless power transmission, and much more.  Tesla coils, anyone? :D
The symbology behind "lighting the way" is both toward that namesake, and the hope he will light the way for me as my new service dog.  So far he is doing well with basic training and everything he is exposed to in public.  His hips and body structure look great; he does the "Superman sprawl" which is an early sign hips should be okay.
When I went to meet him and was doing the initial evaluation, he was quite the character.  While talking to the breeder, I set my treat pouch down off to the side. Next thing we knew, puppy had picked the whole thing up and was happily trotting back toward the garage carrying it!  A metal trash lid dropping right behind him when he wasn't expecting it and umbrella/object testing did not phase him, he had quick recovery. He happily greets strangers and other dogs.
As long as the OFA xrays come back good, he will be clear medically.  As long as he can overcome any adolescent fear periods he might have, he should be okay behaviorally.  Fingers crossed he will be the one.  Third GSD is a charm?  Lets hope so.
I will be setting up a fundraiser to help cover his medical and xray expenses, and so we can get into some training classes for socialization as soon as possible.  Anyone interested in donating can send donations to leopardwolf@gmail.com  via PayPal.  I am offering artwork or creative things in return, based on donation amounts for anyone interested.  Thank you for your help and support!



Follow along here:  http://www.facebook.com/JourneyWithServiceDogs


lwdoodle

Chakotay Update, more setbacks

TLDR: Chakotay's service training had more setbacks. Questioning how much longer to keep trying to make him something he simply might not be.

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I met mom in Slidell yesterday to go shopping for some new clothing, since all mine are about to fall apart. Decided to try taking both Ember and Chakotay with us.

Chakotay was...... ehh.  He was still way too weary even with Ember around and he was leery of different people, especially if they got too close. Some store clerks were moving a clothing rack and he saw it from some 300ft away and suddenly put on the breaks, causing me and Ember to whiplash into him.  When I realized what had him concerned, I walked him to it and asked the guys if they would roll it toward us and I went over and pet it to show him it was okay. He tolerated it ( he didn't have a choice since he was on leash ) but he was not comfortable with it. Ember on the other hand was all happy wiggly and wanted to nudge the rack when I pet it, as a target behavior. She did that because she was hoping I would let her say hello to the two clerks as a reward.

Chakotay's body language for the few hours we were out just said he was not enjoying any of it.  We stopped for food and Chakotay didn't want to stay settled under the table, even though there was plenty of room for both him and Ember. He would lay down and then sit back up a few moments later, much like the restlessness during store training exercises at Petsmart and Petco. The longer we are out, I have noticed he will get more restless and nudge me to let me know he is uncomfortable and wants to leave. He did this in the department store even with Ember present.  Any time we moved back in the direction of the store entrance he wanted to pull to hurry us on our way faster, same as he does in the pet friendly stores when he has had enough.

Mom saw some of it, but I don't think she understood what she was seeing ( she knows some stuff she learned from me, but doesn't know how to read a dog as well ) or really realized how bad it was till we were close to getting ready to leave the restaurant. Mom had to get up and leave the table a few times, and her and I both had to keep repositioning our legs to stay comfortable. Any time Chakotay remotely thought either of us was getting up to leave, he was getting up to try and move from under the table.

This is something I worked on a lot with Ember and Journey, and now with Chakotay. Holding a stay position, waiting patiently and quietly. He is great with it at home, and he was great with it as a puppy up until the fear period started. We even practiced under tables and other objects similar to how I trained him to wait for a release command from his kennel when I open it.  He understands the cue and what I want him to do and in the past didn't have problems with it.

Anyway, we were getting ready to leave and I gave a clear verbal stay command with the hand signal and indicated to mom to go ahead and get up ( Chakotay could not see me tell her ) while at the same time I again gave the stay commands to the dogs as she was moving to stand and I was swinging my legs out so I could get myself into position to let the dogs come out and get on my feet. Ember didn't flinch, waiting for me to release her.

Chakotay on the other hand suddenly acted like he was on fire and came barreling out from under the table, trampling Ember who was at the open end of the table ( I sat him by the wall on purpose to control his movement )......and slammed right into my legs and through them.  I don't know what hurt more. Chakotay hitting them or the impact causing them to slam against the pole and underside of the table. It was very unpleasant.

I was biting back pain, embarrassed because of his behavior startling people across from us ( who I apologized to ), with Ember and mom both checking with me to make sure I was okay because they knew I had been hurt by it.  I was holding Chakotay by the collar at that point to make him stay in place while I let Ember out and tried to get up. The whole time he was yancy and clearly ready to GTFO.

Mind you nothing at all bad had happened all day. He didn't have to go relieve himself because I made sure to let them both do so before we went into the place to be safe.  He simply had enough for the day and wanted to go back to the car because he knows eventually we will go "home" in it and he doesn't have to be out in public anymore.

Mom couldn't believe he'd done that. She's never seen any of my dogs behave that way, mostly because they all know better.  Sure sometimes they jump the gun if they get excited, but a quick reminder would set them right again.  Even as big of a clumsy dork as Journey could be, he never behaved that way, even when closer to the end of his short career he was clearly not wanting to work because he was in pain. He was grumbly and somewhat impatient but he never plowed through me in his desire to leave a place.

I was hoping having Ember around would help Chakotay more than it did, especially in the non-pet places we go for public access training.  The more I evaluate him and watch his behavior in public with our short training sessions, and go back and look at video I take, I'm just not so sure he will grow out of this; it has been going on since August without improvement.

Him finally interacting with the handful of people that one day in Petsmart was only because I let Ember spazz and say hello to people to try and make it a happy fun thing and missing out on the excitement was enough to overcome any concern he had about the situation.  I can't do that every single place we go with every single person or thing we come across that he might be uncomfortable with. I also can't take both him and Ember together every single time.

It takes a lot of energy to safely handle and direct one, let alone two large dogs in coordinated movement. Especially when one is a strong puppy who clearly doesn't want to be out in the first place. I just don't always have the physical ability to do it.
While Ember's presence seems like it might be enough of a distraction to boost his confidence some, I can't say if it will change enough for him to grow out of this phase completely.  I also have some concern about him somehow becoming dependent on her presence as being the only way he feels confident enough in public.
I can't help but somehow feel like a failure all over again.  I haven't done anything vastly different with Chakotay than I did with raising Journey, that may have inadvertently caused the behavior shift.  After this most recent outing, I'm not sure what to do anymore.  We are so far behind on training skills, mostly because the primary training and reward systems we use at home won't work in public ( he currently won't take food rewards or toy rewards in public ). I have tried relaxation protocol and methods to get him to relax and focus on me, with no luck.

I am in essence forcing him into situations he is not comfortable with simply by the action of taking him out in public anywhere.  Even places he has gone to since he was a tiny puppy and previously been happy to visit. But if I don't take him, he won't get the exposure or continued socializing he needs.  Which even if he washes out as a service dog, he should still have these skills and experiences to be a balanced pet dog.
How long do I keep trying? If he was a program trained dog, he probably would have already been washed and career changed because it would be a risk to the handler and dog both.  He already has a problem with being exposed to common every day stressful situations that a service dog is required to face, and it is pretty unlikely to change.   So rather than invest time and money into trying to overcome that and train past it and hope it works, they cut the dog loose and move on.
I just hate the reality of having to look at it that way, because he is obviously more than just an object to me.  I have become so much more attached to Chakotay in a shorter time than I was with Journey.

My heart wants more than anything to make it work because I love him and I have bonded with him and invested so much into him already.  But my gut instinct tells me it just isn't meant to be. If I was to evaluate him from a neutral standpoint like I would any client's dog, it is painfully obvious from that perspective he isn't a good fit as it currently stands.

So then what do I do? Finding a good home for him is going to be so much more difficult. He'd need someone that was not only familiar with GSD, but someone who is familiar with working with a dog that might live the rest of their lives on the high strung side.
Then what?  Search for another puppy or a young adult dog and try again? Maybe a Rottweiler instead?  They are larger, which is what I need.  Or do I try and find a Labrador, Golden Retriever, or a mix of those breeds and hope it will be big enough? On average most only get around 75lbs on the larger side. A Rottie will easily top out at 120lbs or more.

Going through any reputable breeder who actually OFA HD/ED checks their dogs and does temperament testing and goes by health standards, I am looking at $1k plus easily (unless I can find someone willing to work a price for me for the dog being a service dog, which is less likely for pedigree working dogs).

I always encourage rescue over buying, but as I have discussed in the past, with needing something so specific for a working dog career, it is hard to find a dog that can live up to the standards health and behavior wise from the shelter ( especially with high rate of heartworm positive dogs here in Louisiana ) or hobby breeders.
Maybe I could try fostering for local rescues to see if I could find a potential candidate. It could help save a life by simply being a temporary home if the dog wasn't the right fit, with no long term commitment to keep the dog if it didn't work out for whatever reason.
Otherwise the only choice is just keep waiting and applying for a program dog, and hope nothing happens to Ember before I get accepted and paired with a successor dog.

Then I have to hope either the dog is offered free of charge, or that I can somehow come up with the money to travel wherever I need to go and to cover the cost of the dog ( which is likely $5k to $7k easily with travel, hotel, food, aid to come with me, etc. ).

The money from the service dog fund is completely gone now, used on expenses for Ember and Chakotay.  The service dog fundraiser hasn't seen any activity despite me sharing and asking for help and even offering artwork commissions and things in exchange for it, because I hate having to ask for help and not being able to offer something in return.
The whole situation has been very difficult and trying.  Chakotay is a great dog. I'm just not sure he will ever be comfortable enough to work in public.
lwdoodle

Chakotay Update

Hey everyone. Apologies for the lack of updates about Chakotay lately, but there hasn't been a whole lot to report with him in the fear period.  I have been keeping Chakotay home and just practicing basic skills and not much else. I took him out a few times, once every two weeks or so to try and get him over the fear period, but it was always the same reactions of suspiciously shying away and caution barking even at people he has known since he was an 8 week old puppy. Today I decided to try something different. I took Ember with us.

Dogs are social learners, and learn a lot by watching others. Ember is such a moosh and loves everyone that I hoped if I let her say hello to everyone, Chakotay would follow example and be more willing.  I have used a similar technique with other shy or fearful dogs in the past.  First I took him into our local Petsmart alone. Ember waited in the car while it was remote started with AC running. Same nervous reactions he has been displaying, which I recorded if anyone cares for me to share.

Then we went back to the car and took Ember in with us. Chakotay's behavior at first was still hyper vigilant and weary, but slightly less intense. We wandered around some but everyone we knew at the store was busy and it was slow so no one to test with. Then a woman brought her German Shepherd puppy in for grooming, and found her way over to us.  I told her about Chakotay's fear period and asked if she'd like to help, and she happily agreed because she looooves German Shepherds! Ember was total velcro and getting all the love, and surprise surprise!  Chakotay decided he wanted some too!

He even went back several times on his own to ask for more.  Another couple was there with one of their German Shepherds, a huge male pup a month or two older than Chakotay, who was more the size Journey was at that same age.  Chakotay was good about greeting them too with some encouragement and Ember support.  They were all real nice and chatted about the fear period and other dog geek stuff, and we exchanged contact info. Yaay new dog people friends!  Chakotay is still on the smaller side for a male, and seeing him next to this other dog near his same age I just don't think he is going to be a large dog like Journey was, unless he hits a huge growth spurt in the next month or so.  Which may not be ideal if he's going to do full mobility work.  We'll have to wait and see, and put some Miracle Gro in his food in the meantime!

I plan to repeat today's training experiment a few more times to get Chakotay to open up to people again with Ember along, try and see if I can get him interested in treats while doing so, and eventually transition him over to not having Ember along and see how he does. Hopefully he'll go back to being the happy cuddly dork he was with people before the fear period kicked in.
lwdoodle

Money Needed For Fear Based Dog Training Seminar - Commissions Open

By any chance does anyone have $115 to spare before the 15th?  There is a dog training seminar that day that I really need to try and attend.  It's to help Chakotay ( service dog in training ) try and overcome this fear period. The presenter is Debbie Jacobs, CPDT-KA, CAP2 and is specifically geared toward working with fearful and anxious dogs.  It will be invaluable for me to be able to attend and likely have the chance to speak with her and others directly. Not only that, but word is a field trainer from one of the big service dog organizations is also attending.  Again, a chance to talk to these people directly about Chakotay's problems is something I hate to pass up just because I don't have the money for it right now.  I am taking commissions in exchange to make it happen.  Animal art, anthro art, jewelry, sculptures, ceramics, all the art things can be yours!

http://leopardwolf.deviantart.com
lwdoodle

Chakotay's Fear Period

Dog training friends, I am in need of some help.  Chakotay is going through one of the "dreaded teenage phases" ( I try to say that jokingly ) of puppydom.  Better known as a fear impact period.  He's at the 7 month mark, so I understand this is normal and I was expecting it might happen ( even though ironically it never really did with Journey ).  Poor Chakotay has gone from being a confident (but sensitive) sassy pup to having weird reactions to situations, people, objects, and sounds he has always been exposed to or has experienced before and been okay with.

His body language is reserved, he won't take treats/toy rewards like normal, and has avoidance or distancing behavior, so I know he is uncomfortable. People he has known since I got him, he acts suspicious of them and reserved to approach for pets where in the past he'd go right to them for love.  With strangers the behavior is obviously worse with over vigilance and general weariness and wanting to avoid contact.

Same thing with certain environmental stimuli; places we have frequented, smells or sounds he is familiar with, he acts overly surprised, worried, or wants nothing to do with it. It has been hard for me to keep his attention and keep him under his threshold of tolerance because it has varied so much from one point to the next.

I know this is normal behavior during fear periods in adolescent dogs.  My concern is if I cannot help him overcome this, it will disqualify him for being a service dog.

Service dogs need to be friendly toward and accepting of all people and animals they meet, for obvious reasons.  If Chakotay continues to show lack of confidence in public and around strangers, it means he isn't a good fit for the job, and it would be wrong of me to force him to do something he cannot, same as it was with Journey having to be washed for medical reasons.
So for all my canine behavior savvy friends out there, any recommended reading materials or feedback you can offer?  I know the general rules just as it is for the initial puppy fear stages in the 6-12 week or so fear periods and any others. Counter conditioning and desensitizing, make everything as happy and fun and AMAZINGLY positive as possible, do my best to show him it's all normal and nothing to be afraid of, so on and so forth. I plan to continue to socialize him to get the exposure but trying to do so without overwhelming him.  But if he won't take offered rewards/treats for reacting correctly or as part of the OMG AMAZING situation pairing approach, is there anything else I can do to help get the message through to him besides letting him approach as he is comfortable doing so?  Depending on circumstance, he may not want to at all on his own, so I don't want to inadvertently reinforce fear with my own reactions or lack of reactions.

I'm not sure how long I should give him to overcome it.  I know normally you'd just let the dog get comfortable with something at their own pace and work on anything that can boost confidence with that object or situation and confidence in general, which I have already been doing. But I am concerned that as a service dog in training he needs more exposure time than a pet dog would to keep him on track and avoid any huge training setbacks.  It is also a matter of how much time till it passes. I know on average it can be several weeks worth.  But if it lasts past that point, does it mean it may simply just be part of his behavior ( genetically influenced or otherwise ) and accept that he probably isn't cut out for service dog work and go ahead and wash him?

That's not even touching on the other possible problem I may be facing with him; I'm not sure if Chakotay is actually going to be nearly as big as Journey was. He hasn't grown as much as Journey had by this point and his paws are smaller.  I am hoping the fear period is directly related to a developmental growth spurt or something and he is about to supersize himself.
Journey for all intents and purposes was pretty bulletproof from day one, and not much ever really phased him - which was amazing considering how bad some GSD can get.  That's why I am more concerned about Chakotay. From the first day I got him, I already knew he was a lot more sensitive to certain things in ways Journey never was.  Journey just didn't care.  But Chakotay does, and the fear period is amplifying it.  I just want to make sure I do what is best for him.  Even if it means facing a similar situation like I did with Journey.
lwdoodle

Updates, Nirding

I return. Sort of.  I have had a horrible go at it with reoccurring flair ups of my autoimmune issues. No thanks to the stress of having to jump through more hoops to get a little help.

It is better explained here, with neat pictures of my crazy flesh!

http://www.patreon.com/posts/handy-hands-5871180


It is finally letting up enough where I can think somewhat clearly and function enough to venture on here and see what everyone is up to.
I have a ton of little updates to make here or there, mostly passing comments about random things that have happened.
That includes a very random and rapid visit from my friend, the good doctor Jenn.
She brought along her friend and fellow doctor Abby ( who was moving to Louisiana, yay! ) and Abby had with her an awesome gyr-burd.
The nirds taught me great wisdom of avian ways. Shenanigans were had, great photos were captured ( envy of Jen and her snazzy super lens ), tasty gator was partaken and good company shared by all. It was an awesome day and evening full of laughs and animal geekery that I have been dying for.

They got to meet Ember and Chakotay and experience the silly that is service dogs given a "relax and say hi" command.  Chakotay did very good for his first lengthy outing working alongside Ember with all sorts of crazy distractions ( like birds! ).  It was also his first experience doing a long and boring down/stay under a restaurant table.

It was totally worth the recovery time from all the activity afterwards.  They went to the French Quarter the following day before leaving town, and while I wish I could have too, there is no way I could have gone along and managed to keep up. Especially not in the scorching heat and humidity.
Other stuff happened. I found a baby possum skeleton, I saved a fledgling Blue Jay in epic fashion, I have been training with my dorky dogs when my body allows, and I continue to battle medical conditions and fight for the aid I need.  With the Medicaid expansion I am finally getting access to immunological medications and other treatment options, which we hope will better control symptoms.
I think I covered all the main highlights.
lwdoodle

New Service Dog Fundraiser

My birthday is this week, May 21st.  This is the new service dog fundraiser.  If you have a few bucks to spare, please consider helping.  Pass it along too.  Thank you.

http://www.youcaring.com/brittney-steptoe-570453