Archive for May 2009

We’re off to a good start

May 29, 2009

Here we are a little over three weeks since Rocket came to live with us (I started writing this last weekend), and he is settling in quite well.  We have an 11-month-old Golden Retriever of our own (Risa), and she is convinced we have brought home the best toy ever.  Rocket and Risa have become the best of friends, and if they were allowed, I think they’d  spend the entire day, every day,  wrestling with each other.  Sometimes we have to separate them just so we can get a break from the commotion they create.  Risa lets Rocket do anything to him, and I mean anything. He will grab onto her lip and hold on for dear life, and Risa lies on her back and wraps her front paws around him in a big bear hug.  When Risa gets too rough, Rocket dives under a chair or the end table in the living room, wrinkles up his nose, bares his teeth, and he and Risa snap their jaws at each other for a while (all in fun, of course).  It’s quite an elaborate play ritual they have established, and it is fascinating to watch – almost like a choreographed dance they have created that they practice over and over and over again.  I think it will be quite a while before we get to the point where we can sit on the couch in the evening with both of them lying quietly at our feet contentedly chewing on a bone.  But that’s okay – they are both getting a great deal of exercise, and it is helping Rocket to sleep well at night.

Training Rocket has been going amazingly well.  We have had assignments to work on since the day we picked him up, and Rocket is proving to be a quick learner.  One of the things I appreciate is the amount of support Helping Paws provides.  We have weekly classes where we learn to teach the puppies the new skills and have our questions answered.  So far, Rocket is learning to watch me, respond to his name, sit, go into his crate, accept handling and grooming, and that coming to us is always, always a happy, happy event, among other things.  At first glance, the assignment list might look intimidating, but in reality I only need to work with him a few times here and there for just a few minutes at a time each day; after all, puppies don’t have great attention spans at this age,  and as time progresses, I’m sure I’ll get better at integrating training opportunities into my daily routine.    In addition, we’re also concentrating on socializing Rocket; we have assignments to have him meet several new people each week.  He is also being introduced to new situations, such as visits to a vet’s office and pet stores.  Rocket is doing great with all of this – he’s quite the social butterfly and has lots of self confidence.  He’s a real trooper, and we’re having tons of fun with him!

Here’s a little example of one of Rocket’s play sessions with Risa.  In this particular game they are using an old stuffed goose toy (sans the stuffing – that was history a long time ago):

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A New Arrival

May 9, 2009

I am starting this blog to keep an account of the training process we go through with Rocket, an 8-week-old Golden Retriever foster puppy who arrived at our house on May 1st (2009) courtesy of Helping Paws of Minnesota.  We expect that he will be living with us for about two and one-half years, and during that time we will be taking him to weekly training classes at Helping Paws, with the ultimate goal being that he would be placed with someone as a service dog.

Friends have been asking me, “How do you give a dog up after living with him for two and a half years?  Won’t it be hard?”  My answer to that is that I’m sure it will be hard.  After only a week in our house the little stinker has already captured my heart.  However, I don’t think it will be as difficult as having to say good-bye to a dog due to cancer, thinking specifically of Fuji, my once-in-a-lifetime dog who succumbed to lymphoma two years ago.  If I know that Rocket will be well cared for and well loved, it will be a big help.  And I am confident that Helping Paws wouldn’t place a dog with someone who didn’t meet those criteria.

I’ll update more later about the training process we have already started.  For now, here’s a picture I took today – I have to say that a Golden puppy is about as cute as you can get – wouldn’t you agree?

Rocket at 8 weeks old

Rocket at 8 weeks old