Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Locked Out

Chopper has had his share of accidents and trips to the vets for ridiculous things but in hindsight the most hilarious thing that dog has ever done is lock me out of my own house.

I had not had Chopper very long at this point and a few friends from work were coming over to hang out - they had gone to pick up food and I had driven home to take Chopper out for his walk. I got to the front door and as usual Chopper came running to the front door to greet me (I could see him through the window). But when I tried to open the door it wouldn't quite open. I told Chopper to move as I thought he was blocking the door. But that didn't work. A few more shoves and odd looks from Chopper and I figured out what had happened. For some reason my door had three locks when I moved in - a deadbolt, a chain and one of those flippy kind that they have in hotels. Chopper had jumped up at some point during the day and flipped the flippy one over just enough that it was keeping me from getting the door open. After a few minutes Chopper stopped waiting for me to come in and went back to his bone (thanks buddy).

Now how to get in. By this time my friends had arrived and we came up with a plan. The windows in the front weren't open enough and the ones in the kitchen would require a ladder but the bathroom window in the back facing the parking lot was open - now it was high but we backed my Blazer up to the window and lowered my friend through the window. It wasn't quite that easy as the window had a screen we had to push out and the window sill was full of shampoo bottles and what not. Needless to say this all made a bit of a racket (not that my neighbors noticed) when it came crashing down into the bathtub and by the time my friend got inside poor Chopper was quite upset.

The first thing I did when I got inside was get a screwdriver and take the lock off the door. I'm not sure Chopper would ever be able to stay in a hotel (ones that would allow it) as he could possibly get himself trapped inside.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Therapy Dog Class: The Conclusion

Well we finished our six weeks of Therapy Dog class. Needless to say Chopper has no fear of wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, large wood boxes falling on the floor and annoying children's toys (but if I drop a remote he jumps three feet in the air - go figure).

On the last day of class some of the dogs were missing (again) so there were only four of us - which Chopper doesn't mind at all. We went through a simulated version of the testing situation since the trainer is not certified to give a therapy dog test for the licensing organizations. The intent with Chopper was never for him to be a therapy dog - he has a few too many neuroses for the time being - but someday it may be in the cards for him. Chopper did extremely well on everything but the trainer didn't give him the "hug test" as we know Chopper is not a fan of this (unless its me doing the hugging).

One area where Chopper has improved leaps and bounds is with the supervised separation. He initially stayed with the trainer but after a few weeks I wanted him to try it with a new person - enter the pretty girl behind the counter. Up until a few weeks ago Chopper wasn't aware she existed - which is how he likes it. She didn't try and pet him before he was ready or even talk to him. Then I started giving her treats to give him while we were waiting for our turn on activities and then it was time for her to take him. The first time I handed the leash over he tried to follow me. The second week he sat on the floor with her. The next week she was awarded with a kiss before class started and needless to say was fine when I left him with her during the separation part of class. Now Chopper and I have taken three back-to-back classes at the Zoom Room so he had about 5 months of seeing her once a week until he was ready to be totally 100% friends with this person. But still it is impressive for him and if she ever needs a therapy dog Chopper will be ready!

All in all we had lots of fun taking the class and now we are doing Agility League which meets up once a week and the dogs run through the obstacles and see who has the best time. Chopper is pretty slow (I'm usually in front of him) and he doesn't like jumping through the tire but I can't get over how well he listens to me and knows where I want him to go (even when I use the wrong words). Agility League runs almost until Christmas so we will be busy until then.

Emergency Preparedness

Living close to the mountains in Los Angeles, which have a tendency to erupt in flames every few years, there have been a few times when I thought I would need to evacuate - along with Chopper. That coupled with his insistence on being somewhat of a walking disaster has made me a little hyper vigilant about dog safety.

I've take a dog safety class where we learned how to do CPR on a dog and the Heimlich maneuver as well (which was needed one time in the car when he started gagging on his own throw up in the middle of East LA). And we have a dog first aid book at home and first aid kit with all the essentials. But a few days ago I came across the Wag'n Pet First Aid Bandanna, and I think it is something we will need to invest in - and possibly give as presents this coming holiday season - and they are only around $10 each!

The basic idea with this product is that all the need-to-know basic dog safety information you need is on the bandanna (but the site does suggest taking a pet first aide course) - and you can use the bandanna as a bandage or muzzle or what not in such an emergency. As someone who takes their dog hiking in an area where there are signs warning of rattlesnakes and a host of other things that could go wrong - I think this product is great.

This site also sells pet-first aide kits and will let you sponsor an pet oxygen mask for your local fire station or first responders. These kits allow firefighters and other first responders to give oxygen to both conscious pets that have suffered from smoke inhalation and unconscious pets that need to be resuscitated after breathing in fumes. Most fire departments don't have the funds for the equipment so it is essential that people step up and purchase these items for their community. It is $70 to send a kit to your fire department and because October is National Fire Safety Month the shipping and handling is covered through the end of the month!