Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life is a beach for Paris

I’d like to share an update I’ve received from Paris’s adopters: "Unfortunately, Paris is really struggling to adapt to her new home. Her debilitating shyness and chronic fear of humans has proven to be a huge obstacle, and we've had to resort to extreme measures to keep her upbeat."

Ha ha, that was just a little paw-pulling to see who is paying attention! Hopefully you didn’t fall for it. Shy??? PARIS???????

Paris was one of the friendliest, happiest, most social dogs to come through our shelter in recent memory, so it’s no surprise that she is doing great in her new home. Here is the REAL update from her adopter Hilarie. Paris has been renamed Shiva, but everything else sounds pretty familiar.

Tomorrow is the month anniversary of our adoption and I just wanted to let you know how great Shiva is doing. She is literally stopping traffic with her beauty -an SF tree trimmer stopped his truck and interrupted my trainer's class to run over to look at her! But we won't let it go to her head - I'm putting a lot of training on her. She's super respectful (even to the cat!) and responsive - she sits automatically at each curb now and down stays quite nicely -we're working on further proofing all those commands every day of course - I see real potential as a therapy dog in this one!

It looks like everything is great for a former shelter favorite. And of course I’m going to repost this picture since I think it’s the BACS photo of the year.

And did we mention that Shiva lives in Pacifica, right on the beach? Now taking dogsitter applications!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cece checks in from BAD RAP class

I filed a midterm report card for Azul on his progress at BAD RAP class, so I felt I should provide a similar review of my current partner – the rapidly improving Cece.

When Cece first came to the shelter, she didn’t know much about being a dog. I don’t think she had ever been on a leash. She didn’t understand the concept of a treat. She was not affectionate at all. She was a completely blank slate.

She has been a tough cookie, but after a couple of months of class she has improved a great deal. We’re not acing the class yet, but she has come a long way from where she started. She’s also started to be much more affectionate. If I sit down in her kennel, she will give me the type of prime-time lickdown that is illegal in several states. Additionally, she is one of the few BACS dogs to have an official theme song.

I should note that I have not been at the shelter that much lately, so Cece’s improvements are coming despite me not working with her very often (even though other volunteers are helping out). There is a halfway smart dog in there that nobody bothered to bring out before she came to the shelter.

Original grade: F
Current grade: C

My challenge with Azul was that he loved to focus on everything except me. I had the opposite challenge with Cece – initially she didn’t focus on anything (except other dogs). She stared straight ahead and would not respond to anything I did or said. We’re much better now. She knows she’s on a leash and realizes she has a handler. I’m able to maintain eye contact with her. Cece has really latched on to the treat concept. To improve her grade, she will need to do a better job of focusing on me because it’s what I want her to do, not simply because she will get a treat.

Basic Commands
Original grade: D-
Current grade: C+

This was another pitifully weak area for Cece at first. But now she is willing to ‘sit’, and as you can see in the video she is getting the hang of ‘stay’. I cannot get her to go ‘down’ from a sitting position, but I think it’s because she has a bad hip. She’s not superfast on following commands, but she’s definitely making progress. Again, to get a higher grade I need to continue to wean her off of treats.

Here she demonstrates her version of "Down" - the less common "Corpse" position:

Original grade: D+
Current grade: B

For such an untrained dog, she’s learned the drills very well. She heels well as we walk in circles, she’s quite good at the wedding march drill, and she’s gotten good at following me in left and right-hand turns.

Dog Reactiveness
Original grade: D-
Current grade: C

In Cece’s first class, she was overwhelmed by the presence of other dogs. She spent most of the class growling at any dog that came within ten feet of her. She’s gotten more tolerant to the point that other dogs don’t bother her much at all. She still sometimes gets fixated on another dog, and she’s definitely not a fan of smaller dogs (or the cats that live next to the parking lot), but she’s not looking for a rumble every time she leaves her kennel anymore. She’s become much better about letting other dogs be.

So there we are - not the class nerd but not failing either. Donyale even allowed that Cece is “coming around”. Cece is not our cutest dog, our most affectionate dog, our friendliest dog, or our most responsive dog. But she’s finally getting the hang of being a dog. Just look at her here, out mingling with the common folk at BAD RAP's recent open house:

But let's not let the fan attention go to her head. She'll need to have her game face on for class this Saturday. Those other delinquents too. In addition to Cece, volunteers are currently taking Bella, Radar, Petunia, Jelly, and Beatrice to class.