Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Progress Report

All four puppies continue to come along well. Nevada is now accepting regular petting and yesterday I was able to pet her down her back several times!! Nina is doing great and is at a point where she needs to make the big jump indoors, which we are currently making plans for.

Natasha is doing fantastic and really has become almost a "normal" puppy. She seeks out handling and cuddling and startles at very little. Nora continues to do well indoors and progress with her handling, although she is not as comfortable as Natasha.

We are making big plans for the next step for all the puppies and will keep you posted!

Monday, February 27, 2012

More Natasha and Nora Photos!

Nora with her toy collection

Nora getting rewarded for coming when called

My favorite photo! Natasha snuggling with Emily... :-)

Natasha and Nora Progress Update!

Here are some new photos of Natasha and Nora. I have more but am having trouble with the blog upload right now so I will post them as soon as it allows....

Natasha taking a nap

Both girls doing a training session

Beginning their leash training in the fenced yard

Friday, February 24, 2012

Great Progress!

Great progress with Nevada today. For the first time I was able to run my hand down her back while I fed her, and was able to do it several times! I didn't try every time I pet her, sometimes I would only pet her head, but every treat she received she had to accept petting of some sort. With Nina I ran my hands down her back legs, suspended her front end off the ground and reached around her and rubbed her on her opposite side and under the belly. She also did great. These girls are moving so fast now and seeing how well they're doing reinforces the decision to move Natasha and Nora to another location. Nevada especially was being left in the dust when all 4 girls were competing for attention and treats.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daily update

Natasha and Nora have been sending their daily updates and we have more great accomplishments to report. They had a visitor last night at Emily and Carol's, a neighbor who stopped over to say hello, and both girls were willing to approach the stranger. They were a little nervous but went all the way to him when he squated down. This is fantastic for them to be able to do this, and to WANT to approach new people! They both get their new collars on every morning and get them taken off at bedtime, and are getting more and more comfortable having that done. This morning Emily was sitting on the couch and Natasha jumped up right on her lap to take a nap while Emily pet her! She loves to have the underside of her neck massaged. The girls will be getting out for more car rides and socializing soon.

Meanwhile, the other two sisters continue to do well in their progress. I don't go in the pen unless I have my old jeans on because I can be sure I will come out with paw prints from both girls. Today we continued to work on the same skills. With Nina we practiced extensive body handling while being fed, and also petting without treats. Today for the first time when I massaged the side of her neck she looked like she enjoyed it and she stayed for more. Nevada accepted more petting on the top of her head and neck while being fed treats. While I worked with them I moved around, stood up, squated down, shifted my weight, etc. and they don't retreat at all anymore, not even a few steps. They seem comfortable being near me and know I'm not there to harm them. I remember the first week they were here if I stood up from across the pen they would all run into their dog house. It's hard to believe how far they have come.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nora and Natasha's Trip to the Vet

We needn't have worried, these two girls amazed us once again! Nora had an appt. with Dr. Gibbs at Decorah Vet Clinic today (Thank you Dr. Amy for being so wonderful during their visit!) to check out her leg. We have good news to report and it seems to be a minor muscle injury and nothing serious. Whew! The rest of the visit was just as good. Emily and I thought it would be better if the girls traveled in the car together, less stress on Nora, so both girls made a visit to the vet office. They even wore their new collars. :-) Both accepted lots of treats, were handled all over their bodies and given a full exam, and they were TROOPERS! What amazing girls!

New Photos!

I wanted to share some photos taken today so you can see how BIG the girls are getting!

Nina practicing her down for treats

Beautiful Nina!

Nevada posing for the camera

Both girls sitting for treats

Nevada jumping up on me

Pretty girl!

They did FANTASTIC with training today. I was able to repeatedly pet Nevada on the head and neck without any moving away at all. Nina accepted petting all over her head and back without using food. They both put their faces right next to mine several times and neither one spooked when I moved around or bent over them, in fact most of my petting was done with me bending over. They are really coming along!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nina and Nevada training session

We have had more successful sessions today. Nevada now jumps on me when she's excited to see me or when I'm walking around the pen cleaning up. We had what I consider to be a major breakthrough with her today. With every single treat I gave her she accepted petting on her head and neck, and several times I continued petting as she chewed up her treat and she never once moved away. This was with me standing and bending over them, which is a more dominant posture than me sitting or kneeling. With Nina I worked on suspending her front end, and reaching over to the other side of her body, as well as petting without food. She did well also. They are really starting to progress in leaps and bounds now that they're not competing for attention with their other two sisters. And speaking of...
I have been receiving daily updates on Natasha and Nora who are doing well indoors at Emily and Carol's. They continue to accept more and more handling, and not only accept it, but seek it out. Unfortunately Nora hurt her leg climbing out of the ex pen, so today's goal was introducing her to a crate to help keep her quieter. She is using her leg and putting weight on it, but if things don't look better by tomorrow she will be making a trip to the vet. I worry about this for multiple reasons, not only about the leg itself, but also how scary a visit like this will be for her.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Neighbors

Nevada and Nina are quite fascinated with their new kennel neighbors, a litter of 4 springer mix puppies, who have arrived here for temporary foster care. They have spent the afternoon barking at them and trying to play with them through the fence. We had a good training session this morning. I worked with Nevada toward the same goals as yesterday - petting on the head and jumping on my lap. She did well with both again. She still doesn't particularly like me touching her yet, but she stays there and tolerates it to get treats - that's progress. While I was cleaning up the yard this morning I felt one of the puppies jumping on me from behind and I turned around to find Nevada, not the one I was expecting it to be! She has definitely become more comfortable with me in all contexts, and finally no longer backs up when I stand up or bend over. Nina did fantastic in her training today also. I began teaching her to sit on command, and also to sit politely for petting - she excelled. I worked on suspending her front feet off the ground while I gave her treats, as well as handling her front feet - she did great with everything. I think Nina is very close to being ready to be moved indoors.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

3 Week Anniversary

The puppies have been with us for exactly 3 weeks today. It's hard to believe how far they've come in such a short amount of time. Once again, I would like to thank all the volunteers who have taken time to come out and work with the girls, every person has made a difference!

I had a wonderful session with Nina and Nevada this morning. With Nina I was able to pet her all over her body BEFORE I gave her the treat, and she also accepted a lot of petting without food. When I gave her treats I used that time to push up under her chest, handle her legs and front feet - she did very well. My work with Nevada was the most exciting accomplishment for the session - several times while I fed her treats she allowed me to lightly pet her head. My requirement for her to get food was one of two things - either she had to accept a little petting or she had to jump up and put her front feet on my lap and get the treat close to my face. She didn't have any trouble doing either!

Here are some photos of Natasha and Nora at Emily and Carol's home - I think the photos speak for themselves! WOW!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nevada and Nina Progress Report

Since Natasha and Nora left, the remaining two puppies have been doing well. We have continued to work with Nina on petting, which she is very good about accepting if there are treats involved. She has also started accepting a little petting without the use of food. My goal for the session this afternoon was to start accustoming Nevada to touching/petting. As she ate treats I would lightly run my hand over the top of her head or under her chin. She accepted it a few times, although I can't say she liked me doing it. Regardless, it is a positive step. I would expect that as she gets used to me doing it, and with the use of some very high value treats, she will be more accepting and learn to eventually enjoy it, like Nora and Natasha have.

Meanwhile at Emily and Carol's home, Nora and Natasha are learning about manners, sitting and coming when called, and they are doing great! They are very food motivated and eager to please, which makes them quite easy to train. They are also doing very well with house training.

Natasha and Nora up for Adoption!

The two girls have done so amazingly well with their move indoors that I have listed them available for adoption!! Both Emily and I feel that they are ready - Nora and Natasha are different puppies than they were 3 weeks ago when they came to us. What amazing girls! You can see their listings on For right now I have them listed as special needs, due to the amount of socializing that will be required of their new owners.
Nevada and Nina continue to do well with their socializing and handling but aren't ready for the big move indoors yet. The big goal for me over the next few days with Nevada is to start petting her while she is fed treats. This will be a big step for her and not something we have been able to do yet.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Natasha and Nora's first day update

Natasha and Nora did great their first night indoors. I got an update first thing this morning from Emily, and I quote, "they're running around the entire house like they own the place!" In other words, they are doing fantastic and loving their new home. The differences between them and the average puppy at this age, is that these two will startle over some movements and they are not used to the handling that most puppies have had by now. But they are bridging that gap quickly. Over the next few days Emily and Carol will continue socializing them to indoor living, more handling, getting them used to wearing collars, and once the puppies are comfortable with those things, they will be placed up for adoption. Of course we will be very selective about those homes. Because of their background and need for continued socialization, we will only adopt out to homes where people will be home with the puppy most of the time, ideally have at least one other friendly dog, and no kids. It may take a little while for the ideal homes to come along, but we'll wait until they do!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Update on Natasha and Nora

I've received two updates already on Natasha and Nora. Other than a little car sickness, the drive to their new foster home went smoothly. Emily had her fingers through the crate door and the girls spent the ride giving her kisses and nuzzling her fingers. When they arrived home the crate was carried into the house and placed in the puppy pen with the crate door open. Emily sat in the pen and within minutes both puppies were out exploring their new area. Within the hour the puppies were playing with toys, relaxed and content. All I can say is Wow! again. I am so happy and amazed that they have made this adjustment so quickly. I expected it to take days, not minutes!! The puppies are further along than I thought, and at this rate the two of them will be ready soon for adoption to special homes.


Yet again I underestimated the resiliency of dogs. The transfer of Natasha and Nora went as smoothly as it could possibly go. As usual all 4 puppies greeted us at the gate, excited to have visitors who they knew would have goodies for them. Emily and I both entered the pen, armed with treats, with Carol waiting on the outside. We spent a few seconds giving them all a few treats, then as quickly and calmly as possible, while I fed her, Emily picked up Natasha. She carried her out of the pen while Carol offered her some hamburger. Natasha wouldn't take treats but she was calm - no shaking, no snapping or struggling. She remained completely calm while Emily carried her toward the car, I gave her her first vaccination (yah!) and she never even flinched. We put her in the crate in the car and went back and repeated the entire process with Nora. It went just as smoothly, and Nora did take a few treats after she was picked up. As Emily and Carol were preparing to leave I opened the car door and offered Nora and Natasha some hamburger through the crate door. I fully expected them to be too scared, but amazingly both girls started gobbling up hamburger as fast as I could feed it to them. Wow. They are on their way to their new foster home as I write this. It was very difficult for me to see them go, I have gotten extremely attached to them. These girls have their little paws wrapped firmly around my heart.

After Natasha and Nora were on their way, I went out to clean up the pen and spend some time with Nina and Nevada. Once again, I was expecting a different reaction than the one I got. This was less than 15 minutes after we'd removed Natasha and Nora, and I figured the experience would be almost as stressful on the remaining two. Instead I was greeted at the gate with tails wagging, as if nothing had ever happened. They hung out with me while I cleaned up, and as soon as I started digging in my pockets they ran over to me because they knew it was "training" time. Nina was climbing up on me immediately while I pet her, and here is a photo of Nevada with her front feet up on my legs eating treats. She has never done this before.

Moving Day

A big day planned today. Over the past several days Natasha and Nora have continued to progress to a point where it's necessary for them to take the next big step. I have continued working with them on picking them up for a few seconds at a time, as well as putting my hand under their chests and suspending their front feet off the ground while I feed them treats. Now that the puppies want to interact with people so much, it's becoming increasingly difficult to work with them 4 at a time. This afternoon we will be transferring Natasha and Nora to one of our other wonderful foster homes, with Emily and Carol, where they will be moved indoors and socialized to indoor living. My expectation is that they will take a couple of days to settle in and start to develop some positive associations with living indoors, but then they will progress quickly. I will continue with regular updates on their progress on this blog. This will allow for much more individual attention for Nina and Nevada who have been left in the dust a little bit. It's difficult to give the two of them attention when Nora and Natasha are in your lap. :-) I also expect that this move will be stressful at first for Nina and Nevada, who will see their littermates leave the pen, and will no longer have their brave sisters to be the leaders, when it comes to interacting with people. After a few days of adjustment I am hoping that they will begin to progress much faster also. I will keep you all posted on how this afternoon goes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend Photos

Here are some photos from Sunday of volunteers interacting with the puppies...

Megan with a pile of puppies on her lap and Nevada creeping in for a treat...

Natasha on Megan's lap...

This is my favorite one of Nevada, just hanging out next to Senia, waiting for her turn.

Nora on Senia's lap...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Exciting Accomplishments!

Nora and Nevada made some very exciting steps today. Mark came for his daily visit and Nora accepted Mark holding her on his lap for several seconds, before she decided that was enough. Nevada actually untied his shoestring and played with it! These are big steps for both girls in their comfort levels. During my afternoon session I took hamburger treats with me. First of all, I couldn't even sit down without Natasha, Nora and Nina climbing on me instantly, and Nevada right there too. While I fed Nora hamburger I was able to put my arm around her, pull her gently to me and lift her up slightly, and she never stopped eating! She LOVES hamburger. :-) Natasha did well with petting all over, with or without food, although I did not try to pick her up again, primarily because I had so many puppies on my lap at once. I had a good petting session with Nina and required her to let me pet her down her back legs and reach over her back to get the hamburger. After a little hesitation she decided it was worth it. Nevada came right up to me to get all her treats and even stood for a few seconds while I stroked her under the chin. Monday is the day I am going to bring Nora and Natasha in the house and start keeping them indoors except for potty and play breaks outside. I feel they are ready and once they get used to being inside (with the help of lots of treats and toys) I think they will progress faster than ever. That will also allow us to do more one on one work with Nina and Nevada, who I fear are getting left behind a bit, especially Nevada.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 12

The N girls have been here almost 2 weeks, and they are sure different puppies than the day they arrived! We had several visitors brave the cold winds to come out and sit with them today (Thank you Mark, Emily and Carol!), in addition to my sessions with them. They did very well again. All four stand at the gate to bark and greet people when they approach (we have to watch the gate very carefully now!). Natasha is accepting petting from everyone, without food, and really seems to seek it out and enjoy it. Nina and Nora will climb all over their visitor's lap for treats, and accept petting. Nevada is getting braver and braver, and will come up to strangers to take treats on a regular basis now. I went out for a short session with them this afternoon after their friends left. As soon as I stepped into the yard Natasha, Nora and Nina were all jumping on me and I was able to bend over and pet all three of them without using food. Nevada came right over to sniff me and even let me stroke her under the chin for a second or two! Natasha is the most accepting of petting without food and I can usually pet her all over her body. Nina and Nora will let me pet them on the head, under the chin and sometimes on the back without using food. As soon as the food comes out, then I can pet both of them all over their bodies. To get treats I required Nevada to come all the way to my leg, which she had no problem doing. I never throw treats on the ground for them anymore, they must interact directly with me to get the food. During my petting session with Nora, Nina and Natasha, I again practiced putting light hand pressure on their sides and under their chests which they did very well with. It is clear that their interactions with me are starting to move beyond the point of just wanting treats. They follow me around their pen everytime I'm out cleaning the yard - when I stop, they stop and sit and look at me while I talk to them and tell them what good puppies they are. Occasionally I will reach down and pet one of them or let them sniff my glove, then go back to work. The other thing I noticed a change with in the last day or so, is when I set their food bowls down, they are starting to dive right in, rather than waiting for me to back up far enough from their bowls. I can see improvements every day with them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Afternoon Training Session

The puppies had a quiet afternoon, this is the first day since they arrived that they haven't had visitors! Besides me of course. I had an interesting and overall positive session with them. I think the session was harder on me than them, I have to admit I dread handling them in ways that I know they won't initially enjoy. I entered the pen armed with treats, and the puppies immediately were jumping all over my legs wanting attention and treats. Even Nevada was there, she just wasn't jumping on me. The session for Nevada went well again. My requirement for her was that she come all the way to my leg to get her treat, which she did every time. I don't try to touch her, she's not ready for that yet. More and more she is hanging around me, sniffing me when my attention is on the other puppies, and becoming more comfortable being close to me. Natasha, Nina and Nora were all over my lap, putting their faces close to mine, and accepting a lot of petting all over their bodies. Nora and Natasha continue to be the most bold. I added two new criteria to their petting sessions: 1. running my hands down their back legs and 2. lightly pushing them from the side and lightly pushing up on them under their chest. Both of these exercises I believe will also help accustom them to being picked up, especially feeling pressure from my hand on their sides and underneath. During this session I picked up Nora and Nina both (separately of course). I held them only a few inches off the ground and in my lap. I was observing not only their reaction to being held, but also how they acted after I set them down again. I was VERY pleased with Nora's reaction. She was startled and initially scared when I picked her up, but in less than 10 seconds was eating treats while I held her. As soon as I set her down she sat back for only a second or two, then was right back in my lap for more treats. I did not try picking her up again, but continued to reward her for petting and body handling. Nina did not respond quite as well, although not terribly either. She would not take treats from me while she was held, and seemed completely frozen. She would accept petting while she was held. When I set her down she had a similar response to Nora, she sat back for a few seconds then came to me for more treats. She did seem a little more reserved but continued coming back for treats. I got up and left while they were still wanting more attention and food - I want them to be very excited about their sessions with me and don't want them to get to the point of being bored.

Photos from Sunday

Here are two photos that Linda took on Sunday afternoon when I went in to greet the puppies after being gone for the weekend. This was exactly 1 week after their arrival. The photo that demonstrates the most progress is me leaning over Natasha, Nina and Nora while giving them treats. This was a big step for them, since I am assuming a dominant posture by leaning over them like that. Just another example of how they are learning to trust people.

Heartwarming Moment

The girls were so tired last night! Except for feeding I left them alone for the evening -they had five separate visitors yesterday over the course of the afternoon! Not only were they pooped out, they were full. :-) They did great with everyone, accepted treats and petting, but by the end of the day just wanted to hang out more than anything. This morning I had a very heartwarming experience. After the puppies finished eating their breakfast, they came over to me to say an official morning hello. For the first time I was able to bend over and pet Natasha, like I would do with any other puppy or dog. Then I squated down and Natasha, Nina and Nora jumped all over me and accepted some petting. Nevada came over to sniff me and say hello too, although I didn't try to reach out to her. This was all without treats. It was so touching to be able to interact with them this way, it makes all this "work" so worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Petting Progress

The puppies are having another great day. My training session with the puppies today went very well. Nevada was coming right up to my legs to get treats, and she always wags her tail now when I approach the pen. Natasha, Nora and Nina were all accepting a lot of repeated petting, all over their backs, heads and sides. When the food was gone I played tug of war using my glove with Natasha and Nora, and they both continued to accept petting on their bodies and are even starting to look like they enjoy it! Natasha gave me several kisses on the face, and Nora brought her face up to mine several times. They've had two other visitors today so far (Thanks Sue and Senia!), and I watched them accept petting and climb all over the laps of their visitors. Nevada accepted treats from both too. I admit I'm feeling pressured to push this a little farther tomorrow. My goal will be to try picking up Nora and Natasha, giving them treats if they will accept them, then putting them down again, and repeating the process. The sooner they can accept this type of handling, the sooner they can be brought into the house for socializing, vaccinating, and eventually adoption. From the beginning with these puppies I've walked a very fine line, between pushing them to meet important goals, yet not pushing them so much that they are traumatized by it. I can't express how grateful I am to all the volunteers who show up here daily to spend time socializing them - every single positive experience they have right now is important.

Natasha's New Friend

These are photos I took of Mark with Natasha yesterday afternoon. Mark went out without food for the first time and just sat with the puppies for awhile. This was the result. :-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good Progress This Afternoon

It was a good afternoon training session with the puppies. Thank you Mark for taking the photos, it's impossible to take photos of myself petting puppies when I'm trying to juggle treats at the same time! As usual I used food and required them to allow me to pet them to get the treats. Natasha did much better this afternoon, and was quite willing to be touched. Nora and Nina did fantastic again, and I was even stroking them down their back legs and to the base of their tails. All three accepted a little bit of petting even without food. I usually had 2-3 puppies on my lap at a time, all trying to get the food, but I only gave it to the one who was being touched. I had a special brief moment with Nora when she sniffed me right on my nose. Then a few minutes later Natasha did the same thing! Both of these instances were without the presence of food. Nevada did well again also, coming very close to me to get treats and not retreating as soon as she got them. Slowly but surely she is coming along. She sits close by and watches while I pet the other three, I'm hoping that this will help her see that I'm not there to hurt her.

Nevada waiting for her treat....

Natasha and Nora climbing on my lap...

Petting Nora

Petting Nina

Petting Natasha

Into the 2nd Week

I've been out for my usual morning visits, and after yard clean up I sat down with the puppies for a few minutes, with some yummy apple treats from Linda that they love! I've been seeing some nice progress with Nevada over the last few days. She is much less nervous about coming up and getting treats our of our hands, even from strangers. Whenever I get the chance I stroke her under the chin with my fingers while she's taking a treat. Natasha still plays the jump away game most of the time with petting, although she did accept some this morning and yesterday afternoon accepted some from Mark. Although Natasha is the most comfortable being near people and the least fearful, Nina and Nora are passing her up with the petting progress. This morning while they ate their apple treats I was running my hands all over Nina and Nora's backs, sides and top of their heads. They rarely moved away when I did this. I would say Nora won the contest this morning, as several times she put her front feet up on me with her face near my face and accepted petting this way. The girls are starting to get a little fiestier with one another, especially over food. Nevada and Nina are the most priveleged. At meal times Nevada will continually switch food bowls, and both Nora and especially Natasha will let Nevada dig into their bowls. Nina will not let anyone share with her, nor will Nevada. Natasha is the one who will back off to anyone. It's my guess that within a couple of weeks we will have start splitting them up into pairs, to prevent fighting. Many littermates, especially of the same sex, do not get along well once they get out of the young puppy stage.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Natasha's First Time in House

Here are photos of Natasha's first time in the house! A big step, but one that made me again realize just how far these puppies have to go. The entire process started when I went into the pen with some venison bacon pieces. The puppies were going crazy trying to get to the treats, crawling and jumping all over me, even Nevada didn't hesitate to come right up. I spent a few minutes petting Natasha, Nora and Nina while giving them bacon. They were all doing well with the petting and I decided this was the moment of truth for Natasha. I picked up her and held her calmly. She was not happy and would not take any bacon from me while I was holding her. I carried her into the house and put her in the ex pen in the kitchen, and let her calm down a moment. She never tried to bite or mouth me, but she was clearly scared. I let my dog Noel into the room and that cheered her up immediately, almost an instant transformation. Suddenly she was up, wagging her tail, and taking treats from me again. I only kept her in for a short time and during that time she was calm, took treats and seemed pretty relaxed and surprisingly comfortable being indoors. However, when it came time to take her back outside, she was not happy being picked up again and would not take treats while she was held or carried. When I put her back down in the pen with the other puppies she ran into the dog house for a moment. I spent a few more minutes in the pen giving the puppies treats and Natasha was back to normal again quickly, wagging her tail and jumping on me for treats. Nina and Nora did terrific with the petting today, I was petting them repeatedly all over their backs and sides and was even able to reach over Nina's back to her other side, as long as I was giving them food. I didn't feel either of them were quite ready to be picked up yet though. After seeing how negatively Natasha reacted to being handled, and given that she has been the "front runner" from day 1, it demonstrates just how far these puppies still have to go. This week will be all about body handling for Natasha, Nina and Nora, as well as practice picking them up (which will be the hardest) and hopefully by the end of the week starting to pet Nevada. I won't be bringing any of them indoors again, until I can get them more comfortable with being picked up. I will try an experiment tomorrow with our Pug Jack, bringing him in the puppy pen with me and picking him up and giving him treats, then putting him down again. It may help the puppies to see a dog being picked up and happy about it.

Another socialization photo...

Here is another photo taken yesterday of one of our HSNEI youth committee volunteers Senia spending time with the puppies. They cleaned her out of treats!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

1 Week Anniversary

I can't believe it's only been one week since the puppies arrived here! Wow, they've gone above and beyond what I imagined in 1 week. I have large goals for them during their 2nd week here too, which starts tomorrow with more body handling and petting, and picking up Natasha and Nina. This will be a huge step for them and I expect they will startle the first time they are picked up. I will be prepared with a lot of enticing, smelly treats to give them while I hold them. My hope is that they will be comfortable enough with me to take the treats while they are held. You can be sure I will keep you all posted! Here are photos from today, thanks to Merill. These are South Winn students, Merill's daughters Mahogani and Domenic, and a friend Matthew.

Weekend Report

I apologize to those of you watching the blog daily. We went out of town this weekend for a family get together and left the puppies in the excellent care of our good friend and house sitter Linda. I sure missed the N girls! And they seem to have missed me too, they were very excited when I went out to say hello today. We now have to watch the gate carefully when we enter and exit, they are getting quite bold! I received a wonderful report from Linda and our other volunteers when I returned. Natasha has decided that petting isn't so bad after all, and will now accept a little petting even without treats! Nora and Nina were accepting of petting all weekend too, with food. Nevada continued taking treats from people's hands all weekend. I arrived home this afternoon to find more toys that had been dropped off for puppies (Thanks Vicky!), and shortly thereafter was bombarded with puppy visitors. Mark and Steph, Dr. Merrill and family, and Senia all came out to spend time with puppies this afternoon. Thank you to Dr. Merrill for the new toys! The puppies are having a hey day with all the new objects to play with. The visits today went wonderful. I watched from the window and observed Nora, Natasha and Nina climbing over peoples' laps, playing with toys and accepting some petting. At one point there were 4 people sitting in the pen at once and the puppies did great! Nevada was out and about with everyone else and taking treats from all the strangers. I'll have some great photos to post in the next day or so of the puppies accepting petting.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Are these the same puppies?

We had another successful session today. While I fed them yummy treats I was again able to repeatedly pet Nina, Nora and Natasha. Natasha still doesn't like it when I touch her, yet she comes right back for more. After the treats were gone the three of them climbed all over me and played, and Natasha plunked right down next to my leg like we were old buddies. It was very hard not reaching down to pet her when she did that, but it would have ruined the moment. Nevada took several treats from my hand and I lightly stroked her chin while she was doing that. More visitors this afternoon (Thank you Mark and Jacki!). Jacki brought the puppies some great new toys which they are already having a blast playing with and hoarding in their dog house. Here is a picture of Jacki interacting with Natasha and Nora, only a short time after entering the pen, and even with a strange chair and Mark standing up nearby. Nora is begging for more treats!

Demonstration of their progress

The puppies had another new visitor this morning. Btw, I am touched by the number of people who have been coming out to sit with the puppies everyday or bring them new toys or treats. Every single positive experience they have with people is important! The puppies have visitors scheduled all weekend and more this afternoon. One of our foster volunteers, Esley, stopped by with a box of toys for the puppies and went out to the pen to see them for a few minutes. This is a photo of Esley kneeling down by the pups only a few seconds after she entered the pen. Natasha, Nina and Nora immediately came to eat out of her hand, and Nevada came close. She was using plain kibble, and they were this eager to come to her. Good puppies!

5th Morning Report

Today is their 5th morning here, and such a big difference from their first! I've been out twice this morning for feeding and clean up, and Scott was out once to give them fresh water. When they see us coming they jump around and bark and stay at the gate until we get very close. Today when I bent over the put their food bowls down, for the first time nobody retreated to the dog house. They stayed a couple of feet away, then started eating when I moved away from the bowls. Today I wanted to load up their dog houses with fresh straw again so I used this opportunity with all of them eating to put the new straw in. This is the first time I have walked around nearby while they eat a meal. I usually stand a few feet away. I was going back and forth and doing a lot of walking near the bowls, and interestingly it was Nora that this bothered the most. The other three kept their eyes on me but continued to eat. Several times Nora backed away from her bowl and started to retreat. They no longer seem too concerned about the big bucket and shovel I bring in every morning, and they all wander around while I'm cleaning up. If I turn and walk toward them, then they retreat to another part of the yard, but not back into the dog house. Once again I was able to remain standing and bend over to give treats to Natasha, Nina and Nora, with Nevada remaining a few feet away watching. They love all the new toys that Sarah and Randy (Thanks guys!) brought them yesterday, and even managed to get the big ball rolled into the dog house. This morning I covered all the toys up with straw and they had a blast finding them and digging them out. Linda (Thank you!) brought more toys for them last night that I will give them today. Later this morning my plan is to do another training session with touching them. My goal is for Natasha, Nina and Nora to accept some touching while being fed treats. I would like to see Nevada taking treats from my hand again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bringing out the big guns...

My goal for today was to start touching Natasha. To do this I knew I would need high value treats, so I used some hamburger patties that Emily and Carol had made just for the puppy training. This is another big step, but something that needs to be done if I am going to reach the goal of being able to bring puppies in the house by next week. Because of the puppies' young age, we are in a time crunch. They are in an extremely important socialization period right now, and if we miss this period of being able to get them comfortable around humans, it's going to be a lot more difficult later on. By the end of yesterday all four puppies were taking hamburger out of people's hands. This morning all 4 puppies were taking kibble from my hands. I was able to stand and bend over to give treats to all the puppies except Nevada. Natasha, Nina and Nora would also let me stroke the underside of their muzzles while they were licking my fingers. This afternoon I armed myself with a baggie full of hamburger, sat down on their little deck and was soon bombarded with puppies climbing over my legs to get at the food, except Nevada who kept her distance of a few feet away. With one hand I fed them hamburger, the other hand went to their sides or the tops of their heads for petting. Natasha was not quite as comfortable as I'd hoped she would be. When I touched her she would jump back, then come immediately back for hamburger. I was able to get in a few tries where she didn't move away, so I didn't push her after that. Instead I continued giving her treats for climbing on me and being near me. The surprise for the day was Nina! I was able to pet Nina repeatedly, softly along the head or shoulders, and as long as she had hamburger to eat, she never pulled away! Nora did great also, not quite as comfortable as Nina, but better than Natasha! This was a bigger step than I imagined being able to take today and I am thrilled. After the hamburger was gone I hung out with them a bit. They climbed on me, cleaned my fingers, untied my shoestrings and stayed right with me until I got up to leave. As soon as the gate was shut they ran over to lick my fingers through the gate. From now on, for Natasha, Nina and Nora to get high value treats like hamburger they will have to let me touch them. I will continue to give them kibble for just being near me. With Nevada we'll take it a little slower. I am very happy that she is starting to take treats from hands though -that is something that is very much out of her comfort zone and she is trying so hard! Here are some photos from today. There were times the puppies were so close to my face I could hardly take the picture! I also want to thank Mark for the new toys he brought yesterday and Angela for the large bag of Royal Canin puppy food!

Here is Nevada hanging back a bit..

Nina and Natasha cleaning my fingers...

Nora, what a cutie!

Nora climbing on my legs...

Nora, Nina and Natasha untieing my shoestrings

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Video of Progress Day 3

A Busy Afternoon

Well it's true, the puppies officially have a busier social schedule than I do. They had 4 visitors this afternoon (Thank you Mark, Sue, Emily and Carol!) and I think I'll have to cut back a bit on their dinner this evening! Today had been an amazing day for them, meeting new people, learning to take treats directly from human hands, and playing with adult dogs. They have stepped up to the challenge. Here are a couple of photos taken from my living room window of the puppies getting hamburger treats from Emily and Carol this afternoon. You can see in one picture how close Nevada is - what an accomplishment for the day! We still have to be calm when we're interacting with them, any quick movements and they retreat, but rather than hiding in their dog house, now they come right back! Mark said Natasha was very disappointed when she came to get a treat out of his hand and there weren't any left, so she walked away. They are beginning to associate humans with very good things, and that is the goal.

Major Accomplishments!

I took my Collie Paige out for a brief visit, and I had some sliced up venison sticks for the puppies. My goal for the session was for Nina to take a treat from me, as she had come very close this morning. The puppies were very excited to see Paige and swarmed around her when we entered the pen. I squated on the ground with venison treats in hand. I started giving a few to Paige and within seconds Natasha was eating as many as I could give her. Less than a minute later Nina was taking treats from my hand!! She ate several. Nora and Nevada were close but wouldn't quite get close enough. After they (Paige, Natasha and Nina) had eaten all of the treats, Nina and Natasha started cleaning off my fingers. Before I knew it all 4 puppies were licking my hand as I was talking to them!! Wow, what a huge step for them!! I sat there for a few minutes while they played with Paige. During that time both Natasha and Nina came up to me several times to sniff my jeans. I talk to them a lot but try not to look directly at them and I always stay still when they are that close to me. What I love seeing more and more are their little tails wagging - the first day all tails were tucked constantly. When I got up to leave they all bounced back a few steps but stayed outside. After I closed the gate I leaned over and reached my fingers through the fence, and both Natasha and Nina came over and licked my fingers, then Nina by herself. All I can say is WOW! These puppies are amazing, I am so proud of them. They have several new visitors coming this afternoon which will be good for them. I will also try to take a short video of me working with them today.

3rd Morning Progress Report

Every morning it's a treat to walk out to the puppies with their breakfast and say, "Good Morning Puppies!", and see what their reaction is. Today was no exception. The puppies actually got excited to see me coming, all four of them! They jumped around and barked and stayed out of their dog house while I entered the pen. Only when I bent over to set the food bowls down did they run into the dog house (except for Natasha). As soon as I backed away from the bowls a few feet they immediately came out and started eating. Nevada would occasionally glance at me standing there and back away from her bowl a step or two, but then would come back right away. My second visit out was to clean up the yard. Have I mentioned how much I hate spring melts! I suspect all dog owners do. The puppies followed me around while I cleaned up, not getting too close but staying within 10 feet usually. Several times I turned around to find Natasha right on my heels. My Rottweiler Noel was loose in the yard outside the puppy pen and the puppies were fascinated with her too. Nevada especially seems to be drawn to other dogs and this will be a great help for working with her. Once while I was picking up I turned around to find Nevada following me all by herself! Natasha ate several treats from my hand, and I could even bend over and give her treats. By the end of the visit she would run right over as soon as she saw me bend down and put my hand out. Nina got VERY close. She was eating treats off the ground right at my feet and then would look up at me, seemingly asking for more. Of course I obliged and dropped one on the ground every time she looked at me. This was with me standing the entire time. This morning Nora was the most reserved, although she would always run over when I dropped a handful of kibble on the ground. I was happy to see how much braver Nevada was, and Nina is progressing in leaps and bounds! Natasha hangs out with me very close now, even when I'm not throwing treats she wants to follow me around. My heart goes out to these puppies, they are so brave and trying so hard!