Barnum’s Accomplishments at Two Year’s Old

Not only is this the beginning of another calendar year, but because Barnum was born on December 30, this is also the beginning of a new year of his life!

7 newborn Bouvier puppies in pile on floor

One of these tiny, damp wiggling one-pound puppies will be my Barnum!

Then, he became my fuzzy little bundle of joy. (And a pee and poo output machine.)

Barnum in Sharon's lap

Looking lovingly into each other's eyes on his first day home.

And a bit of a mouthy monster. . . .

Nine-week old fuzzy black puppy with white chin and chest has his mouth swung open and wide toward a hand that is tickling his belly. His pointy puppy teeth are quite visible.

Aw, isn't he, um, adorably vicious?

Well, I’m sure he’ll outgrow it. . . .

Barnum prepares to launch Shark Attack.

Sure, it's all fun until someone gets bitten in the arm. Then it's only fun for Barnum, not so fun for the person who belongs to the arm.

But no, he doesn’t do that anymore. Now he is much more relaxed. In fact, he has become a Zen master. . . .

Barnum lies on the floor, his head cocked, with a square brown biscuit resting on each paw. He is looking at the camera, not at the biscuits.

He knows they're there. But he has to strike a cute pose for the camera, too.

Not just liver treats, but pies, too. . . .

Barnum lying very relaxed, legs spread out, with the pumpkin pie between his front legs, and surrounded by the other three pies.

This is a piece of cake. I mean, pie.

And his “take” and “hold” skills are part of his zen mastery. . . .

A low black table (the same coffee table as in previous pictures). The right side of the table is set with a tangerine-colored placemat and an asian-style wide bowl, with a pair of chop sticks sticking out of the bowl. A takeout menu for a restaurant called "ZEN" stands behind the place setting. Barnum sits on the left side of the table, holding a metal dumbbell in his mouth, from which hangs a printed sign. It says, "ZEN is not just a Levels behavior. They also make great sushi. (Hint, hint.)"

That's a "hup," "take," "sit," and "stay," ladies and gentleman!

Furthermore, in the last couple of months, Barnum’s drive to train/work and be active has increased. This maturity has meant that his skills as a service dog are coming together! It has also meant that some of the natural bouvier des Flandres temperament is coming out in him, which I am less happy about. He is developing a habit of barking at strangers when he goes for walks, and barked his head off at a visitor for my birthday, which is extremely unlike him. He’s usually very quiet. So, socialization efforts need to be stepped up.

It’s a day for celebration, and having been extremely ill for much of the last two weeks, when he does help me, I really notice the difference! Sure, I could post about all the things we still need lots of work on, but not today. Today, we focus on feeling good!

Here are some of our accomplishments of the past year:

  • Reliably shuts kitchen and bathroom cupboards, drawers, and refrigerator door
  • Reliably braces for transferring (used mostly to/from chair/toilet)
  • Most of a retrieve (it still needs work, but the basic foundation is there)
  • Shuts my bedroom door on cue reliably and my bathroom door extremely reliably
  • Turns on bathroom light on cue reliably
  • Alerts to infusion pump alarm reliably and to some kitchen timers reliably (others are more spotty)
  • Has learned how to open my bedroom door; now we’re establishing the cue
  • Has learned the motion of turning lights off, but hasn’t yet figured out how to apply it when he has to jump up
  • Has learned to open fridge door (but not the cue, and not far enough open yet)
  • Knows the names of all my PCAs and Betsy
  • Has basics down of carrying an object from a PCA or Betsy to me or vice-versa
  • Is partway to knowing the word, “Slipper”
  • Urinates on cue; pooping not yet entirely on cue
  • Very solid sit and leave it and crate
  • Good progress on mat, down, come, stay, stand, back-up, side, behind
  • Excellent loose-leash walk with people who pay attention to the leash (for people who tighten the leash, he responds in kind)
  • Very good car (van) manners
  • Excellent progress on bathing manners (will get in tub on cue and even sometimes sit or down in water on cue; will not exit tub until cued)

Well, I’m sure I’ve forgotten stuff, but I have a migraine, and I’m exhausted, so I just wanted to pound out this celebratory post.

He is the love of my (and Betsy’s) life. Family, friends, and PCAs love him. He is a dear, sweet, affectionate boy, very sensitive to my moods, but with a rock-solid temperament — almost nothing phases him.

We are well on our way to finishing his skills with doors, light switches, and basic retrieve, and then moving on to more complex retrieves (items by name) and to solidifying his public access skills and other basic obedience, manners, and positioning. From there, we will move to new skills, such as helping pull off socks and other clothing, bed covers, and more!

I think 2012 will be a great year for Team Barnum! Here’s hoping it’s a great one for you, too!

- Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SDiT

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6 Responses to “Barnum’s Accomplishments at Two Year’s Old”


  1. 1 Kathy January 1, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Barnum has done so well, I’m impressed! I’ve been reading your blog from the start and can’t believe it’s been two years. I’m glad he’s rock solid and there for you. It counts for a lot, I think.
    I’m sorry you’ve been sick. It sucks. I’ve been dragging and hurting too. (not what you experience, but painful for me) I’m ready to go back and learn some more NVC (and read the book. Gotta read the book!) This Occupy has got a few mysogynists and it’s getting bad. Maybe let me know when you feel up to calls?
    Take care and Happy New Year to you and Barnum and Betsy!

    • 2 Sharon January 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      Thank you, Kathy! He is not yet rock solid, but he is, umm, not a continually shifting sea of sand, either.
      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been sick as well. I don’t need you to compare your illness to mine; I believe you when you say you’ve been dragging and hurting.
      I’m sorry to hear your Occupy includes some people that you believe are not respectful of you and other women. Why don’t you email me some days you might want to do OccupyVoice and I will see if there are any that match.
      A happy New Year to you and Jager and your husband, as well!

  2. 3 nriebschlaeger January 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I remember his first steps onto the snow of your yard and how he quickly climbed unto your feet to get away from that cold stuff. He has grown up a lot and learned a lot and seems so eager to learn more. What a great guy that Barnum is!

  3. 5 eileenanddogs January 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Happy Birthday Barnum and …. just wow, Sharon! That is an incredible list!

    And here is the key to it all:
    “He is a dear, sweet, affectionate boy, very sensitive to my moods, but with a rock-solid temperament — almost nothing phases him.”

    Just wanted you to read that again. What a guy! Ding ding ding we have a winner!

  4. 6 wendy January 2, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Happy Birthday…and Bravo Barnum!!

    I’m so glad you found each other!
    w


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