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!
Then, he became my fuzzy little bundle of joy. (And a pee and poo output machine.)
And a bit of a mouthy monster. . . .
Well, I’m sure he’ll outgrow it. . . .
But no, he doesn’t do that anymore. Now he is much more relaxed. In fact, he has become a Zen master. . . .
Not just liver treats, but pies, too. . . .
And his “take” and “hold” skills are part of his zen mastery. . . .
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