Friday, December 3, 2010

Boon Poses

Boon, all stretched out -- his favorite pose.

Focused Boon

Contented Boon

Cute Boon

Playful Boon

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boon Thanks

One year ago, on this day, Boon came to live with us. My husband and I were so excited to go pick up our new puppy. We had not met Boon prior to that day. He was gifted to us by a very special family and shipped by airplane. At first sight, we fell in love with Boon. He was everything we hoped for -- and more!

Now a year later, Boon continues to be everything we hoped for -- and more. He is 15 months old and weighs 95.8 lbs. He is healthy, happy, full of life and such a sweetie. Though he has a huge puppy streak, he rarely gets into mischief. He is obedient and every way, a wonderful addition to our home.

I'm thankful for my sweet Boon and for all the joy that he has added to our lives.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Boon Patience

My in-training therapy dog continues to be a source of therapy for me. Over the last few weeks, I have been quite ill. Boon just seems to know when I am not 100%. He lies beside me, barely leaving my side. His patience amazes me. Though he has to wait longer between trips outside, he does not whine or complain. He just waits. His presence and patience are sweet sources of comfort.

Because of my illness, Boon and I have missed several training sessions. Our daily practice has been sporadic. At times, I feel concerned that we are getting very behind...that it might take much longer to get to our therapy work than I had ever imagined. But I am learning from Boon. No whining. No complaining. Just wait. Wait on God. It will all come together in His time, and once the need to wait is past, realization of the goal will be even more precious.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Boon Distractions

Saturday was the perfect day for a training session: overcast with a pleasant breeze. When we arrived, the pavilion was full -- 7 other dogs and their handlers awaited the start of class. Somewhere within that sweet doggy brain, Boon seemed to think that everyone was waiting to play with him. To Boon, there is no such thing as foe, he has not met a person or dog that he doesn't like. His sentiments are much like Dug (from the movie "UP"), "I have just met you, and I love you." Where there is love, play is close behind...needless to say, from the moment we arrived at class, Boon was distracted with thoughts of play.

Also like Dug, who loses focus at the thought of a squirrel, Boon's focus is easily diverted. If a possible playing partner hits his peripheral, focus is lost. Once Boon loses focus, it is somewhat of a challenge to bring him back to task. Challenging -- that is the best way to describe our last training session.

Boon is chock-full-of-charm and brimming with sweetness; this adds up to great therapy-dog material. The focus part is going to take a little more time...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Boon Process

For the last two Saturdays, the heat index here in Hotlanta has been anywhere from 105-110. I did not think it was a good idea for either one of us to be out in that kind of heat, (especially since training sessions are usually close to two hours in length) so Boon and I have missed a few weeks of training. Thankfully, we are in a very flexible training program: even if you are unable to attend consecutive training sessions, you still get the total number of sessions paid for...this is a very good thing!

Though we have not been able to attend the actual training sessions, we have still been working hard. Boon has learned the "Side" command (lies down on his side) and has also been working on "Forward" and "Finish". The whole process that we are currently working on is as follows: "Sit" to my right side, "Stay", I pivot in front of him while he continues to "Stay", I back up 2 feet, "Forward", "Sit", "Stay" and then "Finish" - which means Boon goes back to his starting point, my right side, and does a "Sit/Stay". We are also working on an alternate "Finish" where Boon begins on my right side, he then follows through with the process, but when it comes to the "Finish", Boon walks behind me and goes to a "Sit/Stay" on my left side.

Boon is doing a good job with this process. When we are working outside, he still has a tendency to want to go "Down" and not get back up...but he is making progress in this as well. Whether inside or outside, Boon is making progress with the process.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Boon B-day

Today is Boon's birthday. It is hard to believe that the 3-month-old, 26-lb puppy that we brought home in November is now one-year-old and 90 lbs! Throughout the last nine months, it has been such a joy to watch Boon grow and develop. He is definitely the puppy of my dreams.

So, today, I celebrate Boon. I celebrate his sweetness. I celebrate all that he has learned. I celebrate all the laughter and good things that he has brought into my life. How thankful I am for my Boon companion!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Boon's Work-Ethic

Tonight, my Boon is exhausted. We got up fairly early this morning, and then set out for our new training adventure: Canine Good Citizenship Training. Training sessions take place outside, under a pavilion. Though the sun was not beating down on my big boy, the humidity of Hotlanta was extremely evident.

At the beginning of our training time, Boon was excited and eager. With focus and enthusiasm, he met some new dog friends and learned some new moves. After an hour of training, the heat had a wilting effect on this 90-lb. puppy. When it came time to show what he had learned, Boon's focus and stamina had completely waned. Greatly distracted by his fatigue, commands seemed to barely register. When told to "Sit", he sat and then went "Down"...with no intention of getting up anytime soon. Further commands were met with a you-don't-really-mean-it-do-you? look. So, needless to say, we have quite a bit of homework to do. Most of which, we will need to work on outside so that Boon can get better acquainted with the humidity of Hotlanta's summer.

Though the heat drained my Boon companion, I was so proud of how hard he worked today. Tonight, he is taking every opportunity to rest...this is a good thing, for come Monday, we will be practicing again...outside. Poor Boon~

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Boon Gift

My mom recently returned from a trip to South Africa. She brought back a gift for her granddog: a scarf that pictures the South African flag. Here, Boon is sporting his new scarf.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Boon And Busy Days

The last few months have been very busy around our house. So busy, we have not even been able to think about beginning Boon's next level of training. By this point, I was hoping that he would have begun his Canine Good Citizenship training; since that has not been possible, my goal now is to begin this training sometime around the end of July or the beginning of August.

Though our schedule has been crazy, Boon has taken everything in stride. As long as he has food, water, outside time and a generous helping of ball time, he seems perfectly content.

At almost 10 months old, Boon is steadily growing and maturing. He is showing some signs of adolescence: little pimples popping up around his mouth and some pushing of boundaries, but he remains as sweet as ever...and though he is around 75 lbs, he still curls up in my lap just like he did when he was a little pup.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Excellence of Boon

When our last obedience class commenced, I was not sure if Boon would be able to settle down enough to complete his commands: it had been two weeks since Boon had seen Pavi's arrival to class, Boon went crazy. He could not contain his excitement at seeing his little buddy.

After separating him from his beloved friend and using some creative measures to help him focus -- which included a few romps up and down the agility A-frame ramp -- Boon was ready to show himself competent in the obedience of commands such as Sit, Stay, Down, Leave It and Come.

Upon successfully completing all of his commands, Boon received his "Certificate of Excellence". Of course, this certificate did not tell us anything that we did not already know: Boon is definitely an excellent dog. Yet, his excellence runs much deeper than his ability to complete particular is seen in his daily sweetness, in the kindness that he willingly offers. On days that I am not feeling well, this is especially I lie on the couch, this ball-loving puppy will come and lie down beside me, longing to play ball, but somehow knowing that I do not have the strength that day. While Boon is working toward becoming an official therapy dog, his kind nature is already a source of therapy for me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boon's Favorite Class

Due to illness, Boon and I missed class #4, but we made it for our 5th class. When we showed up for class, we found that we were the only ones who were able to make it for week 5...this meant we had Jeanne, our wonderful trainer, all to ourselves. We had so much fun! Boon practiced walking on his leash, Leave It and Come. Boon also had the opportunity to show Jeanne his Retrieve and Release skills. Jeanne was very impressed that Boon could Stay until told to Retrieve a particular toy...that is a big accomplishment for a 7-month-old lab!

After Boon and I practiced each of his commands, Jeanne thought it might be fun to break out the agility equipment and see how Boon responded to it. At first, Boon was a little hesitant to go up the large, agility A-frame ramp, but after a little coaxing, he was going up and down the ramp with great ease. He wanted to play on the ramp...but learned that the ramp is off limits unless he is instructed to do ramp exercises.

Following a few ramp repetitions, Boon also had the opportunity to attempt a low-level agility jump: Boon was on one side of the jump apparatus, I was on the other side. Boon was told to Come and was supposed to jump over the apparatus as part of the Come process. Boon's first response was to try to go around the jump, but after a little practice, he was jumping over the apparatus to complete the Come. What a treat this was for was definitely his favorite class!

Boon has one more week of obedience training and then will soon begin his Canine Good Citizenship training. He loved this agility work so much, I think we will plan to do some agility training after he completes the CGC training.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Boon Act

Well, Boon has completed three obedience classes and he has three more to go. In week three, he continued to show improvement, but the whining was still an issue. It is hard for him to see the other two dogs and not be able to play with them.

In this third class, we worked on the Leave It command, added Down and also worked on sitting at a door/waiting to be released to exit through door. Since we first brought Boon home, we have worked on Sit, Down, Stay and Come, but it was good to have the opportunity to work on these things with an added element of distraction.

The leash pulling is getter better, but Boon still has some work to do in that department. My prize moment of the class started out as quite a blunder. Each of us were working individually with our dogs. To Boon's right, Pavi, the sweet, corgi/jack russell mix, was intently focusing on his owner. I was working with Boon, leash in one hand, bag of treats in the other: in a down moment, Pavi became Boon's focus, he lunged toward Pavi, wanting to give him a friendly sniff...the lunge pulled me off balance and all of Boon's treats scattered across the floor...I quickly told Boon to SIT and STAY...Pavi's owner and I swiftly began to pick up Boon's treats...and Boon, with all that wonderful temptation luring him to disobey, did exactly what he had been told - he sat and stayed! WOW! The trainer was quite impressed by Boon's act of obedience...and so was I.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Boon Class

In class #2, Boon showed marked improvement. He whined much less...when he was in the presence of the other dogs, he pulled some on his leash, but found it much easier to focus on my instructions. I know that continued exposure to new dogs and experiences will increase his aptitude and comfort level.

Last night, we worked on leash walking: Boon walking by my side, sitting when I stop...and we also worked on the Leave It command. Boon responded very well. My prize memory of the night was when I said "Leave It" and Boon stopped focusing on the sweet, little corgi/jack russell mix and looked right at me!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Boon Vocab

Today as Boon and I were working together, I began to think about how many words he understands and usually obeys. Boon knows the following words: ball, basket, Boon, come, down, eat, get out, go back, good boy, gravy, ice, kennel, leave it, let's go, nice, night-night, no, ok, outside, release, retrieve, sit, stay, treat, up, watch me, water. He is such a smart boy!

We have been working really hard this week. He has made great strides on the easy walk harness: he is pulling much less and is learning to SIT at my side when I stop walking. Tonight we will again step into the realm of doggy distraction as we go to his second obedience class. I hope he remembers everything that we have worked on...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Boon of Training

Since Boon first came into our home, my desire has been for him to become the very best dog that he can be. As Boon has been growing and learning, my husband and I have also been learning: learning how to communicate with Boon, what not to do, what we do not want Boon to do, etc.

Boon is such a sweet puppy. There are times when he pushes the limits and/or ignores a command, but he generally desires to please. At home, he is spirited but well-behaved. Outside of our home, as we found out when we took Boon to the vet, the stimulations and distractions have a greater affect on him than his desire to please.

Because of this, we decided to enroll Boon in obedience training. We knew that he needed more exposure to other dogs and people. Obedience training would provide the opportunity to fulfill both scenarios as well as lay a wonderful foundation for Canine Good Citizenship training.

Last Thursday was Boon's first obedience class. Prior to class, I took Boon on a long walk, wanting him to be somewhat tired as he embarked on this new endeavor. The facility where Boon will be training also houses a doggy daycare and a boarding facility, so upon our arrival at the facility there were many doggy distractions. As we drove to the facility, Boon seemed tired, but on arrival he immediately went into full-force-ahead mode...he whined and strained on his leash, pulling toward all the smells and sounds.

There were a few dogs in the entryway; he went crazy...he pulled his way toward them and greeted them (whether they wanted to be greeted or not), he barked and whined and lunged. He really could not contain himself. I know after our vet experience I should not have been surprised, but I was...I felt like I had not prepared him sufficiently to go into this new experience, and yet we work on his commands almost everyday...I kept telling myself that this is what the obedience training is all about: giving him this exposure, allowing him to get used to other environments and teaching him to obey when he is out of his comfort zone.

There are two other dogs in Boon's class: a two-year old boxer and a tiny corgi/jack russell mix. They are both very sweet dogs, neither of them as spirited as Boon. Boon continued to whine and pull, wanting to be near them...they just stared at him. Once class began, the trainer had to consistently raise her voice so that she could be heard over Boon's whining and yelping. "Well", I thought, "it is obvious that this is exactly what Boon needs!" As class progressed, Boon became a little more comfortable. We were able to work on SIT amidst distraction, and he slowly began to focus on me more than the other dogs and people.

After class, the trainer recommended that I get an easy-walk harness for Boon. I have limited arm strength, and Boon gets stronger by the day, so it will be very helpful to have some added support which, hopefully, will aid in deterring the lunging and pulling. I apologized for Boon's loud shenanigans...the trainer kindly said: "He is not a problem. He will be a star student - I can tell". This was a great reassurance.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, a lot more learning to do together. While Boon needs this exposure, I need a huge dose of patience. I want to do this with Boon. I am confident that the rewards will outweigh the struggle and that all that wonderful energy can be channeled to produce amazing results.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow Boon

Last Friday, Dallas, Georgia was covered with 3-4 inches of snow. We have not seen that much snow in years, so it was quite a treat.

Boon had a blast playing in the snow. He licked the snow, he ate the snow, he chased snow balls, he ran and jumped. Surrounded by frozen water, he was like a kid in a candy store!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beautiful Boon

6-month-old Boon, relaxing after a busy day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Appointment #3 for Boon

Last Thursday, Boon was really giving off a terrible odor. At first I could not determine where the odor was coming from...but through process of elimination, realized that it was coming from his ears. Right away, I started doing some online research...I found that this kind of odor usually indicates a yeast infection inside the ears. So, I contacted the animal hospital and described the odor...they said that it would be a good idea for the vet to check out Boon's ears.

Just a few days prior, Boon had finished the antibiotic that was prescribed for his swelling...the swelling had cleared up nicely and was almost indiscernible...but now it looked like he had an ear infection??...something did not seem right about this picture...

The next morning Boon and I had our third visit to the animal hospital. Overall, Boon did well at this visit. He whined a little and had a difficult time sitting in one place...but he allowed his ears to be swabbed and cleaned out. It was determined that Boon did indeed have a yeast a topical med was applied to each ear, and would need to be applied once a day for the next two weeks. When it was time to render payment, Boon seemed to decide that SIT and STAY were highly unnecessary words. He showed a strong preference for pulling on his leash, which made it very difficult to take care of his bill...but thankfully, the receptionist gave a helping hand and Boon and I were soon on our way.

I was concerned that Boon was having so much physical unrest. I started doing more research regarding dogs, ear infections/lymph swelling, I read that this often means that the dog is allergic to something he/she has ingested. I began thinking about all the things that Boon regularly eats...any signs of unrest in him after he had eaten certain things, etc. The first thing that came to my mind was: pork.

Boon loves pork-hide chews...he will sit and chew on them for hours at a time. A few days after he started on his antibiotic, he showed marked improvement in his swelling...but on about the third day, I gave him a pork-hide chew...the next morning, his swelling seemed retrogressive. At that time, I thought through everything that he had ingested and wondered if it was the pork-hide which had caused this retrogression. Since that day, I have not given Boon another pork-hide chew...but when I learned that he had a yeast infection in his ears, I decided to look through the ingredient list on each of his treats...sure enough, there were other treats which also contained, as an experiment, I have taken Boon off of all pork. Hopefully, this will be beneficial and will aid in keeping Boon healthy and balanced. In the last three weeks, we have had three visits to the animal hospital...I really do not want to make it four in a row.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Appointment for Boon

On Sunday morning, Boon woke up with swelling under each of his eyes. The swelling was most pronounced on his right side. My husband Brad and I had no idea what to do...we figured this swelling was probably attributed to his jaw teeth trying to push their way in...he did not seem terribly bothered by the did not seem too painful, but he looked pretty pitiful. We decided he needed another visit to the animal I was hoping that this visit would be less eventful...

On Monday, Boon made his second appearance at our local animal hospital. He seemed much more comforable in his barking...just a little whining, a little running in place and a much better memory of those important words: SIT and STAY.

He responded well to the vet and allowed her to take a good look at him...she did not find any infection and felt that his jaw teeth were coming in correctly...she was a little concerned because she said that most puppies do not have this kind of swelling while they are teething. She said Boon might just be an abnormal case. To be cautious, she sent him home with an antibiotic.

Today, Boon awoke looking much improved. The swelling has begun to go down. His left side is much better, just a small amount of swelling remains...and his right side has also gone down quite a bit. So, he seems to be on the mend. The swelling has in no way affected his appetite or his desire to play and chew...he greets each new day looking forward to all that it will hold.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Boon Appointment??

Yesterday morning, I took Boon to the animal hospital. This was his first veterinary appointment here in GA. The main reason for the appointment: neutering. Due to this out-puppy procedure, Boon had to arrive at his appointment on an empty stomach, no food or water after midnight. Because of his deep admiration for both food and water, I was concerned about how he would respond to this little fast...but being the generally pliable puppy that he is, he did quite well with this unexpected change to his routine. His ride in the car went without incident...then we arrived at the animal hospital: I have no idea what happened to that generally pliable puppy!

Boon has taken several rides in our truck. With each trip, he was out of his comfort another ride, as well as a visit to an unfamiliar place, was rather overwhelming for the little guy. The moment we walked into the animal hospital, Boon seemed to no longer understand the words/commands which are usually so familiar to him...these commands appeared to take on new meanings: SIT turned into RUN IN PLACE...STAY turned into PULL ON YOUR LEASH, RUN IN PLACE and BARK...

Thankfully, when we arrived there was only one other dog in the waiting area. Boon, the puppy who rarely makes a peep, barked and barked at her...this was such a surprise to me...he did not seem to be able to focus in this new environment...there were so many stimulations and distractions. The hospital staff was kind and patient, and they soon whisked Boon into the back. About that time, a whole parade of dogs began filing into the waiting area...I cannot tell you how relieved I was that Boon was already in the back...I just do not think he could have handled such an elevated amount of stimulation...I left the animal hospital, smiling, but wondering if I was really making good progress with this sweet, little lab.

At 2:oo, Boon was ready to be picked up. I hesitantly asked how he did..."He did great", the nurse said. "He is a sweet puppy." What a relief! I received his care instructions and produced payment...and then a groggy and mild-mannered Boon appeared in the waiting area...he seemed happy to see me. Some other dogs were also in the waiting area, Boon investigated and made sure to take a good sniff, but no longer sensed the need to make his voice heard.

Boon had a good night. He was slow and less energetic, his normally wagging tail stayed down between his legs, but he had a good appetite. This morning, he was very excited to see that his routine was not going to be altered two days in a row. He heartily ate and drank...and even gave his tail a slow wag. He was eager to play and ready for a new day.

Overall, Boon's visit to the animal hospital was a positive experience...he responded well to having his routine changed, he showed that he is resilient...and I learned that he needs frequent exposure to new environments, dogs, etc. It was a productive appointment...but once Boon has recovered, we have a lot of work to do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Boon: Lover of Gravy

Boon continues to have a strong fondness for thrills him...but I think we have found something else that is right up there with water. Needless to say, Boon loves to eat...but a few times around Thanksgiving and Christmas, we put some turkey gravy on his food. He REALLY liked it! He has connected that if we take his bowl into the kitchen after filling it up with food, this probably means that he is going to get some gravy. With the thought of gravy on his mind, he can hardly contain his is just too much for a 5-month-old lab to hold in...though his exuberance makes it difficult for him to even walk in a straight line, we still want him to take the time to be thankful for his food!