Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Internet, meet Apollo!

Knightley: 1 year 3 months old
Apollo: 7 weeks 3 days old

So, in two weeks times we are embarking on Downunder Assistance Dog: Mark 2. The temperament testing last week went really well. We travelled up to Taree without a hitch and met the lovely breeders and their adult dogs. Then finally, we met the litter. They were so lovely, lively and happy. It was great to see what a lovely area they had been brought up in. I was pretty nervous and worried, because we'd come a fairly long way to find a new assistance dog prospect, and I really wanted to succeed with this litter.

I was also there to help temperament test some of the girl pups for a family with a boy with autism, to make sure we picked one that would fit well with him.

Our puppy on the right.
We set up in the shade because it was a very hot day - especially for us Canberra people!! So, the first dog we started with was a boy, with a green ribbon around his neck. He was extremely curious and affectionate on my lap which was great. He was happy to get attention at my feet. Hubby moved a couple of metres away and called him over and he sprung towards him eagerly - despite the heat. The other puppies were still milling around a bit at this stage, but 'Greenie' focused on us, it was very impressive. We next tried him out with our squeaky toy, which I had got specifically for our new pup. He was very curious, ran around after it eagerly. Then we tried a retrieve test, throwing a mini tennis ball and he brought it back, to my hand, twice... despite all the distractions around. We were very impressed - and the very first pup we tested! He watched the umbrella open suddenly but didn't draw back at all, and couldn't care less at loud sounds. The pinch test was great - about 9-10 seconds, meaning he wasn't particularly physically sensitive. A good thing when a dog is going to be wearing a harness/vest etc. He seemed a very friendly, happy and well balanced puppy.

We tested all the boys after that. They were all pretty good, none of them flinched from the umbrella, they all were interested in the squeaky toy - but only Greenie retrieved.

Meet the Internet, Apollo.
We tested three of the five girls for the breeder. Two of them were very good for bombproof-ness, probably the most important aspect for a pup going to a house with an autistic child - or any average family really lol! One of them actually wanted to investigate the umbrella/loud noises. I thought that was great. The other one was the only other retriever of the litter. If they had been wanting a full on assistance dog, I perhaps would have recommended this one, but the other one 'Dark Pink' was just so bombproof and loving I thought she would be the better match.

So it was obvious to us which puppy we wanted. While the others were pretty good, Greenie retrieved and that is often a big indicator for trainability as an assistance dog. So, he is ours!!! We racked our brains for a name for a few days and eventually (thanks for the suggestion, mum!) came up with the name Apollo, for the Roman god of healing. We pick up Apollo two weeks today.

The litter today, getting fluffier every day!
Knightley is well, we continue to do a reasonable amount of training. I am keeping up a little bit of his public training because I want to use him to train Apollo in what is expected of him in terms of public behaviour. I feel sad when I do take Knightley out as he really is well behaved, and I wish that we had been able to be the team we were meant to be. At least he will now have a best friend to play with - and very soon!! Knightley is currently undergoing treatment for his hips in the form of Zydax injections weekly for four weeks, and he'll get that every six months. It should stop his cartilage degrading too fast from the osteo-arthritis that goes with his hip dysplasia. Now it is warming up we hope to have him swimming regularly soon.

This breeder has been a real find, and it was really exciting to see the litter, and all the adult dogs. Their mother is a gorgeous Golden, quite dark and very delicate looking especially in the face. Although I like having male dogs, a part of me wants to own one of those feminine beauties.

So the pups are growing very well, and Knightley is as well as can be expected. Oz Working Dogs is growing and doing well, and I'm considering buying a new sewing machine. I've been pretty busy with it.

So that's us for the moment. We're up to Sydney next weekend for a wedding, and Knightley will be going to my parent's place again for the weekend. Then the following weekend, it's time to pick up Apollo. Can't wait!!

'Til later, internetland.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Don't faint, it's a new post!!! Temperament testing the litter this weekend!

Knightley: 1 year 2 months 3 weeks old
Possible puppy: 6 weeks 1 day old

I know, I'm a very bad girl. It has been so very long since my last post. Hah, that sounds quasi-religious.

The reason, once again, is Oz Working Dogs. When I started it I was rather tentative about its prospects of suceeding, but now it is very obvious that it is taking off in a big way. Especially this last week I have been working very hard - probably too hard - and I'm exhausted. I am stocking all sorts of things now, toys, first aid, dog cologne, and making quite a few vests, capes etc. I am happy that I am making others happy with the equipment.

I've also had several bouts of sickness since my last post, including one big whopper of a migraine coupled at the same time with some sort of flare in my primary illness - fever, bad rash, joint pain - which had me as close as going to a hospital as I've been since I spent my 29th birthday in ICU. After that horrific experience I swore I wouldn't go back unless I was half dead. Last week made me reconsider, but I did get through it.

The good news is that Knightley and I have been getting back into training some more. We're working hard on his recall, and it's improving - even at the dog park, gasp!! He's very good at coming at home, even when he is doing something fascinating outside. We continue to work on Level 3 of the Sue Ailsby Step to Success Levels, but without the urgency of before. If I get a new puppy, I plan to take him back to the beginning with the pup. Sometimes I realise how much Knightley does know, especially the indoor manners that are so useful in turning a dog into a nice companion.

Ready world??? Here we come!!
So the big news is the litter of puppies I talked about in my last post are old enough now for temperament testing to see if they are up to assistance dog quality. While temperament testing gives you just a guide of how good the puppy could ideally be when it grows up, it is a valuable tool to rule out puppies who are definitely not going to make it. I am very excited to meet them. The breeder has continued to send photos of the puppies daily - to the point I feel like I already know them somewhat. I'll also be temperament testing some of the girl pups. One of the families getting a pup has a high functioning autistic child, and they're getting a girl. The breeder wants my input to make sure they get the right pup. I've had a chat to someone who is very involved in autism assistance dogs, and with my own knowledge of temperament testing I think I'll be fine to find the right girl for the family. Or maybe two, and then I'll get the breeder to judge which one the child bonds better with.

A small part of their awesome puppy yard, completely with pipes
to crawl through, little seesaws, all sorts of things that blow in the
wind, balls, toys, objects hanging from ropes... just so many thing
that contribute to making a scare proof well balanced pup.
We leave for the trip up to the breeders later today, and it is a long drive - about 7 hours including breaks.... so we are splitting it up there and back over three days. First day will be about 4 hours driving or a bit more, second maybe 5.5 and third 5. Not a bad split. We'll be testing the litter on the second day. I am pretty positive about finding a good prospect in this litter - even perhaps two. These pups have been brought up extremely well, with an amazing expansive puppy yard filled with all sorts of interesting objects. Compared to how the first litter I tested (very very timid litter) was brought up it is just completely and totally different. These puppies have every chance of being amazingly well adjusted dogs. The breeder doesn't let them go until they are 9 weeks old as she vaccinates late, which is fine by me as an extra week with their litter and mother is good continued puppy education and socialisation for the pup. They are a touch over six weeks old now, and will be just about 6.5 weeks old when I test them. 7 weeks is meant to be ideal, but next weekend just wasn't going to work out. They'll only be four days off the ideal, so I think that will be fine.

If there is a puppy in the litter for us, we will have a few purchases to make as I have held off getting things like a crate, bed and mat, although I will be able to make all the leads, collars and harnesses that I desire. The main thing I want, with the whole of my being, is for this puppy to be healthy. If we had another pup with hip dysplasia I would find that extremely hard to accept. We will get PennHip done on this puppy, early, so we know what we are working with.

The puppies exploring the spray from a hose leak. It's so wet!
Knightley will be staying with my dad while we are away, as my mum is also away down on the coast. So I think that will be a bit challenging for him!! He's hoping to engage my brother as a helper to tire Knightley out and babysit him a bit. It's a good idea. My brother lived with us when we first got Knightley, and even though he has grown up a LOT from the lanky adolescent he was when my brother moved out, my brother is still more familiar with him than my parents.

So this weekend is make or break time. Cross your fingers and toes for me as I desperately want to get back on the assistance dog train!!

Will give you the news soon internetland, as to whether Knightley has a new best friend.