Saturday, February 13, 2010

To The Lucky Person That Liam Adopts..

AP here:

Tonight is Liam’s last night with us and I wanted to put some things out there for the lucky person that Liam adopts. He is going back to his foster home after spending a week snowed in with Tonka. They have done a great job with him and I know he will be happy to "see" them again.

When you read this keep in mind he is still very much a puppy at 8 months old so anything written that seems like a negative is not, he is very smart and will only get better with maturity. Liam learns really quickly and if you watch any of his videos at
you will see what he is capable of.

What Liam knows:
Wait - say command and touch his nose
How to slide/walk down a dog ramp from the back of an SUV

Things that he needs to have someone stay consistent with till it gets to be second nature:
Big Step
Shake - say the word and snap your fingers
Leave It

Things he really likes:
Long Walks - these are a must. They expose him to different sounds, smells and experiences not to mention meeting lots of people and this will help keep him a confident well mannered boy. The house is the same sensory experience pretty much every day so I make a point to take Tonka out for 2 miles in the morning and 2 in the evening so he gets to have different smells and sounds. I am not saying Liam needs to walk that far (he is still a little guy) but he does need to get out and learn his neighborhood. The walking also creates a bond between the 2 of you as you navigate him through things and will build trust in you as the leader.

Playing with Other Dogs
His favorite stuffed toy
His Wiggle Giggle Ball
Frozen Peanut Butter Kong
Kong Bone with treat stuffed into ends
Bill Jacs
Tuffie Toys
Chicken Strips
Belly Rubs

Things he will grumble about or try to be a bit mouthy (bear in mind that blind dogs tend to be mouthier than sighted dogs) - just tell him "no mouth" or "knock it off" and he will:
Nail Trim - easier to do after long walk
Ear Cleaning - also easier to do after long walk

Walking on lead:
Liam prefers to be out in front which is good from a confidence standpoint but needs to learn to heel and take commands and cues from his handler.
I use a bungee cord type leash with Tonka called the roamer for long walks. It allows him freedom to walk around and at the same time forces him to listen to my commands to navigate. It has a handle built in that I can use to bring him in next to me to work on heel or keep him close when crossing the street, meeting people etc. I use a 6 foot leash for training sessions or short walks.

Liam is a very social dog and although he is sometimes a little skittish in a new situation just give him a minute with someone new or let him explore a new place he will quickly adapt.

He uses his nose constantly and when walking or mapping out a new area he will sweep his head side to side to figure out where things are. In the house I use vanilla food extract (you can use lemon or peppermint as well) to mark all the doorframes, corners of things (tables, fish tank, chest of drawers etc.). It only takes a little dab and does not have to be done very often; once a room is mapped out it is mapped out unless you change something. For any steps in the house I put a strip of the sticky backed plastic they use to cover carpets when doing construction or painting on the top step. When Tonka would feel that he knew he was at the first step. Liam is very good with steps once he has done them a few times. When out walking and we encounter steps I use the "wait" command to bring him to a stop and then use my foot to tap the first step and then use the "step" command for every step until we are either at the top or the bottom. We have over 3 feet of snow at the moment so on long walks we sometimes have to step up and over snow banks and that’s when the command "big step" comes in handy. I also use the "big step" combined with the "over" command for stepping over downed trees with Tonka when we walk through the woods.

Like any dog he is interested in the smell of people food (especially with that nose) and will come to explore but will leave when you tell him no. He likes to steal rugs and toilet paper but is easily swayed back to his toys. He likes to sleep on a dog bed near people and will sleep through the night. He has mastered the doggie door and is 100% house trained, if the doggie door is closed he will sit at the door to let you know he has to go out.
He does not like to wear his goggles or his sunglasss but neither does Tonka and the trick is to get him occupied with something so he forgets he has them on. Walks where there are lots of people to meet and fuss over him works well as a distraction to get him used to keeping them on. They are a must in large crowds of people, walks in the woods and windy days where debris can fly into his eyes.

Having a blind dog is really no different than a sighted dog and if they have been blind since birth. Liam and Tonka have no clue they are blind and don’t know they are any different from any other dog. I don’t baby Tonka (I do spoil him though) nor do I pity him. I treat him as I would any sighted dog, he has rules and I am his pack leader so he has to listen. In return I make sure that he can trust that my decisions and commands will keep him safe.
Liam will only be limited in what he can do by you (the pack leader) always stay upbeat, make everything fun, and keep him safe and he will amaze you.

P.S. We are all very attached to Little Liam so when he does adopt you we will need to schedule some playdates...

No comments: