learning to Click

the type of training Kim is using for our little Cade is called Clicker Training. i am still very much in the process of learning. the main idea of the clicker is to tell the dog exactly when he's achieved the behavior you are requesting. 

the very first step in this type of training is called Charging the Clicker-- teaching the dog that when he hears the 'click!' there is a treat coming his way. 

click! treat! click! treat! click! treat!

building from there, you can slowly shape the pup's behaviors. they learn to keep thinking, keep problem-solving until they hear that lovely, rewarding click. its an amazing thing to see his little 15 week brain working things out.

in this video, i am teaching Cade how to lay down. you'll hear me say the cue "down," but when i first started with him, i wasn't saying a word. i held the treat on the floor, under my crooked knee to lure him into a down position. once his body hit the floor, click! only after he grasped what i wanted from him did i start using the cue "down." its such a cool process.


working at barnes and noble

the cast of characters. Sean and Caroline unseen :)
Cade, ready to work.

watching the kids "sharing" at the train table :)
tuckered out.


our first trip south

It's just before 9pm,

I'm already curled up in bed.

Reason 1: Downton Abbey on PBS starts in 8 min.
So, so hooked.

Reason 2: Joshua and I are hitting the road bright and early tomorrow.

The Nana, Shu, my brother Kurt and his darling baby, Sean and I are heading down to the big VA to visit with Kim, her fam, and Cade.

So, so excited.

We are making an adjustment to our normal route in order to swing through the booming metropolis of Mt. Gilead, OH. The lovely women at Service Dogs of Virginia called to ask if we could transport a new dog, with hopes she'll become a part of the Autism Service Dog program. Her name is Tessa and she's an adorable little tri-color dog. She is about 4 years old, a rescued Bernese/Aussie mix pup that I'm told is incredibly affectionate and sweet. Poor thing had better like people-- she's about to make the trip with a truckload!

Speaking of which, thanks to Kristen and Jeff for the loan of the larger truck! We'll be using ever last square inch of it!

Cade's Puppy Class is on Tuesday morning. We are so looking forward to seeing what his new tricks of the trade are :)

Check back for pictures this week!!


Reading with Cade

Today you'll be reading the Cade & Me (& Me, Too) blog.

That's right, folks!  It's me, Kim.  Your friendly neighborhood puppy raiser.

Cade visited the kids' elementary school last week.  His assignment for the day:  complete two 20-minute reading sessions with kids that need help building their reading confidence.  Pretty important work, so I made sure we started off the day right.  He had a good breakfast and lots of playtime outside that morning, then off to the school for SAIL (Students Achieving In Literacy) time.  Here is a picture of him outside the school building:

The kids that were chosen for Cade's first session were two boys in about 3rd or 4th grade.  Both have trouble with reading.  They find it especially intimidating to read aloud to new people.  Their teacher explained that I may have to do all of the reading and allow them to just listen and enjoy their time with Cade and me.  That would have been perfectly fine, but things took a different turn when the boys met Cade.  We all sat down together in a quiet little reading room we had all to ourselves.  The carpet was comfy.  The bookshelves were stocked.  The puppy was adorable.  It was a perfect recipe for reading fun.  Those boys let their inhibitions fly and we really had a blast.

One boy picked out a book about dinosaurs and read it to us extremely well, sharing all kinds of extra facts he knew about his favorite prehistoric friends.  The other boy chose a book about a lizard.  We went through it page by page, comparing the lizard's reptilian eyes, teeth, nails, and skin with Cade's puppy parts.  I was amazed at their comfort level.  And Cade really enjoyed himself, too!

The boys and I walked with Cade back to their classroom, then I took the pup out to relieve himself and get a moment of fresh air.  We walked back in after a minute and headed down to the other child's classroom.  This was a fifth grade girl who also finds it intimidating to read aloud.  She feels very embarrassed over small mistakes in her reading, and that has caused her to fall behind.  We went to the same comfy floor in the reading room that the boys and I had used, then picked out a couple of books.  They were like stepping stones in terms of their difficulty.  One was overly simple.  One was a little closer to being right.  And the last one was just challenging enough but did not overwhelm her.  It was actually a story I remember fondly from my own childhood.  It's called Little Bunny's Loose Tooth, or something close to that.  I loved listening to her read.  And I also loved watching Cade, all snuggled up close to her and dozing contentedly.

When she finished the last book, I walked this little girl back to her room.  Many kids were changing classrooms since SAIL time was wrapping up.  As we passed her classmates and friends in the hall, she proudly explained that "This puppy's ALLOWED in the school, he's a SERVICE DOG."  And answered all the follow-up questions,"It's a boy puppy, not a girl!"  And, "His name is Cade, and I am helping him to be a good listener!"  It was priceless.

So we left the school that day feeling fantastic.  Good boy, Cade!

He looks awfully proud of himself, doesn't he?

Well, proud, yes.  But hungry, too!  When's lunch?!?