Recently I’ve seen a bunch of photos floating around the inter-webs of dogs and their celebrity doppelgangers. Here are some on BarkBox’s Pinterest page and more from MSN. I’ve been drawing a blank trying to think of a famous person that Nola resembles. But, a famous computer animated house elf from Harry Potter, that’s another story!
We’ve done several training classes with Nola over the past few years. We even tried agility with her, which she loved, until she tore her ACL. We decided after her CGC certification that we would do a class just for fun. We needed a class that wasn’t too physical, since the vet recommend she avoid jumping. We didn’t want to do another obedience class right away. And, we wanted to do something that was F-U-N for Nola Muffin. Since she seems to be a pro at sniffing out all the poop buried under the snow in our yard, finding chicken bones on the side of the road, and all digging up all sorts of gross things at the beach, we figured Nose Work seemed like the perfect fit!
Last week was our first class. I find the first class of any training session to be a bit stressful,
probably because I am a worrier and have anxiety about unknown situations, and this on proved to be no different. It had been recommended to us by Teri, the trainer, to bring a crate for Nola. Because the dogs work off leash it is important to keep the other dogs contained. Well, it’s been well over a year since Nola has even stepped foot in a crate. We worked on it a bit at home before class, but apparently not enough. She hated being in there and would only be calm if we were feeding her treats. Otherwise she was whining and pawing at the door. Look at the pathetic face she gave us:
Next week we are going to try a bigger crate and see if that helps a bit. (This one was the smaller of the two we own, because it’s easier to transport, but she was hitting her head on the top.) We also tried just keeping her behind a partition, but she was too interested in what was going on, and she’s tall enough to see over it!
After we set up our holding area for Nola, the class begun. Each dog got to go three rounds, with three turns to sniff each round. During the first round Nola got to watch as Teri took the treat, put it in a box and placed it on the floor amongst just a few other boxes. Then, the Mr. let her lead him around as she sniffed to find the box with the treat in it. It’s important to use high value, stinky treats in this class. Nola had a combination of chicken and hotdogs to find. Once Nola found the box with the treat we were supposed to ‘jackpot’ reward her by throwing another handful of treats in the box and praising her like she had just become the first dog President of the United States. Nola was a pro at this round!
The second round got a little harder. This time, Nola was still allowed to see Teri put the treat in the box, but now there were even more empty boxes added to the mix. She was also allowed to search off leash on her own this time. Nola still did excellent, finding the box with the treat almost right away.
The third round was the ‘blind’ hide. Nola went behind a barrier as Teri hid the treat in a box. Then, she was allowed to search off leash for the box. Nola had a harder time with this one. She wanted to go to Teri and give her the ‘do you have something for me?’ look. We had to tap the boxes a bit to get her back on track. By the last turn she was doing great!
Overall the class was really fun. Nola seemed to enjoy it, and came home pretty tired. There were five other dogs there, and one of them, a sweet older lady named Birdie, just so happens to be owned by one of my blog idols- Jessica from Notes from a Dog Walker and the creator of DINOS (Dogs in Need of Space). Although I was a bit to self-conscious/paranoid/embarrassed by Nola making a scene in her crate/star struck to actually introduce myself to Jessica (insert palm to forehead!), it was nice to see Birdie go from having her tail tucked and very unsure of the boxes, to wagging and easily finding those delicious morsels Teri hid! (I promised myself that next time I will go over and introduce myself.) That’s the best part of this type of class, it is good for all sorts of dogs- shy dogs, old dogs, dogs that don’t like other dogs, young dogs, dogs that need more mental stimulation, etc. We hope Nola will like it even more next week!
The Mr. and I are involved with several different rescue organizations and shelters here in Maine. But our love for dogs and passion for rescue reaches into our professional lives as well. Especially the Mr.-he works with the AHL Affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team, the Portland Pirates, selling corporate sponsorships. In other words, he sells the signage on the dasher boards, in the arena, gets the giveaway items and also organizes game promotions.
He is currently planning an event with our favorite doggy daycare, Camp Bow Wow, who also works with rescues to foster adoptable pups at camp, to plan an adopt a dog night on Friday, March 29th. It’s such a great event, people can go and watch a night of hockey and also meet a bunch of adoptable pups!
If you’re local to Portland and would like to go to the game that night (3/29, 7:00pm), you can buy discounted tickets and part of the proceeds of every ticket purchased will be donated to Canine Commitment! In addition,Camp Bow Wow will be on hand in the Main Lobby throughout the game with a number of dogs looking for “FURever” homes! You can purchase your tickets here. And, as if that’s not enough, if you stop by the Camp Bow Wow table in the Main Lobby on game night to make a donation of cash, food or a dog toy you will receive 2 tickets to a future Pirates game!
If you’re not local, but are feeling especially generous and would like to help support this great rescue any donation amount would be appreciated! Donate Now!
Nola LOVES Camp Bow Wow, and we love that they are more than just a doggie daycare. We hope you can help us help support their cause!
Monday night was Nola’s final CGC prep class and the night of the actual test. As you probably already saw from Facebook, she passed! It was close, for some reason or another she did not want to give me a sit or a down, so we had to go back and do that at the end, but she rocked all the other parts! From now on she will officially be known as Nola Muffin Beaudoin, CGC.
I often call Nola ‘my accessory’ as a way to justify her multiple (and matching) collars, jackets, leashes and the newest fashion piece, her snood. But Friday Nola got her own accessory, a custom collar flower from Little Bow Pup.
I loved ALL of the flowers in the shop, but since Nola’s collar has a pretty busy pattern, I really wanted a solid color flower so I chose to customize one just for her. I emailed back and forth with Ashley, the shop owner and fellow blogger over at Pitlandia, discussing what I was thinking and asking for her suggestions. She was so helpful and accommodating. I am not great at making decisions, but she sent me samples of the fabric, which was so helpful! The finished product is beautiful. It matches Nola’s collar perfectly.It just so happened that the flower arrived on the day Nemo (the blizzard that dumped 31.9″ of snow on us) did too. So, our photo shoot happened outside. Isn’t the flower and the snow in the background a nice juxtaposition?
After the flower was done, I got one final email from Ashley asking me if she could name it after Nola! How awesome is that? Now YOU can have a Nola flower for your pup too! Next, we’re thinking about getting one with the reverse colors- purple on top and red on bottom. Just so Nola can mix and match, a girl’s gotta have options! Maybe that one should be called the Alon (Nola reversed)?
And if you have a boy dog, Little Bow Pup offers tons of ah-door-ah-ble bow ties like this one, and this one or this one. Nola bought her boyfriend Payson the Superhero one for Valentine’s Day. He’ll be getting it later today (hopefully his mom hasn’t read this yet!). We are sure he’s going to love it!
For the past 5 weeks Nola has been taking a Canine Good Citizen prep class. According to the American Kennel Club, “the CGC Program is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community. The Canine Good Citizen Program is a two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs.” I have been wanting to get Nola certified for a while, as a way to work on some of our training, and also to be able to say that she is a good dog with a certification to back it up! When I received an email from our agility trainer Teri at Canine Kinship saying she had spots open in her class, I decided now was the time!
There are 10 parts to the CGC test:
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
Test 3: Appearance and grooming
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
Test 5: Walking through a crowd
Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
Test 7: Coming when called
Test 8: Reaction to another dog
Test 9: Reaction to distraction
Test 10: Supervised separation
I knew going in that there would be certain things that Nola would need more practice at. But, there is only one other dog in the class with Nola, a mini-Sheltie name Milo, so we have been getting a lot of practice and one on one time with Teri. It is interesting that Nola and Milo both have such different things to work on. Nola’s biggest problem is that she is TOO social. The second test, sitting politely for petting, is VERY difficult for her. She wants to go right up to the person coming toward her and give kisses and greet them with her wiggle but. Also, test 8, reaction to another dog, is tough because she wants to sniff and check out the dog when they are that close to her. Here we are practicing paying attention to me, and not Milo:
The thing with the CGC test is that you can use verbal commands, but no treats! This fact has really shown us that we have become a little too dependent on using treats to get Nola to do something. Don’t get me wrong, she has sit, down, come, stay and even shake and high five down to a science without treats. It’s the ‘pay attention to me’ and ‘don’t pull on the leash while walking’ that we need to work on getting her to do without a treat, using praise as a reward instead.
Last week was the last class before the actual test. So, in order to practice in a higher distraction environment as well as letting us see what the next step might be after getting her CGC, we went on a field trip to a nursing home. The Mr. and I were nervous about how Nola was going to do. Like I said before, Nola is very social, and likes to see, meet and kiss everyone. I didn’t want her to be too rough, get too excited and jump, or just get too overwhelmed. She is pretty easy going in new situations, but sometimes strange objects make her nervous and she gets a bit growly. We quickly found out that Nola was a natural. She wasn’t nervous around wheelchairs, walkers, dinner carts or any other new things that came down the halls as we trained. In fact she did a very nice down stay right next to a wheelchair. She took treats nicely from people’s hands, and even gave them gentle, sweet kisses.
We practiced sitting in a variety of different places, asking people to only pet her once her butt was on the ground. As we walked down the halls, the nurses and patients ‘ooed’ and ‘ahhhed’ at the dogs going by. Milo got most of the attention, which is only natural since he is a ten pound fluff ball who is so easy going. Nola was a second thought for most people, but it didn’t seem to hurt her feelings too much (my mommy pride was hurt a bit, but it’s ok, I still think she is the cutest dog ever!). One lady called us into her room, but once she got a better look at Nola her tone of voice shifted and she said to us nervously, “Is that a pit bull?” Immediately followed by backing up in her chair and asking “Is she friendly?” The Mr. had Nola at the time, as I stood back with Teri and watched. He kept his cool, even though I could tell he was a little taken aback, and just told the lady she was very friendly and she is actually a boxer mix. Things went smoothly after that, she gave Nola a few pats and showed us pictures of her dog. It was just a bit of a shock to us that this came up, but I guess Nola does have a blocky head and jowls and is routinely mistaken for a pit bull. This just showed us that stereotypes are very deep in our society, even in the nursing home community.
After about 40 minutes of greeting people and walking the halls, we could tell the dogs were getting a little overwhelmed so we decided to take them back down to the lobby to decompress. Teri said Nola did a fantastic job and if we wanted to pursue this, she would get certified as a therapy dog easily. She said she looks for the dog to be engaged with people, not overly excited, and calm in the environment, all of which she saw Nola doing. The Mr. and I were so proud of our Muffin. She did awesome!
Our last class is Monday and it’s test day. I am still a little unsure if Nola will pass on her first try, but even if she doesn’t, I will be proud of her and we will keep working on all of these things with her! Wish us luck on Monday, we’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!
(All photos courtesy of Teri at Canine Kinship)