We Seek After
These Things
Currently serving the people of Honduras for 3 years

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My CURIOUS incident of MY dog in the night time . . .

(Be prepared - sorry this is veeeerrryy long!)

First of all, I really must introduce you to Conan. Conan the Barbarian, as he is frequently called around here. We didn't name him that, but frequently he earns it.

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Conan came to us three years ago through Guide Dogs for the Blind. Daughter Kelsie, is a "a puppy raiser" for Guide Dogs for the Blind. That means she went through training and is now able to provide that initial training that puppies need before they become official guild dogs for blind and sight impaired people.



Usually the puppies arrive at your home at the age of 8 weeks and remain in your home until they are 14-18 months, when they return to Guide Dogs to begin their formal training to become active guide dogs. During that time they pretty much go with you everywhere to learn basic obedience, socialization and general people skills. One of which is to totally ignore people food. Yep, that's right.

They never get so much as ONE taste of people food. I'm sure many people would think that they are totally deprived, but we can't have Guide Dogs wandering around and taking food off the plates of the blind people can we?

So Conan came to us through Guide Dogs. He actually did really well during the 14 months he was in our home, he had a mostly sweet mellow disposition, intelligent and quick learning, a very happily adjusted black lab puppy. His one fault was that he loved people food. If you didn't watch him every second he thought nothing of helping himself to whatever tasty meal was left at his eye level. We corrected and corrected him, and although he became much better at ignoring the people food, he was never completely trustworthy when your back was turned.

Then he discovered chocolate! Chocolate is actually poison for dogs. Especially the darker chocolates. Conan discovered some lying about in an open backpack pocket and after one taste he was hooked! He could sniff that chocolate contraband out if it was anywhere in his vicinity. So we always had to be sure that any and all chocolate was never left where he could dig, chew or otherwise gnaw his way into it.



At the age of 16 months Conan returned to Guild dogs to begin his formal training. One of the first things they do is a complete physical exam complete with xrays to check for any potential structural problems with the dogs. Turned out he did have a potential problem; some elbow dysplasia that disqualified him from being a working dog. So as occasionally happens, Conan came back to us, his "puppy raiser", where he has remained ever since, or for the last 18 months. And is now happily ensconced in his place in the family along with our other yellow lab, Cleo. They both have beds in our bedroom but actually sleep on Kelsie's bed, even though she is away at college, I think they're hoping for her to return home in the middle of the night like she so frequently used to do.

While we tried hard to cure him of his people food addiction, once he was no longer being formally considered for a guide dog position, we slacked off a bit and didn't correct his behavior like we once had. Gradually I came to the realization that he needed some interventions for this undesirable behavior. It came in the form of a stimulation trainer collar. Or in other words a "shock collar". Which allowed us to correct his behavior from across the room, from out of the room etc, when he thought no one was watching. This is where my story actually begins.

So his new training method is coming long just beautifully. We would occasionally leave the most tasty of people food dishes out in plain sight, right at his eye level. After the first correction he figured out that it really wasn't much fun to take a bite out of these tempting people food dishes. We tried all of his favorite foods, peanut butter sandwiches, spaghetti, cold cereal - nothing was temping him. One day a peanut butter sandwich sat right within his reach for an entire day with me in and out of the room and he never once touched it or really even looked at it longingly like he did at the beginning of his training. "Ah ha", I thought, "he is cured". I thought, "he is really ready for the big guns". Into a lovely glass candy bowl went a huge mound of Hershey Kisses. I sat it on the table in plain sight, right at his eye level. Then proceeded to go about all my daily chores. I was so proud of him. Not a Hershey Kiss did he touch! I never even saw him looking at the dish with that twitch in his eye which he got sometimes when he tried to pretend he was ignoring and not interested in something.

Off we went to bed for the night, really forgetting about the huge bowl of Hershey Kisses sitting on the coffee table in the living room. At 2:34 am, we were woken from a sound sleep to the sound of clanking glass and something tipping over or falling from its position. I knew at once what it was and without waiting an instant I shouted at the top of my voice, "Conan, YOU get out of that CHOCOLATE" and made a mad dash for the candy bowl in the living room. He heard me coming and began gulping down great mounds of Hershey Kisses, hoping to consume the entire bowl before my arrival. Now, two weeks later, he is still living, not showing any ill effects of his nighttime incident of raiding the candy bowl.

Well, I can only laugh at him and his antics. He sure had me fooled, pretending he didn't even know the chocolate was there, and all along he was plotting for a middle of the night raiding of the candy bowl while everyone was sleeping, hoping he would never be caught in the act. If he hadn't knocked the bowl off the table in his haste we may never have discovered his devious mind.

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While my husband really thinks he is a disobedient, misbehaved excuse for a "man's best friend" kinda dog, I have to keep reminding him they are so much alike. Both, perpetual little puppys in an adult body who refuse to entirely grow up.

There's not much he can say about that:)



17 comments:

Xenia said...

That is the cutest story, what a sweetheart. Dogs just can't help themselves when it comes to food that they want, they just can't.

I love the picture at the end, there's something about a dog's eyes that are so genuine and sweet.

Kevin and HolliJo said...

I love it. That is such a funny story! And I love your dogs :). Hopefully one day I can convince Kevin that we need one!

n said...

Not going to lie - that's funny! Especially the last sentence......... (sorry Bishop) :)

Pedaling said...

so that whole chocolate is poison to dog thing is just an old wives tale then?
my dogs have snuck their fair share at times too.
i thought i was the only one crazy enough to let 2 large dogs sleep & roam inside my house.

Joy For Your Journey said...

Hmmm, snitching chocolate in the middle of the night. Can't relate at all to that! (And I am not talking about our dog:-) BTW, we just made your banana chocolate chip muffins again. So yummy, I may just find myself up in the middle of the night . . .

Sue said...

Such a cute story. Our little dog, who we call a garbage mouth because she will eat anything and everything she can get her mouth on, ate about 1/3 lbs of M & M's the other night. They were on a bowl that she only could reach if she climbed up on the couch and stood with her feet on the arm of the couch. I have never seen her do this before. But the next morning, the M&M's were gone. We thought that maybe the cat got into them, but not likely. He is much more discriminating in what he eats (he is a cat, remember). To test them, we put some M&Ms on a table that the dog could only reach if she can fly, but wouldn't be a problem for the cat. They are still there,except that I get into them. So, Dog=guilty. No bad side effects noted yet.

Carolyn said...

I had a dog that used to eat carrots. He loved them. Did tricks for them. Everything. He lived to be 20 years old.

I wonder if I'll die early, cause I have a thing for chocolate too.

susette said...

What a sweet doggie :) He kind of reminds me of me actually. I tend to wait till nobody is looking and then I will raid the goodies!! He's actually a very smart doggie I decided.

Oh-p.s. I tried the blue lemon with a couple friends about 6 weeks ago and really enjoyed it. The atmosphere was very cute and I loved the sweet potato fries. Thanks for the info.

Allie and Danny said...

oh i love conan! i'm excited he came back to you to be a part of the family! what a sneak... how cute!

Kevin Beckstrom said...

Great story! Our Lab just discovered brownies, so I can totally relate!

Joy For Your Journey said...

Kristin, I just posted an award for you on my blog.

Have a great day!!

Diana H said...

We love our dogs too, but I don't think I'd ever trust them with food at eye level. It's just looking for trouble. Our dog is a pen thief and will steal them and chew them up on the living room carpet, so I can't let her into the room without supervision. We have gates up whenever we will be gone.

Victoria said...

The photos are BEAUTIFUL in here, Kristin... some of your best work!!! Love them.

tammy said...

That is such a cute story. I can totally see our lab doing the exact same thing. I always said our lab was a just a big marshmellow. He once stole an entire brick of cheese of the kitchen counter and then acted like he didn't know what I was talking about.

blueviolet said...

And when you look at that face, you can't even be mad!

Shewinn8 said...

What a smart dog you have there! I love the fact that he was able to feign disinterest all day and wait for the right moment. It kinda sounds like me when my girls and I go on a diet together. lol

Sher said...

This sounds so much like our black lab. He actually ate all of daughter's valentines (with Hershey's kisses) and we had to do them over again. Good to know our dog is not the only chocoaholic.

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