December 18, 2016
We have graduated and have started our life together. As I write, Mensa is tucked under my chair at the Portland airport as we wait for our departure time. There was a very long line to get to the ticket counter. It was necessary to weave back and forth along that serpentine path to the counter. Mensa did this with some verbal cues from me that I received from the GDB staff person who had driven us here. She did this at least as well as any of my seasoned guides.
We had our graduation yesterday afternoon after having an opportunity to meet our puppy raisers. Two of the four successive families were able to fly to Boring from San Francisco for the occasion. It was fun and informative talking with them and learning where she has been and what experiences she has had. It turns out that one puppy raiser works at the San Francisco airport and has taken her through that facility on many occasions. Another raiser is a lawyer and took her to the courthouse where she learned to go through the security clearance. She was able to combine these two experiences today with ease. When going through security, I have her sit and stay as I make a long leash. I go through first and then call her to me. I do not alarm, but her harness causes her to have a pat down, enjoyable for her.
Let me say a word here for the wonderful work that puppy raisers do in general. They take the puppies when they are about eight weeks old and offer them as many varied experiences as their creativity and ingenuity can consider. Meanwhile, they tolerate the puppy accidents and likely loose more than a few shoes and other items to those puppy teeth. When the puppies are well-behaved, they return them to the school where they were bread and born and professional trainers teach them the demanding work that culminates in a partnership that Mensa and I are establishing together. We are a work in progress. We are not now what we will become in our life together. Some have compared a new team as "green broke." She knows the basics and has yet to learn the specific circumstances of my life. I need to stress that the professional trainers do not have the time to teach good behavior and house manners and establish a wealth of experiences that combine to make this whole thing work. The puppy raisers are an integral part of this process.
We have practiced tucking Mensa under the seat in front of me using the airline seats that are available at GDB. She, as most of the graduating dogs have not flown before. This will be a new day of learning for Mensa. Once we are home, she will meet her new family members. These include my husband who is most anxious to meet her. She will also be introduced to two cats who are likely not that excited to see her. Our Basset will be an eager greeter.
Those of you who will be interacting with me on a day-to-day basis will help us greatly by ignoring Mensa. Please try not to compare he with my previous dogs. She is not them and has not had their experiences. We will need time to grow together into a well-working team. Remember that initially, she has been taken from everything and everyone she has known as is expected to work for me in a totally new environment.
December 19, 2016
We are home! Mensa leapt onto the first seats when boarding the first plane of our trip. She received a “leash lecture” about this and did not repeat it on the second leg of our journey. She did need to learn how to settle under the seat in front of us, and she did this with clicking and treating for successive approximations of the desired behavior. By the time the snack cart came our way, she was well settled on the first leg. When we boarded the second plane, she settled as if she were a seasoned guide. I really like the clicker training.
Yesterday was very cold, snowy and icy. We were both very tired and did not go out except to go to dinner with friends. She behaved admirably under the table.
We waited until today to introduce Mensa to one of our cats and our Basset. All went well. Our cat is much like the kitchen cat at GDB and came right up to Mensa, showing no fear. She was wonderful with him as she had been with the kitchen cat. She was rather indifferent to EZ, our basset. Our black cat will have to find her own way to meet Mensa as she is much less sociable.
Today as my husband and I took our seats in the waiting room for my annual physical, Mensa scooted under my chair very easily as if she has been doing that for years. After that appointment, Mensa and I took a nearly one half mile walk around the hospital block. She did make some work errors, but she could not be faulted for this. Although the sidewalks were clear of snow for the most part, the streets and gutters were not.
Today I have been working with food to slow her down when heeling on stairs out of harness. She is making great strides. No pun intended.
I am very happy with Mensa. She is a great dog—very affectionate. She is eager to please and a fast learner. She seems to be a great match for me. She does not yet have complete freedom in the house, but there seem to be no behavioral issues.