Friday, July 16, 2010


Alfie's smiling face in front of an orange wall; he looks slightly mischievous

...We're talking about Alfie's respect for Katharine, which needed a little shoring up.  He's always tested her more than the rest of the family, possibly because she's the youngest and he thinks he might just get away with it!  We started off earlier by putting her in charge of his meals (including the obedience routine he does before each meal).  This helped him tune in to her, but I could tell more work would be good.  So Michelle decided to have us meet her at the mall for a training walk...only this time, Katharine would be walking Mr. Alphini!  As Katharine put it, "I feel like an underage driver!"

Although Katharine's pretty familiar with the whole puppy-walking drill, it's different to be the one actually holding the leash.  Michelle gave her a few helpful tips and they were off.  I mainly bit my tongue (the urge to shout out random things to your puppy like, "No, leave it, in, steady, watch me!" are surprisingly deeply ingrained)...and avoided making eye contact with him.  Katharine needed to be in charge, and Alfie needed to get his information from her.  At first he kept glancing over his shoulder at me, like, "Hellooo back there, help me, is this OKAY?!" ...but with Michelle's coaching, Katharine coaxed his attention back to her.  They did surprisingly well! 

Katharine's walking Alfie through a cafe area in the mall, followed by Michelle; he's looking around curiously
Hmm, think she'll let me cruise over and check out the food court?

And below, 5 seconds of gripping action footage!  Grab your popcorn!

You could tell they were both tense, not in an antagonistic way, but just because they were unused to communicating on this level.   We walked and one point, to give them a break, I took over the leash and they both got a little breather.  There was a train in the mall -- first time we'd seen that!

I'm walking Alfie and a little train, headlight on, is coming our direction with people in it; Alfie's looking up at me
Alfie:  Are trains allowed in here?
Train guy:  Are dogs allowed in here?

Katharine worked Alfie some more...taking a break and putting him in a down every so often.  It was very cool for me to see Alfie do so well with her...following her commands, "checking in" with her, and wagging that tail like crazy when she praised him.

Alfie's laid flat out, & Katharine's looking down at him while stepping on his leash
Aaahh, a well-earned break.

At the end of one full tour around the mall, Alfie was more exhausted than if he'd walked several miles with me.  Such a good mental workout for him!  Katharine is committed to ongoing obedience mini-sessions with him outside the home, which should help keep him tuned in to her.  Relationships are always better the more you work on them, don't you think?

Alfie & Katharine together again, on a sidewalk in a neighborhood this time; she's got a huge smile and he's sitting nicely & smiling too
Katharine's pretty fun!


Lauren and Don said...

Good job, Alfie (and Katharine!)! It looks like you are doing really well in all those photos. And you are SO cute!!

GDB Puppy Sitter :) said...

The last photo of them is great! :)

GDB Puppy Sitter :) said...

Oh and I thought of you today because Guide Dogs for the Blind had their first club in Texas! :) Here is the link to their blog post about it:

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

WOW - way to go to the two of them! Great job!! Good photos!

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Thanks -- & I'll have to check that link out! :)

Mimi and CC Cabana said...

Both of them are all legs--so cute! Cabana tends to think of my younger daughter as another puppy, rather than seeing her as a leader. We have our daughter do some of the same things as you are doing, like feeding meals and random obedience. That's great that they got a good long training session together--I imagine it was a bit exhausting for everyone!

Melissa Mitchell said...

we are working with a dog who has many of the same respect issues you have discussed... so we have embarked on a massive and intense refresher with this four year old mostly in home service dog. I can say it is hugely exhausting for all involved, but in a good way!

Ruby's Raiser said...

Great job, Katharine! Keep up the pawesome work! :)

Michelle said...

they were rock stars BOTH of them!! i think Katherine now thinks her name is "relax your arm" they did so great!!

I will miss working with you :o(

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Haha, yes, even in that short video she pointed out to me that's what you were telling her. ;) I will miss working w/ you too Michelle!