Wednesday, June 12, 2013


A couple weeks ago, Ice and I flew down to Florida.  I realized that this was the first time I have ever traveled to Florida without Serena since I got her.  Ice had a big act to follow!  Many people are curious about how to the whole "traveling with a service dog on a plane"thing works.  It is pretty fun but requires a little planning.  

First the dog I am traveling with does not get food or water the morning of the flight.  We don't know if the plane/traveling will upset their stomach so having nothing in there helps nothing come up or out.  

I usually get to the airport about 2 hours before my flight.  I used to do that to give me plenty of time to get up to the counter to check in and get a bulk head seat (if you are traveling with a service dog, you have the right to request a bulkhead and the airline has to try to honor that request).  I have learned, especially with United, to just check in online with whatever seat I have, print my boarding pass and go straight to the gate and request a bulkhead seat there.  So now I get to the airport 2 hours early so I can be one of the first at the gate so I am most likely to get a bulkhead seat.  

With Ice I had to plan out how long I thought he could hold going to the bathroom.  Being just 4 months old, his bladder isn't very big and I have never asked him to hold it for longer than 3 or 4 hours.  After Ice went "busy" we made our way to security.  Sometimes a TSA agent will pull us to a special line and sometimes we have to go through the line like everyone else.  This was one of those times.  It was a great way for me to teach Ice how to handle crowds and lines.  He got really good at moving a few feet, chilling for awhile then moving a few more feet.  Eventually we made it up to the security checkpoint.

To get through security, I put my dog in a sit-stay and walk through the metal detector.  I then call my dog to me.  The dog's collar and leash always sets the metal detector off but TSA cannot ask you to remove anything from your dog.  Because of this, I always tell the agent that the collar and leash will set of the detector and that they are more than welcome to pat down the dog.  I have found that smiling, talking to, and explaining to the TSA agent that I am cool with them checking my dog makes them very happy and feel much better because you can see they usually aren't sure what to do about a dog setting off the detector.  I have had a variety of security checks on the dog.  Serena has had a full pat down, a glance at while I lift up her collar and her vest and a couple of TSA agents who ask to just pet her.  The new thing I am finding is they pull me aside with my dog and do a bomb residue swipe on my hands.  This is what happened with me and Ice.  I asked the nice lady if she would like to also pat down Ice and she was like "oh no sweetie, he is working, I don't want to distract him!"  So cute.  

After passing my bomb residue test, Ice and I headed to our gate.  I was able to get bulkhead very easily.  Then we sat and waited.  Some airports have service dog pee areas behind security, O'hare does not.  If they did I would have taken Ice out again but alas he had to sit there.  I had him do a "go-in" under the chair so he was out of the way of the super crowded waiting area.  Half the people there didn't even know I had a dog.  What a good little man!

Ice waiting to board the plane

With a service dog, you are the first to board.  This is great because it gives me time to get me, my dog, and all my stuff on the flight and settled before people come on.  The biggest question I get while traveling on a plane is "where does the dog sit?"  Ice will gladly demonstrate:
The cutest carry-on luggage a girl can have

They sit at my feet, which is why getting bulkhead is the best thing!  Ice really couldn't have been a better floor sharing buddy.  He basically slept like the above picture the whole time, giving me plenty of room and not bothering the person sitting next to me.  He wasn't bothered by the take off or landing and waited patiently during the commotion of everyone getting up to leave.

Another benefit of being in bulkhead, is that you are WAY closer to the front of the plane so you can get off pretty much right away.  The minute we get off the plane, I book it to outside.  In Orlando airport you have to ride a tram to get from the terminals to the exit.  This makes getting outside as fast as possible a little challenging but it is what it is.  Ice did great!  We ran outside to Orlando's lovely flower pots, where Serena gladly pees.  Ice thought we were there to eat the mulch. After about 5 minutes of pulling mulch out of his mouth, I gave up trying to get him to go busy there and quickly ran to the bathroom so I could pee.  Then we made our way to the ground level and the grass.  Ice held it all the way until then.  I couldn't believe it!  He is awesome.  Then we made our way back upstairs and Val picked us up.  Our flight home went pretty much the same way, with him now sleeping through take off and landing.  Ice blew me away with how he handled the airport, planes and crowds!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thank you junk mail

For a couple of days I have been trying to teach Ice push (opening and closing doors, cabinets, etc by using his nose to push them in the direction needed).  We weren't getting anywhere.

I first tried with the push board (a clear piece of plastic with holes cut into it).  He would just stare at it.  Eventually he would touch it but when I would put it near a door or cabinet he wouldn't go anywhere near it.

Then I tried sitting on the other side of a partially closed door and calling him towards me.   He would just sit on the other side of the door and whine then eventually body slam his whole body into it.  Or he would be wagging his tail so much it would hit the door and open it.  Neither of which is a "push".

I tried the door approach this morning and ended up with a very frustrated puppy, Serena getting frustrated that no matter how many times she tried to push the door the other way I would ignore her and focus on the puppy, and a very frustrated me.  This wasn't working.  I thought about it and figured I would try just target training, where all Ice has to do it touch his nose to something and he gets a treat.  I wanted something that is somewhat sturdy but could be taped to doors and cabinets.  Thank you junk mail...

What a handy little flyer!  Within 5 minutes I could hold the flyer anywhere and Ice would run over and put his nose to it.  I then taped it to a cabinet and TA-DA! he started pushing.  He then got really into it and liked hearing the cabinet slam and would try to close it with his paws.  This is a big no-no.  We don't want dogs pushing with their paws as they could scratch and damage things that way.  I walked a fine line today with correcting the paw slamming but  rewarding the nose pushing.  Here is a video of Ice pushing.  The paw touching the cabinet at the end isn't ideal but we can work on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

We're backkkkkk!

Back to blogging, back from Florida.  Oh how it has been a glorious month with a certain puppy named Ice!

Since the last time I posted, Ice has gone from a ball of fluff to an awkward teenage dog.  His tail is super long, his ears are super big and his legs go on for miles.  I can't feed him enough!  Last week he weighed 30 pounds and I am pretty sure he has gained 5 pounds since then.  His brain is like a sponge and he is soaking up anything new I teach him.  We have been working hard on getting a super good  base in his training; sit, down, stay, wait, heel, front, side and of course walking nicely on leash.  We have also been working on speak and shake because he loves to bark and he loves to use his paws so I am trying to channel that into something productive.  He is a smart little man.

This was all tested this past weekend when Ice and I traveled to Florida to visit everyone at My Angel With Paws and to go see Cesar Millan Live in Jacksonville.  I couldn't have asked for a more perfect puppy.  He paraded through the airport like he owned the place, slept on the plane like he had been living there the whole time, handled the crowds at the show like he was Moses (yes they parted for him and his service dog friends), rode a water ferry like he was the captain of the ship and had a blast playing with all the other dogs.  He has a new girlfriend named Kiera.  She is a chocolate lab puppy who will hopefully be a breeder dog for My Angel With Paws.  He couldn't have picked a cuter first crush:

Kiera and Ice

So I don't forget, at some point I need to blog about the people we met while traveling, Ice's first trip to Walmart and of course seeing Cesar Millan Live.  Until then, have a wonderful week everyone!