Mom and Dad think I am the best dog ever. They were so impressed with my manners on Thanksgiving. Mom smiled as I went to my rug every time she opened the oven door. She cooked most of the food the day before the holiday and I got to sample some broth from the cooked turkey bones and savor fresh cooked sweet potato. On Thanksgiving morning, mom put everything into crockpots and then took me to the dog park. I ran and played for over an hour with lots and lots of dogs. When the family starting arriving, mom tossed kibble on the floor as they entered and I didn't jump on anyone! I took a nap on the couch for most of the noon meal.  When I woke up they were serving pie, so I went and parked under mom's feet like we do when we go to food courts. The new kittens were locked in a room because they would not stay away from the buffet table. I am so grown up I didn't touch anything. I just turned two, but I do remember that last year I was tethered to a brick in the porch to keep me away from the food. Mom had me show off some tricks, like having people drop their napkin and allowing me to get it for them. And she made a sneezing sound so I would get her a tissue.  Grandma likes how I oblige mom a kiss before she gives me a treat. They gave me chews all afternoon, practically every time I asked! Wow! However, the next day, they went back to saying no. Sigh. I wish everyday was a holiday!
Mom and Dad want me to walk with a loose leash without an easy walker or other harness. When I was a young pup, I wore a Gentle Leader leash, but I absolutely hated it! I ran away when I saw it and only came when they offered me treats. I pawed at it and tried to take it off, but I was so energetic they knew they needed it to help to keep a hold of me. By the time I turned one, my parents let me wear an Easy Walker leash as I continued my training. As I approached my second birthday, mom's goal was to walk me with the leash attached to my collar without a harness. So she started practicing in the Petco Store where we go to training. Then she started taking me to the bus stop with the leash clipped to my collar. This is actually going very well! However, when we go for a walk I still get excited about squirrels and bunnies and choke myself so she clips the leash onto the Easy Walker for that two mile hike. She wraps the leash around her waist to keep her hands free and prevent yo-yo arm and she stops if I pull the leash taunt. I have learned to look at her and take a step back, but darn it, I really wish she walked or ran at my faster paced speed.  But I am definitely learning what to do. 
As we walk, she stops at every intersection and expects me to look at her. Once I do, she  either points which way to go or offers me a choice of this way or that.  I always have an opinion and signal with my nose. However, once in a while, she doesn't have much time and says we are going back home after two blocks. I dig my heels in and refuse to budge, but once I realize I'm not going to win I agree to go. Sigh. If only I could be in charge!!!
Mom still puts the Easy Walker on me for hikes or public access work, but to go to the car, bus stop, dog park or training she simply clips the leash to my collar. I am really growing up!
My main job is to help little sis with her autism anxiety issues. She holds onto a short leash when we go out to the mall or a store. Last week, we all went to a large mall in our town. After walking around and riding the elevator, I practiced parking while the girls had a Jamba Juice. All was well until this incredibly loud noise started. Mom said it was a band playing Christmas music, but the vibrations shook everything and you could hear it everywhere. She showed me the noisemakers - tubas and horns - but I just wanted out of the mall RIGHT NOW. I was so relieved when they took me to the car. Big sis had brought money to buy some earrings, so they went back into the mall. I heard later that little sis wandered away twice in the short time without me being there. I really help her stay focused on staying with the group! Mom decided she needs to find a way to introduce me to band music in a smaller environment so I  don't feel so nervous the next time I hear this. 
I love to play and play big, but for some reason not every dog wants to play with me. I get very excited when I have recess at training class or am at the off-leash dog park. Unfortunately, I jumped on a couple of people and they do not want their dogs to play with me anymore. This usually happens when I first get to the park and especially if there are loud barking dogs or circling border collies.  Some of these dogs are older and some are protective-reactive if I get too close to their parent or they are protecting their ball. I don't care about balls and mostly want to run. So mom is trying to help me learn how to calm down when I get over-excited with a short time-out and to redirect me away from the dogs that don't want to play.  My favorite dogs are the big ones that like to run. I play well with most of the golden retrievers and labs, a Russian wolf hound, one young boxer and an Old English Sheepdog. Bull dogs don't seem to like the way I look and most of the pointers and hounds don't care to play.
Mom takes me to the off-leash park every day she can. After about a half-hour when it is warm or an hour in cool weather I am content and ready to focus for whatever task is asked.  We often go to a store on the way home and the people complement me on my fine public access manners. Then I go home and have a nice long nap. 
I want to be a good dog, really I do! I've just been feeling so antsy lately. Mom is trying to understanding how important schedules and routine are to me. I had been making lots of progress with self control, but then the girls had two five-day weekends in a row and the clocks changed to daylight savings time. OK, it took about five days for me to figure out everyone gets up later and adjust to the new breakfast and dinner time.  Mom always takes me on a half-hour walk after we put little sis on the bus, but no one took me walking on mornings when there was no school and when mom went with little sis on field trips. I confess, I was begging for treats and whining a lot and my parents didn't like that at all. They even talked about putting the crate back in the hall, but I do settle on the couch when they shut the office door. So they had a pow-wow and Dad agreed to not to give me a chew every time I asked (dang! He was the reliable softy!)  Mom stopped letting me walk away when she gave me a command like "go to your rug," so I resigned myself to chilling with less whining. Mom also changed the time we go for a run at the dog park this week. We used to go in the morning but now go in the afternoon. And then there are these new kittens - my family tells me to "leave that" if they are playing and I get even a tiny bit excited and want to join in. Come on, people, there is a lot going on around here and that makes it harder for me to listen.
There are new kittens in the house. They were in the guest room for three days and we played footsie under the door. Sometimes I got to sniff them through a baby gate. The girls are very excited and spent lots of time playing and reading with them. Little sis is very gentle with them. The other cats that live here avoid her because she thought they were stuffed animals and trapped them in boxes. After adopting and taking care of me, she learned that pets are alive and have needs different than hers. The first day mom let the kittens explore the house she had me on a leash. She told me to "leave that" when I sniffed them too much. By the second day I figured out my routine didn't change one bit. I pretty much ignore them, except when they try to play with my old toys. They are still mine after all, even if I don't play with them anymore! So now we all hang out together at nap time. 
Cats and dogs
I passed the AKC Good Canine Citizen test this week! Mom and trainer Lynnda are super proud of me. I am one month shy of two years old and have learned lots about how to behave and what people expect of me. Jumping up when I'm excited is still my weak point, but I am getting better all the time. I do best on a leash and if new people engage me calmly. My next goal is completing the training for public access service dog. I am getting close - we have been practicing and socializing in public spaces for over nine months now!
Mom takes me to the nine-acre park most mornings for a 30 - 40 minute run. Usually there are some dogs that like to play, but the weather turned cold and there are not as many dogs. I was able to run with a few dogs who were chasing balls and mom took me to the gated pond where I jumped in and out hoping to engage the ducks. Dang, they kept swimming away! On our way out, mom was walking towards the gate when a family with a boxer and an older dog was walking by. I wanted to play and danced around doing  my "ready" bow and "play with me" bark. The boxer didn't appreciate my invitation and pounced on me.  Mom thinks I need to learn better dog language when the other dog doesn't agree to play because I just kept jumping and asking. The boxer got upset and the parents had to pull us apart. The boxer was mad and answered me with bites and growls.  I quickly resorted to "I'm submissive" body language but the boxer was so mad it kept attacking me. I was so scared I was frozen while mom grabbed my collar and lead me to the gate. There was bloody saliva on me so mom checked me all over, but there were no apparent bites. Mom waited for the other parents to come out and asked if everything was ok since she had seen blood. They appreciated mom asking but retorted that I need better park manners. Many dogs there just want to walk with their owners while I want to run and engage play. Mom is concerned and says if I don't behave we may not be able to go there anymore. What? Chase that squirrel! Mail-carrier with treats! Street walking dog to engage! Chase that chipmunk! Send the black birds flying! Woo hoo! Oh, remind me, what did you say?
Mom has been teaching me to stay close to her when we are out. "Side" means the right and "heel" means the left. She wants to make sure I don't pull ahead so my toes won't get pinched by a shopping cart. She holds two fingers by her side to direct me when I forget and occasionally slips me kibble held by her hip. We also practice "switch", which means to change sides behind her. Trainer Lynnda says this will help me stay focused and add distance from a distraction, such as food on the floor. We go to one or two stores most days after the dog park to practice. We also practice turning circles at home and on our neighborhood walk. I am usually positioned on the right of mom at a store.  Mom says "stop" to alert me then says "turn" to go right.  Left turns don't need a signal because she turns her body and I follow along. I love going out to stores and seeing the world. I work hard to follow directions and my skills improve every week!
I love the outdoor off-leash dog park! Mom takes me most mornings to run and play now that the Bark Park closed in August. I now sit politely every time Mom asks me to sit at the gates and to remove my leash. I am getting to know the regular dogs and their owners as well as the paths in this nine-acre park. The parents walk the trails while I zig-zag around chasing any dog that wants to run. I am super fast, so far the only dogs that out-run me are a pair of Afghan Hounds that show up now and then. Most of the dogs just trot along beside their parents, but I hear they are older than me. Trainer Lynnda said I should learn to check in with mom instead of her asking for my attention. So she walks along with the human group and I remember I am supposed to return with eye contact every 5 -10 minutes or so. I run hard so we only stay about 30 - 40 minutes. When it is time to go, mom calls me once and walks towards the gate. I am tired, so I have learned to trot along beside her and she gives me a treat at the gate when she puts my leash on.  I have learned many new skills during the last month and a morning playtime run helps me focus on my tasks.