Double Up

Remember Fonzie and, more recently, Amber? Well, the two have been getting to know and find their way with each other for the past six weeks, and last night, they doubled up to begin their training. Fonzie started the next phase of his training as a certified Therapy animal, and Amber began learning more of her basics, as well as the more advanced training.

The session began with some recall, sit, and down exercises. First, each dog worked the exercises individually. For example, while Fonzie practiced the exercises, Amber was held back to watch. Then, Amber had her time while Fonzie was held back to watch. We spent about 15 minutes working each dog individually, and then, I had both dogs work the exercises together. This was done to encourage each dog to watch and then mimic the other. Fonzie showed Amber how to recall to a down position; Amber showed Fonzie how to do the “target” exercise.

I began the target exercise by showing each dog the palm of my hand and rewarding them when they sniffed at it. We gradually worked our way up to a specific target and then introduced a simple cue. By the end of the lesson, both dogs were performing the exercise correctly about 8 out of 10 times.

Considering that this exercise was a first for both Fonzie and Amber, they did a phenomenal job, and so did Ann and Tom. I was really pleased with how quickly the dogs learned and how they each helped the other when there was uncertainty about what was being asked. For example, Fonzie had a bit of trouble connecting sniffing my palm to getting a treat, but Amber got it on the second try. So, I had Amber help me show him what I wanted. When she got it right, I gave her excitement along with the treat. This got Fonzie’s attention, and he watched Amber closely to see what she was doing to generate my response. When it was his turn, he mimicked Amber – and when he got the same response, he got so excited that he broke position and started running around the working area as if he was a young puppy again.

This is going to be an exciting journey for this family. Fonzie and Amber are very smart, eager to learn, and very eager to please their humans. I have no doubt that they both are going to be amazing companions for both Ann and Tom in the years to come.

Have a great day, and remember: Stay calm and lead on.

2 Comments on “Double Up

  1. This is Fonzie and Amber’s Mom checking in four years later! Reading this account of Amber’s early days as part of our family, brought memories flooding back. To be honest, I felt totally overwhelmed by Amber when she first arrived – I honestly did not know how to manage her! Without your help, I shudder to think how we would have coped. Now, in June 2023, I am happy to report that Amber is the most wonderful girl that anyone could wish to have – she is extremely loving, very well-behaved, full of mischief and an absolute joy in every way. She adores Fonzie, he is her hero! She eats extremely well and loves bedtime – mainly because she sleeps with us and she likes me to gently hold her paw as she settles down for the night!! She can still show nervous traits when out and about and gets startled and overwhelmed on occasions. I am told that anxiety can be a Wheaten trait and Amber certainly proves this – she dislikes human strangers, especially any coming into our home. We are working on this with her, but it’s a slow journey. She seems to love all dogs – but cats are a very different story!!!
    Fonzie, on the other hand, continues to be Mr. Personality!! He loves people and animals of all kinds and, in a nutshell, he loves life in general! This little man is my canine soulmate. His patience with Amber is a joy to behold and she idolizes him. Once Fonzie is with her she can put her fears aside and be much more relaxed and content.
    Without your dedication and assistance in those early days, I don’t think I’d be writing this today. We were in way above our heads with Amber and we did not know how or where to start with her. We may have rescued her from a bad situation physically, but you rescued her mentally and emotionally and gave her the ability to become what she is today – a cherished and treasured member of our family. Thank you with all our hearts.
    Love always from Anne, Tom, Fonzie and Amber!

    • Hi Anne! It’s so great to hear from you! 🙂 Those days of working Fonzie and Amber together in training were so much fun. 😀

      I think we all were shocked at how bad off Amber was when you and Tom first brought her home. It was beyond heartbreaking to see her so terrified of literally everything… You and Tom were amazing, not giving up on her, helping her learn how to be outside of a kennel, helping her learn how to navigate through life… It was my great pleasure and privilege to be a part of that.
      Love always right back to you, Tom, Fonzie, and of course, Amber. 🙂 ♥ ♥ ♥


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