Avondell's Saint Hubert Littlefoot DeMers
December 24th, 2013: Today I sent in an application to adopt this coonhound from the ABTCR.
Towards the end of November, I
was asked to foster a Bluetick Coonhound from Montana for the American
Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue. The dog's owner had passed away
suddenly and this little dog and his brother had to find new homes.
November 24th, a month ago today, a van pulled up and dropped off
Hubert, the smaller of the two purebred hounds. His brother Frank went
on to California where he has already been adopted. Hubert was born on
May 26th, 2013, so he was barely 6 months old and 37 pounds when he
arrived in Seattle.
Hubert was scared and overwhelmed when
he first arrived, but he learned how to navigate the Black &
Tan waters pretty quickly. He tested Eli's guarding problems right away
and found out that it's all a big show and Eli really wants to play.
Hubert can take all Woody can dish out, and when he's had enough he can
let Woody know without rolling over and giving up. In the
month that he has been here, Hubert has brought something to the pack
and he's making them better.
Hubert came to me very well trained in
the basics. His housetraining is great...no problems so far. He knows
'sit', 'stay', and 'wait' and he walks nicely on a leash. I hadn't
taught him anything and just reinforced his training so far, but now
that I've decided to adopt him, I started clicker training last night
and Nose Work boxes today. He picked up the idea of the boxes pretty
quickly, and I'll get him into one of Pritamo's NW1 courses soon.
Hubert is not like Eli or Woody and I
think he'll be easier to teach some things. Hubert is what I think of
as a 'front seat dog'. Some dogs have to stay in the back of the truck
because they are too hyper and/or driven and will try to get out. There
probably aren't too many coonhounds that will sit on the passenger seat
of a truck with the window down while you drive around town and not try
to jump out the window, scream like a mad dog at everything they see,
climb on the dashboard/steering wheel/driver, or all of the above.
Probably even fewer that will do it when they are a few days shy of 7
Today Hubert and I went to the Senior Center to drop off some milk and
do a little training. I set up four boxes in the exercise room and
showed Hubert that there was good stuff to be found. Then we went to
Mud Bay Greenwood and bought some training treats and a rope toy to
chew on (Hubert is in that shredding phase...) and then we went over to
see Mom again. Mom met Hubert a couple days after he arrived in
Seattle. After that we stopped by Aurora Veterinary Hospital to use
their scale - Hubert weighs 51.8 pounds now, so he has gained almost 15
pounds in the last month. It's not too surprising because he eats like
a little horse and he's filling out quick.
Christmas always brings memories of Bobdog and my Christmas dog Buckeye.
I've given this a lot of thought over the last couple weeks. I have
this wonderful little puppy here and this just seems like the right
thing to do.
Sunday, January 5th, 2014: Hubert's training is coming along nicely.
Today we went to the senior center again to train...Hubert has had
about 5 Nose Work box search sessions now and he is starting to get the
hang of it. He's a lot different than Woody...much slower and more
easily distracted...so I need to work on making it more fun and
exciting for him. I'm confident that he'll be very focused eventually,
but he is still pretty young...less than 8 months now. I talked to
Pritamo today about enrolling Hubert in her next NW1 class. NW1 and NW3
both started today and Woody is in NW3. It may be possible for me to
train Hubert up to NW1 on my own and then start off in Pritamo's NW2
class, which would probably start 8-10 weeks from now.
At home, Hubert is having fun with Eli and Woody. Eli and Hubert have
formed a yard alliance and they chase Woody around. Woody loves it.
They all get along pretty well...no bloody fights so far.
Saturday, January 11th, 2014: Hubert is going through his puppy phases.
Hubert has been quite destructive lately. The three of them are left in
the house during the day while I work. Ex-pens keep them in the front
of the house and contained enough that they don't get too crazy. Eli
learned how to jump the ex-pen a month ago and Hubert has now figured
it out, too. So far he hasn't destroyed anything terribly important...a
couple throw pillows and an old desk chair I was throwing out anyways.
I'll have to be careful for the next couple months, though. The house
is mostly puppy-proofed now. A couple nights ago I started training Hubert Sylvia Trkman style heeling on a bowl. I posted a video of our second session on my YouTube channel. He is picking things up fast and he advanced some more tonight.
Monday, January 13th, 2014: Hubert learned to catch today.
learned to catch very quickly today. We were doing some heeling work
after dinner and he was losing interest, so we sat down and tried to
learn 'catch'. In about 5 minutes he progressed from almost no response
to bits of sausage being tossed at him...to clumsy attempts to
catch...to finally catching a piece. Once he caught one on his own, he
had it down. He caught 5 more in a row after that, then I made the video. Now he can catch food from 10 feet away with Eli and Woody right next to him.
Friday, January 24th, 2014: Hubert is learning the 'Hold" command.
took a vacation day off but went into work to set things up for my sub.
I took Hubert with me and we did some Nose Work practice in the
exercise room before anyone arrived. He's starting to build some drive
for Nose Work, which will be important for Hubert. He understands the
game now and does well with entries and understanding the 'all done'
command. He got to meet some of the Bastyr students and teachers when
they came in and he saw his friend Gordo, a little Yorkie who is just a
little older than Hubert. We went to the Golden Gardens OLA afterward
and Hubert played with some other dogs. He's still pretty shy and timid
at the dog park, so we need to do a little more socializing. Then we
went to Mud Bay to buy a new bag of Missing Link and then we went to Magnuson Park and went for a walk and took some photos.
We've cleaned out the back bedroom and are using it as a training room.
Hubert and Woody are both learning new utility commands. The last few
days have been spent on shaping a 'Hold' command with an old rope toy
and a few other props. The 'Hold' command is somewhat useful on it's
own, but this can also be the start of training a retrieve. Coonhound
retrieve. Yeah. Hubert might be able to do it. If I can train him to
retrieve on flat then I might have to try him in the obedience ring.
Long way to go for that, though, and just training 'Hold' hasn't been
that easy so far.
'Catch' was extremely easy
to train. They are both very good at catching now and when we are
training they catch most of their treats. This makes things much easier
and training goes much more quickly. 'Catch' is one of the most
everyday useful commands and I haven't had a dog that could catch in
awhile now. Now I have two! I have to be careful with them both,
though...they smashed their faces together last night going for the
same treat and I could just envision shattered teeth and vet bills.
Sunday, February 2nd, 2014: Hubert's training is accelerating.
cleaned out a bedroom and converted it to a training room. I have a
small card table and a metal cabinet, and I built some shelves out of
milk crates. I have all my books and dog training equipment in there.
During the week we train obedience skills 2 or 3 times a day and on the
weekends we go down to the senior center and train Nose Work. Hubert's
Nose Work training is progressing well. In the past couple of weeks he
has overcome some difficult problems and learned how to enter search
areas. Now he is quite good at checking around the moment he enters a
room. He had some trouble getting to treats that are partially obscured
by box flaps or underneath boxes. He was reluctant to move or touch
boxes on his own. Now he is moving boxes with his nose to uncover
hidden treats, which is an important skill. In turn, his confidence is
increasing and he is really starting to show that he likes what he's
doing. Until today we've only worked with boxes. Today I set up a
search with 7 plastic sandwich baskets and had Hubert do a couple of
searches with those. He did perfect on both searches. He's advanced
enough to understand what we are doing and next week I will starting
working more room searches with both Hubert and Woody. Hubert will be
ready for a NW2 class in another week or two. Woody's NW3 classes
resume Feb. 9th.
training is going well and his little brain cell is expanding. I've
started expanding his catching skill to nonfood items and he can catch
a ball or a rope toy or (especially*) stuffed toys. He's learned hand
targeting and remote targeting. He's progressing well at
heeling-on-a-box and I've started C/Ting for position and attention
when he is out on a leash. Yesterday we started working on right hand
'shake' and using the hula-hoop. I've been working to attach a command
to all the dogs jumping behavior...I just say 'jump' when they are
going over a gate. I've been working with Woody on go-outs over a jump,
but I haven't done much with Hubert yet.
has a fondness for unstuffing anything stuffed. He's destroyed all my
pillows so last night I went and bought new ones. He brutally murdered
Wonderdog #2. He's eaten the face of two harmless cuddly white teddy
bears. Mangled a toy mallard. Several dog blankets have fallen victim,
too. It's a puppy phase.
Friday, February 28th, 2014: Hubert has started on birch odor tonight.
preparation for an Odor Recognition Test on April 27th, I've started
Hubert on birch in Nose Work container and room (interior) searches.
We've been training a lot in the last three weeks and we've made videos
of Hubert searching boxes, heeling, and retrieving over a jump.
Hubert is really learning a lot and his heeling is starting to look
pretty good. Tonight we went to the senior center and did a few
container searches and a couple room searches in the exercise room. I
just got some new magnets and tins and my own bottle of birch.
Saturday, February 29th, 2014: Hubert weighs 67.8 pounds now.
spent the morning with me at the center. We spent some more time on
birch in container and room searches, but we had some difficulties
because Hubert has developed a fear of the tile floors. I noticed last
week that he was avoiding some of the areas where he had slid before.
We worked on overcoming that and he's a brave dog. Then we spent some
time upstairs. Hubert watched while Lauren and I moved things around
and cleaned out the office. He was very nice and Lauren gave him treats.
Wednesday, April 30th, 2014: Hubert earned his birch ORT this week!
We've been training hard in Nose Work, so Hubert, Woody, and I went over to Whidbey Island last Sunday and for Odor Recognition Tests at Langley Middle School. Miriam Rose
and Georgia Edwards ran the event and there were over 50 dogs entered
for ORTs. Hubert and Woody both passed thier tests. Hubert did quite
well. There were two rows with six boxes each. Hubert chose the left
row and indicated on the last box. I called alert and it was the right
box! It's a great accomplishment for us, as Hubert has never been to a
Nose Work class before, he only started on birch 8 weeks ago, and he's
only 11 months old...not quite old enough for a trial yet. As a result,
invited Hubert to join her Tuesday evening class, so we went down there
last night. This class is a more experienced group. We did some car
searches in the nice weather. Hubert has never done vehicle searches
before, so he had some trouble getting started. That is going to be our
mission this week: work on vehicle searches and working outside. Hubert
is very smart and has a lot of focus. He doesn't spend a lot of time
looking around or investigating people, but he has a problem with
smooth floors. The floor in the gym at the ORT was an old tile floor, but it was
sticky and not slick at all. Even so, Hubert reacted to it at the start
line and I had to let him relax for a few seconds before I told him to
start. This prevents Hubert from having a lot of drive and the extra
focus he will need when things get really difficult. Hubert does a
really amazing and brilliant job of searching the rooms upstairs at the
center, where there is carpet. I think he could pass a NW1 interior
room search right now, if it was on carpet.
Monday, May 26th, 2014: Today is Hubert's Birthday!
Today is both Memorial Day and Hubert's birthday, so we have the day
off and are relaxing at home. We've been training a lot the last month
and Hubert has gotten better at doing vehicle and interior searches. He
is slowly overcoming his fear of smooth surfaces. On Saturday I took
both Hubert and Woody to the center to train and following Woody around
seemed to help Hubert's confidence on the tile. We've been going to
Pritamo's Tuesday night class and Hubert has been doing well there,
too. Hubert walked with the senior center's contingent in the 17th of
May Parade this year in Ballard. It went much better than last year's
attempt with Woody and Eli. Everyone loved Hubert and it was a good
experience for him. Tonight Hubert and I went to the center to do some
extra training for his birthday. He likes to train, so it's a good
present! He did his first large area interior searches in the dining
room and went 3 for 3. He's now done all four element searches:
interior, exterior, vehicle, and container. Of the four, Hubert and
Woody are both best at interiors, followed by containers. Hubert
doesn't have much experience on vehicles or exteriors, but we are
working on them and progressing. Eli has had a Whistle since January
and now they are offering early supporters (like me) a chance to buy
the new WhistleGPS with free lifetime service for $49.95, so I bought one for both Woody and Hubert.
Sunday, August 24th, 2014: Hubert the Therapy Dog?
has been taking a little break from Nose Work as Woody is preparing for
a trial. Mom has had a small stroke and has been in Northwest Hospital
for the last ten days, so I've taken Hubert up there five times now to
see her. He is very nice and well behaved in the hospital, but I'm not
sure how much he actually likes it. Sometimes it's hard to tell what
Hubert likes and doesn't like. Mom will be moved to a rehab place soon,
so we'll have a few more opportunities to give that sort of environment
a try. If it seems to be something Hubert can do, there is a local
group called Project Canine that I will investigate. I took some puppy classes from the director, Judith Anderson-Wright, at Great Dog about ten years ago with Buckeye.
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014: A little bit about Hubert.
Woody earned his NW1 title so now Hubert is back in the Nose Work training rotation. I will likely enter both Woody and Hubert in an anise ORT at Miriam Rose's
training facility in Sequim called The Kindred. It will be held Sunday,
October 26th so that gives us plenty of time to learn the odor. I will
probably just focus on anise-flavored container searches for a few
weeks. Hubert is about 15 months old now and is beginning to mature
into the hound he's going to be. Woody and Hubert have a serious
rivalry that is contested every day...day and night, indoors and out.
Hubert is strong and barrel-chested and built like a little tank, in
contrast to Woody who is slender, lighter, and very quick. Their fights
almost never escalate to hurt feelings anymore, as they both have a
small amount of respect for each other now. Hubert really idolizes Eli
and will 'protect' him from Woody, to the point where Woody and Eli
just can't play together if Hubert is near. Hubert can be very intense
in his concentration, even for a hound, and he's probably the smartest
dog in the house...at least at problem solving. I'm not sure, however,
what he likes to do. He's not as driven as Woody to work with me, so
it's a bit more difficult to determine what he likes.
He seems to enjoy Nose Work in the right conditions: upstairs at the
senior center he's as hot and driven as Woody, but get outside on a
vehicle or downstairs on the tile floor and he slows down a lot. One of
my challenges is learning how to build his drive and overcome some of
his environmental obstacles like surfaces. Hubert doesn't have the
drive to train as much as Woody, so it's important that the emphasis is
on fun and success rather than the challenging situations I give Woody.
Hubert is still right behind Woody in Nose Work ability, but I'm not
sure he could endure what Woody went through at the trial last week and
still want to work at the end of the day. He'll get there eventually,
but he's not going to advance as quickly as Woody. Hubert may end up
doing some element trials first, before attempting at NW1. Who
I want to continue exploring
some sort of therapy dog options for Hubert, but this is another area
where I am not sure what Hubert likes. He made a total of 7
or 8 trips up to Northwest Hospital to see Mom and he was always
extremely well behaved, but he was also a little shy...which I suspect
may be because of the tile floor. It's possible that a program like
Reading with Rover might be a better way to start therapy dog work with
Hubert, at least until I can figure out some more effective way of
dealing with his slippery floor issues. I don't want to do
anything...whether it's Nose Work or therapy work or anything
else...that Hubert isn't enthusiastic about. If it's not fun for him
then there is no point in doing it...he'll just be stressed out, which
Wednesday, November 26th, 2014: Hubert gets better every day.
The dogs all get crated when I am gone. They are all crate trained. Eli
is very happy in his crate and runs in there every morning. Woody is
slightly less motivated, but if I motion towards a crate Woody will run
into it. Hubert doesn't like crates. A few months ago I would have to
go get him and carry him to the crate and put him in it. I started
working on calling him to me, even though a lot of trainers would say
you shouldn't call your dog to something he doesn't like. Most of the
time, that's probably true. I started conditioning Hubert with just
praise (all the dogs are 'praise' trained in the same way they are
clicker trained) and increasing in extremely small increments...about a
half a footstep a day most of the time. In the last 4 days I've been
able to call him to the very edge of the cage...this started on the
other side of the house in my bedroom...and this morning he walked into
the crate on his own. This took 3-4 months, at least. We only practiced
once a day in the morning for less than 60 seconds. I'm pretty sure it
has strengthened his independent recall a lot, but I couldn't prove it.
Could be other factors involved...he's maturing and becoming more
Saturday, August 29th, 2015: Hubert earned his NW1 title today.
it's been a long time since I've updated the website. All three dogs
have been training hard all summer. Today was Hubert's NW1 trial in
Bellinham. It was another great trial put on by Nose Work Magic.
It's been a long, hot, dry summer...until today. Today it rained hard
in the early morning, making the drive up to Bellingham a bit slow.
Once we got up there, the wind started up. I would estimate the wind
gusts were topping 60mph. Lots of the participants were chasing runaway
canopies and there were trees being blown down in the parking lot. Half
of the state is without power. Our first search was the exterior search
followed right after by the container search. The exterior search area
was a small concrete picnic area in the Syre building complex. There
were three round concrete picnic tables and the area was
completely exposed to the wind. Many of the competitors expressed
concern about this search due to the high winds. As it turned out, 96%
of the participants passed this search, the highest percentage of all
the areas. Hubert and I took about a minute to search the area. Hubert
alerted on a table and I called it. We went directly to the indoor
container search and Hubert alerted on the correct box in about a
minute. The final two searches were broken up, so we did one search and
then went back to the car to wait to do the next. The third search area
was the interior search. It was in a small chair storage room. I let
Hubert off leash and he worked the room very nicely, finding the hide
in the corner and alerting. The last search area was vehicles. There
were two cars and a small truck and the wind was blowing hard. Hubert
doesn't do real well on vehicles to start with, and he rarely has to
search three cars at once. We started working the area into the wind
the best we could. Hubert worked around the truck and didn't find
anything. He worked around the downwind car twice before I realized the
hide was on the upwind car and the odor was all over the downwind car
and thats why Hubert couldn't find it. We were 90 seconds into the 3
minute time limit when I pulled Hubert off of the upwind car and guided
him to the front of the other car. He worked around the license plate
and then alerted and earned his title. 28 of 45 participants passed the