Boone-My Anatolian Unicorn

peteyfoozer

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I figured Boone has put his time in so he gets his own thread. It’s the least I can do for him.
For those who don’t know Boone, he is my ASAD. (Anatolian Shepherd Assistance Dog AKA Service Dog in Training)
This is absolutely NOT something I recommend to anyone as LGD’s are not temperamentally suited by nature to do public access work, having abnormally high defense drive and being stranger wary and often dog and/or human aggressive.

My situation is a little unique, as we live 4 hours from town, never get visitors, and the 4-6 trips a year we do go to town, we go to the same places and see the same people. (Mostly doctors, but groceries and feedstore too)
I have 12 years hands on experience with LGD’s as well as having done a great deal of research years ago, so I am aware of the potential problems it presents and I was a horse trainer in my former life so handling a powerful animal isn’t new to me.
In addition to all that, should Boone ultimately fail public access, he still serves me at home both as a Service Dog and protecting our small stock from nighttime predators. So the only loss would be my independence away from home.

I spent awhile researching and considering the idea of an AS SD. Both my previous Service Dogs were English Shepherds and while they did amazing work for me, both had problems being charged at by large, (and small) untrained, poorly controlled pets masquerading as Service Dogs. If people realized how much time, money and hope goes into a Service Dog and how quickly an experience like this can ruin one maybe they would quit, but I doubt it. Some people are just selfish and entitled and don’t really care if the only way a disabled person can enjoy some normal activities, like going grocery shopping, or out to dinner is to be able to depend on a safe environment for their team member. They will take their miserable mutt anywhere because they feel like it.
(Sorry for the rant. I have seen far more phonies than legitimate dogs and have actually been denied entrance to places because I don’t carry phony certificates purchased online. ADA clearly states there is NO such certification, but these aholes make money giving false legitimacy to phony teams a the expense of people who actually depend on their SD. and many businesses are unaware of the laws or of their own rights should any dog, even a REAL SD should misbehave in their place of business. )

Ooops. Sorry. I digress.

Ok. I was saying that LGD’s don’t feel threatened by other dogs, they know they are the baddest boys on the block and don’t need to prove it. So :
1. For the pro column
2. I now require mobility assistance which my sheppies are not large enough to do. Most giant breeds are short lived so a dane or Bernie only has about 3-4 working years after the 2 years it takes to train and “finish” an SD. Anatolians average lifespan is nearly twice as long.
3. Unlike labs, goldens and sheppies, LGD’s are not overtly gregarious with strangers. In fact, on the occasions I do allow Boone to interact with people, he tends to sit calmly, say hello, then returns his focus immediately back on me.
4. When allowed to greet, LGD’s don’t suddenly explode with pent up energy, wanting to play, kiss, jump, wiggle and go insane. Boone just sits, enjoys a hello and when he’s had enough, he flops to the ground as if someone pulled his plug 😂 Children will sometimes be gifted a swipe of a giant tongue.
5. Unlike herding breeds, especially, LGD’s are masters of energy economy. Where it was torture for Fen to sit quietly in a waiting room, then be expected to lay down and be invisible in a restaurant or hospital/Dr office, Boone is perfectly happy to nap at any and every opportunity.
6. A Service Dog needs to be strongly bonded to its handler. Heath and I had that. Fen and I did not. He was not keene on women as I was his 4th home in his brief 5 months and his owners were all women. He bonded to Randy on sight.
LGD’s bond to other species to the point of sacrificing their lives. Both a pro and a con. Boone would no doubt bond with me.
So I felt there were many good reasons to give him a chance.

On the con side,
1 It’s possible he may no longer be tolerant of strangers or other dogs in close proximity to me at maturity. On the flip side, if he washes out, he won’t be my first failure, as Fen is the brightest I ever owned and trained, learned things even my Heath couldn’t do but HATED the job. So he failed first.

2. Livestock Guardian Dogs don’t think or react like other breeds and rarely have high food or toy drive which makes task training difficult. This I consider to be my biggest hurdle. Where Heath could open and close doors, pick up and put away his toys and bring my meds to me at 12 weeks, Boone was just being completely weaned from his littermates and ready to make the trip here from Colorado. I figured if all he did was prevent me from falling it was enough. Fen would have to fill in until Boone learned more tasks or I got yet another prospect to try.

Boone is almost 8 months now. We have spent every moment together. I have worked super hard to make sure he has only positive experiences with strangers and neutral reactions with strange dogs. Avoid any resource guarding between he and Fen (always the highest priority of all)
He enjoys people. He likes going to town with us. He is friends with all of my medical staff. He knows the people at the feedstore. He has been secure enough to let me hand him off to someone with whom we’ve only been recently acquainted and is accepting of medical staff taking my blood pressure, giving injections and causing me varying degrees of discomfort as long as I assure him it’s ok. He can open the back door and let himself out. He heels beautifully in town, and is the perfect height for me to simply hook 2 fingers in his flat collar so I don’t fall, while an emergency “brake” is a halter he wears that is attached to a no hands leash, so should he for any reason try to charge someone or something, I will have control of him, in spite of his massive size. He happily picks up anything I ask him to and hands it to me. The hardest thing for him has been fitting himself under tables in restaurants, but once there, he is content to nap.
So far, I think we are winning. Only time and his maturity will let us know for sure.

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Baymule

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I’m so glad you are giving the gift of Boone to us! Yes he absolutely deserves his own thread. The story of Boone, as his training and life unfolds, we will be right there with you and Boone.
 

peteyfoozer

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Boone is reaching an age where his growth has slowed down considerably and his energy levels are a bit higher. I would more appreciative if I didn’t hurt quite this much. Adolescence is never pretty. (Bruno chewed off my good table leg and ate a fence post. Mr Potamus used to steal things out of my hand as I walked and play keep away)

Boone has lots of appropriate things to chew but is beginning to channel Fen as a puppy. He strolls by with a pair of skivvies or a sock hanging out of his mouth…I glance up to see him tearing up the cushion Randy uses for his back…5 different times. He climbs on the couch and starts chewing the pillow. I holler “uh-uh!” and he yawns and pretends it wasn’t in his mouth..he has more energy than me now. 😳
He used to be 100% selfish puppy and steal ALL of Fen’s toys and chews which Fen generously shared but then didn’t get back. If Fen tried to chew, or play with a toy, or come to me to be petted, Boone would pinch with his teeth. I have spent many hours letting Boone know Fen is mine and not to be abused. Boone has never been overtly ugly towards him but he grew so large, so fast…
There has been lots of giving Boone his favorite snackies when Fen is close to me. Lots of making them both sit while handing out treats by name as Boone would try to steal them all. I use every trick, idea and suggestion at my disposal to keep peace and safety between them.
Perception is everything to a Livestock Guardian. If a human or animal are PERCEIVED as a threat, every means at their disposal will be used to eliminate the threat, from warning barking all the way to killing.
Fen can NEVER afford to be perceived as a threat to Boone. Now that he is leaving puppyhood behind, he’s seeing Fen not as an inconvenience who takes my attention, plays with toys or eats treats Boone wants to resource guard, but as a flock member to be protected. THIS is what I’ve been waiting for.
Boone has always deferred to Fen in play, letting Fenny flip him, pin him, chase and chew on him and has learned, for the most part, to pull his punches. (Although the Guardian swat still comes up. These dogs like to use the strength, weight, size, reach and power of their feet to smack down an opponent. Boone employed this last night, trying to push Fen off my lap during dinner. He was reminded how I feel about that)
Fen taught Boone to play tug, to my good fortune. The Maremmas and Boone (so I assume most LGD’s) had/have very soft mouths. But being willing to play the tug game enabled me to teach Boone -To hand me things -then pick up and give me items-to retrieve things I request, etc.
To pull open doors for me and also let himself out to potty, play or check on situations. It helps him discern when I want loose leash walking or for him to gently pull me forward so I don’t fall.
Retrieving isn’t a natural behavior for LGDs so simply teaching Boone to play tug helped me immensely.
I have built in food and toy drive as much as possible with Boone, using positive reinforcement. Every moment is a learning opportunity, every action or reaction is a possibility in a chain of events. It’s been a great experience with him so far and I expect it will only get better.
Positive reinforcement isn’t the only tool I use. Due to the possibility of serious injury to Fen in the event Boone loses his impulse control for even a minute, there is now a zero tolerance policy in the house.
Boone is NEVER allowed to pinch or grab Fen in the back, butt, tail, etc. He used to reach out and constantly torment Fen. Nothing discouraged him enough to stop him completely and I am usually stuck in an electric recliner that takes a bit to let me up, which takes even longer…so I have a small plastic container with dry pinto beans in it.
It means “you’d better pay attention!” It’s quite loud. Boone ran Fen down while Fen was looking out the window. It hurt Fen when Boone landed on him. Both of us had hollered at him to stop, and he knew he wasn’t supposed to wrestle inside but he ignored us. The next time it happened, I warned Boone just prior to sailing the container of beans at him. He was in shock from both my throwing something at him as well as the loud noise it made. Next I would shake it just before he pounced and he would stop instantly. Now he stops instantly and comes for a treat. It’s not something he fears. It gets his attention and now it redirects bad behavior and makes for a positive result.
Fen even gets to chew on the antler himself if he wants. ❤️
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peteyfoozer

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Repeating myself, cuz that’s what old people do, Service Dogs are specifically task trained to mitigate a disability. Each of my dogs has performed multiple tasks, even Fenny the slacker.
Boone has been doing really well opening the door, handing me stuff I drop or point at (ie: phone, glasses, kindle, clothes being folded, etc.)
Right now we are focusing on hearing and memory tasks. I’m currently barely getting by on pain meds every 4 hours. They are kept in a separate container from the rest. I also don’t hear my alarm go off at night so my blood levels get low and it’s hard to get it back under control (and to make it worse, the pharmacy just said they can’t get it and we need to see if Dr can rewrite Rx 😬)
So I start with Boone handing me the container when requested, first from nearby, then distance (another room) then I will switch the cue to the alarm so he will know to get it to me every 4 hours. I haven’t worked out how to work that with his night shift but we will get there.
What is hilarious, is that he’s so big he can reach, and or hand things to me while lying down 😂
I also plan to have him add a nose boop to the alarm so if we are out & about he can just let me know it’s time as they are kept in his pack or my treat bag, or a vial around my neck. He’s too rough with his paws so booping is a must.

 

peteyfoozer

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Boone’s having an off day. The tables in restaurant were lower than most. He went under beautifully but it was hot and cramped so he kept squirting out and it’s hard directing a 100# plus pd dog when sitting in a booth.
We did take him out to pee twice. Once with me and the second time with Randy as I wasn’t able to make the walk. He was still a very gud boi and will only get better. Fen did, but he never got past hating town trips.

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Having a giant as a Service Dog can be tricky. We were at the back booth in corner so he was allowed to stretch out next to me and the waitress brought him water

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Luckily we were in small town Burns today where pretty much all the people we deal with knew Heath and Fen, and know Boone is still a youngster in training so they give us grace. It’s hard training for public access when we usually only go to town every few months. It’s asking a lot of the dogs but Heath loved it and I think Boone will handle it. Fen is too active to deal with the horribly long drives and infrequent trips. He never enjoyed it, never felt relaxed. As you can see, Boone is not exactly a bundle of nerves 😝

He did great the rest of the day. He went to visit his friends at the ranch store and all the cashiers fawned over him and the old fellows who work there petted him and told their same stories about dogs they had and for some reason when told he is an Anatolian Shepherd they assume he is some kind of German Shepherd X. I don’t correct them. Boone likes them.
Home again and both of us hurt. Poor Randy. He’s nearly as messed up as me and carrying all the load today. I need to remind him to call and make an appt for his shoulder injection.

No training for Boo today. We both need a recovery day.
 

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