Thursday, December 31, 2009

Picture Perfect -- Pup Photo Session

Smoke’s Pup Crew had an adventure near the end of 2009. They traveled to the Tony Stewart racing shop on the northwest side of Indianapolis for their very own photo shoot.

Carl Frye, the photographer who expertly captured the pups’ personalities when they were 6 weeks old, graciously volunteered to capture their adolescent personalities at 20 weeks of age. The main difference between now and then? What were slightly squirmy seven-pound puppies are now energized 35-pound, 6-month-old adolescents with insatiable curiosity and boundless energy. What hasn’t changed? They still are adorable.

Enjoy these photos and marvel along with us at how much the pups have matured. (Need a photographer for a special event? Contact Carl at
DORA (above)
HUNTER (below)

LILY (below)
RACER (below)
RILEY (below)

BELLA (below)BRISTOL (below)

DEGA (below)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Pups Perform! Videos & Photos

Want to see some amazing video footage of Smoke's Pup Crew in action? Click HERE to watch a 10 minute performance by the pups as the handlers at Plainfield Correctional Facility demonstrate the puppies' skills. The handlers were demonstrating (for prison staff and for Tony Stewart Foundation reps who came to watch) several of the commands the pups have mastered.

In this video, you'll watch as each handler requests behaviors from the puppies and the skilled pups respond. Here are some of the commands you'll see in action and an explanation of why they will be important when the dog enters the profession of service work.

TOUCH - the dog touches the handler's hand or another object with its nose; touch is put to practical use when a person with a disability asks his service dog to open a door by "touching" the auto-open button with its nose.
SHAKE - the dog raises a paw from the ground into the handler's hand; shake is important for grooming purposes when a person with a disability wants to trim the dog's toenails.
BACK UP - the dog walks backward from the handler; this is an important behavior since a person in a wheelchair must maneuver the chair, meaning the dog must be able to move in tandem with the chair's direction.
LEAVE IT - the dog ignores the temptation to pay attention to something or someone other than its handler; when working for a person with a disability, a service dog must be able to ignore distractions so that its sole focus is on its person and assisting them. That means ignoring squirrels, other people, loud noises, and bouncing tennis balls as you will see in the video!

All of these behaviors and many more are vital to service dogs working safely and effectively alongside their person.

The audio isn't great given that we were recording in a large gymnasium, but the video should give you an idea of just how far these nine little guys have come and give you an idea of how skilled the handlers who train for ICAN are. All those clicks you hear throughout the video are the sound that the "training clickers" make. The training clicker sound lets the dog know that that he or she has performed the correct behavior that the handler asked for.

After the nine pups finished their performance, IT WAS PLAY TIME! Watch the puppies at play outside and in the baby pool! The last and larger dog to approach the pool is Daddy Bodhi who was visiting the pups that day. Finally, check out the photos after this video of the handlers the day of the performance.