My Service Dog, Jade

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Field Training At The Mall

     Jade and I had a field outing with the trainer yesterday and today we are attending the training class again. Since we went out of town, we missed a class and a field outing, so now we are making up for lost time.  No buggy though, I love spending this quality time with Jade, and she has a great time too.  We've actually missed two weeks, since Jade was sick the week before and last week we were out of town. Jade had come down with an upper respiratory thing, which I believe she contracted from me, since I'd been sick as well.  Who knows? The Vet said although there have been studies done on whether dogs contract our illnesses, they are not conclusive, so it's still questionable.  Anyway, we are making up for lost time, and Jade is doing great.  Yesterday the field trainer met us at the mall, and we did some different things to see how Jade would do.  We got on and off a couple of elevators, and Jade was great.  It's just funny the way she looks at the floor when the elevator starts or stops moving.  :)  She just looks down at the floor, like she's thinking "why is the floor moving?" It's pretty funny.  She wore her harness yesterday and is doing great with it.  She knows the purpose of the harness now, and she understands it is for supporting me, bracing and  helping me with balance.  I can tell she understands this because of the way she uses the harness.  She's such a champ! The trainer was impressed at how well she did at the mall, which is actually a pretty strange environment for her, as she's only been inside one other time.  
     People are usually pretty friendly when they see us together, and a lot of people ask questions about how she is being trained, how she helps me, etc.  Most people are good about it accepting us into their stores and restaurants, but there are some places that are not as service dog friendly, although they don't have a choice, really. I did talk to the trainer about the episode we had while on vacation, with the other dog that approached Jade nose to nose while she was working. We talked about Jade's defensiveness with other dogs that get too close; although Jade is not always like that.  It really depends on the circumstances under which she is approached by other dogs.  The trainer and I agree that it has a lot to do with how I am reacting in that situation.  When that incident happened in Santa Fe, I remember the dog coming up to Jade and sniffing her nose, and me thinking "Oh my God, NO! Here we go again!" and tightening up on her leash.  That is most of the problem.  I know because we've had other instances just like this one, where I relaxed the leash, took a deep breath, and thought "It'll be ok," and it was! It really is amazing how much our dogs react to how we feel! The trainer really didn't issue any homework for Jade on this subject, but for me.  She told me to think of something that really helps me to relax, a happy thought, to use when this sort of thing happens, and to relax the leash.  I'm sure she's right, and I'll have to work on that. 
     Otherwise, Jade did wonderfully at the mall, on the elevators, and with the trainer rolling suitcases in front of her, and dropping food on the floor in front of her (which she didn't touch).  It took a while for Jade to get that one.  :)  Jade is definitely motivated by food, as most Labs are. She learned not to touch any food that falls on the floor, and not eat anything unless it's given to her by hand, and I okay it.  The training on this isn't over yet, though, we're still working on it, but she's doing well.  I really want Jade to be a bomb proof service dog, but I do know that no dog is perfect, and they all have bad days.  She will have her certification test out in the public somewhere and I want her prepared to pass it with flying colors.
     The trainer and I also discussed those websites that are selling vests and such, in order for people to put on their dogs, and call them "service dogs," for the purpose of getting around the law.  My trainer expressed her disgust with these websites and the people who impersonate the disabled and have their dogs impersonate a service dog, for this purpose.  It really is a disgraceful act! A lot of studies have been done in the past about lawbreakers and criminals, and it turns out that most people do in fact, try their very best to obey the laws.  The people who do these sorts of things fit the definition of criminals, and definitely fit the definition of disgraceful! The laws on this are full of holes, and are very vague, and basically don't stop people who do this disgraceful practice, but the ADA regs are written that way for a reason...to protect the disabled.  It's hard to say what needs to be done in this case. 
     Jade did great at the mall, and the trainer was happy with her, as am I.  We will attend class today and catch her up on anything she missed.  I'm betting that they want to work on Jade's responses to loud noises again today.  Although Jade is definitely getting better with that, she still has some anxiety with a lot of prolonged loud noise.  She will get it though, I have faith.  She will get to the point that none of that bothers her anymore.  Let's hope it happens quickly. Thanks for listening.  


Here are some links below, that are great reads for anyone who just loves dogs in general.  Check them out!






If you love dogs, all kinds of dogs, and want to see what they're doing for their people....check out this link below.

https://www.facebook.com/exploredogs?sk=wall

The story of Danny, A Service Dog Who Saved A Life

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/service-dog-saves-life-arizona-bethe-benne_n_1248293.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D132236


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