My Service Dog, Jade

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jade Goes To The Fair

We took Jade, loaded up my mobility scooter and headed off to the County Fair last night.  What a great time!

I wondered how Jade would do with all of those people around her, screaming, whistling, eating, walking, running past her, petting her when they're not supposed to, and her being in the middle of it all.  I wonder no more.  Jade was amazing! She did such a wonderful job that I rewarded her with her own super-long, County Fair hot dog, which she LOVED, and washed down with the bottle of water I snuck in her for.

Jade used to have a thing with loud noises, and my trainer said, "We need her to be bomb-proof." Boy is she ever!  My trainer always had those "loud noise sessions" in training class and I would get so frustrated, because Jade would
get so anxious and worked up, sometimes tucking her tail so far under her belly that I couldn't even find it.  She'd start shaking and press in up against me, and I'd have to take her outside to calm her down.  She would get so anxious that she would fail to perform her tasks.  I would get frustrated and discouraged, thinking, "she's never going to get over this." My trainer was great! We continued to have loud noise sessions, and my trainer would be so supportive and say, "Be patient, give her time, she'll come out of it." Finally Jade started showing immense improvement, and now, she is becoming the bomb-proof dog that I want and need so badly. I wondered how she'd do at the County Fair, but she amazed me once again. 

Jade was a bit stressed as we walked through the entry gate into the fair, and she looked around excitedly at all the people, the carnival rides, and games, with her eyes wide.  Soon after, I could see her face relax, and just because there were so many people, I was afraid she'd be stepped on, and children were walking by patting her,  I put her on the scooter to ride with me. She loves that. 

We rode over to the concert area where Ted Nugent was playing, and found a good spot amidst the huge crowd, and Jade got off the scooter and lied down between me and my boyfriend. The music was loud, to say the least, and whenever the band would stop, people would yell and scream and whistle so loudly....Jade wasn't phased. I was pleased. At one point I dropped my phone and Jade got down to pick it up and handed it to me. She was still performing her tasks in the middle of this huge, loud, whistling and screaming crowd! I can't tell you how relieved and thankful that makes me feel! 

We walked around the fair, I rode and Jade rode with me....we stopped and played a couple of games, winning a couple stuffed toys, thanks to my boyfriend's dart playing, balloon popping skills, and Jade watched him intently, never afraid.  As much as I hated those "loud noise sessions" in training, I can't thank my trainer enough for turning Jade into the best dog EVER! 


We've also managed to tackle the defensiveness issue that Jade was having with other dogs.  My trainer invited myself and my field trainer to her class session last week.  We used about 5-6 other dogs to help Jade.  She had been getting over this defensiveness anyway, and last week I do believe we had the huge breakthrough we'd been wanting. 

The trainer placed me and Jade inside a fenced pen, she was unleashed and we did some basic check-ins for review.  The other dogs then walked around us, with their handlers, again and again.  They were allowed to sniff Jade through the fence, and Jade sniffed them.  Then she would come back to me, check in and get a tasty treat.  She did great! No snarling, no teeth showing, no growling, no nothing! Jade was just her friendly old Lab self! What a great feeling! 

Then we put her back on lead and walked her around the other dogs, finally putting them all in a down/stay next to each other, while one dog would run past them all (including Jade) chasing a bone.  Jade didn't move a muscle, but just looked at me, with that beautiful smiling face, waiting for her next command.  Everyone cheered for Jade.  I was almost in tears with happiness. 

Then the trainer brought her own dog out, a little Aussie, and we place Jade in a down/stay between the Aussie and the huge Rottie that belongs to my field trainer.  The trainer made her Aussie bark, and get up, bark and growl.  Jade didn't move.  She looked at the dog then back at me, awaiting a command.  I was so happy!!!! The trainer was impressed. 

Afterward, we continued to walk Jade passed and around the Rottie for practice. Jade was so relaxed, and I could hardly believe it! They even bumped hips while passing a few times, and Jade would just keep walking or look up at me for a tasty treat. My field trainer was almost as happy as I was! She really wants Jade to excel, and that is exactly what she's doing.  These trainers are great people! 


I wish I had thought to get some photos. I will next time. 

After we were finished, the trainer pulled me aside and we talked a bit.  She talked to me about the fact that Jade's defensiveness with other dogs is really about my fear of her being approached by other dogs.  She explained that the leash is not just a way of keeping your dog close to you, it's a way of communicating with your dog.  Everything that I feel is transmitted down to Jade through that leash, as if it were some kind of vein that connects us. I know she's right because the only time I have seen Jade react to other dogs approaching is when I react. When I see another dog approaching her, I usually pull up on the leash, and making it tight, try to pull her away.  I am usually thinking, "Oh my god, not again!"while doing so. This is what causes Jade to react, as the trainer explained.  The trainer said, "This training isn't so much about Jade, it's about you....it's about getting YOU to relax when another dog is around, or  another dog approaches her....when you tense up, Jade reacts."  The trainer told me to keep practicing, as this will get easier and easier for me as time goes by.  She asked me to come up with a word I can use that will "take me to my happy place and help me relax" when in such a situation.  Sort of an "anchor" word.  I'm still working on coming up with something I think might work.

If anyone has a suggestion for a good "anchor word," I'm all ears. 

The reason that I tense up when Jade is approached by another dog is quite obvious if you've read my page on our attack story.  Jade was viciously attacked by a pit bull some time back, and I thought it was Jade that hadn't gotten over that, but apparently it has been me. It seems that Jade has let it go, and I'm the one who hasn't.  Quite an interesting epiphany.  I will keep working on that, but it's hard. If your dog has ever been attacked by another dog, especially a pit bull, you know what I mean.  I want to protect her, and never let her get hurt again, but my paranoia of her being approached by other dogs isn't doing her any favors, although I will NEVER let another pit bull anywhere near her if I can help it.  

Jade is an amazing dog, and never ceases to show me that. I was so proud of her at the fair this weekend, and she knew it.  I continued to praise her and give her a lot of love. I was also amazed at her friendliness with other dogs at training last week.  It appears we are moving past both the loud noise problem and the approaching dog issue, thanks to the wonderful trainers at Handi-dogs, Inc.! 

Jade is becoming a wonderful bomb-proof service dog! 


Jade in her sweater and booties made by me. 

I never imagined you'd amaze me the way you do, sweet girl! 











4 comments:

  1. the way you have described this outing, has made me and my little dude feel like we were there with you! How amazing!!! What a brilliant dog, one that should and could be trusted with all you need her for...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anne! I am really learning to trust her completely....she seems to have better judgement that I do! Haha! I'm so glad you enjoyed my post! Give your little dude a BIG hug from me and Jade! I wish we lived closer to each other, I have a feeling that Jade and your little dude would be fast friends!! Thank you for taking the time to read my long post :)

      Delete
  2. Wow! Going to the fair must've been a HUGE step. Congrats and what a BEAUTIFUL looking dog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Bark Biz! This dog never ceases to amaze me! Thanks for coming by and reading my blog.

      Delete