My Service Dog, Jade

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Home From Vacation

     Well, we made it back home from our vacation out of state and I have to say, Jade was an absolute CHAMP! We had almost no problems whatsoever, except for one small one that was resolved easily and quickly.  We drove for 8 long hours to get to Santa Fe, and Jade laid in the back seat, without a peep the whole way! She didn't complain one time! I was very proud of her.  We stopped every hour and a half to two hours, and let her out to potty, get some gas, eat lunch, etc.  She was always happy to get out of the car, and we could tell she wasn't too happy to get back in when the break was over, but she did it, without complaint.  What a great dog! We came home the same way; an 8 hour car ride, and Jade didn't make a whimper.  So I'll tell you about a few of our experiences along the way....
     We stopped in Lordsburg to have lunch, a couple of hours into our trip. We all went into the restaurant, and Jade went straight under the table and did an immediate down/stay, as always.  A few people talked to us about her, as per usual, saying that "she's such a good looking dog....where did you get her trained," etc.  One couple were just going on and on about her, asking about her training and saying what a well-behaved dog she is, etc.  I always welcome questions about her training, and I'm always happy about educating others on the use and training of service dogs.  I tell what I know.  When the waitress came over to our table, she said that she was amazed at how well-behaved Jade was.  I said, "Well, she's a service dog, and is supposed to be well-behaved." She responded, "Oh you should see some of the other dogs that come in here; they're terrible, they won't sit, they bark and act terrible." I couldn't believe that, so I asked her if they were service dogs, and she said they were! Wow!  A service dog is always supposed to be well-behaved and follow commands immediately, so I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  I was proud of Jade though.  I thought to myself that I must be a perfectionist then, because there are times that I don't think Jade is doing the best that she can do; but, she has bad days too. So having heard what the waitress said, I was amazed that someone would bring a "service dog" into a restaurant that won't even sit, or barks! Hard to believe. It also made me wonder if those were some of the dogs that people are passing as "service dogs" in order to take them everywhere with them, even though they haven't been properly trained per ADA regs.
     We checked into the hotel without a hitch, and the girl behind the check-in counter just smiled at Jade, and didn't say a word. I wondered if she would, but Jade was wearing her service dog vest, and I was prepared if she said anything or asked any questions, but she didn't.  Jade never barked once inside the hotel.  She did, I confess, sleep on the bed with us the whole time, but we put a sleeping bag on the bed, so as not to get it too hairy. The only time anyone at the hotel said anything was the first morning we were there, and had come out to the lobby to have breakfast.  The manager came out and said, "I'm sorry, ma'am, I can't allow your dog in the food area." So I simply responded, "It's ok, she's a service dog and is with me always for medical reasons."  The manager just looked for a minute, put her hand to her chin, and said, "Hmmm, service dog....ok." Then walked away.  No more problems after that.  I don't think she saw Jade's vest, because Jade was lying quietly under the table.
     There was one time that Jade became protective and barked and snarled at some people outside of the hotel.  We were just outside the side door, and I was waiting for her to do her "potty," when a couple and their grown son came rushing out of the door, and startled the both of us pretty good.  Jade whipped around and barked and growled a bit, but got hold of herself pretty quick. I apologized to the couple.  I chalked it up as Jade being a bit nervous in a strange environment and getting startled as they came rushing out of the door pretty quickly, and loudly.  Other than that, as far as the hotel goes, no incidents, no barking, just a well-behaved service dog, doing her job.
     The one thing that frustrates me most is that Jade has a very difficult time with other dogs.  She's not dog aggressive, but she is defensive.  I've talked to my trainer about this, and we've worked on it many times in class, and sometimes it seems she's getting better, and other times, not so much.  I know it's from the pit bull attack that she suffered, because she was never that way prior to the attack, and hasn't been the same since.  A lot of times, an attack by another dog can easily put your service dog out of work for these reasons, and others.  My trainer says that she's going to be fine because as a service dog, she doesn't need to play with, or really get along with other dogs, she just needs to be able to walk past them, and sit in the same room with them, without freaking out, which she does fine.  She just cannot handle another dog coming  up and sniffing her, especially in her face.  When that happens, Jade loses it, and I swear she becomes another dog.  She becomes so defensive, and it scares me.  She doesn't ever bite, but she makes a lot of noise, snarling, growling and barking, and goes after the other dog.  I hate this! I hate that that damned pit bull ruined my dog!!!! When it happens, I become very sad, depressed, discouraged, and needless to say, embarrassed for my dog's behavior.  My trainer says that no one is supposed to let their dog come into your dog's face anyway, it's very rude behavior, but it does happen. It happens a lot actually, and then I always end up having to be the one to apologize and feel embarrassed, but they were the rude ones for letting their dog in Jade's face.  Anyway, I digress....We went to visit a friend, at his recording studio, and he always has his dog with him.  It's a very innocent, and friendly dog.  We walked in, and the dog ran right up and got right in Jade's face for a sniff...you can guess how it went from that point.  Yup, Jade lost it....and I ended up apologizing and feeling very embarrassed.  Jade was fine afterwards, just a bit excited.  The other dog, poor thing, ran with his tail between his legs and was put in another room.  I felt so bad, and kept apologizing, but the owner blew it off as no big deal.  I wish there was some way to fix Jade, but I can't take away what happened to her.
     That was the worst of the whole entire trip.  The rest was a breeze.  Jade was great, and was very helpful, bracing when I needed, picking up my cane several times, and anything I dropped, including my credit card off the tile floor.  (Not an easy feat).  She even did a great "visit" when I was feeling stressed.  She "visits" by putting her head in my lap when I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. It really helps to ground me, and she makes me pet her, which helps bring me back to reality.  So, overall, it was a great trip, Jade did a great job for being in a totally different and strange environment, and we're all happy to be home.  Thanks for listening.