My Service Dog, Jade

Monday, March 26, 2012

Training at the Firehouse

This week Jade and I will be doing some training at the firehouse, for a couple of reasons.  I've already taught her to run and get the phone if I fall, and become incapacitated, which has happened more than once before.  Jade will run and find the phone, bring it to me, and lie down next me until I can either move, or help comes.  There's only one problem. Due to the past trauma that Jade and I went through, she has a fear response to men in uniform. This is a major problem.  If I were to be in this situation again, Jade would be a tremendous help, until someone in uniform arrived, be it the paramedics, or firemen, or policemen.  She doesn't discriminate, it's all men in all types of uniforms. *sigh*  I can't say I blame her after what she went through with certain men in uniform, and now she has learned to generalize to ALL men in uniform.

A police officer had to come to the house last week, and I just knew Jade was going to lose it, and she did.  She is so afraid of them, that all of her training just goes flying out the window, and I can't get her to perform her "door etiquette." Her door etiquette is when she goes to the door, when someone rings the bell, and barks. I tell her "thank you," which quiets her and sends her to her place to lie down until released. We're still working on that, but she's getting better...except when it's a man in uniform, which sends her into a fearful, barking, mess, that can't be redirected no matter what.

So I spoke to my trainer about this, and she thinks it'll be great for her to get some up close and personal training with men in uniform, actually letting them train her a bit.  We're going to practice "treat and retreat," which is when the man in uniform will toss Jade a treat, then take a step backward, allowing her to come forward and take the treat.  We keep doing this as Jade gets closer and closer, until she's finally eating out of Mr. Uniform's hand. Now won't that be nice! We also plan to plead with the firemen to allow us to borrow one of them to stop by my house a few times in uniform to practice this door etiquette with first responders. I don't know if they'll do this, but I would imagine they might welcome this type of training, as many first responders have issues with dogs upon coming into a home to help a downed person, but who knows, we'll see.  I figure we can help each other in this training, and maybe they'd be willing to help Handi-dogs do this type of training for the disabled.  We're definitely going to pitch the idea to them and see what happens.

Last week we trained at a bookstore doing down/stays, step-overs by strangers, and a sit and get a pet by a child. All went very well.  I was amazed at Jade's down/stay, while she waited patiently for me to go to the counter and purchase a book. She laid quietly while I walked away, and must've been gone a good 5 minutes. The trainer stayed with her, but never had to touch her or say a word to her.  Children ran past her, and people walked by, some stepped over her tail, and she stayed put waiting for me to return. Pretty impressive.  I'm very proud of her.  We had her do a sit/stay and let some children come up and pet her, and she always welcomes a pat on the head.  She did great!

I've really been noticing also that Jade seems to be getting over her defensiveness with other dogs.  She seems more interested in meeting other dogs at the park when she's off duty and even had a good sniff with another yellow Lab tonight.  She let the dog sniff, she sniffed and gave a play bow.  I'm so glad that she seems to be moving past that.  Now, I have hope.  I have hope that she can move past just about anything, so I'm hoping it won't take long to move past her fear of men in uniform.  I think it's all gonna work out.  Sure am proud of my girl!!!