My Service Dog, Jade

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jade and the Firemen

So, I was very excited about getting to take Jade to the firehouse to do some training with the firemen there, but wasn't sure how the firemen would respond to this request.  The trainer and I weren't sure how they would respond to our request to assist Jade with her training, or whether they would at all.

So yesterday came the day.  My trainer met Jade and I at the firehouse, station 13, to be precise. It's a very small station, and didn't seem too busy; and it's right down the street from my house! So Jade and I decided since it was such a nice day that we would ride my scooter down there to meet the trainer.  It was a very nice day and the sun was blazing, but I think had we realized  how hot it really was, we would've taken the car.  Whew! I got sunburned.

We met the trainer there in the parking lot and briefly went over how we could present this request to the firemen, excuse me, fire people, inside.  (Women are fire people too). My trainer would introduce us and talk about what we are doing, and we would take it from there.  I have to say we were both pleasantly surprised at how well the firemen/women responded to our request, and felt VERY welcomed!

Before ringing the doorbell to the firehouse, my trainer said, "We better let Jade stay out here with you while I talk to them because she might get fearful at just going right in too quickly.  We don't want her to get over threshold and then she won't respond to training."  Good point! Jade was on the scooter with me (she loves to ride on that thing with me!) and we waiting while the trainer rang the doorbell.

A couple of firemen came to the door and opened it.  The trainer began telling them why we were there.  They nodded their heads, and one of them said, "wow, ok!"  They invited us in, and were so extremely nice and very responsive! We explained that Jade was very fearful of men in uniform and I was very uncomfortable with this because there may come another time that I need help and need the paramedics/firemen/police to respond to my residence, and they won't be able to get passed Jade to help me, due to her fear.  So we want to help Jade get over her fear of people in uniform, specifically men, so that when I need help, I can receive it. As of now, I told them, if I start to spasm and fall, and can't get up, Jade will run to get the phone for me, and come lay next to me until help arrives.  The problem is, that when help arrives, she won't let them get to me.  NO good! We explained that we were from a training organization here in town and also would like them to come to the organization and give a class on how they respond to calls for help, and how they handle dogs at the residence, precisely service dogs.  They were very responsive to that as well.

I was very pleased how they handled Jade.  As soon as we went into the firehouse, Jade became nervous.  She stared at the firemen/women, with her ears up high and her body tense, and started to growl and bark a little bit.  We quickly stopped her by handing my bag of treats to one of the firemen, who took them and tossed Jade a treat.  They asked us, "Would you like us to put on our complete gear or are these uniforms good enough?" We asked them if they could maybe put their helmets on too. They said, "Sure, absolutely," and went to fetch their helmets and some of their gear.  I was so happy! I had to coax Jade off of the scooter, and the fireman tossed treats and Jade came closer to him and got them off the floor.  In seconds, Jade was eating out of the fireman's hand.  The firemen/women were all standing around talking about Jade, and calling her over to smell them, and squatting down so she could smell their helmets. They took Jade around the firehouse and showed her all of their gear and uniforms and boots, and Jade sniffed liked crazy.  She ran happily around the firehouse with them, following the treats, and stopping to sniff different things, then she would circle around and run back to me, making sure I was ok, and then run back to them. She relaxed, her tail started wagging and she had a smile on her face! The firemen/women petted her, and ran with her around the firehouse, they played with her, and she gave them kisses! I was amazed!

This went on for about 25-30 minutes, then one of the firemen said, "She's really doing great now!" We agreed! Then he said, "The tough part is gonna be when we show up at your house for a call, because that's when they get really territorial." We agreed! So then my trainer asked, "We were wondering if one of you, or a few of you would actually be willing to come by her house and practice a little with this, just to get her used to having you respond to a call?" I cringed, thinking there's no way their gonna do that. Then one of them said, "No one's ever asked us that before, but I don't see why not." Wow! The firemen/women looked at each other and said, "Yeah, sure we can come by," and asked where I lived.  They asked for my address and phone number and I happily gave it to them. They said, "Let's make an appointment, we're usually not too busy in the afternoon, at this time...unless we get a call, but it's usually slow." They made an appointment with me, to come by my house next week, same time, and I was ecstatic!!! I couldn't believe how helpful these people were!!!! This is GREAT, I was thinking! My trainer was very pleased. She also asked them about coming to the training organization and doing a brief training there with the trainees and their dogs, letting the dogs get used to their smell and their gear. They thought that was a great idea! I think we started something wonderful!

So we decided on a date and time, and they seemed happy to do this! They took down my address and phone number, and the fireman said, "I have your phone number just in case we do get a call, I will call you and let you know."  I was truly amazed that they were so helpful and willing to come by my house even to help with this.  I asked them if they have a lot of trouble with dogs when they go on a call, and they all nodded.  I think they see this training as a way of helping them too; a way to help them learn how to deal with dogs when responding to a call. One of the firemen explained how they deal with dogs, saying, "Well, some of them are scared and do a lot of barking, but they don't approach us, so we just carry on....others are just plain aggressive and we just put our bags in front of us and go for it....we gotta do our jobs....we sometimes have one of the guys catch the dog and put it in a room or outside....whatever we have to do to help someone.  We sometimes have to save dogs from fires and sometimes they're not easy to save...we have to just throw blankets over them and grab them." While he was talking he was squatted down and giving Jade a scratch on the head and back, and she was loving it! She was sniffing his helmet and giving him kisses!  I was so glad to be having this conversation with the firemen/women!

One of the firemen said, "Let's do some work on you and see how Jade reacts." So they pulled out the blood pressure machine and the pulse machine and started taking my blood pressure and my pulse, with their helmets on.  Jade came over and sniffed their hands while they worked, and she watched me to see if I was okay.  Her ears were up again, but she was fine! She watched, and then the trainer gave her a few treats. The fireman said, "Your pulse is high, take a few deep breaths, and he laughed." I was so happy, that's probably why! We all laughed a little, and the fireman told us about their dog that they have working with them sometimes.  "He's a sniffing dog," they explained.  "He doesn't get food unless he sniffs something out for us." We talked a little more, then suddenly a lady came over the loud speaker and they all started scrambling about.  "We gotta go, got a call, but we'll see you next week at your house!" I put Jade back on the scooter as the large garage door started going up and they jumped in the truck.  They pulled away and the sirens came on.  Jade's ears were up and she watched intently, but she did great!

My trainer and I stayed outside talking a bit about the experience after they left, and we were both SO pleased about how it went! We were very grateful for their willingness to help, and could hardly believe their willingness to come by my house and practice some more training! This was great!!! We talked more about having them come to the class and do some training there.  My trainer will be here as well when the firemen/women come over next week and we'll see how that goes! I'm so excited about this! This is great stuff!

Stupid me! I didn't think to take any photos! I want some photos of Jade with the firemen! I'm so glad I'll have another chance to do that when they come to my house next week.  I hope it works out and they don't get a call they have to go to instead.  I'm hoping that even if they do, they will still be able to come by afterward.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Another thing the firemen told me is that it's a good idea to post a little sign, or sticker on your door, or window stating that there is a Service Dog Inside the house.  The firemen, and police really take heed to those stickers, and if you write that it's a service dog, even though the dog may act frightened or even aggressive, they are MUCH less likely to shoot it. The police sometimes will shoot your dog if they can't get to you and the dog is aggressive and not letting them do their job. We discussed this. So, whether you have a service dog or not, it's a good idea to post something like that where the officers responding to your residence can easily read it. It'll keep you and your animals safer.  It'll also give them a heads up if you have a house fire; they will try to save your animals as well.

I'm really glad to be able to share this on my blog and very grateful for the experience! God bless the firemen/women! Never forget 9/11.  Firemen/women are some of the most courageous, and brave people on this planet!  Also, God bless the dogs that worked those days on 9/11 at that site!

I should have some pictures for you all next week after the firemen/women come by the house.  But for now....

Pretty cool video about the dogs at 9/11

http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/news/indiana/rescuer-lauds-dogs-work-after-9-11

A Story of the Service Dog, Roselle, who walked her blind handler down the 78 floors of the South Tower on 9/11 right before the building collapsed (photo)
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/09/06/blind-man-his-guide-dog-and-lessons-learned-on-11/