My Service Dog, Jade

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Training At The Pet Store

Jade and I had training today and our trainer decided we should try it at the pet store since there are plenty of distractions there.  She's right.  There are a lot of smells, dog food, toys, other dogs, even a Vet clinic.  Then there are the other dogs coming in, walking around with their owners, and leaving. There's also a doggie day-care inside the store, with a very large picture window (made of some sort of plexi-glass) so that all the dogs in day-care can see out into the store, a place for cat adoptions, and a grooming salon.   So, yes, a lot of distractions!
My trainer also thought it'd be a good idea to have Jade meet with another dog and do some training together, to see how she's getting along with the defensiveness issue she's had since her pit bull attack.  The trainer had another client with her and her service dog in training...a black Lab....we'll call him, Gabe.

So, we started by walking Gabe and Jade passed each other a few times outside, then the last time, we stopped closest to each other and did a sit/stay.  All of that went very well. Then we let them meet.  They sniffed each other, and sniffed some more, then Jade went on the sniffing other things.  So that went very well and I was VERY pleased....and very proud of her.

Gabe's owner asked me about Jade being attacked back then.  She asked me what kind of dog it was....I answered, "It was a pit bull."  Well, that kicked off a whole new conversation about pit bulls.  Seems Gabe's owner isn't too fond of pit bulls either.  She asked me what the owner of the pit bull said to me after the attack, and I explained that the owner was nowhere to be found...just a loose pit bull, roaming free, with a broken chain around its neck.  She talked about how that "always seems to be the case....and pit bulls maul and kill a lot of dogs and children, for that matter!"  We talked a bit about the pit bull problem here in Tucson and just the sheer numbers of pit bulls here, as this place is overrun with them!  The trainer also chimed in a bit and talked about how the wrong kind of people are drawn to pit bulls and seem to be the most irresponsible and immature people.  Can't argue with that! Gabe's owner said, "I don't blame Jade for having been defensive after that happened to her, I would be too!" Seems Jade is moving past those days now, thankfully!

Anyway....Once we let the two dogs get a good greeting and get to know one another, we all headed inside the store to do some training together.

We did some sit/stays, some down/stays, some "leave its," some down/stay and handler goes out of sight for a few moments, and walking past other dogs.  We had a good time, and Jade did wonderfully! She used to have a hard time with doing down/stay and me going out of sight for a few moments, but she does it now, and just stares at where I went until I get back.  We always laugh because my trainer says, "Wow, I don't think she even blinked until you got back!" Haha! That's my girl!

We also did a down/stay and had a couple of strangers come and step over her, and worked a bit on her check out counter etiquette, which didn't need much work at all.  Everything seems to be going so well, and the trainer said it won't be long now before we're ready to take the certification test.  We've certainly been practicing for it.

Hopefully it won't be long now until Jade gets her pretty green vest, and is an official Certified Service Dog!

Hitting The Dusty Trails

Well, Jade and I hit the dusty trails this evening, and tried out the new boots.  At first, she was walking like she was stepping over waves on the beach, but once we hit the park, it was like she was floating again.  It always amazes me how she becomes a different dog at the park. She loves that park! We've been going there since Jade was 13 weeks old, two weeks after she first came home with me....

I remember the first day we went there too.  I was trying to teach her to walk on a leash, and boy was she clueless! I remember being in the middle of that soccer field, and she sat there watching me, as I tugged a little on the leash to try and get her moving, but she was planted! I'd tug, she'd look, but she refused to move whenever that leash was attached. She was so damn cute, all I could do was chuckle. I tried treats, sweet talk, firm talk....nothing.  Finally, I dropped the leash and started walking away from her, she immediately followed, then I picked up the leash and she looked right at me, like, "Oh, I see...." and off we went. I knew from that day that she was gonna be a special dog.
See those beautiful green eyes ^^? That's how she got her name Jade. The green in her eyes have dulled a little, they're more hazel-like now, but still just as warm, and just as beautiful! Nothing but a whole lot of love in this dog!

Anyway, back to the dusty trails....once Jade got to the park, she got used to the boots really quickly and started jogging.  Soon we were hitting the dusty, desert trails, behind the park, as to avoid the pit bull walker that shows up every Tuesday and Wednesday, with her now four pit bulls.  She has a female pit bull, and 3 puppies.  The puppies already have their ears cropped, ready for fighting, I suppose.  I don't see any good reason to crop your pit bull's ears unless, one, you plan to fight your pit bull and that way their opponent can't get hold of their ears to maul, or two, you just want your pit bull to look more intimidating. Either purpose to me, is disgusting! Every time I see this nutter, I either turn around and head in the other direction, refusing to put my precious girl (that's right, my precious girl) in a situation where she has any potential of getting hurt, I make the widest possible half-circle around her that I can, or I just stop where I am, farthest away from her, and wait for her to pass by with her mutants.  I care NOT if she sees me doing this....I'm not the only one that does it.  However, because she has seen me, whenever she has the opportunity, she gets as close to me as she can, and lets her mutants get as close as they can, and she giggles to her fellow nutters about the great accomplish she's just made, or smiles a very ugly smile at me.  What a winner!  Gee, makes you wonder why people can't stand pit bulls and their owners, doesn't it?!

I digress...Along the dusty trails we went, enjoying the setting sun and the fresh air, and the space away from any vicious mutant dogs.  Jade stopped to sniff here and there, but I keep a VERY close eye on what she stops to sniff, as it's snake season around these parts and the LAST thing we need is Jade getting bit by a rattler. We saw one recently on those trails, although it was baby, and it was half dead.  It looked like someone had already gotten to it and probably poked it around with a stick.  People just have zero respect for wildlife. When I saw it, we were actually passing right over it.  They're not easy to see as they look just like sticks on the trail. Especially the baby ones; and the baby ones are the most dangerous, I believe, as they tend to be the most venomous.  That's because the babies need extra protection and mother nature takes care of that for them. Jade had just jogged right over it when I saw it, so now I'm more careful about looking ahead on the trails.  That could've been a nightmare!

 Once we got back to the main part of the park, which we have to go back through to head home, Jade jogged right through there with her head level and her tail up, wagging from side to side, and sporting those boots like she'd worn them her whole life.

People stared, they pointed, they giggled, and I could hear them talking about "that dog wearing shoes!" I don't mind, I'm proud of my girl! She makes me happy! Two women power-walked by us and said, "You're dog is SO cute! I love her boots!" They asked where we got them, and we had a brief exchange.  They were very nice, and most people are at the park, and they often comment on Jade.  She's either playing a masterful game of fetch with me, running back to me and placing the ball directly in my hand,  jogging along carrying her water bottle, which people just love to comment on, "Look at that dog carrying her own water!"..... and now it's the boots!
This dog is definitely NOT starved for attention, I must say!
"There's been a coyote around here!"

Boots? What boots? 
 Jade knows this park like the back of her paw! And she loves every single walk with me!

Finally, it was time for a water break, then we headed home.
I took the boots off when we got home and she licked her paws a little.  I wonder if they're a little sore.  We all have a little trouble breaking in new shoes. I checked her paws for any blisters or sores, and everything looks good.  I'll see how she's doing tomorrow and give her a break from them.

We have training tomorrow and she'll have to wear her mobility harness, so I won't make her wear the boots at the same least not yet.  She needs to be able to focus on training and doing mobility work for me, first and foremost.  Once she's used to the boots and it's like an everyday thing, then we'll go for both.

Getting tired, and time to head home!
Our walks on the dusty trails are my time to think, to relax, and to just enjoy the fresh air, the desert breeze, and the setting sun; and of course to spend some quality time with my girl.  I need our park time, and so does Jade.  It keeps me from getting too depressed, as this is sometimes my only way of getting out of the house.  If it weren't for our walks, I would sometimes be in the house for a good week or so at a time.  Never mind that I do these "walks" in a mobility scooter...I get to get out! When I say the word "park," Jade's ears go up, she hops off the couch and heads over to get her leash and harness. I know a lot of my readers can relate.