November 2nd 2010 11:00 pm
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My Mum has made notes and sent emails all over the place about our training and what we are doing, but I thought I should have my own diary!
To catch you up: When Mum first brought me home, we didn't really know of any Service or Assistance Dog programmes that did the work Mum needed. Dad did a search on the internet - he's really computer savvy! - and found A.W.A.R.E. Dogs. He knew Mum needed help and was worried about her. They both had been through a very hard time, and Mum had been very unwell. When they read all the information they thought they had found answers. So, they filled out the forms, Mum's lovely doctor wrote out the prescription and other information, we were assessed as a team in training and , ta da! here we are!
This has meant a lot of training, and not just obedience training.
Although Mum had already taught me the basics, Mum and I joined the Ballarat Dog Obedience Training Club.We both thought this would be a good idea, as I needed lots of exposure to strange dogs as well as learning things that were new, but it was just too off putting to be access challenged every time we turned up to go into the clubhouse to fill out papers, or find information,even with me in vest and with my license.
Neither of us particularly liked the big groups, either, as we didn't know what they were trying to achieve as there were others who had already been coming for several weeks,and it was assumed that everyone knew what they were meant to be doing, so we felt a bit like we were starting off on the left paw, so to speak. The use of check chains, and the strong jerk corrections with the leash didn't appeal either.
Mum was pretty upset. So, we looked through the phone book for other trainers who would use a gentler method with lots of positive reinforcement and, after some initial confusion, found Sandra and Ian at Happy Dog Training School. Well, they are heaven on a stick! Or should I say on a leash!?!
I have passed Ideal Dogs Victoria with their help with flying colours. Now we have to find a few hours to redo the Public Access Test ready for our recredentialling from A.W.A.R.E. Dogs' Che Forrest in the next week or two. I'm pretty confident with this as Mum and I have been out in public training for this almost all day, every day now since March this year!
I have learnt to wake Mum (and Dad!) in the mornings, remind Mum to take her medicines, let her know if her blood sugar is low, create space betwen crowds and her when out in public, find the car and the way out when Mum can't. I'm trying to help her balance, but I'm too small so I'll have to help train up a bigger dog for that work!
Mum knows that if she needs to go out, she doesn't have to have Dad with her all the time to keep her balanced and grounded and safe. I do all that now! I let Mum know when she is not coping and we sit or stand somewhere out of the way, Mum pats me and matches my breathing and settles. I lean into her legs and put my nose into her hand to ground her. I keep my eyes on her, too.
I'm an easy traveller, I wait to be put in my seatbelt before driving. I let Mum know if she is unfocused! I like to go fast in the car, but not when Mum is anxious.
I know all about the magic of elevators and travelators. Mum won't let me use escalators because my feet are tiny and might be caught and hurt.
When we are in the supermarket I walk neatly like velcro by Mum's side and ignore children, rude people making noises at me, trolleys and other distractions. I am particularly focused when we go past the meat aisle - I half close my eyes, put my tail straight out behind me, ears back and walk through.
My trainers were pleased when we went out for coffee - I sat quietly under the table in the busy mall. A few people were startled when we all stood up to go and saw me there too. I love to surprise people in restaurants who haven't realised I am there until they see us walk out the door!
I most certainly don't touch any dropped food and refuse when someone is ignorant and tries to distract me with food or attention. I know that people think I should be social with them, but I need to focus on my Mum, so I ignore them, turn my head away. I'm sometimes not too sure about people walking over me, as I am a small dog. When Mum tells me to stay I do, though.
At the doctor's surgery we sometimes have to wait literally hours, so I have learnt to be very patient. I know to be a clean dog before we go out and I never relieve myself while on leash unless I'm told.
My Dad is an Anglican priest so I've learnt the order of service in Church and go with Mum every Sunday and some other days too. I love the Greeting of Peace and am in the aisle waiting for Dad to announce it! I go up with Mum for Communion and Dad gives me a Blessing! I sit very still and quietly at the communion rail and wait until the person on the left of Mum has taken Communion before I stand and make my way back to our pew. This way Mum doesn't sit in the wrong seat in church.
I'll be adding more to this diary on a regular basis, but this has caught us up in general terms.
Talk again soon!
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Hi, Mr. Maxwell Buttons! We stopped to read your diary today 'cause your adorable picture was eyecatching. Your pawrents must be so very proud of you, all of the important things you've learned! You take wonderful care of your mama!