- Name: Old Glory – “Glory”
- Breed/Color/Sex: Labrador retriever, yellow, F
- DOB: August 4, 2012
- Current Status: Honorably Discharged
- Donor: Rhumbline Retrievers (Sue Carpenter)
- Puppy Raiser: Renee H.
- Puppy Sponsor: Jeanie Wade
- Puppy Scholarship: Friends of Rhumbline Retrievers
I have had such a busy summer. For a while I was the newest Hero Dog in the second phase of training. So many new things to learn and so many new outings. During training I am very enthusiastic and I wag my tail a lot. Also, I love my training snacks. They are often the same type of food I eat for breakfast and dinner, but they are delicious nonetheless.
This may not surprise you: I always have a blast tumbling with my kennel dog friends, retrieving balls, and playing tug-of-war to obtain interesting toys. (I am also willing to take a short break from playing and pose for a photo!) I'm also always excited to see all the trainers, and the kennel helpers, and the other staff, and everyone, really. Plus I am always so glad to see my puppy raiser Renee when she comes to class and works with me!
Here are some more photos of me since I last wrote to you in April.
Many of us Hero Dogs marched in the National Memorial Day Parade in DC. The biggest challenge was not the crowd of cheering spectators, or being surrounded by all of my Hero Dog friends, or even the heat. It was the boots we wore! I wasn't sure what to make of them at first. I understood the boots were important for protecting our paws on the hot pavement. Everyone also said the boots looked very cute. Walking in them felt really weird at first, though.
Renee and I practiced a lot with those boots - putting them on, walking in them, and taking them off. A couple of Hero Dogs classes were devoted specifically to practicing walking in our boots and practicing walking in a mock parade. Now if I ever need to wear boots in the future, whether for hot pavement or icy snow, I will be ready.
In June, the weather was beautiful. Our weekly Hero Dogs classes were often held outside. We worked on skills such as picking up catalogs, single pieces of paper, and other objects and placing them in a basket. We also practiced taking things out of the basket and giving them to our handlers (in my case, Renee). During another class, we went to a park and worked on building confidence with interesting things like tire swings and slides.
One of the highlights of July was visiting the Hard Rock Cafe in DC, along with Archie. Later in the month, I went to the USO in Bethesda. Exciting events and training outings in August included the annual golf tournament and an Orioles game! I also visited the Howard County Fair and the Montgomery County Fair. I met various animals including a calf who wasn't much bigger than I am. I also turned two years old in early August!
I recently learned to find keys! This is not as simple as you might think. After all, if you drop your keys and ask me to "take" them and then "give" them to you, that's not the same thing. This new "keys" skill is trickier. Here's how it works. Becca or another trainer puts a set of keys somewhere. I wait in another room where I can't see them. I might hear the keys jingle but that doesn't necessarily mean the keys are hidden in that direction. Then the trainer lets me come in the room and says "keys find it" - I sniff, and look, and search the entire room until I find that set of keys and bring them back to the trainer! This could be very useful for my future veteran partner if they ever lose their keys.
As of September I'm not the newest kennel dog anymore, because Hero Dogs Joe moved in this month! He told me about some of his recent adventures while staying with my puppy raiser. I told him all... okay, some... of the secrets to adjusting to kennel life. I think he will figure out the rest quickly.
I continued to attend events including the 2014 Resiliency Health Fair at the Pentagon. I interacted with many people and impressed them with my service dog skills. At the end of the day I was super tired and took a well-deserved nap.
Later in the month, I showed Jennifer how easily I can pick up and "bring" a metal bowl, flip a light switch on and off, and carry a basket full of groceries.
Heather worked with me on mastering "turn" so that I end up facing forward (looking in the same direction as my person) and sitting between my person's feet.
Jennifer and I practiced alternating between "back" and "dress."
I do need to work on consistency and patience. It can be a little frustrating doing the same thing a couple times in a row. Sometimes I get overly eager and chatty, or I offer a skill that I wasn't asked to do. For example, during training last week, I was asked to "touch." Instead I offered "pull" with the event kit rope, because that's even cooler than "touch." Jennifer really did want me to "touch," though, so I complied.
Later, Mae and Gracie came to train in the same room. Oh my gosh, it was so hard to focus on my trainer (Jennifer). All three trainers had snacks and were asking their dog to practice different skills than I was. I also got distracted when someone tossed a B-A-L-L (yes, I know what that spells) to put away with the other toys.
I think I've already made progress on consistency and patience. Check out the lovely photo of some of my fellow kennel dogs and me.
Overall, I am doing well. I am practicing my skills daily, learning new skills as I go, and playing frequently. I am looking forward to more adventures this fall. I will write again soon!