Happy Winter! The very first day of January I headed out to the mall to do some socializing and work! A new year doesn’t mean anything different for a service dog like me – it’s just another day to strengthen my skills and keep on working. I rode the elevator by standing behind or next to my puppy raiser so that I am out of the way, walked on different surfaces, did “under” with a few benches, settled at lunch under the table, and pushed the handicap buttons in and out of the building. I am very good at focusing on Becca because I know if I look up at her and keep my focus towards her I get rewarded with snacks.
A few days into January the best thing happened – this white stuff fell from the sky and I got to run around in it and eat it! I played ball and Frisbee in the yard, Becca took me to a local elementary school to run on their fields, we went to a tennis court to play, and went on lots of walks. In order to be successful at my job, I get plenty of physical and mental exercise. With the snow and cold weather January brought, it made doing work outside very cold, so I was off to go see a movie with my puppy raiser.
Movies are great for settling on my “place”, ignoring popcorn food on the floor, and not being worried about the darkness and loud sounds in the theater. We saw a movie called “Patriots Day”, which was very long and had lots of loud noises, but I slept through part of it!
In the middle of the month when Becca and I showed up for weekly class it was time for another quarterly meeting. All of my friends were there and it meant it was time for another puppy swap! I went and spent the week with puppy raiser Stacey and some time with Jennifer, and HD Maggie came to stay with Becca. Jennifer made sure I became very good with my retrieving skills and now I pick things up and bring them to Becca when she asks. For being a retriever I was not too keen on retrieving at first. Now we work on it every day! While I did fun things with Stacey and Jennifer, Maggie was off to the grocery store, CVS, Starbucks, running other errands, and took her first trip to the movies with my puppy raiser!
When the puppy swap was over and Becca came to HD to pick me up I was very happy – I wiggled and cried a little bit with excitement! It was back to our normal routine after I got home and one of the places we went that weekend was to Chesnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Company. I was there with Becca who donated blood for the American Red Cross. I had to settle while Becca answered questions, had her blood pressure checked, and finger pricked.
Then she sat up in this big lounge chair while they poked her with something in her arm and had all these things by her. I settled in the floor and watched Becca nearly the whole time. Occasionally I stood up and rested my head on the chair to make sure everything was ok. Several people commented how well behaved I was just lying there next to me. Little do they know I am not just lying there – I have a very important job. My focus was on Becca only even when people walked right past me. When we were all done 2 volunteer fire fighters came by to say hello to me as well as one or two other people who were there to donate. The most special part about this outing was that it supported the American Red Cross and I am named after the founder, Clara Barton!!
The last week of January it was back to graduate school with Becca. HD Maggie was with her for the first week back after the holiday break, but then it was my turn. Several of Becca’s classmates have been in her classes before so they were excited to see me. They know they need to ask to pet me and only if it is before or after class sometimes. Everyone ignores me during class as I sleep or chew a bone on my “place”. I still go on all of Becca’s errands with her and continue sharpening my skills. The end of the month our weekly class was at a grocery store near Hero Dogs. They have stairs and an elevator where we practiced “step”, rode the elevator with and without grocery carts. Practiced picking up items, putting items onto the bottom part of a grocery cart, carried a reusable shopping bag, ignoring food distractions, and working on other nice service dog manners in a grocery store.
Last but not least the last weekend before January ended I went to another movie and lunch with Becca and fellow puppy raiser Suzanne. It was an extra special outing because we borrowed HD Ruby for the day! I love Ruby so much and was so happy she came. We went to the big field at Jennifer’s house to run and play before we were off to see “A Dog’s Purpose” at the movie theater, followed by lunch. Neither one of us were phased by all the dog barks and noises in the movie and were out well behaved service dog selves!