Now that October has rolled around and the air is getting cooler, my adventures change a little bit and what my puppy raiser and I do for exercise and fun is sometimes different. For example, my doggie friend that has the pool at her house – well, it is closed so I can’t go swimming any more. And the stream at the park, since it’s getting cold, I tend not to jump and lay around in it. Don’t get me wrong though, I am always up for my walks, playing ball in the yard, and heading to nearby schools and parks to exercise, play, and even explore their playgrounds.
One school near home I went to this month I hadn’t visited before. We took my long 30-foot leash and I played ball, ran around, and sniffed on their athletic fields before exploring the playground. Becca went on the playground with me. I walked across the bridge, through a tunnel, up the stairs, and even went down the slides a few times!
One thing I love doing is going to kennel duty with Becca, especially because we both get to see our favorite Hero Dogs black labbie, Ruby! I get so excited when I come in the kennel that I tend to go up to every kennel, wiggle my body and wag my tail, and try to give everyone a lick in the face. While I sometimes protest being stuck in a kennel while the other dogs get taken care of, I am a big fan of running and playing in the kennel yard. It makes me one tired pup when I leave, but boy is it fun to play with the older pups!
At the beginning of the month I also went to see another movie – this time it was called Deepwater Horizon. My puppy raiser said it was really good and intense, but I wouldn’t know because I was settled on my “place” the whole time. Although I did hear very loud noises and glanced at the screen on occasion, and it looked like a good movie! The nice thing about this outing was that it wasn’t crowded so I had plenty of space to lay on my mat. I even went to see another movie later on in the month!
Oh and how could I forget to share that we had a Hero Dogs house guest come and stay with us for a few days! HD therapy dog Boomer came to visit while his human mom went out of town, and I was so excited. Because Boomer is no longer a service dog in training, the rules are a little different, and lucky for him, Boomer can get on the couch to lounge. Well, I saw this happen for a couple days, and now I look at the couch kind of funny and rest my head on the edge hoping that my puppy raiser will tell me to “hup,” but she has yet to do so unfortunately.
Becca and I took Boomer to one of our favorite places for a long walk, her school campus! It is very big and has one big hill to walk up, so we start at the bottom of campus near the preschool where Becca works and we go all the way to the top and then back down, sometimes stopping at the tennis courts to run off any extra energy. If we are lucky sometimes there are sports tournaments going on to see, or I pass other dogs which is good distraction practice. 🙂
One day this month my puppy raiser had a day off from work, which was the best news ever because it means I get to spend all 24 hours of the day with her. Yes, I am a mama’s girl, but hey, part of being a good service dog is being attentive to where your person is and what they need! We spent the day running some errands, which is all fine and dandy until people constantly try to distract a service dog who is working, like myself. It doesn’t help when people say “hi puppy” repeatedly in their high pitched voice and make you feel boxed in at a checkout line – it gives you nowhere to go even when you ask them politely to not distract your dog, which is not the greatest of feelings. Part of Becca’s job as a puppy raiser is to educate people, and while most of the time it is educating about the wonderful Hero Dogs program and mission, it also includes educating on appropriate ways to interact when one sees a working dog out in public.
At my puppy raiser’s school they do something called Professional Development day. It is when no kids come to school, but all the teachers come to do important work. The best part was that the school gave Becca the OK to bring me along, so I sat through some lecturing, participated in activities, and spent the morning before our day (and our lunch break) playing ball and running on one of the athletic fields across the street.
I have also been continuing my learning of Special Education in Becca’s graduate school classes as she works on getting her Master’s degree. I have a tendency to fall asleep in class, ignore classmates during group work, or do other things such as chew my bone, but sometimes I do actually watch the professor. I am a good pup and settle under the table or next to Becca’s chair during both of our two-and-a-half hour classes each week. This is Becca’s school after all, not my service dog class!
This month was also Halloween so people put up decorations in the neighborhood, which is great exposure for me! I looked at a scarecrow funny at first, but then was fine with it being in the neighbor’s yard. The ghosts, witches, skeletons, and pumpkins are fun to sniff and look at, even the decorations in stores like Target, but for a dog like me we learn to continue going about our business like they aren’t anything special.
The weekend before Halloween my puppy raiser and I took a trip to the Maryland Zoo! You can imagine how great the exposure to children and noises this was and I wasn’t fazed by any of the children around, but I was a little distracted by the wonderful smells that are at a zoo! My puppy raiser and I did a lot of work on “heel” and “watch” with all these distractions. On the way into the zoo there was a giant lion statue, which at first I stood and looked at kind of funny. Good thing my puppy raiser immediately notices if my behaviors or mannerisms change, and we spent a few minutes working around the statue. I have come to learn that as much as I am keeping a watch on her, Becca is also always watching me. After just a few minutes this statue no longer bothered me and as you can see from the picture, I was my happy self!
We rode the tram twice, once into the zoo, and once back to the entrance to leave. It has this bumpy, metal flooring but with a “hup” and a treat, I got right up, turned myself around, and settled right at Becca’s feet for the ride. When going by many exhibits I liked to stick my face right up to the fence to check everything out – it is mesmerizing to watch some of these animals! Of course everything is a learning experience so Becca took it as a chance to go get my attention by calling my name and doing some “watch” and “look.”
The best part of the zoo was the giraffes! They were all outside and when they saw me they all walked right over to the fence and watched; it was awesome. I of course looked a few times at them then ignored them and waited for Becca to stop watching them – she was more distracted than I was! I walked on many different surfaces at the Zoo with ease and I hope to go back to the zoo another day.
The last big event in October is Halloween! This is my first Halloween ever and I was Wonder Woman! We had a Halloween party at Hero Dogs during our weekly class and I got to see all my friends dressed up, even the newest baby dogs Maggie, Honor, and Stella. Some of our activities, besides socializing of course, included bobbing for apples. Having to take an apple out of a bucket of water to hand to our humans, we then had to drop apples into a bucket, all without eating the apple, which many of us pups love.
Because HD Ruby has some exciting things happening, Becca wasn’t sure how much longer she would have the chance to handle her and so she spent time with her at our party. This meant that I got to work with some other wonderful Hero Dogs people while Ruby spent time with our puppy raiser. It is good practice for us service dogs to learn with people other than our puppy raisers. Some might say I have a case of “Mommy-itis” but after the initial “Where is my mom going?!” I was just fine with being handled by other people. 🙂
Well… that was the gist of my October – hope you all enjoyed reading and check back next month!