The best part about snow is when you go to bed, wake up in the morning, and there’s tons of fresh powdery snow to run through and eat in the morning! It’s also tiring running through that stuff and hard to go potty when it comes up close to my belly. I also supervised while Becca and her mom shoveled snow. And by supervised, I mean being tethered on my super long leash and jumping through the snow, eating it. It’s fun to try and get snow off the shovel and follow Becca while she tries to clear the driveway.
When Becca got the call to be my puppy raiser, everyone said I was a busy puppy. Well, that still stands true, even at 8 months old. I am a girl who likes to be moving and sniffing.
If I am not playing in the backyard in the snow with Becca, we are taking walks, going out to work in public, playing at the tennis courts near home, or my personal favorite, going to the hydrotherapy pool! I got to swim two or three times, once with my friend Harper, the golden retriever, who loves swimming just as much as me. I like to sit on the ramp leading into the pool and wait for someone to throw a toy. When told it’s time to leave and all the toys are taken out of the pool, I still sit there in hopes that we don’t really have to go. I can’t wait for warm weather and I can go to the Reservoir more. I’ve overheard that Becca is going to get me a kiddie pool to keep at our house for me to play in on nice days when we can’t go to the reservoir or the pool. I can’t wait!
This month I have been working on “TAKE IT” and “GIVE” using items other than a set of keys. Using items that have different shapes and surfaces is important so that I don’t only get used to the keys. Luckily, I have always liked picking things up, so now learning to do so when asked and putting it in Becca’s hand is pretty fun. “SAY HELLO” is also a command we have been spending time on. When someone puts their hand out and I am told “SAY HELLO,” I rest my head in their hand. At first I wasn’t so sure about that one, but now I know that it just means I will be petted and get yummy treats. I know what to do with Becca, so I need to practice with other people. Another command, “SIT STAY” or “DOWN STAY,” is becoming quite easy for me. I stay put, while Becca walks in circles around me, steps over me, changes direction, and even walks away.
“LEAVE IT” is also something to be practiced all the time, especially out in public. It is much easier to do when practicing at home and in stores, but still hard for me in restaurants. Imagine having yummy food right in front of you, just waiting to be eaten, and you have to pretend it isn’t even there. That’s tough stuff, but I am getting better with lots of practice. One thing I think I have nearly mastered is “WAIT.” When coming out of my kennel, Becca tells me to “WAIT” and I sit and look at her, then she tells me “AT EASE” and I get to come out. Same thing when I get fed and when we go through doors. I practice this command also when we go for kennel duty at Hero Dogs. It used to be very hard there because of all the distractions, but now it is much easier.
Sometimes Becca thinks I am too smart. 🙂 I am going to assume that is a good thing because you have to be super smart to be a service dog. For example, when we are in the living room, Becca shuts the doors so that I can’t go off wandering the house. There is a set of French doors in the family room and connected is the dining room with a wooden sliding door that goes into the kitchen. I love any time Becca’s parents come home, so when I hear the garage, I want to wiggle toward them as quickly as possible. Or sometimes after I’ve had some peanut butter in my Kong, I need to get to my water bowl in the kitchen. I have figured out how to open both doors if really necessary! As long as there is a little crack in the sliding door, I use my nose and I slide it back just enough to get through. If the French doors are not latched from the other side I gently push from the inside so they open just enough for me to use my nose to get through. I haven’t actually been taught any of this, but instead I managed to figure it out all on my own! I only feel the need to do it every once in awhile and only like to do it with those two doors, but its fun to use my nose to do different things. Having a natural urge to do such things are beneficial because I will have to open, close, and hold doors for my Veteran.
While working to become a service dog takes lots of practice, learning, and patience, I also get to have tons of fun. This month I went with HD “Chief” and HD “Molly” to play in Jennifer’s big field. We chased tennis balls and carried sticks together. I also get to play with HD “Chester” which is awesome because we love to run and chase each other. He’s a fast runner, that one.
Well, I have to go run an errand with Becca, then I am off to a play with one of my Hero Dogs friends and have kennel duty, so stay tuned to hear about what’s going on in March for me!