Yesterday we had my Service Dogs on the Town class! We went to Lidl, which is a grocery store, and then to Starbucks.
Brad and I needed to get some grocery shopping done before class, so we SPED around the store grabbing stuff left and right and throwing it in our cart. We actually got done in less than 30 minutes!
Then we waited outside for people to show up. First to show up was Tammy with Phoebe. Hestia smelled Phoebe before she saw her and was VERY excited– Hestia loves Phoebe! I did an OK job of keeping Hestia’s attention on me as Phoebe approached and we hung out waiting for others to arrive. Hestia only tried to go say hello two or three times in the 15 minutes we were waiting (both we and Tammy always show up 15 min early!).
Next to arrive was Hannah! She is currently dogless, but has a really cute poodle toy with googley eyes like Hestia! She was a lot of fun to meet!
When Phyllis with Avalanche arrived, she told us she had bought a new mobility harness for Avalanche. So we went over to her car to help her put it on. At first I tried to help her put it on, and I had Hannah hold Hestia. Normally Hestia simply tolerates other people holding her and there is a fair amount of squirming to get away. But Hestia really liked Hannah and was happy to be held by her!
After a while I was stumped on the fit of the harness, so Tammy went to help. She had me hold Phoebe while she helped. It was so funny that we traded dogs around, but great practice for the dogs!
While we were finishing up, Sabrina arrived. Her dog is too young to go to a no pet place just yet. But in a few months, you’ll be seeing Indy (Golden)!
We headed into Lidl and worked at first on not sniffing food items. I was very impressed with Hestia. She found her brain quite quickly and I didn’t need to hold onto the leash for most of the store!
Then we did some figure 8s around each other, which Brad got a video of. All three dogs did a great job either heeling or staying during this exercise. As I was giving instructions for where to go next, a woman tried to talk with me about our service dogs, so I gave “I can’t talk” body language after briefly answering her first question and turned my back to her to talk with the people in the class and she went away. Later on I pointed that out as a good way to deflect questions– using your body language to say that you aren’t available.
We did a loop around the store, and again Hestia was pretty much perfect! She even ignored some bits of paper on the floor totally!
Then we stopped to talk about how to train a dog not to sniff things and a few other things that I can’t remember at the moment.
Finally, we went to the entrance and worked on carts passing. We learned how if a dog is worried about something, it is important to have treats ready and feed when that thing is approaching and passing by. This way they usually are so excited about treats that they aren’t caring about the scary thing.
It was cold outside, so we headed to Starbucks to talk more. All six of us crowded around a couple of little tables and we had a great time talking about all sorts of service dog related stuff like stress signs, gear, how to find a breeder, etc. It was so fun that we stayed longer than we intended!
It was a really really great class. I had so much fun, and I think the others did, too. We really enjoy this class!
Brad got LOTS of pictures! Hestia is a small white and black Japanese Chin with a smushed face and googley eyes, and she is wearing her galaxy vest. Phoebe is a black Standard Poodle wearing a pink vest. Avalanche is a white Great Pyrenees mix who was wearing her new tan leather harness with a standing handle. Before the pictures I have linked the video.