Practicing canine pat-downs at Moss Justice Center

On Monday, my Service Dogs on the Town class went to the Moss Justice Center to practice going through security! My friend Anna helped arrange it, and we are all so grateful to her and everyone at Moss Justice for helping us train and for being so kind and welcoming while we were there!

Brad, Scarlet, and I showed up first and hung out outside. We saw Barbara and Tripper arrive and walk around the property for a while, but Hestia was behind a concrete barrier that she couldn’t see over, so didn’t see him. When he came over to us, she was SO excited! Hestia loves her friends from training class!

Tripper, a Golden Retriever, smiles happily

Hestia was super happy and had a little bit of a hard time containing it. I was embarrassed that she barked a few times in her excitement, but at least we were outside so it wasn’t as big of a deal.

Luckily she soon calmed down as Tripper merely looked at her lovingly, like a big brother spoiling his little sister.

She was calm while all the other dogs arrived, which I was very grateful for!

We had in attendance Hestia (Japanese Chin), Tripper (Golden Retriever), Korra (sable Standard Poodle), Avalanche (Great Pyrenees mix), and Indy (Golden Retriever). Plus their humans, of course! But really, everyone cares more about the dogs. Also Gigi, Scarlet’s former service dog, was represented by Scarlet’s new tattoo that was proudly on display.

First we talked about how we would go through security, and practiced outside with Scarlet leading the session and doing the pat downs. I was a little embarrassed because Miss Hestia was too happy to see Scarlet and was very wiggly! Oh well, that’s what I get for choosing such a happy dog. Everyone else’s dogs were practically perfect!

Hestia, a Japanese Chin, gets excited while Scarlet, who is in a wheelchair, pats her down.

Next we went inside to go through the real thing. The officers there were super nice, and didn’t make us take off metal objects or anything to go through security. This was security screening practice in easy mode—all we had to do was focus on our dogs! It was super nice of them.

When the officer realized that he got to pat down all the dogs, he was very happy! He really enjoyed his job that day! He did a great job helping the dogs train for it, and all the dogs did a wonderful job, too.

Indy, a Golden Retriever, closes her eyes in bliss as the officer rubs her down. Sabrina, Indy’s owner, looks on happily.

We tried to take a group picture next, but it wasn’t great timing. The dogs were stressed from just having been through security, there was a large group coming in behind us, and the space available to take the picture was really too small for everyone to fit in the picture together and be comfortable with all that distraction going on. When I realized it was too much for the dogs, I decided that the dogs’ comfort was more important than a group picture, so we called it quits on that attempt.

We went outside to let the dogs sniff around for a few minutes and calm down. Then we talked about the importance of things like putting your dogs’ needs first—if your dog needs to leave and you are in the middle of a conversation or photo op, the most important thing is your dog. Don’t be afraid to be rude and leave if that’s what your dog needs! We also strategized about going through security the second time, with some teams deciding to try it a different way the second time around.

Veronica gestures while talking as two Goldens (Tripper and Indy), and Korra (Standard Poodle) lie down and relax.

After that, we went back inside and all went through security again. This time Brad got a video of it all instead of pictures. It went smoother this time, and the dogs were less stressed, which was great.

We got to meet all the people who helped make the training event happen, and they were all so nice and supportive! What great people we have working at Moss Justice!

The training session took about an hour, and then we headed over to Taco Bell nearby. We had a good discussion about how training went, and decided what to do the next two training sessions. Next month (July) we will ride the bus. Then in August we will visit the firefighters museum and try to see if we can get the firefighters to run the siren for us afterward!

We had a really good time talking about training, service dog stuff, and about Phyllis’s chickens! We stayed longer than we had intended because we were having such a good time! I really enjoy everyone in class, and their dogs!

Avalanche, a Great Pyrenees mix, looks up and to the right as if she’s so over Tripper’s Golden Retriever butt being right next to her face!

Finally it was time to go home, but as we pulled out of Taco Bell, Brad saw a lizard climb up our rear window and underneath the windshield wiper housing! So we had to pull over and I rescued the lizard so he could run off and hang out with his lizard buddies instead of hanging on for dear life while riding down the road!

Brad took thousands of pictures and the video, and has narrowed them down to about 95 pictures and a one minute video that has a sped-up version of everyone going through security. Enjoy!

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