Tuesday was our service dogs on the town class! We were supposed to ride the bus together…
We all showed up at the bus stop way ahead of time and were waiting about 3 feet from where the sign for the stop was in some grass. We were on the sidewalk as we had people in wheelchairs and grass is not accessible.
We saw the bus approach, and several of us started waving our arms to let them know we wanted to get on. The bus slowed down, the driver saw us, and then he sped up and turned the corner without stopping!
To make it even worse, I had pre-arranged this trip with the bus company so the drivers had been told we’d be there at that stop with service dogs and wheelchairs on that day!
We were flabbergasted! After a minute or two of regrouping, we decided that since we were next to the mall, we’d just head over there to train. That was some clear thinking on Brad’s part!
It was pretty early in the morning, so none of the mall shops were open. But there were several mall walkers there walking, and a few security guards as well.
We found an open area in the center of the mall and used that as our training space. We mainly worked on dog distractions. We worked on walking past each other with dogs on the outside, then with dogs on the inside. And we even walked up to other teams, stopped and sat our dogs, talked for a few seconds, and went on our way. All the dogs did great at this!
Scarlet suggested we walk around the mall a little, so we did and took turns leading. That was pretty fun, too.
Finally we worked on ignoring treats on the ground. Barbara gave me one of her Charlee Bear treats (a low value treat) and I put it on the ground for the teams to walk past. Some dogs struggled a little, but after a few repetitions everyone got it down pat!
After all that, we decided our dogs could use a break so we headed to Panera.
At Panera, you place your order and they give you a buzzer/pager thing. So we went to sit down and one by one our buzzers would go off. Then you had to get up, walk across the restaurant to the order window, pick up your order, and bring it back to your table. This is actually pretty challenging with a service dog or in a manual wheelchair! But I love to practice this—I still remember the first time I was able to carry my own food with my service dog Ollie by my side. I was SO proud! I love recreating that feeling.
So I ended up going to get everyone’s orders as they were ready, and bringing them back to our area.
We hung out and chatted for a while about Barbara with Tripper and Phyllis with Avalanche’s upcoming Public Access Test and about other service dog related issues. It was a good time!
Brad has so far only had time to work on the videos, not the pictures. So here are three videos from our training in the mall. The pictures will be in an upcoming post.
In the videos, I am a round woman with brown wavy hair wearing a galaxy dress. Hestia is a small white and black Japanese Chin wearing a galaxy vest.
Barbara is a woman in a tie-dye t-shirt and shorts. Her dog, Tripper, is a Golden wearing a turquoise vest.
Phyllis is wearing a bright orange shirt and has short hair. Her dog, Avalanche, is a Pyrenees mix wearing a blue vest.
Skyler has long blond-red hair and is wearing leggings and a t-shirt. Their dog Korra is a sable Standard Poodle wearing a burgandy and black vest.
Scarlet is wearing insect tights and a navy jumper with flowers. They are in a purple and black wheelchair.
In the first video we are working on dog distraction, walking past each other and stopping to say hello.
In the second video, we walk around the mall.
In the third video, we practice ignoring a treat on the ground.