On Friday we met up with Joseph and his English Cocker Spaniel Lady! I’ve met Joseph a few times before at NAMI events, but had not gotten to meet his lovely dog.
In the pictures, I am wearing paw print pants and a purple top. Felix is a sable and white Japanese Chin wearing a purple plaid harness and green belly band. Joseph is wearing navy blue shorts and a short-sleeved top. Lady is a red English Cocker Spaniel wearing a blue harness. Brad is a power wheelchair user wearing a hot pink blazer with sequins and a white hat.
We met up at Lowe’s (Felix’s first hardware store), and I decided that I would alternate between using my wheelchair and walking. I used my wheelchair while we were observing and having down time, and I walked for training in one of the aisles. This way we could spend a fair amount of time in the store without me being in a lot of pain.
We started out hanging out outside the store for a bit watching people pass. Lady and Felix did a very good job. Below they are pictured ignoring a person pushing a bike.
Then we headed inside. Right near the entrance there were some patio chairs, so we hung out there and did watches. Lady and Felix enjoyed sitting there watching people come in the store, and we rewarded them every time they looked at us to solidify that watching us is a great default behavior for them to have. Brad got several pictures of people walking by, and a few of Felix’s favorite position—with his front feet up on my footplate!
After about 10 minutes, we headed to the back of the store. It was difficult getting back there because both dogs were really excited and not listening too well. So we just kinda somehow made it back there.
When we got to an empty aisle, we started training rather than managing. We worked on heeling—specifically getting into heel position and the perfect first step. I was surprised how well Felix did with those with me walking! He was really very good!
I taught Joseph about the clicker, and then we also worked on touches.
We ended up spending a little too much time back there because we were having so much fun, so we decided to head out. On our way back, there were lots of big noisy carts and the pups did great with them! I was so proud of Felix!!! But he was pulling quite a bit again—I need to work on his heeling when I’m in the wheelchair a lot more.
I did have Felix wear his belly band while we were in the store. He didn’t even attempt to mark, but having it on made me feel less nervous so I was better able to focus on training, like my trainer recommended.
We spent some time decompressing outside the store. We picked up our dogs, which Brad had us laughing about because we were in front of the pickup sign LOL!
After Lowe’s, we headed to Dunkin’ for some coffee and conversation. The indoor portion of the store was closed due to a staff shortage, so Joseph got us coffee through the drive through. We sat outside and talked for a long while about service dogs. It was really a lot of fun! Joseph is very smart and asks great questions! And Lady is a wonderful dog.
Brad got pictures of Felix on his mat chewing on a chew, of Lady, and of Joseph and me talking. And I got some shots of Brad while Joseph was getting coffee! He posed in front of the colorful signs of cakes and such outside of Dunkin’, being his usual silly self.