Out on the greenway

For today’s out on the town class, we met in the parking lot for a nature museum, which is right next to a greenway and a huge park. I’ve been to many out on the town classes in this location with Hestia. Normally the parking lot is super empty and we train a while in the parking lot, then head onto the greenway and into the park.

Today it was very different than normal! We showed up right as two busloads of small children were being let off at the museum. The cars started streaming into the parking lot, as well. It must’ve been a special school day for the museum!

We started class and our normally wide-open parking lot kept shrinking and shrinking as more and more cars pulled in. So we had to cut short the instructional part of class and get to the practical part of walking the greenway.

As we traversed the parking lot, there were shrieking and squealing kids everywhere! Luckily all the kids were really good and didn’t try to pet the dogs in class. But it was a very high-distraction environment! Despite that, Felix did a great job mostly staying focused on me and walking with me (I was in my wheelchair). I did have to hold some hotdog in my left hand and just let him nibble on it as we walked past a few groups of particularly challenging children!

We headed over to the greenway, and started walking on the path. I was thrilled with how well Felix did! We’ve only walked on a path like this once before in his life, and that was the first month we got him. So I was not sure how he’d do on a busy multi-use pathway like this. He blew me away—and the trainer, too! She even called Felix a little rockstar!

While we were on the path, probably 10–15 dogs passed us. I only picked Felix up for one of them—a Briard that was barking and lunging. I can’t get off the pathway in my wheelchair, so to create a safe environment, I just picked him up. All the other dogs, he just stayed on the ground and watched walk past. He was so so so good! A couple times he didn’t want to take a treat as the dog was passing super close, but he didn’t bark or lunge or anything, just watched in an interested way (not in a staring-down sort of way).

We had many joggers, walkers, and people with strollers pass us. He had zero problem with them.

But the biggest distraction were all the bikes. There were SO MANY BIKES!!!! Most of them came by in groups of 1–4 bikes. We saw probably 10 groups of 1–4 bikes. Then at one point near the end of class a huge group of 15–20 bikes came speeding past us! The first few people slowed down, but then when they saw our dogs all hanging out calmly, they sped up, and so everyone behind them was going super fast, too. The dogs did FANTASTIC! One dog had a little bit of an issue, but his handler was really proactive in keeping him below threshold. Felix was even taking treats as this cavalcade of bikes went past! I was so proud!

My trainer Kelly was super nice in her compliments about Felix. She kept saying how he was doing the best he’s done all series of classes, and how proud of him she was. It made me feel so good!

After class, Felix was really wiped out, but I had to stop by the library to pick up a couple of Disney books and movies to prepare for our trip. I had them on hold, so we just were in and out. Finally, I stopped by Wendy’s and used my last free meal coupon from the convention to get food for lunch. Felix was so good in the library and Wendy’s, but I just had him in my lap so he didn’t have to do much!

I had Kelly take a few pictures of Felix after class. In the first picture, Felix was so excited that Kelly was squatting down on his level that he jumped up to say hi and reared up on his back legs. So the first picture is pretty funny! The other two pictures are more typical. In them, I’m in my power wheelchair wearing my new Disney dogs leggings and a yellow top. Felix is a sable and white Japanese Chin wearing a green service dog in training vest.

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