Better with the chair

Today I took Felix to the NAMI office for coffee and conversation time. I go there once a month for coffee and conversation and meet some of the other facilitators there to hang out.

Normally when I go there I walk and don’t take my wheelchair because it’s a short walk from the parking lot to the building, and I’m sitting down almost the whole time I’m in the building. Plus the building, while accessible, isn’t arranged in the best way for wheelchairs (lots of rugs and furniture).

But I had to go to the grocery store afterwards, and I wanted to practice in the wheelchair more with Felix since I’ll be using my chair during his big public access test in April. I want to get all the practice possible in for that! So I decided to use my wheelchair in the NAMI building today.

I don’t walk much when I go out. I do walk with the dogs for 10–15 min every morning around my neighborhood, though. When we walk around the neighborhood, it’s pretty much anything goes (within reason). The dogs are allowed to pull and sniff and generally do whatever they want.

I have noticed that the past few times I went out somewhere in public and was walking, Felix was pulling more than he normally does. But these were also places that I either hadn’t been to before (like voting in a different place), or places where I always walk and he always tries to pull (like NAMI). So I thought it had something to do with those specific locations—rather than my walking—and he was just for some reason more likely to pull in those locations.

Well boy was I surprised when I got out of the van with Felix and he went into a perfect heel on the way into the building! No pulling whatsoever! Normally (when I’m walking into the NAMI building), I have to stop a lot to reset him into heel position.

Inside the building it was the same thing! He did a really good job heeling around where normally he pulls.

So I think that he actually has learned that when I’m walking, he pulls. And when I’m in my chair, he heels. Eureka! I think it’s because most often the only times I’m walking with him are in the neighborhood where he is allowed to get away with pretty much whatever he wants.

With the upcoming public access test, I can’t handle a major plan shift for my training, so I’m going to focus for now on refining his heeling with me in my wheelchair. After the PAT, I’ll have to develop a plan to work on the walking heeling.

He was pretty good in the NAMI building, lying on his mat for an hour while I chatted and had a snack. He did get up a handful of times, and needed a few treats as a reminder he was supposed to stay in his down. But nothing too bad. I also got to practice his greeting behaviors with three of the people there. They were so happy to be able to pet him, and he had a great time, too.

Then we went to Publix, where since it is my half-birthday, I got a half-off cake! I had to get a few other things that were on sale there, too. It’s hard for me to go to the grocery store in my wheelchair because I have to use a small basket on my lap (squishing Felix!) and can’t fit a lot into the basket. So I filled up my basket, though I wasn’t able to get the apples I wanted nor Brad’s chips because the basket was too full.

Then I needed to get a bunch of La Croix waters. They were on sale buy one get one free, which made them about a dollar cheaper per pack than the ones I usually get at Walmart. And they had 12 cans in a pack instead of the 8 like at Walmart. So I decided I wanted 6 packages. There was no way I could carry those on my wheelchair, so I asked for an employee to get a cart and get them down for me, and take them to checkout. I probably could have asked him to push the cart to the apple and chip sections, but I feel so badly asking the employees for help that I just got the most important thing so it was quick. Yes, I do have a complex about taking up space and resources! It’s something I’m frequently depressed and anxious about.

Publix was easy for Felix since he was on my lap (I can’t hold a leash in my left hand and the basket on my lap with my left hand at the same time as I drive with my right hand, so he has to be on my lap the whole time). The girls and Brad were happy when we got home!

No pictures today, sorry!

Leave a Reply