Friday, November 25, 2011

Under the big top we go...

Or at least into the United Center we go.  On Sunday my friends Heather, Becky and I took Serena and Darby to the Barnum and Bailey Ringley Brothers Circus at the United Center.  I took Darby and my friend Becky handled Serena.  Serena was NOT happy about this.  She loves Becky but was super pissed off that I was paying attention to Darby and not her.  It was very good for her to have to listen to someone else while in a public setting with me around.  She is going to have to do a lot of this as a service dog ambassador especially when I have a puppy in training.

We got to the circus a little late which actually worked in our favor.  We were very nicely walked from will call to the ticket booth, shown where to go up the stairs then walked from the top of the stairs to our seats.  It wasn't very crowded in the hallways so I didn't have to worry about navigating Darby through crowds and crowds of people.  He didn't care about the twirly objects, shinny lights or the general excited atmosphere.  He definitely knew something was new and exciting but listened very very well!  The only thing he really wanted was the popcorn all over the floor but a stern "leave it" combined with a leash reminder combined with a treat at his nose kept him from trying to get the popcorn and he successfully walked through a pile of it without even trying to sneak a bite!

I had called the United Center beforehand and got us assessable seating tickets so the dogs would have room to sit.  They were great seats!  The United Center was very good about the dogs.  I was also able to do some education of their staff who had great questions.  Most people there thought that only guide dogs were allowed in public.  I had to explain to them that all service dogs are allowed and that guide dogs are not the only service dog out there.  It was great to teach a few more people about how great a dog can be for someone with mobility disabilities.

We got to our seats just in time for the horses to come out so we were all very excited since the three of us all ride horses.  Serena made herself comfortable to watch the show:

Darby didn't like how high up we were but enjoyed the show too: 

By the end of the circus both Serena and Darby were content just lying down.  Serena did throw a fit about not sitting by me.  She whined and moved around a lot.  Finally we put her between Heather and Becky so that she was closer to me.  This seemed to make her happier and then she settled down.  She is so jealous when I am not her handler.  Poor princess.  I don't think they really understood that the things below them were real live animals.  This is Darby either sleeping or watching the tigers:

They handled the fireworks, confetti and general loud noises amazingly.  Darby was super afraid of falling through the railing and tried to avoid walking next to it at all costs.  After sitting on the floor during intermission I was able to get him to walk sort of by it.  At the end of the show I was able to get him to do an "up" on it  by lifting his paws up onto it but he was still very unsure.   Serena, of course, started showing off and kept doing an up wondering why she wasn't getting the treat.   

After the show we answered some more questions to the United Center staff.  One woman wanted to pet them so we let her say hi to Serena.  She then asked if Serena would give her paw.  We told her to just say "shake" and hold out her hand.  This apparently was the cue Serena had been waiting for.  She shook with the lady then proceeded to do every trick she could while on leash.  She heeled, sat, went down, spoke, gave 5, gave 10, took and bow and some random combinations of things.  Everyone loved it and Serena was very happy to be the center of the universe.  Darby was very good about just sitting there and letting his sister show off.  I would definitely take the dogs to the circus again (and the United Center in general).  The crowds, the noise and the smells make for a great training day.  Both dogs got in the car and instantly went to sleep!

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