Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The 9 people you meet with a service dog

When you are out and about with a service dog you get your fair share of interesting people experiences.  While in Chicago last weekend I got the full spectrum of people experience.  Don't get me wrong, most people are fantastic but there are the few that always make it interesting.  I have found that they usually fall into one of the following categories:

1. The "My brother's girlfriend's uncle's roommate's cousin had a service dog" person
This person is trying to show how much they know about service dogs and will tell you all about the dog they knew distantly.  They also question how you are training your dog and compare everything you are doing to the dog they knew. 

2. The "OMG my dog looks exactly like your dog" person
Once that happens be prepared to sit and wait while they pull out there phone and scroll through all their pictures until they find a picture of their dog.  More often than not, their dog will look nothing like your dog but you smile and go "oh yes they look so similar."

3. The person who tries to "discretely" take a picture of your dog 
Taking pictures is fine but the more discrete people are trying to be the more likely I am to notice.  When you are the only one bending down with their phone out make noises to get my dog to look, it isn't discrete at all.  Funny part is, is if they asked to take a picture I am most likely to help them out and get my dog to sit and look right at the camera.

4. The person who wonders out loud what your dog is for
This person will loudly announce to the people they are with, "LOOK!  A working dog.  That person must be (fill in the blank)."  The most likely fill in he blank is blind.  The best is when I have both my service dogs with me and people wonder what is so wrong with me that I need two dogs.

5.  The person who gets really close to your dog
There is always a person who gets as close as they can to your dog to read their vest.  Sometimes they will even attempt to straddle your dog and bend down really close.  Considering I am standing right there holding the leash and my dog is as close to me as they can be, the person could just ask but they seem to think I don't notice them hovering over my dog.  If they do realize I am watching they will stand up really quickly and advert their eyes.  Or turn to their friend and say "that is a service dog" but never once acknowledging me there.

6. The person who does a drive by petting
I can be walking or standing and there will always a be a person who reaches in to pet my dog.  I have had people even reach across/ around me to get to my dog.   Or they run up behind me and touch my dog's tail or butt then run off. 

7.  The person who comes over and starts petting my dog
They are in the middle of trying to pet my dog and then asks "oh can I pet your dog?"  When I say "No, I am sorry he is working."  They get offend and say something like "well he likes me" or "but he likes this."  Usually these people won't stop petting until you either walk away or physically put yourself between them and the dog.

8. The person that claims my dog hates working
This is rarer than the above 7 people but every so often I get a person that says that service dogs hate their job and my dog doesn't want to be working.  This is usually said as my dog is happily asleep at my feet or sitting their wagging their tail.

9. The person that thinks the vest automatically makes a dog a service dog
Many people think that because my dog has a vest on, that is why they are a service dog.  They claim they are going to go buy a vest so that their dog too can go everywhere.  I try to explain to them that with or without the vest my dog behaves and it isn't the vest that makes the dog a service dog.  Usually they just think they are being really funny and that no one else has thought of this idea.

Like I said before, these people are usually the exception but boy do they make for some interesting conversations. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dog Personalities

I guess I get the blogging bug once every 6 months... that definitely needs to change!  I have had many service dog adventures over the past 6 months and can't believe I haven't shared any of them.  I shall begin my first post back with one that gives me an excuse to post a ton of puppy pictures.

In January My Angel With Paws had two litters of golden retriever puppies; the "J" and "K" litters.  I have had the pleasure of seeing them both as infants and as puppies and can't wait to see them grow up.  I know that each dog has their own personality but for whatever reason it never occurred to me that their personalities would be so distinct as infants.  For example, while playing with the "J" litter at 10 days old, we were getting them used to being handled and turned on their backs.  Every single puppy handled this differently.  Their eyes weren't even open yet and they each had their own unique way of dealing with things.  When I turned one puppy on her back she just calmly melted into that position and happily stayed there.  I turned another one on his back and he screamed and squirmed for 15 minutes before he calmed down.  We did it again the next day and the screamer squirmed for about a minute then remembered from the day before and happily cuddled into me.  It amazed me that A. that he retained what he learned over night and  B. that he was so different from his sister at only 10 days old

Sleepy puppy

Puppy stretch

Puppy yawn

When I visited MAWP again about a month later, I got to see the "J" litter again and meet the "K" litter.  I got to snuggle the "J's again and there sure was a lot more puppy to hold!

While I was there, we let "J"s out to play on the grass for the first time. Watching them run around and explore for was probably one of the cutest things ever.  There was one puppy that kept trying to go further than we would let them, one that would make a mad dash to try and get into the mud and one that was fascinated with leaves.  They all had a blast and all explored things differently.

Jesmaine, Jagger, Jinx, Juno, Jefferson and Jada

This was also the same day we let the "K"s into the outside pen for the first time.  They were very shy at first about their super new surroundings but then eventually wandered around on their cute little wobbly legs exploring the pen.  We decided to let the "J"s into the pen with the "K"s and even more cuteness ensued.  The "J"s couldn't figure out why there were smaller versions of themselves wandering around and the "K"s kept thinking the "J"s had to be "mom" because they were bigger. They eventually became best buddies and had a blast playing with each other.

Puppy pile

 Finally I went down about two weeks ago and got to see some of the "K"s at 12 weeks old.  They had gone from very awkward little round balls of fluff to slightly less awkward lankier balls of fluff.  Part of their socialization is to let them play with well behaved, nice adult dogs.  We decided to see if Ice would like them and it turned out he LOVED the puppies.  I loved watching my "puppy" go from acting like a complete goof with the adult dogs to being sweet, gentle and very careful with the puppies.  He would play tug and chase with them and would happily lay around in the grass with them.

We weren't digging

Watching the world go by

Kemper and Ice

Ice being a great puppy sitter

Teaching the puppies how to slide

While there for the week in April, I got to help with the puppies' daily training sessions.  I have trained Darby and Ice from puppy hood and know the basics of what to do but I completely forgot how different it is to train a puppy than a teenage dog.  One day while there, I trained all 6 "K" puppies at the kennel and once again their different personalities just blew my mind.  You would think that it would be all the same since we are just working on simple stuff like sit and down and playing some games but nope not the same at all.  I had one puppy who seemed completely disinterested in working but then I found he was very interested in working if I petted him when he was good.  He liked food but he wasn't motivated to work by it.  I had one who would get sassy with me if he didn't quite understand what I wanted and he didn't get his treat.  It took all my effort not to crack up laughing when he would puppy woof at me and throw his head around.  Another wouldn't take her eyes off of me and would do everything very daintily.   I had a blast and learned a ton working with them.   Since I only get a puppy once every two years or so, I don't usually get this much puppy immersion.  Watching them grow up and grow into their personalities fascinates me and I can't wait to see what great service dogs all these puppies become!