Monday, October 31, 2011

True Colors-Training, Day 7

Cole and I actually stayed home this morning. Cole needed some rest and I had to catch up on some insurance, nursing, and other misc stuff. Plus, my whiplash from yesterday's track hurts like %&*#. The whole right side of my neck, shoulder and running down to my sciatic is paying me back for not holding my body the way I should have. A note to all of those getting tracking dogs in the future...hit the gym, NOW! I always knew that I needed to be strong to carry Cole around if he is seizing, but adding a strong tracking dog into the mix just ups the ante.

So, we gave Daddy some one on one training time with Slugger, uninterrupted. It seems every time he went out to practice, Cole would get in the way. They worked on tethering and behavior disruption some more and went on two short tracks. Slugger likes the game so much that he tracked the trainers just fine, even with removing Cole from the equation. That would have confused most dogs. The head trainer said that he is probably in the top 2% for tracking dogs that he has worked with.

We met up at the mall to work on some obedience, the first time tethering with Cole and to do our first indoor tracks. Cole was super overstimulated and had a small partial seizure. Then a couple of meltdowns. Slugger did awesome and started kiss, touch and nuzzle without being prompted. Cole even climbed into a small space where I couldn't fit and Slugger just slid right in there and licked Cole until he stopped and came out. AWESOME! The tethering is going okay. Cole just keeps darting and going back and forth and everyone is getting all tangled up in each other. I think that we are going to shorten the strap. Also, Slugger is a little more slow to obey since we put the gentle leader on for tethering and he is distracted. All he can think about in the beginning is getting it off. Still, I am so excited to be able to use it more.

Off of the tether, Cole showed his true colors. Giving out at the knees and throwing himself on the ground, running away, being obsessed with going on the train instead of trying to track, going into a restaurant and hiding under a table, etc. Brian and I were actually trying to put the tether strap on Slugger when he went into the restaurant and the trainer went in and fetched him out kicking and screaming. My favorite though, he climbed a ladder in the middle of a department store. An employee came up to me and started telling me, "He shouldn't do that, he might get hurt". You think? No offer of assistance or anything. It was obvious that I had a service dog in one hand and was trying to fetch Cole down with the other. Instead, he just tried to tell me what to do. Just another day in paradise :)

We also did 5 shorter inside tracks with Slugger. He got confused a couple of times. Once he got stuck in front of a display of blow-up Christmas lawn decorations. It was almost like he was thinking track, track, track, oh-this is different...what it is? Maybe I should check it out. So I had to take him back to where he left off and start again. As we continued to practice, he would get better and better. Getting to the point that he was back on his A game. However, he would always go up to the parent that was with Cole. We have to encourage him to find Cole and not mom or dad. Food....more food. This dog went through an entire bag of mini-begging strips at the mall just for motivation with tethering, the gentle leader and tracking. I think he is going to have a stomach ache tonight! I was just done by the time we got out of there. Taking Cole to the mall is always an adventure.

Tonight, we went to the home of a family in our class that lives locally. The dogs had a great time playing with each other. They all have been working hard and really haven't been able to run around.Cole stayed back to protect the candy while the other kids went out into the neighborhood to Trick Or Treat.The kids were so cute! It was so great to have some time outside of class to chat.I gave a small shout out on facebook, but I just wanted to thank Lexie, Hobo, Alfie, Starburst, Ani, Krypton, Sushi, Charlotte, Donut and their families for inspiring us-and to everyone else that we know who has gotten a service dog for their child. This experience has been so rewarding already. We hope that Cole has many wonderful years with Slugger.

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Photos by Capture Me Candid