We’re Back & We Passed Our PAT!

26th June 2016

Hi everyone

Sorry it’s been such a long time since my last post, both my Person and I have been really busy.

Here’s a brief update of what’s happened in the last few months:

My Person and I are enjoying living in our new apartment, it’s nice to have the freedom. We haven’t had any problems so far, it’s been great.

My Person is doing a cert 3 in dog behaviour and training so that she can become a dog trainer in the future. She will also be starting a small business management course so that she will be able to start her own business.

That’s pretty much it. My Person has been studying and I have been training, I have competed in my first agility trial and I’ll be going in another in July.

I know it doesn’t sound like a lot has been going on but we just haven’t been able to find the time to sit down and post updates lately. Our deepest apologies.

Anyway,

Today was a very big day for my Person and I, over the past year we have been writing about my service dog training adventures and today I did my PAT (public access test).

I PASSED WITH FLYING COLOURS

The assessors were thrilled with my progress, and they thought it was really cute when I picked up my lead and carried it to my person while doing the recall.

Obviously my training won’t end here. There are still a lot of things I need to work on, like taking public transport and flying in an airplane. And I still get a little excited when I see other dogs, especially when they want to play with me, but I am a lot better and I’m getting better everyday.

So I will try to post more regular updates, on my training and my Person’s training.

Thanks 🙂

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Helping With the Gardening

24th January

Service dogs are trained to help their handlers manage in their everyday life. What we do will vary depending on our owners and what we can do is only limited by your imagination (and training ability).

One of the things I help my Person with is chronic fatigue. I do things that a person without this illness could do themselves. Like carry her belongings in a doggy backpack so that she doesn’t have to carry a bag, I retrieve things from the ground so that she doesn’t have to bend down. And other things to help her conserve her limited energy.

This morning she was helping cut down branches in the garden. My Person had to put the branches and leaf litter in the wheelbarrow and take them about 30m down the driveway to the pile waiting to go to the dump.

It was about 30 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Very, very hot. Not the best conditions for a chronic fatigue sufferer.

Some of the branches were very big and awkward to carry. They wouldn’t fit in the wheelbarrow and my Person can’t carry them. So she thought “Hm. How am I going to do this?”

I was sniffing around the garden, chasing lizards.

This would probably be a good time to mention that I am a dog of many hats. Amoung other things I am a service dog, agility dog and a sled dog.

So my Person went and got my sledding harness, a lovely padded purple cross back, and bungee line. She tied the bungee line to the branch and clipped it to my harness. I was very excited because I knew I was going to work. A different type of work to service dog work, I know the difference between my service dog coat, my sled harness and my agility harness. I do get excited every time I see them but I know how I need to behave depending on which one I am wearing.

I dragged the branches easily down to the pile. It took half the time it would have if my Person had tried to use the wheelbarrow, and an eighth of the time it would have if my Person had tried to carry them herself.  I could only take one or two at a time because they were quite big and it was very hot. But I got the job done and I was very pleased with myself. My Person was very happy too.

While many people would think that my Person getting me to do this when she probably could have just dragged then there herself is ridiculous and she should just “suck it up” and deal with it. I am a service dog. I am trained to help my Person in whatever way she needs. Today it just so happened that she needed help moving branches.

Explaining My Absence

28th October

Sorry it has been so long since my last post, not a lot has happened since my Person has been busy with her exams. In Australia, New South Whales at least, high school students do their final exams after graduating. Makes a lot of sense, right?

Anyway she has been using the computer which means that I haven’t been able to post any updates recently. But now that her exams are all finished I’ll be able to get back to posting updates on my training.

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Antics Of Arlert The Autism Assistance Pup

Part 1

We should have learnt by now that Arlert, like a toddler, should never be let out of our sight. While he is adorable and cuddly and a big help during meltdowns the young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pup is your stereotypical little boy and cannot be trusted, he is in fact been given the nickname “Devil Child” because of his carefree and destructive nature.

Today, thanks to Arlert, was very exciting – and a little infuriating.

Half a block had been left, wrapped up and buried under a pile of clothes and other junk, on the lounge chair. But nothing is ever safe from Arlert, who is the master tracker.

When the room was empty, Arlert tracked down the rouge chocolate block and devoured it. All 100grams of chocolate, and he also had a fair go at the wrapper too.

Here is a little perspective: Arlert weighs about 5kg, and he ate 100g of chocolate, which is 2% of his body weight. If a person weighs 60kg, they would have to eat over a kilo of chocolate to eat as much as Arlert did today.

By the time Arlert arrived at our local vet he was climbing the walls because of the caffeine overload, like he had just drunk a hundred cups of coffee.

Arlert was fine in the end but he has certainly not learnt anything from his experience. We know this because the moment we were home he shot straight into the lounge room and licked up all the remaining chocolate crumbs off the floor.

More updates of Arlert’s antics coming soon. 🙂

Service Dogs and Walkers

18th September

My Person and I were able to test out her new walker today (what exciting lives we do lead 🙂 ) when we went to Bunnings for cleaning supplies.

It’s great! Crutches are alright for most occasions but the walker is much better for long periods of walking and standing, which is difficult for people with chronic fatigue and pain. The walker is more stable and less dangerous on wet floors (it’s been raining up here the last few days) and it’s like a portable seat, so she can sit down whenever she needs it.

I handled the change in equipment very well, it does take a minute or two to adjust my pace to match that of my Person and I have to learn how to manoeuvre around the walker, boxes and members of the public all at the same time.

It’s funny seeing the way strangers interact with my Person based on the type of equipment she is using.

  • Service Dog Only: my Person must be training me for “some poor disabled person”
  • Crutches: people will clarify with my Person whether or not she is training me for someone else or if I belong to her
  • Walker: it’s strange to see such a young person with a walker, people will actively avoid looking at my Person because she must have a severe disability to need both a walker AND service dog

In Bunnings we saw a man carrying a little white poodle. We had no complaints because it was very well behaved, but it wasn’t a service dog. It is not the first time we have come across pet dogs in Bunnings, no one seems to mind as long as they are behaving themselves. Most people carry them or have them sitting in the trolley. I was very good with the other dog, mainly because it wasn’t barking or growling at me (which is a first!) and I walked right by it without any trouble.

It was a fun day and things are looking good for us 🙂

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Training Update

15th September

I have been working very hard lately, my Person and I have had some free time so we were learning some new tricks.

“REST” – this task is to help my Person when she is having a mild anxiety attack. I lay my head on her lap and stay there until she tells me to go back. There are some people who think that this is just something a dog does when they sense their handler is upset – but for most dogs it is not something they would think to do, or they do it for a second and move away when they are ready not when the handler is ready. So for most dogs it needs to be taught.

“HUG” – this task is to help my Person when she is having a major anxiety attack. I jump up and lay across her to perform deep pressure therapy.

Both these tasks were simple and easy to master but very useful when your handler has anxiety.

Since I am a big dog I take up a lot of space and end up blocking walkways and paths in shops when I lay down. So my Person taught me to crawl and lay under a chair, so that I am out of the way of other shoppers, or under her legs when there is no space under the chair.

I was a little scared of the confined space at first but when I realised that if I lay there I got a tasty treat I would happily crawl under the chair.

“DRINK” – this task is where I bring a small bag from the cupboard in the kitchen to my Person wherever she is. The bag has medication, a bottle of water and a small sugary snack. It has taken me a while to finally master this one since it is a very difficult task, but I am now able to reliably fetch the bag from another room and I can even go back and shut the cupboard door.

Another task my Person and I have just started learning is fetching the washing basket and helping her undress while in her wheelchair. I am only up to taking off socks and putting them in the basket but soon I’ll be able to move up to pants and long sleeved shirts.

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Your Dog Is So Well Behaved!

7th September

One of our earlier posts displayed our frustration at people thinking I am not trained because I don’t take commands from strangers. Well, this one is about stranger’s amazement at me being able to sit quietly while on the job.

It’s a common scenario, my Person and I go into a shop, I lay down on the ground and wait until she has done whatever she needs to do. There is always someone who sees me waiting quietly as people walk over the top of me and bump me with bad, and they say to my Person, “Wow! You dog is so well behaved!”

I have never understood people’s shock at me just sitting there. I mean, I’m a SERVICE DOG! What do people expect? Should I be barking at shopping carts? Rushing up to strangers? Eating food off the floor? Jumping all over my Person, knocking her off her feet?

Perhaps it’s because people have grown so used to seeing misbehaving dogs that they just assume that this is simple the way all dogs are.

Let it be known that any dog can be trained, some are easier than others, but given the time and effort on the owner’s behalf any type of dog can be taught to behave. I was a full on puppy and it took a lot of intense training from my Person and joining a local dog training club for me to learn to behave myself.

If my Person had not put in all that effort I certainly would not be the sensible (most days), mature dog I am today.

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