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.

Newest Addition To Our Family

16th August

Yesterday yet another little pup joined our family. My Person went with Mother and Aunty, who I had only met once before when I was only a baby, up to Armidale to pick up the latest member of our family. A little red bi merle Australian Shepherd bitch pup, who we called Rain. She is adorable and I love her, Arlert loves her and Boof is indifferent, he might not have even noticed that there’s another dog in the house. Jerry the cat has disappeared, we think he may be hiding under the bed.

The lady we were buying the puppy from brought along another of the pups from the same litter so that we had a choice, even though we were pretty much set on Rain. Aunty saw Rain’s sister, a little red tri coloured pup, and fell in love with her. So we ended up coming home with BOTH pups.

Rain and her sister Bronte sat with me on the trip home, they both slept most of the way. They were both very well behaved their first night at our house, they didn’t whine or complain but they did both sleep together in the pen. We’ll see how she goes tonight by herself.

Bronte left with Aunty back to the Central Coast this morning and she will keep us updated on her progress.

Rain has been very good, especially for a nine week old pup, she has almost learnt her name and can already sit on command. She doesn’t like her collar very much though but nor does Arlert.

We will keep you all updated on everyone’s progress.

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Working Dog Trial

18th July

Rather than working on her research project that was due the following Monday my Person took me with Mother and Little Sister to the working dog trial that was on over the weekend.

Unlike the Agility and Jumping trials we usually go to the working dog trial was super relaxing. All the dogs were so well behaved and really quiet. The dogs at agility and loud, they jump around, bark uncontrollably, but the working dogs wait patiently in their crate, truck or their patch of grass.

If working dogs start carrying on they get in big trouble because they disrupt the cattle or sheep. They have to be really quiet and calm when they’re working otherwise they can’t do their job properly.

My Person was a little worried because I’m not around cattle… ever, and she was concerned that I would start barking and disrupt everything. But I was very well behaved, mainly because all the other dogs were so relaxed.

If anyone has ever seen a working dog trial you will know how highly trained these dogs are. So it was really nice when a man came over and complimented my Person on how well trained I was. All I was doing was laying on the ground waiting while my Person was buying lunch from the canteen. But it is always nice to hear comments like this, it just helps reassure my Person that I am making progress with my training even if some days it doesn’t seem like it.

Regional Agility, Jumping, Games Trial

18th – 21st June

I was very excited when my Person told me that we were going with our Dog Training Club to the Regional Agility, Jumping and Games Trial.

It was the first time I had ever been camping, and it will be my Person’s first time camping alone. While I am still too novice to be competing I would still be doing training runs and socialisation, as well as keeping my Person safe and protecting our campsite.

It was a long drive to the showground where the Trial was being held, and my Person got a little lost on the way. I don’t mind travelling but the road was rough and I felt a little carsick by the end of the trip. When we got there I was a little anxious because there were so many people and other stranger dogs, so I just stayed in the car while my Person set up the camp. I didn’t want to eat or drink anything either so I was very hungry the next morning.

Because my Person has chronic fatigue she needs to rest during the day, so she owns a camper van. Some people think this is strange, a young girl owning this type of car, but it is practical and an all-round good car. So we camped in the van, with the annex off the side where my Person cooked our meals.

Since we arrived a day early to set up camp my Person and I didn’t have much to do after we had dinner, so we went for a walk around the showground for a while checking out the arenas and talking to other people who were also camping there. I met a lot of stranger dogs, some were even bigger than I was! Most people had a few dogs; a young pup that was about Arlert’s age, a dog around my age and an old dog around Old Boof’s age. But we did meet a couple who had eight border collies!

Once we had gone for a walk and the weather was getting far too cold to be outside we went back to the van. My Person watched a movie on her laptop before going to be. It was so cold, even with my jacket that Mother made for me, and I was still anxious about being in a new place that I jumped up onto the bed and snuggled up next to my Person. I’m never allowed to sleep in the bed with my Person at home but it was just so cold! So my Person didn’t mind since I kept her warm too.

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The first night I didn’t get much sleep. All the strange noises and smells kept me awake, and I hadn’t been to the bathroom since we left our house around lunch. When I really need to go to the bathroom I wake my Person up and she always lets me out, but when I was let outside the van even if my Person was with me, I got scared of something and had to run back to the van for safety. This happened a few times during the night because I needed to go! But couldn’t.

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Early the next morning my Person took me for a run, and I was finally able to go to the bathroom J. Even though it was so early there were a lot of people also walking their dogs. I kept my distance from them. After the dog chased me on the beach a few weeks ago I have been a little more cautious of stranger dogs. And I especially hate it when there are more than one of them. So I stayed close to my Person and only left to retrieve the ball that she threw for me.

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After my run my Person and I shared breakfast, I had already eaten my dry dog food but her tuna and toast looked far more tasty.

For most of the day I just sat in the van or in my crate while my Person was stewarding at the games ring. She would come back between course changes and take me for a walk or run me through one of the practice courses that were set up a little way away from the competition rings. It was pretty boring for me, but I couldn’t complain too much because I got to sleep in the sun and eat yummy dog biscuits.

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It was so cold in the mornings that I didn’t want to get out of bed, which is very unusual for me. My Person let me stay curled up in bed while she got dressed for the day, and it took a bit of convincing to get me out from under the sleeping bags and blankets… Well not much convincing really, all my Person had to do was show me the tennis ball.

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The next day Mother and Little Sister came to the trial, which meant that I was able to sit with then and not at our campsite. I was very well behaved and calm around the other dogs and I was able to sit quietly ringside with the other dogs running past me competing. This is something I have never been able to do during dog training, so I was very proud of myself. I didn’t bark, whine or lunge.

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Now would be a good time to mention that even well trained dogs make mistakes. One time when my Person came back to check on me during one of the course changes I was so excited that I jumped up to greet her. I’m very big now and I accidentally caught her face. One of my claws cut her lip and she punctured the inside of her lip on her tooth.

My Person didn’t get angry with me because she knew I didn’t mean to do it, and it made her realise that maybe I need a little more training so that I don’t jump anymore.

But aside from that accident I was very well behaved and I had a lot of fun.

I was a little anxious around all the stranger dogs at the trial. Some were friendly, others didn’t care, and some were mean and scary. So I was overwhelmed with excitement when I saw my dog friend from my agility class. He was a little anxious too so our people let us play around for a while before we went over to the practice course for a quick run.

As this was both my Person and my first real trial experience we had not yet learnt all the rules. So it was a great learning experience. We were watching an agility competition when the dog running stopped and attacked the judge! It was very scary for everyone, but especially for the judge and the handler. The lady, with the help of some of the other bystanders, managed to restrain the dog and took him from the ring.

The judge was okay and wasn’t angry at the lady or the dog, sometimes these things happen. Dogs are not robots.

Apparently the dog had a dislike of strange men. This is actually a common occurrence, even in very well trained dogs, that have female handlers. Lashing out at strange men is really the dog’s way of saying: “This is my female. You stay there and everything will be fine. Come a step closer and I will bite you. Understood?”

Because of this issue the whole trial had to stop. All three rings were shut down while the officials had a meeting about what to do with the dog. Me and my Person sat with the rest of our club and waited out the two hours (possibly longer) before the trials could start again. While we were waiting they explained to us that the dog may have to be taken away from the trial grounds and will have to go to a meeting with the people who organise all the agility trials in our state, since the dog had done the same thing at a previous trial.

The dog wasn’t taken away but he wasn’t allowed to compete in any more events, and the lady was still allowed to run her other dogs in the trial.

Even though it was a really fun couple of days I was very happy to be home. I tackled Old Boof and played with little Arlert and chased Jerry around the house a few times before falling asleep on the lounge room floor.

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Bellingen Show

10th May

Every year in Bellingen there is an Agricultural Show. It goes over the weekend and is a lot of fun.

My Person has had cattle in the show before but this year I was the only animal she had on show.

It was my first ever public display of my skills as well as my first semi-competition. And I did very well! Placing second and third in two different divisions. 🙂

The dog competition is not a very formal nor serious one but it was a good place to start and was very good practice for when I (hopefully) do agility competitions later on.

Over the two days I also learnt how to behave around horses and sheep, and I met all sorts of different types of dogs. Like the working kelpies who were displaying their sheep herding skills. They were really talented!

It was very cold in Bellingen and we had to get there early to set up our Lyme Disease stall. But my Person let me sleep in the car while she set up. I also got my own warm blanket to sleep under! So I was very happy. But I was tired by the end and spent a lot of the day asleep in my crate.

IMG_2331 This is me and my Person’s legs and my ribbons.