Thursday, 18 January 2018

Update on my Service Dog in Training


This is Manatee James, Manny for short. He's my best friend, my little brother, my comforter, and my protector. I've been training him for 3 years to replace his dearly departed departed brother, Ozymandias, as my service dog. We lost him to an inoperable malignant tumor in his brain a week before his and Manatee's 4th birthday.
I'd just like to note that I did not post my thousand different photos of Oz, I only posted two.

 Manatee is finally at the level of training where he has to work in-store to get used to the million and one distractions and happenings in the world. We decided on taking him into the Staples in Winter Garden Village (it's an outdoor mall nearby that's got a bit of that Stars Hollow vibe going on). I was so nervous, I hated the idea of all these people staring at me and my service dog, who is obviously a service dog because there's a vest and numerous buttons to help deter dealing with people. I was terrified that we'd set foot in the store and Manny would forget all of his training. Just look at how loudly noticeable that training vest is!

But it was great. I went in after a planner to help organise my bookish life with the rest of my life, a quick in and out mission. Manatee walked on my right side and tucked himself between me and the displays when I stopped to browse. He executed his first real block when I was getting too overwhelmed with men nearby (I have anxiety problems when men get too close). He even posed for one of the clerks working who apparently loves dogs and manatees and was tickled pink about a dog named Manatee - he asked from a respectable distance if he could take Manatee's picture and totally respected the 'do not pet' rule.
Our only real issue was the register area, they have that set-up that feels like a livestock chute where they funnel the critters through a complex gate system to sort them out, I felt blocked in and he kept trying to drag me outside the whole time I was trying to check out, something he's trained to do for anxiety attacks but he's also supposed to apply pressure to me if we're in that situation. I need to work more on his differentiating between the two scenarios and that's going to be so much fun.
Our biggest success was when we walked by the large display of coffee and Manatee, the dog that sees a Starbucks sign while we're driving and starts crying for coffee, only gave the entire display one sniff.
At the end of his training session, I took him over to the Starbucks across the mall and bought myself my usual frappuccino and bought him a regular recipe grande frappuccino all his own.
All in all, that was a great first in-store training session for us. We're going to try Barnes and Noble this weekend and have a real coffee situation. Hopefully he remembers he doesn't do the food and drink on duty. Cross your fingers, readers!
Until next time, dear readers, have a happily ever after!


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