Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Manatee the Service Dog in Training Update

As you know, at the beginning of the year, I started Manatee's in-store training and he got off to a rocky start transferring his training from just around the family and neighbours to around hundreds of people. Today is Manatee's 55th day of his in-store training year.
Last weekend, I had to go to the clinic for an allergy update, get my epipens refilled and some new medications to try. There was actually a little alcove in the waiting area of my new doctor's office and Manatee and I decided to wait there. He tucked himself out of the way, watching me, and, even though he got horribly bored, he still alerted to my anxiety and doing the first stage of interruption (in regular people speak, he noticed the first phase of my attack and he started nudging me and then pawing me to distract me from said attack). We went outside, I calmed down and we went back inside and they were ready for us to go into the patient room. When we went into the exam room, he waited patiently while I got my vitals done and then tucked himself into the corner out of everybody's way for the visit. He ignored the staff until I said it was okay to meet a nurse who was polite enough to ask to meet him after I was settled in and he was in 'chill mode'.
But really, please don't pet, even after asking.
A service dog is medical equipment like a wheelchair.
So unless you're planning to pet someone's wheelchair,
don't pet someone's service dog.
Anyways. To finish up at the clinic, I decided to let Manatee work on his exit skills. I've been training him to open doors in the event I shut down and he needs to get us outside away from the populace. He had a little trouble with the door since it was heavier than the bathroom door we'd been working with but he managed. Overall, Manatee did great at the clinic.
I took advantage of his good training session and decided to extend it to going to Publix fill the prescriptions so I wouldn't die if I encountered one of my million and one allergies. Because grocery stores make me nervous with my eating issues, I don't like this training part, but it's a must. He was great, he ignored the people staring, blocked while I was distracted getting us fruit, and steered me away from the peanut display, something we'd only ever practised once. There were vets doing the poppies bit outside and the sweet guys helped me put poppies on Manatee's jacket and complimented us on how well he did crossing the parking lot. 
I trained him to look both ways before crossing on the crosswalk, so he blocked me at the start of the crosswalk, looked both ways, waited for a car to stop at the sign before unblocking and walking with me.
As a reward, we went over to our Starbucks and got him a munchkin-sized caramel frappucinno. Echo, our favourite barista, tucked some fruit into it for him as an extra treat.
Later that Saturday, I decided to take him in again to pick up my prescriptions. And he was even better. There was another service dog team in the store (a woman I know but Manatee doesn't) and he gave them a casual glance while we walked past and then ignored them the rest of the time. He waited patiently in a standing block while we were in line at the pharmacy counter and ignored the people staring at us. He tucked himself under the counter out of the way (something he's had problems with) and waited for me to finish up. Then he found the truck for me when we were outside.
Such an amazing day!

Coffeehound
So this past Saturday, I decided to take the coffeehound to Starbucks first thing. He did AMAZING. He standing blocked in line and didn't get nosy and tucked himself out of the way while we waited for our order, not under the table yet, but he's taller than the tables anyways. He tucked himself between my feet and sit-stayed until the order was ready. He had no problems with the million different sounds or the people walking by with coffee. I took him back to Publix for more in-store training. We worked on down-stays in the empty aisles and turnwork, his two biggest training problems. Totally ignored the couple with the half-dozen kids who were wanting to pet the doggy and gawked at him through 2 aisles, and steered me away from the peanut area of the produce section. He ignored the intercom this time when it came on. And, we decided to tackle the register lines (a big panic thing for me). He did a full down-stay block (which he struggles with so much) the whole time and ignored the cooing from the woman behind us. I even dropped the leash to unload the cart and he remained in the down-stay. (So excited to see it transfer from pet-friendly spaces to actual working situations!!)
I made our first Chewy order and it arrived very quickly. It's loaded with a bunch of different treats for the dogs that are all allergen-free. No tomatoes, no passion fruit, no peanuts! Chewy is great because it lists all of the ingredients of a product so for allergy-laden dogs and their owners can avoid anything bad for them. I also picked up some fancy meat treats for Manatee's in-store training so he understands that in-store work is special.


This week will be another medical appointment (because I'm blind as a bat) and then a few training sessions at Sam's Club, Target, and Publix. Wish us luck, dear readers! Until next time, have a happily ever after!

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