What goes on during a check in with the service dog agency? A lot of talk like “He’s grown so much!,” “Look at those feet!,” and “Show us what he can do.” So we try to show off all the things we’ve worked on over the last month. Things like coming when called, walking past food on the floor, polite walking (walking without pulling on the leash), lack of stress around crowds, ease with and acceptance of trimming nails, grooming, etc.
Schooner didn’t get the memo that it was show-off time. He thought the memo said “social butterfly” time. I tried to show off his really nice front-paws-on-a-box move, but he thought I said “go visit the other dogs.” And he did! And did a darn good job of being the social director of his newfound friendly gang of fellow service pups in training.
Here he is sharing the crate of his fellow Great Dane service pup in-training, Jetty. She didn’t really invite him in, he simply assumed her lack of protest was the open door he’d been looking for all day. (She’s about 3 months younger than Schooner and hasn’t hit her growth spurt yet.)
I gave up on the two-paws demo and moved onto showing how Schooner could recognize his name. I called his name and he looked at every person except me. Yay Schooner! You’re really doing a bang up job of demonstrating your important service dog skills. At this rate, they’re going to take you away from me and send me home sans dog!
We decided it would be better to abandon the training demonstration and visit the mall. He was Mr. Looky-Loo there, as well as walking up to everyone who gave him a sidelong glance. When you’ve got a Great Dane in the mall, many people give you sidelong glances, let me tell you.
We walked the entire mall, pausing at the children’s play area. My husband and I don’t have kids, so it’s quite difficult to expose Schooner to the noise and activity of children. He thought they were a little odd at first — all the yelling and quick movements, but when he found out they had treats (we provided treats to the kids to give to the dogs), he was less suspicious.
It was clear to see that the whole experience had wiped out the two Great Danes. We decided to sit a spell and that’s when we lost the dogs. When I say “lost,” I don’t mean they ran away, of course. I mean they went away to dreamland. Both Danes collapsed on the floor and were asleep in a matter of minutes.
Learning is hard work!