I spent the day with Talos at the Frederick New Media and Technology Conference. We had the honor of speaking about how businesses should use Twitter.
Until today, I've always had the option of leaving if Talos couldn't handle the situation. Today, however, was a pressure-cooker: I had to speak. So I couldn't leave.
Which put a lot of pressure on me. Talos didn't know about my contraints.
I packed well. I packed four peanut butter stuffed Kongs. I packed four pork rawhides. I packed three sandwich bags of diced bologna and beef-broth-soaked kibble. I packed an 8" rolled rawhide. I was ready!
Talos did well, overall. He got a little whiny, a little restless at the beginning of each session. (We had to change rooms about every hour.) I learned to ignore him and then he'd give up and he'd lay down. Just as he'd fall asleep we'd have to move.
The second session of the day was ours. I had to speak. He had to behave.
And he did.
In true Talos form, he came through when I needed him most. The picture above is from Mary Kate McKenna, the most amazing photographer I've ever met. I thought it completely captured the "Talos experience."
I was so preoccupied with my talk that I forgot to consider what Talos was thinking. Clearly, from this photo, he was quite curious about why he was at the front of the room!
In the end, all of our hard work and training paid off. Talos was able to handle a full day's work. And handled it just fine, thank you very much.
He came home and totally melted down with the other dogs. He was letting off steam. Like so many of US do at the end of a hard week. It was good to see.
Until now, I'd been confident that his temperament suited him well for service work, but I wasn't sure of his ability to settle. Now I know he can settle. In one of the talks, I had to keep prodding him because he was snoring so loudly! THAT'S a relaxed dog!
Thanks to everyone at the conference – and everyone in general – who not only puts up with, but accepts, a service dog in training with such open arms. It's not always perfect. It's not always easy.
You have no idea the training value you're providing. Many thanks to you for graciously allowing a snoring, whining, slobbering dog in your midst. The training value of the event today is not to be underestimated. His future "new person" thanks you for your help.
And to T – you did a fabulous job today, my Great Dane friend. Excellent work. My heart swells with pride. You will change someone's life.
I don’t know how you can do it! I foster and it’s okay to give them up, not always easy but okay. Most fosters aren’t as close to me as my dogs with which i train and do a lot more stuff. But a therapy dog?!
A dog that is with me all of the time must grow sooo close to me… I’m not sure how you can give those up. i can only imagine that the help Talos will provide someone one day will make up for.
Thanks for doing this!
Megan L. says
Laurie, that is such an awesome story! Go Talos! It’s so wonderful when you put a dog in a new situation and you’re so worried about how they handle it, and they act like there’s nothing new about it and just follow everything you’ve taught them up until that point! You put it right when you said your heart is swelling with pride-that describes it perfectly! Sounds like Talos will really be a fantastic service dog for a lucky individual. And you will have played such a revolutionizing role in that person’s life by helping Talos grow up and learn to be such a great dog – that must be a fantastic feeling. 🙂 Congrats on such a great day!
What a fantastic day! I am going to be doing presentations at some conferences next fall and I have between now and Sept to get Beau ready to be out in public. He’s beautifully behaved in the house but still has some difficulties with distractability. He is quite wary of strangers if they make a move toward me. We’re working on it.
In the next couple of months we’ll be ready to go to public places. I’m still wondering how to get him accustomed to large crowds and especially in a conference setting where I’ll be doing the presentations.
I enjoy your blog and I hope Beau will be as well-behaved at my conference presentation in 6 months as Talos is!
Way to go Talos…that is such a great picture of you checking out the crowd.
AARF Kasha the Dainty Great Dane
Laurie Luck says
I give them up only because I HAVE to. If it was left up to me, Talos would stay with me forever. But that’s not what I signed up to do – Service Dogs of Virginia won’t take “but I’m too attached to him,” as an excuse.
Crying is a big part of this job.
So is heartbreak.
But there’s nothing quite as fulfilling as seeing the dog you raised change someone’s life. The pride helps to heal the broken heart. A little.
Laurie Luck says
It really was a wonderful day for T and I. He was as steady as a rock and did me proud.
Laurie Luck says
Can you take Beau to some smaller venues first? Where you can leave if he’s a little uncomfortable? I’m thinking maybe meetings or lectures in the public library, networking meetings at the Chamber of Commerce, book club meetings a community centers, etc.
Bring LOTS of the most fantastic treats you can find, too. And dole them out liberally when Beau is calm. Watch his body language for stress signals and be ready to calmly leave if he’s having trouble.
With a little preparation, I’ll be you two will be just fine. Hard work and practice are the surest ways to have good luck! 🙂
Laurie Luck says
I love that shot! What a mug. It’s classic Talos.