Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coco Meets Another Service Dog in Whole Foods

We went into the Whole Foods store and right there in the veggie area was another service dog. He was a beautiful lab mix. His precious long nose was pointed to the floor and his sweet brown eyes were on - our girl Coco. She hopped a little. Truly, a very little gesture and I told her to heel and said, "No play, we are working." And that was it. I gave her a hand signal and like magic, she sat and had her eyes only on me. I picked out my veggies and talked with the other lady. We had heard about each other from the check out people in the store.

The cool thing was that a month ago,I would not have had the confidence to even be in the veggie department with the other service dog there. I would have avoided it and gone to another aisle. But I've been working a lot with Coco on her impulse control, especially with other dogs and felt like the time was right to keep shopping. We have been to speaking engagements where there were other service dogs there but this was so close.
She did wonderfully.

When I chose a checkout lane to go in, it turned out to be the same one the other service dog was in. Instead of avoiding it, we continued. A lady was between us. Both of our dogs were perfect!!!! They stood at heel and never paid attention to anything other than what they were there to do. It turns out some times the other lady has balance problems too so her service dog was primarily for bracing. Something Coco also does for me, especially when I get dizzy or it is really windy outside.

Coco will still react if another dog barks at her. But she responds with equal quickness to my heel, sit and watch me commands now. She remains alert and her focus is directly on me.

We have been practicing on our walks, sit and watch me and stay, whenever she pulls the least little bit we'll go even slower to one steps, sit and stay. After doing this a few times she relaxes and we go on our way. I use several things to let Coco know what to do. It might be a hand signal or a verbal command or a clicking sound or a gentle tug on her leash.

I like using hand signals from a distance. The lead when we are out enjoying our walk and clicking or a slight sound if I can't think of anything else fast enough. It's been working out great.

I've been putting tasty treats (a yummy bone) a couple of feet away from her and giving her a down stay and she is now completely relaxed and usually naps after twenty minutes. She does know where her bed is and she is learning "Go to your bed and lay down." It is still new but I am working on trying to remember to be consistant to do this every time I eat.

We've been watching the Stanley Cup festivities and now I'm going to get back to it. But I didn't want another day to go by without writing this down.

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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