Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Reactive Dog in Training at Library

The other day Coco and I went to the library, like we do. And we were walking around the end of an aisle to walk towards another area when I heard a loud, aggressive arf, arf.

With my brain injury, when loud noises suddenly happen or when really anything happens fast and all of my senses need to read and communicate what is going on; I can't sort it all out in real time. In these cases, I just say an authoritative, "Hey!" Which gives me a few seconds for the room to stop spinning and for the distorted sounds to ease. And I can think about what to do. Coco was right by my side at a beautiful heel. Check. Where was the barking coming from? Then I noticed a Black Lab service dog over by the tables. It was standing and growling at Coco. I don't remember its teeth being bared but it was an aggressive growl.

I was pretty sure Coco was as surprised as me because we never see other service dogs in the library. And I was pretty sure Coco didn't bark because she rarely ever makes a sound and because I don't think she saw the other dog before the barking started. But I wasn't sure.

I remember telling Coco to sit and watch me and she did. She kept her eyes on me and when I had a few more seconds to take it all in I realized the other dog was far away and under control. It had gotten to its feet and barked at Coco and it kept growling until we left. We walked a couple of aisles away and people we knew there reached out to us. And Coco was calm and sweet as ever. I told everyone around us sorry and Coco and I kept on walking to where we were going. I felt fairly calm but still wasn't sure about exactly what had happened. I was hoping Coco hadn't lunged or barked back but it was all a blur and well, I just didn't know.

Well, today we went back to the library today to return some dvds and to check out some new dvds and cds. We saw the ladies who work there and who have known Coco and me for over four years. They filled me in on what happened. Coco and I were walking around the aisle when the lab stood up and started to bark at us. Coco didn't do anything. She stayed at heel. And she didn't bark back. I turned to face her and told her to watch me and she did. I remember doing that and the way she was smiling at me. And that was that. We walked off and yes, the other dog did continue to growl.

The librarian knew Coco was well, perfect, so she made sure we were okay and asked the other person about her dog. Turns out the Lab was in training. It was being trained to carry two cans for something, probably oxygen but that part, I don't remember.

So I was glad that Coco did exactly what she was supposed to do. And even though my, "Hey," was probably unnecessary; I had a few seconds to take in what had happened and drew attention to the situation. If I needed help it would have been there. But all of the training that Coco and I have done so we would be able to handle a situation like this; it worked. The proof was in the pudding.

So I was glad to find this out from the people at the library and really, really happy that Coco did so well. We walk and enjoy our walks but we also work every day. That effort and that time and that consistency has paid off. Lots and lots. And I've never been more proud of my Akita Service Dog Coco.

Here is a video we took last summer of Coco and me in the library.

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