A billion imaginary bonus points if you recognize that reference. :)
Another photo-less blog tonight; Darcie has been taking pictures with her phone but I need to remember to ask her to send them to me.
And for that matter, another short blog tonight. I still have papers to grade that are due back to the professor tomorrow morning.
Today Owen and I went to the mall. I don't remember the last time I set foot in a mall of my own volition; it is not somewhere I would go willingly. Ever. But today, Owen and I went and it wasn't a negative experience. We walked around and went in some stores to practice both commands and navigating through tight spaces. We also got to ride a rickety elevator; Owen wasn't a huge fan (he didn't do anything bad) but for that matter I didn't like it either. My tics went a little haywire in the mall, so I got to use the mobility harness for real for the first time.
Wow, what a difference it made. I can't wait to see the difference my new one makes. But even with our make-do harness, I was able to keep walking at a normal pace regardless of what my legs were doing. Owen was, as always, a rock star at the mall. We got to practice 'front', 'cover', and 'switch' and he did them all flawlessly.
Front is where he stands horizontally in front of me (Owen has also been conditioned to lean into my legs when he does tasks or we are just standing still). Cover is where he stands horizontally behind me. And switch is where he switches sides he is heeling on.
Owen and I also practice 'under' under different surfaces and we practiced what to do at airport security with the metal detectors. He has to be in a down-stay while I walk through, wait, and then come when called. We also practiced randomly dropping the leash and telling him to "stay".
People pretty much stopped and stared everywhere we went; a few people came up to talk to us, but Darcie fielded those questions. The funniest was probably when we went to Walmart though after the mall. I had to get more holiday cards, but the person running the photo station was busy, so Owen stayed in a 'front' for a long time while we waited our turn. There was a mom with two little boys (maybe around 6-years-old) who was using the photo kiosk and one of the boys was spinning in circles and singing and would randomly point to Owen and make comments about the "doggie". Owen though they were soooo interesting, but he never moved from where he was supposed to be.
We went home where Darcie showed me the importance of practicing 'leave-it' with food for Owen; food is his kryptonite and we have to practice regularly 'leaving-it' so that I know he is solid if we are out in public. It isn't just to leave food on floor alone, I also don't want him to accept food from people I don't know because it may not be safe. Toby was not helpful during this training as he decided whatever Owen was being told to leave alone, he wanted. Poor Owen had to watch as the cat tried to steal his kibble on the floor.
My homework with Owen is to practice his 'paws up' task as we were having trouble finding our sync with it this afternoon and to work on making my commands more light and friendly while still carrying my voice and meaning business. We practiced a lot of Owen's basic commands tonight, using a bone as reinforcement, and now that I know what to listen for, it makes a big difference.
Tomorrow we are off to school in the morning to get some work done, and the in the afternoon we are meeting up for Darcie for more public access training and then we are going to the vet to get Owen set up on heartworm medication for our Texas trip. We are almost there!