Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Now the Real Training Begins


Today was great.  We did so much and went a lot of different places.

I also got to witness the most anti-climactic meeting between a cat and a dog ever.  But more on that in a minute.

Darcie and I met up at the Starbucks by campus (this morning I had to be on campus working) around 11:00.  I got to see Owen at work for the first time in public.  He was happy to see me and he was generally happy to be out and about working.  His tail wagged almost the whole time we were in Starbucks, and he was very good about navigating the crowds.  With finals week, the Starbucks was very busy!  Darcie and I walked over to the education building where Owen got to meet his adoring fans at school.

After hanging out at school for a little bit, we drove back to my apartment to introduce Owen and Toby.  What follows is the story of the most boring introduction of a dog and a cat.

Curiosity & Intrigue
I opened the door to the apartment, knowing Toby would be on the other side (he likes to greet people at the door).  I scooted him back with my foot and Owen followed me in.  They sniffed.  Toby meowed.  The end.

Seriously.  Toby could not have cared less.  He eventually got off the floor and sat on his perch in the window, but all he did was watch Owen.  He had this funny look the whole time Owen was there, but he wasn't concerned.  It was more a look of intrigue and curiosity.  Owen and I got to hang out in the apartment a bit with Darcie.  Owen found his bed, kennel, and all his toys I had bought him.  He was like a little kid at Christmas with his new toys, we had to get all of them out and he kept trying to see how many he could pick up at once.  He also found the cat toys that I didn't find when I picked them up.  Luckily, he has a very good "drop it" command. :)

Then, we left my apartment to go to my chiropractor appointment.  Darcie and Owen went to both the massage room and the adjustment room to show me where Owen will stay when I am in treatment.  Owen was very happy to be working and had a lot of fans there too.  I was impressed though that nobody asked to pet (unlike Gonzaga!).

Watching the chiropractor do his job

Checking out at Costco
After the chiropractor, we went to Costco.  Yikes!  Costco is basically the antithesis of where I normally go...  The crowds, the lights, the big store where I don't know where everything is, it's a recipe for disaster.  Right away when we approached the store, people were pointing.  It was really strange to be pointed at, but I knew it was because of the beautiful dog next to me, not my disability.  I've been pointed at before, but not in this context.  It was definitely a new experience.  In the store, people basically ignored us, which was nice.  While walking in the store, Owen kept checking to see if I was following, and at one point started heeling next to me even though Darcie was the one holding his leash and giving him the commands.  After we had what we needed (a printer for Darcie and a memory-foam bath mat for Owen to lay down on in public) she asked me if I wanted to walk him.  It was a resounding "Yes!".  I got to handle Owen through the check-out line and out the truck.  He did really well heeling for me and I felt really good getting to walk my dog.  I was in charge of his "heel" and "let's go" commands, the first commands I've gotten to give to Owen out in public.

We left Costco to go to Red Robin for lunch.  Again, we attracted a lot of attention.  Though I'm not sure what the servers really thought of us; they were asking how old Owen was and whether or not he was fully trained.  I don't know whether they put it together and figured out he belonged to us, or what, but he was definitely attracting lots of looks and smiles while we walked to our booth.  When we got to the booth, Darcie put his new mat under the table and told him "under," his command that means go under a surface, lay down, and stay.  He was really good throughout the meal, but I think he may have found some crumbs within reach on the floor!  At one point, Darcie left us alone to go to the bathroom, so I got to hold his leash while he stayed under the table.  Not a huge deal to some of you I'm sure, but I kept thinking, "Oh no!  What if he tests me and tries to leave!  What would I dooooo?"  Luckily, he was a great boy and stayed where he was supposed to.  Two elderly women saw him when they got up to leave and came over to say how pretty he was and ask about him.  I pretended like I knew what I was doing.  :)

After our late lunch, Owen and I went back to my apartment while Darcie went to her hotel.  We had time alone!  Owen and I took a little walk around the apartment complex so I could check my mail (if you were following the medication saga on facebook - my migraine meds have arrived!) and so he could go potty.  Unfortunately, there were too many really interesting smells all around the apartment complex, so while Owen walked really well for me (after the very beginning when he wasn't quite sure if he was going to listen to me), he did not want to potty.  My apartment is situated by a lot of undeveloped land, and we have a lot of marmots and rabbits that live on the property and right next to it, so I'm sure Owen could smell them all!

I gave up trying to get him to potty and we went back to my apartment.  He and Toby got to say "hi" again, and once he settled down a bit we went out to potty again.  Success!

Then Owen and I went back for some quality snuggle time at home before I had to bring him back to Darcie.  He gave me lots and lots of kisses and finally settled down with his head on my leg.  He proceeded to take a very loud nap, complete with lots of snoring.  Apparently I'm not the only one worn out from training!  Toby was extremely interested in Owen again, and this time was pretty happy to stay on the ground and try to figure out what was going on.  There was one hiss when Owen had Toby trapped on a shelf in the bathroom, but nobody actually meant any harm.  When Owen was still up and about, Toby followed him to keep an eye on him everywhere he went.  Once Owen laid down with me, Toby settled himself on the couch (Owen and I were on the floor) and watched us the whole time.  At one point when Owen was up, Toby almost looked like he wanted to play.  I really hope they become good friends, my apartment is too small to have animals at war!

Eventually it was time for me to bring Owen back for the night, so we loaded up in my truck and I drove him back to Darcie.  Darcie and I went over Owen's list of words (he knows about 43!) and talked a little bit about what tomorrow will look like.  We also talked about general handling tips and how to have a good relationship with your dog.  Funny enough, a lot of the tips are similar to what I have to employ in the classroom, so it comes pretty naturally.  Owen napped the whole car ride over and by the time we got there it was a little after his dinner time, and he let us know!  I got to feed him his dinner and had to make him sit and wait (which he tested) until I said "OK".  After the excitement of dinner was over he came and napped on my foot unless Darcie woke him up to show me how a certain task looked.

Reluctantly, I went back to my apartment.  Owen came over to say goodbye to me, and almost followed me out the door!  I can't wait to see him tomorrow to see how much he remembers me.  Tomorrow I have to be on campus in the morning, and Darcie and Owen will meet me at Starbucks again.  We will then go back to my apartment to practice commands.  I have to practice giving them to Darcie first, so she can make sure my tone and inflection is right.  Then I'll watch her ask Owen for the task, and then I'll try it.  We'll start with basic obedience and then maybe start with tasks tomorrow or Thursday.  Tomorrow I will also get some practice taking his harness on and off to start to get a feel for how it is supposed to fit and how it all goes together.   I'll also get to start handling Owen out in public more when it's a situation where Darcie feels comfortable I can handle it.  We are thinking that Saturday I will be on my own with Owen all day.  Apparently I will have "tasks" to complete while we are by ourselves, and I'm sure after that I will have tons and tons of questions!

I'm exhausted like I thought I would be, but surprisingly my anxiety and general health is holding pretty steady.  I really thought that going out this much would be hard and that I would be more emotionally worn down already, but so far I'm holding it together really well.  Owen gives me something to focus on out in public, I have to make sure to give him praise and make sure that he is doing what I ask him to and giving me that extra thing to focus on seems to be keeping my mind off of the anxiety of being out in public.  I feel like we've done so much, and it was only day 1!

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I'm am so so excited for you. Your first day. :) And he is already heeling beside you. Darcie told me that starts to happen as the dog adjusts to their new handler so that's so good. He must adore you. :)) Love seeing all the pictures. Have fun and hang in there. I know how tiring it can be. Get your energy from your big yellow lab. :)

    Hugs- Kate and Ben