Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I had this cute idea for a blog post all ready to go for tonight.  It was going to be 'Twas the night before the Public Access Test and I was going to write a poem about getting ready for our PAT tomorrow.  However, Owen and I don't get to write that tonight because...


Darcie came over in the morning and we ran through all of Owen's words that are applicable for him to use at home (which was a lot).  He was perfect and did almost everything just right.  We have some homework to do tonight though, and tomorrow we will do "over" and "rest" for Darcie again.  Owen got a little too carried away with his kisses during the "over", so we have been working today on putting my face right next to his, but not letting him lick.  He is okay to lick when he is working (as long as I don't mind), but it got excessive today so he is on "licking probation" for a little while.  His "rest" (resting his head on my leg) was a little rusty today.  He acted confused during it and kept trying to do a "paws up" instead.  Darcie thinks it may be because we keep doing the two commands in rapid succession, and the position he is in for them looks identical, it's just that rest is without his paws in my lap.  And in Owen's world, it's always better to be in his person's lap.  So we are going to practice those things tonight, and even though we passed, we're going to do them again tomorrow.

snuggles after our "over"

We took a break after running through all of his commands (he did an hour of solid work) and then we went to the grocery store again.  The plan was to take a pretend PAT so we knew what to work on tomorrow, so Darcie walked around with her clipboard having us run through each of the items.  It was pretty easy stuff; mainly just about my handling abilities.  Owen didn't have to be perfect on everything, but I had to be able to correct him when appropriate and get him to perform the task correctly.  We had to do things like demonstrate we could load up and get out of the car safely, walk past traffic, go through doors in a safe manner, walk with a shopping cart, etc.  Owen was absolutely perfect.

"stay" in the middle of a Safeway aisle

The test scores items two different ways; some items are "yes" or "no" things and you have to get all "yes" to pass.  Other items get scored on an "always", "most of the time", "sometimes", "never" scale and you have to have all "always" or "most" to pass ("most of the time" meaning more than 50%).

Owen and I had all "yes" and "always" except for one item (which we scored a "most of the time" on).  It was "ignores the public".  Whoops.  Owen is just not one of those dogs who is going to ignore everybody.  If somebody so much as looks like they might come over and give him pets or talk to him, he hones in on them.  He knows he has a job to do, and he does it spectacularly, but it would be stupid for me to expect that he would always ignore everybody.  Darcie said he gets a lot more attention than a lot of the other dogs because he is really handsome and has that huge blocky head that makes people wonder what he is (he's a Labrador...) so we tend to get a lot of attention out.

My favorite was the Safeway employee who came over, got on his level, and was like (in a super high-pitched voice), "Oh, what a good doggie!  Good doggie!  Oh no, you can't touch me.  You're working!"...  I didn't say anything because Owen was doing a really good job ignoring her (he was interested, but not pulling or looking like he was going to do anything) and what I had to say to her would not have been nice.  Especially after I told her he was my service dog, giving no illusions of him being in training or anything.

Unlike the man who we asked to be the stranger who had to greet Owen for the test; he was awesome!  He was hesitant to come greet Owen, even after we asked him to "because he knew he wasn't supposed to pet working dogs".  Thank you!  He was super nice and kept the interaction really brief; just the way it was supposed to be!

Owen also got tested on all of his out-in-public tasks while we were at Safeway; he did a perfect "switch", "cover", and "front".  We also did "leave it" practice at the Starbucks in Safeway; we got his kibble out and put it on the floor next to him when he was in both a sit-stay and down-stay.  Darcie also had to take Owen and walk him out of my sight and back again, to prove that if we were in an emergency situation, a first responder could take Owen and he wouldn't react poorly.

Celebratory Starbucks drink!

On our way out, we walked by the Salvation Army volunteer who was singing Christmas carols; Owen was pretty sure that the singing was for him and we had to stop to listen for a minute before continuing.  We went on our way to go to a pet store; one of the items on the test was that Owen had to remain in the car under my control with an open door while another dog walked past.  We found a dog in the parking lot with some very nice people who agreed to walk by my truck for us.  Check!

We walked around the pet store with a shopping cart, steering clear of all the unruly dogs in the store (I'm not just being stuck-up about my super dog; there was a dog in the cart howling when we walked past and then again when his person stopped to look at the cats in the adoption center, and a very skittish looking herding dog who we encountered on our way out).  Owen was super interested in the very cute puppy who we saw (but so was I!), and there were a lot of interesting smells and things in the store, but he did really really good.  Darcie and I tormented him with reindeer antlers that lit up, but he would not oblige us with a good picture.  He slunk backwards into a display nearby because he was so embarrassed!

doggie heaven

We came home and Owen got a celebratory peanut-butter Kong; wow, was that a jackpot treat.  He licked and chewed on the Kong forever, long after the peanut butter was gone.  Finally, he gave up and fell asleep, which is what he is doing right now!  Tomorrow, we get to take it easy.  In the morning I have a nail appointment that Owen gets to go to, and then after that Owen and I will show Darcie the two tasks we need to do again and after that, who knows?

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