Monday, June 11, 2007

Day 1 - The Journey Begins!

Logan here. Today was the first day of my two week team training with my new partner Suzan. Well, she's not that new. We have an advantage over most other service dog teams. You see, Suzan is a volunteer with My Wonderful Dog, the program in Maine that trained me so we've gotten to know each other pretty well over the past two years. I lived with the bestest foster family in the whole world! While I am going to miss them big time I know this is what all of our hard work was for. And it paid off, Suzan and I did really good today! Every day for the next two weeks we are going to train together and then on the final day we have to pass a BIG test! THE PUBLIC ACCESS TEST!

I knew something was up when Suzan came through the kennel area and asked me if I was ready to work! I could hear her in the other room going over a Team Training Manual and then they came and got me. I was a little distracted at first then realized that this was serious! We practiced "dress" with my vest, "watch me's" and walking with her scooter without surging ahead or falling behind. Then to make things more interesting we had to do figure eights around a couple of traffic cones. No problem except when Suzan mixed up clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Going through doorways was our little bump in the road. We had to figure out how to get me and the scooter through the door together. Suzan went up to the doorway, stopped and told me to wait as she continued through and then told me to follow. At first I wanted to move when she was moving, then she was having me wait too long but we finally got it all sorted out. I'm sure these two weeks will be like that as we figure out how to work together. Oh and we use a clicker which helps us to communicate. I know I've done what she wanted when I hear the click, then I get a treat which is usually food. Today I worked for Liver Biscotti!

We then got to take a break and play!!! That was fun!!! Suzan and I played with a squeaky toy and I did really well fetching it and bringing it back to her. This is really important because it's one of the ways she is going to make sure I get my exercise. Suzan can sit in one place and throw a ball or toy and as long as I bring it back and give it to her. Suzan has M.S. so fatigue is a big issue for her. She says she only has so many "coffee beans" of energy to work with each day so she tries to save them for the important stuff! Her standing and walking endurance are limited so she uses a scooter for long distances or busy days like today or when she's not sure if there will be seating someplace. It's a cute scooter, bright red. I think I look really good next to it!

Back to work and this time we practiced sits and downs while scootering around in a circle. Sits were a piece of cake, downs were a little more challenging. Suzan had to keep repeating the cue, a little firmer each time. And I need to remember to stay parallel to the scooter and not too far away. This one might take a little practice!

Next on the agenda was "come". I did that one really well even when they took me out of sight of Suzan. I heard her say "Logan, come!" and off I went because I really wanted to get back to her. Each time I did it a little bit faster!

So that was our first day of team training! We were both tired and came home and took a nap. Stay tuned for Day 2!

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