Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We have graduated!

Puppy parties, play dates, riding golf carts -- it might seem like all fun and games for Dempsey, but we're doing real work, too.
As proof: Dempsey has graduated!!! Not from the entire program, of course, but from the "Perfect Puppies" class. He is now in "Awesome Adolescents." This means that the focus of our training will be less on good manners, and more on service dog skills.
Dempsey has already learned a few service dog skills, though they still need a lot of polishing (and not with doggie slobber, thank you very much). Here's a sneak peek at some of the skills we're working on.
Dempsey will use "tug" to help people take off socks, gloves, mittens, etc. Since Dempsey loves chewing on socks, we thought this would be a hard one for him, but he's mastering it quite well.

Light switch

Dempsey is learning to turn lights on and off. Well, not lights just yet, just the switch. (He still slobbers a lot, which is not a good thing with a live circuit.)


Dempsey is learning to retrieve a bunch of different objects: a bicycle lock, a can of tuna fish, keys, plastic salad tongs, medicine bottles, shoes, sunglasses, wallet, anything that you can possibly drop. (And believe me, I can drop a lot of things.) We're also adding complications, such as fishing things out from under the sofa, since it's a law of the universe that when you drop something, it will roll someplace not easily accessible. At this point, we're proudest of the credit card. It's hard to pick up, but Dempsey gets it!

On top of all this, we're still taking Dempsey someplace almost every day to train. We put more thought into this than might be obvious. For example, for pet stores, we don't just take Dempsey to the big national chains. To make sure Dempsey is comfortable in any setting, we also look for quirky little local stores, from hipster joints like Urbanimal ("Can I give your dog a hemp cookie?") to fancy-schmancy stores like Lulu & Luigi ("Would Dempsey like a jewel-studded collar?")

It's a big world out there, and we want Dempsey to grow up to be a cosmopolitan dog, at home in the world.

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