Monday, June 7, 2010

Hide and speak

One of the new skills Dempsey has learned is "go find," where he'll run off to find the person you named. This can be a very useful skill for a service dog.

We use it to play hide and seek:

You may have noticed that I pointedly did not say that this skill is useful for getting help. That's because it isn't.

We tried using "go find" help the other night in another attempt to get Dempsey to speak. Dempsey and I were sitting quietly at the desk upstairs, when I suddenly "collapsed" onto the floor, doubled over and moaning.

"Blech! Oh, my stomach! The pain!"

Dempsey started running in circles around me, his tail wagging.

"Dempsey, help me!"

Dempsey promptly started kissing my face.

"Oh the humanity! Blech! The horror, the horror! Barf!" My voice was getting hoarse from the screaming, but Dempsey just kept kissing me.

"Dempsey," I finally gasped, "go...find....mommy!"

As agitated as Dempsey was, he got up and ran out the door and down the stairs to Doreen.

Doreen rewarded Dempsey with a strawberry, which is one of the treats he gets when he comes or finds us. Now it was Doreen's turn to try to get Dempsey to bark.

"What is it, Dempsey? You say daddy fell and isn't well? Is that it, Dempsey? Is it? Tell me what's wrong! Tell me!"

I continued moaning and screaming for a few minutes, and when I finally couldn't do it any longer, I went downstairs. Doreen was still waving her hands and talking excitedly to Dempsey, who was just sitting and wagging his tail. Although I had apparently been dying in agony, all Dempsey could think about was collecting strawberries.

Fake illness: Doesn't work. Also in the "doesn't work" category: blowing a dog whistle; climbing a ladder and calling Dempsey from the top; tying Dempsey's leash to the door and calling him from across the room. I even tried just staring intently at Dempsey to make him umcomfortable. Dempsey stared back for a few minutes, and then started kissing me, because he thinks kissing or snuggling solves everything.

The last thing we've tried is borrowing a CD of animal sounds from the library. As you might expect, this didn't work, either. But it was interesting to see how our boys reacted. Buddy was convinced the sounds were coming from the amp, and he stubbornly kept looking there. Dempsey, on the other hand, tended to look at his reflection in the TV screen, and he was more apt to wander around to investigate.

Stubborn and vain: That's our boys!

1 comment:

  1. Try havbing somebody else teach him. Also, seeing another dog do it first and them get rewarded may help.