Sunday, August 16, 2009

To Grandma's House We Go

Last weekend we spent an overnight in Little Falls, where I grew up, and which is the boyhood home of Charles Lindbergh and Lindbergh State Park. I have fond memories of spending days at the park playing with friends and overnight camping trips.

It wasn't Boston's first visit to Grandma's house, but was the first overnight visit. It was a good training experience for her since my mother lives in an assisted living building. Apartment living can be different for a dog because of the hallway noises, riding elevators, and just the overall activity of people coming and going. There is a community dining room that we visit to give Boston that experience.

I've noticed it's fashionable for apartment dwellers to accessorize the entry to their apartment, which provides additional training opportunities for dogs: we can work on 'leave it' to ignore those items or introduce them into their socialization repertoire. One apartment was particularily interesting to Boston with its two more than foot-high chicken statues by the front door.

On Boston's very first visit to the apartment building she was taken aback by the chickens but had no issues with riding the elevator. This trip was the opposite - the chickens didn't bother her but she wouldn't get on the elevator. It's interesting to see how the dog's perceptions change and that as trainers we need to continually evaluate how to manage the dogs.

The people that live in my mom's building just love it when I bring a dog with me. Pets are not allowed, but I have spoken to apartment management about bringing the service-dogs-in-training with me. Technically, as the dwelling is a private entity, access could be denied. But we are welcomed with open arms.

The dogs serve almost as a therapy dog for the residents of the building. They enjoy meeting the dogs and hearing about the training, and everyone has a story to share about their favorite pet from the past. It brings a smile to their faces. And my mom beams from ear-to-ear knowing that she can share such a wonderful thing with her neighbors.

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