A month of firsts for 'Emmit'
Emmit is 5 months old now and this past month has seen a number of important firsts. He has been losing his first baby teeth, he took his first airplane ride and boat ride (more about these later), and he took part in his first parade during Autumn Festival days in Arrowtown. Emmit also attended his first puppy meeting with other mobility dogs in training in Auckland.
Another first, on not so bright a note, was a refusal by the Department of Conservation to allow Emmit to access a specific DOC facility in the Southern Lakes District. At this stage, discussions are still underway regarding future access to public conservation land in our region. As events unfold, we will write more about this.
Excursions and Socialisations
Excursions planned for our overseas guests and including Emmit and us involved lots of opportunities for socialisations, e.g., taking various modes of transportation (including a gondola), going to restaurants and coffee shops, staying overnight in motels and lodges, shopping, watching a working sheep dog and sheep shearing demonstration, and getting up close and personal with ducks and seagulls.
Emmit was so relaxed on the glacier lake boat tour at Mount Cook that most of the time he was curled up on the seat snoozing, basking in the warmth of the sun. However, he did wake up and take notice when our guide broke off a hunk of iceberg and plopped it in the bottom of the boat. How many puppies have the opportunity to lick ice from the Tasman Glacier!
Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake - Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
At Kinloch, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, Emmit enjoyed wilderness walks, and the wildlife fascinated him when we took the wetlands boardwalk loop walk near Glenorchy.
Our plans to fly to Auckland on Qantas for Mobility Dogs business (and a bit of fun) got off to a rough start when a refusal from Qantas to permit Emmit to ride in the cabin caused a flurry of emails and phone calls. When Bradley Mark, CEO and founder of the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust, took matters in his hands, the problem was resolved, and upon checking in at the airport, we were warmly welcomed by Qantas. In fact, as we approached the check-in counter, the three of us were met by big smiles and addressed by name.
In Auckland, Emmit experienced a concert at the Aotea Centre, a play at the university, a visit to the Auckland Museum, and walks on the busy streets in the downtown business district. On Saturday, we attended the weekly Mobility Dogs puppy-raisers class and organised a few training games for raisers and pups. Emmit was introduced to the other puppies in training and enjoyed the attention of being the new (and youngest) kid on the block.
While in Auckland, we stayed with Helen Spence, Sponsorship Manager, and Ambassadog Chance. Emmit had some doggy bonding time with Chance walking in the reserves near Helens house, going out to lunch and breakfast, enjoying supervised playtime, and observing Chances good manners and social skills.
We are finding that when we are out and about, we are constantly informing interested people that Emmit is not a guide dog or a hearing dog in training. We are quick to explain his mission and future as a Mobility Dog, and we have our business cards and brochures ready if a person shows more than a passing interest.
Progress on Commands and Behaviour
Revision of the previously taught commands continues. New commands being introduced are: back, fix it, lap, kiss, and off. The lap command was easy for Emmit; indeed, so easy that he is beginning to place his front paws up on furniture. Consequently, we are now working on making sure this behaviour is not transferred to objects other than the lap.
There is still the occasional pulling and wandering when out on a walk around town. Praise and reward when he is in the correct position is gradually improving this problem. We have been working on the automatic leave, especially with food on the ground. It has taken a while, but Emmit is just starting to get the idea that he is not to pick up anything unless asked.
Recall away from visiting with another dog is still not so good. To work on this, we will find more opportunities to visit dogs when he is on a long leash and is not wearing his vest.
House Manners Challenges
In the past few days, Emmit has discovered how much fun it is to dumpster dive. When the house becomes ominously quiet and neither of us has set eyes upon puppy for 10-20 minutes, mischief is certainly in the air, and it often looks like this: shredded pieces of slobbery tissue or serviettes strewn around a busily gnawing, naughty (and guilty-looking) puppy. Upon being discovered, he looks up at us askance as if to say, Who me? We have tried setting up a mine field of items from the trash. With leash on, he is led through the items. If he attempts to dive for an item, a collar correction is given with a simultaneous leave it. This works fairly well although he seems to know its a set-up.
Mouthing the corners of his blanket or the occasional sock or slipper is another recent tendency, but we realize that with losing his baby teeth, his gums are likely tender. We collar correct and replace the forbidden item with one of his soft toys.
Lately Emmit seems to consider it his inalienable right to join our old dog, Hannah, as she occasionally manages to get herself up on the sofa for an illegal snooze. Since he snuggles with her on her bed, he desperately hopes that the boundaries might just be stretched to include snuggling on the sofa. Yes, Hannah is breaking a house rule (we havent had the heart to correct her), but now that she is modelling bad behavior for the puppy, she must obey, along with puppy, the no getting on the sofa rule. Needless to say, Hannah hopes this little, furry intrusion into her laid back, only-child lifestyle might just get lost; having to follow rules at the ripe old age of 14 is just not on, especially when they are enforced because of a silly puppy!
We understand that sorting laundry is a task that some assistance dogs have mastered. Emmit has evidently gotten wind of this, and when the laundry basket is left unattended in the laundry room (as often laundry baskets are), he thinks it is his job to sort, or better described, scatter the laundry. A path of t-shirts, socks, undies, etc. strung out the laundry room door and down the hall tells us that Emmit has been on laundry duty again.
Thats the poop - oops! the scoop for this month from Emmitsville. Well be back next month with more of Emmits adventures, misadventures, and of course, achievements.
Judy and Grant
Posted: Mon 19 May 2008
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