'Emmit' goes visiting
In the June journal we talked about carefully choosing and then schooling up folks who had shown an interest in puppy-sitting Emmit. This past month Emmit spent time with his new puppy-sitters, experiencing a variety of socialisations, new and different home environments and we must confess, getting into some mischief. (There are no perfect puppies!)
Marina & 'Jaguar', 'Emmit' & Les
With his first puppy-sitters, Marina and Les, he visited farms in Gore and Otautau. Though he got an upset tummy sneaking unmentionables off the paddock, he had fun meeting the farm animals and getting acquainted with the farm equipment.
A few days later he was walking in Dunedin, packed with rugby supporters and cheering on the All Blacks from a box seat, no less! Though he was exposed to loud cheers and booing from the crowds, he managed to keep his cool, even when the All Blacks lost by two points!
'Emmit' settles into a box seat at Carisbrook
When Les was nursing a sore back, Emmit went with him to the doctors office, the physiotherapist, and the chemist. Accompanying Marina on a photo shoot, Emmit revelled in splashing through the big waves on Kingston beach. At home in Kelvin Heights, one very lucky puppy took long walks along the lakefront and engaged in occasional tail-biting and nose-scratching episodes with Jaguar, the cat.
Life's a beach at Kingston
Thank you, Marina, Les and Jaguar!
Anna & 'Emmit' check the local headlines
With his second puppy-sitters, Anna and Mathew, Emmit attended church, spent time in an office environment and visited friends homes and clients businesses. Unfortunately, walks into Queenstown CBD to Annas office were not exemplary: He pulled constantly on the leash, operating like a vacuum cleaner down the street, snatching dropped bits of food and objects on the footpath. Perhaps Emmit needs to go back to church to repent for his naughty behavior. Needless to say, weve got some revision training to do when he comes back to us. However, Emmit wants to be sure we report that he was generally quiet and well-behaved in Annas office. He also went with Anna to a class she teaches at the Queenstown Resort College. She reported that he was very relaxed for the entire two hours and not at all hyped by all the students. It was bath time at Annas house and the bathing report was: Good. Didnt like it very much but behaved.
Thank you, Anna and Mathew!
Samantha, 'Emmit', Kim, Danielle & 'Poppy'
Emmits last family of puppy-sitters consisted of Mum and Dad (Kim and Paul), two primary school age daughters (Danielle and Samantha) and the family pets, a cat (Poppy) and an elderly Golden Retriever (Bracken). Emmit loved the cuddles and playtime with the little girls and had fun frolicking with Bracken and teasing Poppy. His time with the family consisted of frequent walks around the Arrowtown CBD, residential streets and along the river loop track.
He went to school every weekday to fetch Samantha and was the guest of honour at her school one day. Emmit had socialisations at the mall, the hairdresser, the bank, the orthopaedic clinic, the play centre and the grocery store. He watched ice-skating class, net-ball practice and toddler dancing and took the shuttle bus to the Coronet Peak ski area.
In addition to these many socialisations, Emmit accompanied Kim on several visits to her clients homes and went with Paul to work at the bank. It was reported that Emmit was a well-behaved boy on his outings with the family. However, at home he found the cat, the cat food and the litter box a bit too tempting; he had to be reprimanded several times to leave these alone, but he did eventually learn.
Thank you Kim, Paul, Danielle, Samantha, Poppy, and Bracken!
Puppy in Training Meets Puppy in Training
As serendipity would have it, Emmit had a chance encounter with another mobility dog in training down from Auckland. While Kim was at the airport with Emmit waiting for family to arrive, off the plane comes 'Duke' with his raisers, Marit and Patrick! 'Duke' is in advanced training and about ready to be matched with his person so Emmit had a chance to observe closely how a mature and, with that name, regal mobility dog conducts himself.
Emmit is back home now, and its re-training time, focusing on some behaviours that have slipped over the past month. We are making an effort to take Emmit on frequent walks in busy, noisy street environments to correct pulling, wandering sideways, sniffing, grabbing items off the pavement and general lack of attention to the handler. The training technique consists of stopping when he is too far out in front, using the heel command to get him back into the correct position and then proceeding at a slow pace. In addition, he gets the occasional treat when he is walking in the correct position with a loose lead.
Another training focus is exposure to a variety of large objects. We, as well as his puppy-sitters, have noticed that Emmit is easily spooked by large objects being operated or carried, e.g., ironing boards, vacuum cleaner, pram, lawn mower, cardboard box, suitcase. The training technique is to expose him to these objects, drawing him close with gentle, soothing coaxing and then giving a treat reward when he is relaxed near the object.
We are also working on jumping up and mouthing hands when greeting people. The training technique is to ask visitors to turn their backs on the jumping puppy and give the command settle. When the jumping ceases, a calm greeting can ensue.
Stepping Up to the Challenge
We understand so well the 24-7 commitment involved in raising a service dog puppy, and we are sincerely appreciative of Emmits puppy-sitters for giving him such a great variety of experiences, for being patient, kind and consistent and for struggling out of bed early on a cold and rainy Saturday morning to take him out for bizzy bizzy. The differing experiences, home environments and handling that puppy-sitters provide are invaluable in a puppys overall development.
The puppy-sitters were challenged in caring for a puppy going through an adolescent stage of testing his power and independence. In spite of this, Emmit continues to display those oh so wonderfully Golden and endearing characteristics: an eagerness to please and an affectionate, sunny disposition.
On that bright note, we bid you farewell from Emmitsville where the snow falls, the sun shines, and one happy Mobility Dog in training wakes up every morning with exuberant tail-wagging, a prance in his step and a grin on his face. Does he have any idea what a difference he will make in someones life someday? No, but we sure do.
Judy and Grant
Arrowtown, Southern Lakes District, New Zealand
Posted: Tue 19 Aug 2008
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