Flashback Friday: What do I do with My Dog When…? Part I

Original Post Date 6/6/2009

It seems that on 6/6/2009 I hadn’t yet learned the initialism “TLDR.” I had six pages worth of notes on a very wide variety of subjects. I’ve broken these apart into several posts, which I’ll be doling out on Fridays for the foreseeable future. So, don’t feel like you’re missing something if you notice a repeating “Original Post Date.”

Today’s topic: Freelancing

While I am a freelance copy-writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach (business page to be added soon!) this particular type of freelancing is more like freestyling. TSE calls any work that doesn’t revolve around standard city blocks with sidewalks “freelancing.” That, to me, says more about their northeastern comfort bias than anything else, but my commentary on peoples’ assumptions about where disabled people live can wait for another post. Let’s get into dog training.

Like last week’s Courthouse experience we’ve been practicing going into buildings lately. We toured a Rite Aid and a pet store to practice different types of indoor work. Rite Aid was fairly easy; avoid running into shelves and follow directions as given. The pet store, however, was more of a challenge.

Like many pet stores, this one allows its customers to bring their fur-babies in to pick out treats, toys, and other equipment. Prada found the floor to have a nearly irresistible bouquet. Her nose kept dropping toward the tile like the butter side of your toast, and I felt a constant pressure against the harness handle that told me I was losing my battle against her instincts.

Fortunately, we’d been practicing Leash corrections lately, and working on our bond. I had built up some good behavioral patterns to draw upon, and though the pressure against the handle never let up I was able to redirect her attention to the work more often than not. Such successes in such a remarkably challenging environment are solid evidence that we have indeed been making progress as a team!

Brian shared with us our puppy report before going into the pet store in case we wanted to make any purchases for our dogs. These puppy reports are profiles that the dogs’ puppy raisers, volunteers who raise Seeing Eye dogs during their first years of life and provide basic socialization and obedience training, fill out when they return the dogs to TSE.

Prada’s report indicated that she loved destroying small stuffed animals and the game tug-of-war. I expect I’ll be buying a rope toy at some point, and probably not bothering with the stuffed animals. Not worth the hassle of having to clean up fuzzy innards all over my dorm room. Based on her behavior in the pet store, I also expect she’s got a natural affinity for squeaky toys. I’m sure my roommates will love that…

Perhaps the most practical lesson of the day was “what do I do with the dog when I’m at the check-out counter?”

Dogs don’t naturally comprehend waiting in line. They REALLY don’t understand those tape lines where elastic is strung between poles. Those “walls that aren’t walls” have no parallel in nature, unless it’s a tree branch the dog fits under but the human doesn’t. And then of course, where do you put the dog when you need both hands to fish a wallet out of a bag, a card out of a wallet, or to count change?

Prada is supposed to tuck herself neatly between my body and the counter, thus keeping her out from underfoot and giving her something to do, fulfill the “rest” command, to keep her from exploring the merchandise offerings like beef jerky, gum, and magazines that are often sold right up at counters. Prada…disagrees with this procedure. She thinks she ought to sit facing the rest of the line in order to keep an eye on all the people behind me. Such a shepherd thing to do!

Anyway, once the dog is tucked into place, I can drop the leash and step on it so I have contact with her control mechanism yet still have both hands free to fiddle with card readers, number pads, receipts, and shopping bags. If the line is particularly crowded, it may be necessary to sweep a stray tail back up against the dog’s body and pin it there with the foot. Prada likes to leave hers sticking straight out along the floor, a tempting target for shopping cart wheels and Small children.

As my confidence in our future grows I begin to imagine how Prada fits into each area of my life, and I have suddenly begun to realize just how many bizarre things we humans do. How will Prada make sense of a gym? A public pool? Will she come on stage with me when I sing with my college choir? What about travel? Where is she allowed to go, and where is her access restricted?

Answers to these questions and more will be coming in the next few Flashback posts. Until next week your favorite blindfluencer says “try seeing your house from your dog’s perspective. It makes you appreciate strange things.”

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