Posted by: peggy | May 17, 2012

Magic is in school all day!

It’s been about a month or so now. Belle adjusted to her new semester classes and the trainer came in to assess the environment and we were ready to go. Right now the schedule is-

1st hour- homeroom Belle and magic together for math and theory of mind

2nd hour- magic stays in her cage when belle goes to baking

3rd hour- Belle and Magic go to mythology

4th hour-Magic rests while Belle eats lunch and then goes to anatomy for the cat disection

5th hour- magic and Belle go to drawing ll

6th hour- Magic and Belle are back in homeroom for social studies and some free choice time

so far so good

 

Posted by: peggy | January 24, 2012

Settling into perfection

Wow, it’s all coming together. Magic is much less about herself now and here to serve. She’s at our daughter’s side when needed to walk, shop, explore, sleep, cuddle, travel, comfort, socialize, learn etc

Magic purrs when she sees us or when we cuddle her, she complies willingly to almost every request, and she’s matured enough to delay her needs so that we don’t have to work around her feedings, breaks, and energy levels so much any more. She’s smart enough to know that play time and freedom will come when we get home and although shopping at michaels is not her favorite thing to do she sees the companionship as a plus in her life so she’s always up for the cape and collar adventures!!

Posted by: peggy | January 24, 2012

Well that was a new one!

We’ve taking Magic on 7 or 8 flights now so it’s becoming routine, but it seems for the flight attendants its anything but. We get lots of questions from them and if I can explain that she’s an autism support dog without my daughter hearing then they understand, but too many times I’ve said that and she heard and got upset. Then I realized that I wouldn’t go around telling everyone that my daughter was diabetic or hearing impaired. So, out of respect for her, if someone asks me why she has the dog (and she’s with me but is busy and doesn’t answer because they are not addressing her, like when we’re boarding the plane) I decided to just hand them an info sheet that I keep in my purse and keep conversation to a minimum. Today that didn’t work so well. When I handed the flight attendant the info sheet she said, ” no I don’t want that I just want to know what the dog is for!”
So I looked her in the eye and said, ” that’s personal information that she would prefer we not share with you, she gets embarrassed.”
She said ok and walked away. An apology for her rudeness would also have been nice.

Posted by: peggy | December 31, 2011

Still “working” every day

We have to keep Magic in tip top shape so it’s a team/family effort on a daily basis to work on-
Mom and belle- brushing and grooming, feeding, socializing, wait, sit/stay, down/stay, leave it, get dressed (cape on)
Belle- formal tasks- take it, go get help, go to mom, go push.
Dad, mom, belle- daily outings for time on leash, exercise, socialization, and practice being ignored in public.
And lots of play and attention all day!

Posted by: peggy | December 14, 2011

Pinch collars, haltis, etc

Obedience training is constant, but I didn’t ever expect that our service dog would never grow out of the need for a training aid. She’s excitable, pushy, distractible and loves attention. I guess that’s all pretty typical for a golden retriever, but not ok for public access so a training aid, along with constant training is a must.
One complication for us is that the pinch collars are very hard to work and latch- especially for someone with fine motor deficits.
We’re still problem solving on this one…
Looking for an easy latch pinch collar, we’ll see.

Posted by: peggy | December 14, 2011

What does that dog do for you?

What is the dog trained for? How does she help you? What does she do?
All of these questions are way too invasive and much more uncomfortable than- how old is she, what’s her name?
Belle gets tripped up with an answer and she’s really not obligated to explain, but people keep pressing and the standard, ” I’m sorry she’s working right now” doesn’t cover it like it does when someone asks to pet.
We decided to write up info sheets, but have also scripted and practiced a response that seems to say it all (and hints politely that the invasive person should back off). Now when an adult asks uncomfortable questions about belle and her service dog belle says, ” she helps me with my independence” and if she’s comfortable she offers an info sheet, but more often she just moves on ASAP.

Posted by: peggy | December 14, 2011

Magic has started her school visits

Our plan is 1 hour visits 3 days a week for a few weeks and to go from there. Within a few months, if all goes well, magic should be at Belle’s side for most of the day. One big variable is Belle- staying calm during the transition. You’d think it would be an all positive change, but it’s still a change. Most things are 2 steps forward one step back- this should be 3 steps forward 1 step back.

Posted by: peggy | October 23, 2011

Magic supporting a healthy workout

Posted by: peggy | October 11, 2011

Magic’s full of herself again

Just like raising a child, sometimes you go 2 steps forward and 1 step back. She’s turning 2 this month, been through a ton of obedience classes, socialization experiences, and in and out of formal training and now she’s starting to get so excited every time she approaches someone we know that it’s hard to take her out in public. nudging, wagging, licking, pulling- anything to get attention. that’s fine if Belle wants her to get attention, but most of the time she would prefer an invisible companion.
So we’re going back a step or 2- back to the halti (gentle leader), back to the mall for some more desensitizing socialization (I’m supposed to take her everywhere I go again), and back to the treat bag. We’ll get her back on track walking quietly at belle’s side.

Posted by: peggy | September 20, 2011

“Why did that man come after me?”

A security guard at a fair  (with a loud voice and a strong accent) approached Belle and Magic as we entered the park and demanded to see papers. I stepped aside with him and explained that he would have to talk to me because he would scare my daughter if he talked to her that loudly. I showed him the papers (which I’m not legally obligated to do) and agreed that I would pick up any messes that the dog might leave behind (of course).

We live in a very diverse city and I have noticed that the more recently someone has moved here from a foreign country the more unaccustomed they are to service dogs. If someone speaks broken English I make sure to not get defensive, explain as much as I can to reassure them that their business or establishment will be respected and, most of all, stay calm, smile, and be polite. It’s not like assistance dogs are an everyday thing. Everyone is learning as we go.

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