*This post is part of a series originally posted on my former blog, Stinker Babies. I’m reposting here for families who are interested in learning more about the process of being matched with a service dog for their children. This series was written during March of 2013.*
This day has just been nonstop excitement!
We learned “lap” and “over” commands which will be helpful in comforting Caleb and giving him some of that sensory input he seeks. We can tell April, “lap,” and she will come and lay her head on whatever we’re pointing at (most often, Caleb’s lap). We can tell her “over” and she will lay down across whatever we indicate. This will definitely come in handy and also help with the bonding process.
We also found out that April knows how to bark on command. While this is mostly used for the seizure alert dogs, it can be handy if we want to train April to bark if she sees Caleb wander away without an adult. I’m also thinking it could be handy while Jake is working the night shift at the hospital. If I hear a noise at the front door, I just have to say, “Bark!” and April will most likely scare away any of the neighborhood troublemakers who have been breaking into cars lately. She has a great bark!
Our track today was long and fast and I got to hold the leash. I was so nervous, but Jessa (our trainer) said I handled her well. I’m going to take her word for it! Besides just running in the cold with allergy issues, it was fun! April found Caleb very quickly again today. On the way back to the starting point, I noticed tons of deer tracks everywhere. I was even more impressed that she was able to focus in on Caleb’s scent and not be distracted by all the other scents that must have been lingering around. As soon as we got back in the car, it started to snow. Like real snow! First time in my whole life that I’ve ever seen it snowing for real. It was absolutely beautiful. The kids and Jake thought it was awesome, too.
We had lunch at the mall with April and met up with our group for tethering practice and a couple of indoor tracks. I walked off with Caleb inside JCPenney and we laid down a scent trail. This is different in a few ways from the outdoor tracks, but mostly because there is no wind. Our superdog found Caleb once again. As a “reward,” she got to ride the train with us. I have no idea if she liked it, but she at least tolerated it politely.
When we left the mall, there was a shallow covering of snow all over. We embarrassed ourselves. But I don’t care one little bit. It was so much fun! We had our first snowball fight right there in front of the sporting goods store.
Back at the hotel, our awesome suite keeper had left a note warning us of the coming snowfall and left us a few peppermints. We made some hot chocolate and are now just hanging out and watching for more snow. In just a minute, I’ll get up and start cooking some chili. Today is the first day on this trip that felt like a vacation. I have been so exhausted after finally being done with class and practice and playtime and dinner and baths and prep for the next day. But today? Today has been all kinds of fun and we are so grateful!