Today was day 5 of my mock-client training with a service dog. I. am. exhausted.
Lemme see if I can formulate coherent thoughts as to why this is so:
Every day, all day, I'm thinking, I'm being watched, I'm having mostly failures with some successes thrown in, I'm being encouraged or critiqued, and I'm having to lead.
I've been paired with a one year-old yellow lab named Underwood, and he is a VERY good boy- very sweet, well-mannered, and low-key. Part of the problem is his extreme low-key-ness mixed with the fact that he's young and has never had to work this much before. He's not one of those happy, waggy dogs who want to please you and await your every command. I have to fight to get his attention, repeat the commands a few times, and usually get extremely hyper and act insane in order to get him to really pay attention and do it. Or I need to offer him treats, which isn't all that great. Did I mention that I'm doing this in a wheelchair? I thought I did.
I know that there are worse problems to have-- he could be really hyper and hard to have around, but he is the complete opposite. I brought him home for the first time last night, and there was not one lick of misbehavior. He did wake me up for breakfast at 6am, but it was by very politely putting his chin on my leg, and we were able to go back to bed after.
We're attached to one another for the next week or so, and our bond should be forming very soon. I know that once he feels more connected to me, he'll be much more willing to pay attention to me and do what I say. It just makes for frustrating, tiring days right now.
He is a sweetie, though. We curled up on the couch last night for a while, he twice tried to jump up on the bed with me, he lives to "shake", and he is crashed out on the floor next to me as I type.
Tomorrow we have our first field trip--we're going to the mall for coffee, walking around in a civilized manner, and lunch in a restaurant. If we were a real service team, I wouldn't be allowed to leave the house other than that for the weekend. We're supposed to be bonding. Have I been told that I need to do that? Yes. Am I working on getting out of that? Yes. I want to take this boy to church! I'll let you know how the next week goes.