Mid to end of May was crazy busy; as a result most of Suzie’s public access training has been during school. But by the end of the year Suzie was able to stay at school from 11:30 - 3:30, this was much more than I expected! She did very well and everyone loved her (even though they weren’t allowed to pet her). As seniors, we had quite a few relaxed days, so she came with on a Starbucks trip and participated in the smashing of a piñata! Her alerting improved some as she began to relax and understand what her job was while at school. She alerted to my friend with diabetes, as well as to another friend who just happened to be low.
Last week I took her on a trip to Goodwill and Kroger for public access work, and in Goodwill we hid a low scent swatch to practice her “Show me” command. It’s one of Suzie’s favorite games! This was a double blind test, meaning neither she nor I knew where it was located, only my mom who stayed away to not give any hints. The first time the swatch was hid, she actually did very well, we walked around the store searching for it. She pulled the bringsel quite far away from where it was hidden, but I have no way to tell whether she was bluffing or if she caught the scent in the air. But then I asked her to “Show me” and she immediately began searching for the source of the scent. Because she was air scenting, it took her a little while since it’s all based on trial and error (go one way and the scent grows stronger, go the other way and it gets weaker). But she eventually found it and we had a party! We hid one other swatch and this one she took a little while to find as well, and when she did she forgot to pull the bringsel. So we redid it and I made her pull the bringsel first as I really want to encourage her to keep using the bringsel as it is such a clear communication tool. I’m continuing to work on “Show me” both in finding the scent swatches as well as jumping on the person who is low.
Yesterday Suzie alerted and I was very excited because she alerted from her crate - this is one of the first times that she has done this! She was whining and pawing the crate and me, being completely oblivious, offhandedly told her to be quiet one or two times. Then I realized that she may actually be alerting, so I let her out of the crate to see what she would do. She burst out of the crate, trotted right over to my dresser where a bringsel was hanging from, and returned to me and jumped on me very confidently. I checked my blood and it read 91…hmmm. I washed my hands and used an alcohol swab for a more accurate reading, the whole time I was doing this Suzie was jumping on me and at one point even put her mouth on my leg (very gently in a sort of play way). I thought it was odd that she was so very confident yet she was wrong. But when I rechecked just 60 seconds later, after washing my hands and using alcohol it read 76. Good low Suzie! We sure had a party for that one!
Today I set up a booth at the local Farmer’s Market to sell my newly released puppy training book - Puppy Steps. To draw in a crowd I brought Suzie and a 9 week old Comfort pup. I brought Suzie’s crate as well as her new Kuranda cot (her “place”). While unloading I put Suzie and the pup both in the crate by our booth. Well that didn’t work because the rough housing in the crate and didn’t really help my claim that I’m a dog trainer. So I put Suzie on her cot. There were tons of people, dogs, kids, strollers, bikes, scooters, trucks, food, and anything else you could imagine. And Suzie stayed on that cot without being tied up for 6 entire hours! 6 hours! I am so incredibly proud of her! So many people there let their ill-behaved dogs come right up to Suzie - some sniffed her, some barked at her, some tried to play, some even got on her cot with her! It was far beyond “distracting” - it was crazy, but she did phenomenally. No, she wasn’t perfect, I had to remind her to keep 4 paws on the cot, and once a man was squatting beside her petting her and she climbed in her lap :) but this girlie loves people and dogs, so she did so much better than I expected and I’m so very proud of her!
AND if that wasn’t enough, she alerted me 4 times while I was there! When we set up the booth, my chair was next to her cot and I had her watch me put the bringsel on my chair so she would know where it was. At 7:55 am she alerted to an 80; 8:56 she alerted to an 81; at 11:11 she alerted to an 81; and at 12:57 she alerted to a 78. (I rewarded her for all these alerts including the 81 even though she’s supposed to alert to 80 and below. The reason I rewarded these anyway is because I had no way to wash my hands, meters are often inaccurate, and I was so proud of her for alerting in such a distracting environment that I wanted to encourage it.)
At 12:57 she was being loved on by a crowd of 3 or 4 young kids who wandered over. They were all petting her, hugging her even, and she was enjoying it very much. But then all of the sudden she stood up, turned around away from the kids, grabbed the bringsel, and jumped on me. This was when I was 78. We had a huge party for this because I honestly would have expected her to ignore the scent since it was towards the end of the day, she was exhausted, and you can’t get more distracting than a bunch of kids surrounding her.
I am so extremely proud of how well Suzie did today, both with behaving amidst such huge distractions in public, as well as alerting even with everything going on!
Below is a video of her public access work from last week.