Mom saw this clip  "Sh*t people say to Service Dog Handlers" on Youtube and wanted to share it with you. The metro area we live in is very educated about service dogs, but she has heard about half of the comments mentioned. In the year that I have been training for public access, only one person has questioned us. He was an immigrant with emerging English skills working at a lobby desk. Mom pointed out the service vest I wear and said it was OK for me to be inside, so he shrugged and let us continue on to the elevator. Any way, tell us what you think about the video!
 
My main job is to help little sis with her autism anxiety issues. She holds onto a short leash when we go out to the mall or a store. Last week, we all went to a large mall in our town. After walking around and riding the elevator, I practiced parking while the girls had a Jamba Juice. All was well until this incredibly loud noise started. Mom said it was a band playing Christmas music, but the vibrations shook everything and you could hear it everywhere. She showed me the noisemakers - tubas and horns - but I just wanted out of the mall RIGHT NOW. I was so relieved when they took me to the car. Big sis had brought money to buy some earrings, so they went back into the mall. I heard later that little sis wandered away twice in the short time without me being there. I really help her stay focused on staying with the group! Mom decided she needs to find a way to introduce me to band music in a smaller environment so I  don't feel so nervous the next time I hear this. 
 
Mom has been teaching me to stay close to her when we are out. "Side" means the right and "heel" means the left. She wants to make sure I don't pull ahead so my toes won't get pinched by a shopping cart. She holds two fingers by her side to direct me when I forget and occasionally slips me kibble held by her hip. We also practice "switch", which means to change sides behind her. Trainer Lynnda says this will help me stay focused and add distance from a distraction, such as food on the floor. We go to one or two stores most days after the dog park to practice. We also practice turning circles at home and on our neighborhood walk. I am usually positioned on the right of mom at a store.  Mom says "stop" to alert me then says "turn" to go right.  Left turns don't need a signal because she turns her body and I follow along. I love going out to stores and seeing the world. I work hard to follow directions and my skills improve every week!
 
We've been going to the outdoor park this week now that the weather has cooled off to the low 70's in the morning. I start my excited "I know where we are" whine as we pull in to the parking lot, but mom opens the car hatch and makes me wait until she says go before I jump out of the car. She stops if I pull so I have to walk beside her. OK, no one is going to say it is a loose leash, but I am gaining self control and she can hold the leash with one hand instead of wrapping it around her back like when I was younger. She makes me sit at the gate while she takes my leash off and then she lets me go. Whee! There are many dogs to play with and the last few days mom and the girls have talked with the same families. Little sis catches grasshoppers and the people smile at her intense interest in bugs. After about 30 minutes my tongue hangs out and mom tells me we are going to go home soon. I just don't know how to pace myself like some of the other dogs, so mom calls me over and puts my leash on to walk out of the park. Some days we stop at the mall for a little public access training after the run and I mind my manners perfectly. A good run helps me focus and keeps me calm for the rest of the day!
 
Mom and the girls took me to a new library today. I understand I have to stay with little sis but I was a tiny bit anxious at first. This library is in a big warehouse and there are hissing noises in the exposed heating and cooling pipes up in the ceiling. Mom could tell I needed to check it out a bit so we walked around the entire children's area before she asked me to sit. Pretty quickly I got used to the noises and settled politely when the girls used the catalog station and looked for books. We stayed for about 40 minutes. At one point little sis needed to use the restroom. I sniffed the hand dryer with my nose and it started blowing hot air! I jumped back and everyone laughed. Boy, did I feel silly, but I sure didn't sniff anything else in there after that!
On the way home, mom pulled into a Burger King restaurant. They have gluten free french fries and mom decided to treat the girls. This is my second trip to a real restaurant. I sat quietly as they placed their order and while the girls got their drink and ketchup. We chose a table and I parked right under mom's feet. She fed me treats and kibble while the girls ate their fries. There was only one other group in the restaurant at a tall bar table about three feet away. At one point mom felt me move and in a split second I had snarfed a piece of food from under their table. They were up so high that group didn't even notice, but mom signaled me back and made me drop the french fry. Geez, it was on the floor after all, but mom told me I cannot ever do that in a restaurant. Not that I'm allowed to do that at home either, but there I am asked to stay on my rug. So she asked me to park under her feet again and I laid my head on my feet for the rest of the snack. On the way out we stopped in the restroom. I wanted to get a drink from the toilet but mom told me no. I whined to let her know I really needed a drink after all that kibble so she brought me over to the sink. She was scooping water in her hand and I lapped it up, but it wasn't very satisfying. She then asked me to put my paws up on the edge of the sink and I got a nice big drink out of the faucet. Good skill for being out and about. She rinsed and wiped the sink with a paper towel before we left, just so you know. ;)
 
The weather is super hot but I have so much energy I need to do something! Mom spent lots of time in the morning working on our training games, but I just could not relax. So mom and little sis took me along to the grocery store. That went pretty well. They brought the groceries home and then took me to the mall. Now that was fun! It was nice and cool inside as we walked through department stores and through the halls. We rode the elevator a couple of times. Then they stood in line at a Jamba Juice stand. I sat when asked and stayed in down position while they shared their snack. I got to taste some too - mom used the straw to put a bit on the plastic cover. Slurp, it tastes fruity and cool on my tongue. Little sis said she really likes going to the mall and spending time with me. On the way home we stopped at the library. By now I was focused and sitting immediately when mom stopped and looked at little sis to see what would happen next. They just have to keep me busy or else I end up jumping around like Bobby Van in "Small Town Girl."
 
Every day starting this week I go along to drop off and pick up big sis from her summer orchestra program. Little sis hangs on to her short leash as we walk into the school, up some stairs, past a gym where kids play basketball and to a room down the hall. The first day this school was new so I was looking around quite a bit. The second day mom forgot to let me pee before we went in to drop her off  and I had a terrible time concentrating, but I was able to hold it until we got back outside. She promised me that won't happen again! Today was the third day and I did awesome. Mom and little sis took me all around the building since I was doing so well today. I watched the basketball players, walked past the tall kids on break from driver's training and sat every time mom asked me to. 
After we dropped big sis off, mom and little sis went shopping at Target. I did a super job paying attention and being helpful. Mom and I have practiced walking and turning corners with a cart all winter, so now little sis is learning to listen to mom when she says stop, back-up or turn. After we checked out, mom said there was about 20 minutes before we had to pick up big sis. Little sis went crazy with excitement when mom suggested getting a snack at the nearby Burger King. They have gluten free french fries on their menu. I had never been in a restaurant like that before and little sis had lots to learn about where to stand in line, where to pick up food, get napkins and how to fill a ketchup cup. I sat every time mom stopped and laid down at the drink station right on cue. We choose a table and I went right under it and laid down like mom asked. She was so impressed!  We only stayed a short time. Little sis almost stepped on my tail that was hanging out from under the table when mom instructed her on how to bus her tray. I immediately tucked both my legs and tail at the tickly touch. Mom can't wait to tell trainer Lynnda about that as it is on my public access test. 
After picking up big sis from summer school, we went home so the girls could have lunch. Mom took me to play at the indoor park for a hour after that. And then, we all went to the library. I'd been there a couple of times, but hadn't been there with little sis since winter break. So Mom and I followed her around as she did a library scavenger hunt. The only time I lost concentration was when two young boys ran right in front of us several times as they played tag. But a grown-up soon told them to stop and I could focus again.  It was not very busy, so before we left mom asked little sis to hide so I could find her. I trotted right down the stacks and found her in the corner. Mom said once was enough today and we went home. Just a few months before I came to live with them little sis went missing in this library. Her sensory system became overwhelmed and in a flash had hidden under the librarian's desk, just three feet from where mom was checking out books. She didn't even hear the security people and family looking for her and was found curled up in a ball humming to herself. Little sis doesn't remember but the rest of the family does, so every day we play "find her".
So I'm off to take a long nap. I have so much to think about! :)
 
Mom and I went walking at the mall. Some days I'm kind of distracted, but today I was perfectly attentive to mom's movements. She even went into a clothes store and had me lay down a couple of times as she looked at stuff. I don't mind a bit as long as she positions me so I can see down the isle. Mom learned long ago I don't like my rear towards the isle and my face to a wall.  When we were in an empty hallways she practiced turning tight circles left and right. And we practiced backing up. In the middle of the hall I went sideways instead of backwards, so she went by the wall to keep me in position. I did one step back every time she gave the command. I'm a pretty smart pup!
 
Mom has been working hard to help me understand how to come and stand with my shoulder by her right and left side. She chose "heel" for the left and "side" for the right. She practices in the house and gives me a yummy treat when I get it right. She is helping with a visual flat hand for me to tap with my nose. :)
One day this week when we went to the home store, I was trotting ahead a bit so my tail was at her side. She didn't like that because I could get my paws pinched when she turned corners with the cart. Since the store wasn't very busy, we went to a big open area and practiced figure eights and loops with lots of turns. Very quickly I got the message to stay right at her side. She took me to a Walgreens store for the first time after the home store. The clerks all think I am a very good dog.
 
Mom and I have been practicing a new move this week. She wants me to sit at her side when she stops. Trainer Lynnda taught her to take a half step and then bring the other foot parallel with a gentle stomp. We've been practicing in the house, yard and on the way to the bus stop. Out on a walk is the hardest because there is so much to look at. Yesterday we went to a store and practiced with a shopping cart. Mom got a deli sample of cheese and meat - boy oh boy was that a tasty treat! She had my full attention all the way around the store. I didn't even sniff at the bread this week!