Today I went to the Target store with both mom and the girls. Mom pushed a cart with me on her right. Little sis is a lefty and holds onto the short leash with her left hand and I am in the middle. They stopped pretty often to put groceries and paper products in the cart, but I parked every time mom asked. She stepped on my leash while I was laying down so she could turn around to reach onto a shelf. Mom talked to little sis about going left or right at the end of an isle and staying next to me so we could turn corners together. Little sis jumps and flaps a lot, but I'm used to that and am not bothered even when I'm crowded between them. She held onto her leash and didn't leave the group at all! 
Both girls brought birthday money to buy a toy. They knew what they wanted so that didn't take long. Waiting in the check-out lane was the hardest part because each girl had a turn to count out their money and put their toy in a bag. I got bored and discovered some brightly colored goldfish crackers laying around. Mom told me to leave it and gave me a treat when I did, but I couldn't  take my eyes off them until we moved up in line. I really wanted those purple and red crackers that smell like cheese!
The check-out lady in the next lane asked if she could pet me, but mom said no. Trainer Lynnda wants me to focus on little sis and accepting pets from friendly strangers could distract me from learning my job. I parked perfectly while everyone zipped up their jackets and we all drove home. Mom told everyone they did a super job!
 
Last night my family was getting ready to go out and I ran to the door. They thought I was sleeping, but they could tell I wanted to come along to the girl's imagination fair. I wore my service vest and little sis held onto the short leash. We passed by many families walking through a long hall, but I was focused on all the noise coming from the room ahead. We entered a gym and there were people everywhere!  It took me a couple of minutes to acclimate to the movements and noise, but I quickly relaxed and enjoyed walking with mom and little sis to look at the exhibits. We watched some race cars, a volcano, and looked at science and art projects set out on the tables.  Little sis saw several of her teachers and some classmates.  Lots of kids asked if they could pet me and little sis said yes. After we had been there about 20 minutes, little sis stopped talking and her body looked wilted, so my family gathered their projects and we went home. Wow! What a fun time!
 
Mom took me to the library and County Service Center for training today. The first time she took me there we only stayed a couple of minutes. This time, mom walked me up and down book isles and asked me to sit or lay down while she paged through books. She kept dropping books on the floor, but I didn't even blink. Then she had me park under a bunch of tables, desks and computer stations. I understand she wants me to go under her feet and have gotten very good at it. She taps on the table and shuffles chairs, but I'm cool as a cucumber and lay my head down. She gives me a treat when it is time to get up. Next mom took me into the children's area. We sat by some big windows while mom played with some noisy toys. A lady and her daughter came up and asked if they could pet me. I sat very politely while the lady talked about missing their recently departed dog and how much the therapy dogs are appreciated in the hospital she works at. 
After going through some more book isles, mom took me to the service center next door. I did park under mom 's feet but wanted to have my nose towards the isle so I could see what was going on. At first the the funny voice calling out "now serving number X" made me a little bit anxious, but I got over it pretty fast. While we were sitting there, mom listened to a group of cognitively disabled adults in the coffee area talk about the cute black doggy-doggy-dog. They looked so excited mom asked them if they would like to pet me on our way out. We went from table to table and each person petted me with a big grin on their face. I can tell I made them very happy by letting them shake my paw and sitting when they asked. We could hear them talk about me all the way to the elevator.  I love meeting new people!
 
I love my life as an autism Service dog. Little sis spends lots of time with me. We play fetch, tug and hide-and-seek. She giggles and smiles when I give her kisses and I help her be calm when it is time to go to bed. I love to follow the girls around the house and yard. I especially like going to and from the bus stop. Little sis has a very hard time waiting so she pets and talks to me until the bus comes. She holds onto the short leash when we go out, which keeps her from getting distracted and running away from the group. I help her calm down when she gets scared of things like glass mezzanine walls at the mall. She feeds me, a routine that helps her focus on the needs of others and adds structure to her day. Mom says I teach empathy because the girls know arguing, pushing and yelling upset me. They help put on my harness and leash and hold the door so it does not catch my tail. They are also learning to put their things away because they know I like to chew on toys, shoes and mittens. Little sis draws pictures of me and tells everyone she knows all about me. I come along when my family travels or visits relatives and am much better than a teddy bear for helping little sis feel comfortable in a new place. Mom thinks one day she might enjoy volunteering by taking me to meet people at a library, senior center or school. Taking me along as her autism service dog helps little sis interact with others and gives her purpose. I am so glad my family picked ME to be their dog.