Maggie’s First Day “At Home”

After she awoke, she went outside and peed (once on the grass and once on the cement). During the day we tried different media on which to eliminate. She does OK on grass, mulch, and sometimes on cement, but gravel doesn’t work so far…she would rather crunch in her mouth the gravel than eliminate on it. Service Dogs have to learn to eliminate on all kinds of surfaces as you never know where they will live or be when they have “to go”.  We took a long walk in pastures today and she was exploring everything in sight and sound! We walked along the edge of the woods and maybe tomorrow or the day after, we will try going through the woods. We also took a visit to see three horses out in their own pasture…I am so sorry I did not have a camera, but let me describe the event. She saw the horses out in the fields from a distance…she stopped and looked (almost in disbelief…never saw a “dog” that big!). As we approached, Maggie would stop and evaluate occasionally. Interestingly enough, as we approached the horses, they came right over to the fence as if to greet us. Maggie took her cues from me, and as long as I encouraged her and gave her time (all the time she needed to feel comfortable), she would advance toward them as well. Finally we made it all the way to the fence…practically nose to nose. She was not even spoofed when one of the horses flapped its lips as they often do when exhaling. Maggie just looked and went about poking around in the tall grasses. As we walked along the fence, the horses followed…it was just amazing to watch. It was as if they wanted to make sure Maggie was OK…maybe their motherly instincts kicked in (they were all mares). Finally, we departed as they watched us walk across the field to the road. Maggie had her first encounter with another animal species and seemed to love it…no fear! We even had to walk through some swampy grasses to get there. That was a really good experience for a future Service Dog.

The rest of the day was pretty routine…pee, play, sleep…pee, play sleep..pee, poop, play, sleep, pee in the house, whisk outside to finish, play, sleep…you know a day in a puppy Service Dog’s life. All the while she IS learning better manners. One big step she took today was to sit and wait while I put her food down, and eat only on the “OK” command. That was HUGE! Yea Maggie! The first two feedings were semi successful, the third was a charm…she actually sat there for about 5 seconds (an eternity in puppy time) until I gave her the “OK”. The food actually disappears about 2 second after that…LOL.
After the great experience with the horses, I was surprised when she got really nervous when she heard two or three dogs barking in the distance. She would not walk toward the sound of the barking…not one step. All she wanted to do was go back in the house and to her crate (a “safe” place). I let her sit and listen for a little bit and verbally encouraged her to walk toward the barking sound (the barking dogs we far, far in the distance…not to be seen), but she would have nothing to do with that. We walked to the other side of the house (away from the barking) and she eliminated, and we went inside. I did not want to stress her. But that was a good sign to us that she needs socialization with other dogs, and we will work on that. Service Dogs have to be comfortable in all situations…a stressed Service Dog would not be happy and our organization would have to discharge her…so we will work on making her feel comfortable around other dogs, barking or not! Our Service Dog organization always has the welfare of the dog at heart…they must be happy and stress free. We want a good life for the dog as well as the clients they will eventually serve.
Well, Maggie is all worn out from the today’s experiences, and is sound asleep with her little bowtie toy. She will no doubt awaken about the time I fall into a deep sleep,and I’ll have to take her out…but that’s OK, too, I’ll just nap with her sometime during the day to catch up. We do what it takes to train a happy, skillful and dedicated Service Dog. I love my job, even if it is all volunteering!

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