Well, shortly after my last post, Maggie taught me a lesson…you don’t house train in 5 days! She has had several accidents since then, but still does really well going outside. I may have mentioned this, but Service Dogs must eliminate on command, so that is an important part of her training. We use the command “Get Busy”…and she is learning. It has been far too long between updates and Maggie is learning so much. Let’s see…what has she done lately…she is very good about sitting, and waiting to be told to exit and enter doorways, something Service Dogs must do so they do not trip or knock over disabled persons they may serve. She sits on command, she lies down on command and enters and exits her crate on command. Next she will learn to go to her bed on command. Since the last post Maggie has met another horse, Zack, who lives on a farm near us and has always been friendly. He loves to eat treats and grass out of our hands, but this time, Maggie got his full attention. He approached the fence in a full gallop as usual, however this upon seeing Maggie, he came to a screeching halt about six feet from the fence. He was enthralled with this little black bundle, as was she with him. After a short time of mutual observation, they both approached the fence (Zack completely ignoring my fist full of yummy grass), eyes intently focused on each other. Zack gently lowered his head as if to invite Maggie over to him…she obliged. There they were, literally nose to nose…both necks outstretched. After there brief introduction, Maggie was ready to go under the fence and play with this giant playmate (fortunately she was on a leash)! My only regret, I did not have a camera! Having overcome her fear of a very large four legged creature, she was ready to meet others who were more her size (kind of) and more her species, so off to PetSmart we went! Out primary objectives were to get some fun toys for Maggie and have her “meet and greet” other dogs….mission accomplished! We found she is a fearless little puppy! She went nose-to-nose with the largest of dogs wanting to engage them all in a round of playful activity. She was a big hit with the humans both large and small, especially while donning her little Service Dog jacket (again, no camera…when will we learn)! One of Maggie’s favorite activities is playing with young children…something we encourage at this stage of her development. Sometimes it is hard to tell who is having more fun! Run Maggie run…great for development and socialization. The Rickrodes (friends from church) brought their children over to do just that…Alexis, Hunter, Carson all had a great time…and Maggie slept for 8 hours after their departure…she was one happy and tired puppy! All of her human playmates are instructed on how to handle Maggie’s barking and/or jumping so there is consistency in her training. We simple turn our back on her and ignore her…we never use negative discipline such as yelling, saying “no”, or physical discipline; rather we use withdrawal of attention and positive reinforcement when she does the right thing. Trust me, it works, and makes for a faithful, happy, non-timid partner…never fearing her trainer or others (very important when she is placed with a client). We want her to “want” to serve! Maggie loves to be held, massaged, and petted; this is an important step towards bonding and being handled in the future to have her nails clipped, ears cleaned, medical exams, and examined for ticks and fleas…all with out fussing or nipping. Finally, she had her first “Puppy Class” where she was reacquainted with her siblings! Wow, was that exciting! Lot’s of sniffing and playful activity…and surprisingly, some aggressive play…something all Service Dogs must overcome. They must eventually ignore other dogs completely, even when the other dogs are barking! That takes a lot of self-restraint, something Service Dogs must learn in many areas of their lives (i.e., eating dropped food from a table, eating food (or gum) on a shopping mall floor, etc.)…they can and must do it! So it is onward and upward for little Maggie…she is a wonderful puppy and a really good learner. We hope you get can get a sense and feel that you are walking along with us on this journey. As I am writing this blog, I noticed Maggie has discovered the hot air vent on the floor of our kitchen…sound asleep on top of it with warm air surrounding her…can’t say that I blame her while it is 26 degrees outside!! Thanks for following us…much more to come ahead!!