One of the things we partners need to do, it’s a responsibility and a duty, is to make people aware of service dogs – what they do, what kind of dogs they are (gentle, kind and NICE), and how they help their partners.
So, on Thursday last (Jan 15) Emmy and I ventured forth to the local Boys and Girls Club! O – My – Gosh!! That place was thriving, teeming, swarming, packed with children of elementary school, middle school, and some high school age! It was like watching ants storming around after disturbing an anthill!
Somehow order prevailed through the overwork of the staff, and about 100 children were in the gym, were finally expectantly awaiting – something about a dog.
When I walked in with Emmy, there were a lot of “ooo’s” and “aaah’s” with some children trying to scramble away from Emmy and others trying to crowd in on her.Then I saw a change come over Emmy – she perked up and puffed herself up, held her head high, ignored the children, focused on me and we marched on in! From that point on, Emmy was a Professional – capital “P” Professional! She “snapped-to” and performed every behavior I cued her to do with snappy, total aplomb!
During the (few) quiet times, I told the children how I got Emmy, what she does for me, and how we loved each other. Many of them had questions, but I couldn’t get to all of them. That disturbed me some, but the director said she would collect their questions and send them to me in an e-mail. I hope so!
Most of the questions I got were things like “Is she mean?” “Does she fight?” “Will she bite?” I’m not sure they believed me when I said, “No” to each of those questions. Then they were even more nbelieving when I said that Emmy was so gentle she would not protect me if someone or even some dog attacked me! And that she is so gentle she probably would not even try to protect herself if another dog attacked her. I explained that she had to be gentle and reliable so she could go many places with me – to schools, to restaurants, to a hospital, to doctor offices. If she were not reliable and gentle, she would make it hard on all the other service dogs. Just one service dog misbehaving would make people not want a service dog in their building
I started putting her through her basic obedience cues (sit, down, stand, stay) and the kids started “Ooo’ing” and “Aaah’ing” again. One little boy said, “I’m gonna get my daddy to get me one of those!” I told him if he could buy a dog as well-trained as Emmy, it would cost over $40,000! There was dead silence, then. I explained that because people donated money to help other people get dogs, I was able to get Emmy for a much smaller contribution than that, but that it was still hard to get the money together.
Then I started showing them how she picks up things for me, and they were amazed. Then we “did laundry,” and they started laughing when she “shook out” the towel, washcloths and handkerchiefs before giving them to me!
When we were done, one of the children helped me out, and I had Emmy “say hello” to him. He now had some bragging points! He got to pet her!
The director wants me to come back, so that should be fun. She decided that maybe presenting to the individual age groups would “work” better – I think so, too!
Something I “shoulda-coulda-woulda” have done was to get some disposable cameras for some of the children to use. But the children here were so undisciplined, I’m just as glad I didn’t. I’ll try that the next time, though.
Emmy was sooooo tired when we got home, I only had her workout 1/2 her usual time on the treadmill (10 min instead of 20, and a slightly slower pace). She went to sleep and slept deeply until bedtime, and then we went to bed and she didn’t even wake me up in the night biting her toenails or rearranging her bedding. Tired little girl!
I think we have a new occupation! I have a list of places to call and make appointments with. Next week I’ll call the next one in line and see about a pre-k nearby. That should be fun, too! Emmy loves children, and is quite a HAM!