Friday, my boyfriend and I made a trip out to our service dog group to meet Hudson. The group I’m working through has monthly ‘graduate classes’ – training sessions for pairs that have already passed the big group training and are living together. Your first year, you’re required to attend 6, but after that they’re optional.
At these graduate classes, ‘prospectives’ are encouraged to attend to watch the dogs and see how the pairs work together, and also to be paired with a prospective dog and see how they interact. You just get a dog on a leash, the trainer introduces you, and you have a very small handful of commands you’re allowed to use (sit, down, off).
My first impression of Hudson was that he had an enormous head! I know you can’t really tell in the pic, but his head and particularly his muzzle are very large. Between his big ol’ mouth and his whiskery coat, I don’t think hudson will be a dainty eater.
His coat is coarse, like a poodle’s, but not curly. We have to get human hair-cutting scissors, because his coat will need to be trimmed. I expect my care assistant will be doing a lot of that. I am very lucky to have a state paid care assistant who comes in for 2 hours every day to help me take care of the house. I expect that much of that time will be extended to taking care of Hudson when he comes home. The boyfriend and I will be moving in together, so I suspect there will be slightly less housekeeping and cooking for the care assistant to do. (and for those of you who are thinking that me moving in with the boyfriend means I shouldn’t need a care assistant – why should he be doing the same work unpaid just because he loves me? The care assistant is to make up for my inability to keep house like a ‘normal’ person, not to “reduce” the boyfriend’s work. It’s making it so I can have a more normal life. Besides, who’s gonna make dinner if he’s away?)
Anyhow, back to Hudson. While his head is huge, he’s no small dog. The boyfriend has already joked about how cramped it’s going to be when we fly somewhere. Hah. We’ll have to sit in a bulkhead, and woe betide the third person in the row with us! (well, in all honesty, I hope that they like dogs, because I really don’t like the idea of making someone uncomfortable, even if I have a right to having my service dog there) The boyfriend says we’ll just have to buy our own plane. Somehow, I don’t think SSI will cover that.
Hudson was very, very interested in what other people around us were doing, and the walker that belonged to the lady next to me, and in going back to his trainer and in Chris’s shoes, and in my bag, and in…well, I think you get the point. Getting him to learn to pay attention to me is going to be a challenge, I think, but his trainer assured me that once he’s bonded with someone he’s not as much of a turkey.
It really was exciting to get to meet him. I wish we had pictures to share, but we had trouble with cameras! I’ll send the boyfriend home with some to post as we start training if I don’t manage anything before then, I promise.