So, I think that all of us got upset again today, as we read our journals about yesterday and the readings on ending a partnership. Oof. I don’t think the thought of that will ever get easier.
We talked about how the evaluations and follow-up work, and what is expected of us. After team training, we really have tremendously large follow-up obligations. The first week we go home, we must report daily. The first month following that, weekly. The next 6 months, monthly. In the first year, we have to attend 6 ‘graduate support’ classes, or a 12 class course by an approved trainer if you live more than 250 miles away. The grad support classes are 2 hours long, and meet once a month. You can also drop in for a day of team training to meet the support class obligation.
Yeah, it’s a big commitment, but I firmly believe it is in our best interest. After all, I’ll have a trainer I can contact for advice whenever I have trouble with Hudson, and I’ll actually physically be there at least 6 times over our first year together. The 6 classes is a minimum; there is no maximum, if you want to attend every single training offered and the next team training, you’re welcome to do so. I think we’ll try for more than 6, but we’ll really only be able to attend the Sunday classes, so I think the max we’d be able to do would be around 10 (plus the 3 weekends of team training).
Arg, I wish I had the time and energy to write these as we came across them – all the schedule says is ‘obedience/service skills’ and I can’t separate out one day from the rest for what we did when!
By now, Hudson can do a great many of his skills. He can pick things up off the floor for me, pull open doors, help me stand (we weren’t supposed to learn that until the third week, but because of my particular disability I got them to teach me that one on our second day), push buttons, open cupboards and anything I attach a pull strap on, steady me as I walk – including up and down stairs (which he does very well), come to different sides of me depending on the command (front, either side, and back), hop up in my lap, get up on something, put his front feet up on something and perform a task there (for example, give a cashier my wallet or retrieve my purchase). I can clean his ears, trim his nails, and I’ve trimmed the fur around his eyes and feet, as his coat grows very very fast. I can also get him all tacked up – something I struggled with less than other people, because it’s a lot simpler than the horse tack I was used to as a child, and he’s far better mannered about getting tacked up than the lopsided horse I rode then.
Then we talked about access in more complicated places – hospitals and public transit, especially airplanes. Did you know that a service dog has the right to go anywhere but a clean room in a hospital? A clean room, for the record, are places like operating rooms and burn wards – sterile environments. It makes sense when you know that dogs and humans cannot pass much from one to the other – salmonella and one other bacteria I can’t remember, plus giardia. At that, many people with seizures want their dog in the operating room because they want the surgeon to know if they’re going to seize before they do it – and some have succeeded at convincing their surgeon to allow it.
We had a LOT of questions, specific things to ask – like how do you manage a dog on a transatlantic flight? They’re going to need to go to the bathroom, and there’s nowhere to go! (the answer: no food for 24 hours before flight, very limited water, and very limited food and water on flight) Where do you put the dog on a plane, when you’re in an airplane bathroom, at the doctor’s office, etc.
At least today was easier emotionally than yesterday! That was a real toughie.