Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocolate World

Our dogs-in-training visited Chocolate World in Hershey, PA on Saturday. The visit was one of our puppy outings. We hold several outings throughout the year that are designed to give the dogs experience in different situations.

The visit to Chocolate World was certainly a test of the dogs' skills. The dogs and their puppy raisers went on the Chocolate World ride, which tells the story of how Hershey makes its chocolate products. To get on the ride, the dogs had to walk down a set of stairs onto a rotating floor. From there, they had to climb into open cars, which take you through the ride.

Some of the dogs had no problem getting on the cars. They didn't even hesitate at the rotating floor or the cars. Other dogs wanted nothing to do with the cars. One of our demo/interview/therapy dogs, SSD Rossi, was a calming influence on some of the dogs. By calmly demonstrating how to get on the ride, she showed some of the dogs that the cars weren't something to be afraid of.

The cars swiveled slowly from side to side as the narrator discussed different parts of the story. Within the ride, the dogs encountered things like singing cows, active sample factory machinery, and of course, the smell of chocolate. At the end of the ride, dogs had to exit the cars and walk off the rotating floor and go back up the steps. At the top of the stairs, the dogs had to go through a turn stile.

And then came one of the big tests. At the end of the Chocolate World ride, Hershey always gives away free samples of its candy, usually a new product. Right now, the new product is Pieces - candies like York Peppermint Patties, Almond Joy and Special Dark Chocolate in a candy-coated shell, similar to Reese's Pieces. That means that there were pieces of chocolate candy on the floor. The dogs got lots of leave it practice!

Here are some videos from the dogs' trip to Chocolate World:

SSD Lavender climbs off the car of the Chocolate World ride.

SSD Aspen practices loose leash walking after getting off the ride.

SSD Rossi demonstrates a service dog skill for visitors - unzipping a jacket.

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