Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Parade

Memorial Day is a wonderful time to honor all of our veterans, and many of us celebrated by going to a parade. That's exactly what our service dogs-in-training did!

Three of our dogs-in-training (SSD Sunshine, Teddy and Rio) and one of our breeding dogs (SSD Fire) marched in the Camp Hill Memorial Day Parade. It was a beautiful day, and we all had a lot of fun, even though it was hot.

The parade offers a lot of training opportunities because of the excitement, noise, crowds, costumes and candy.

We spent the first part of the parade on the sidelines. The dogs got to watch clowns, a mascot and a bunch of little yellow cars zip around the road. They quickly got used to the cars. The mascot, however, was a little more challenging. Some of the dogs started barking at it, and their handlers moved them away from the sidelines to calm them down. SSD Sunshine wasn't too keen on getting close to the mascot, which looked like a giant badger, but her handler worked with her until she was able to walk right next to the mascot without a problem. To do that, Sunshine's handler kept walking her past the badger, clicking and treating every time Sunshine ignored the badger. Each time they walked past, they moved closer to the badger until they were walking right next to it. Nice job!

Soon it was our turn to join the parade. SSD Sunshine, Teddy, Rio and Fire marched past hundreds of people. It was a great opportunity to practice loose leash walking and self control. As the dogs walked past the crowds, many people petted them. (In this situation, it was okay that people just reached out and petted the dogs. Normally, if you see a service dog, especially a service dog wearing a harness, you should not pet it.) But even though the dogs were getting lots of attention from other people, they still needed to stay focused on their handlers.

The dogs also got lots of leave it practice. There was so much candy in the street! The dogs did great at ignoring the candy.

It was a very successful outing for the dogs!

Teddy, Rio, Sunshine and Fire aren't the only dogs that went to a Memorial Day parade. Many of our puppy raisers took their dogs-in-training to parades closer to their homes. We hope they all had a fun experience!

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