Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Irwin at Sesame Place and the YMCA

“Irwin really seems to thrive being out and about,” says Donna. “The more challenging the better—for him, not for me!”

This past month, SSD Irwin went to Sesame Place with Donna, Jim, and their grandsons. What an experience for him!

It was a beautiful day, sunny in the mid-70s, but it felt much warmer. Donna kept checking the pavement to make sure it wasn’t getting too hot for Irwin’s paws, but it stayed cool enough. They also cooled him off in the water misters, which he loved! 

All of the rides at Sesame Place are set up so that everyone, regardless of disabilities, can ride them. Irwin went everywhere but the water park! As long as Donna and Jim thought he would be okay on a ride and he actually got on the ride, he rode it! He went on the carousel, tea cups, flying fish, the balloon ride, and more. The rides went up and down, around, and back and forth. Donna and Jim’s grandchildren joined them in the tea cups, but they didn’t spin the tea cup while Irwin was in it. The attendants were very impressed with his behavior every time he got on and off the rides. 

They watched the parade, and Irwin did great being in a tight space. The music was loud and there were lots of characters dancing. For some dogs, the characters can be very scary, so it’s important to take it slow and give them lots of treats to make it a positive experience. Irwin seemed to take it all in stride, though. Streamers popped out of a float with a bang and floated down on the spectators, but he ignored it all and stayed in his “down.”

The lines at the restaurant where they stopped for lunch were crowded. Donna figured out that she could navigate the buffet successfully by keeping Irwin to the side of the buffet line and having him back through the line.

Throughout the day, Donna and Jim had plenty of opportunities to share information about service dogs and Susquehanna Service Dogs. They talked to people from all over. One person even hailed from Canada. (Fun fact: Irwin’s mom, SSD Scotia, originally came from PADS in Canada.)

The learning opportunities weren’t just for other people in the park. Donna and Jim’s grandsons used a public restroom with Irwin. They were amazed that he didn’t touch anything.

Throughout the day, Donna and Jim made sure that Irwin had plenty of water and time to rest, since it was a busy day. On the way home, they stopped at the Macaroni Grill. It was nice and cool inside, and Irwin fell asleep. He snored! People kept looking their way, and Donna and Jim’s grandsons giggled every time he snored.

Irwin also went to the YMCA’s kid’s day. It was hot and humid in the pool area, and very crowded and noisy. Puddles of water were everywhere, and Donna was a little concerned that Irwin would try to drink from them, but he walked right by them. He calmly walked by the swimmers and didn’t mind getting splashed. In fact, he seemed content to watch the activity around him. Eventually, he fell asleep. 

He had to maneuver through tight crowds, and he did it, staying in a heel position right by Donna’s side. They had to navigate the registration tables, popcorn, drinks, and popping balloons. Irwin did great!

As they left, there was a band singing Johnny Cash songs outside. The loud drums and kids dancing entertained everyone, including Irwin!

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