Friday, May 31, 2013

Irwin's Latest Experiences

Over the weekend, Irwin celebrated Memorial Day by going to the Memorial Day Parade in Gettysburg. However, he slept right through almost the entire thing! Donna and Jim took their daughter and grandson with them to the parade, as well as Irwin and SSD Judge. First, they stopped at the park to let their grandson Timmy play, and they had a picnic before walking to Gettysburg Square for the parade.

As they walked to the Square, Irwin had to be especially focused on loose leash walking because of the crowds and store displays. He did fine with the noise from motorcycles and all the people, including the people dining outside. He did get a little excited when other dogs passed by. The other dogs barked, but Irwin didn’t, although he did pull their way. However, with the help of apple slices as power treats, he kept returning to focus on Donna again.

With all the people, Donna took the opportunity to practice Irwin’s greetings. He did some very nice ones. He even ignored the ice cream cone the one child was holding as she greeted him.

When they arrived at their blanket for the parade, Irwin settled in next to Donna and fell fast asleep. If you’ve ever been to a parade, you know they’re noisy. This one had fire trucks, marching bands, cars driving in circles, horses, flags snapping in the wind, bag pipers from Canada, and more. Irwin slept right through it all. He only opened his eyes when reenactors marched by playing the fife and drum. He must have been one sleepy dog!

Back on Mother’s Day, Irwin went with Donna and Jim to the hospital to visit Jim’s father. Because Jim’s father was accidentally lying on the call button, Irwin experienced the red and blue lights and the alarm sounds that alert the nurses. Later, Jim’s father had to go for some tests, so Donna and Jim got a wheelchair for him. Once he was seated, he wanted to see Irwin up close. Donna had Irwin do “lap” (put his front legs in Jim’s father’s lap) so he would be able to pet his head. Irwin gave him puppy kisses! 

Irwin accompanied Donna and Jim back to the hospital the next day for Donna’s mammogram appointment. Irwin practiced several of his skills: waiting at doors to “go on through” and using the elevator. Several people were already on the elevator when Donna and Jim got on. Donna had Irwin sit and wait while she blocked the elevator door from closing. Then she asked him to “go on through” and had him walk backwards to the back of the elevator. Then she asked him to sit again. They reversed the process to exit the elevator. It’s very important to enter and exit elevators this way with your dog because it will prevent the door from closing with the dog on one side and the handler on the other. 

In the waiting room, Irwin settled into a down-stay and later accompanied Donna into the dressing room. However, he stayed with Jim in the hallway during the actual mammogram. Being in a hospital is great experience for Irwin. One day, he may need to accompany his partner there, and these experiences now will help make sure he can continue to do his job despite all the new distractions.

All of our dogs have their hips tested to make sure they’re healthy enough to become service dogs. Irwin recently had his done, which meant that he wasn’t allowed to eat breakfast that morning. It also meant that he couldn’t get any training treats. Donna wasn’t sure how she was going to keep his attention on her without treats, so she took his small tennis ball with her to the vet. It worked like a charm! 

In their waiting room, the Palmyra Animal Clinic often has a crate with a cat looking for a good home. The cat is near the scale, and when Irwin got on the scale to be weighed, he sat on the scale and zeroed in on the cat. When the vet tech said his name, however, he turned and looked at her. She then brought a leash out and he did “get dressed”—he stuck his head right through the loop and pranced back with her. 

When Donna and Jim picked him up later, the vet staff said that Irwin and his brother Outback kept licking each other through the kennel wires! He walked out calmly for the vet tech until he saw Donna and Jim, and then he got so excited to see them. But he kept all four paws on the floor. As soon as they got outside, Donna was happy to see that Irwin got busy (pottied) right away, which means he probably didn’t have any accidents in his crate at the vet!

Because Irwin did so well, Donna and Jim stopped and bought him a new Chuck It Ball. It’s now one of his favorite toys!

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