Today, I got my seasonal flu shot at my place of employment. We had hoped that I could get both the seasonal and H1N1 shots at the same time, but UCI does not yet have a supply of the H1N1 vaccine. After finding a location that will have the vaccine here in Long Beach on Wednesday, I’m planning to get the H1N1 shot then.
Since I planned to spend a few hours at my office today, and knowing I’d be a little stronger than usual because of my chemo break, I thought it would be a good day to take Buster, my service dog in training, to work with me. On days that I’m feeling strong, I am hoping to get around with less help from my walker and more help from Buster. Even without a harness, he is tall enough for me to be able to brace myself for steadiness. But, I am searching for a good support harness for him, one that will be comfortable for him.
I took plenty of treats to reinforce his training and hoped for the best. It was early when we first arrived, so I walked him around the empty office suite so he could sniff around and get accustomed to the new environment. When we settled down in my office, he laid down and spent the rest of the time relaxed–a very typical behavior for Buster.
One of the recommendations of training for service dogs is to introduce them to new environments gradually, so you take them to new places, when possible, during quiet times when there are fewer distractions. With Buster, I think he will do well no matter where I take him because we routinely take him out in Long Beach where he’s exposed to a lot of distractions. We have consistently reinforced his training in conditions that are distracting, and he is learning very well to obey his commands in those circumstances.
Training a dog to be a good service companion requires learning not just on the part of the animal. I am learning a lot about training and expectations. For example, training a service dog is not a month-long endeavor. It takes a long time to train a dog to be an excellent service dog and companion. Today was a rewarding experience as Buster seemed to like the experience and remembered his commands, needing little repetition or reinforcement with treats. All the same, I praised him a lot and gave him treats to reinforce that he was behaving well. Hmmm, maybe he has trained me well.
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