Only 2 days left to go! Well, technically only one, since Friday we aren't in class but taking our public access tests. This morning was spent practicing the same things that we've been working on all along. If we want to form the working relationship with the dogs that we need to be an effective team we must practice, practice, practice. Dante and I are doing pretty well, we're definitely bonding, and more and more he's looking to me for direction and reassurance instead of the trainers. He is still a bit skittish when Tristen makes sudden movements, but I can't say that I blame him; Tristen is a pretty intense kid at times ;) He does know that Tristen has the best treats, and Tristen is the "keeper of the toys", so they are bonding well too. I don't play with Dante, I will pet him and give him love, but if he wants to play he has to seek out Tristen. This is one thing that will really help them bond; Dante absolutely loves his ball, and Tristen loves throwing it :)
Karen came in and talked with us about some of the legal aspects of public access. She also shared some of her personal experiences with her service dogs. There were several amusing stories, as well as tales of struggles and challenges. It's really important for us to understand that there will be times that we are challenged, and to know the best ways to deal with those times. It's a tight-rope walk of sorts: you can't allow your child's civil rights to be violated, but at the same time we are ambassadors for service dogs everywhere, and want people to have positive experiences with us and the dogs. We need to educate the public whenever possible.
After lunch we went back to the mall for more practice. Dante did a lot better heeling today. He is getting more confident each time we go out. He did especially well ignoring all the distractions at the mall. The area where we meet is right by the food court and the children's play area, so there's no shortage of distractions, lol! It's incredible just how many people will try to get a dog's attention when they see them out and about. It feels like I'm constantly hearing "Oh what a pretty dog!", "Come here pretty dog!", or sometimes people will just make smooching noises or even bark at the dog (little old men and teenage boys are especially bad about this). I get pretty proud of Dante for ignoring all of it :)
Once class was over, Dante and I stopped at Wal*Mart to pick up a few things. Dante was perfectly behaved :) He heeled perfectly, he sat perfectly, he was just awesome :) Of course, everyone was staring at us in there too. There were a few negative comments about him being in the store, from customers, not associates, but I just ignored them. I did hear this one woman say "THAT'S A DOG! A DOG!" in a really disgusted manner. I was really tempted to look at Dante and say "Don't let her fool you, you know you're a cat," but I was a good girl and held my tongue. I can already tell that it's going to be a lot different taking Dante with us than it was taking Ajax. Many people don't seem to believe that such a little dog can be a real service dog. But yes, he is a real service dog, and he knows his job and does it well :)
The kids and I went back to the training center after dinner for some playtime. It has become part of our routine here, and I'm so glad that we are able to go over there! It definitely helps for the kids, and Dante, to get some of that energy out. Rebecka played with Daisy while we were there. She is so excited that Daddy agreed to let her bring Daisy home :) When it was time to leave, she gave her a hug and a kiss goodbye and said "Bye Daisy! I love you, and will take you home with me on Friday!" It was so cute :)