Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fiona's Training

Fiona is my current assistance dog in training. She is a year and 2 months old now and I have had her for the past 2 months. She has recently started training to become an Autism Dog. She met her perspective boy a few weeks ago and did very well helping him go for a nice walk outside. She seemed interested in getting to know him and enjoyed being loved on by his sister and parents. Since then, she has been learning some tasks that will help her be a good Autism Dog. She has been learning to brace. This means that she has to hold still when her jacket is being pulled on. This will help her boy's parents by keeping him with them even when he wants to go somewhere else. Fiona will help him by being his anchor and not running off with him. She has also started learning to track. This will help her boy's parents to find him if he gets lost. Fiona will have to use her nose and find where he went. She is really enjoying this training because she gets to run and get her toy. :D. Another part of her training involves her knowing how to get her handler and bring them to a place, thing, or person of concern to her. We are starting this training by teaching her to nudge my leg and then when she does this, I ask her "what?" repeatedly while following her to something she may be trying to tell me about, such as where her treats are, a toy, or the door. Eventually, this will give Fiona the tools to alert her handler if something dangerous is happening to her boy, she is worried about something, or of course, I am sure she will still use it to tell her handler that she would like a treat. :).

Now, a bit about Fiona and her personality. Fiona is a very fun-loving and happy dog. She loves to be with people, especially people that she loves. She gets sad if I leave her for a while and gets very excited, with wiggling butt and playing dancing, when I return. While we are just chilling at home, Fiona is laid back most of time and enjoys sleeping and bringing both me and my husband things that she figures we would be interested in. For example, she loves to bring us dirty socks, shirts, stuffed animals, her leash, her toys, oh and did I mention dirty socks. :P When she is in a playful mood, she will grab her rope toy or her stuffed duck, throw it around in the air, pounce on it, roll around on her back, and come over to my husband, Joshua, and I and wiggle all around, moaning, and giving us her pleading eyes look. She likes to chase her toys and bring them back and loves going for walks. She also loves to be pet, cuddled with, and to go on outings. Fiona goes almost everywhere with me and jumps into the car eagerly. She is very polite in public, doesn't pull on the leash except for occasionally when we are with other assistance dogs that she knows and she doesn't want to pay attention. For the most part though, she is easy to be with in public and doesn't attention seek from other people or go for yummy things on the floor. If we are in a particular place for a long time, such as at school, at a restaurant, or waiting at the DMV or doctor's office, she goes to sleep easily and is calm. While once she gets to know a person, she is very loving and comfortable, Fiona tends to warm up slower to people. She doesn't automatically relax and become best friends with someone she has just met. It takes her a little bit more time or if they are a bit intimidating, she likes to have a few treats from them to let her know they are an okay person. One of the reasons Fiona was selected to train as an Autism Dog is her love and calm attitude with children. She seems to find children interesting and fun people, as well as people who need to be taken care of by her. She is careful not to run them over or get too rambuctious next to them. She maintains her cool even when a 2 year old is screaming in her face. She seems to enjoy being pet and loved on by children and often has a smile on her face around them.

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