Saturday, June 27, 2009

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!

That's what class was today. We had individual classes today (well, raisers north had theirs during the week) to learn to work with the dogs in wheelchairs. It was a lot of fun!

We went shopping a bit before class got started today with our mom /grin/ She went to Salem with us in need of some shirts so while we met up with Joy a few minutes late she'd been held up and not able to go get Elly (for Coreena to work) so she ran home and got Elly, a bag of food for Eola (she gets a good discount and sells us food at cost to her) and to change her shirt as it was oppressively hot today. While waiting we worked Eola on ignoring people, working on escalators, doing an up at an elevator button (she hit it with her paw once) and going through doors (her going in before me, turning and face me in a "front" position, backing up until there's room to drop back into a side or heel position and continue on our way)


Below: Eola in a down-stay in JC Penney's



Below: Eola and I on the escalator. Please forgive the monstrous derriere photo... would have been better taken front the front (maybe) but Eola hasn't been on an escalator in more than three months so it took 3 or 4 trips before she was willingly jumping on and off thanks to kibble! /wink/



After about 40 minutes we went back up to the third floor of the parking garage and Joy was just getting the wheelchair, Elly and herself to our meeting point. Lol, we have impeccable timing as she'd just gotten there when we first arrived as well!



First I sat in the chair and wheeled myself back and forth down this little walkway. You don't notice the grade of sidewalks and such until you're trying to control a wheelchair! It was interesting to say the least but fun! Then Coreena got her turn, without puppies /grin/ Then Joy had me sit in the wheelchair, hold Eola's leash and wheel myself. It was a trip figuring out how to hold the leash, control the girl and wheel myself without running into the wall or Eola, or Joy! Finally she told me I could tuck it under my leg... um, duh! I've been doing that for years when sitting but didn't Generalize it enough I guess to translate it to the wheelchair! Things change when your seat is moving! /grin/ Eola did pretty good, moving out of my way and turning with the chair.



Then it was Coreena and Elly's turn. Elly was a bit nervous about being next to the chair so Joy had Coreena hold onto her leash and Joy pushed Coreena.... Elly didn't get comfortable enough with the chair to work with it today but Coreena still worked her. Here Coreena and Joy are working to get her comfortable with the wheelchair...



Smiling Elly! She looks very good! She's still a big pup but so is Evett and her coat is looking so nice!



After getting somewhat comfortable working with the chair and getting instruction on leaning back on any grade, up or down, we headed out to train me! (this class was mainly to let us know why we do what we do, what the dogs need to learn and why and to train us in wheelchair operation) Joy pushed me most of the time but we took the elevator downstairs and came to our first set of doors. This is where my first struggle came into play.



I have a hard time figuring out how to get from point A to point B. I can read about it or see it and remember it forever but figuring out I've never been good at (I even suck at puzzles!) so figuring out how to get myself, the chair and Eola through the door safely, efficiently and not like an idiot was quite a challenge for me.



Joy told me to give it a try and then explained the doors are easier to open away from the hinges so I pushed both door open with the foot plates, wheeled myself through and then didn't know what to do. The door was still open from the back wheel but Joy told me to turn the chair into the door! Genius! So I did that a couple more times before she handed me Eola. I was still a bit rusty but after Joy pointed it out I turned the chair in the correct way for the position Eola was in (the opposite, so if she's on my left I turn the chair right and hold that door open, allowing her to remain in position and not have me get us stuck in the door /grin/) and we made it through unscathed! Eola even danced around nicely to avoid the doors but stay in position as much as possible!



We worked on push plates for the doors as well which was a struggle simply because we get NO practice down here (we have very very few push plates in this town) but Eola tried. Although much of the time Eola laid down everytime we stopped moving as if to say, I'm done. She was shutting down but as an 8 month old she's in a bit of a rebellious stage right now and could potentially be going into heat soon (she will be spayed, just not yet due to the litter's poor health).



I also had the opportunity of figuring out how to open a door that opened towards me, while manuvering the chair on a downhill slope! That was a struggle! Then we practiced what would happen if Eola pulled the door open with a door pull... it's quite cool! Once the door is open the handler can stop the door with their foot plate (if the wheelchair has appropriate foot plates) and either have the dog jump between their leg and the door or "go around" behind the chair. The dog then goes into a "front" position and backs through the door, dropping into position when there's room!



It's all amazingly fun to learn and train and I had many many questions! While I was working in the chair with Joy Coreena was working with Elly on push plates, going through doors, being calm and just generally socializing. At one point Joy was showing me how people in chairs feel when they're being pushed, the person pushing their chair stops to look at something or talk to someone and leave the person in the chair facing the original direction... they want to be involved, not sit with their back facing the action! We then were talking about Elly a bit and I asked Joy how she was in the crate /wink/ When Joy said she was fantastic I asked if she wanted to trade and she bopped me on the head! Not hard just funning but it's nice to know we have that sort of relationship with Joy. It's nice. She's a friend as well as our trainer!



We then headed out, well kind of. We headed that way and worked on the chair turning in a circle and TRYING to get Eola to keep turning her bum with the chair. Although with the hand signal Eola is so used to getting a treat after doing a "closer" (we're working on it!) she was hopping up at my hand after she moved her rear around so it was kind of annoying! We did that couple times and then practiced backing up with the chair. The dogs *must* stay right with the chair, not going behind it as they can get hurt if the circle back behind the chair. Joy then worked with Elly on back but Elly was quite distracted due to the wall Joy was using was a wall of dark windows and Elly was trying to watch her reflection, Joy, do the command and get that treat all at once!



Below: I realize she's on a tight leash. It being her first time working with a wheelchair it was difficult at times keeping her in appropriate proximity (I asked Joy about that as well, lol!) so I was pulling her in while sitting in the chair and listening to Joy!



After that we headed back to the parking garage, put the wheelchair in Joy's rig, got Evett, met up with Mom and headed on down the street. We met up with Kelly and Duncan and headed on over to the World Beat Festival. It was pretty cool! We went and watched Joy's sister on Native American drums which I love as we used to go to Pow-wows all the time when younger! We gradually moved closer to let the pups acclimate to it.



Below: Elly snuggling with Coreena



Eola



Evett and Duncan (Disregard the pink spot on Evett's nose, she tried desperately to get out of a crate)



Pretty Elly right in front of the stage



Just after Karen, Josh and Fiona showed up it was time for us to go... we had a long drive ahead of us /grin/ We walked back to the parking garage and got Eola's food out of Joy's car and took the elevator to the first floor. The elevators have a glass side... below is an attempt at a picture of Eola in the elevator but the sun was reflecting horribly and I ran out of time /grin/



On the way home Eola found this position quite comfortable! (Maybe she is going to go into heat soon /grin/ JK)



A little while later she found this position comfortable! Still definitely a BIG meerkat!



Once we got home Coreena got Eva out of the crate upstairs (Max was with her most of the day), got them some water, fed Eola a bit of kibble (I upped her food a half cup in the morning so she got 2.5 cups this morning [1/2 cup in her kong for her crate time] and treats for training so she didn't get her full cup and a half for dinner) and then headed out with all four dogs for a walk. We attempted getting some good pictures with the sunset but weren't entirely successful... I can't wait to get a better camera!

A good picture of Eva! Those are rare!

Back left to front right: Eva, Eola, Kira and Teddy all in down-stays

Remind you of anyone?

My baby girl! I love Kira! :-D
Class today was a lot of fun, a great learning experience and a good experience for both Eola and Elly! I learned a lot, enjoyed working in the wheelchair and now want to buy one! My arms would get buff fast! /grin/

That's all from here! Have a good one!

Ally & Alex w/ Eola, Teddy & Kira

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