|Trooper and Ginny say hello. (Photo by Deborah Abbott)|
In the morning we practiced three hearing-dog tasks: Debby’s call of my name in the kitchen while I sat in the TV room; the ringing of the phone, and a knock at the door. Each time Trooper was to approach me and jump on my leg as I said “hup!”, then lead me to the source of the sound.
He absolutely nailed the name-calling. Five out of five.
He very nearly nailed the knock at the door. Four and a half out of five. (On one try he was a little slow to come get me.)
He did pretty well at the phone ringing. Three out of five. That’s a toughie because there are four different phones in the house and he has to lead me to the one in my office.
And we didn’t have a treat waiting every step of the way. We must eliminate most of those as well as the need for me to say “hup!” in order for him to jump on me.
But we made good progress, and I think Troop was as pleased as I was.
In the afternoon he had his first formal arranged meeting with another dog—Ginny, who lives with my son Conan and his family in the Edison Park neighborhood of Chicago. Ginny is an interesting dog in her own right: she is a big viszla-Plott hound cross with a beautiful brindle coat.
At trainer Laura’s suggestion, the dogs met on neutral territory, a sidewalk a few houses down from Conan’s place. Even though Ginny is about four times Trooper’s size, the little dog had no fear. He had been well socialized in the shelter and at Dogs for the Deaf. (Ginny loves every dog she has ever met.)
After the formal diplomatic sniffing protocol had been followed, we put the dogs in Conan’s back yard for some exercise—frantic high-speed dashes from fence to fence and house to garage, Trooper usually in the lead. Ginny had better speed but Trooper had the maneuvering edge.
Later, in the house after demudding, the two dogs stood about amiably while their histories were discussed and seven-year-old Alice told her daddy she wanted a little fuzzy dog too.