Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Trooper's second day

Trainer Laura took this shot of an odd couple at the local PetSmart.
Yesterday there was some progress and a couple of setbacks. That’s to be expected.

After a morning of working on sounds—the behavior handoff from trainer to client hasn’t happened yet, but it’s still very early days—we went out in commercial public for the first time.

First to Petsmart to buy some more stuff, including a crate for long trips in the car, more treats (we're going through them at an alarming rate), more toys, a brush, a comb, whatnot. The place was full of dogs, but Trooper didn’t lunge to greet them. That’s good.

Then to the Levy Center, the senior club where I work out several times a week, to introduce Trooper to the exercise room. He will have to learn to get used to the noise of exercise machines as well as the gasping and puffing of sweaty geezers. 

Nobody commented on his presence. Either they’re au courant with service dogs or too bleary-eyed to see him. (He is small and inconspicuous.)

Finally to the Linz & Vail coffee shop, where we partook in dishes of gelato while Trooper lay quietly under the table.

While Debby and the two trainers were getting their goodies, a counterman came around and told me quite pleasantly that dogs weren’t allowed in Linz & Vail. (He couldn’t see Trooper’s Dogs for the Deaf vest under the table.)

“I’m deaf,” I responded, “and he’s my service dog.”

“Oh, okay,” the counterman said, and returned to his post.

I have a feeling that most such confrontations are going to end that way, especially in Evanston, a liberal and well-educated town. I'm prepared for hostility, however. Some folks won't have heard of the law.

Now for the setbacks. 

Trooper peed against a wall in the master bathroom. After a fast cleanup and spray with urine neutralizer and without mentioning the incident to Trooper, I considered what had happened. On our walk just half an hour earlier, he had taken a quick squirt against a tree. Too quick. I should have walked him a few more minutes so he could empty his tank. I’m still learning his toidey habits.

Then, twice, he growled when people suddenly swept into the condo lobby. (I could feel the vibrations of his growl through the taut leash.) That, I think, was a startle reflex. I’m going to ask trainer Laura what to do, but maybe if Trooper and I spend some time in the lobby while I greet passersby in a happy and pleasant voice, he’ll get used to such sudden comings and goings.

Today we’re going to visit the vet and a couple of supermarkets, and have lunch at Curt’s Cafe across the street.

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