Saturday, May 1, 2010

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Take Me Out to a Ball Game

Thursday Bingo scored free tickets to a Threshers games and we were able to accompany him. I swear this dog gets out more than we do! Left to our own devices Fred and I would wander around the house and mutter, "What would you like to do?" "Oh, I don't know. What would you like to do?" "Look at the time! Perhaps we should just take a nap." Basically, we're just slugs and will sleep at the drop of a hat.

When we got to the stadium, Donna gave us a Do It Yourself obedience sheet that had five obedience challenges that we needed Bingo to practice.

1. Train, Not Restrain. Bingo is too excitable. So even though you can technically greet and pet in coat up to 10 months, we never have. Removing the coat and saying "take a break" would have resulted in CHAOS! So we opted for Bingo sitting pretty and me answering whatever questions they had about Southeastern Guide Dogs.

2. Food Distraction. We did stand in line at the concession stand. We also walked by a line, several times. Well, we walked by a particular piece of food that was in a line and practiced not lunging for it. He didn't lunge on the second try. Hoovering is a particular problem of his. He is better in the school cafeteria, but still lunges, just not constantly.

3. Stand/Stay in the Restroom. Accomplished. Nuff said. Do you really want a description of the bathroom?

4. Down/Under. Ah. This is where Bingo needs to really be a good boy. He has to be completely under the seat because people are walking in and out of the aisles and they can't be walking over him. I think he did a good job of this. Fortunately, the stadium is really clean and there wasn't gross stuff on the ground like there is in theaters. Theaters are frankly disgusting.

5. No Noses in Ears. Now, you wouldn't normally think about this as a problem, but if you are walking down an aisle and you have your guide dog with you and you are blind, you can't tell if they are poking their nose into people's chicken nuggets or ears as you go down the aisle. Unless of course they scream out, "HEY! Your guide dog just ate my chicken nuggets!" or "Whoa! Wet nose in ear! Gross!" So, this is something you want to make sure that your puppy isn't prone to doing. Our job was to walk him down an aisle in back of people and see if he would try to poke his nose in people's ears and then correct him if he did. In hindsight, I'm thinking this could have led to one of those old cartoon scenes where Bugs Bunny is running from Elmer Fudd and runs under the seats and all the people go flying upwards and their food goes flying as well! Fortunately, I didn't have time to have my imagination get the best of me.

First we had to find an aisle that had people who looked like they were dog friendly. This task was a bit tougher than it sounds because if you screw it up, you're toast! I would pick an aisle and Fred would point out a person and say "No. Looks grumpy." or "No, looks afraid of dogs." We finally decided on a half full row of mainly big guys to give us a little breathing room. One, guys usually like dogs regardless, and two, since they were big we figured maybe they wouldn't be so sensitive if Bingo did a quick ear touch.

Fortunately Bingo was completely unconcerned with other people's ears or their food. He stuck to my side all the way. Good boy!

At the end of the challenges, he was a most tired pup. We met his sister Alma there and learned that she and Bingo are both having problems with jumping up unexpectedly. I think the jump ups mostly occur when people make eye contact with them. They get really excited (Bingo and Alma, that is, the people are mainly just friendly.). But what are you going to say, "DON'T LOOK AT HIM!!! AVERT YOUR EYES!!!" He's got to overcome that. So, we'll continue to correct the behavior and hope it gets better. We've signed him up for a third obedience class with super trainer Jennifer. He will eventually get it. Here's a shot of the beginning of the meeting. Bingo was not in the circle of acceptance and we had to go sit outside and wait for him to calm down. I'm happy to report that by the end of all of our obedience steps that we were able to join the group and be within 3 feet of MIKEY!

Tomorrow, the tale of the all school convo and the library photo shoot and great escape!

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