Friday, August 29, 2008

Update: Team Training

I am preparing to travel to Summit next week for the first half of my team training. Yes, that's right, I said first half. Summit is experimenting with their team training protocols. They are separating the lectures and some of the group training such as learning commands from the more individual elements of the team placement that depend upon which person, which dog and their particular task/lifestyle needs. While this is not the the format I was expecting, I am willing to roll with it. I will be attending a full day of lectures and group team training this week with three other people and families who are being matched with dogs. two of the dogs going out this round are therapy dogs working with very young children with disabilities. Myself and another woman will be matched with service dogs. We are both receiving our second dogs. Since Summit's cues and rules are a bit different from the ones each of us were accustomed to with our previous partners, I imagine both she and I will be working to reconcile the old with the new and battling some ingrained patterns along the way.

I am beyond excited to start the process of training with Shilo. I would be lying if I said it wasn't going to be hard to go up there and come back without her. I am consoling myself with the advantages I believe this new training approach may have. For instance, I will be able to spend some prolonged time with Shilo without uprooting her world view, This period of watching Shilo and I work will give the trainer more information about any tweaking needed to her training (and my preparation before) October, and I will be able to ask some burning questions I have before I have to embark on the all consuming process of bonding and becoming a team. My roommate Leslie and her Guide Dog, Cammy, are also coming along so that Summit can meet them --not too mention a little vacation before school starts back up again. Finding the right person for the dog and the right dog for the person is a difficult match making process. The Summit staff must compare the dog's strengths, weakness, energy level, preferred home environment with those of the human partner and make the best make possible. While there is no such thing as a perfect match since perfect leaves no room for the growth and adaptation that create a true team. The Summit staff have the difficult task of making those match whee the human and dog will eventually meet in the middle and become indispensable to each other. For now I pour over my team training binder and identify books in my dog library [See Favorite Books about Living and Working with Dogs to the right].

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