Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Six Month Follow Up with Summit

Last weekend Wendy, one of Shiloh's rescuers and trainers during her time at Summit came to Eugene for our six month follow up visit. Wendy did not come alone; however, she brought Chaihuly, her 11 yr old collie mix, and Dixie, a member of Summit's D-Litter born the week Shiloh and I were team training. Six-months is some what of a milestone for Summit teams as we no longer need to submit monthly reports and we are really gelling as a team. It is now rare for Shiloh and I to regard one another with looks of other confusing and we have a treasure trove of shared experiences bonding us. Wendy wanted to see our apartment in case we were having trouble with task because of how things are set up and she could help problem solve the issue. We also visited our favorite dog park- Amazon Dog Park (thanks to Eugene Area for the photo!) and let all three dogs play. Wendy asked a lot of question about how Shiloh and I were getting along and working while, of course, keeping a watchful trainer's eye on how Shiloh responded to me. Shiloh was impressed to see how quickly she responded to my call to come even in the hub bub of dog park at 5 on a Friday. We spent a lot of time talking about Shiloh's and my experiences getting to know each other and any quirks, or suggestion that I might have to help Summit Staff improve what the dogs know before they get placed with a person needing a service dog. Since each dog and person that Summit works with is a unique entity and subsequently and entirely unique team they are also curious to see how the things they train and teach work or don't work in the real world. Some suggestions Wendy and I talked about included:
  • Working dogs in training after dark more, especially as they get closer to being placed. When I first got Shiloh she was very unsure about working at night. Upon seeing this I decide to find activities to do in the evening to help her be more comfortable. We, now, go out regularly in the evenings for movies, lectures and dinner with friends and Shiloh just sees it as a part of our lives.
  • Adding variety to the type of Tugs used for doors. I use a variety of tugs depending on what best suit the situation at hand, but my favorite tug is my dog's own leash since I always have it with me. Shiloh was used to working only with pulls made from dog rope toys and monkey fists (like the one on the left). I had problems with this since I couldn't change the length for taller doors and it was another thing to carry. I leave pull on door we use regularly including work door. These pulls I often make out of the slip leads they use at groomers and vet for people who for get their leashes since they are cheaper and can be used everywhere without making it difficult for outs to use the door handle.

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