Enough feel good hug your fuzzy puppy talk. Let me get on to business. Up until this week, I was confident about passing every portion of the Delta Therapy Dog Test, except for the neutral dog portion. Topher, being an Australian Cattle Dog, likes to have his mommy all to himself and not share her with some strange unruly big dog. He's not a show his teeth aggressive kind of dog by any means, but when another dog gets within a couple feet of us, he would grumble and let it be known that he didn't like that dog there. As I have said over and over again, I am extremely fortunate to have amazing dog trainer/therapy dog friends. (That alone was truly a gift from God. The way we all met, when we met, etc, but that's another story for another day.) Our friend, Kris, has two therapy dogs, and a third who is about to test on the same day we are. She is certified through Delta Society and is also a Delta Society Therapy Dog Evaluator. She has pointed us down the right path all along and given us great tips, but up until today, has not been allowed to meet our dogs since she will be evaluating us. Because her dog, Malachi, (who is about to test) also needs neutral dog work, she decided to find someone else to evaluate us on the 13th and she came over today to do neutral dog work with me and Topher.
Malachi is a one year old BIG Golden Retriever. He is goofy, fun, loving, and happy. He is nicknamed "the moose." He has difficulty with getting too excited to visit people and other dogs. Topher gets intimidated by big over excited dogs. They were just what each other needed. I really can only speak about Topher from this point on because as we practiced, I focused entirely on him so that I could read his signals and anticipate his actions. There was not a lot to read. Topher did excellent. He obviously got the message during the last neutral dog practice that it doesn't matter if he doesn't like another big dog within a couple feet of us, his job is to heel and listen to my every command. His job is to keep his eyes on me. And that's exactly what he did. He got curious a few times, turned and looked, and sniffed the air. That's okay. What's important is that he stayed by my side, he looked up and made eye contact when I said his name, he listened to my every command (even if it took twice a couple of times) he sat when I asked him to sit once we walked up to Kris and Malachi, and he waited while Kris and I shook hands and spoke. He then heeled nicely next to me when I said, "let's go" and we walked away. PERFECT!!! 100% ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!!! I could not have asked for better behavior out of Mr. Topher. I feel that, without a doubt, we will pass the neutral dog portion of the Delta Evaluation with flying colors.
Kris is coming back over tomorrow to practice more. She thinks that Malachi still needs a little work before next Sunday. Every bit of practice helps us, so it's a win-win opportunity. Fortunately, Wes will be here to watch this time. He needs to watch because he and Tanker are volunteering on the 19th to be the neutral dog team for evaluations that Kris is doing on other dogs. Kris is bringing a walker over and we will practice on walking next to walker too. It will be another great day!
|Malachi getting ready to leave.|
|Topher and Tanker's AKC Canine Good Citizen patches came in for their therapy dog vests.|