Saturday, October 20, 2007

Notes on the Equipment Lab

Maudie is stretched out in a corner of the kitchen asleep. Occasionally she utters one of her big rattling sighs. She’s tired.
I’m tired too and feel a little unmoored. So much energy has been focused on getting to and through the lab, and now it’s over. The actual test is in 2 weeks. I assume we will get the nod to move toward certification.

I’m thinking about using these categories as a way to log our experience:
-Memorable Moments
-What I Learned
-Things to Work On
-Things We Did Well
-Notes about Names and Facilities

Memorable Moments
I asked Maudie if she would wave to the volunteer and made the wave signal I use with Tartuffe the Senegal and Flynn: palm vertical and still, fingers together and bouncing up and down. Maudie lifted her paw—the way she always does, as if to shake hands, and as it falls, it looks alike a wave. She did it consistently. We have a great trick! Especially handy for this work.

Near the very end, when we were in the “community room” and she had begun to turn off, we went to sit down together. I put her on a down and she lay looking up at me and wagging her tail as I talked to her and I could feel our bond so strongly.

What I Learned
Several people responded strongly to her as a collie. This creates an instant bond.

Maudie was uncomfortable with one person—the small darting person who kept scooting closer, peering directly at and under her and talking about the people in the walls while looking for her lost dog Buckley. Oddly enough, I felt not only OK, but intrigued. I don’t know if it was OK to accept her version of things…like agreeing to look out for the people in the walls by walking in the middle of the hallway. I kept trying to direct her attention away from Maudie.

She shut down during our second to last of 15 visits by turning her back to the person, refusing her attempts to get her attention. She did take a treat from her though. This was the woman who has a service dog and trains service dogs for others. She is one of the original volunteers in this program. Maudie’s response was very like it was with HT, the director.
She responded very well to the woman in the wheelchair (who I also liked. She was sad and sweet and lonely), and none of the equipment bothered her at all. The beep beep machine made her want to investigate.

She rallied for the very last visit and then spent the few minutes there lying facing the woman.

So far then, she’s good for about a half hour and likes gentle calm, people. She did like the teenager who read to her. She likes girls. I wish we had had more opportunity to visit with children.

She probably is not a candidate for unpredictable environments.
She responds well to my encouragement.
Driving home I felt a flash of anger at another driver. I understand this as a stress response…it was a lot to take in at once.

What I Need to Work On
-Keeping a loose lead by asking for her attention more consistently.
-Watching that she doesn;t paw people.
-Keeping the visits (myself) calm and giving us both breaks.
-Brushing her out REALLY well. There were collie filaments floating all over the place…

Things We Did Well

Overall I felt that we did quite well and everyone responded positively to us. We were a team and for the most part, both of us were present, personable and relaxed. (Until we got tired.)

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