First full day

Did I mention that Benjamin has a broken arm?  He is sporting a very green cast on his left (dominant) arm, which he got on the next-to-last day of school.  Bummer.  He’s a really good sport about it but it makes several things more difficult.  He is taking it in stride now, though, leading his full-sized stuffed animal stand-in service dog around everywhere.  At one point I didn’t know where he went today and then he showed up – and when I asked he looked at me matter-of-factly and said that he was taking his (stuffed-animal) dog to potty outside.  He’s very ready for the responsibility of the dog at this point J

Today (Monday) was a full day of training.  The morning included basic dog commands and obedience, and a discussion about “pack leadership.”  We also talked about realistic (and unrealistic) expectations for the dog.  We learned some good things that I’ll try to write about later as we practice them…

A highlight of the day included a demonstration kind-of-gone-wrong, actually.  After lunch the lead trainer was talking through the basics of dog-handling and “clearing” a room of allergens.  She talked through how to do a wide-scale look over the room with the dog, then a slightly more detailed search of the whole room and any potential problem areas, and then a very detailed search of a place or chair or something where the food-allergic individual would be. This would ensure that the allergic individual has the least chance of encountering even a surface amount of allergen that could be very dangerous for them.

The trainer next decided to show us by using a dog-in-training.  (Backstory: Because of the severe allergies of the individuals in this group, the hotel has gone through some pretty extensive cleaning measures in the rooms – including deep cleaning the carpet in the meeting room, wiping tables/chairs, etc. And a service dog had previously searched the room … but then some extra chairs were brought in.) As she used the dog to “clear” the room the dog alerted to a chair she had pulled out.  There were so many distractions that it didn’t seem like a real alert at first, so she had the dog check the chair again – and another “sit” for an allergen “find.”  The trainer was still skeptical given all the other precautions that had been taken, so she had her daughter (the dog’s primary leader/handler) check the chair – and same thing.  Obviously despite all the precautions an extra chair had come into the room that had some very small trace residue of peanut on the back of it.  (It was removed, all were safe, and the organizers and the hotel were very regretful and apologetic that something slipped through despite their good precautions.) We didn’t talk about this aspect – but this also fit into yesterday’s discussion of risk and that there are truly no “risk-free” situations, even at a training session like this one.   But it was a great illustration (though accidental!) of the way that Tracy will help reduce the risk of a severe reaction for Benjamin.

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