Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Most Embarrassing Training Moments"

Rainy day training & fun

These stories of embarrassing training moments are so humiliating that I almost don't want to publish them. However accidents happen and so does misbehaviour. Rowena is her own person/dog and I cannot control her every breath. I do my best to train her and I believe she does her best to behave and do what I want. For the most part, Rowena is a well -behaved dog in public and we have never been kicked out of a place or even eye-balled for our behaviour. So I ask, What the heck happened!!??
Herding Instincts or Alert Dog?:
I had gone to the state hospital (BMHI) to attend their renaming ceremony. Even though changing the name from Bangor Mental Health Institute to The Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center sounded nifty, it really wouldn't change what the place was or what peoples' experiences had been there. Everyone knew what the place really was and it could never hide from itself behind a fancy name. However, over the years I had come to respect the place for what it had done for me and I had a good working relationship with some of the doctors and other staff there. Too bad they won't take me there anymore... or is that a good thing? Anyway, I thought this ceremony would be a good place to take Rowena for a public training exercise. She had all her paperwork on file there and most everyone was familiar with her there already. It was a rainy, crappy day out so the ceremony would be held inside. I would have taken Rowena to play in the field first to get her to unwind a bit before the ceremony, but with the weather, I didn't want to take a very muddy and wet dog into the hospital. We got off the bus and I had to hold firmly to Rowena as we passed by the place she knows as "playtime". We go into the hospital and up stairs to the little auditorium (where in the old days they used to play movies) and we found a seat up front on the outside edge of the right side. The governor and some other political figures came over and pet Rowena, (some without asking I might add) and she enjoyed all the attention. As the ceremony began, the superintendent spoke a little and then announced the first politician up to speak. I think that one went okay, but as the next guy was called up, he came from behind us (my right) instead of up front where there was a row of important political figures sitting. He swiftly walked up from behind me and cut sharply in front and close to where Rowena lay, looking the other way. As the swift moving politician past her, she started up to chase him and lunge for his pant leg. Fortunately, she works on a 2 foot leash and I had it wrapped around the chair leg. She barely made it off the floor and I promptly stomped my foot down on the center of the leash. The politician didn't even notice. However, I get the feeling that the governor and others sitting up front facing the audience and the front row I sat in... including the medical director saw what had happened. I know my face blushed. I could see eyes looking my way. Rowena was under control, back in "down" on the floor again,but the damage was done. After the ceremony, I spoke to some individuals and decided to visit a friend of mine who was a patient there "indefinitely". On my way down the hall, the medical director (used to be my psychiatrist) comes up behind me and says: "I saw your dog nip at someone." My response was "She didn't 'nip'!" Was I in denial here? I didn't see the mouth open, only saw a restless young service dog in training totally screw up and make herself AND me look bad in front of the Governor of the State of Maine! I obsessed on this comment from this doctor for the whole week. Gees, is that what it looked like? Did they think she was acting in aggression? I hope they know that she's a herding dog who thought she was going to "play" with the jogging politician. If she really didn't like the guy, she would have avoided the guy and backed under my chair. I couldn't believe that she had done something like this. A year old and never had she done something like this while at work.
That wasn't the first thing that happened that day... Or maybe she was just alerting me of a "swift moving politician" as not a person I should be voting for?
When Rowena was about 9 to 20 weeks old, the end of the day found her exhausted as any puppy would be following me around all day. As a result, if she was going to have an "accident", it would be late in the work day. And so it did... about four different times. My husband and I saw the marriage counselor around six o'clock in the end of the week. The first week we had her, we proudly brought her in and laughed as she discovered herself in the mirror while enroute to the therapist's office. As we were leaving the session, she peed on the corner of the therapist's rug. He was cool with it, didn't make a big deal of it and I was glad. However, on another occasion (mind you, I try to get her to go to the bathroom outside BEFORE we go into appointments) we were walking down the hallway towards this therapist's office and as we are walking, she piddles down the hallway (carpet) leaving a trail behind us. Luckily, it being winter, it looked like we had just tracked in some snow. Another time, I was at the chiropractor's office, paying for services and Rowena was on the floor next to the corner of the counter and she just let it go... peed on the floor. The man behind the counter... knows me pretty well, didn't make a big deal of that and just said she's lucky she didn't do it on any of the chiropractor's carpeted areas. I agreed, but was embarrassed even though Rowena was still a little puppy and it was the end of the day. I think she may have gone in the marriage counselor's office one other time in the say exact spot as she did the first time. Then there was the time I was leaving the counseling agency around five thirty after seeing my psychiatrist late in the work day. We had made it to the rubber backed carpet that is down inside the front doors of the agency and she peed. We were like 10 feet from the outside and she just couldn't hold it. She was a young and worn out puppy back then. At almost a year old... she wouldn't have any more accidents.
Before Rowena and I headed off to the state hospital for the renaming ceremony, I had to drop some things off at the counseling agency. It was morning and I had taken Rowena out to go to the bathroom already. She only tinkled. We had to take off to be on time, so I couldn't wait around to see if she was going to eventually have a BM. On my way out of the agency, I was walking down the steps just before getting to the lobby and I noticed that Rowena was hesitating on the stairs and I was having to pull on her. I glanced back and noticed that Rowena was... midstep on the steps and "squatting" right there. I scolded her and picked her up with her tail tucked under her. I had quickly glanced back to see if she had deposited anything and didn't see. I explained to the security guy (and some individuals that were sitting there... I knew them and they knew me and Rowena) and ran out with her. I placed her on the first grassy spot and she wouldn't go. I had to march her over to her "favorite spot" on the grass next to the sidewalk before she would go. The following week, my friend would tell me that Rowena had indeed left a deposit on the steps and that security cleaned it up. I was so embarrassed! I apologized to security (we are quite familiar with one another) and told him that if I had known she left a mess, I would have cleaned it up. I apologized for my dog too.
What was it with this particular day that made Rowena act up so much? Was it inactivity? Had I not taken her out enough to play? What had I done wrong with her?
I don't know what it was that day. I only hope that what Rowena did doesn't permanently blemish her record as a future service dog. Thankfully, I still have 2 more years to iron out the kinks in her professional life.

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