Pet store. Yuck.

Oct 14, 2017 | Serra's Story

We stopped at the pet store for another go this morning. Not our Finest Hour.

I ran out of treats before I checked out, which was one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. He kind of lost it and I basically dragged him out of the store while he tried to snag a chewstick on his way by or get back to play with the Boxer or the kids.

It started out well. Nice loose leash across the parking lot, good entry into the store after a couple of tries. Decent job walking around.

I’ve often said if you’re taking your Service Dog candidate to a store on a training run, do NOT go there to buy stuff because the buying will take over from the training. Earth to Sue…

I found an amazing ball that I knew he’d love:

Try carrying that sucker around a store while keeping a Giant puppy under control and rewarding often enough! And yes, he does love it.

Left the ball at the counter and kept working. And a toddler came boo-ing up from behind him. Yikes. I managed to keep him from knocking the kid over in his enthusiasm, but wasn’t fast enough to contain his tongue from washing the kid’s face. Reminded me of the old joke – Johnnie, Johnnie, did the big dog bite you? NO (wailing) BUT HE TASTED ME!

Fortunately the kid had a smart mom who came over and petted Spider to show the kid that he meant no harm. I offered to hold his head while they petted his butt but the kid had turned shy (for some reason).

Then a fat old Pug and his owner started following us around going “*I* don’t mind if they meet! He LOVES other dogs!” I told her Spider loved other dogs too but that he’d thwap the Pug into next Tuesday with his paw and consider it a polite greeting, so I’d rather not have them meet. She said she understood and proceeded to follow us all over the store letting the Pug get closer and closer as Spider and I ducked around corners. Which is why I ran out of treats before I was ready to leave.

So not a horrible session, mostly good in fact. Just didn’t end particularly well.

I also got him some really hard bouncy slightly-larger-than-tennis-balls balls (and a bigger bait bag, and a snood to wear over his naked little ears when winter hits). When we got home, I realized that I had forgotten – Giants don’t play with the same toys as PWDs. Oh yeah, they’ll play together, but when they’re playing alone, it’s different.

I had a Giant – Panda – who would mouth a ball at the top of the stairs until the ball got away and rolled down the stairs. She’d chase it and carry it back up to the top of the stairs. I considered her incredibly intelligent. Now I just wonder if the traditional training I did then shut down exploring minds before most of them tried stuff like that? Spider has already figured out the ball-stairs thing, and knows that the higher he takes the ball, the longer the run after it will be. He’s also mastered the “basketball bounce” – he walks along carrying the ball, drops it, and catches it again after the first bounce. Then he was walking all the way through the kitchen dropping it and catching it again once for every step he took. I’ll be fielding scholarship offers next week. I suspect he’ll be fanTASTic on defence when he’s a little older.