It’s been a hard couple of weeks, not having my buddy by my side. I think about Spike every day. What’s he’s up to? Does he like his roommate? Is he making new friends? Is he working hard and studying? I sure hope so!
One of the many things I like about Canine Companions is that they send you a report card once a month. They don’t “grade” him with As, Bs and Cs, but give you a general idea of how he’s doing. The dogs are being evaluated to determine suitability for placement with a person with a disability. Therefore standards of behaviors are very specific and stringent.
I just got Spike’s first report card and immediately opened it up, of course.
Spike’s trainer Kim Furino took him and several of her other trainees to Lowe’s home improvement store to assess how he handles himself in pubic. It also helps Kim determine what he needs to work on. They test how he handles surprises and whether he will walk on different surfaces — which they talked about in his report card.
“Spike has settled well into the kennels. We have started with an assessment of basic commands and have been working on nose targeting which will progress to the push command. We went on our first field trip this month to Lowes. Spike was stable with sudden sounds and unfamiliar surfaces. However, he consistently forged (walks ahead of me) throughout the field trip despite redirection and corrections. During the field trip, Spike tried to scavenge cardboard and weeds from the floor during a greeting. We will work on appropriate behavior. Spike is appropriate during community play.”
Oh boy. I’m not surprised to hear that he was “forging” on the field trip to Lowe’s. He did that a bit towards the end, but cardboard and weeds? Who the heck wants to eat cardboard? Stop it, Spike!
His trainer Kim specifically walked him by the Halloween display in the store to see how he reacted to the costumes and sounds. He took an extra-long look at the scary-looking giant werewolf, but wouldn’t you if you were a dog? She said that was pretty normal, though.
I was so happy to hear he is “appropriate” during community play, as he had a humping phase after getting mercilessly humped by a friend’s French Bulldog. I’m glad he’s stopped that.
And he’s doing “nose targeting,” which is cool. Eventually, he will learn the “push” command, which he will use to push a button that may open a door that his person would be unable to do on their own.
Spike’s only been at doggy college for a couple of weeks so it’s too early to tell how he’s truly doing. But I like to think Spike is a superstar and a straight-A student. Keep up the good work, Spike!