Matthew's service vest arrived this week, and with the added confidence that I've gotten from working with Helene and practicing with Matthew A LOT, I decided I was ready to take him out shopping. Tuesday was our first adventure, and we went to the grocery store. I chose to take him to Winn Dixie over Publix because it's a lot less busy, and I was unsure how he would react and I wanted to be able to handle him without huge crowds of people around.
He did AMAZING. He stayed at my side the entire time, even when an adorable little boy came up to him and without asking me, grabbed him and gave him a big hug. When I stopped moving for more than a few seconds, he would either go into a sit, or lay down. Just as he's been taught. Perfect.
Today, is Thursday and Ella was home sick today. It was also my rest day, and I had a ton of errands to do, so I brought along Matthew to keep Ella company and to give us both some more practice.
Stop 1: Super Target: No issues at all. Super dog. In and out without any fan fare. People left us alone.
Stop 2 was to repair Ella's eyeglasses, but her and Matthew waited in the car.
Stop 3: SAM'S CLUB! It was busier than Target and Winn Dixie combined, and I had to push a flatbed and hold on to the dog. Again...no issues.
He was so attached to me that I was worried I might run his little (well, quite large actually) paw over, but nope! We were good!!
Then we got gas, they waited in the car. Came home quickly for lunch and then headed back down to meet the trainer. We decided to meet at Wiregrass Mall and throw us both in to situations that we could encounter with the children and Matthew. First stop was Barnes & Nobel. We took the elevator up and went to the kids area. There was a small group of stuffed animals and we tempted Matthew with them. He tried to go for them ONCE. But a quick, stern, NO and that was it. No more stuffed animal sniffing. We then wandered over to the children's reading area where there were 3 or 4 children and their moms reading and snacking. Matthew climbed on the stage and promptly laid down. LOL He was very well behaved. Then Helene thought we'd try him up the escalator since you never know when we might be in a situation when we have to get Ronin out of a situation NOW and the elevator and/or stairs might be too far away.
Helene, being the expert took him up first. He hesitated a small bit, kept looking behind for me, but followed her up.
And then she took him back down the elevator and it was my turn to take him up. He R.E.F.U.S.E.D. flat out refused. Helene even tried but nope, he almost pulled her off so she had to drop the leash or she would have gone tumbling down backwards! And yes, that's Ella at the top of the escalator. We tried to use her as "bait" to get him up. Nope. Not happening.
So we moved on, thinking perhaps he didn't have much exposure to stairs. Next our out list was Monkey Bizness. An indoor children's play area. Again, we wanted to see how Matthew would stay on task when there was so much distraction!! And he did fine! We brought him in to the back of the area where there is a small art room. There were about 4 or 5 little girls in there with their mothers/grandmothers, and Matthew promptly laid down on the floor at my feet. Technically this is "ok" because I was at a stop, and when I stop, he should stop, either in a sit, or if it's an extended stop, laying down is acceptable, BUT he's still working, he's still "on the job." One little girl was very excited about seeing the dog, though her mother seemed less than thrilled, timid, scared even. And when her daughter asked if she could pet the dog, this look of horror spread across the mother's face! I asked mom if the girl was scared of dogs, or if there was an issue, etc., because I was okay with her petting Matthew, if mom was okay with it. Mom said that she herself had allergies, but the child was ok to pet the dog. But before she could pet him, I had to release him from working. My command to do that is "relax" with a quick hard pat on his side. That gives him the cue that he can just chill and be a dog. Once that little girl started petting him, other little girls...smaller girls like around 2 or younger came over, and Matthew just towers over them, and it started to make me nervous, so we said our goodbyes, I put Matthew back to work and we went out front to talk about our lesson thus far.
Right next door to Monkey Bizness is Justice. Ella had brought her money and I had to get a tank top for Haley's cheerleading competition, so in we went!
On the way back to our cars, we stopped in to Forever 21 because they had stairs. We wanted to see how Matthew did on stairs. And he did great. I don't know if he was previously trained like this, or if he did it on his own, but he would walk a step ahead of me and then block me, like he was trying to prevent me from falling. Helene found it very unusual, but it was cute in an overprotective sort of way.
We walked back to our cars, and Ella and I headed over to pick up Haley and Ronin from school. We needed to go to the library so off we went! Matthew loved the library! The Force is strong in this one!
And then Haley picked up a little bit of light reading for Matthew to do while they were looking for their own books. But he was too tired to read, so he just looked at the pictures
We came home for a quick Whole30 dinner of garlic shrimp (added some yellow rice for the kids), and off we went for our 2+ hour football and cheerleading practice!
He was EXHAUSTED! We got home close to 8:30pm, and we had left the house at 8:20am, so we were gone and working for 12 hours. Puppy slept good last night.
We've got some work to do today too We'll be heading over to International Plaza for some Polar/Iron Girl stuff, then the Cheesecake Factory for treats for the babes and then home!! Tomorrow Haley has to be at her competition at 7:30am, and we wont' be home until after 1pm. I am the only one going. No other kids, no dog. Sunday is the Iron Girl race, and again, no dog. Just me and a daughter. Ella isn't feeling well, so if she's not up to it, I'll bring Haley on race day, and since Haley hasn't trained for it. we'll take it at her pace, probably walking a lot.
Whew. We've been busy. How does your weekend look? Any exciting plans??