March 30, 2015
This is only our second time back to the prisons together since September. Tammy and I still have our routine down. On the drive up we brainstormed how we'll execute Tammy's lesson plan:
- puppy presentation
- paperwork (Tammy) / meet & greets, handler's exams, questions (me)
- group discussion
- relaxation protocol
- exercises with treat delivery and impulse control using a ground tether
- obedience practice for all and In-For-Training (IFT) assessments for FLDs Bandit, Andie, Adell and Teysen
- rally course, ladder and distractions exercise (teams) / finish IFTs (Tammy and I)
- "blind" touch
- musical chairs
- Bandit's good-bye
It always amazes me that we manage to get through the entire list.
After the puppy presentation Tammy takes care of the paperwork with Rial. I circle the room to practice meet and greets and handler's exams. I ask each team, "Tell me something good about your puppy and then tell me something you are struggling with." Their answers should drive the group discussion, but there are no big issues.
Everyone in the room is interested in hearing an update on FLD Ashley. The black lab returned to Leader Dogs for the Blind in December for formal training and now she's ready to move into an "advanced" level. At the next step she'll be matched with her new partner. (No one knows it yet, but Ashley is destined to be matched at the end of April.)
Tammy starts off with a twist on the standard relaxtaion protocol. Normally the puppies sit, down or stand in heel position with the handler standing during the exercise. Tammy instructs the handlers to stay seated. "Tell your puppy under," she says, "or have your puppy lie down at your side."
|The seated relaxation protocol has the handlers do things like touch their toes, turn to the right or left, stamp their feet, or cross their legs. The puppies stay in position throughout the entire exercise.|
With the relaxation protocol finished, Tammy puts me to work demonstrating the treat delivery and ground tether exercises, and helping her with the IFT assessments. I'm too busy to get any photos, but once the music starts for musical chairs I am free to shoot away.
In this game, there are chairs for everyone. When the music stops, the men must sit with their puppies "under" the chairs...last puppy down is out!
|Tammy's CD has dog-themed songs, like "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and "How Much is that Puppy in the Window?"|
|FLD Henry keeps a nice loose leash and a keen focus on his temporary handler.|
|The music stops...who is out?|
|I set a distraction down for the puppies. FLD GeeGee is very interested in "Travel Deacon," as is FLD Chance in the background.|
|We have a winner! FLD GeeGee is under her handler Ro before FLD Chance hits the tile under his handler Eric.|