Thursday, June 12, 2014

GADA Team Training Day Eleven

This morning our breakfast was once again provided by volunteer Deb. She prepared quiche and a hashbrown casserole.  It was so quiet in the classroom because all the dogs were at Groomingdale's getting beautiful for gradation.  We all worked on our written exam while we ate. After turning the exams in, Ramona said we all passed with an A++.

Ramona touched on a few more topics that we still needed to cover. These topics included how to let our service dogs meet and greet other dogs, separation anxiety (which Murphy is already having if I leave him with Jeremy to go to the bathroom), and how to kennel our dogs.

Next we moved along to our oral exam. Ramona asked us situational type questions that we may encounter from other people while out in public. This exam also covered behavioral issues we may encounter while in public with our dogs.  Once again we all passed with an A ++. It's was official, each team passed all the necessary tests for our service dogs. Woohoo!!!

It was time to celebrate. Volunteer DeeDee and her mother Glenda catered in pizza. Glenda also brought a homemade chocolate cake. It's our final team training meal. Sniff sniff. :'-(

After lunch, Ramona covered grooming for dogs. They need to be brushed daily, no more than one bath a week, their nails need to be trimmed once every two weeks, they need to have their teeth brushed, the inside of their ears cleaned, and their hair trimmed occasionally.  We also covered health requirement for our dogs; such as, vet visits, shots, heart worm medicine and flea control.

The call from Groomingdale's finally came and Tim went to pick up our babies. They were as excited to see us as we were them.  Rich and his mother Barbara made bandanas for all the coordinate with our personalities.  After some puppy cuddles, we went outside for some group pictures and then it was home to rest up for graduation.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

GADA Team Training Day Ten

At breakfast this morning, Ramona cover the itinerary for graduation. This is going to be a ceremony you won't want to miss. I hope you will all join us for this wonderful celebration.

We jumped right into our practical working exam with our dogs. Each team performed ten different tasks with our dogs. And of course each team did amazing. These dogs are so eager to perform. It still amazes me that each dog has formed such a bond with their human partner in such a short amount of time. Even though Tim and Ramona have spent two years with them, their focus is completely on their new partner. We all passed our exam with flying colors. All we have left to complete our training is an oral and written exam which we will take tomorrow.
Danny in the kennel
 Topper turns the light on
 Watching the exam
 Rich and Topper
 Resting up
 Danny retrieving an item from the drawer
 Topper paying the cashier
 Good job Murphy
 Puppy love
Exams are hard work!!
Murphy retrieving an item from the drawer

Tim catered in our lunch from Subway and afterwards Ramona showed us the graduation. We all wanted to see it before hand so we could be desensitized. I can tell you after watching the video that you will need tissues if you plan to come to graduation. Ramona did a phenomenal job with the video.

We all loaded up after lunch for our final outing, a trip to the movies to see Maleficent.  Each dog settled in quite nicely before the movie started. We were all very careful not to drop any popcorn. There was a part in the movie with wolfs barking. I was so afraid we would have three dogs barking but they all remained quiet.  It was another successful outing!
Movie time

Ramona and Tim took all the dogs home with them tonight. They will be going to Groomingdale's first thing in the morning so they will be nice and clean for graduation on Friday.
Goodwill sign reads:
Danny Topper
and Murphy
GADA Graduates

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

GADA Team Training Day Nine

Today I brought my nephew Carter to team training. We all enjoyed a breakfast of fresh fruit provided by volunteer Deb. I'm telling you we aren't going to know what to do next week when team training is over. We have all joked that we will still show up at Goodwill for breakfast.
Ramona, DeeDee and Deb

After the dogs had a potty break, we started practicing commands for our practical working exam.  Everyone at Goodwill has joked that Murphy is the diva of the dogs. He doesn't like wearing his service dog vest. It is such a distraction to him that he has a hard time following commands. Ramona provided me with a smaller vest that I put on Murphy for the practice session. I could tell he was having a hard time focusing because I had to give him commands multiple times.  As we made our way around the stations in the classroom, he was able to perform the tasks but needing a lot of targeting.
Murphy turned the light off

Murphy just wanted to love on me

Take to Ramona...your other mommy

Each team went to the office with Ramona one at a time to practice a very important command of find help. This command will be of great help to Mason, Rich and me if we ever need assistance and can't go get someone. Our dogs will be able to go get help for us by 'alerting' someone in the house by nudging the hand of the first person they come to with their nose.  I can think of many times this command would have helped me in the past.
Murphy is not happy about wearing his little vest

Ramona and I also worked on a new command for Murphy. Annabelle likes to ride on the footplate of my wheelchair with me. I thought this would be a good option for Murphy if the ground is too hot for him to walk on or if there is something dirty I don't want him to have to walk through. We started by having Murphy lap (put his front paws in my lap) and then Ramona picked his hind legs up and placed them on my footplate and I said ride. It will take time for Murphy to learn this new command but Ramona thinks he will be able to do it.

Today our lunch was brought in by Cindy who is VP of Missions Services at Goodwill. We had Jenkin's fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, okra, and corn bread.
Silly Tim
Ramona, Tim and Cindy

After lunch Ramona and Cindy told us about all the wonderful things Goodwill does for our community. When people think about Goodwill, they normally thinking about donating items to the thrift stores or shopping for items in the thrift stores. But there is SO much more to Goodwill than everyone may realize. It is because of Cindy that there is even a Goodwill Assistance Dog Academy.  She was the one that researched and pushed for the program. Only 1% of the American population that need a service dog actually has a service dog. Programs like GADA are greatly needed for individuals with disabilities to acquire a service dog.  In addition to GADA, Goodwill also has a HELPS department. This department GIVES medical equipment to individuals in the community that need it. Goodwill has a furniture bank that furnishes at least 32 homes a month for individuals in need. There is a job training program that teaches the skills needed to be a part of the work force. This department helps individuals with disabilities, individuals who have been out of the work force for decades and veterans develop the skills they need to successful join the work force.  Goodwill also had a youth advantage program which mentors the youth in our community. I never realized all the fabulous things our Chattanooga Area Goodwill is doing for the betterment of our community.

In addition to all this great news, Rich FINALLY got his wheelchair fixed. That's right, he has been without a vital function of his wheelchair for a WEEK now. I really wish there was a quicker turn around time on having a repair made to our wheelchairs when they break.
Wheelchair repairs...WOOHOO!!!

Despite the threat for bad weather, we decided to head to Target so we could take our public access exam.  Murphy was still in his vest but when we got to Target, I couldn't get him to pick up his leash. Ramona suggested we remove his vest and instead put his service dog bandana on. Once we did this, Murphy followed my commands and we were out of the van ready to take on the world.
Let's go to Target
Rich goes to Target...with Topper
Murphy hanging out on the baby aisle
Topper and Rich
Walking around Target
Carter with Murphy
Mason and Danny
Carter, DeeDee, Murphy and me
Just a stroll through Target with Rich and Topper
No Murphy you can't have those treats Ramona dropped
Team Mason

We started with a lap around Target so the dogs could warm up. Each team went to a separate aisle to perform various tasks on the exam. I had Murphy settle next to me while I looked at items on the baby aisle. I unhooked his leash from my wheelchair and had him sit and stay while I moved six feet away and then called him back to me. Next Murphy had to be placed with Carter in a down settle (where he's laying on the ground) and I went 20 feet away. During this part of the exam, a lady with a baby in a stroller came down the aisle. Murphy never took his eyes off of me. It was a great unplanned distraction and Murphy did wonderful!!  I hooked Murphy back to my wheelchair and Ramona pushed her buggy around us making a lot of noise. She then dropped treats near Murphy. He of course looked at them but was able to focus his attention back to me with no problems. We all met at the front of Target in the deli area where the dogs had to go in under the table and settle. Ramona dropped various food and treats to try and distract the dogs. Each team did amazing and we all passed our public access exam with flying colors!!  YAY!!!
Goodwill Team!!!