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!!!

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