Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Day - We passed!

Well, today was our final day of team training in the Harrisburg Mall / Bass Pro Shops.  We definitely took the longest to test today, with Kindle and Emma going through the test three times.  Each time it took 30-45 minutes.  Way to go Kindle!  Most dogs only take it once.  She did great!  She was so good and focused.  The only area we had a little trouble with was the "leave it" cue.  The tester put treats pretty much right under her nose and we have to say "leave it" and hope she does.  She did eat some of them, but when tested more on it later, she did great!  Otherwise, she was flawless!  We all did great on the elevator.  We are very proud of her!  We are now an official service dog team.  We got our id badges and all of her records.  We can now begin taking her in public ourselves.  She won't go to school with Emma until Monday.  She will go with Keith to work.  For the first two weeks, instead of half days, she will take Wednesdays off.  This will be a long day for her and she needs to adjust.  Thank you for your support and loyal following on the blog.  We will definitely keep posting regular updates on their progress, but it won't be daily.  I, too, have to go back to work! :)  Please keep checking in.  My goal is to post weekly.  Congratulations Team Emma - we did it!! :)
Okay 1st grade!!!  I will see you TOMORROW!  I am very proud of you.  Two and a half weeks is a long time to be away from your teacher and I am so excited to get back to you and our routine.  Love, Mrs. Wenger :))

Thank you to our awesome SSD training team:  Ryan, Kendra, and Amanda!!!  You guys are the best and we wouldn't have Kindle without you!!!!  Thanks also, to the entire SSD staff and volunteers!!

Our celebratory lunch at Ruby Tuesday with 13 others.  All the teams passed!  Kindle isn't shown because she is being a good doggy, under the table in a down-stay. :)

 A nice spa treatment for Kindle after a long, hard morning!  Congratulations Emma and Kindle!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 12 - Field Trip Day!

Well, if you guessed our trip was to Hershey, you are right!  We started at Zoo America this morning and ended up at Chocolate World.  What a great day!!!  It was very interesting being at a zoo with a dog.  We got to see more animals than usual.  The scent must alert them to the dogs and some of them become very active and visible, especially the wolves.  We couldn't even stay near their pen, they got very excited and started alerting the dogs.  We left there.  The only thing that made Kindle bark was a magpie.  Yes, all those animals, including cats and she got worked up at the birds.  :)  Both dogs did a great job.  They were in an environment that really challenged their instincts.
Chocolate World was the environment that challenged mine!  Ha!  We couldn't believe it, but the entire group, including both dogs, fit into one ride car.  What a great picture!  The dogs did great!  The challenge was getting them on and off with the floor moving.  They did fine.  I think I found the moving floor more of a challenge. Kindle did leash today a few times and was excellent with lots of greetings.  We had a lot of fun.  We are feeling much more confident about handling her and Emma in the stroller in public.  Although I haven't tried the bathroom again.  That won't be on the test tomorrow, so I'll practice that more later.  :)  Well, tomorrow is the big day!  The public access test.  Kindle has to take the test three times.  It's a good thing that we are staying home and relaxing tonight.  It was a big day for Kindle.  Tune in tomorrow night and we'll let you know if we passed - 3 times!!!
Hello children!  Well, when we got to the Hershey Zoo, 2 buses pulled up with several classes of first graders.  I felt right at home!  It made me think of my class and how I'll be very glad to get back to school on Thursday.  I saw lots of really cool animals!  I actually got to see lots of vampire bats in the "creatures of the dark" building.  My favorite animal was the ocelot.  If you don't know what that is, ask me on Thursday, I'll show you what they look like.  My least favorite was the tarantula.  Yikes, he wasn't very big, but he was hairy and gave me a case of the "creepies."  I'm sure some of you would LOVE to hold a tarantula, but NOT me!  :)  One more day with Mrs. Fulginiti.  Please have her last day be a good memory for her.  I know that you will!  See you soon!  Love, Mrs. Wenger :)

              Kindle and Grace taking a little break at the zoo.  The comfort trainers helped.

The best laugh of the day was when Kindle kept sitting in Emma's carseat when we put her in the car.  Totally on her own!  Kindle!  Silly girl!

                        This was the scene after we got home.  Both girls totally wiped out!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 11 - Final week

Today we were back at the Colonial Park Mall for our practice access test.  We had a bit of a rough start.  Kindle was pulling a bit on the leash which is not allowed.  They must walk nicely with a "loose leash."  We put her comfort trainer on to help her focus and then she refused to do the cue "leash."  This is when she picks up the dropped leash from the floor and hands it to us.  We all tried over and over at different times throughout the morning and she wouldn't do it.  Even the head trainer worked with her.  She did everything else, just not "leash."  Hmmmm, even dogs can have their moments of rebellion.  She did finally do it for Keith before we left the mall and then each time after.  Who knows.  That one cue, however, would not fail us on the access test, luckily.  Hopefully, by Wednesday she is over it.  We all did great on the elevator, did some shopping, and she had some great "unders" with very low benches.  We had lunch in the food court and she slept soundly at our feet.  After lunch, we went to a Giant nearby to practice grocery shopping.  She did great without the comfort trainer and ignored lots of smells and things on the floor.  She also did great with lots of greetings with strangers, two of them kids.
Tonight we are taking her to a Halloween parade and we think she will do a great job.  Tomorrow is a fun field trip.  Tune in tomorrow night and we'll tell you where. :)  Think chocolate! :)
Hello 1st grade!  I hope you all had another great weekend!  Well, only two more days until I come back.  Do a great job for the last 2 days!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO DYLAN FROM YESTERDAY!!!  I hope you had a great birthday!!!  Have fun if you are going to the Lititz Halloween Parade.  I miss you very much!  Love, Mrs. Wenger :)

                        Where's Kindle????  Check under the bench.  Good "under" Kindle!!! 

The trainer was working with Kindle when she wouldn't do "leash."  She never did until hours later.  

                             Shopping is the best way to practice shopping, don't you think?? :)

                              We couldn't resist the Hello Kitty Balloon.  Okay, I couldn't!  :))

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 10 - School and Home Visit Day

We had a great end to our second week.  2 of the SSD trainers came to Emma's school and we all spent 2 hours helping Kindle fit into her day.  She did great!  She was in a quiet down-stay during work times.  She helped Emma walk in her gait trainer by motivating her to move toward her and jumping up and giving her kisses to stay awake and focused.  We set up her crate in a quiet corner of the classroom where Kindle will spend parts of the school day for breaks and down time, like when Emma is eating lunch in the cafeteria.  We are so blessed that the school district and the IU have been amazingly supportive!  After a quick lunch, we went to Emma's daycare for on-site training with the staff there.  Her van drivers also came for training.  Kindle will never go on the bus lift.  She will enter the van through the door and meet her inside.  She will be on the floor at the aide's feet right next to Emma.  We also set up a crate at the daycare.  Emma is there before and after school.  Kindle will spend as much time in the crate there as the staff feels is necessary.  This is down time for Kindle and they can judge when it is a good idea for Kindle to be out and when it isn't.
Emma was glad to see all of her friends and teachers who she has missed over the last two weeks.  We also saw how the dog attracted lots of positive attention from children at both locations.  This is a wonderful opportunity not only for Emma to connect with other children, but for the other children to really learn more about service dogs and people with disabilities.  A win-win!
Our day ended with a home visit.  We were able to show the trainers how things work at home, where we want to put the invisible fence, and how Kindle will get in and out of Emma's bed using the platform and steps that Keith built.  Kindle and Emma have been in our bed until we can get hers all set up.  Plus, I want to be certain that Kindle and Emma will be able to sleep safely together alone.   All in all, a great day!
We want to thank everyone at Emma's school, in transportation, and daycare who have been so supportive and helpful to make this work for our family.  It was great to see the looks on the faces of everyone who cares about Emma as they watched Emma and her dog together today.  THANK YOU!!!  We couldn't do it without you!
Hello 1st grade!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KATHERINE FROM YESTERDAY AND ANNA TODAY!!!   I hope you both had a wonderful birthday and enjoyed having Mr. Birthday Bear for the day.  I'm so sorry I couldn't be with you for your birthday, but I will be back soon and I want to hear all about your special days.  I hope all of you enjoyed the Harvest Party today and had a good first day with Mrs. Fulginiti!  Have a great weekend!  There are only 3 days of team training left and then I will be back!  Love, Mrs. Wenger :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 9 - Colonial Park Mall

Hello!  Today was all about public practice.  We spent the day at the Colonial Park Mall in Harrisburg. The first thing we practiced was a lot of fun and a little bit tricky.  Kindle has been trained to open handicapped doors by hitting the button with her paw.  The cue is "up" and "push" if she doesn't get it on the up.  We quickly click and treat while the door is opening and then cue her to "go on through."  That requires us to start pushing Emma through the door while Kindle is turning around and walking backward through the door and stops.  Another click and treat while making sure that dog and child and stroller and self are all clear of the closing door - thus the tricky part.  We all practiced a few times and we all had it down by the end.  It looks really sweet and it will be a huge help for us.  The rest of the time was practicing access test cues:  under, loose-leash walking, recall, lap, etc...  Kindle was pulling on the leash a lot and sniffing the ground as we began walking through the mall, which is unacceptable.  Redirection was not working, so we put the comfort trainer on.  Remember, this is NOT a muzzle of any kind.  It is simply "power steering" for the handler.  She is not restricted in any way.  This does the trick.  She was fine after that.  We took it off later and she was better.  A fun day and a productive one!  We even took her in a few stores and did some shopping.  :)  Tomorrow is home visit day.  We have lots planned.  A school visit and on-site training at her bus company and her daycare.  2 of the trainers are coming to join us.  Emma is excited to introduce Kindle to all of these important people in her life!!!
Hello 1st Graders!  I hope that your last day with Mrs. McCarthy was a good one.  Tomorrow is the Harvest Party.  I hope you have fun!  The first half of the day will be normal, except for your outfits, of course. :)  After your special, you will be doing lots of fun activities with Mrs. Fulginiti.  I am so sorry to be missing it!  Have fun!  What a great way to end the week!  I miss you all!  Love, Mrs. Wenger :)

               Ahhh, a pet on my head, bed, my ball, and warm piggy toes!  This is the life!!! :)

                                Hey!  Where did everybody go???  Just a recall, Kindle. :))

 Ahhhh, my favorite blue blankie from when I was a puppy.  Thanks Annabelle and Timo!!! It smells   soooooo good and familiar!!!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 8

Today was a very special day in team training.  This morning we had brunch with our puppy raisers.  These are the people that raise the puppies from 8 weeks until they are placed around 2 years of age.  The puppies enter advanced training around 14-18 months old and then just go home to their raisers on weekends and holidays - like puppy college.  The raisers finally must say goodbye when the puppy is placed with a client and enters team training.  Kindle has two raisers - the raisers that had her from 8 weeks moved to London last spring, so Martha and Jim Knox, sitters of Kindle, gladly took over.  So we are lucky, we have 2 raisers!  Today, we were able to meet Martha and Jim.  Kindle was super excited to see them!  We got a special photo album of Kindle when she was little and her blankie from Annabelle and Timo (Kindle's first home).  When we gave her the blue blankie when we got home, she was so happy to have it, she raced around the house with this huge blanket in her mouth.  It was adorable!  It is now a permanent part of her doggie bed (when she is not carrying it around).  She took it to Emma and showed her proudly!
After brunch, we went back to the training center and practiced cues for the access test.  We worked on recalls, "leave it" as we walked by a huge pile of treats on the floor, and having Kindle walk beside Emma's stroller with her leash on the floor.  Kindle was a little distracted when we first got back to train and the head trainer explained to us that it is a big deal when the puppies see their raisers again.  The rest of our training sessions will be in all public locations.  Today was the last day at the training center.
Hello 1st grade!  Well, tomorrow is the last day with Mrs. McCarthy!  I hope that you have been very well-behaved for her.  I am sure that you have!  One week from tomorrow, I will be back!  It will also be Halloween!  I can't wait to see you!  I miss you all soooo much!  Until then, Mrs. Fulginiti will take over.  School pictures have come in!  I can't wait to see how our class picture turned out.  I hope we were all smiling and nobody blinked!!  Have a good final day with Mrs. McCarthy, and check in tomorrow night for more adventures with Kindle!!! Love, Mrs. Wenger :)

This is how our morning started.  I would say they have started to adjust to sleeping together.

                             Kindle greeting Mr. and Mrs. Knox, her puppy raiser since spring.

Keith was practicing walking next to the stroller without her leash being held.  This will be on the public access test.

Today we turned in all of our tickets for prizes.  Kindle got lots of great toys and Emma got some fun things too!  They were both excited!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 7 - First Public Outing!!

Well, today's team training session started in the Bass Pro Shops at the Harrisburg Mall.  Each team broke off with a trainer to work on our own specific cues.  We really needed practice with the elevator. I think Emma had fun, we must have gone up and down an elevator 10 times today so Keith, Em's PCA, and I could all practice!  :)  At least the Bass Pro elevator has fish to watch!  We all were doing great after lots of practice.  We also had her do "under" with benches in the mall.  She does a beautiful recall, which is when we put her in a down or sit - stay and drop the leash.  We walk away at least 15 feet and she has to stay there until we tell her to come.  Wow!  Impressive!  A little scary too at first, to just let her there by herself in the middle of the mall and walk away.  She came running the second we said, "Kindle, come!!"  After mall practice, we all met up in the food court for lunch.  I took Emma's stroller and Kindle by myself to get lunch for Em and I, because I will have to do it a lot.  It was quite a challenge, especially after I had the tray of food, but Kindle is SO good, that she made it easier.  I only got the leash caught in the stroller wheel once.  Yikes!  But we managed and got to the table just fine.  We were the last ones there, so I'm learning that it will take even more time to do things with the dog and Emma than when I just had Em, but that' s okay, it is well worth it!!!
After lunch, we went back to our training location and did some more cue practice, learned how to go on a bus with a service dog, and played a fun game to review everything that we have learned so far.  This group of clients, trainers, and volunteers has been having such a great time, that we even went out to dinner after training twice now.   Tonight was Olive Garden.  Besides, it's the only way we can take Kindle in public before we pass our access test - if the trainers are with us!  Kindle did great!  She stayed under the table quietly and slept the whole time.  She makes a great foot warmer and she immediately picked up Emma's cup when she threw it on the floor.  That's our girl!  :)
Hello to my class!!  It seems very funny to be out in the mall during a school day!  That is a great time to practice with a service dog, there is hardly anyone there!  I have to get used to eating lunch at 12:00.  I am so used to our 10:45 time, that I am VERY hungry by then.  It seems funny to eat lunch during our math time!  I hope you are all doing well with subtraction.  Remember, it is the exact opposite of addition and the answer is called the "difference."  If you are having any trouble, don't worry, we will be spending lots more time on addition and subtraction the rest of the year!  Have a great Wednesday!  I'll be with you again on the blog tomorrow night!  Love,  Mrs. Wenger :)

Yes, that little black figure in the far away background is Kindle, being a good pup and staying until cued to come. :)

                                             Here she comes!!!  Good recalls Kindle!!!

Where's Kindle??  Oh, under the table!  Those 2 little green dots must be her eyes!  Black dogs are tough to see sometimes. :)  Emma is getting a quick snooze in. 

                        Our new expanded family photo!  Welcome to the family, Kindle!!! :))

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 6 - A New Week!

We had an amazing first weekend with Kindle!  She and Emma continued to bond as they spent time at home on Saturday ( a sleepy day for both) and we took a wonderful fall walk.  Kindle reminded me that she is just a dog (as opposed to the superhero that we are certain she is) when she saw or heard something in our woods and took off toward it, taking my hand and almost me over the stroller (she was on leash of course)!  Luckily I was able to stop her and get everything under control.  Pfew!  Emma loved it! :)  Sunday we went to my sister's house for the day so Kindle could meet my whole family.  We were SO impressed with her amazing focus and work ethic even in a relaxed, home-like setting.  My nephews were so good about leaving her alone until their designated time to play with her.  They had 15 minutes without her harness on to run around the house and play with her and her tennis ball.   She went crazy with them, but as soon as her harness was back on, she was all business, calm as could be, and ready to work.  It was very impressive!  What a SWEETHEART she is.  Even when running around the house with the boys, she kept zipping by Emma to check on her! :)
Team Training went great today!  We went over all things public.  We learned about the laws, our rights, other's rights, and how to handle any situations that we are denied access to a public place when it is our right to be there.  Very unlikely, but it is important to be prepared.  We were stunned to find out that a business and/or the manager can be fined $100,000 for denying anyone with a service dog access if the dog is behaving appropriately in the state of Pennsylvania.  Wow!  It's great to have that much support from the laws!  The challenging activity today was learning how to safely get on and off of an elevator with a service dog.  With just the dog, it's not that hard.  Throw Emma's stroller into the mix, and now we have a challenge!  The elevator can be a very serious danger to a dog.  We will have lots of chances to practice in public starting tomorrow.  This will be on the access test and must be done correctly to pass.  We also found out that Kindle will have to take 3 access tests.  One for each handler: myself, my husband, and Emma's amazing personal care assistant at school (PCA), who has been attending training with us.  Only people that attend training and take the test are allowed to handle Kindle in public.  
My favorite part of the day was when Emma and Kindle pushed a ball back and forth.  This is one thing they worked on with Kindle in advanced training.  They bought a big, pink princess ball.  Kindle was in a down-stay facing Emma.  Emma would push the ball to Kindle and Kindle would push it back with her nose!  They were a little off center the first few tries, but practice made perfect.  Adorable!!!  Then, the other thing they worked on in advanced training was Kindle retrieving Emma's sippy cup when she drops it on the floor (which is every time she is done drinking).  Kindle picks it up and brings it back to Emma.  When Emma doesn't take it in her hands, Kindle picks it up from her lap and keeps trying to put it in her hands.  So cute!! Thanks, Kindle!  That will be a big help!  No more strangers running up behind us asking if we dropped a cup!!! :)
Hello to my first graders!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are enjoying this beautiful fall weather.  Another great week is planned for you with Mrs. McCarthy.  Mrs Fulginiti will be with you on Friday.  Some special things are coming up this week:  you will see a 2nd grade class perform a play tomorrow morning and the Harvest Party is on Friday.  Tomorrow is our first day of training in public.  We are going to Bass Pro Shops and the Harrisburg Mall for the morning.  No shopping for us!  All work and practice!  Please continue to be on your best behavior!  I'll be back with you tomorrow night! Miss you!  Love, Mrs. Wenger :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 5-The End of the first Week

Today, we could only go to team training for the 2nd half of the day.  We attended Keith's grandfather's funeral this morning.  Kindle had to wait in the car because we can't take her in public until we pass our public access test on the final day, Oct. 30.  She was fine.  She slept.  Team training this afternoon consisted of grooming practice and discussion.  We received lots of products from SSD to get us started.  We got 3 kinds of brushes, a toothbrush, and special beef flavored toothpaste.  We got cotton balls and ear cleaner, nail clippers, and several months supply of heartworm pills and anti - flea and tick medicine.  I couldn't believe how far you can stick your finger into a dog's ear!  Their ear canals are completely different from ours.  We took our first walk around our neighborhood with Kindle when we got home.  When we got into the house, Kindle had a crazy spell.  She ran from one end of the house to the other, then she grabbed her tennis ball and kept tearing around the house.  Emma had huge smiles while this was going on.  We loved it!  It really seemed like Kindle was soooo glad to be back here.  We hope she realizes that this is her new home!  We are already starting to see changes in Emma since Monday.  When Emma goes into a sleepy state, post-seizure, or just having trouble waking up in the morning, Kindle comes along and licks her and gets her attention.  Emma is more alert and focused and absolutely joyful!  She has smiled more in the last week than I can remember.  How wonderful this has been for Keith and I to watch this beautiful dog impact our daughter's life in such a profound way already!  We are very blessed and very thankful!  Please tune in next week for daily updates when we are back to training on Monday!  The weekend will consist of bonding at home and a visit to my sister's house.  That's it, the initial bonding is VERY important in these early weeks.  Keith and I continue to be challenged with not being able to connect too much with Kindle.  That is as difficult as I thought it would be.  BUT, well worth it to ensure the bond between Emma and Kindle.  Thanks for checking in!!!
Hello my children!  Well, the first week is over and I hope all went well!  What a beautiful day to be out at recess today!  I will be coming into our classroom this weekend to prepare everything for Mrs. McCarthy for next week!  I hope you all have a great weekend and I will be sending you a message each school night next week, so keep tuning in!  I miss all of you very much!  Love, Mrs. Wenger :)

                       Keith's Grandfather's Funeral.  Love you Grandpa!  We will miss you! 

                   Emma had a seizure in bed this morning.  Kindle had a very sweet reaction to her!

Breakfast time for Kindle.  All of her food and treats MUST come from Emma.  So even a sleepy Emma must be part of the process.   The dish is between Emma's knees.
                  An after breakfast nap, well, for Kindle that is.  Emma never even woke up yet! :)
     Grooming time!  Kindle has very coarse hair for a lab, like her mama, SSD Dee.  Daily           
     brushing will really be important to keep her shedding under control.
Time to clip nails.  Dogs usually don't like this, but she stayed very still for Keith.  I think he's hired!  That can be his job. :)