Posted by: bree1972 | November 8, 2010

Dogs and Demolition 11/9/2010

At the end of the second day of the Delta Society Pet Partners Team Training Course, we received our certificates.  But that certainly doesn’t mean we’re ready to start visiting with our animal partners.  A whole slew of paperwork must be filled out, Bear has to be declared healthy by his vet, his shot record must be documented, and – most important – Bear must pass his part of the test.  We have until Sunday, November 28, to practice with each other, and frankly I am a little concerned.  Several of the “tests” require your animal to do behaviors that are not going to come naturally for Bear – like ignoring other dogs and ignoring toys tossed on the floor.  Then there is the “walking through a crowd of people using walkers, with two other people having a very loud argument nearby” test.  I have no idea how he will react to any of those three requirements, so all I can do is simulate those behaviors as closely as possible and practice them a lot. 

I think he will be fine with the basic obedience part, if I can just keep him from doing his favorite “let me grab you by the arm and carry you off somewhere” trick.  He doesn’t “bite” your arm, just grabs your sleeve and tugs.  I have nightmares of him hauling some little old lady out of her wheelchair with that move.  I don’t think we would last long in the program if he did that.

This is our class, along with instructors and pet partners who have already been registered.


This is Belle with her human partner, Nancy. Belle is a little female Golden Retriever who is already registered. She and Nancy helped with some of the evaluation activities.


All kinds of animals make excellent Pet Partners, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, and horses. This cat, named Fiyero, has been a Pet Partner for several years. During role playing, one of the students is pretending to be a client who wants to brush the cat during its visit.


Another role playing exercise, with Happy Jack dealing with several people who want to pet him at once.


After the class, we got to watch Peeples and his handler get registered. Peeples passed his evaluation with flying colors. He and his handler had driven to Albany from Atlanta.


Belle and Fiyero pass the test of "different species meeting" - something that might happen during any visit.


Ben was waiting to be re-evaluated, which all Pet Partners must do every two years.


Yeah! I passed the course!

Bear and I will be working together for the next three weeks to make sure we are both ready for his evaluation.  The team will be graded not only by how Bear obeys and reacts in certain situations, but also on how the two of us communicate with each other.  Both “partners” must pass – individually and as a team.

Demolition – Day 1

When I got home from Albany on Sunday afternoon, Ted had already cleaned out the den except for the couch and our two Lazy-Boys.  All three bedrooms were filled with “stuff” from the den . . .

Our bedroom is the new temporary home for a wicker etagere and the shelves of collectibles it holds, as well as multiple remote controls and stuff that was sitting on top of the television. Maddie's beds and the dogs' toybox are also in our bedroom for now.


Guest bedroom #1 got a console table, lots of knick-knacks, pictures that were hanging on the wall, flower arrangements, and a mirror.


Guest bedroom #2 now holds several parts of a bookcase, books, and some greenery.


The den (the first room our contractor is working on) is empty except for the couch and chairs hidden under layers of black plastic.


The end of Day 1 - about 2/3 of the ceiling "popcorn" has been scraped off . . .


. . . and is now on the black plastic that covers the den carpet. MESSY!

I’ll be back on Friday with an update on the house improvements and anything else that comes along that you might be interested in.  Have a great rest of the week, and I’ll see you back here on Friday morning!

For the last three mornings, the lake has been giving off steam at sunrise. On Mackinac Island, the island "old-timers" say that when Lake Huron "steams" for seven mornings, the ice will begin to form on the Straits. I don't think there's any chance of that here!



  1. I think you and Bear are going to do just fine. The crowds on the island and all of the other unique things he’s come across there have likely prepared him very well for the exercises he’ll have to do.
    I was trying to think of somewhere you could go to expose Bear to a loud argument and all I could come up with is a kid’s soccer game. The coaches yell at the kids and a parent usually has a thing or two to say also! Plus there’s that ball rolling around so that covers the ‘ignoring the toy’ thing… We’ve got a field at the end of our street and I often take Pixel down there on a Saturday morning to do crowd socialization with him and remind him that all those soccer balls are not his!

    • Great ideas, Annie!

  2. I was surprised that such a variety of animals could be therapy partners. Fiyero looks right at home doing that. I could never get my cats on a leash much less be around so many people and other animals. Interesting. I have complete faith in Bear. You will both do just fine.
    I remember those popcorn ceilings. We had them in our old home, when the kids were little. There were two sets of bunkbeds (4 boys) and the poor kids in the top bunks were always hitting their heads on that darn stuff when they sat up to fast. We had low ceilings too. 😉
    I love all the windows in your den.

    • Ya’ll keep channeling that confidence in us, Hilde. I’ve always been confident that Bear could do this, but after seeing those evaluations, I’m a little edgy about it now. He’ll do fine – I’ve just got to get MY confidence level back up so it doesn’t rub off on him.

  3. I’m sure Bear will do great………….now you have to calm down!! Don’t worry, you will both get thru this with flying colors. Remember, if you are nervous Bear with feel it. I like Annie’s idea of the soccer game for practice!! A park where a lot of kids play should be good, or a softball field. I’ll bet kids are still playing ball in GA, right?? This is going to be such a wonderful thing for both of you and the patients too!

    One thing, your home improvement project will get Bear used to different things going on (noise included) at home. Should toughen him up. He is so precious looking. Maddie is precious too, just likes to move fast and dig a lot. She needs a job to keep her occupied!!!

  4. Wow, I thought Bear would be going to class with you once you finished that weekend session. I didn’t realize you’d be on your own with him until his test. That doesn’t seem quite right. Is there a local dog trainer that could help you work with him?

    • Just the basic obediience part, Barb, and he can nail that already. Just have to get him used to certain situations.

  5. Your confidence in Bear will be transmitted to him and he will know you trust him….just think of yourself as the Bear Whisperer. My sympathy during your construction. Love to all and hug the furry ones.

  6. Good luck with your training. I think it’s a great thing and I’m sure you will pass with flying colors. I’ve though about doing that when I have more time, I’m anxious to see how you like it. The renovation will be done before you know it and you will love the way it looks. Just think, by Christmas this will all be a memory!

  7. My dog is one of the most unsocialized, untrained dogs around, though incredibly sweet Siberian. This is a breed that questions why they should come when it would be just as easy for you to walk to them.
    While my grandparents were in a nursing home, we took Blitzen to see each. My grandparents weren’t interested. However, others loved him. He enjoyed it and for the most part behaved very well. Elevators confused him, but he loved when we walked by the chapel service and about six people came out to pet him and brought the service to a halt while he was proclaimed beautiful. I swear handsome, beautiful, sweet are all words he understands and puts him on his best behavior.

    • It’s true even for doggies, “Flattery will get you everywhere.”

  8. I’m excited to see Bear’s progress! I can’t believe that cat on a leash and how nice and calm it is….so unlike my cat. Your renovation will be over and done soon and just think how nice it will look. Happy Wednesday!!

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