Hi – Bear here.
Mom said I needed to write a little blog tonight about what it means to me to have passed the Delta Society Pet Partner Evaluation. I really don’t know if I can convey my “feelings”, but I’ll sure try to tell you what it was like to go through the test. And here’s the most important part – it was FUN!
Things didn’t start well at all on Sunday morning. Mom said we had to leave the lake at 8:45 so we could be in Albany in plenty of time for our appointment at 10:30. I didn’t have a clue where we were going – all I knew was that mom did all that brushing and combing stuff early in the morning, telling me how soft and gorgeous I was the whole time and how everyone would love me (a given), and that I had to behave myself (another given), and I had to be really, really smart when we got where we were going (geez, THREE givens)!
It all went downhill when we went outside. I don’t think mom has mentioned that she bought a new SUV last week. She’d been promising me for three years that she was going to trade in her Honda Civic for a bigger vehicle I could ride in comfortably. The back seat in that Civic was way too small for me – I’m wider than the seat, for Pete’s sake. Anyway, she bought a Ford Escape, and came home all excited and couldn’t wait to take me to my appointment in it Sunday morning. BIG mistake. Mom forgot that I am deathly afraid of anything being over my head (like going under a bridge in the boat). Well, she opened the cargo hatch of the Ford and told me to jump in. I took one look at that hatch hanging out over that opening and said, “No way, no how!” She did EVERYTHING to coax me in – she threw treats into the cargo area, she threw my tennis ball back there, she finally even climbed in herself and promised me a T-bone steak if I would just get in. Again, “No way, no how!”
By now it’s 9:15, and dad has to come outside and literally LIFT me into the back. I am now traumatized, and so is mom. She’s all nervous and cranky and trying not to be nervous and cranky because she knows it will rub off on me. So we go to Albany with me riding WAY in the back of this new-fangled thing she bought. I can’t get to mom, and I am not a happy camper.
We made it to our appointment on time though. Mom opened the cargo door, and I shot out of there like a bullet. We went into the Easter Seal facility, where the test was to be administered, and soon I’m making friends with all the people and the other dogs – and one cat – and life is good again.
We were the first “team” to be tested. You see we are a Pet Partner Team – me and mom – and we were evaluated as a team. Mom had already taken the workshop, but she had to pass this part too – with me. If either one of us goofed up, we’d have to come back on another day and start over again. We walked down the hall behind the tester lady and into a big room, where the tester lady explained what all we had to do. I looked at mom, saw how worried she looked, and whispered, “Piece of cake!”
The first part was a 12-part Skills Test:
Part 1: We got a “check” because mom had completed the Team Training Workshop – already batting 100!
Part 2: I had to accept a total stranger walking up to me and mom and not be afraid or aggressive (I got a kick out of that – the thought of me being aggressive). I had to stay relaxed, and mom had to prove that she could interact with the stranger and control me at the same time. These people obviously have never seen me and mom in action on the crowded streets downtown on Mackinac Island!
Part 3: I had to stay at mom’s side while the total stranger petted me, and I had to be relaxed about it. Are you kidding? How else would I be if I’m being petted!
Part 4: Mom had to look professional, and I had to be clean, well groomed, and accept being brushed by the stranger (no worries).
Part 5: Me and mom had to walk together, make several turns and return to the tester lady. I was bummed out the room didn’t have any squirrels to chase, but other than that, we did great.
Part 6: A bunch of other people came into the room, and mom and I had to walk around again with all these people walking close to us, beside us, behind us, and in front of us. Mom had to show that she could control me, and I had to show interest in the people, but not do anything stupid like jump on them or chase them around the room. I was GLUED to mom’s side.
Part 7: The tester lady threw down this big tin thing on the floor, and it made a loud noise. I gave it a look, but just kept on walking with mom, which was the correct thing to do. I think that’s to prove that if we’re in a hospital or someplace like that, and someone drops a bedpan on the floor, we won’t go jump out a window or something.
Part 8: I had to sit when mom told me to, which I did. If she had to give that command twice, we wouldn’t have passed.
Part 9: Same as Part 8, except it was the “Down” command.
Part 10: I had to “Stay” in place while mom walked away, then turned and looked back at me for 30 seconds. Then I STILL had to stay while she walked back to me. She could only say “Stay” once. I was like a statue.
Part 11: I had to stay in place while mom walked away and stood across the room. Then the tester lady came up to me and petted me and brushed me (which felt really good), but then when mom called me, I had to leave all that good stuff and go to mom. Well, duh, mom does all that stuff way better – why wouldn’t I go to her?
Part 12: Another person with a DOG came into the room. We had to walk toward each other, mom and the other lady had to have a little chat, and I couldn’t try and “say hello” to the other dog in any way. Bummer, because the other dog was a real cutie – but I behaved.
The second part of the test was “Aptitude”.
Part 1: The tester lady gave me a “once over” examination, making sure my ears and teeth were clean, my toenails were cut and smooth, and if she touched me anywhere on my body, I would be ok with that. I guess the patients we will be visiting will be doing that, and they have to know I’m not going to take a chunk out of some sweet little lady’s arm if she touches me in any “sensitive” areas.
Part 2: The tester lady pretended to be a patient who was clumsy and loud. She petted me pretty hard and talked in a really loud voice, but I just stood there and let her “do her thing”. Petting is petting in my book.
Part 3″ The evaluator put me into a bear hug (no pun intended). If I had tried to get away (which I didn’t), I don’t think I could have – she was pretty strong!
Part 4: Another person came in and pretended to be a patient who was staggering around and waving her arms. I had to stay calm and basically ignore it – I found it interesting, but me and mom were the coolest.
Part 5: Two people came in and pretended to be having a yelling match with each other, while another person on a walker came up to me and petted me and talked real loud. Then they ALL came over and wanted to pet me at ONCE. Wow – I was feeling the love!
Part 6: In the middle of all that, ANOTHER person bumped into me from behind. Again, streets of Mackinac on a Saturday afternoon – no worries at all!
Part 7: The tester lady threw a really neat toy on the floor, and mom had to walk me past it, and I had to ignore it. I sure was glad it wasn’t a tennis ball!
Part 8: I had to take a treat v-e-r-y g-e-n-t-l-y from the tester lady. I was SO well-mannered the tester lady said, “He didn’t even slobber!”
On all those parts, if we had gotten any “1’s”, we still could have passed, but if we had gotten a “not ready” classification, we would have had to come back and do it all again another day. But we got all “2’s” – a perfect score. And scoring all “2’s” means that we are ready for the most active and challenging visiting sites. Mom was so excited, she was hugging me and giving me kisses for about 10 minutes!
On Thursday I have to go to the vet for an exam, and then mom has to send in all the paperwork to the Delta Society. It will probably be January before we are “all set”, but we are ready to go!
Well, except for one thing. When we left the Easter Seal building, mom spent 30 minutes trying to coax me back into that SUV. “No way, no how!” One of the helpers had to come outside and bodily lift me into it again. I guess we are going to work on THAT “behavior” a lot before January!
Gotta go now – my toes are really sore from all this typing. I’m thinking about soaking them in a nice bowl of warm water before bedtime – but if I do that mom won’t let me cuddle with her in bed before she goes to sleep. Hmmm – warm soak . . . cuddle with mom . . . warm soak . . . cuddle with mom.
I think my toes will be ok without soaking tonight.