I’ve never had a trained dog before. As a matter of fact I’m certain my right arm is longer than the left as a result of being dragged on dog walks. But with our new Emma being deaf, training is a necessity – for her safety and my piece of mind.
Now I normally don’t curse, but in this case I find I must. Looking for a trainer who is experienced with deaf dogs was not an easy task. And then I ran in to Steve. Get ready to cover your ears. Because I’ve given Steve a nickname. For now, in my adoring eyes he is deemed as BAD ASS TRAINER. Please excuse my French.
Steve fought in Vietnam. He trained dogs to jump out of airplanes with him. Both of his knees have been replaced due to multiple jumps. He is a retired Navy Seal. He has cuts, bites and scars up and down his arms from rehabilitating police dogs. He has trained deaf dogs, blind dogs, AND a deaf and blind dog.
And you will never guess what else. Steve is deaf himself. In my eyes, Steve is indeed one B-A-T. (Refer to my potty mouth above.)
We had an evaluation session this weekend with Emma. Remember who is telling this story. Would I be someone who has a perfectly trainable dog? Would my dog be polite, focused and eager to do what the B-A-T says?
Emma can focus well – WHEN you can get her attention. That is my homework for this week. To hold my finger towards my eyes with treat in hand, getting her to focus on my eyes longer and longer each time.
Where was the fail? Throughout the entire 30 minutes Emma kept going to a corner of the contained area to stare. Stare at what? We had no idea. But she was fixated. Knowing her well, my daughter and I assumed there was a ball under one of the displays. Where there is a ball, there is a frozen Emma.
When the session was finally over we all agreed it was time to see what caught Emma’s attention. We opened the gate and she zipped over to a display that had just been out of her reach. A display of balls. Many balls. BASKETS OF BALLS.
Three steps, a happy lift of the paw and WHAM! The basket tips and about 60 balls go flying through the air, bouncing and rolling under and over everything. Employees begin playing 60 ball pickup as others stood and laughed.
Needless to say, we walked out of there with four new balls, a few pictures and a good story. I’m sure employees will be finding balls under displays and around corners for weeks. Compliments of Emma. You’re welcome.