I have been working hard trying to teach my service dog patience and just like me it’s something we have to keep working on. While going about my daily life Riley learns to be patient while she is standing in a line waiting for me to cash out. Or when I am in grocery aisle trying to make that all important decision of what colour am I going to dye my hair this month. Even such mundane things as walking involves Riley having to wait with me while I find the nearest bench and catch my breath .The one she hates the most is when I go clothes shopping trying to find something that doesn’t make me look a NFL linebacker. But little by little she did learn to be patient and we moved on to harder tasks like going to Tim Horton’s, to dinners than restaurants.
But one of the toughest places to take a service dog is to a show. The first hurdle I have to overcome is the walk into the theatre which is easy for Riley not so easy for me. I have exercise induced asthma and nerve pain so usually by the time I walk into a theatre and climb the stairs to my seat I am having difficulty breathing.
Once we enter the facilities Riley’s sensitive nose is tasting a smorgusborg of hotdogs and warm buttered popcorn and it is my job to keep her focused on me. The second temptation Riley has to overcome is not diving for every dropped piece of popcorn and candy that litters the floor. When I give the command leave it Riley is expected to ignore the food on the ground and concentrate on getting me to my seat and once the movie starts she is supposed to wait quietly untill I am ready to leave .
Now that might seem easy pretty easy to do but it takes a lot of training with a very calm dog to master a worry free day for me the dog and the rest of the audience. Now I am so grateful to other owner trained service dogs handlers who posted video’s that help with Riley’s training. Not to mention all the good advice they passed on to make her day at the movies a big success
When I went to sit down the first thing I did was put down a rubber mat that Riley could lay on which would keep any unwanted butter popcorn or candy that was on the floor out of her coat. Once she was down on the mat I gave her two big bones to give her something to do while we enjoyed the movies.
Now the next scary thing that could upset a dog once the movie is started is the sound and the flashing of light that comes off the movie itself. But I am very happy to report that Riley took it all in stride. The only time she got up was to stretch and change positions which is reasonable compared to the length of time she is expected to wait.
As we headed home after the movie I was filled with mixed emotions. I was proud that she did so well but I was also very grateful for all the good advice that I had received from other service dog handles that helped the day go so well.
Once we get home Riley’s vest and collar come off and she is officially off duty and she is free to go off and play with her favorite toy