Monday, August 8, 2011

August outing

For our August outing it was pretty easy to decide what we WEREN'T going to do -- something outside!  Temps hit 105 yesterday and the heat index was even higher. 

So a visit to Katy Mills Mall was the perfect idea.

photo by Carol Anatrella
 ...including lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe. If you have never been to one of these restaurants, they are really unusual. They have recreated a tropical rain-forest environment inside the restaurant - including waterfalls, vegetation, and indigenous jungle creatures. They have simulated lightening and thunder storms every 15 minutes and lots of jungle noises..

While we humans enjoy our food and chat it up... here's a peek at what goes on under the table!  Four puppies - gathered in around the table leg - nose to nose. They were more interested in hanging out with each other than any distraction from the Rain Forest.   (note: The 3 black pups in this photo are all siblings...and the yellow pup is Hannah, from another litter.)

Speaking of siblings, we got a picture of the 3 above mentioned litter mates from Ellen and Boomer's litter (born 1.8.11) that are being raised by members of the Houston puppy raiser group. It's alot of fun to see the pups reaction to each other when they see each other at meetings. They gravitate to each other as if they recognize that they are siblings. For all we know, they really do!

Suzette (L), Smokey (C), and Parkie (R)

Not only are these three pups similar in looks, we are finding out that they are also similar in behavior. While it is good for puppy raisers to compare notes on training experiences and successes, it has been very interesting for us to compare notes regarding these three pups in particular. We are finding out that some of Smokey's  idiosyncrasies are shared by his siblings; such as car entry/exit challenges, excited responses to some people types, and some "not so excited" responses when asked to get up and get going.  Our 11 day puppy sitting time with Parkie, and, our discussions with Sharon (Suzette's raiser) over lunch revealed to us how similar these siblings are. 

After lunch, Greg and I decided to stretch our legs with some shopping... but, these three didn't last long. Greg finds the nearest bench and the pups crash, side by side, while I made a quick stop into the Coach store.

The food court was full of distractions for the pups. Food smells, dropped food and discarded napkins, crowds of people, kiddie rides, noises, and so much more (OH MY!). The pups were interested in the kiddie train the first time it came around and the driver blew the whistle. But on this day, the kids on the train were much more interested in the pups than the pups were in the kids.

Toot toot!
How come they don't let dogs on this train?

The spinning carousel with it's music was not much of a distraction, today, either.  I think the pups were so tired at this point, they were ignoring pretty much everything except the occasional dropped french fry or napkin wad -- but both did well with slight corrections.

At 7 months, these pups are at the age where public petting and attention are not allowed when they are in jacket. It's hard for us to tell an excited little boy or girl that they cannot pet the puppies because they are working... but for the most part, they understand.  A big part of being a puppy raiser is to educate the public about service dogs and the behavior that we are trying to teach them.  One little girl we talked to was very captivated by the idea that we were teaching the pups to basically ignore people and other distractions when in jacket.  Well, that is the desired behavior.

Now if we could just teach Smokey to ignore shoelaces! 

Thanks, all, for checking in with Smokey - 
please stay tuned for more stories to come.

Note: The above pictures are photo ops, not one handler trying to work two dogs.  Not that one handler would WANT to work these two scent driven machines in a busy mall full of luscious smells in a food court.

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