Troy’s training

Is going really well! Troy is getting better with his obedience when he’s in harness and everything! Before I go into a rant though, I’ll talk about my life I think. Well I haven’t been up to much. I’ve been eating less take-away food. That has been helping. I’m not gaining weight anymore. Hopefully I can start to lose the weight slowly now. Just a few kilos will do. I’m not an extremist with my weight, I’m just a bit sensible because I don’t want to keep buying larger sized clothes. Anyway I’m doing fine. I’ll be ringing Stacey tonight. Can’t wait! I’ll talk to her more about my guide dog assessment. I got stuck on Troy’s obedience, and we didn’t get much further in the discussion than that. So yeah, I have to really finish my little diatribe about what happened, and the bit of trouble I got into.

Ok, that brings me to my rant. Just a warning,, it’s going to be long. Now, my next warning is, I’ve probably carried on like a pork chop about this already, but now I’m at the point that I do not care and will repeat myself again, and will go on for three hours if I must. Ok, so here’s the issue. Guide dogs, actually service dogs – and people’s constant fucking need to pet,, distract and/or feed the dog when it’s working. I’d like to make a few things clear,, point by point. Point number one is: You never ever give a working dog any attention at all, ever, unless you ask the owner for permission. I don’t really care if your child wants to pat the dog, you have a disability, or you think the dog is cute and fluffy, is hungry, thirsty, or even sick. You will ask me if you can give the dog attention, or you will nicely and respectfully tell me that um, something is wrong with the dog as you see it and would like to quickly check out the situation because it would be in my best interest at the time. If I really trust you, or I perceive that you’re a trustworthy person, I will certainly oblige. But if you decided to play with my dog under any circumstances without letting me know, and I couldn’t give a rat’s backside what the reason is, unless lightning is about to hit the dog, don’t touch it! Don’t feed it. Don’t talk to it. And do not, ABSOLUTELY, DON’T, try to distract the dog in any other way.

Point number two: Distracting, feeding, petting, or giving any sort of attention to this working dog, or any other service dog you see, is very dangerous for the handler. These dogs are trained really hard, and for many months, up to a year, to perfect skills required for the dog to be allowed to assist the person with a disability. That dog can go to almost all places except to a zoo or to sterile places in the hospitals such as the ICU, operating theatres, and most wards. That dog is trained not to bark at other dogs or people, not to bite or attack, it’s trained to ignore distractions and attention and it’s taught to focus on the handler at all times. The handler is the only person to give it attention, feed it treats that are suited to the dog, and to reward, praise, and sometimes play with it. If the dog is in harness and it’s not playing, the handler is taught never to play with the dog as this would encourage play time while it’s working, and that’s no good. Play time is only for off-duty dogs, and absolutely only when the handler permits the play. The dog doesn’t play when it feels like it. The person must always decide when play time starts and finishes, one hundred percent of the time, every day of the year. Dogs don’t understand inconsistent rules. They don’t understand getting attention in their vest or harness today, and tomorrow they’re working and that’s it. To a dog, it’s confusing and they have no reasoning capacity to realise that the harness or vest is just for working. Dogs are extremely literal and habitual creatures who don’t understand grey areas. Humans can, because they have the ability to reason, think for themselves and work things out when a situation changes. Dogs do not have this ability. Any decisions they do make are trained into them, which is the very reason why we don’t allow people to distract our dogs. Take away their ability to concentrate on what they’ve been taught, and you’ve destroyed that team’s working relationship. You don’t realise how hard it is to re-train a dog when you’ve inadvertently, or intentionally, distracted the dog.

Point number three: When our dogs are not wearing the vest or harness, they’re normal, well-behaved animals who want to play and run around. To those who treat their dogs like dirt, I’m very disappointed with you. You give service dog handlers a very bad name and you taint their reputation. This is not on or tolerated, and I do not appreciate the way service dog handlers are misinterpreted by some businesses or other people, because of your shitty ways. Either get the service dog and work on treating it better when you are aware that you’re doing something wrong, and I don’t care how long it takes. Trying is better than doing nothing. If you aren’t willing to be nice to your dog, than ping off out of our community and don’t get the dog! I hope that’s clear to you.

Anyway, for the most part, our dogs are allowed to be normal pets when off duty. My only issue is, people still have to encourage good behaviour from our dogs. I cannot fucking stand it when my well-behaved and obedient guide dog is encouraged to jump up, rough-house, etc. Excuse me, if you can’t play nice and leave my dog with me in the same condition that he was in when I let you look after him for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days, then he is off limits to you. I’m sorry, even though I shouldn’t have to be, but this dog is also a service dog. And if you encourage bad behaviour from the dog, he will not see that as being wrong at other times. I’m not interested in your excuses. You can damn well kill your dog for all I care. Please, do not treat my dog how you treat your dog. You will treat my dog in a way that is consistent with my dog’s behaviour around me, or you won’t be my dog’s friend. Is that understood? The dog isn’t friends with anyone. He is friends with people who’re willing to respect my life and my decisions, and the way my dog is to behave when he’s working and when he’s chilling out off duty. I don’t expect people to be statues about all of this. All I expect from them is that when Troy is playing,, he isn’t allowed to bite, jump up, or mouth. Licking is unacceptable too, but then there’s some tolerance to it because he can’t hold his tongue still all day. That’s just unreasonable. But yes, he should control licking to a large extent. If I’ve got him on leash, he can roll around and carry on a bit. But there’s to be no stirring him up and making him play running around games, as this encourages the same behaviour when we’re out or when he’s in harness. Good luck if somebody’s dog differentiates between leash and harness behaviours, that’s really good. But to play it safe, please don’t get my dog very stirred up when he is leashed.

Point number four: I know this sounds really hard for people to grasp, but feeding any assistance dog is a no-no! Now I’ve kind of explained it at the start of this entry, but I need to explain why feeding is not allowed in probably two or three paragraphs For one, feeding the dog means I have to clean up after him when he vomits or has diarrhoea. Sometimes a vet visit may be in order, all because you ignorantly don’t consider that feeding the dog isn’t such a good idea. DON’T FEED THE DOG! I can’t stress it enough. And this is only my first point on this matter. Also, you seem to think that it’s ok to feed the dog because you don’t care, or don’t know, that you aren’t the one who has to clean up after the dog. Thank you for your rude and impolite lack of consideration. How wonderful. Would you like me to feed your dog and not give a damn that you have to foot the vet bill? Or clean up mess early the next morning? How would you like that? Maybe if you considered how you would feel if someone treated your dog like that, you’d be less likely to feed the dog? Apply this to everything else you do to the dog too. Well, here’s my take on it. I’m not sorry for sounding rude either. Stop being such a disrespectful spoilt brat, and don’t feed somebody’s dog, especially if it’s a service dog, and don’t give them the don’t-care attitude either, you ungrateful thing. How dare you treat the dog like this to the owner’s expense! You’re a nasty person for doing it and I have no excuses or time for you. You either respect the person’s property or don’t try to be their friend, and I mean it.

My next point for those who have respect but are simply unaware of the dangers of feeding a service dog especially when it’s on duty, is that the dog will soon learn to look for the food that it has eaten. If the dog is fed chips, meat, etc, one day this dog will see similar foods on the footpath, in a shop, or anywhere you might think of, and try to dive for the food. What if that food has been poisoned? What if it is poison? What happens if the dog is helping someone to stay safe because of epilepsy or some other debilitating condition or disability, and that dog decides it wants to forage because it has eaten whatever particular food scraps, and suddenly it sees something so he wants it? Ok, so then the person who has this condition is now in danger because the dog isn’t concentrating on the handler’s needs and is not tuned in to impending seizures or other problems that it must alert to or respond to. Please don’t feed that dog at all. Either ask the person if they’re allowed to feed the dog this snack, in which case if the handler says yes, the dog will be asked to perform a task to earn that treat. If they say no, please don’t take offense. There’s a good reason for why the dog isn’t allowed to eat that snack.

Point number five: Service dogs are not robots. They are animals and must be respected as such. They may be friendly and tame, but they’re still dogs and they need to be treated like any other dog. The same rule applies, if the dog isn’t yours, don’t touch without permission. Anyway, service dogs don’t retain their training forever, like some people think. Most people are unaware that when a dog is trained, revision needs to go on for the rest of the dog’s working life. I revise my dog’s training every single day. Many people ask if I’m training my dog. I politely say yes, because it’s too exhausting to explain for the millionth time, that actually I’m not training Troy. I’m revising his training. Troy is already trained. He was trained before I got him. Now, I just have to revise the training, and when I learn new things with him, a trainer must make sure the dog is learning the new command or whatever, really well, otherwise Troy may stuff up and I could get injured, lost or anything else may happen. Don’t get me started on how frigging shitty the services were in Darwin. I don’t want to lose it right now. When you see a service dog, leave the dog alone. That’s really all I can say about that. If you ask for permission to pat the dog, if the handler allows it he/she will put the dog in a position to accept appraisal and petting without jeopardising their working relationship. If they say no, do not ever get stirred up about it or turn away in anger. That is fucking rude and disrespectful. You know the dog isn’t yours,, so don’t ever force someone to let you touch their dog, ever. They know their dog better than you do, and when you disrespect someone’s decision not to allow petting and for a good reason,, you’re showing that you’re not a very good friend. No apologies for saying that, you’re not allowed to disrespect other people, so don’t you dare disrespect the person with a disability. It’s fucking disgusting.

Point number six: When the dog is working, you never give it instructions. The handler is the only person to give instructions at all times. You never talk to the dog, always talk to the person. Don’t apologise to the dog if you step on its tail. Apologise to the person, and the person will rectify the situation with their dog. I don’t care if I sound harsh or cruel. And, I hope you ring up the RSPCA and Guide Dogs and report me for saying this. Saying sorry directly to a dog doesn’t give it the message that you didn’t mean to hurt it. It gives the dog the message that you’re happy to say hello and that it’s getting your attention and this is ok. Excuse me, no it’s not. You’re not allowed to give my dog or any other service dog attention, so please don’t excuse yourself by apologising to the dog. In our eyes, that’s being rude and excusing bad behaviour. Stop it! Also, don’t tell the dog he is a good boy/girl. Stop it now. It’s the same thing to a dog, attention. Stop all contact, eye contact included, and talking. The dog doesn’t understand English. It only understands commands and some signals. If you try to instruct it, signal it, etc, you’re no different to someone who is just talking to the dog. The dog doesn’t see you as any different from the next person who’s just saying hello. Giving instructions and praising it is not allowed. Just focusing your energy on the service dog is not on either. Excuse me, control your own life. Stop controlling my life with your non-verbal, giving-off-vibes cues. The dog isn’t there for your entertainment or for your focus of attention. I’m not in your life to be controlled either. I have a disability. That doesn’t mean you treat me like shit. Treat me like a person or stop talking to me. I don’t usually disown people. But the best way to be disowned by me is to treat me as subhuman, treat me as though you have the right to control me because of my blindness, and to treat me or my service dog, or my white cane, with disrespect for the same reason. I am a person, not an animal. I am also not stupid or mentally disabled or retarded or whatever stupid other thing you want to label me as. If you’re concerned,, ask me, or mind your own business. And, my animal isn’t yours, so leave it.

Well, my rant is over I think. I seriously had to let it all off my chest, honestly the crap I’ve had to put up with lately is unbelievable. The butcher got sooooooo upset yesterday because I decided that treats that aren’t in my treat pouch, are off limits, and also because I enforced a few rules for Troy so he’d lie calmly beside me while I got served. I then put two Guide Dogs cards on the counter. The butcher got worried that they might have been my own cards, but then I said that they’re there for anybody who may be interested in reading them. They have a choice of chucking the cards in the bin if they want. But they still aren’t allowed to touch my dog. What I insist on, is written in those cards anyway, and there’s a Guide Dog’s number on there for anyone who is concerned or has questions. That brings me to the trouble I got into. Ok, I didn’t get into trouble because of other people patting the dog necessarily. Sometimes people were just horrible and I can’t control everyone else’s thoughts. I can control what they do when they choose to act on those thoughts though. I didn’t even get into trouble for feeling bad for asking people to leave my dog alone. I actually got into trouble for not revising Troy’s obedience exercises and other training rules enough, knowing that all this shit was happening. That’s what I got into trouble for. It’s really hard to put up with rude people, but if this is happening, it’s not too fucking hard to do obedience exercises with the dog immediately to bring the dog back on track. Who gives a frigging damn how the person feels really! They shouldn’t have distracted the dog, so it’s their own fault. Now the butcher is upset that I got into trouble, and I nearly had a fit when he said he thought the dog wasn’t working. I actually wanted a valium. But because I don’t have a neurological disorder which causes fits, I can’t have any. I could have fallen over and banged my head, but then that’s temporary damage, not a permanent disability. So I still wouldn’t have gotten a lot of valium other than a bit in the ambulance. Sorry,, I don’t want that experience again. So I was careful not to fall over. The butcher got ver’r’r’r’r’r’r’ry disappointed and turned away from me. Somebody else had to step into his place and serve me. The guy might well have done anyway, but usually the main butcher is a laughing, jovial person,, who wants to be of help whenever he can. Well I knew things were up shit’s creek when he practically retreated. Troy lay down calmly next to me, followed all commands and didn’t get overly distracted. The poor guy serving me then had to be a bit calm, and so did the receptionist, to make the other butcher not lose it even more. Clearly he loves dogs and doesn’t want me to lose Troy. Usually men don’t cry and are really stoic. Um, this poor guy ended up losing his stoic attitude within a minute of hearing that if I didn’t keep Troy under control and he got overly anxious and wound up, he’d be going. Unfortunately the receptionist then had to ask me a few questions so they’d understand that they’re not exactly in any trouble at the moment, they just needed to understand where I was coming from, and where they stand after reading the cards and ringing Guide Dogs if need be. It’s not like they’re in trouble. I’m sure if they read the fine penalty thing, they’ll freak out. But at least they know they’re only in trouble if they do anything wrong. The receptionist lady is freaking out really bad now. She reckons Troy is a cute dog and she wants me to keep him for as long as I can and that he’s my best mate. Oh my God! I hate dealing with other people’s fear. Oh well… I somehow sorted the situation out. Troy didn’t carry on like a pork chop, so really I won.

When this stupid immature behaviour starts up, I keep reminding myself every day that my dog’s working status is more important than my friendships with people if they’re just going to be disrespectful to Troy. I may love friendships with people, but if the friendship is gonna jeopardise my relationship with my dog, then see ya later. Look, I used to feel bad about having this attitude, but actually it works for me and I’m ok with it now. I’ve noticed that people who disrespect what someone wants for their animals are generally pig-headed anyway. I’ve actually found that people who’re respectful towards me and my dog are really good to me. Some people find it very hard because to them Troy is really cute and all. But when the person tries to show some consideration to Troy by not interacting with him except when I allow it, I find that the person also has respect for most other things in life, like not touching other people’s stuff, not being rude to people unless they have a reeeeeeeeeeeally legitimate reason to be, etc. It’s funny really! It shouldn’t be, but it is. All the people in my life who respect what I want in Troy’s best interest, are more polite and want the best for me. There’s one particular person who was the exception to this rule, but seriously that’s because he and a couple of others who were similar to him, either distracted and rudely gave my dog attention when they were with me, or wouldn’t talk to me because they knew they’d distract the dog and weren’t entirely honest with me, that the reason they wouldn’t actually talk to me is because they weren’t allowed to give my dog any attention. Well bugger them. If all people want from me is a good petting session and if that’s denied they’re not my friend, then they’re not in my life. I seriously hate people who won’t talk to a person with disabilities just because they know that person won’t let them touch the dog. How bloody low life to be that way! Well, I won’t talk to such dickheads unless they’re willing to let me feed their fucking dogs then. If that’s how they want to be, that’s what they’ll get back. Honestly, people earn respect. But with me, it goes further. You show that you’re willing to earn respect by being genuine about wanting to be nice to me, or I don’t care how nice and loving you appear to be, no respect for you. Loving me and respecting me are two different things in my mind. You may love me. But you’re not my friend if you’re not considerate towards me. That’s why people wonder why they want to talk to me but can’t because every time they show inconsideration and then want my attention, they don’t get it. Turns their attitude around very quick! It’s funny that now I can get complete control of a dog, I can actually control a person? I don’t want to deliberately control people’s lives and make them my slaves, but if the situation arises where I need to take power away from someone for affecting me negatively, I can do so successfully. When they treat me reasonably, they get that power back. Funny how you appreciate something when it’s gone hey!

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