Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two head shaking stories -Michael Vick "Say No to Subway" and service dogs owners refused service in Dedham Ma

I got two computer alerts  back to back last night at just about the same time. Both had me shaking my head fairly equally in disbelief.

Have you heard that Michael Vick got a BET Award as Subway Sportsman of the year?!?!  Within minutes my  computer screen was filed with emails, forwards, tweets, Face Book links,  and lots and lots of outrage.

I already filled out Subway's on line tell us what you think form.  Oh I told them what I thought.  

No better time to buy local I say.  Within a 2 mile stretch from Subway in either direction, I can choose  local wonderful shops such as  Hoggie's, Full Belly Deli, and  Rosemont, all  on Brighton Ave.  Even if they take the award away, Subway--- I quit you. Done . Finito. You are dead to me.  

What a PR nightmare.  Don't bother  commenting to tell us that Michael Vick did his time.  We are not listening to you. Never have, and never will. 
And no . He. Did. Not. 

Everything you need to know about the boycott can be found on this Facebook Page
Say no to Subway.

The other  story also has me shaking my head takes place in Dedham MA where a dozen people went to a restaurant and were denied service.  They had a reservations and 6 of them  had service dogs. The group was refused service because  of the dogs, which is a clear violation of the American with Disabilities Act and MA law.   They were not denied service because  the dogs were not trained or acting right. They were denied service just because they had service dogs.  I was 80 degrees out and it was even suggested to them that they leave the dogs in the  car.  WTH!!

The Dedham police (illegally!!!)  sided with the restaurant owner.  There are several violations here and it may carry  a jail sentence.  The police and restaurant owner were not within their rights to ask the people for their  dog's paperwork.  The dogs had every right to be there. They were accused of being confrontational .They were hungry!   

You can follow the Twitter Chirp story here,  Very interesting.

I have  been to many  Portland area eateries with  service dogs in training and with a  number of people and their service dogs. One memorable time we were 10 people and 6 dogs without reservations. People welcomed us, our dogs and  our money! Service dogs in training are afforded the same protection under the law in the state of Maine when they are with a trainer.  

The one thing both of the these stories have in common ---  PR nightmare.
Ask me if I care about that in the least?
For me this is not just a case of boycott untill it is made right. This is the stuff of life time bans for me. Plenty of other places to eat. 

update.  CBS Boston picked up the story

That sound you just heard was Quizno's stock going up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dopamine drippers

Forgive me readers it has been  two weeks since my last blog post.  The end of school year has been hectic,   and I have been really busy with that thing called life.  Today, the first day of summer, is my parent's SIXTIETH wedding anniversary. On this day 60 years ago, my parents  married, and it was a Tuesday. Maybe Tuesday marriages are the secret to success?

 Excuses for not blogging in no particular order. School getting out and all that went with it, kids hogging my computer, parent's anniversary party last weekend, freelance writing projects, and  foster pups!  I placed 3 fosters in the last two weeks and currently have 2 foster siblings right now from Canine Commitment.

Now that school is out, we are  slowing  that life train down just a bit, and making extra time to  cuddle the pups.  Sister's Millie and Maggie are two very sweet pups and I mean sweet sweet sweet sweet. We just got Maggie a few days ago, but Millie has been here for  2 weeks. She has interested parties and will most likely be gone in just a few days.  (sad face!) Millie is a pup who we will all be sad to see go.  We wished that she could stay forever. Not only is she adorable, but she is sweet (redundant--- I know) and clever and cuddly.  She is just about 4 months old. If she was going to stay this size, I don't think we  could have resisted her charms.
I took Millie downtown  Sunday morning to my outdoor brunch training class, and a photographer asked to take my picture for a project he is working on, a hundred strangers in a hundred days.

Isn't she the cutiest?  A friend in training class said that Milie is like having "your own personal dopamine drip." yup.

And having two little sweeties in the house all cuddled and snuggled together, induces a contact high.  Not the trippy, magic mushroom, LSD kind of high, more like a Calgon,  serenity now, peaceful kind of high.

File under , another good reason that you should foster dogs. Free drugs!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

8 month old Chunks, an Autism Assist Service Dog's Journey

 Chunks at his first Dog Powered outing.
 Sebago Brewery 5/3/2011

Eight month old Golden Retriever Chunks has been coming to Gooddogz Training classes  since he was  9 weeks old.  Chunks lives with his two autistic kids, and the hope is that he will be a service dog for one of them.  The family contacted me when they were considering adding a dog.  At that time  I advised them how difficult it is to train your own service dog and suggested they contact  service dogs organization like  NEADS in Ma.  Like many programs, NEADS requires that you train at their facility for a few  weeks prior to graduation for concentrated training.  It has been my experience that many working families with young kids cannot commit to this. It is especially difficult for busy parents.  I have had a few families try to train their own Autism Assist dog for their kids, and in all cases the families didn't realize just how much time and work was involved. Ultimately the dogs were not granted public access, but in all cases the dogs helped the children pretty much straight  away with  therapies, and especially sleep routines.  As a trainer, Mom,  and animal lover it is hugely rewarding to work with families and help them to utilize dogs to help kids.
The canine/human bond never ceases to amaze.

Chunk's family was set on getting and training their own puppy, and I was not successful in swaying them to get a trained dog from a  service dog organization.  The family was set,  and ready for,  and wanted a  puppy.  Many people do not want to wait the often 2 years for a trained service dog.  It should be noted here that most service dog organizations are much more affordable than people think,  and many have  funding available.

Many people who have met Chunks  have  asked me if it is  necessary for dogs to bond with special needs kids as puppies to be successful.  There are service dog organizations who place fully trained dogs with children and there are also organizations who introduce dogs to their  families at young ages.  Those dogs often spend huge quantities of time with their kids, and the transition is gradual from puppy raiser home to forever homes. Raising a dog for Autistic kids has it's challenges. One of the many challenges of a service dog for an autistic is child is that  many of the kids are prone to outbursts and dogs need to be  acclimated to often unpredictable behavior .  Bottom line is that you need a dog with a rock steady temperament, who is task trained, with a very high level of training and socialization. These are very big paws to fill and as with life, there are many paths that you could take to get to your ultimate destination.

I am not going to lie, Chunks is goofy. He is big and sweet and well, goofy!  Chunks' time in training classes  had up until very recently been spent mostly  socializing, and  teaching his Mom how to handle him and to teach and reach him .  I have offered to take Chunks for extended periods of time, but as is often the case, the dog is already an integral part of his kid's daily lives and routines.   Ideally I would like to see him leave his home for a bit for concentrated training, but all I can do is suggest it. Chunks is doing well, but a kid's service dog is a huge job and I can't stress enough how much training a dog would need to be successful.  (Of course I know his family is reading this!  *waves hello*)

I have written before about Dog Powered, a Maine  group of service dog owners who offer each other a lot of support. Dog Powered usually meets one time a month for training and a group outing.  I have been privileged to be a part of their group for several years now,  I have brought several of my client's service dogs, and have also helped them with their specialized training issues. This past Friday, I attended their monthly meeting with both of my  trainer hats on to  help the group with distraction training. I was  thrilled that Chunks could attend. Chunks' Mom dropped him off in the morning on her way to work, and  his Dad picked him up after lunch at his first restaurant outing at Sebago Brewing .  To say I was proud of Chunks would be an understatement.

Chunks started out goofy and within about 10 or fifteen minutes he was pretty chill and working.  I think the one thing that I will never forget (besides Friday the super cute Golden puppy), is that halfway through our meal, the staff seated AN INFANT at the next table.

That baby was so close to him that the diaper bag hit him in the butt!  All I could think of was "wow! we really fooled them!" But it wasn't that we fooled them, under Maine law Chunks had every right to be in the restaurant. He is like the big kid at the playground that everyone thinks is older and expects greater things of. Chunks held his down stay pretty much for the entire hour.   Chunks big thing (all dogs have something right?) is that he LOVES kids.  I could visualize him getting up and slurping that baby big time.  Of course I did not let that happen, but if  I was that Mom, I may  have asked for a different table. Among ourselves, we discussed moving Chunks, but we let it all play out and well, all well that ends well right?  Chunks did what all good service dogs are supposed to do in public, and  ignored  them.

Good boys Chunks and Tom