20130915-IMG_4893On Sunday, 9/15/13, we met up with a big group of Canine Hope members at a local mall for some public access training. We had several families that were self training, several puppy raisers, a few placed dogs (like Major and Raven) and several of the families recently matched with dogs in the program. This particular mall had all the requirements we needed for training, elevators, a food court, stairs, a loud toy store, a kids play area, a dark bowling alley with a huge arcade and all the noises and spinning lights, lots of foot traffic, and several long narrow hallways for recall and heeling work. And air conditioning 😉

20130915-IMG_4891Stella and I were each handling a dog, so there aren’t many pictures of the actual training (I was working 🙂 ) but for a service dog, rock solid public access work is key. In just this one location, we can simulate so many scenarios that it made for a very stimulating day. Even taking a dog across a highly polished floor can pose problems for some. Walking through automatic doors without a dog either refusing, or bolting through can be a challenge. And then you compound it with random strangers going about their day, stopping and asking questions and you learn that the mall is a great place for things like this.

20130915-IMG_4914We broke off into groups of 4-5 dogs, and we each had a test of 10 items that we were tested on. Things as simple as heeling through crowded stores and aisle ways, loading up on elevators, sitting under the loud hand dryers in the bathrooms, to downing under a table at the food court and working “leave it” with food on the ground. All scenarios that we regularly find ourselves in throughout the course of daily life, as we go to Target, grocery stores, restaurants etc.

20130915-IMG_4981 20130915-IMG_5037 20130915-IMG_5031It is during sessions like this that you realize just how truly amazing these animals are, and how much training they have had to be this good. Not only are we going through all of this, but as is often the case, in the middle of one of our tests, we were in the kids play area, with kids running and jumping and screaming and laughing when Major and Raven both alerted to a high for Stella. Alert, check Stella, make appropriate diabetic decision, reward dog, go back to test. It was like that all day. So amazing to watch. Even Raven, who normally doesn’t alert well in public, is getting stronger all the time. As she has settled in with our family and become comfortable, she has gotten better. So glad to see it, she is a pretty amazing dog.

1239441_519688824772260_297999567_nHere is a picture of Major alerting to me at the mall yesterday. We had just finished our training session, and we were waiting for another group to finish. The kids (Stella included) were playing and running around. Dorrie from Saving Luke – A Diabetic Alert Dog for Luke happened to capture it. Major doesn’t use a bringsel, he puts his paws up on me. Stella was 72. Awesome low Major. Thank you for all you do for our family, even under crazy conditions,


20130915-IMG_4983 20130915-IMG_4976We worked the dogs for about 2 1/2 solid hours, and by the end, everyone was pretty exhausted. We hung out at the mall, sitting on the floor chatting with other families while the dogs rested on the cool tiles, and as is often the case, that winds up being one of the best parts. We get a chance to catch up with everyone, learn how everyone is doing, ask how so-and-so’s 504 plan meeting went last week, hear about the crazy lows and random highs, the amazing alerts and how well the dogs are doing, discuss endo appointments, and learn, once again, that we are not alone.

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After the mall session, a large group of us headed over to a restaurant for lunch, We had a couple of smaller groups, and then 1 large table with 14 people and 9 dogs underneath. A real world scenario of something we just practiced, as our dogs got silverware dropped on them, had to avoid french fries and other random food on the ground, and had to place under the table for an hour as we ate our food.


While we were waiting for our table, Raven alerted to Stella’s 72! Good girl Raven, great low!

20130915-IMG_5103 20130915-IMG_5104The 2 pictures above are of our table. 14 people with 9 dogs underneath.

20130915-IMG_5107 20130915-IMG_5110And yes, they can totally have that. Luke with a sundae, and Stella wit a Pazookie. 🙂

20130915-IMG_4894Jedi is away from Luke for a couple of weeks while he does more training, but at sessions like these, Jedi and Luke get to work together! It makes the time go by faster if you can see your dog every now and again. And Jedi had some great alerts yesterday!

All in all, another great day, and I am so proud of our team.

Team Blackdogsrule



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