Late yesterday afternoon mum and I did something truly amazing, it was very exhausting for mum which is why I've not posted until now.
As you know I've been around Sainsbury's several times in the last few weeks with both The Olds and practicing walking nicely by the trolley, trollies can be a scary item to dogs when not used to them. Mum has really struggled to go shopping without dad or somebody with her for many years, she gets very panicky on her own and sometimes can't even go into the shop, a few weeks ago she and I managed a quick walk around Asda in Woking on our own whilst dad waited outside, it might not sound much but was a big thing for her to do. Recently I've been keeping a beady eye on my food tins and starting to worry we'd run out and I'd have to eat just dry food on its on until dad could go shopping at the weekend.
Now we get to the truly amazing part about yesterday. Mum put my harness on, we got in the car and drove to Sainsbury's, when parked I could tell she was feeling really stressed and put my head on her knee for a cuddle. Next thing I know she's out of the car, comes round to my side to let me out, grabs a trolley, gets a scanner and we go into Sainsbury's!
Not only did we get my food, but we walked round and round filling up the trolley with people food too, after a while I could sense mum was feeling less panicky so I didn't need to keep touching her leg with my nose so she'd know I was there, I was able to walk along and watch and listen to mum chattering away to me about what we were going to buy and where we were going, we did get a few odd looks from people, I guess they didn't know who mum was chatting too, but we didn't care mum was busy getting the things that she needed and I was helping her feel confident. She filled the whole trolley up and even stopped to talk to some people she knows, that was good because I got to say hello too.
Everybody except two people ignored me and left me alone to work with mum, the first man said hello to me as we walked into Sainsbury's but I ignored him and followed mum as she's my priority. The second man was very rude though, we were walking down one of the aisles and suddenly I felt somebody stroking my back, it made both me and mum jump as she felt me falter in my walking through the lead. She asked me to watch her and gave me a jackpot treat for immediately focusing back on her, as she went to ask the man to please not distract me when I'm working, he just turned around and walked off, with no acknowledgement of mum at all, very rude indeed! Although mum finds it difficult to talk to strangers there's no need to act as if she doesn't exist, luckily my focus was immediately back on mum and we continued on our way. I'm so pleased with what mum and I achieved yesterday, her first time doing something that terrifies her all on her own with only me for company, this is another real step I've helped mum make to being more independent again.
Please Note:- When I or any other type of Assistance Dog is working we should never be touched, talked too or distracted in any way as it can put us off the job we're doing. If you really feel you must acknowledge us as a partnership, please speak to the handler first instead of just stroking the dog, you could potentially be upsetting any training or work that's being done at that time.
Sorry but I felt it needed saying, many times people have spoken to me or stroked me whilst ignoring mum until she speaks to them, generally people are good and apologize when she explains why I shouldn't be distracted, but some are just plain rude and continue to ignore her even when she explains. Ignoring people is an important part of my training process and a part I struggled with at the beginning as I'm such a sociable pup, but I'm getting good at it now. If you meet us out on a walk when I'm not working, both mum and I are happy to stop and pass the time of day with you and let me be made a big fuss of, but if I have my harness on I'm sorry we don't mean to seem rude but I'm either too busy training or looking after my mum to be petted.
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