While we just love doing events and special appearances with the Love Dogs, it is always good to get back to our ongoing work harnessing the power of the dogs to bring about a result.
Today in our session with Julian I wanted Benny to be "just a dog" again. I brought his favorite toys and had a long talk with him before we got there. "Listen, Benny, today it's okay to jump up for your toy and even bark. You can shake your head and roll around and just be a dog!"
We did this few weeks ago, having Benny play in front of Julian, but it was in a much more controlled way. Today I told Benny to "Go for it!" We started the session with Julian removing Benny's coat. It is a new coat and a bit more difficult to manage but Julian did a great job and Benny was so patient.
Then I brought out his toys. I put several toys on the floor, ones he likes to play with but that he does not go crazy over. Let's start slow!
At first Julian just watched from a safe distance, and then he moved closer and then the laughter began.
It was time to bring out Mr. Fox!
Benny just loves that fox.
At first Julia was a little anxious when Benny started moving so quickly. But he looked straight at him and soon smiled and laughed watching the little dog play like a big dog.
"Benny, drop it!" he said and yes, Benny did drop it.
A few times Benny got overexcited as the children often do and his "crazies" came out. When he is overwhelmed with freedom, I need to reign him in and get him to pay attention and "listen."
"Benny, pay attention," I said which is his cue to calm down a little - and he did.
Benny stopped moving all around and just looked up at me, right into my eyes. This is the beauty of solid positive training. Benny will always turn to my voice and "listen" and wait for his next instruction.
And for a dog like Benny who we know has some neurological problems, bringing his focus back is the key when he gets too excited. Just like the kids he works with, he needs structure and routine and a calm loving "coach" to get him through the day.
By the end of the hour Julian was playing a game next Benny, Benny was winding down and everyone just thought this was the most fun day ever.
As per Pet Partners policies, I had a long leash on Benny and he was always within my reach and control, but he still had the most fun ever at the Children's Therapy Center - showing Julian how he can be a real dog!