The story of a boy living with Type 1 and his family's journey to raise and train a diabetic alert dog.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Classroom of Distractions

Fifteen of Austin's friends joined us at school Friday for a training session with Helen. The kids came with their book bags and pretended to be working at desks, while Austin worked Bo under Helen's direction. While Helen talked to the class about Bo's job, Austin had Bo in a down stay at his desk. Austin also practiced walking around the desks with Bo off leash. This proved to be a challenge for Bo given the food that some kids were invited to eat. So, Helen had Austin pick-up Bo's leash and walk him between the occupied desks and chairs. 

One friend was asked to come up to Austin at his desk and pretend to look at a book. The friend walked past Bo and stood next to Bo while talking with Austin. Bo did great with this distraction. He didn't break his down stay and he stayed quiet and settled from the time the friend approached to the time he returned to his seat. 

Austin practiced handling Bo at the lockers outside his classroom. Helen asked half the class to pretend to put away and take out books from the lockers, while the other half of the class looped walking past Bo and Austin. Again, Bo did excellent with this exercise. He stayed focused on Austin and was not bothered by the distraction of the kids walking past him and around him. 

Austin's friends left the classroom before our training session with Helen was over. Once they left we debriefed with Helen and Austin gave Bo a short play time in return for his hard work and concentration. Following the playtime, Bo alerted to me. We checked Austin and he was high. Bo got a high party and then Austin put him in a down stay while we finished our session with Helen. By this time, Bo had spread out on the floor and had his eyes closed. One of the parent observers asked if Bo would have a bed in the classroom. Helen explained that he would not. I added that while we want Bo to be settled and quiet in class, we don't want him to fall asleep on the job. 

Helen told us she was really pleased with Bo's work. She even admitted he did better than she expected.  She advised us to train in school with kids again before the start of school. She also suggested we pick an alias name for Bo. The purpose of an alias is to ellicit less of a response from Bo when kids walk by him and say his name.  (Of course Austin's friends will know his real name.) Austin wants Bo's school name to be 'Rudolph.'  What do you think Bo's alias should be?

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