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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Major Milestone Met

Bo passed his public access certification test with me last Friday. I took the test with him at a local Walmart Supercenter.  A friend joined me to take video and help out with the test items. Helen administered the test and brought her Collie Paddington to help with a test item requiring another dog.

When I originally scheduled the test date with Helen, we talked about whether Austin or I would test with Bo. Austin wanted to take the test and felt he would be more relaxed than I would. I felt that I would be a distraction to Bo if I was at the test but not handling him. Helen told us it didn't matter to her but cautioned us that if he were to fail, she was required to document it.

Austin and I originally decided he would test with Bo but when I had to reschedule the original test date to the following week, I realized Austin would be in school. After explaining the situation to Austin, he agreed that I should go ahead and take the test with Bo rather than wait for a date that would work with his school schedule.

Unloading from vehicle in a busy parking lot.
I was nervous the morning of the test. I tried to distract myself by keeping busy. I took Bo for an off leash walk and then I did some training with him before walking him on leash.  I also played with him outdoors. He rested on the 40 minute ride to meet Helen. Once the test started my nerves calmed and I felt confident in Bo's ability to work in public.

Bo worked with the distraction of another dog in the store.
He unloaded and walked through the parking lot. He waited on command at the entry to the store and then walked with me through the door when I gave him the 'with me' command. He performed sits, downs, and down stays. He remained down while I dropped the leash and walked away from him. He came to me when I called him. He held his down position when I handed the leash over to another person and walked out of his sight where I remained for a short time before coming back to him. He maintained a heel position while I let go of his leash and draped it over his back. He navigated tight spaces between shopping carts. He ignored adults and children. He behaved politely in the cafe where people were eating and food was being prepared.
Bo heeling without me holding his leash.

The test didn't take long and to my surprise it felt anticlimactic once it was finished. In my mind I built the test up to be a Herculean feat. In reality, it was no different from our typical public outings. Bo did the work we've trained him to do and I did the work Helen trained me to do.

With this milestone on our journey met, I'm looking toward the next -- for Bo to take the PACT with Austin at school. There is still more training to do in school, as well as conversations to be had with school representatives before this happens but I'm confident we will get there. For now, I'm enjoying the pride of accomplishment that comes from hard work and grit.

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