After two weeks of making up our minds, then changing our minds again, it's confirmed: Siena's still in the program. For now.
I'm going to call it her probationary period for lack of a better word. She's got a long way to go - there are so many things a service dog must excel at (no room for mediocrity in service work), so many things they must tolerate without extreme fear or excitement -- it's a long road for Siena, definitely, but we're happy with the progress we've seen since this inexperienced little Dane came to live with us two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago she trembled when we carried her inside. She wouldn't enter the house by herself -- either too scared or had never had the experience of going up one step. When scared, she would run away from us instead of seeking us out for comfort. I couldn't walk her through my quiet neighborhood -- she trembled so badly I wondered if she could even walk. She was afraid of her food bowl for goodness sake! Even when it had food in it! I was worried not for her service career -- that just wasn't going to happen -- but more for her general suitability for just being a pet.
However, over the past two weeks, I've worked with several times a day, every day, to help build her confidence, her trust in us, and her experience base. The main reason she's staying is that we've seen her progress quickly and assimilate what she's seen and experienced and used that when she encounters something else that's new.
Over the weekend, she rocked the Home Depot and survived a trip to our local grocery store. Siena has the most trouble at grocery stores - I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing because it's a very "busy" place: there's so much visually to take in -- the carts, displays, shiny floors, tall shelves, bright lighting, people everywhere. Grocery stores aren't quiet either -- there's always music, announcements over the public address system, banging carts, beeping checkout stations, etc. Add to that mix the hum and air blowing from the refrigeration cases and you've got a recipe for disaster for a pup who thinks going inside a house is scary.
Check in with us here every Monday and I'll detail Siena's progress and how we're working through those challenges she's facing. If you're getting a puppy, you'll get a lot of information that will help you make sure he grows into a well-adjusted family dog. Also, if you've adopted a dog from a rescue or shelter, you'll be able to use the information and apply it to your dog, too! And if you've got a normal, laid-back dog, you're covered, too, because in most other ways, Siena's a normal dog and we'll have information for you about how to keep your dog entertained and out of trouble.
Do you have a dog who took awhile to warm up to life? Please leave a comment and share what worked for you and your dog.