The most recent posting by the mother of Jayna, who suffers from Complete Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum.
“We started off on Saturday loading up the family and heading down to Waco to meet with our trainer Jackie and her boyfriend, Dominic and their Service Dogs, Ellie & Diesel at Toys R Us. We met outside to chat and let the dogs get re-acquainted with each other, and then headed inside for a busy store with lots of kids and families.
We began in the front of the store refreshing Jayna & Brian’s lesson of intersection; etiquette of coming to the intersection, stopping, looking both ways, and then continuing down the aisle. Both did fabulous and did exactly what they were supposed to do! Jayna’s SDIT Brian was very comfortable with Diesel and Dominic and Ellie, and decided to go to another part of the store since Ellie and Brian have some tension between the two of them. Their training together came later.
We walked around the store, found loud and interactive toys; the first toy was a walking Dinosaur and Brian did NOT like that ONE BIT. As we went back and forth and played the toy again and again, he became much more tolerant of the toy and began to ignore it. He continually looked up at Jayna and we had to continually remind her to make eye contact with him throughout the training and walking. We played with a ball bouncing which was a huge distraction, but again, Brian quickly became tolerant of it. Next was a 6″ car that we rolled in their direction. Brian went into a “cover” position around Jayna no matter what side we rolled it on, and he soon became tolerant of that as well.
Then came the training of walking Ellie in front of him. They both got rather vocal, so that will be something that we continually work on. At one point, a father carrying a baby carrier ran past us and Brian began barking. We asked the father to come back by and see if the carrier or just the father was a trigger, and Brian didn’t budge… so we just assumed it was that he was in a rush and ran “out of nowhere”, which startled Brian. We also decided that with Halloween coming, it would be a good idea for us to train with masks. When our other daughter Jillian walked up with a Ninja Turtle mask on, Brian immediately went into a front cover with Jayna and growled. Jayna was on the floor with him, and he was ON her to protect her applying deep pressure. Then came my husband, Dave, with the same mask – but he walked up out of nowhere and came in quickly, which then set Brian off and he was, again, in front cover of Jayna. Perfect job, Brian! Afterwards, we allowed him to sniff the mask, but he still wasn’t sure of it when we put it on our faces. We have a video of that.
Then there came the man with green hair and his child. Brian was cautious of him, but we told the man that we were training a Service Dog and wanted to know if he would come up to Brian and Jayna and introduce himself and properly introduce himself to Brian (show back of hand to be smelled, then licked). Brian loved that guy! LOL! Figures…he likes men with green hair! One thing we noticed was that Brian is startled and alarmed with men in general. That will be something that we have to work on. Dave and I plan on inviting men over to introduce to Brian and allow him to build up that tolerance. Brian knows when something is “wrong”…so we don’t want to take that effectiveness away, but big men, tall men, or men with hats alarms him. Go figure.
Now to Sunday…
Brian did great in the youth group! He was comfortable with everyone who came in, and loud noises too (kids playing ping pong and yelling, etc.) When we went to the Sanctuary for worship, Brian was vocal again when people clapped. No one seemed to mind (in fact, they all gave a “thumbs up” when we looked at them). At the end of the service, there was a LOT of clapping and Brian became VERY vocal and barked quite a bit. When we tried to leave, we were urged to stay and were told (by no less than 5 people) to please not leave…that he was just fine and they approved of him being there and barking. It was at that point that our youth pastor got up and called our family forward to explain about Brian and why we have him and why he was coming to church now. So we did. When they clapped us out, Brian barked and barked…everyone laughed and had a great time. Of course, we realize that we will have to work on stopping Brian from barking, as that is not allowed in excess for a Service Dog.
We’ll try to see how we can keep the barking at bay – perhaps using the Pet Corrector or a spray bottle. Saying, “Good Boy” and constantly comforting him with praise when the clapping began kept him quiet for a good while, but at the end, it was just too much for him.
EVENING SESSION WITH YOUTH GROUP…
So we had an evening Bible Study tonight with the youth, and when a young boy came in a little late, Brian could sense his fear and he was uncomfortable. We told the young man that we were sorry, but we would definitely work with he and the dog later and see if there was a way we could get that behavior to stop. At the end of Bible Study, we went out into the open area, out of the classroom, and invited the young man to come out with us to formally introduce Brian and to work with him on not being afraid, and for Brian to get familiar with him and not bark. When the young man walked in with Dave, Brian began wagging his tail the whole time but then began barking. So, after settling Brian down, we told the young man to extend his hand out with the back of the hand facing outward and to gently approach Brian saying “good boy” and being calm. Brian then walked up to him, licked his hand, wagged his tail and was fine! We then asked the young man to sit on the floor with Dave and to, again, extend his hand out. Brian did great there too. (All this is happening after I sent a text to our trainer, Jackie, asking how we were to help this situation…we had NOT heard from her until we got home…so this was all Dave and I acting on instinct). Once the young man got on the floor, Brian began licking him and was quite happy. We then took off Brian’s vest to “play” for a minute and several other youth joined us. We had a GREAT time of playing and loving on Brian…the young man included. We asked the young man if he would like to give Brian a treat and he did beautifully! We told him that the next time he sees Brian, to be confident that we are in control, and to approach with his hand extended backwards again for a “reaquaintance” and then we’ll allow the young man to treat him for his good behavior.
When we got home, I texted the situation to our trainer and she was SO reassuring to us! What would we do without her?! She is AMAZING! I asked her if we did ok and what she would have done differently in that situation and her response was amazing….
No that’s perfect!! I wasn’t sure if the young man would have been comfortable interacting with Brian. This was terrific for a few reasons. The young man’s fear probably plays out in his body posture, which actually probably sets off other dogs in other settings which then adds to the fear. By doing what you did, this young man is more likely to have different body posture. Also, Brian in some ways did good because he probably picked up on posture/movements out of the ordinary. For instance: when we were at the mall and the people were just kind of standing and watching, or when your husband’s approach too quickly with the costume yesterday and when that man ran by yesterday… You all taking the time to redirect Brian lets him know that not everything is a threat and there are more appropriate ways to respond. IF he continues to have problems with the young man now that the initial barrier has been broken, we could actually use that as an opportunity to redirect him much like we did yesterday with the costume. It’s awesome how you guys handled the situation! And the fact that you noticed the situation is good too because that will help with narrowing in during the future for any troubles he might have. It will also help for Brian recognizing his own triggers.”
I should also mention that YOUR donations are truly making a difference!! Without your support, NONE OF THIS would be possible. Training is hard. It’s hard on the dog, but equally hard on the handler (Jayna). Spending as much time with Jackie as possible is so beneficial, and we try to get as much time in with her as possible when we meet with her…she lives in Temple…we live in Arlington… 2 hours away.
So thank you. Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. Thank you to Tate Springs Baptist Church, our church home, for loving us and supporting us in this transition. Thank you for allowing Brian to “praise” when we praise. Thank you to #tatezone youth group for enveloping our family into your group and for treating our Jayna as just “one of the kids”. It truly means the world to us. She finally has friends…and that is priceless!