Monday, 22 August 2011

Yasmin-The day in a life of an assistance dog.

As Caroline is consistently going to keep blogging "unless like me you have an assistant dog", I felt I wanted some air time!

My name is Yasmin, that's me in the picture, purple "Canine Partner" tank top, passing the small persons day bag of useful things so Caroline and Mark don't have to keep going up and down stairs with small man.

I am a highly trained dog from a charity called Canine Partners. I am specifically trained to Caroline's needs, although my friends and I as puppies are all taught the bog standard procedures which include loading and unloading a washing machine, when Caroline buys a new washing machine I go to test it out as it is me who opens the door, loads and unloads! We are also trained to retrieve items of a supermarket shelf which is hard going on me as being a Labrador there are so many things I would love to get my chops on but I don't! I keep my mind on the job and look forward to a well deserved bone later.

When Caroline and I first met, it was tail wags at first sight! I was the noisy one out of the lot of other dogs :oD I like to be busy and I get very irritated with lounging around and so I make noise when I am doing nothing, Caroline also likes to be ultra busy and I clicked over this shared personality trait with her. The process for me to pack my doggy bag and live with her was a lonnnnng one. There were a lot of meetings with Caroline and I. Very skilled trainers taught Caroline to use specific commands and watched her with me.  Eventually I got to go and stay at luxury accommodation with Caroline near the Canine Partner training base in Sussex where we were put through intensive training ,for 2 weeks, with the Canine Partners trainers. The trainers took no messing, we were out at 6am eating,playing, I visited the powder room and then hitting the town and training, followed by more work back at base at CP HQ. We didn't get back until 6pm. We were shattered!

After two weeks of unloading and loading washing machines, pressing pedestrian crossing buttons with my nose, taking a tin of beans of the supermarket shelf and passing Caroline's purse to the cashier in the supermarket, wondering around a major City in Sussex during Christmas shopping and keeping chilled despite the mayhem and endless old ladies coming to try and pet me while I was minding my own business,Caroline and I had passed the various tests set up by the trainers! I graduated from "Puppy in training" to fully fledged, nose in the air, helpful,  Canine Partner assistant dog! I'm not a modest dog, I'm not a wall flower dog but I have made a big change for Caroline.

I packed my doggy bag, took of my black training collar and put on my red graduated collar and said goodbye to a dog called Archie. Jumped into Caroline's car and we went back to her home together!

A year later Caroline met Mark, he annoyed me, thinking he could swoon in with his boy smell, I tried my best to shake my smell on him cos he ponged, shook my fur around him, tried to sit on him, glared at him. He still stayed! Eventually I thought he was ok to stay as he made Caroline very happy.  He asked Caroline to marry him a few months later which I agreed to happen. A year later another small person came into the pack!

My job description:

Morning 7am - help take Christopher's morning bag down stairs which has nappies, wipes,a few hand toys and books. Christopher sits on the sofa in his lime green seat and I keep watch whilst Mark goes into the kitchen to grab his food. 

9am I get the mail. Caroline changes Christopher sometimes on the sofa so I sit with her to create a barrier to stop Christopher going any where and make him "stay" on the sofa.

10am I go to the library with Caroline to pick up some baby books for Christopher, baby books are always kept in low shelves which Caroline finds hard to bend down to. 

10.30am Ball time.Playtime for Christopher.

11am- bone time!!

1pm- washing machine time, endless washing to do, a dogs work is never done! Cleaning bathroom floor, Caroline will throw 3 anti bac wipes onto the floor and stand on one, then move her foot around, the process takes a while but I help pick the wipes up and put them in the bin so I try to save her time, she would never get the wipes up otherwise!

2pm- "Driver Dan's Story Train" time for Christopher followed by "Peter and Jane" reading scheme (Christopher and I are learning to read), followed by really noisy play, noisier if Mark is involved!

3pm- Tidy house time with Caroline, constant picking up of clothes, boots and toys, I even pick up my dog bed so Caroline can hoover. I move baby bouncers, baby walkers so she can sweep a floor. 

3.30pm -5pm Christopher in high chair and has lots of toys which he chucks on the floor, Caroline can not pick them back up so I am on duty without a break nearly all this time.

5pm THANK DOGNESS SMALL MAN HAS GONE TO BED! tea time, ball play and bed for me!

Now Caroline's Husband and friends have nominated us to be a torch bearer for the 2012 games and we have been selected at national level but now need to see what happens at regional level, paws crossed!

My job is rewarding, I am happy to help Caroline with her parenting roles, she has never wanted a human carer and always struggled on her own, picking things up with her feet etc which took absolutely ages until I came. She desperately likes to be independent as does her husband, they still do an awful lot, when small person is walking I hope it gets easier as they are both forever movingg around like sheep and I aint no sheep dog!

If any one with a disability is interested in an assistant dog like me then I enclose the Canine Partner link.

Something I forgot to mention are puppy parents, if it wasn't for my puppy parents looking after me and starting my training process off then Canine Partners would struggle. Puppy parents are volunteers for Canine Partners and are a part of a chain that is so important,after all it might not be a lot of fun for a disabled person to have a boystrous puppy about. If you can look after a puppy then please go to this link.

Thank you, big lick!

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