When I was blessed with Chase, the first couple of weeks we did all the things taught to us in class. As time went on, I began to look at every task I do that is difficult or painful and do a Chase check. I ask myself, “Is this something he can do for me?” So many times the answer is yes. During these last six months, he has learned so many things and I’ve come to realize the potential for him to make my life easier is enormous. And the added benefit of having a loyal companion who loves me, brings me so much joy, and won’t leave my bed if I’m sick is icing on the cake.
Team Vicky and Chase are continuing with learning new tasks relating to movement of my legs. He never ceases to amaze me how quickly he catches on. I’m the slow one 😂 but once I figure out the best way to formulate the task, he picks it right up, sometimes even adding his own smart actions. An example of this would be how he learned it was easier to push up instead of forward when moving my feet to my footplates from the front.
The task we’re demonstrating today is to move my legs off my footplates. For example, there are times I need to get closer to an area or transfer to another surface and need my footplates up. Even having him push up my footplates, I’ve still needed to manually move my legs off the plates. A simple task it might seem, but when I do it repetitively throughout the day, it puts strain on my back and shoulders which are vulnerable and painful areas for me.
I had considered attaching something to my leg that he could grab but again, that would require me to bend down and put it on so that made no sense. I thought perhaps he could grab the side of my pants leg and pull but vetoed that because what if I had shorts on – he would have nothing to grab. So ultimately it came down to push making the most sense. I started with teaching him to touch the inner calf area of my leg, from the opposite side, rewarding him each time he did. From there we moved to push. Even if he didn’t get the leg off, if he made a push effort, he got a treat. Each time, I would encourage him to push harder and eventually the leg came all the way off. Party time!! He got about 10 treats. Being the smart dog that he is, he caught on fast to what I wanted and will now do it for one treat. It’s such a joy to see how excited we both get when he accomplishes what we set out to do. We have one final step to the whole process of helping me with my legs and that is for him to put my legs back onto my footplates from the side. I look forward to finishing the series!
Service dogs, especially labs are very food motivated but as time goes by there are those routine things he does where a pet and a “good job” make him just as happy. For the more complicated tasks, I suspect treats will continue. Being a novice, I’m learning too and am so thankful I have the wonderful resources of Helping Paws to help guide Chase and I on our journey. They are such an awesome and dedicated organization, full of people committed both to helping those in need of a service dog and to the care and well-being of all the dogs they train and follow. I will forever be grateful to them for blessing me with Chase.
This month we have our Assistance Dogs International Public Access Evaluation. I remember back in October thinking that we couldn’t possibly be ready in six months but Chase has shown otherwise. Even when we have long days at doctors appointments, running errands or trips in the car, he is a well-behaved service dog who gets many compliments from those who see him working. I’m so very proud of him!
We had to shoot this video from my “everything” room because my family were in the living room. Having a disability many times means having a lot of equipment and supplies. For me, it makes sense to have all of my things in one room so what was once only my office, became my supply room, my dressing room, my Chase supply room, my exercise room and spare equipment room and if I can see it clean at least once a week I’m a happy camper.
Hope you enjoy the video ❤