Greetings to everyone from team Vicky and Chase! I wanted to get this video posted because for the next few months we will be busy with the adaptive remodel in the house. Praise God, I was granted 100% Permanent and Total disability by the VA which blesses us with many benefits. One of the benefits is funds to make some additional modifications to our home so it is easier and more accessible for me. Right now, of the 2880 sq. foot home we own, I can only use the top-level because I can’t get my wheelchair downstairs unless I go down the steep sidewalk, through the gate and into the basement through the ramp. Not always feasible in Minnesota weather 😂 I’ll probably post videos and photos of the progress as the process begins. To say the least, I am very excited!!
So back to today’s post. My desk area doesn’t have enough room for both the recycle and shred bins to sit underneath and even if they did, I would have to bend to access them – which is not always possible nor is it good for my already wrecked neck and back. Once again, Chase to the rescue. I have a whole list of areas I want him to help me with, including pulling my manual wheelchair (currently in training for that) but this task is done so many times throughout the day – I hate to save papers – so I thought it made sense to teach it to him early in the game.
I started out by first introducing him to the recycle bin, which happens to be blue. Blue is the color dogs see the best. I put the bin right next to my chair and would simply give him a paper and say “Put”. Eventually I expanded that to “Put in Recycle” and by the end was able to go to a one word command of “Recycle.” As I said, we started very close and over time, I moved the container farther and farther away until I didn’t even have to be facing it. I could just give him a piece of paper while sitting at my computer and say the command and he would make it happen. After he was very proficient at that, I introduced another container for paper to be shredded. I intentionally chose a “bin” that was completely different in looks so he would not get them confused. I used a simple cube container that is normally used in a cubicle shelf. Soon I’ll get a container similar in shape and size to the recycle bin but in a different color. They will also always stay in separate locations, rather than being side by side.
Chase is very smart and catches on quick. Once he learns it, being the food motivated dog that he is, he wants to practice all the time 😂. That being said, although I consider him to be the perfect Service Dog, he does have his comical moments when he decides it’s more fun to take out papers from the bin and bring them back to me. Of course he doesn’t get a reward for this and if I see him hanging around the bins to snoop, one “Leave it” command and he stops. This video was also a perfect demonstration of Chase’s persistence. On the first shred item, he had difficulty because the container moved, at one point he even stepped in it 😂 but he hung in there and after 4 attempts he got the shred paper where it was supposed to go. I’ve always said that we’re perfectly matched because we have three major things in common: stubbornness, persistence and loving others.
The other thing we’ve accomplished almost to perfection is the “party recall” as I call it. If he is doing a behavior that I don’t want him to, like barking at a rabbit outside or barking at some invisible object he sees through my window, I call him to come in a very, very excited voice. His reward for instantly coming is a Rice Cake, plain. Ingredient list is: Whole grain brown rice and only 40 calories per rice cake. . It’s like crack to him..it tastes like cardboard to me – not that I’ve tasted cardboard but it is what I imagine it would taste like. This is very helpful when I need him to return to me instantly, without dawdling, sniffing along the way, or gazing at the yard next door…he instantly races across the yard (or room) and is at my feet within seconds. I also imagine this would be helpful if, God forbid, he ever got off his leash outside.
I’m so blessed and happy that I have my canine partner. I can’t imagine life without him. He’s loyal, obedient, has a wonderful personality and most of all is a huge help to me. Chase came from Helping Paws MN and to anyone in the area interested in supporting or obtaining a service dog, I would recommend them above all others. http://helpingpaws.org | The dog in the Blue Coat 🙂 They follow all of their animals (they have their own breeding program) for life and are always a resource for help along the way. They are consistently in need of foster parents for the first 2 and a half years tied in with initial basic training, along with many other things, including donations of money, donations of time and other things. If you don’t need a service dog, but want to help people who do, volunteering and/or donating to this wonderful organization is rewarding when you see the wonderful benefit and effect it has on the recipients.