Officially Service Dog in Training!

So I’ve made my decision. An easy one but one I had to consider all the ducks and line them up.

Quinn is now a Service Dog in Training (SDiT).

What does that mean? In North Carolina (and many other states) a handler with an SDiT has the same access rights as one with a “real” SD. I can take Quinn wherever I go. Before, we’ve only gone to dog friendly places and one trip to Blue Mountain Pizza. It’s time for her to learn that the tasks she does at home, she is to do AWAY from home, too. In all situations and places. Time to add distractions (kids, other dogs, smells) and practice, practice, practice.

With Joella, I used a red cape. It was easy to put on and take off and it was, like, RED. On her black coat, it really looked good. Not that anyone paid much attention to the “do not pet” patches but that’s another post.

But what I don’t like about most SD gear is the part in the front goes straight across the shoulders vs dipping down into a Y to go down the chest and reconnect to the belly part. Those that go straight across tend to restrict shoulder movement, or, at the least, make the dog think it is restricted. This can lead to muscle and bone issues. It is the standard, however, and finding one for Quinn that I liked was getting difficult.

Then a friend who knew someone who knew someone with a service dog had a leather harness they needed to rehome. The friend asked my friend if she knew anyone. Which means I have a cool leather harness for Quinn. I need to get some stuff to clean and protect it but it’s a nice harness. And it does not restrict shoulder movement at all. It is plain brown so I’ll need to add stuff to it to make it look “official”.

By law, a service dog does not need to wear any identification at all. It’s just folks expect it and it makes it a LOT easier. Jo’s had a “Service Dog” patch and a “Working, Do Not Pet” patch. Quinn’s will be more subtle I think. I’ll do a velcro spot with patches to make it look “official”.

Different, Yet, the Same

I cannot hold Quinn against the standard that Joella set. It isn’t fair to either of us and certainly isn’t fair to Jo. Because they are the same breed, that line in the sand has a lot of wiggles.

Jo and Quinn don’t really look alike. Jo was very feminine looking. Sleek muzzle, proportioned skull. Quinn, not so much. Jo’s brown was very brown, almost copper or red. It stood out against her black coat. Quinn’s brown is dark, but there’s not much of it. She’s a much darker dog. Jo was slimmer, even when she was slightly overweight. Quinn will always be a block of cheese. Watching her weight is going to be tough. Both are relatively quiet dogs (something I love about Rotties) and both have a bark that you feel as well as hear!

They don’t act much alike. Joella was brave, yes, but she was cautious. Oh, she was aggressive! Don’t doubt that! And her bravery caused her to be extremely stoic. Quinn? Eh, I don’t think she understands the word ‘cautious’. This is the pup that kept touching her nose to the hot pellet stove. This is the pup that jumps over things, not having a CLUE if there was anything on the other side.

Today I was reminded of another aspect of difference between the two. When I was training Joella, I had to vary what I was doing. If I dropped the same object more than 3 times in a row, she’d sigh and take the object back to her bed, to keep it safe since I obviously couldn’t hold onto it. Joella was also not food motivated. We later discovered her love for cheese but that was it. Quinn? Wow. This girl would do anything for food. Don’t matter what kind of food, either.

Anyway, today I have knocked my mouse off my desk twice. I have no clue why. I try to catch it but, nope. And since it is wireless, down it goes. So twice Quinn has gleefully retrieved both the big base (I use a trackball) and once she got the ball. I had to get the other one since it went way under the futon. The first time, she nudged me repeatedly until I remembered to give her the treat. The second time, since she had picked up both items, she waited for the second piece.

Jo would have retrieved everything, yes. She would have given me “the look” after the second time. But both times she would have gone back to her spot and been content. Jo helped me because she wanted to. Sure, sometimes she wanted that bit of paper or whatever treat was on my desk, but she didn’t always demand it.

I think, with time, Quinn will become the same way. I do often just give her praise and a really good scritch scratch, but for her, “that’s nice, now pay me”.

This is not a bad thing! Not at all. It does not mean Jo was a saint (snort) it means they work differently. And I have to train differently. There are things I will teach Quinn that Joella never “got”. She couldn’t grasp the WHY so didn’t want to learn it. Quinn doesn’t need to know WHY. She just wants to learn it. Joella picked up on some things, especially SD tasks, quickly. But ask her come to me? Pfft. Not happening. Ask her to sit or down? Yeah, good luck. Quinn responds very, very well to hand signals. We’re still working on her recall and her leash walking could use improvement, but she loves loves learning. Especially now that her brain is finally catching up with the rest of her and is maturing. If she is this smart now, at one and a half? She’s gonna blow me away in a year.