Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Friday, October 11, 2019
UNDERSTANDING SASSIE. 19, Dog Behavior Testing
time for Millie to do the dog evaluations had arrived. She was eager to begin this task, and as
Millie entered the shelter, she began to look for Jane. She was in her office. As Jane looked up, she saw Millie and said,
“Millie, I have Room 101 ready, and the equipment that you requested has been
placed in that room’s small closet.”
They moved to 101. Millie checked her list
of dogs to be tested; she saw that Sassie would be the first dog to be
tested. “Ruth asked for permission to
come into Room 101 to watch. I told her
that she could only watch by looking through the window outside the room.”
Millie smiled and said, “Yes, part of this
test is to see how the dog reacts to me as I sit in this chair. No distractions are permitted during this
testing, and although I realize that Ruth wants to see Sassie pass, she cannot
be in the room. Thank you for explaining
this to Ruth. She most certainly can
watch from that window.”
Millie then sat in the room’s single chair
and asked Jane to bring in Sassie. When
Jane brought Sassie into the room, she unclipped Sassie’s leash and then walked
back out the door.
Sassie had never been in this room. She looked around, but when she saw Millie,
she wagged her tail and went right up to her.
She gently bumped her elbow to see if Millie could be encouraged to pet
her. Sassie started to show Millie the Play
Bow and even did a happy dance for her.
Millie checked the word “passed” on her clipboard and added a few
comments to this area of the test.
Millie got a bowl of food and placed it
onto the floor. Sassie was encouraged to
eat the food that was in the bowl.
Millie got the plastic hand and would “pet” Sassie as she ate. Then the plastic hand was placed into the
food bowl. The plastic hand was used
instead of the real hand because some dogs would bite any hand that went into
their food bowl. Once again, Sassie
wagged her tail.
As Ruth looked through the window she
whispered, “Way to go, Sassie!” Then
added, “I bet you’re wondering when the good treats are coming.” Ruth was glad she had used positive random
reinforcement with her training of Sassie.
As Millie put “passed” on each successful
test, she began to enjoy watching Sassie’s trust of people and her free
spirit. In the next test, Millie put a
pig’s ear on the floor and after Sassie started to chew on the ear, she placed
the plastic hand near the treat. As Millie
pushed the pig’s ear away from Sassie, Millie was tempted to give a treat to Sassie,
to reward her good behavior, but Millie knew that was against the rules of
testing. Sassie passed every test that
Millie decided to add a comment on the
test sheet that she usually does not write, “This dog could easily pass the therapy dog test. I recommend therapy dog testing in a year.”
Jane had been in her office during Sassie’s
testing. When the telephone rang, Jane
had been concentrating on her paperwork and was only half listening to the
caller. The raspy voice said, “Ruth’s
mother is a bad mother!”
Jane suddenly began to listen closer to
the voice on the phone and asked, “What did you say?” The only response to
Jane’s question was a click and the dial tone.
Staring at the phone, she slowly lowered
the receiver. Jane then glanced at the
clock and realized that it was now time for the next dog to be brought into the
testing area. Jane hurried to Room 101. She brought Sassie to Ruth before getting the
“Guess we can start the
adoption paperwork this afternoon.” Ruth said as she turned to leave.
“Remind me to tell you about our Puppy Play
Time,” Jane added before going to get another dog for Millie.
Jane was unsure if she should say anything
to Ruth about that strange phone call, but then she decided that maybe now
would not be a good time.
With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through amazon.com: