On Tuesday, Chico and I went to town, that is, the bigger town near me where things like stores and medical appointments happen for me. With a dozen or so errands to run, a number of them in dog friendly establishments, it was a good day to work on socialization.
We started at the accountant, where Chico was well received, doing his tricks to the delight of the front office staff and earning some cookies. Then, while I met with their office, Chico worked on a big chew bone.
Then we went to the bank. There were some folks waiting to meet with a bank officer, one of them was a young man with what seemed to be some special physical and cognitive challenges. But he was not so challenged that he couldn’t say “A dog! I love animals.” So I asked Chico if he wanted to “go say hi” (he knows these words mean that if he feels brave enough go away from me to see someone calmly, when he comes back, I will give him a cookie), and he did. This guy was one of those people that Chico found, from the first moment, to be absolutely OK. So I gave him a treat or two to feed Chico. Then when we finally did our banking business, the teller had a dog treat for Chico.
The car wash didn’t result in any treats, and we moved on to Staples, where Chico had a chance to do some tricks for other folks waiting in line with us. More treats for him. Next stop was For Your Paws Only, to buy kibble. There was a big black lab shopping at the same time. As soon as Chico saw it, he came right by me. As we moved around the store, when we got near that dog, it started to bark. Chico ignored it. Several times. When we were checking out, the Lab could see us and it barked and barked, but Chico just looked at me, waiting to be rewarded. For two and a half years, in class, every time a dog gets loose, has the zoomies, or otherwise acts up, what the rest of us do is give our dogs treats. This was the first time I have seen Chico put together what happens in class with a real world situation. he chose not to engage or react, but turned to me for a pay out. And he got one. Big time. Add that to the day’s cookie total.
Next stop was the store for used hiking and camping gear where Chico patiently waited while I combed the racks. Then Eddie Bauer to return something, more cookies for Chico – they keep TWO kinds behind the counter for canine visitors – which he would not eat until they let him do the two-paws-on-the-counter trick, and on Paris farmer’s Union where Chico got a giant baked dog bone that he carefully carried to the car to save for later.
Next, at the storage locker place, the man waiting behind us was a well equipped dog lover with a biscuit in his pocket. He was quite gentle, and had a beard (one of Chico’s triggers) and Chico didn’t bark at him, and eventually accepted the biscuit, so that was a very positive social interaction.
The last stop (of the ones where Chico could join me – no amount of training is going to make it OK for him to enter the food store, ever, there’s laws about that stuff), was the mechanic, to schedule a service before Chico and I go on our cross-country adventure. Even after lots and lots and lots of interactions with strangers, all day, he was gracious, curious, quiet, friendly, and calm (well, mostly…Chico did bark for the owner when he didn’t come out of the garage into the office fast enough) to another couple of folks he’d never met before.
But he didn’t want any dinner that night.