Saturday, 1 August 2009

Mac the super-pooch!

This is Mac, a very beautiful (sorry, handsome) chap. He works as Charlotte's assistance dog and is wonderful at his job. We trained him ourselves, tailoring his tasks to suit Charlie's needs. At first, when he was still a young pup and Charlie was confined to her bed, I took Mac to training classes with a great trainer called Margaret Booth. He was and still is a typical Springer - busy, busy, busy! He did everything with such enthusiasm and consequently often got it wrong, but no-one could doubt that he was keen. As well as basic obedience we also did something called K9 Multisports, great for a dog like Mac who needed to be kept busy and needed to learn all sorts of different tasks. Now, he gives Charlie the phone when it rings, picks up anything she drops, fetches and carries from me to her and vice versa, takes off gloves, socks, jeans and even t-shirts for her, takes the washing from the machine and passes it from the basket for hanging on the line. At K9 Multisports he had to learn to cross the room, press a button with his nose and return to Charlie - we went home wondering if this was a task too far, but no, he got it in minutes! We went back to training the next week and said confidently that Mac could do it. Doubting looks were followed by the challenge 'show us', and he did it, perfectly! Now he can also use his paw to press the pad that opens shop doors.
Unfortunately, Mac is not a certified assistance dog. The people we went too were unsure about his temperament - he can be nervous when people move quickly near him as he has bad eyesight but as he gets older his confidence increases, and he is getting used to all sorts of new experiences since Charlie started University last September. The University have invited Mac to attend classes with Charlie now and they are looking forward to starting the new term together. Even tho at the start it was me who fed and walked Mac, there has never been a doubt in his mind about where his loyalties lie. At nine weeks old, the carers had taken Charlie to the bathroom to get her washed and dressed when I realised Mac was missing - I found him sitting outside the bathroom door with the tv remote in his tiny mouth, the only thing Charlie could use on her own! As she improved the biggest problem was teaching Mac to walk beside the wheelchair - he had realised very quickly that even when unable to sit up and sometimes unable to speak, it was Charlie's face that told him all he needed to know, and walking beside her he couldn't keep an eye her to guage her needs.
So you see, super pooch is a well deserved title, but if you met him you would probably just see an exhuberant black and white Springer with an excess of energy, a slight squint, and a long flowing tail that is often dripping wet as he just can't resist jumping in to every drop of water he sees!!!
Bye for now,
PS New boots are bedding in well but still get a bit weary at the four mile stage even with red socks! Lots of time to improve though.