June 9, 2018

A Little Bingo Update: Search and Rescue with Our Autism Service Dog

Praise Jesus! Brandon is still doing “the thing” as we have started to call it, but he has not been hysterical and distraught today in the house.  He did eventually get upset both times we left the house, and went straight to doing "the thing" when we got home.  This is progress though, ya'll, and I will take it!  I wanted to update you all on that, and share a picture of him smiling. :)

*Unfortunately, I have to add an edit to this. Shortly after I posted this, Brandon had a major meltdown. He obsessively did his routine from my previous post, while screaming and crying, for about 45 minutes straight. We finally got him in his room, and he is clam for now.

In other news, we did a track (search and rescue) in our neighborhood, and Bingo NAILED it.  He’s been a little slow to start the last couple tracks.  It had me a little worried to be honest, but luckily 4 Paws For Ability trained us well.   We started working on the “Where’s your boy!?” command in the house throughout the day to reinforce the command.  Worked like a charm!  He got down to business right away during our track this evening.

I think about it often - what a professional organization 4 Paws is.  I don't mean that they just act professional in the way they dress or present themselves, but they are professionals in this field. There is a lot more to being an autism service dog handler than one might think, and although those two weeks training in Ohio were long, it was so important for us to make sure WE know what were doing.  Bingo is the professional, but if we don't keep up with his training, he could easily slip into the role of a full time pet - not service dog.  Tracking, particularly, is an art.  You can't just grab his leash, say, "Where's your boy!?" and go.  When we're in public with Bingo, he knows exactly what to expect from us, and we know exactly what to expect from him.  He does not veer from us, pull on his leash, go for food on the floor, or stand up unless we tell him to.  He doesn't bark, sniff at people, or really be a disturbance in any way.  The only way you would know he is there is if she shakes (which come on...he can't help that!) or if you see him with your own eyes.  We've encountered people who were a little startled when they saw him, simply because they had no idea there was a dog in the room!

I feel like I need to share more of our experiences with Bingo, and what it's like to have a service dog.  I will be better about that.  One thing I want you all to know is that while he is a service dog and has a job to do, he is also a part of our family.  He's gets so much love and attention.  He gets pet and loved on every day, and it such a snuggler!  

*I should note here...if you see a service dog in public, please do not pet him/her.  It's not fair to a service dog to distract him, because it sends him mixed messages on what the humans want him to do!  It doesn't hurt to ask, but do not be offended if the handler says no, and please keep in mind how many people are probably asking as well.  We have had outings where so many people asked to pet him, that it was hard to just enjoy our outing as a family because we were constantly being stopped!

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