Cash is currently in training to be a "guide dog" for the blind via a program called Guiding Eyes for the Blind. He began training with his current trainer when he was only eight weeks old. He's now about 17 months old and only has a month left. He will then journey back to New York to the Guiding Eyes for the Blind training institute for six months of intensive training to round out what he needs to know to be a service dog for the blind.
Our 4-H group has picked "service dogs" for our group project and this was our first meeting to revolve around that topic. His trainer, Carol, brought Cash and showed us some of things she had trained him for, how the program works, how people are matched with their dogs, and more. It was very informative.
One thing Carol showed was how much the dogs have to be used to people handling them - from nose to tail really. She dressed Cash in a T-shirt and socks....
Yes, he looks a bit silly but once it was explained why this important, it made sense. The socks are to get Cash used to wearing protective booties. This will be helpful if he is sent some place really hot or really cold and needs to have his paws protected while working. The T-shirt is for a similar reason. He tolerated it all very well but the look in his eyes was pretty funny. Poor thing.
Carol shared how she taught him to learn to sit and stay and all the typical doggie commands. She even showed us his newest lesson...sitting under a chair.
Cash is a big dog though and Carol hadn't realized there was a bar under the chair so he couldn't fit. This is important if he is going to a restaurant or some place where he'd be required to sit out of the way while his owner was doing something.
I found it completely fascinating to see the training that goes in to these dogs. They, of course, have to be this well trained in order to help the people they are being trained to help.
I asked each of the boys what their favorite thing was about meeting Cash and what they learned that they hadn't known before.
Lego-Man: When he was dressed up the shirt and socks - because it was funny. I learned about the pet raisers - that they exist.
Conductor: Petting him cause I like dogs a lot. You can only train the dogs for a small period of time and then they had to be sent back for more training.
Happy: I liked him because he was cute.