Friday, July 1, 2016

A Struggle with a Light
at the End of the Tunnel

by Stacey Kuhns


A few months back, I wrote that I would keep you all updated on the progress Henson and I are making towards getting him trained and certified as my service dog. Time got away from me. I have not really gone anywhere in the last two months except my volunteer job, medical appointments, and Henson's training.

This coming Wednesday, he finally completes his series of shots and can venture out in public. I cannot tell you how excited I am about getting out and about again despite some serious pain issues I have been dealing with lately.

Anyone who has gone through puppy classes/training will understand the feeling of wanting your dog to excel and be the best in the class. I have had to swallow that for the time being as Henson is having some issues in class.

For the most part, he does excellent with training at home. We work on his skills at least twice a day and then throughout the day as the need arises. He attends puppy play at the training center every Thursday night for an hour then an hour of training on Saturday mornings.

The puppy play and training are held in the same area, so every time we go for training Saturday mornings, it takes a bit to calm him down because he thinks he is there to just run and play with his friends. (Just to show you how much fun he did have on Thursday night at puppy play):

Good thing I brought a towel. So, getting back to what I was saying about wanting your puppy to be amazing in class...even at puppy play, Henson was a handful. He ran with dogs bigger than he is and dogs smaller than he is. He loved running around with them, but this past Thursday, there were a lot less dogs there and he was more vocal and more "paws on" with the dogs there.

I had to be with him constantly and the trainers helped me know when he was just playing (learning to play) while vocalizing and when to pull him off the other dogs. Sometimes it is not easy to tell when things are getting out of hand as all the puppies are running around like crazy and jumping on each other. I thought puppy play would be a nice relaxing time for me to just sit on a bench and watch Henson happily interact with the other pups.

Not even close! I was exhausted! Luckily, he is exhausted also afterwards but still wants to get a little crazy and run around and play in the evenings around eight or nine (when I am more than ready to call it a night).

Like I mentioned, at home Henson does very well with training, but in class, he appears distracted and excited by all the other dogs. Just getting him to sit sometimes is a chore. And he learned to sit not too long after I brought him home. Henson has been used in demos in class several times (probably not something to be proud of at all.) Just look at that face. Does that look like a dog who would turn out to be a pain in the ass in class? Hmm, okay well, don't answer that. Anyway, Henson and I both got some individual help after class from one of the trainers. It was great information and something we will be working on.

The class is pretty jam-packed with information and weekly skills. It is a lot to work on but I think that is good as it keeps the puppies engaged in positive behaviors for which they are rewarded. (Henson is now sleeping after the workout this morning at class and the bath afterwards, and if I was smart, I would take advantage of that and take a nap, but I wanted to write this blog).

We have our good days and bad days (as with any child). Sometimes the mornings are fantastic and the evenings are terrible. There was one day last week where I swore I was going to list Henson on craigslist. I won't get into all the gory details of the day except to say there were some potty training mishaps, behavioral issues and all around not listening to mom issues.

By the time I got Henson in his crate that night, I was almost in tears with the joy of knowing I could just crawl into bed. I got to the bed and then noticed the cat vomit on my sheets (right where I lay of course). The tears did come then. We all have those days and nights (hopefully, not with the same set of circumstances) and most of the time, we just muddle through. A good sense of humor is definitely key lately.

Having severe physical disabilities and dealing with a sometimes unruly toddler (yes you, Henson), can be wearing mentally and physically. Each day is a struggle for sure but I do see progress and I do see there is a light at the end of the tunnel as I hope that one day, in the next few years, Henson will be helping me.

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