Monday, December 15, 2014

Conquering Chocolate World: It’s All About the Burgers

Dop Dop met the singing cows.

That’s right. THE singing cows—Gabby, Harmony, and Olympia, the singing cows of Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Doppler turns one year old on December 21, which means that he has his one-year evaluation next week. He’ll spend a few days at the kennel with Susquehanna Service Dogs’ professional trainers so they can determine if he has the potential to become a service dog.

I have to admit, I’m a little bit nervous. I think Dop Dop is a great dog, but he does have his quirks. Take stairs, for instance. He still tends to hesitate when faced with a new set of stairs.

Anyway, I learned at the last puppy lecture that Chocolate World is one of the places the dogs could go during their one-year evals. And since I’m all about setting my dog up for success, I decided that Doppler was going to visit Chocolate World before his eval.

Now, in order to get on the ride, I knew Doppler would have to go down a set of brand new stairs. (See why I would be a little nervous about his eval?) So I decided to tip the scales in my favor and stuffed my treat pouch with two McDonald’s hamburgers, one hotdog, about half a cup of goldfish, and as much kibble as would fit.

It worked!

We got to Chocolate World and trotted over to the tour ride. Knowing that the stairs were coming up, I let almost everyone pass us so that we wouldn’t hold anyone up if Doppler decided the stairs were horrible, terrible, no good, very bad things. I shouldn’t have worried, though, because Doppler was a pro. He didn’t even hesitate going down the stairs! He even stopped and looked at me for his treat every time I clicked. Completely blew my mind.

But once we made it down the stairs, Dop Dop had another obstacle to overcome. In order to get on the ride, he had to step from a stationary floor to a section of floor that rotated. Would he do it?

Sure! No problem! Why was I even worried?

He did hesitate before getting in the car of the ride. I had to lure him with some hotdog, but once he was in, he sat down and absorbed it all—sights, sounds, smells, and singing cows.

I was so proud and let him know it! He got lots of treats and praise.

Now, his loose leash walking left a little to be desired, and he was a little hesitant on the ramps leading up to the stairs. Oh, and his happy tail knocked a few small things of the shelf when we did some greetings. (But he stayed focused on me!)

All in all, I call this a HUGE win for Doppler, and I’m not nearly as nervous about his evals as I was. I know he won’t be perfect, and I know I’ll probably get a nice list of things to work on with him, but at least now I’m not worried that he’s going to fail because he turned into a scaredy-cat and refused to do the stairs.

After eating two hamburgers, one giant hotdog, and half a cup of goldfish, though, I think I might need to loosen the ol’ harness tomorrow. Poor Dop might not get as much breakfast as he’s used to.

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