Guide dog-in-training Blossom makes a lot of trips to the mall.
It’s the perfect place to practice, from learning to stop at doors to walking in malls without getting distracted.
“She’s good a got handle on most of her obedience but it’s very important she can do it in different environments, including busy environments like the mall,” explains Samantha Jagt, a puppy training supervisor with BC & Alberta Guide Dogs.
We first introduced you to Blossoms when she was just four months old and only a few weeks into her training with BC & Alberta Guide Dogs.
“Last time you guys saw her she was still really mouthy and bitty, learning that her teeth are not to be on human skin or microphones,” Jagt laughs.
Now eight months old, Blossom’s stopped eating microphones and is about half-way through her training.
While most people know not try to pet a service dog while it’s working, when people do they incorporate it into the puppy training.
The dog is taught to stay in its position, whether it’s standing or sitting, and focus on its trainer.
“What our goal is in that training is that she mostly ignores the person greeting her and that way, in a case where the greeter is really excited, she’s still able to maintain composure,” Jagt says.
When her training’s done, Blossom will become either a guide dog, PSTD service dog or autism support animal.
“Children with autism often the families aren’t going out as a family together because one parent will stay with the child while the other goes out to grocery shop or take another child somewhere and with the autism dogs, they’re often able to all go out as a team, as a family again.”
The waiting list for BC & Alberta Guide Dogs is almost three years long so more puppy raisers are desperately needed.
It’s a big time commitment, but one that Jagt says can make a big difference in our community.