We first met up with the other raisers and went inside the airport to an open area to go over the puppies obedience commands. We even practiced extending the "stay position" to about a minute, and all of the puppies managed to stay! We also worked on what we like to call "puppy push-ups" which is just quickly going from one command (like sit, down, stand) to another. We then walked down the length of the sidewalk so the dogs could get exposed to the loud car noises, and (heavy) cigarette smoke. We even exposed the dogs to the fountain, and also managed to get a few group photos (which can be quite challenging when trying to get all the dogs to sit still and look at the camera).
From left: Ladelia (with puppy sitter), Judy, Kelly, Baity, and Sarge (visitor from FL)
(This is only 4 out of the 9 in our group...We are getting two more this weekend!)
Because we were taking the dogs on a full airport exposer, we had to take the dogs through security. We were told ahead of time that we would have to put the dogs into a "sit-stay," remove their collars and leash (yikes!), and call them through the metal detector. It was definitely a little bit nerve racking to take off both the collar and leash in a huge airport and hope they come when you call, especially since Baity is not a big fan of the "come command." But to my happiness, Baity stayed completely still in his stay while I walked through the metal detector, and when I called him, came happily and quickly to me! He even got a pat down, which he loved since he thought he was getting lots of attention from the security guard and made sure to give her lots of appreciation kisses.
We were told by woman who led us around and who helped organize the meeting, that this was also an opportunity for the security to practice for when they had an actual service dog. The security was great, and they didn't seem to mind the extra commotion of the 6 puppies plus lots of people.
We then got to ride in the little transportation car for people with disabilities, which is what a blind person will be riding if they go to the airport. All of the puppies seemed to love the ride. It must have been a pretty funny sight watching cars go by with dogs and different dog parts hanging off the car. One of the puppies who was visiting, Sarge, enjoyed it so much he didn't even care his tail was hanging of the back of the car dragging along behind.
On top off all the stuff the dogs had already gotten to be exposed to, we did the best thing you could do at an airport: board and walk around a plane. To my surprise, Baity was just the right size for laying down at my feet. But not exactly a good size for going into the tiny bathroom.
To finish the day, we got to visit one of the look-out towers, the smaller one, which required lots of steps to the top. There was even a look out we got to take the dogs onto. It had metal grates that you could see straight through to the ground, which was a great exposer for the puppies. Baity even attempted to lay down and rest.
This meeting was probably one of my favorites so far, and I know that the puppies had a good time and were exposed to so many new things. Exposure is key to raising a successful guide dog. And I would definitely say that this trip was a success!
Until the next adventure...
Until the next adventure...