Saturday, April 18, 2009

The "Observation Room"

Today we went out to the Guide Dogs campus (in Boring, OR) so they could evaluate Honeydew in the "Observation Room".  This was basically a room set up like a living room - complete with a couch, table, TV, kitchen counter, etc.  However, it was a VERY messy room, with all sorts of "appropriate" and "inappropriate" toys and materials laying all around.  For example, garbage cans full of tissues and yummy smelling food.  Socks, shoes, stuffed animals, etc.  We then all watched Honeydew in this room through a one-way mirror (we could see her, she couldn't see us).  It was fascinating to watch what she did when she thought she was alone.  At first, she was really excited and ran around the room picking up toys and bones, bringing them to the dog bed and chewing on them.  

Eventually, however, the novelty wore off and she suddenly realized she was in a strange room and didn't know where we had gone.  At that point she got a little stressed out and paced the room, whimpering now and then - showing no interest in the toys.  When she would sit quietly, I would go back into the room and reward her for calming herself down.  She would immediately pick up a toy to show off for me...and as soon as I walked back out of the room she would spit the toy out.  Very funny.  

A few things surprised us -- she got on the couch (ack!), she put her head in the garbage once (until the trainer lady banged on the door and told her not which point she gave the garbage can a wide berth in the future).  We were impressed that even when the trainer put a platter of food on the floor (Cheetos mixed with dog kibble - now that's Party Mix!), Honeydew smelled it, but seemed to understand that it wasn't ok for her to eat it without being told to do so.  She left it alone, even when she was alone in the room.  How many dogs would do that?  All in all, the trainers said that she did a good job, and that they were particularly impressed that for being such high energy dog she calmed herself down when she got stressed...and she didn't go after anything inappropriate (toilet paper, balls, stuffed toys, socks).  YAY!  Good job Honeydew!                                  

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