Thursday, November 3, 2011
Eli, Being Eli.
I feel I have to revert a little to when I had to hold onto him all the time. Praise and reward him for being with me to reinforce that he is supposed to be with ME. Not that being comfortable with others is a bad thing. It certainly is not. It was one of the components of the Canine Good Citizen Test. We just have to remember the fine line between being a service dog and being a pet and how easy it is to cross that line. Such is the life of a service dog, though. Lifelong skills reinforcement and training.
One question that comes up with Eli being a service dog is why I carry him. First of all, Eli is a 7-pound Chihuahua mix. He accompanies me everywhere I go and it is just safer for him if he is not invisible on the ground by me all the time. Secondly, ADA Regulations state that a service dog should always be within touching distance, or no greater than a foot away from the handler. With my mobility issues and use of a cane, if I had to control Eli or protect him in a situation I would not easily be able to stoop down to pick him up. Aside from that, Eli's job is performed more efficiently the closer he is to me. Above all else, in my arms is where Eli is happiest. I am happy to have him there and equally as happy to be able to ask another family member to babysit for a moment.