At the end of handler training of day 8, Katie said that I was ready to keep Dyson full-time. This means that I was allowed to start bringing him everywhere with me instead of leaving him with the trainers after each session. This doesn’t mean that handler training is over. I still have daily lessons with the trainers until service dog graduation.
Dyson seemed a little unsure of what was going on when mom and I put him in the car and headed back to our hotel. He is still learning that I’m his handler now, not the trainers. He soon relaxed and fell asleep.
Dyson settled in quickly. I gave him some newly purchased toys. First up was the nylabone. He darted around, tail wagging wildly. He was thrilled to have a toy of his own (the toys at the ranch are shared between all the dogs).
I also gave Dyson a green ball later in the day. It’s soft and presses flat with pressure, so it’s fine to toss around the room without worry of anything breaking. After he had some free time with it, I played structured fetch with him. I’d have him get down on the floor and have him stay while I rolled the ball. When I said “get it,” he’d run to it and bring it back. If he hesitated and tried to play with it instead of coming back to me, I’d say “bring it.” He usually handed it to me with a gentle mouth, but if not, I’d say “give it” and take it from him. Then he’d get down and the process would repeat. This structured game helped get a lot of his energy out, which is particularly important cause he’s still a puppy.
We played other games too, such as vest retrievals and back-and-forth come calls between me and mom. We all had a lot of fun.
Since Dyson is a service dog, he is supposed to relieve himself on command. Some places in public that look like good outdoor spots to go to the bathroom are not actually appropriate for such behavior. Because of this, he is only to urinate or defecate when I tell him to. I brought him out on walks outside the hotel and gave him the go potty command. I had to time these walks about 20 minutes after he drank. He peed most times, but didn’t poop at all. He didn’t poop the entire day. I was a little concerned, but knew that sometimes the stress of new situations could cause this.