Today was a big day for Watson! Not only did he get to spend the morning at the gun range club, meeting several other older dogs and being pet by dozens of patrons, but we stopped by the grocery store on the way home!
This was Watson’s first trip inside a place where pets are not allowed. I pulled on his “in training” vest, made sure he had emptied his bladder on a threadbare patch of grass, and then we advanced into the store. I was a little nervous; grocery stores have slippery floors, lots of tempting food, bustling people and loud noises. As this was my first time ever entering such an environment with Watson in his “in training” vest and on lead, I was a little anxious to see how he would react.
I was relieved when Watson entered the store, looked around and proceeded by my side across the entrance. At his age, heeling is difficult to teach, but we had the basics down and he pretty much stayed at my knee as we navigated the isles. He wasn’t interested in the meat section and only started a little as a grocery cart wheeled past. He gave a few whimpers of self pity when I advanced too quickly for his little paws to keep up (I’m used to Rally’s long stride and forgot to slow down) but otherwise he was silent. When we stopped I coaxed him to sit and asked him to lie down; about 80% of the time he obliged, even with all of the distractions and hustle around us.
The cashier and other shoppers were impressed by his composure and leaned over to ask questions about which organization I was raising him for and how old he was. I answered, first making Watson sit before accepting a quick pat on the head. Then, after a final spin around the vegetable section, it was time to go. We paid and left, Watson keeping swift pace at my side.
I was so proud of the not-so-little guy! I’m sure I was grinning like a love struck fool as we exited the store and got into the car. When he turns four months and has had the last of his shots, we will expand our adventures to include other places, but for now I am satisfied with a quick jaunt through Safeway to test the waters and to judge his temperament and training. The work I’ve done so far in socializing and teaching Watson had paid off, and although I know we have so far to go, I sensed for the first time a glimmer of the service dog he will become.