Well…it’s been forever since I last wrote. This semester has been a blur! Between training Watson, taking a full course load and trying to maintain my meager social life, the time to sit down and write has sadly eluded me! But I hope to rectify that oversight going into the glorious months of summer.
Watson is now 78 pounds and 7 months old. Sometimes I can’t believe that he has grown so much! Then, I look at the food bill! His paws are still huge in comparison to the rest of him, so I expect he will continue to thrive!
Over the past several months Watson’s personality has emerged in full force. He is easy going, content to lie beneath my seat for hours during class. He greets everyone everywhere with a grin and a furiously wagging tail. “Leave it” is a command we work on tirelessly so that I can walk through campus undisturbed, but he still gazes longingly at anyone we see, and if I give him permission to “greet”, he saunters right on over and demands to be pet. He is unfailingly gentle with children; even the occasional pulled tail is greeted with ready forgiveness. Watson is insatiably curious; perhaps this is in part due to the impossibly high food drive that he possesses, but his nose is always working and when off leash he thoroughly explores our surroundings. A most important aspect to his personality, I believe, is his need to please. He loves to train and his tail waves merrily when he gets a command right. Now, anytime I drop a quarter, his leash or my pen, he scrambles to collect it for me. The drive to please is something that Rally lacked; although Rally loved being with me, he approached his tasks with seriousness and focus, whereas Watson embraces work with enthusiastic delight.
Watson has developed a “working manner” when he is in vest, which never ceases to amaze and intrigue my friends and the people we meet. Out of vest, Watson is a complete puppy. He is goofy and sly, lazy and curious. He routinely tests my limits and will give me attitude if he doesn’t get his way. In vest, Watson displays more focus. He calms himself, focusing on his tasks and even though his tail never stops wagging, he can resist the urge to greet people most of the time. The change is remarkable and I am very pleased that Watson can handle the transition between working dog and pup.
Watson has made huge leaps in his training since I last posted. He has learned how to open the fridge and get me a bottle of water, and he recently learned how to open handicap doors. He has progressed to a hands free leash I belt about my waist. Yesterday we worked with him on escalators; he passed with flying colors, yawning nonchalantly as we rode up and down and practiced stepping safely off and on. Additionally, Watson’s understanding of his tasks has increased. He now fetches me anything I point at and he knows how to do DPT, which has been a great help to me in recovering from a migraine. We are working on him ignoring dogs and people when in vest. It is no easy task with Watson’s adoration for all creatures great or small!
A great milestone in Waston’s training was when we took him to see the Avengers at the movie theater. Sitting through a movie with the loud sounds and ignoring the rest of the audience can be difficult for a dog, but Watson did excellent! He even resisted the popcorn and candy that was scattered on the floor!
I have begun working Watson in Rally’s old vest because Waton’s current vest is getting too small! It was a proud moment for me when Rally’s vest fit Watson perfectly–and the “do not pet” patches have been excellent in deterring Watson and the public from greeting one another.
This Wednesday will be the conclusion of the semester, and I am ecstatic that Watson has completed four months of class at my side. He has learned so much and I can imagine the next ten years with him at my side, working to keep me healthy! Watch out world! Here we come!