Birdie turned 4 months on November 2nd. She has settled down nicely into her routine, is practising all her basic cues (sit, stand, down, kennel, bed, better go, go sniff, let’s go, leave it, dress, car) and has started losing some molars and fangs. Sometimes when she plays with PADS Jax, his fur is covered in Birdie’s blood from her loose teeth.

We had two early snowfalls this month, totalling about a foot of snow. Birdie had never seen snow and, at first, did not know where to do her business as she searched for a patch of grass!

Birdie spent a bit of time at the local mall, for the first time, helping with some shopping with a friend. She did quite well ignoring all the people, kids, and babies in strollers walking past with their parcels dangling in her face. Most people see the cape and do not approach her since they know she’s a service dog. Sometimes it’s like the parting of the Red Sea!

It was also her first visit to a group home where my friend works. They really enjoyed her visit; she brightened up their day. The three people she met were non-verbal, and two of them were in wheelchairs. Birdie wasn’t phased by the “chairs with wheels,” and she enjoyed licking one of the residents’ bare feet, tickling him.

A few other firsts this month were a visit to the dentist for a cleaning (not Birdie’s teeth!), a haircut where all she wanted to do was ingest all the cut hair on the floor, a doctor’s appointment, and a visit to Mount Boucherie Secondary School where she and PADS Beans lifted the spirits of high school students as we walked around from classroom to classroom led by two students from the Senior Leadership class.

Birdie attended five in-person PADS classes this month. The pups went through all kinds of drills, including approaching another dog, free shaping with boxes, ghost handling, loose-leash training with a clicker, figure 8’s around toys that they had to ignore and, of course, settling on their mats. It’s a lot of mental work for the pups, which really tires them out.

There was some fun to be had too with other pups as well. On the days of in-house classes, we usually team up with Carol and PADS Jax for a walk and sometimes a stop and settle at a coffee shop. One time we walked from Polson Park in Vernon all the way to the vet. So that Birdie could get her check-up and her 16-week shots. We both really enjoy our Wednesdays with class and walks with Carol and Jax. Other pup-related outings included a meet-up with (PADS released) Odie in his backyard for a fun romp, a fun walk along the Okanagan Lake with Odie at Kalamoir Park and a loose leash walk with Barb in her neighbourhood with PADS Ace, who was off to Advanced Training.

By the end of November, we received a few more snowfalls, so even though it’s still technically fall, and many leaves are STILL on the trees, I think that we are in for at least three or four MORE months of winter. BRRR!!

Submitted by: Chris Buitinga