A few weeks ago, we took Ruby to downtown Denver to get some experience riding the 16th Street Mall Shuttle. We didn't realize that the following weekend, her puppy class was to take the very same outing. It was interesting to see the contrast of how she behaved on her own and in the company of her puppy cronies. I'll take this one; Mr. Raiser will tell you about the group trip in a second post.
16th Street Mall is a popular downtown Denver tourist destination. It's a traffic-free, pedestrian-friendly strip with 16 blocks of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. Since cars aren't allowed to drive down the Mall, free shuttle buses run continuously, making stops at every intersection. It's a great training area for a young service pup.
While we waited at the shuttle stop, we practiced adding some "distance" to the "sit" command – I would walk to the length of the leash in different directions, then return without her breaking the sit. She did extremely well.
Shuttles come very frequently so we weren't waiting long.
I had her sit until the doors opened and she boarded really politely, no problem at all.
The shuttle was pretty busy since people got on and off at every block, so I had her practice both "down" and "sit" as space afforded it.
I was really pleased at her focus, because there was a lot going on – constant movement, noise, people talking, shifting places, etc.
Taking public transportation with a service puppy in training guarantees you an audience – people are constantly asking questions. I encourage these dialogues, because I believe that service puppies are in public to educate as well as be educated. I was especially happy that Ruby did not break her position even if I was talking with someone, because she sometimes takes that liberty. It's as if she's thinking, "Hey, Mom made a friend, that must mean it's my friend now too, so I better go over and say hi!" But not this time. She was an awesome little ambassador.
We disembarked and set off for a little loose leash walking, which, as you all know, is not her strong suit in the great outdoors. But she must have been in the zone, because she walked nicely, with minimal pulling. Who was this dog?
So, surprisingly, she was much more focused and calm that day than I thought she would be. We had fun wandering along, you never know who you'll encounter walking down the street.
Really. You never know.