When Ruby was a pup, we worked with the funny sensation of motion. At three months old, she rode an elevator for the first time. I took her to a swaying dock and for rides on trains and buses. I also made sure she walked on all kinds of surfaces including metal grates. Early exposure like this helps in her later education, because as a service dog for a person with a mobility-related disability, Ruby needs to be completely comfortable accessing a train, bus, or van on a motorized lift.
I just received these photos and it looks like Ruby is doing really well with this exercise in advanced training. Here she is with her twin, Racine, as they experience the van lift...
then Roo waits patiently on the van as her trainer gets situated.
A few years ago, I was assisting an advanced trainer as she placed a service dog with a gentleman who had quadriplegia. He was a big fellow, strong and determined, very active in sports prior to his injury. After our training session, he and I waited together for the bus to take him home. He told me how he was looking so forward to having a service dog by his side as he took public transportation, because it was one of the hardest things he had to do as a person living with a disability.
It wasn't the physical aspect of boarding the bus that was so difficult, he explained. It was because of the many stares and glares he would get as the other passengers had to wait for the ramp to lower and rise. He told me that people would also make rude comments about him, loudly, as if he couldn't hear them. Or maybe, he said, they knew he could hear them. He described his mortification—he didn't want to inconvenience people or make them wait—and told me very honestly that it often made him cry. He was devastated, daily, by the little cruelties he experienced simply from having to go through his day a little differently than most people.
Sometimes it does take a few extra seconds to wait. But in those few seconds, it's so easy to be kind.
Thank you to Sue and to Ruby's advanced trainer for the wonderful photos.