Friday, February 18, 2011

River - Persistence will Prevail

Remember the goal:

Finding a producer or celeb or anyone who will help make Piper's Someday (the book River stars in) into a movie...if you can help, contact me!

Day 44 of 365

Here's how the story begins: (start here if you are new)

River's wags of wisdom for today: "Persistence will prevail."

It's been a week or two since we were talking of River's certification training to become a therapy dog with the Delta Society. We are still waiting on a few e-mails I sent to them about our story...we'll nudge them today, again, or next week.

Like she says, persistence will prevail...just like on the number of boy dogs in the neighborhood who have taken a shine to her...and some neighbors, too.

Back to the very cool story.

During the summer of 2007, I took my dog trainer's orders and took River with me everywhere. She already loved the truck and the ride, but in order to desensitize a dog to a ton of stimuli (as they would get in a hospital), you have to take them bit by bit to places that are unknown to them and then walk them around. It sounds simple but it is hard to do.

I took River to the grocery store and let her listen to all the sounds: the people, the loud grocery carts, the noise of the chatter of the conversations, the semi-trucks pulling in and out. All of this with confirmation from me that she was a "good girl" and some treats to boot helped her to understand that stimuli was good. I walked her in a special way they taught us and made her sit on command, stand on command, walk on command, et cetera.

These trips started out at five to ten minutes and then we gradually added a few minutes each time. I studied my manual, studied River and her responses, and then took her back and back again.

Each week in class, I would see that the training would pay off. I began to hear from my trainer and others in class how impressed they were with River's progress. She did everything I asked on command...sometimes without asking. She seemed to know that it was her destiny to go to Charlottesville every week and train at the Canine Campus with Deven and a host of other people and dogs who were trying to make a difference in their community.

The tester was said to be "evil." She was very strict and failed over half the dogs that went through her testing. The trainers kept telling us to practice, practice, practice.

We did. River sometimes tired on practices and began to look for her to tell me in her body language that she'd had enough. It usually came in red eyes...or if she stopped listening to my commands. That means they are flooded - enough. You have to always advocate and be gentle with your dogs when you train them to be a service animal. Their health and welfare comes first before anything else - a great lesson I learned in class. You never push your dog and always advocate for them.

On the day of the test, I was a MESS! I was the most anxious I'd been since my first day of teaching school in Henrico County. My nerves wiggled to the surface.

More on the tester, the test, my buddies in C'ville tomorrow.

Till then, persist at everything you do...especially when it leads in the direction of your dreams!


Ruth and River

Here's a picture of River waitng for the mailman, waiting for news...really, she just loves to bark at her. What is it about barking at mail people that dogs love?

For more information on Piper's Someday, the book River stars in, please go to or to

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