connectVideo ‘Daily Briefing’ exclusive: Spike the dog service
Service dog-in-training Spike visit ” The Daily Briefing.’
May is a busy month for me, and that means a busy month for Spike. A lot of planes, trains and cars. A lot of special events, crowds, loud music, and birthdays – all great experiences in obtaining Spike socialized.
We kicked things off at the end of April with a trip to California to visit my friend Chris and his family in the San Francisco Bay Area. A cross-country flight is challenging enough for a 15-month-old puppy. On top of that our flight was delayed multiple times due to weather and airport congestion, and so we all ended up in that flying sardine can for a little more than eight hours. AND there was an emotional support dog in the row in front of us, directly in front of Spike, which is very disturbing for both of them!
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There are more puppy-raisers in San Francisco than here in New York, partly due to the fact that the Dog for Independence headquarters is located in Santa Rosa, just north of the city. So we attended a training with the East Bay volunteer chapter, which was great for me and Spike. Each local department has their training sessions differently, so it is useful to share tips with people you don’t normally train.
We were for two days before she is again, this time to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. We took Spike to Churchill Downs, the day before the Derby for the Kentucky Oaks races, where he made a lot of new friends and learned how to place a bet (and shortly thereafter how to lose a bet).
The forecast for Derby day, however, saw the terrible hours of rain – and that would be a miserable place for a pup in training.
A beautiful Dog is that you have an instant family of puppy breeders and graduates, and many of us are on social media. So I posted on Facebook with the question whether there is a puppy breeders in the Louisville area and immediately got a few responses.
Lexington puppy raiser Debra Gleason agreed Spike for the day, and that was a huge relief. Yes, you can hire a dog walker in a pinch, but it was a long day on the job and it is always better to have someone who knows the program and the do’s and don’ts. It is also good for Spike to do his assignments with anyone other than me. It is best that he is accustomed to working with multiple people when he goes to advanced training (ie college) in August.
Everywhere we go, and every new experience he has, is a good socialization for him. We have no idea who his future partner can be – so I want to expose him to as much as possible.
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Then the day after we came back to New York from Louisville, Spike and I went to a gala for Caron.org that have all kinds of programs for people who struggle with addiction. They were in honor of my dear friend Michael McDonald, who has done so much in that field. It was a wonderful evening, capped by a special performance of Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human. Spike had to walk over the red carpet – that was easy enough, but when I bent down to the floor to take a picture with him, I had not fully thought through my clothing choice and almost had a wardrobe malfunction. But he did very well with the crowds, remained under our table for dinner, and luckily saw the band played, not at all phased by the volume.
The next day, AMC Network, home of shows like “The Walking Dead” are invited Spike and his Dog friends to a “Yappy Hour” where they invited all of their employees to spend time in the late afternoon with our puppies-in-training and a fully trained service dogs. It was a great way for employees to get a puppy to break in and learn about service dog etiquette and all the great work that they can do for their partners.
We left the next day for Washington, DC via the train. Spike and I went to the White House, where he tried to do his best John Roberts imitation. We also visited our DC office, which was full of the producers, the anchors and the crew that really needed a furry friend late on a Friday night.
My good friend Dave from college, also had his 50th birthday that weekend in DC was really a challenge for Spike if there is a civil dog at the party – Hobie – that was completely off leash and running around. Spike looked at him like “Dude! Are you not working?” He remains at my side, focused on me, despite the very disturbing golden retriever freely roaming about.
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These two crazy weeks concluded with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walk through Central Park (horses!) and then a visit to a taping of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” at the historic Ed Sullivan theater in Manhattan. While Spike is no stranger to TV, he has never been part of a live TV audience. We had to get up and sit down quite a bit, and we worked on Spike stay mellow the whole time, even when the Korean boy band “BTS” played and the crowd wildly shouted by all.
Spike handled everything like a champ. Everywhere we go, and every new experience he has, is a good socialization for him. We have no idea who his future partner can be – so I want to expose him to as much as possible. I have had the good fortune to work in the news business and that is why you get unique experiences. And only hope that he is ready for what his partner wants to do.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Spike!