Last week at his first “Walk and Talk” evaluation, Wrangler received his puppy jacket. This jacket allows Wrangler to be an ambassador for Guiding Eyes while he is socializing in public, and lets him become accustomed to the feeling of wearing something on his body. Receiving a puppy jacket is a big milestone for a future guide dog.
While Wrangler has the privilege of undergoing all types of socialization experiences at the Today Show, it is also important for him to be exposed to the world outside of Studio 1A. Last Friday, Wrangler decided to put his puppy jacket to good use; he visited a local convenience store near his home in Westchester, NY.
After “getting busy” in the parking lot to ensure he was ready to enter the store, Wrangler put on his puppy jacket and encountered the first novel object: automatic doors. Unfazed by the “magic” doors, Wrangler boldly entered the store, and was greeted by some of the sales personnel. This particular convenience store often welcomes Guiding Eyes puppies on program to practice socialization, including Wrangler’s big “brother,” Vincent.
New environments can be overwhelming for a puppy but Wrangler did a great job of checking in with me after we entered the store despite all the new distractions. After practicing some loose leash walking at the front of the store, we decided to take on a bigger challenge and enter the candy aisle. At first, all the sweet smells excited Wrangler, but after practicing a few of his skills, he was ready to conquer the candy section. Wrangler demonstrated nice leash manners walking up and down the aisle, and waited patiently for me while I chose some items.
As a guide dog, it is possible that Wrangler will often guide his handler through various types of stores. Being exposed to these environments now and learning to focus in them can be helpful for Wrangler on his journey to become a guide dog. Wrangler’s first outing with his new jacket was another success along the way to his future career.
by Guiding Eyes staff member and volunteer puppy raiser Saxon Eastman