We train and socialize and work and do what we can to prepare our dogs for the real world. The summer Uhura came to live with us my daughter and I abandoned the boys for two nights in Gatlinburg, TN. We were going to take the dorky Standard Schnauzer pup for some socializing and to see how far she had come. OK and a trip to Ol’ Smokey Distillery, kicking around the mountains, etc were added to the mix. We knew what to expect in Gatlinburg – one of our favorite places. We were pretty confident Uhura was ready for the town. The first evening, good training and manners allowed Uhura access to patio dining and in several businesses. The next day’s events drove home just why I do what I do and encourage what I do with clients in regards to training and socializing.
I must add, Sarah was ten at this point. She had done the majority of the work with Uhura who was 14 weeks old. She was the one who was taking her through puppy classes. She was the one getting her ready for shows. Sarah was the one learning what to do to help her puppy succeed.
We had spent the morning poking around Pigeon Forge, driving a lovely mountain road outside Gatlinburg, exploring a beautiful park and stream and talking with a retired teacher. Then we headed downtown. Now anyone who has been to Gatlinburg knows how busy it can be. Uhura and Sarah were doing OK. I made sure they got time away from the crowds as needed for breaks. But right now we were walking down the main drag.
As we were walking along a congested sidewalk, I saw a woman struggling to support an appearing drunk, older woman. Her cries for help were being ignored. I handed Sarah the backpack and went to help. We guided the woman to the ground. The younger woman was in distress. The older woman was not drunk. The younger woman was beginning to panic. I asked if the woman on the ground was diabetic – yes. The woman had not eaten or drunk since that morning – it was now after 3pm. She was in diabetic shock which can lead to death.
I called 911 and began giving what info I knew and directions to where we were in the town. Luckily a nurse happened by and began taking vitals. I handed her my phone and she relayed the vitals to dispatch. During this time, my focus was off Sarah and her puppy. Realize even young ‘uns learn very well. If started from birth, raised with positives and exposed to many things as well as…. Well… read on…
The moment I told Sarah I was going to help, she went into action with her puppy. Sarah took the backpack and Uhura and moved away from the building crowd. Sarah pulled out treats and made the entire situation a positive experience for Uhura. Sarah was feeding the pup, talking to her and working to get Uhura to relax. Sarah hearing what was going on, stepped up to the plate. She got water, went to the drug store next to us, explained what happened and came out with a pharmacist who understood the medications the woman was on. She did all this while managing Uhura.
The crowd was building and people were taking pictures. The nurse kept the older woman managed while I handled the crowd and waved down the EMTs. As soon as they EMTs got to the woman, Sarah, Uhura and I went back to being tourists.
That night, Sarah, Uhura and I were still in town. It had been day. There was a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream staffed by a couple of slightly um, happy hippies. Ice cream seemed like a good dinner. Uhura and Sarah were tired. Sarah went in to order ice cream while I stayed out front. Next thing I knew, the guys violated various health codes and brought Uhura inside to hang out. They gave the dorky pup a small bowl of vanilla. Sarah and I chilled before heading back to the hotel in Knoxville.
Life brings things we cannot anticipate. Ten year old child, 14 week old puppy both able to calmly handle a stressing situation many adults of either species could not. That day it was a woman in a life and death situation, rude tourists crowding for a peek, Mom stepping away to assist, sirens – so stressing. Then being invited into a place with loads of yummy smells by a couple of happy hippies…
Training, socializing, positive lessons – what else can I say? You never know when that simple trip will become something more. When it does, will you and yours have the ability to handle it? If you start young and right, there is a better chance they will.