The Amazing Owen
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Owen and Jigsaw Together

Today was Owen's first day of training with Jigsaw.  When people think of why were are getting a service dog I'm sure the first thoughts are that she can help retrieve things when my hands are full with Owen, carry things upstairs to cut my trips up the stairs by half, help with doors, and help to let me know if Owen is having a seizure.  These are certainly a big part of the reason, but just as large a portion of what Jigsaw will help Owen with is right here in these two pictures:

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Owen would take away his hand, clap and sign more and then reach right back out to Jigsaw.  Jigsaw was happy to lick his hand and nuzzle him.  While Owen will snuggle anyone who is willing to pick him up, he isn't the most interactive child.  He really ignores the other kids in his class and doesn't try to get their attention.  He will seek out me, his Daddy, his sister or a few other adults.  There is only one other child that he will actively crawl to and that's Mya.  I think that Owen knows that he is different than the other kids in his class, and somehow he knows that Mya is the same as him and feels more comfortable with her.  So even though he is in a classroom full of kids all day, he is also somewhat alone. To see Owen reaching out to Jigsaw today, signing for more and not just noticing her but actively trying to engage her just about brought tears to my eyes.

Yesterday we were working at the St. Francis facility, which is located on a big farm.  Today we were working in their training room at Tanglewood mall.  Service dogs need a lot of training in how to work and have good manners in public places since they are meant to go everywhere with their partners.  A mall is an excellent place to get this training.  And partners need this training too because it can be considerably more difficult to keep the dog's attention where there are a lot of distractions. 

So, first we headed out into the mall for a stroll:

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(Don't you just love the shamrock socks?)

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We also did a good bit of work on negotiating the logistics of getting through the door into a bathroom and then getting the three of us into a stall and then all back out into the hall again, but Elizabeth was kind enough not to take pictures during those proceedings!  :-)

Eventually we got brave enough to actually head outside.  This made me nervous as it is fairly busy on the road around the mall during the day and that leaves a lot more opportunities for distractions and the possibility that if Jigsaw got away from me that she could get hurt a lot more than she could inside.  But Jigsaw knew what she was doing and she's a very smart girl - we had no problems at all!

So here we are at the door, heading out into the big, wide world:

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And finding some grass for Jigsaw to do her thing in:

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And most seriously cool was her hitting the button to open the door:

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After working quite hard we let Jigsaw stretch out on the floor to rest.  I had put Owen down some distance away from her to play with some toys.  He decided all on his own that what he wanted was to play with toys (yes Lisa, that's the phone that you gave Owen three years ago!) and to have Jigsaw too.  So he crawled himself over and here is Jigsaw fast asleep and Owen happily playing:

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Many thanks to Elizabeth for taking so many wonderful pictures while we worked today, and once again to Leil and Elizabeth for their patience, kindness and great advice as Jigsaw and I figured things out. 

I can't wait to see what further adventures Jigsaw and Owen will have together!

 
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