Monday, April 6, 2009

A Day At The Zoo

Highlights or Our Day

Arrival - The walk from the handicap parking/drop off was cold, windy and a bit long. I did not have my own scooter. Next time I will be sure to bring my own due to this fact and for a motorized scooter you have to pay and limited number available. We got there as it opened so easily got one to use.

Emma's first reaction - snow monkeys are a big exhibt just off a lobby type area. So many people, so much noise, a bit overwhelming for Emma so I warm her up. We do a few cues and treat her. Then up to the snow monkey glass with the kids. She had a short, low volume grr and I think Oh My Goodness how is she going to handle the animals?

We Proceed - We decide to go see the fish. Emma is right in step. Again we do some cues with food reinforcement. You can tell by her body language (tail, etc) that she is okay with the situation now. There are so many children who are interested in Emma. As we move from the exhibits or even watch fish or animals I have to have eyes open for wandering children who approach Emma. I don't want to run them over and I dont want Emma pettted without my permission or poked.

We Get into the hang of things. Fun looking at the dolphins, seahorses and so many things on that side of the zoo. We choose to stay indoors today due to the temps. I can relax and also enjoy Rosa, and Sophia. Emma is doing great. The only hitch is we go to the monrail and I had to do some walking from where you leave the scooter to the tickets and gosh it seems far though it isn't. Maybe they would have let me drive up there but not sure. Oops the train is too full to take us even though we waited a bit in line. So back down we go.

Bird Show was are next big event. We go by little chicks in cages and things and Emma handles it fine. Bird show as free flying birds and I wonder how Emma will be. She was thrilled to lay down on the floor in the theater. She slept through owls near my head level and other birds that fly on command. It was fun. Some of the birds are 30 years old and the same ones we saw when our kids were little.

A few more animals and then lunch. Mike and Tia brought sandwiches for us all. Those whio have been walking are happy to sit. Emma is happy to drop and rest under the table. Relaxing. Lots of children in this area who admire the dog and are very respectful.

Minnesota Trail - This is semi-outdoors so cool but we have jackets. Still cool, Beavers, Otters, Porcupines, Puma', and other large and small animals are there. We enter and there is a big noise Emma jumps and is shaking she is so scared. The culprit the wind hitting some plastic against the plexi glass between us and the animals. We thought it was the animal but Greg figured it out. Her only big distraction is the grey wolf. It has a bigger area and she could smell it before seeing it. She wants to smell as I coax her to keep going. She can't see the fox. Later she can we think see the fox and she is fine. Her body language showed a bit of concern when she first smeeled but it went just fine.

So you see how the day went. I was worried but Emma handled it well. We did go all the way to the other side of the building to go on the monorail which the kids liked. It lulled Rosa to sleep though at the end. Emma was again glad to lay down.

We were there six full hours. Can you imagine how tired Emma was? Though we did sit some, had water for her and she got potty breaks.

The cute thing is many young mom's would say - all these animals and they are most curious about the dog. A few times we were in situations where I let kids and moms see Emma close up. I soon would have a small gathering as I answered questions. Emma handles it so well that yes with my permission and in these little groups I might let the kids pet Emma but with mom's permission, my careful watch and guidance.

One woman saw us at the end and said you made my son's whole day. We never saw a working dog and never at the zoo. We met one staff person whose wife use to volunteer for helping paws but didn't get a name. Emma was a good ambassador for service dogs. When I do these mini demonstrations I remind children and parents never to call the dog, or try to pet the dog while working. I explain I have Emma resting and she looks to me to say "its okay" and then she knows it is okay to let others come that close to her.

More tomorrow on this Mary and Emma

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