Pit Crew Training Begins!

On Saturday, March 17, a group of canine good citizens started their training to become members of the all-pittie therapy dog program, Pit Crew.  Seven Pit Crew candidates and their people were ready to get started!

Titan Holly, aka Wink Sugar Rita Jewels Sakari
From top left: Titan, Eva, Holly (Wink), Sugar Skull, Rita, Jewels (with Leaps N’ Hounds trainer Crystal Dunn), and Sakari.

Class is being held on Saturdays in south Austin at the home of the Enlightened Warrior Program.  Crystal Dunn of Leaps N Hounds is the fantastic trainer working with the group.  The purpose of the course is to prepare the dogs and their humans for experiences they will likely have when working as therapy dogs.  As with the Canine Good Citizen test, not everyone passes on the first try — this is a tough program!  But it is so worth the effort, as the Pit Crew does great work!  Take a look at the Pit Crew’s page!

Bluebell Everyone introduced themselves, and it turns out all of the dogs in the Pit Crew training program are rescues and have stories to tell.  Crystal kicked off the training after the intros, beginning with “sit” and “down” to see how everyone has mastered the commands.  Titan was quick to offer a paw or two!  Sugar Skull does a great job, using only hand signals (she is completely deaf)!  Watch her in action: Sugar Skull sit and down.  Another great sit and down came from Jewels.  And Eva gave us sit, down and more!  Even young little Bluebell, who was auditing the class, with her co-founder and Mom, patiently waiting her turn (see picture on right), got in on the action and did a nice sit and down move.

Next the group moved outside with Crystal leading the way.  The pups were about to be put through their paces.  Outside, the group had to run a “mine field” of distractions, including toys, treats and other interesting objects.

Rita prepares to run the obstacle course Bluebell runs the gauntlet!
Above left: Rita prepares to run the obstacle course; Above: Bluebell’s turn to run the gauntlet!

The pups also did some walking on a loose leash so that Crystal could size up their leash walking skills.

Eva waits patiently for her human.

The Pit Crew hopefuls also had to show their patience and manners by sitting and staying while their humans walked away, and then after their human returned, doing a friendly meeting of a stranger and their dog.

Finally, the dogs were exposed to the types of equipment they might encounter when working as therapy dogs.  The equipment included people using a cane, a walker, a crutch, and a wheelchair.   Watch Holly (aka Wink) encounter medical equipment for the first time.  Here you can see how Sakari checks out the medical equipment, too.

After all the outdoor activity, our vivacious pups were starting to fade a bit.  No wonder!  Nearly two hours of outside training is a lot to take in!

Back inside, the canine crusaders’ reactions to loud noises were tested with pot and pan lids being banged together, and their patience was tested with clingy, loud people fawning on them.

Holly (aka Wink) all tuckered out

All in all, this was a very good group and instructor Crystal was pleased with her students.

The cool concrete was the best reward after the hard work!

On right: Holly, aka Wink, takes a well-deserved break.

Stay tuned to see if all the pups make the Pit Crew at the completion of their 7-week course.  Well done everyone!  Meanwhile you can check out more video of this class here.

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