As we've been introducing Dakota to scent work lately, it's occurred to me that his guide dog experience is a terrific basis for the new work. Guide work, even just the basic work that we puppy raisers do, really teaches the dogs to think for themselves. Guide dogs know lots of commands, but what really sets them apart in my mind is that they do the bulk of their work "on their own" -- they must make appropriate decisions without commands from the human partner. Sitting at curbs, slowing down for changes in footing, avoiding overhead obstacles -- it's all up to the dog to negotiate using his own judgment.
In the same way, right now we're teaching Dakota to recognize the scent associated with "high" and "low" blood sugars, and linking a distinctive alert to each one. But the key is that eventually those scents will become their own cue for an alert -- he'll have to decide to give the alert with no command from his handler. Having seen his ability to handle basic guide work in this way, I know he's got it in him...it will just take lots of work and practice. I'm really thrilled that we get to be involved in his basic training and we're extremely excited with his progress!
In the meantime, we're keeping up lots of obedience work and socialization, as usual. With October just around the corner, Halloween displays are everywhere. Dakota didn't know what to think of this sinister-looking character. He was so curious and wanted to sniff her, but...what a scary cackle!