Twinkie and Zachary continue to develop a beautiful bond. He loves her so much! Now that he's a couple of years older this time around, he is able to and wants to play with her differently than he did with Aubrey. It's certainly not to say he didn't love Aubrey just as much because he did. I know he still misses Aubrey everyday. He always asks about her and wants to see her pictures, and it still breaks my heart. I guess regardless of your age, a significant loss is just that...a significant loss. With Twinkie, though, he's two and a half years older and is more mature. They mutually love to play together. We bought a special toy (Nylabone Happy Moppy) that only Twinkie and Zachary can play with together. Again, this reinforces the concept of, "God, I love this kid!!" in Twinkie's eyes. Between her Happy Moppy and the special treats, Zachary is a rock star in Twinkie's eyes which is exactly what we want!
Everything we're doing right now with Twinkie is to foster an emotional bond between the two of them. The only time we would not correct Twinkie if she does something inappropriate or breaks a command is if she approaches Zachary. The very last thing we want Twinkie to do is associate him with anything negative. So, if she were in a "down" or in "place" but got up to sit by Zachary, we would never correct her. At the same time we're fostering a bond between us and Twinkie, but the bond is different with the child as opposed to the handlers. With us, it's a bond a love for sure, but it's based on respect. The more respect Twinkie has for us, the more success there will be in terms of service. Twinkie is most definitely making me earn her respect as much as I'm making her earn mine!! Her and Aubrey could NOT have been any more different in temperament. If I corrected Aubrey, she was ready to "off" herself. When I correct Twinkie, she looks at me and says, "That's all you've got???". Whew...no two dogs are alike!
We couldn't be happier with Miss Twinkie and the respective bonds we're fostering with her. Clearly, she knows that Zachary is a very special little boy. She has a job to do, and she's happy to do it. This morning while we were discussing our experiences of the previous night with Jennifer (Head Trainer), I was talking about how funny and tough Twinkie really is. She's the sweetest and most loving little furball, but she is a buster! She knows her job, does it well, but boy she's making me work just as hard for her respect as I'm working her! LOL She continues to spit out the treats she doesn't care for at that particular moment which is a riot. I can't let her know I think it's funny, but it is funny none-the-less! :) Twinkie continues to test me and see just how serious I am while I'm working with her. She doesn't back down easily and lets me know that I had better work her and mean it since she doesn't have the time for any nonsense. LOL It's as if she's making sure I'm the perfect match for Zachary instead of the other way around! As the conversations continued throughout the day with Jennifer, she laughed and reinforced that Twinkie is indeed "a tough little girl" (there's that phrase of explanation again! LOL), but she's also CONFIDENT and very UNASSUMING. Joe told me this dog is more and more like me with each passing day. :) But, it is true. Twinkie is confident. As adorable as her "match" picture was, Joe and I would laugh because she looked like she was ready for work; "I AM a 4 Paws service dog, I'm focused, and I've got a job to do. Don't screw with me." Twinkie is very unassuming. As adorable as her "match" picture was, she IS "a tough little girl", and she's not gonna take any sh*t from anybody...including ME! There's a pitbull behind all of that fluff.
Having said that, our little pitbull LOVES her boy, and here's how we know she IS focused and serious about her job. Tonight, Zachary went to bed about 850pm. They didn't get a chance to play tonight as they usually do because he was wiped out; training days are long and exhausting for everyone. For a little more than an hour after Zachary went to bed, Twinkie had been "circling" and not able to settle down in the room. She was happy, but she just could not stop moving around which is unusual; she was very "busy". We tried giving her toys, her bone, patting her, talking to her, taking her out to potty all to no avail. She kept breaking commands that we were practicing. She kept circling by the bedroom door, poking it open then coming back to me. She even walked into the bedroom at one point and came back out a minute later. That's when it dawned on me....SHE WAS LOOKING FOR ZACHARY!! (I know I'll have to work even harder tomorrow to make up for this momentary lack of common sense in her eyes!! LOL) Once I pulled down the covers and pillows that Zachary was buried under and called her on to the bed, she jumped on, circled once more and layed at his feet. Twinkie fell sound asleep with her boy after about a minute or two, literally, and stayed in bed with him for close to an hour. ♥ This picture is what it's all about my friends. This picture is what makes all of the hard work, money, stress and exhaustion 150% worth it. This picture IS 4 Paws.