Skip to main content
All Posts By

Nate Shaw

Custom, creative photos and videos focused on racing. Offroad Jeep, VW Buggy, Dirt Bike, RC Helicopter, FPV Quadcopter, Antique Vehicle

SSD Clemintine Farm Show 2015

Service Dog Clementine at the Farm Show


I have been dreading this outing.  Clementine is not a bad dog but she is a young dog, full of energy and curiosity with lots yet to learn.  Loose leash walking is not her best skill.  We work on ‘leave it’ daily but I am fearful that ‘leave it’ will not have much meaning when there are hundreds of people in the room and french fries and discarded napkins on the floor.

Opening day arrives.  I am ready to go, I think.  I have prepared carefully, I am wearing the ‘special’ treat pouch.  It contains beef and chicken and apple cubes, freshly prepared specifically for this outing.  In my backpack I have a very short leash, a towel, and an assortment of backup treats.  I cannot imagine Clementine choosing any treat over freshly prepared chicken or beef but it cannot hurt to have options.

Our first obstacle was the walk from the car to the farm show building.  I wish I could say this was better than it was or gloss it over somehow but I can’t.  The bottom line is that walking from the car to the farm show building was terrible.  It was so cold that each time I gave Clementine a treat I could swear that I felt her saliva actually freezing on my fingers.  Clementine was pulling hard on her leash and I was having difficulty handling the leash with my frozen fingers.  It seemed that each person that walked past called to Clementine in a high pitched voice and Clementine was eager to entertain the distraction.  I wanted to slow down and make Clementine walk nicely but my red shaking hands reminded me that this was not possible.  It would take a long time to make it into the building that way and I was sure that I did not have a long time before my fingers would go numb.  I put this in the loss column and led Clementine into the building with a piece of chicken about a quarter inch in front of her face.

SSD Clemintine at Farm Show

SSD Clementine posing near a trailer

Finally indoors I found a corner and just stood there.  I was waiting for my frozen fingers to thaw and looking around the room.  It was difficult to determine where to go and what to do.  I decided to start slowly and look for a less crowded area.  I strategized that if Clementine and I could get it together walking through a sparse crowd we would build up to something more, just not right away.  Tentatively I began walking with the crowd, Clementine at my side.  I was generously clicking and dispensing meat.  It did not take Clementine long to realize that I was THE person to pay attention to and it did not take me long to realize that the trailer exhibit was not very crowded.  We broke from the crowd and I put Clementine in a down stay near one of the trailers.  This was our first small victory of the event and I wanted to secure photographic proof that we had gotten this far.  I sternly demanded that my husband stay very, very close to Clementine while I stepped back to take a photo.  I was shocked (victory dance shocked) that I was able to walk away, take several photos, and return without Clementine attempting to bolt.

That first accomplishment helped to provide the boost of confidence that we needed to continue.  We meandered through the trailers for a couple minutes then decided it was time to tackle the food court.  What better time than the present, just do it, go for it, all that jazz!!!  I was careful to keep my expectation reasonable and planned only to peruse the perimiter and leave.  So much for planning.  Perusing the perimiter proved to be somewhere near impossible.  There was no clear or orderly path, no recognizable traffic pattern.  There were long lines and people milling about in every direction.  My husband began walking through the room parallel to the fried cheese line.  He was clearing a path and Clementine and I followed.  While following we passed many ‘leave-its’, we walked past french fries, napkins and even some pieces of soft pretzel.  Clementine was mostly successful, only mouthing one crumpled ball of paper and a few small crumbs from some unknown food.

YouTube player

More challenging than all the ‘leave its’ were the people.  They were everywhere!  Some people noticed and commented on the puppy, some called out to her in high pitched voices.  Most people seemed oblivious to her presence, unintentionally swinging bags near her face, nearly pushing baby strollers into her side, walking too close behind her.  I became extremely aware of exactly where my dog was.  I was prepared for anything and kept her very close.  Clementine bravely stayed by my side, hesitating only twice and never once flinching or stopping.  At this moment I loved Clementine!

Somewhere near the far edge of the food court I encountered a young woman.  She approached and began asking questions about my dog.  The woman was courteous and respectful so I resisted the urge to hurry along.  When she asked if she could pet my dog I trusted that if Clementine became overly excited I could explain that Clementine needs a break and the woman would comply.  I began dispensing treats and the woman began petting Clementine.  While she was petting Clementine we continued to chat and I learned that she had attended SSD camp as a student.  We had a perfect greeting!  I could not have encountered a better person to practice with.  As I was walking away I realized that I should get her name.  I looked back but the crowd had shifted and I could no longer find her.  I could not believe my luck in encountering her and could not believe that I did not think to ask her name until it was too late.  Darnit!

Not too far ahead of us off to the side was a slightly less crowded area.  I decided it was time to take a short break and determine where we should go next.  I realized that I was standing next to a John Deere Gator and decided this was another challenge just waiting for me to accept.  I pointed to the John Deere and said ‘Clementine car’ in a firm voice.  Clementine ignored me.  I had to give the command three or four times and finally Clementine realized what I was asking and jumped into the vehicle.  I made a mental note to practice the car command in a different vehicle whenever possible and then I instructed Clementine to sit and stay so that I could step back and take a photo.  The photo is not the best but it is proof that Clementine did as she was asked.  If you zoom in you can see that there is a french fry on the seat to the right of Clementine’s head.  Clementine was told to leave that and she did.  Another success!!

Clementine practicing car

Clementine practicing car

I thought about beginning my exit now, leaving on a high note and calling the outing a success.  In fact, I was seriously considering leaving when we stepped out the side door.  Clementine got busy on command on the pavement near the dumpster.  Our mission was not yet complete, we had not encountered any animals.  Sure, the food court was pretty successful but how could we leave farm show without seeing at least one farm animal?

We took a brief loose leash walk to the next building and my husband opened the door.  Bingo!  We found animals!  The floor was covered in wood chips and horse manure.  Clementine did not do so well here.  No command and no treat could distract her from the wood chips and the horse manure on the floor.  There was no walking past this obstacle.  I tried every trick I knew and nothing was working.  Clementine clearly thought this was something very interesting that simply MUST be investigated.  After about 20 minutes I gave up and walked her through the room by the collar.  On the other side of the room we passed through a door and emerged in the center of a large room where the pulling horses were housed in stalls.  I stood inside the door feeding Clementine treats and giving her time to calm down and regain focus.  When I was confident that I had Clementine’s attention I began walking her towards the horses.  As we neared the first stall Clementine stopped.  I thought for a brief second that she was going to begin backing away but she instead opted to rock back into a sit.   I was able to use chicken to bribe Clementine into moving forward towards the horse stalls.  I continued feeding Clementine treats.  The treats became less frequent as Clementine became more comfortable.  Soon she began showing interest in the horse, staring through a crack at the massive animal towering over her.  We stayed by the horses for about ten minutes, walking short distances up and down the row.  Suddenly, one of the horses began to fidget and kick at his stall and a dog barked.  The bark was not Clementine but I thought this would be a good time for us to leave.

Next was the milking station.  We had seen horses but no cows.  I think the crowd convened at the milking station at the exact time that we attempted to walk through.  It was uncomfortable for me and I was afraid for Clementine.  With a few hand gestures and nods my husband and I agreed to use “food court strategy”.  Nate forged a path and Clementine and I followed as closely as we could.  There was no room for clicking and treating here, we just walked briskly to the end of the exhibit.  Clementine was no worse for the wear, she trusted that we would protect her and we did.  I needed a break!  We found a table and some chairs where I could sit and enjoy my break.  Clementine enjoyed some ‘down’ time as well.  She seemed tired and maybe a little thirsty so I gave her some apple cubes to get her by until we could find water.

After our brief rest we headed directly to the car.  The parking lot was a much better experience this time and we walked to the car uneventfully.  I am on the couch now and Clementine is at my feet.  It is late and I am tired but I must share one last amazing thing.  I just realized that her feet never left the floor.  The whole time we were at the farm show her feet never left the floor!  Sleep well tonight Clementine, you worked hard today.

Written by: V L Shaw