The galleries below begin the story of the 2021 Psychiatric Service Dog Partners convention. The story continues in part 2 (covering Sunday) and a page devoted to the studio portraits of teams at the convention. Enjoy!
Before kicking things off Friday night at the welcome meeting, many of us got to know each other (or reunite) over a patio meal at a Mexican restaurant. There are six laughing, smiling people pictured around the joined tables, with five service dogs among them.
Eight people and six dogs were involved in taking or administering tests Saturday morning at the convention. Participants took the Service Dog In Training Manners Evaluation and/or the Public Access Test.
at the hotel
Test-takers started at the hotel, where Veronica explained what to expect. There were activities such as coming from six feet, walking past a treat, startle recovery with a clipboard drop, milling about with other teams, handling stairs and restrooms, riding on elevators, and riding in a car. The last one used the Morrises’ wheelchair van with a side-ramp.
at the grocery store
At the store, teams practiced greetings with a friendly stranger and walking down a small aisle crowded with the other participants.
“Your best service dog tails”
This first circle discussion was a lighthearted start, with the storytelling providing an opportunity to recreate antics like a treat on the head. As with all the sessions, the dogs gave ample opportunities for cute portraits while the humans talked. There were padded chairs for the humans that wanted them, but many chose to join their canine halves on the floor, lovingly interacting with their dogs.
Lunch break at the hotel
Photographer Brad mugs for the camera in his power wheelchair, clearly having fun as he explains a variety of poses others can do. A strong Skyler lifts Standard Poodle Korra, then the team has a good time with touches to a lifted foot and hand as Japanese Chin Hestia watches.
Somewhat sidelined by a temporary orthotic boot, Veronica gets pushed in a manual wheelchair by Skyler with Korra beside them and Hestia in Veronica’s lap. Korra is a fan of Hestia, and Hestia is a fan of the treats donated by Vital Essentials!
As always, Callie Mae the smooth-coated Brussels Griffon is calmly busy being cuteness incarnate.
“Ask a dog trainer” with Amy Blom
Amy the dog trainer was back by popular demand, providing uncommon insight into the tick-tock, cling-clangs of your dog’s brains. The humans were rewarded for their attention, but many of the dogs—not understanding English—used the opportunity to get some cuddles or a nap.
The German place presented multiple architectural barriers for our physically disabled folks. In true disability solidarity, we all got back in our vehicles and traveled to a slightly more accessible South Indian cafe. There, the food presented a host of new experiences for our party!
Brad finished up his portraits during the social hour. Others socialized, signed thank-you cards and souvenir magnets, and bought raffle tickets for the raffle to come on Sunday (click for pictures: part 2!).