Service Cats: Round and Round We Go, Where We’ll Stop…
Welcome one and all, it’s Service Cat Monday. We know you’re all wondering ifin we got any questions or are we gonna tell another training story. Well, we didn’t get any questions, so we will be tellin’ another story ‘bout mes wheelchair training. Now a lot of you got a little giggle or laff from our last posty. Dat’s okay. Have yourself a big ole belly laff on us. It’s actually on me, but me doesn’t mind. Mommy says trainin’ is serious business, but:
Ifin ya’ can’t have a little fun with it, then kitty will quickly get bored and lose interest.
You never know exactly what kitty’s gonna do when trying to train them to do something totally foreign to them.
Most kitties are afraid of moving chairs initially, so whatever their initial reaction, you can be assured it’s gonna be funny.
And lastly, ifin ya’ can’t laff at yourself, then…well, so go on and have a laff on me.
As with all our educational postys da following will be written in human English. No kitty is ever harmed during wheelchair training. Ifin you’ve missed any of da posts in this series, you can ketch up by clicking on da links at da bottom of this posty.
Let’s first take another look at the wheelchair itself. There is a foot rest between the front wheels that sticks out further than anything else on the chair except the actual wheels. So when the chair hits anything, it’s actually the wheels, foot rest and mommys large ski sized feet that are in danger of getting banged up. This foot rest is made of metal, thus the main reason mommy attaches “bumper pads” foam pieces. Me wasn’t the first kitty mommy trained to drive the wheelchair, so she had already learned us kitties can’t drive using our paws. The joystick controller is pretty touchy and doesn’t take much pressure to move. When pushed forward, the chair goes forward, back, the chair goes back and left or right, to the left or right respectively. Anyways, like me said, mommy learned real quick that kitties can’t drive with their paws. So that led to our current method of mouth on joystick.
So, if you read last weeks post, you know mes first session was not very successful. But remember, training is all about repetition. So if at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again. And remember, that repetition must occur daily. Once training has begun, you can’t let a day go by that you don’t spend at least 15 minutes training the specific task. You may train more than 1 task a day, but they must be divided up into different training sessions. For most peeps, one task a day is enough. Another thing we didn’t say before is that you should never begin training tasks above and beyond normal kitty behavior until kitty knows and responds to their name. Mommy doesn’t allow anyone to call us “kitty kitty”. Mommys’ case manager has a really tough time with this one, and in response, we ignore her. We just don’t know who she’s talking too.
Anyways, mes first session was a bust. So the next day, mommy started all over again. Wheelchair positioned in the bedroom up against the bed facing the bathroom and the speed setting on low. Yep, a straight shot. All she had to get me to do is put mes mouth on the joystick and push forward. Easy peasy right? Well if you’ve ever trained a kitty, or any animal for that matter, you’d know nothing is ever that easy peasy. None the less, mommy sat down and began to call me. Of course me was already sitting at the bedroom door watching what mommy was doing. So me trotted over and rubbed against her overhanging toes, and she reached down and picked me up. Once on her lap, mommy began to pet me and coo about how smart me was and how much she loved me. Full on purr going, mommy positioned me onto her right leg with mes front paws on the right arm of the chair. All the while mommy was quietly and calmly telling me what to do next.
Mommy gently pushed mes head over to the joystick while holding me securely with her other hand. She then began to scritch mes chin till mes mouth opened. She then gently pushed mes mouth onto the joystick and said, “bite”. Me bit down and then started chewing at the joystick. Yep, me was a little over stimulated. So we sat there for a bit till me calmed down. No additional petting during this time, however mommy did continue to coo at me about how proud of me she was. When me finally calmed a bit, mommy started over. She repositioned me onto her right leg, front paws on the right arm and head over the control panel. No chin scritches needed, me automatically opened mes mouth and bit down on the joystick. Me could feel mommys energy and knew she was happy and proud of me.
She then gently pushed mes head forward. And…Nothing. We didn’t move an inch. Yep, while me was calming down, the wheelchair had turned itself off. It’s a battery saving thing the chair does. If there’s no activity for a couple of minutes, the chair will automatically turn off. Mes mouth was still on the joystick, so mommy couldn’t really see through mes head when she reached over with the other hand to turn the chair back on. She fumbled around feeling the buttons on the control panel and thinking she had landed on the power button, she pressed down. instead of the chair being powered up, she honked the horn. Me looked back at mommy who was still feeling around on the control panel. Finally getting the chair turned on, mommy positioned mes head again with one hand and held me on her lap with the other. She gently pushed mes head forward and…Nothing. The chair couldn’t move on the carpet on its lowest setting.
So, mommy felt around again for the speed button and finally gave it a push. By now, me thinks we’re playing a game, and me started pawing at mommys’ hand. Mommy patiently told me to stop and to “bite” the joystick again. Mommy then gently pushed mes head forward again. WooHoo We were on the move. Me could feel mommys’ excitement and me got so excited that me turned mes head to look at mommy while still biting the joystick. Remember me telling you earlier that whatever direction the joystick is pointed in is the direction the chair would go? Well we turned to the left and just kept turning. Round and Round we went in circles till all we could see was a spinning room. Yep, when me pawed at mommys’ hand earlier, me, or maybe mommy actually hit the speed button a few more times. Knowing this wasn’t what we were supposed to be doing, and because me was getting dizzy, me turned mes head forward again, and BOOM!!! Where’d that dresser come from, me questioned. Least that’s what mommy said the look on mes face said.
Hmmmmmmm Me had never seen the top of the dresser before. Look’it all those cool things me could play with. You guessed it, me jumped outta mommys lap and right onto the dresser hitting the joystick once again, and slamming the chair into the dresser once more. Yeah, there’s a reason me had never seen the top of the dresser before, it’s off limits to kitties. Mommy hollered for me to come back, but it was too late. Me was off and running. Me pushed an old jewelry box onto the floor and was off to investigate. Another training session over. Mommy says you have to know when to stop. If kittys’ attention isn’t focused on the task at hand, continuing to push will be fruitless. Sis Lexi joined me from her observation spot down the hall, in mes investigation.
When’s it gonna be mines turn to drive? I’s can already turn da chair on.
Well, me’s gonna wrap it up fur now. By now sis Lexi, had probably figgered she would never get any help. Me knows this, cuz now me’s in her pawsition and wonderin’ ifin Raena’s ever gonna calm down enuff fur mommy to train her on da wheelchair. Believe it or not, me does eventually learn to drive da wheelchair, but it wasn’t overnight or without much patience and a few bruises on mommys pawrt. So, stay tuned and lessen we get anymore training questions ‘tween now and next week, me will tell another of mes wheelchair training stories. In da meantime, don’t furget mes Gotchaday tomorrow and check out da pawsum Fanksgivin’ card Nellie made fur us. We’re wishing you all a pawsumly Blest Fanksgivin’.
Till da next time………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle
Service Cats Series
When the Handler Dies Proper Training Methods Pt. 1 & Pt. 2
Posted on November 21, 2016, in Educational, Human Speak, Service Cats, Training and tagged #RagdollCats, #ServiceCats, Deztinee, Educational, Human speak, RaenaBelle, Wheelchair. Bookmark the permalink. 51 Comments.