03 June 2008

Some Real Work--Laundry Duty

Even an SDIT can't spend her life training. Sometimes she actually has to do some of the jobs she's trained to do. Today is laundry day so that's hard work for both me and Molly. First, she helps gather up my dirty laundry from the floor in the bedroom. There isn't room for a basket in there on the floor and I'm not up to taking it out to the laundry room when I get undressed every night. DH manages to deliver his to the laundry basket, but mine is usually in a pile on the floor (although if he has some on the way to the basket, Molly helps by passing mine on to him). But with Molly's help, I regularly move my pile to the basket when I'm ready to do wash or it just starts getting annoying. Gathering that up is a basic series of take and retrieve commands so I can put it into a basket.

Then Molly pulls the basket into the laundry room for me. I sit down on the floor to sort the laundry and put the right stuff into the machine. I haven't taught her how to sort laundry yet. She could pick up everything and give it to me one piece at a time, but I think it gets a bit ridiculous for her, so usually I just get down on the floor or onto a chair and sort it into piles. We have a sturdy counter there that I can use to pull myself up.

When a load of laundry is finished, it is time for Molly to get to work again. I open the door to the front load washer (we don't have a dryer at all) and say "laundry" to Molly. She pulls things out of the machine and gives them to me. Today's wash was some towels and underwear, so it was a pretty big work load. The towels get tangled up and she has to pull hard to get them out and the underwear she takes one piece at a time and it takes a while. But she keeps at it, sticking her head in the machine to get at them or picking dropped items up off the floor. She gets a tiny treat tidbit every few items and especially after the bulky ones. When she gets to the end, she sticks her head in to make sure she didn't miss anything else in the machine.

In the beginning of learning to do laundry, Molly wouldn't put her head in the machine. I had to start things by getting them to the edge of the washer. But with practice she started sticking her head in more and more. Today is actually the first time she put her head in and looked around for more items when it was empty. I gave her a couple treats and extra praise for that one.

My laundry basket is Molly-ready with an old t-shirt braided onto one side as a tug for her. I put it onto the floor, indicate the tug with my foot, and say "PULL". Molly grabs on with her teeth and starts pulling. In places where it doesn't slide easily, I help with a foot or a crutch, but she's an experienced puller now and knows how to deal with the basket. On easy surfaces, she gets excited and adds extra circles and curves for the fun of it.

We're still working on adding exact directional cues to her pulls, but she definitely loves the job. Today the weather was right for hanging outside, so she happily dragged the basket out there for me. But she didn't want to stop, so tried to drag it off the patio and out into the yard.

With a little more encouragement, she got the basket over right next to the rack so I could hang it up. I need to focus more on guiding her than taking her picture. But her job wasn't finished yet. I needed her to help me get the items out of the basket. All that bending over to take out each one just wouldn't be good for me.

So once again we had lots of takes and gives to get each item out. She worked hard and did well, although some items were pretty awkward and unwieldy for her. Like her bath towels.

But she kept at it and gave me everything so I could get it all hung up to dry outside. She's a hard-working BC SDIT and I love her for it.

After all that work, the girl deserved a break. I'd prepared a kong for her earlier with kibble soaked in meat juices and warm water and chew stick stick. I'd put it in the freezer to chill and get a little more difficult. She got that out in her fence and I lay down on a blanket to keep her company.

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