MeOWww Everypawdy, me’s back. You give that Raena an inch and she’ll take a mile. MOL Anyways, we got a lot of questions after our last Service Cat Monday posty with concerns ‘bout li’l ole me. Furst, me wants to fank you all fur your concern; but rest assured, mommy hasn’t cast me aside fur a newer, younger model, namely, RaenaBelle. Me still works every day. Let me get the business outta the way and we’ll meow ‘bout it. The followin’ post will be written in human English fur reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat Monday posts aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Trainin’ Manual but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques used/developed by mommy thru her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. Ifin you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover, purrlease let us know in the comments section or send us an email. When asking behavorial questions, purrlease be as specific as pawssible. And, ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links at the end of this post. Always remember, Training is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards.
First, we want to follow up a little about last weeks post. For those of you who might have missed that post, mommy’s wheelchair is broken and unusable right now. None the less, Training continues as always. Awnty Kat from Momma Kat and her Bear Cat said, “I assumed part of the training was knowing what to expect (when Raena does one thing … the chair does this) – like how she might sit different if the chair is going forward. I would assume them learning to expect what the chair will do would cut down on anxiety and surprise when the action does happen.” And, she’s not wrong. However, if the chair doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Unfortunately wheelchairs are expensive and most people don’t have a spare. Learning what to do when the chair is broken and can’t be used is just as important as learning how to drive the chair.
You can see the control panel in this photo. Power button on top,
horn just below and the 2 speed buttons just in front of the joystick.
Remember, there are quite a few steps that have to occur before the wheelchair, even when working properly, will actually move. Believe it or not, the driving is probably the easiest part. After all, pushing the joystick forward is only one step. Seat position, bracing and turning the chair on and off require multiple steps, especially when we can’t read. The control panel contains 4 buttons positioned closely together, Power, Horn and 2 Speed buttons. We kitties are pretty smart, but reading the names of the buttons is a bit beyond our purview. So, it is necessary for us to prove proficiency in turning the chair on and off every day; as well as sitting properly and allowing mommy to brace us. Each button beeps when pushed. This simple step can often be enough to spook a kitty and make them want to jump down and/or run away. We have to become accustomed to the beeps and to fall back to driving position whether the wheelchair moves or not.
In our driving position, we must make sure that our back paw claws aren’t digging into mommy’s naked leg; and that we’re comfortable with where she has placed her hand to brace/hold us in position. And, even tho’ the wheelchair isn’t going to move right now, we must show that we know to bite the joystick and push it after powering the wheelchair on. These are basic steps and the first steps we learn. Each kitty learns at a different speed, however, mommy will often focus our initial Wheelchair Training on these steps for at least a month before ever letting us actually propel the chair forward. We like to remind you all that Training is ongoing and doesn’t take breaks or vacations. The truth is, that even when the chair is working properly, whoever doesn’t drive in the morning will be going thru these steps as Training every day.
We do take turns driving mommy in the mornings, but it’s not like today is me’s turn and tomorrow is yours. Each day, one of us will take up the Driving position, and that’s who drives. We don’t fight over who gets there first, we just kind of have an unspoken agreement, that whoever does, gets to drive. Of course, that’s after we’ve both proven ourselves proficient in driving. When Raena was first learning to drive, it was up to me to actually drive in the mornings. Even when she would take up the Driving position, mommy would give her some extra loving and then move her to the other leg so me could slip in and take the joystick. The rule is, whoever doesn’t drive the morning routine, gets Wheelchair Training that day. Now that we can both drive equally well, we take turns Training on those initial steps each day. Even sis Lexi, the last year of her life, still had regular Training Sessions.
Mommy equates Training to an old human saying, “Once you learn to ride a bike, you’ll never forget.” However, if you don’t ride for a while, you’re most likely to be a bit wobbly. You know the steps, but you’re a bit rusty and may even fall a time or two. However, if you ride every day, you’ll keep getting better. The same is true for us. Just because we learn to drive, doesn’t mean we should stop practicing. Remember, Training is all about Repetition and Rewards. Me will be honest and tell you that it is confusing for us when the wheelchair is broken and our morning routine changes, but because of our continual Training, we adapt. We’ll meow more about that next week. In the meantime, me has a basic Wheelchair lesson to perform today. Me’s going to insist on Training first. Raena begs for treats better than me, so if she trains last, we’ll not only get lots of extra love but we just might get a handful of treats too.
Me’s gonna wrap it up now. Fanks again fur your questions, and keep ‘em comin’. And ‘member, you can ketch up on our Training Tips by clicking the links below.
Till the next time…………………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle