We Love our Firefighters!!
One of the most important socialization events for me is our field trip to our local Fire Dept. The crew at Fire District 4 is fantastic with these puppies!! Why do we do it? Why is it important for us to load up 11 puppies, their toys, floor mats, play pens, treats, potty items, etc.?
Let's fast forward just 2 months. These little guys will weigh around 50-60 lbs. Now let's move forward another 6-8 months (now they are 10mths - 1 year old). Now we are looking at around a 90-100+ lb dog. Now let's say there is a fire, or someone has fallen, or any of millions of reasons why a firefighter / paramedic would be called to your home; we do not want to put them, you, or our puppies in a situation of fear. Should that situation happen, we want our puppies to see these folks in their gear or even their BA masks making Darth Vader noises if need be and have the response of "Oh, I know that sound, I know that uniform; that is not a stranger danger. That is a friend".
We ask our Firefighters to start our in regular clothes. Once the pups are having a positive experience with meeting them in that manner one of the firefighters will put on their gear one layer at a time coming back to reintroduce it to the pups as each layer is put on. For Example we start with boots & bottoms, let the puppies explore that. Then add the big yellow jacket; again the puppies get to re-explore the now "new human". We add the helmet (usually we let the pups explore this on the ground first) and finally we bring in the oxygen and mask. All the while there are firefighters in plain clothes in case there is a puppy that really just does not want to engage and I am there as well. The point is to create as I have mentioned in previous posts a positive emotional response. We do not force a puppy to interact it is all at each puppy's level.
All in all it has always ended up being a fantastic experience for the pups as well as the Dept. We now have had a few of our families write to us and thank us as they have recounted the experience where they needed to call 911 and their Dane was calm during the emergency. That is why it is important to us.