Not so long ago I purchased a Garmin Smart Watch – an Instinct if you must know.

This thing has oodles of functions one of which is an alarm. I have set up three alarms as reminders for me to take my meds – the ones for blood pressure and such. I have to take a bunch in the morning, preferably with breakfast, and another bunch with dinner, and one an hour or so before bedtime.

The watch vibrates and sounds a tone at alarm time – I don’t hear the tone unless the watch is up against my ear – quite useless to me.

The vibrations. Well yes, I do feel the vibrations. They are annoying. I’m busy. I silence the alarm without taking the pills. I forget. Not useful. Self-defeating. My bad.

What to do?

Of course – enlist Liddy.

I taught her to fetch me when the tone on the kettle says the water is up to temperature.
I taught her to fetch me when the microwave announces the soup is ready.
I taught her to fetch me when the oven timer chimes.
I taught her to fetch my phone when it rings.

So…

Step 1. Set the timer on the watch to alarm in the same manner as the scheduled alarms.

Step 2. Start the timer. The watch will vibrate and chime.

Step 3. Call Liddy over and provide her with some high-value treats.

Repeat as many times as it takes.

First session

On the 4th alarm, she came over on her own without my calling – a food-motivated dog is a great thing! A smart food-motivated dog is awesome!

Now, I will have to have training treats nearby all the time so she can take her reward while I take my pills.

And – Oh yes – Practice – Practice – Practice.

Next steps…

When we get better at this, I will turn off the vibrator. I won’t hear the tone, but Liddy will. A little bit of corrective training may be required and then she should alert on the tone alone. She becomes the vibrator. A vibrator that is not so easy to ignore.

I can’t make her force me to take the pills, but I can make her persistent by keeping her treats in a compartment of my pillbox. The danger here is if I ever leave the pillbox out and she goes looking for a treat. So, first I need a more secure pillbox. Then I need to train her to bring the pillbox to me without opening it. She can do this. We can do this.

It occurs to me that after we get this far I can teach her to fetch the pillbox should I leave it on the counter or the table after breakfast. Never happens of course. But hey what’s a little bit of preventive medicine while we’re at it.

Stay tuned.

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