I had two sessions with Dale, who is a Wounded Warrior from the Vietnam Era, and Dale’s son, Sean, who just retired from active duty after 20 years. They both have dogs that they would like to be trained as Service Dogs. This was very interesting – and challenging – training two clients at once! But it was beautiful, because Sean is so tuned in to his father’s needs that he helps with the training.
Dale suffers from PTSD, two TBIs with neck and shoulder damage, bulged cervical discs, low back disc damage with radicular pain through his right leg from the back to his foot. He also suffers from chronic migraines and many other TBI symptoms, including memory loss. He recently moved from his hometown in Oregon to be with his son due to his condition. His SDIT is a rescue named “Piper”. He would like Piper to help with retrieving items off the floor, mobility, balance, stability when a migraine hits, and PTSD including bereavement after recently losing his wife of many years. Unfortunately, Piper, whom Dale chose from the shelter, is not large enough to help a lot with mobility – but we will do the best we can.
Dale’s son, Sean, suffers from PTSD and TBI. His SDIT is an absolutely gorgeous German Shepherd name “Calvin”. Calvin already knows many commands, so when we had our second session at PetSmart, we focused more on Dale and Piper. I suggested that Dale use a shopping cart to balance when walking with Piper instead of using his cane. This seemed to help him. Piper knows some commands, such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, and is learning to heel and “leave it”. Piper is an extremely curious dog, so focusing on the “leave it” part will be essential.
Sean and Calvin did a wonderful job. Calvin was not heeling well on a regular collar, so we switched to a different collar and very soon, Calvin was heeling perfectly! Calvin knows several commands, such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “leave it”, and makes wonderful eye contact with Sean. We did several meet and greets, and Piper was excited and friendly, so we must work on his ability to stay still. Calvin is a very, very calm German Shepherd who doesn’t get rattled or excited easily. In fact, he likes to do a few commands then just lay down on the floor and rest!
Our next session will be at a Walmart. I want Piper to get used to Dale in a motorized wheelchair. We will continue to work on Calvin’s commands at Walmart as well.
We owe so much gratitude to this family who for generations has dedicated their lives to serving our country!