Alissa and her SD Greta

Another TREMENDOUS training session with dear 24 year-old Alissa, and her SD, Greta!!! Despite all the physical problems Alissa has been going through, Greta is right by her side, comforting her, and conducting herself PERFECTLY in public. Having mom April as a trainer herself doesn’t hurt, but she is smartly determined to give Alissa all the confidence she needs and deserves to show Alissa that she can go out into the world with SD Greta and do a wonderful, amazing job, bringing joy to others and setting a wonderful example of courage and strength. I am SO proud of Alissa and all the work she does with Greta!! This session, we took her to the “dreaded” super HEB at the busiest time possible!! Alissa did it – and was magnificent. So was Greta. We practiced all basic commands in the store – sit/stay, down/stay, several meet and greets – which Alissa is getting more and more comfortable with, perfect heel with and without leash, watch me, leave it, load and unload – it’s like they are tied together by an invisible “love” bond. Greta is not phased by any distractions I tried to create, and the ONLY thing we need to work on is that at home, when Alissa is feeling ill, it comforts her when big Greta gently wraps her front arms and paws around Alissa. The hugs make her feel wonderful. When we are doing meet and greets, Greta, who loves everyone (but Alissa the most), will do a gentle meet and greet and take treats gently, but as people (mostly children) want to keep petting her, she does a little “bunny hop” because she wants to wrap her arms around them, too. So that is what we will be working on. It’s a tricky one – because we want Greta to continue doing it with Alissa – but not to anyone else. So, teaching her where and when it’s appropriate without dampening her enthusiasm at home is a thinker.On a side note, you’ll notice a woman in a wheelchair in the picture to the right. When this woman first saw Greta, Greta instantly went up to her and laid her head on this woman’s chest. The woman started crying, and petting gentle Greta. We asked her if she was OK – and it turns out, this woman had literally been diagnosed with lung cancer at the very spot where Greta laid her head. She just cradled Greta’s head and neck in her arms and cried. It was literally something out of a storybook. Greta instinctively knew where this woman was hurting, and brought so much happiness so this woman who said that just meeting Greta brought her out of her despair for several wonderful moments.

That’s what it’s all about. Service Dogs. The intangible “knowing”. The healing power of animals and humans.