Laurie had an amazing session with Greg, who suffers with bipolar disorder, severe anxiety, and severe depression. Greg also has diabetes. He is training with beautiful rescue, SDIT “Missy”. Laurie was simply stunned when she had her first session with Greg and Missy. Greg has an uncanny ability with dogs, and had read the training manual so carefully that he knew every command he needed to teach her. Greg truly has a brilliant mind. When he opened the door, he already had Missy in a sit/stay position when he let me in the door. I walked in, and Missy delicately accepted a treat, did not jump at all although her tail was wagging! It was extremely apparent that they had already developed a very close bond in the few weeks they had been together. Greg is a very, very kind, compassionate, loving person, and it showed by how Missy always wanted to be by his side, made excellent eye contact with him, and seemed happy, healthy, and content.
We went over basic commands such as “sit”, “wait”, “stay”, “down”, “watch me”, etc, and Missy and Greg were perfect. Next, we decided to go on a walk to the park area across from Greg’s apartment. Missy eagerly but calmly put on her vest and leash – with just a regular collar – and when we exited, Greg had Missy wait at the door until he gave her the command to “go through”. Missy stayed in an absolutely perfect heel alongside Greg at all times – no pulling whatsoever – even when people passed by or a cat appeared. She was focused on Greg. We walked around the apartment complex a bit, and then had to cross a very busy street to get to the park. When we got to the curb, Greg did not even have to give Missy a command – she immediately sat and waited until it was clear to cross!
When we got to the park, Greg explained that Missy had certain areas where she regularly eliminated, and we walked through the grass with Missy doing normal sniffing but absolutely no pulling. There was no time when Greg had to tell her to “leave it”. When we arrived at her “spot”, she promptly eliminated, and Greg reinforced this with “go potty”. Greg uses very little treats to motivate Missy – she seems to thrive on his love and the affection and positive reinforcement he gives her for being such a good girl. We passed by some children, and I asked Greg if he and Missy had encountered children before and how she reacted. Greg has a very large extended family with many children that visit or that he visits, and he said that Missy just loves children and is gentle and snuggly with them. We met a woman who asked if she could pet Missy, and Greg gave permission – and Missy was a perfect lady – first sniffing the woman’s hand and then accepting her pets. She even commented that she wished “all dogs were like that”.
When we arrived back at Greg’s home, Missy did the exact same sit and wait at the door until he gave her the command to go through. Missy was a bit tired after our long walk, and she laid down and when I went to pet her, she adorably rolled over and I gave her several well-deserved tummy rubs.
I sat with Greg and explained to him that after having done this for many years, I was genuinely astonished at how much self-training he had done with Missy. He even explained that Missy sleeps with him or very close by, and if he has nightmares, she is already alerting to them and will come and lick his face to wake him up. She also seems to be picking up on his sugar levels, because she gets very clingy and licks or paws him when they get too high or too low.
Unfortunately, Greg has to have a quite serious surgery on his foot due to a wound that will not heal due to his diabetes. However, he said that as soon as the surgery is over (it is in about one week), he will be ready to do more training in public. I mentioned that he will probably be in a lot of pain, and not to push it – but he cleverly answered that because he has neuropathy in that leg, he won’t feel the pain! But he promised he will follow doctor’s orders about walking and will take it slow. Of course, I told him that we can always do public training in a place where there are motorized chairs. Greg is also doing a magnificent job of weaning off of some of his many medications under his doctor’s supervision – he is a very, very determined and dedicated person who is ready, with his new beautiful buddy, Missy – to start making significant changes in his life to get out into the world and show them all he has and wants to offer!!! It was truly an honor to meet him. I honestly left with a tear in my eye by his inspiration.
PS Greg has learned a lot of training techniques from a you tube site called “kikopup”.