Category Archives: Anxiety

Wonderful meeting for Kimberly and Viva!

An update from Cherry Jenkins and Kimberly!

Meeting a new dog that will be trained to be a Service Dog for anyone can be an exciting experience, and it was especially wonderful for Kimberly, who met for the first time her SDIT Viva.

VivaViva and Kimberly took to each other immediately. Kimberly suffers with seizures and anxiety, and needs a dog to help her cope with every day life as well have Viva trained to detect and alert if Kimberly will have or has a seizure.

For a dog to detect a seizure, the bonding with human and dog must be intense, so the first meeting to see if they will bond is crucial.  There were obviously no worries for Kimberly as Viva took to her instantly!

SD VivaViva looked at Kimberly directly in her eyes and smiled and was happy to lay down by her side while we chatted about the entire process and our journey together. Kimberly has the wonderful support of her family, who were there at the meeting and were equally thrilled at the instant connection that Viva and Kimberly had.

The family and I got along really well too, and I was honored when they asked me if I would be their trainer. Nothing would make me happier than to work with such a wonderful family.

Kimberly’s mom, Tonya, said that she could see that Viva was going to change Kimberly’s life. I agree, and I am so pleased that they have invited me along on their journey.

Viva was adopted from In Dog We Trust rescue San Antonio.

The Amazing Nina and SD Sea-Jay

I have had the AMAZING opportunity to meet one of the kindest, most compassionate, and intelligent clients – Nina. Nina has a rather sad story. She has advanced degrees in engineering, and many years ago, while overseeing a construction site on a bridge, a large truck lost control and she was forced to jump off the bridge, landing more than 30 feet completely on her back in the water. She was in her early 30s. Needless to say, the damage to her back as a result of the fall left her completely disabled, and she had to give up the work she loved and was so good at. Since that time, she has gone through depression and anxiety, and suffers from severe migraines almost every other day that leave her completely incapacitated. One of the things that has kept this beautiful woman, now in her late 40s, going, is her passion for rescue dogs. She self-trained her first Service Dog, who passed away. She decided to rescue another dog to self-train, and fell instantly in love with a dog, “Sea-Jay”, a boxer, who is deaf. It was an instant bonding between the two of them – and knowing that Sea-Jay was about to be euthanized, she adopted him immediately. She has completely self-trained Sea-Jay using sign language, and Sea-Jay comforts her during every migraine, lying beside her making sure that a part of his body is touching hers to let her know he is there. Sea-Jay is given SO much love by dear Nina – it’s the most beautiful thing to watch their bond. We have trained both in-house and had our first public training at Petsmart, where Sea-Jay was able to perform all Public Access Commands using sign language – we just have to work on his “stay” for longer distances. Sea-Jay heels perfectly, loads and unloads, constantly makes eye contact with Nina, stays close to her side if she starts to get unsteady due to her pain, and is not distracted by anything – other dogs, cats – you name it. This is just one pair that proves how much rescue dogs, even with disabilities of their own, can be wonderful Service Dogs to responsible, loving handlers. Nina even offered to establish a scholarship in honor of her Service Dog that passed, Abbie, to be donated to, our non-profit arm. That’s just Nina – giving and compassionate to the core. And Sea-Jay gives the most wonderful, slobbery kisses!!!

Nina and SeeJay


First Training Session With Meghan

A wonderful update from our trainer in Austin:

“Hi Laurie!

This was my first training session with Meghan, who suffers from PTSD, severe anxiety/depression, night terrors, and fibromyalgia, and her SDIT Precious. When we first met awhile ago, she wanted to make her dog, Maximus a Service Dog – but within the last couple of weeks, Precious showed up in her life and has done an amazing job of keeping her calm and safe when she is not feeling well. Precious already instinctively knows what his job is. He was made to be her Service Dog!

I met with her and Precious at her apartment. We started out the session outside working on heeling with distractions around. He was good at heeling, but needs more practice. I started out training Precious on “close”, and he caught on quickly! He is a smart one!

Precious gets super excited when he sees other dogs out in public, so I taught Meghan the “look at that” technique where you treat the dog before there is any reaction. So, you have to be on guard when you see another dog nearby. You click before there is a reaction and treat them for it – this prolongs the dog from reacting and keeps him looking back at you because you are treating him.

Then, we went upstairs to her apartment and worked on “leave it”. Precious has a habit of eating Maximus’s food once Maximus walks away and takes a break. So I recommended to Meghan to use this opportunity to practice “leave it”. He got it! As soon as he would walk over to Maximus’ bowl, I stood in front of it and told him to leave it. He sat right away and did not move, then I treated him for that.

This dog chose Meghan for a reason and I am super excited about working with them!”


Lee and Hagger

From our trainer in Austin, who is working with wonderful client, Lee, who suffers from Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and Major Social Anxiety, major hearing loss in the left ear which also causes balance issues, scoliosis, and chronic right shoulder pain – at such a young age! Lee is SO inspirational!

“Hi Laurie,

I just had my third session with Lee and Hagger tonight. They are doing very well Lee wanted to work on Hagger’s possessiveness/resource guarding with dinner and his bone towards their friend Johnny. Hagger gives a little growl anytime Johnny walks by him while he is eating dinner or chewing on his bone. So I worked with Johnny on being in Hagger’s space while eating dinner and had him reinforce Hagger for not growling, positive reinforcement for no reaction. Same thing with his bone as well. I also questioned if it was because Johnny would stand over him and if that was a trigger for his growling, so I told Johnny and Lee to watch if he growls when Johnny sits down at Hagger’s level or only when he stands…..

We also worked on his Hagger’s heeling in the parking lot; by that time, Hagger the Humungous was tired from training. I also give Lee some tips on what to do when Hagger forges ahead. I taught Lee the close position to bring Hagger back to place. His eye contact was good. After talking with Lee and keeping up with his Facebook posts on training, I know they are ready for the PAT in the next couple of sessions. I am so proud of Lee for being committed to the training and Hagger is doing a fine job!”


Update on Lucia and SDIT Lily

An update from our trainer in Austin, who is working with Lucia, who suffers from PTSD and anxiety, and her wonderful SDIT, Lily.

“Hi Laurie!

I had another session with Lucia and Lily yesterday. It went alright, but Lucia was having a hard day since she has a tough week emotionally. Thus, we took our session easy. We worked on heeling, using high value treats and worked on close, (training her to pivot into a close position next to Lucia’s leg). Lily is a smart dog and definitely is getting it down. We also worked a little bit on “leave it” with the grass and trees that seem to distract her when Lucia needs her attention.”


From our trainer Candace, in Dallas:

“The session with Jennifer and her son, Trenton, who is an 11-year old boy with Tourette’s Syndrome and anxiety, went extremely well! Our focus was on finding things that calmed down SDIT Priddy, as she was anxious to be in the pet store. We explored several products that may help, and the family also had some “homework” for Priddy, which included taking her EVERYWHERE for socialization. She seemed to be particularly affected by loud or strange sounds, so I instructed Jennifer on how to take baby steps to socialize Priddy without causing too much stress, thus avoiding potential negative outcomes that could arise from over-exposure to certain stimuli. We also had some trouble finding something that motivated Priddy for training, as food did not have a response most of the time. A report post training session found that Priddy made marked improvements just days after the session. Hard work and consistency can accomplish so much with dog training! The family is now ready for the next steps!”

A message from a client on how much her SD has changed her life:

A message from a client on how much her SD has changed her life:

“Hi Laurie: I had a kind of terrible night. I’m mostly better, though, and it just goes to show how profound an impact my Service Dog has on my life. I thought I would go out without her tonight just for a short while to make sure she would be okay in the apartment without me, since tomorrow I will have to leave her for about seven hours when I go to my new job (I got the trial shift I told you about, so that means I should get the job and be able to take my SD with me in future weeks–just not this week). I walked to HEB which is about half a mile away–didn’t need anything, but just determined to go somewhere without her. My anxiety level got so high because I felt so unsafe by myself that I got dizzy and kind of blacked out while crossing the street – and the next thing I knew there was a car just a couple feet away from me, honking in such a terrifying way, telling me to move (as well they should). It was SO scary, especially because I nearly lost my leg in a car-bike accident not quite five months ago. Then I got to the store and there were people everywhere and tall isles with lots of stuff getting in my space and I felt trapped and horrible and I started crying just right in public, dizzy and lightheaded, having a panic attack, so people started coming up to me to see what was wrong which made it infinitely worse, and I eventually found a wall and sat down next to it to try to compose myself and then I left. I took the bus home–faster and safer than walking–and I cried on the bus. It was super awkward. NOTHING like that has happened AT ALL since I got my Service Dog – not even close. The last time something like that happened was a couple of weeks before I adopted her. Then I got home and she was just waiting for me by the door. Apparently, she had been just fine. Thirty minutes later I was totally fine.”

From Inuko – who recently lost Trooper:

“Amongst these pictures is one that I look at and just can’t take my eyes off of… Others, I see Trooper as Trooper and it makes me cry all over again. You can see his pride, his affection, his strength, his warrior attitude in almost all of these, and in the rest of them, you can see how much he loved his Momma.

There is also a picture here of me and Trooper with the Marlin, TX Fire Department. They stopped us and asked for a picture, and then talked with us for HOURS. If I’m not mistaken, they actually have this hanging up in the Fire House now. They said they wanted a copy of it so they could do that. They loved Trooper, and it breaks my heart to know that I have to tell them that he’s passed. I have yet to do that.

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