From our trainer, Jackie, who is working with Wounded Warrior Jimmy, and their Dachshund, “Sweetie”. Jimmy suffers from Asperger’s, Hearing Loss, and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. The first session was an initial evaluation of the family and Sweetie. They reviewed all required training aids, how to get the vest and ID, went over the training manual in detail, and discussed Jimmy’s special needs. Jackie also watched how Jimmy and Sweetie interacted and how strong their bond was. Jimmy trained Sweetie to “sit” easily. They also did interaction with other dogs – initially, Sweetie did some protective barking, but Jackie explained to them how to approach new dogs – and after about 15 minutes, Sweetie was socializing perfectly!
They are going to work on Sweetie’s “sit/stay” and keep on having her socialize with other dogs in a calm and positive way. They will also be working on “heeling” without any pulling, loading and unloading. They will keep reviewing the manual, and will be working with Sweetie 30 minutes twice a day.
CONGRATULATIONS TO DEAR ABBY, WHO PASSED HER PUBLIC ACCESS TEST WITH FLYING COLORS (AND LOTS OF ATTENTION) WITH HANDLER MICHELLE!!
Abby is a 2 year old deaf Dalmatian, who Michelle (also our trainer in New Mexico) has trained as her Service Dog using hand signals to perfection. Abby absolutely LOVES when that vest goes on and they go to work! Michelle has mobility and severe pain issues, and Abby’s bond with Michelle is so close that Abby can sense every time Michelle is in pain. She offers Michelle light mobility, and helps to calm her when her pain reaches unbearable proportions by alerting and snuggling. Abby can tell when Michelle is getting weak or sick even before Michelle realizes it.
Michelle drove all the way from New Mexico to have her dog properly evaluated by me for the Public Access Test. We did every single command in the test, and Abby was perfect. She went under at the restaurant, loaded and unloaded safely, can sit, down, sit/stay, down/stay, walk with dropped leash and stay in a perfect heel, is not fazed by visual distractions, and perfectly navigated through Target by a shopping cart, just in a heel, was able to have me take the leash while Michelle moved 20 feet away, and did meet and greets with children, male and female adults – everything. And she does it all with hand signals and leash work. Abby THRIVES at this – the attention she drew from shoppers was overwhelming – and she loved every minute of it!
Toward the end of the session, Michelle started looking pale. Abby immediately changed her focus to Michelle and I noticed Michelle’s color. Indeed, shortly after that, Michelle began developing a severe migraine. At that point, Abby was by her side, focused on Michelle, applying deep pressure and comforting her. Abby was the one who let us know her handler had had enough! (the test had already been passed).
Michelle has done an absolutely amazing job training Abby. She could have easily given up because training a deaf dog is obviously much harder than training a dog that can hear – but Michelle has worked tirelessly with Abby – never pushing her past her limits. Abby is gentle, takes treats delicately, and clearly defies any negative stereotypes about Dalmatians and their ability to be Service Dogs. You should see the joy on Abby’s face when that vest comes out – and the joy she feels is palpable when others ask to pet her. She even automatically goes into a “down” when a little child wants to pet her.
Abby and my Service Dog, Bonnie, loved being reunited. They met over a year ago. Michelle and her boyfriend Nate had a wonderful visit. I am so proud of the two of them!!
Again, congratulations to Michelle and dear, sweet Abby! Laurie
From our trainer Andrew, who is working with Wounded Warrior Amber, who suffers from PTSD, Major Depression, General Anxiety Disorder, cervical strain, lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease, Right Knee meniscus tear, and hearing loss, and her SDIT, “Brinn”.
“On September 22nd, 2014, I had my first session with Amber and Brinn. We mainly talked about the expected capabilities of her Service Dog in Training, what she has already worked on with Brinn, and what help she needs from Brinn the most. Brinn already knows a plethora of commands, as Amber has been working with her daily for the month that she has had her. She knows basic obedience such as sit, down, come, wait, leave it, load, unload, and already how to “cover”. What Brinn needs is reinforcement, so we focused on that. Brinn does have a problem pulling on the leash when she has on a normal nylon collar, so I showed Amber a technique for loose leash walking. Amber has begun working with Brinn on it already.
Amber’s family is also fostering a dog named Wendy and, together they both are not good at focusing on the commands as they want to play instead of listen. Wendy is more versed than Brinn is and responds better than Brinn to the commands when she is alone with a handler. We discussed working with them and scheduling times to teach the more difficult commands.
All in all, we had a good session. I was only needed to instruct them on reinforcement of the commands that Amber has already been working hard to teach Brinn and we will continue to do so in future sessions.”
“I wanted to let you know on Sunday afternoon, I did a 1/2 hour Mock Public Access Test session with Lee and Hagger. We went to Walmart and went over some all commands for the PAT. Hagger has his commands perfected and is so ready for the test in September! We practiced sit/stays while I rolled by with a shopping cart and worked on down.stays. Hagger has a strong “leave it” when it comes to food and certain things that can distract him. He heels next to Lee with no problems and never once strays from him! They are a great duo!”
WAY TO GO HAGGER AND LEE!!!!! SO PROUD OF BOTH OF YOU!!!
From our trainer, Michelle, who is in New Mexico. She is working with Beto. Beto is a 62 year-old Vietnam veteran that was affected by Agent Orange. He has been given a 100% disability rating (90% service-connected) by the VA and has several different issues, including PTSD, Diabetes Mellitus 2, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Neuropathy, Tinnitus and hearing loss (wear hearing aids) and memory loss. Because of the memory loss, he forgets to inject and take his medications (currently 27 pills daily, 4 shots daily of insulin, 1 shot weekly of Methotrexate and one infusion monthly of Actemra.) He uses a cane or walker because of the RA and neuropathy. His psychologist, Dr. Rebecca Mitchell in the Mental Health Division of the VA Clinic in El Paso, TX referred Beto to Service Dog Express, and Michelle agreed to take this wonderful, loving, upbeat gentleman and his SDIT, Osito on as a client, traveling all the way from Elephante Butte, NM, to El Paso!! Now THAT’s a dedicated trainer!
“I met with Beto and SDiT Osito for the second time. Beto and Osito are doing wonderfully. This visit, Beto’s wife was more involved with the training since Beto has a little memory loss and is having a hard time remembering when certain trainings need to occur.
Beto’s wife will help to encourage SDiT Osito to jump into Beto’s lap for medicine reminders, twice per day. In addition, Beto will try to remember to check his blood sugar at the times SDiT Osito licks on him to find out where his blood sugar levels are. The only other training Osito needs outside of specifics, because Beto has trained Osito so well, is the learn down/sit and stay until recalled. That is ok, it will come!”
WELCOME, DEAR BETO AND OSITO! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY!!!! I WISHED YOU’D HAD A SERVICE DOG WHEN YOU FIRST CAME BACK FROM VIETNAM. ALL THOSE YEARS OF SUFFERING…BUT NEW HOPE FOR YOU NOW!
I couldn’t be prouder of all of you. You’re all such compassionate, caring people – friends, not just clients. I have to make a comment, however, on one friend/client (who shall remain nameless due to her beautiful humility). This woman, brilliant and as kind as they come, had a budding career at the age of 35 as an Industrial Engineer. While overseeing the construction of a bridge, a truck lost control and ran through the site, forcing her to plunge many, many feet flat on her back into the water below, breaking her back and ending what was sure to be an extremely promising career. Although she suffers with almost daily severe migraines and pain, she has not an ounce of negative energy about her. She gets by with the supportive love of her husband, and the beautiful, deaf SDIT bulldog that she rescued because no one wanted her. She has trained this dog to know almost every command using American Sign Language, and the dog is perfect in public. Every day, their bond is getting stronger and stronger. When this client is about to get a migraine, she experiences vertigo. She has fallen in the past. Well, the other day, she called to tell me that her dog did something miraculous. The client was feeling fine, and the next thing she knew, her dog alerted her and pressed it’s body up against hers tightly – just seconds before this client experienced a severe bout of vertigo. The dog broke her fall, and saved the client from falling all the way to the ground. The dog also stood there by her side until she used the dog to brace and regain her balance, then led her to bed, where the dog stayed by her side as the migraine set in and wouldn’t leave. When the client told her husband what had happened when he arrived home, his eyes filled with tears because he now knew that he did not have to feel so worried about his wife falling while she was alone – and that she had a perfect companion who would not leave her side when she was ill.
It doesn’t surprise me that this dog loves her “mom” so very much. Not only did she rescue her from sure euthanasia, but she gives her so much love and respect every day – even believing that although she was deaf, she could learn to be a Service Dog for the mom’s specific needs. THAT is love. Well, this woman, who again shall remain nameless (but I’m sure if you read earlier posts, you will recognize her – she can’t and shouldn’t go unnoticed!) drove to our partner non-profit rescue, www.in-dog-we-trust.com, run by Cherry Jenkins, a good 40 minute drive, and opened up her trunk, saying, “Come with me – I have something for you”. Inside were bags of dog food, leashes, collars, harnesses and a box of brushes. “Its all for you” she said. Cherry wrote, ” I’m still thinking I’m going to wake up in a minute and I just dreamed it!!” This dear client has also established a $100 donation to In Dog We Trust to be repeated every month.
Some pretty neat people in this world, aren’t there?
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 www.in-dog-we-trust.com, our non-profit arm. That’s just Nina – giving and compassionate to the core. And Sea-Jay gives the most wonderful, slobbery kisses!!!
I AM SO VERY PROUD OF NINA AND HER COMMITMENT TO TRAINING WITH SEA-JAY. IT IS TRULY HUMBLING!
Such a happy update from young Kaylee’s mom, Linda! Kaylee suffers from progressive hearing loss, and her SD Trixster is so wonderful. We are going to do more specialized training regarding Kaylee’s hearing needs, but Linda did want to share this.
” Hi Laurie! I wanted to share with you a very good experience. Kaylee has severe allergies to pretty much everything outdoors. She had started a shot treatment while we were in Germany, but stopped when we moved stateside. She finally said she was ready to start again so we made her an appointment with an allergist here in the medical center. We knew that they would be repeating the skin test and Kaylee really wanted to take Trixster with her. I was a little hesitant because it is an allergy clinic and they must have a lot of patients with allergies to dogs, but in the end I told Kaylee we would take him but if we were asked to take him outside we would given the circumstances. Surprisingly enough, they were completely OK with Trixster being there! The doctor even allowed Trixster to sit up in the patient bed with Kaylee! When I asked him if he was sure, he just smiled and said “I have staff that can clean up the room once your gone and the next patient won’t even know he was here.” How awesome is that? I don’t know if people just respond differently to kids with Service Dogs rather than adults with Service Dogs, but I feel so blessed that we have never had a problem taking Trixster anywhere!”
WHAT WONDERFUL NEWS, LINDA!!! SO HAPPY FOR KAYLEE AND TRIXSTER!!