Category Archives: Medical Alert



Cody suffers from medical conditions in which he requires an “alert” from Gunner.  He also suffers from mobility issues.

Trainer Letty writes:

“The Public Access Test with Cody and Gunner took place at Target and Panera at the Forum.  They are an absolutely wonderful team.  Cody and Gunner were a true pleasure to work with.  I have suggested that we should work on a bit more on mobility with Gunner after the Public Access Test.


Gunner did not try to leave vehicle until given release command.
Gunner waited in the vehicle until released.* Yes
Gunner waited outside the vehicle under control. Yes
Gunner remained under control while another dog was walked. Yes


Relative heel position, not straining or forging.
Gunner stayed in relative heel position. Always
Gunner was calm around traffic.* Yes
Gunner stopped when Cody came to a halt. Always


Gunner waited quietly at the door until commanded to enter.* Yes
Gunner waited on the inside until able to return to heel position.* Yes


Gunner was within the prescribed distance of Cody. Always
Gunner ignored the public, remaining focused on Cody. Always
Gunner readily adjusted to speed changes. Always
Gunner readily turned corners–did not have to be tugged or jerked to change direction. Always
Gunner readily maneuvered through tight quarters. Always


Gunner responded readily to the recall command–did not stray away, seek attention from others, or trudge slowly.* Yes
Gunner remained under control and focused on Cody.* Yes
Gunner came within the prescribed distance of Cody.* Yes
Gunner came directly to Cody.* Yes


Gunner responded promptly to the command to sit. Always
Gunner remained under control around food–not trying to get food and not needing repeated corrections.* Yes
Gunner remained composed while the shopping cart passed–did not shy away, show signs of fear, etc.* Yes
Gunner maintained a sit-stay while being petted by a stranger.* Yes


Gunner responded promptly to the command to down. Always
Gunner remained under control around the food–not trying to get food and not needing repeated corrections.* Yes
Gunner remained in control while the child approached – child should not taunt Gunner or be overly dramatic.* Yes


If Gunner jumps, turns, or shows a quick startle type reaction, that is fine. Gunner should not show fear, aggression, or continue to be affected by the noise.

Gunner remained composed during the noise distraction.* Yes


Gunner is unobtrusive and out of the way of patrons and employees as much as possible.* Yes
Gunner maintained proper behavior, ignoring food and being quiet.* Yes


When told to drop the leash, the team maintained control and Cody got the leash back in position.* Yes


Another person can take Gunner’s leash and Cody can move away without aggression or undue stress on the part of Gunner.* Yes


Gunner stayed in relative heel position. Always Gunner was calm around traffic.* Yes
Gunner stopped when Cody came to a halt. Always


Gunner waited until commanded to enter the vehicle. Yes
Gunner readily entered the vehicle upon command. Yes


When Gunner did well, Cody praised Gunner. Always
Gunner is relaxed, confident, and friendly. Always
Cody kept Gunner under control. Always
Cody was prepared with proper working materials and equipment in case of an access confrontation (laws, etc.). Yes

PASS TEST: Yes – 100%!!”

Robin’s Training Experience

After an intensive week of many, many hours a day training here in San Antonio after she and Smokey flew in from Philadelphia, combined with her own self-training (she had a previous Service Dog who just passed away), the team passed the Public Access Test!!!

Smokey is a rescued, 3 year-old black Labrador/Shepherd mix.  Robin suffers from complex PTSD and mobility and balance issues.  Robin spent two years in the Israeli Army, and then went on to become a Physician’s Assistant.  Robin’s trainers were Beverli and Laurie .

Laurie was absolutely delighted to see the transformation in both Smokey and Robin’s disposition from the time they arrived until the day they left.  They came as a unit that knew most every “command”, but by the end of the week of training, their bond had increased dramatically and the team dynamic was outstanding!!!!

Please watch this 15 minute video of Robin talking about her experience:

Capone’s Success Story

The animal rescue world is challenging on the best of days. We see the broken and unwanted of the City of San Antonio on a daily basis. One of the most unforgettable of those days was 5 weeks ago, when Capone walked through our door. He was starving, with patches of hair missing, broken teeth, and his ears jagged and cropped…you won’t believe his transformation…read more at  SAPA – San Antonio Pets Alive | Capone’s Story



Our trainer, Sue, has been working with Heidi, who suffers from anxiety attacks, crowd anxiety, dissociation in public and in times of high stress/PTSD exacerbation, memory deficits resulting in difficulty maintaining medication schedule, and depression symptoms.

Sue writes:

Brynn passed every part of the Public Access Test – just had a little bit of difficulty doing quick turns – but soon adjusted.

We had another training session after the test when Heidi returned from her vacation to address a little bit of pulling issues at Costco. We tried the Head Halter in to try to curb Brynn’s pulling as the Martingale did not work well and a prong collar worked sometimes but needed to be replaced with a different tool. The Head Halter worked automatically! At Costco, I showed Heidi how to work on finding store anchors and safe zones to calm Heidi down from perceived threats and increased anxieties due to triggers. I showed Heidi how to use Brynn as a buffer by automatically placing Brynn in a cover between other humans or carts at places like checkout aisle intersections, and for Heidi and Brynn to be more alert to humans that are coming from right or left side, so that the client can also try to take routes without human traffic.

As homework, we also discussed new exercises to try for 3 weeks to have Brynn start reminding Heidi to take her medications. We also discussed starting using non-verbal (hand gestures) to train Brynn to do instant “covers”, in a heel position from the front, back, and sides.

Brynn no longer pulls on the leash! Heidi can go shopping at Costco in short sessions now that she knows how to find her anchors and safe zones. Brynn did awesome on the vacation with family and horses!

Update on Natalie

Laurie is training with dear Natalie, who suffers from multiple disabilities including extreme rheumatoid arthritis, heart conditions, has had over 20 surgeries in her young life for various conditions, and must use a cane, walker, or wheelchair even in the house. But she and her father, who himself suffers from deafness and early onset Alzheimer’s, have saved five dogs that have shown up over the years on their front steps – despite their fragile financial issues. They both often say that once the dogs are taken care of, whatever money is left, they use for food, to pay medical co-pays, and to keep their electricity on. It’s just a joy to be around people who care so deeply about all God’s creatures.

Laurie writes:

I initially went to their home to help train Natalie’s father’s little buddy to help with hearing as a Service Dog. But he saw how much Natalie was suffering just walking, and he suggested we focus on training Pearl, a gorgeous, gentle, and extremely intelligent Yellow Labrador for mobility for Natalie. I asked him many times if that was what he wanted – but he wanted his daughter taken care of first. Just beautiful people.

We have already had two sessions with Pearl. Our second session was at a very busy Walmart. Thanks to the generous donations of individuals through the GoFundMe account I set up for Natalie (she is too prideful to ask for help, so I did it for her!), Pearl now has a beautiful blue vest with a handle that Natalie can use to help stabilize herself if she needs extra help when her cane or walker are not readily available. Pearl did exquisitely!!!! Pearl just heels alongside Natalie no matter what assistive device she is using. Pearl never pulls, doesn’t react at all to distractions (created or accidental), keeps her focus on Natalie, is both treat and love-motivated, and does meets and greets with adult males and females and children in the most beautifully gentle way I could imagine. She will go into an automatic sit, and just let everyone love on her – and boy, do the people she meets get such joy from being able to hug her!!

After only two sessions, Pearl can “sit”, “down”, “sit/stay”, “down/stay”, “leave it”, “meet and greet”, “navigate through tight corners with Natalie’s walker”, walk in a perfect “heel” next to a shopping cart, will “leave” snacks set down before her when told to, “let another person take her as she heels”, do beautiful “meet and greets” with any other dog and remain completely non-reactive – it’s just amazing. I am so proud of both of them. The key to this amazing work is undoubtedly the love Pearl feels from Natalie. That’s the thing about rescue dogs – they are so grateful to have been saved – and if given the proper amount of bonding time and unconditional love, they will give back tenfold. That’s Pearl and Natalie.

Here are some pictures. I didn’t have my camera on me at the last session, but Natalie’s dad took some pictures yesterday with his shaky hands of the two of them – so although they are blurry, you can see the love. That’s all that matters.

Laura and Little Pumpkin

From our trainer, Cherry, who is working with Laura, who suffers from cancer, recovered congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, Graves disease, anxiety, depression and PTSD. Her SDIT is little “Pumpkin”.

Cherry writes:

“Laura and her SDIT little Pumpkin are doing really well! Laura puts a lot of time into training her little darling and the results were clear at today’s session.

Pumpkin has mastered her sit and stay at 6 feet! Quite a feat for a little dog that loves to be close to mommy. A tiled floor like Target is great for training because the tiles are exactly one foot in length so its easier to gauge a six foot recall by counting the tiles. Pumpkin is also doing really well with walking with the cart and keeping close to Laura.

Pumpkin is an amazing emotional support for Laura and knows when she is showing signs of anxiety; Pumpkin will jump right up into her lap and reach to wash her face with kisses to ease her tension and it works!

Laura’s homework is to practice Down and Stay, which Pumpkin finds more of a struggle to perform, but with Laura’s determination I know they will get there!!


CONGRATULATIONS TO SHELIA AND NOW SERVICE DOG, “CECE”! Our delightful trainer, Pat, had the Public Access Test with Shelia and her now Service Dog, Boston Terrier/Boxer mix “Cece”. Shelia suffers from anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, severe pain, and needs medical alerts.

Pat writes:

“Shelia and Cece have done well with their obedience training! Cece is a happy and playful little girl who learned quickly that wearing her Service Dog vest means it’s “work time”. She learned her lessons through lots of good practice and public outings with her handler, Shelia. Her Public Access Test was finalized at Walmart in Helotes, demonstrating her willingness to keep her Boxer/Terrier personality in check with children, adults, noisy shoppers and carts. She even had the opportunity during her training to go to Laredo and watch a Cowboy Parade, with all the horses, crowds and chaos that goes with it. Cece was OK with all of it, and Shelia feels much more relaxed with her along.

Because Shelia has stability challenges sometimes when walking, particularly navigating stairs, Cece is continuing her training to learn how to retrieve a cell phone in the event Shelia falls. We are using the “Mark & Reward” technique to teach Cece to pick up and take an object to Shelia. Shelia is not getting in quality practice time on the retrieve training. Granted, it is precise and tedious work. Over the many weeks we have touched on it in sessions, and with the work I’ve personally done with Cece, I’m not seeing improvement in her retrieving behavior, so we will keep on working with that.



From our super trainer, Brenda, who performed the Public Access Test with Wounded Warrior Denise and her now Service Dog, lab mix Sandy!!! Denise suffers from diabetes, PTSD, and needs medical alerts due to her struggles with the wheelchair and resulting difficulties.

“We performed the Public Access Test at Denise’s home, the supermarket, and Church’s Chicken. Denise and Sandy performed “controlled load and unload into a vehicle”, “approaching the building”, “controlled entry through a doorway”, “heeling through the building”, “six foot recall on lead”, “sitting on command” (mostly), “downing on command” (mostly), “ignoring noise distractions”, “restaurant etiquette”, “off-lead leash drop”, “dog taken by another person”, and “controlled exit” (mostly).

There was a bit missing during the “Team Relationship”, because Sandy received a grade of mostly for being completely relaxed and confident, and completely under control, but otherwise they did fine in this category.

Due to the fact that both Brenda and Denise use wheelchairs, they did not load into/out of a traditional vehicle; they took the bus. However, Brenda has seen Denise load/unload with her provider’s truck and the VIA Bus where Sandy performed the tasks perfectly!

Awesome job guys!!!!!

Updates from Candace

From our dear trainer, Candace, who recently obtained a new job in her specialty, but still finds time to train and loves it!

She writes:

Victoria her SDIT, Great Dane Anika

My first client, Victoria, suffers from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, mobility and related issues. She and her SDIT, Great Dane Anika, are on a trial period for the next 6 weeks, as her Anika had an adverse response to getting her paws grabbed. I’ve informed Victoria as to what she needs to do to socialize her dog, and how to reinforce a more appropriate response. She will keep me updated and I will reassess the team at a different time.

My second client, Kay, suffers from left hemiparesis. Her left leg if functional enough for her to walk with assistance, but her left arm is completely non-functional. Her right arm only has about 45% range of motion, and her right shoulder has had to be replaced twice. She has also had to have both knees replaced. I am working with their Golden Retriever, “Lady”, who will start training in 6 weeks because Lady was slightly skittish around traffic and I did not feel comfortable with her response to a noise distraction. However, Kay and her husband, Jim, had just gotten Lady, and I felt like they could do some basic training and socialize her. Lady is a really sweet dog, and I’ll keep in contact with this very determined couple.

Sherry and SDIT, “Rapturebuggy”

My third client is Sherry, who suffers from anxiety and PTSD. Sherry’s SDIT, “Rapturebuggy” passed his initial assessment with flying colors! I set Sherry up with a starting plan and have an appointment to meet with them in April to see how it goes. I reviewed the Public Access Test with them, and went over how to order a vest and other general information. I gave them some homework on basic command work. Rapturebuggy picks commands up very quickly. I think they will turn out to be a great team!

LaCretia and her SDIT, Boomer

My fourth client, LaCretia and her SDIT, Boomer, went through a mock Public Access Test today. LaCretia has adrenal failure and takes hydrocortisone daily for life. Currently, there are no tools to help her control the disease as there are no tests available to tell her when her cortisone is low. Boomer did fairly well with the mock PAT, but this was really to outline the team’s weak spots. Some of the things they need to work on are promptness of response to commands, not going after food, and staying in a down/sit position. The team was strong in the entry/exit of a vehicle, and they maneuver well together through the mall. From a Medical Alert standpoint, LaCretia reports that Boomer is doing well on his alerts to her cortisol levels, and we talked about what behaviors to reinforce and when.

Denise and SDiT Sandy

From our trainer, Brenda, who is a paraplegic in a wheelchair and specializes in working with our other clients in wheelchairs, who has been working with Denise and her SDIT, Sandy!

Brenda writes:

“After several training sessions, I went through a mock Public Access Test to show me that Sandy was ready for her formal test. We did the following:

1) Sandy “loaded” onto the bus perfectly. I had also observed her loading into Denise’s provider’s truck Friday without hesitation.
2) Sandy “unloaded” off the bus perfectly.
3) Denise demonstrated “sit” and “stay” without a problem. Sandy did not pay attention to the food on the floor at McDonald’s and has never had an issue at home when Denise eats. We did not go to the grocery store, but I have seen in the past that Sandy has no issues with shopping carts in the store. Denise does not want anyone petting Sandy.
4) Denise demonstrated “down” with little problem. At 1st, Sandy was very excited and wasn’t focused, but Denise quickly got her full attention when she brought out the can of Pet Corrector! Sandy then laid down right away and stayed. Sandy laid right down in McDonald’s, too, and did not bother with food that was already on the floor. She did not break the down position when people walked by.
5) Denise and Sandy went through the door at her apartment and at McDonald’s with Sandy heeling just in front of her chair, out of the way of it and not too far ahead. Sandy also demonstrated that she knows her directions.
6) When we were going to and from the bus stop and restaurant, I observed that Sandy heeled perfectly next to Denise’s chair (or just in front of as needed), and there was slack in the leash so I know she wasn’t pulling. Traffic and noise do not bother Sandy. She stops when Denise stops.
7) Sandy executed “go through” perfectly and waits for Denise once she is through.
8) Sandy stays right next to Denise at all times.
9 & 10) For safety reasons, I did not have her demonstrate these; I feel more comfortable waiting to do these with someone who can walk just in case things go wrong. However, Denise told me of a situation last week where when they were getting dropped off by ViaTrans. Sandy saw a cat when the door opened, and Denise did not have good hold of the leash. Sandy took off after the cat and Denise said “NO Sandy! Come back here!” Sandy stopped right away and went back to Denise. Sandy did the “sit/stay/come” combo perfectly in the house.
11) I have done this in the past without Sandy even flinching, and she wasn’t distracted by noise or people on our outing today – so I didn’t drop anything. It also wasn’t feasible to do this rolling on the sidewalk. We only went to McDonald’s and not HEB too, as this would have been too much for Denise today and I didn’t want to be redundant on things I know that Sandy is perfect with and will pass on her official test.

I did do some wheelchair troubleshooting. There was an issue as far as the bus one time; Sandy did not have a place to sit in front of Denise’s chair, out of the aisle. I saw this in the past, and had been thinking of what we could do. I suggested that Denise make sure her chair was as far back as possible and to swing out the leg rest that was on the window side, put her foot on the floor to give Sandy more room to sit for the ride, and also to swing out the leg rest on the aisle side like a door when Sandy gets in and out to make it easier on her. Denise didn’t even know that her leg rests COULD swing out and I’m not sure that you would have known either or how to do it. Sandy was still hesitant to get into that spot, but I think it’s just from her past experience of having no room and being uncomfortable, so I advised Denise to be ready with treats to coax her there in the future until Sandy catches on that it is easier and she now has more room to sit comfortably. I made it clear to Denise that I am still here for her if she has problems and to call me so I can do more troubleshooting. I believe that once Sandy realizes that adjustments have been made and she has a big enough spot to sit every time, Sandy will go right into her spot without hesitation and it will be a faster process!

They are ready for their Public Access Test next session!