Category Archives: Self Training

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:

Catt and Baron’s trip to Italy

Wonderful news and lovely pictures from our former trainer and client, Catherine, in Virginia!! We are so proud of her – she has fought so hard throughout her medical issues and now is in a position to give back!! We love you, Catherine!!

Hi Laurie!

Ok – so update from me and Baron time! We went to Italy for 18 days (July 1 – July 18) and it was AMAZING!!! If anyone from Service Dog Express needs any help with advice/logistics on traveling to Italy and seeing the major sites, please let me know. We went to Venice, Florence, Bologna, Siena, Tuscany, and Rome. It was very Service Dog-friendly for the most part, and I had almost no issues, minus the fact that it was ridiculously hot the whole time. Luckily Baron and I managed to stay cool and had a fantastic time. He was a major fan of the gelato LOL! He handled the whole trip like a champ.

In other news, I got into graduate school!!!!! It was a totally last minute and very random application I filled out in June just for the experience of applying, I didn’t even remotely think I would get in. But while I was in Italy I got an email saying I got in! I had applied to American University (in DC) for their post-baccalaureate premedical program because I’m hoping to go to medical school. Could not believe I got into it! So now I’m moving to DC in two weeks…totally last minute! So Baron and I are very excited about that.

My health has been slowly but steadily improving over the last couple months and I haven’t had a POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) episode in 4 weeks (hope this doesn’t jinx it). My doctors are hopeful that this treatment they have me on will continue to help and that my condition will stabilize.

So lots of very exciting things going on over here on the east coast! I hope you are both doing well and can’t wait to hear back from you! I of course attached some photos of Baron (and me) in Italy!

This picture so clearly shows the bond between Baron and I. Whenever there is room, he always lays his head on my lap or on my feet; he just likes to be close to me.
Baron at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He didn’t think it was very interesting; I think he was expecting some pizza LOL
Walking around Rome — in Rome, Italy.
The Colosseum!
Baron’s favorite part of Italy….GELATO!! I let him taste quite a few of the flavors and crunch on the cone sometimes. LOL- he was a big fan of the fruit ones. I think in this picture its a nut flavored one.

Love you guys!
Catt & Baron

Tremendous adventure for Wounded Warrior Andrew

A tremendous adventure for our client, Wounded Warrior Andrew, and his Service Dog, Mozzie! Now that Andrew is officially separated from the military after suffering from severe PTSD, he decided to try a wonderful, new, healing and bonding experience with Mozzie – hiking the Appalachian Trail together! Here is a link to his journal – it’s just fascinating!

Andrew did call me yesterday because he said that Mozzie is getting a bit “overprotective” of Andrew in certain situations – especially when night falls and strangers walk by the tarp he is sleeping under – or when they meet certain people at the hostels along the way – but I explained that this is perfectly natural, because their bond is so close, and Mozzie is just watching out for Andrew with all the smells of the forest and smells on new people that he might be alerting to. Mozzie will just emit a small growl in certain situations, but stops immediately once Andrew checks things out.

Otherwise, when the two of them are hiking for miles, Mozzie is happy, joyful, curious, and they have had so much fun bonding surrounded by the peace of nature!

Catt and Baron

From our dear trainer, Catherine, in Virginia – and update on her own Service Dog, beautiful Baron!!!


Service Dog Express's photo.

My Service Dog, Baron, is nearly 11 months old now, and after much debate with myself about when was the appropriate time to neuter him, I decided to

do it as soon as possible. He was neutered last week. I was an absolute disaster the day he was there; my childhood dog passed away during a routine surgery years ago, so I just was so worried about Baron.

I have discovered I am a very overprotective momma when it comes to Baron. Ever since my wonderful dog, Duke, recently died of a very aggressive brain tumor at such a young age (2), I worry (sometimes a little too much LOL) over Baron. At not even a year old, the vet receptionists all know my phone number when it pops up on their incoming calls! But he’s perfectly healthy!

Baron and I have continued our training since he passed his Public Access Test some time ago, and the number of commands he knows is astonishing to me. We’ve been invited to speak again to some of the Companion Animal classes here at Virginia Tech and I’m very excited about that!

Baron has helped me so much through my struggles with my health. As you may remember, I have chronic Lyme disease as well as a couple co-infections. I’ve had my PICC line in for about 3 months now – I believe it’s getting removed in a week or so – and have been on a lot of medications. I’m FINALLY starting to feel better!!! So thank goodness for that. One thing that has come up through all this is that I was originally diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or Dysautonomia) after doctors examined me, because I had a lot of instances where I would be totally fine and then I would fall over unconscious. Baron alerts to it! So, since I’ve had him, I’ve been able to either leave class or sit down so that when I drop, it’s not in a public or dangerous situation. In the last month or so there has been some debate on if I actually have POTS or if these are mini drop seizures. Still debating that, but either way Baron keeps me very safe from them!

So now on to list the massive number of commands he knows:

– Sit/Stay
– Down/Stay
– Here (our version of Come)
– Heeling – both on and off leash
– Load Up
– Let’s Go – getting out of the car
– Drop – drop it
– Cover – front and back
– Get It – pick up and bring whatever I point at (literally anything, including a piece of bacon I made him retrieve without eating…I’m a meanie I know)
– Under – going under table, chair, etc.
– Focus – eye contact
– Interrupting anxious behaviors
– Waking me up from night terrors
– Alerting to my “drop episodes”
– Pull – helping me up stairs or hills
– Lay – deep pressure therapy
– Place – go to your bed
– Tug – open pull doors/cabinets or pulling doors closed
– Close It – closing doors/cabinets
– Light – turning lights on (we haven’t learned turning them off yet)
– Push – pushing button for elevator or handicap door
– Get _____ – he knows the difference between Phone, Book, Meds, Keys, Leash
– Hold – he likes to carry things for me LOL like grocery lists. He’ll just carry it around wherever we go
– Back Up – backwards heel
– Out – get out of whatever room he’s currently in
– Put it – point at table or wherever and he’ll put his object on it
– Take it to ____ – heknows me and my mom so far
– Shake
– Rollover – by far his favorite command ever; if I’m trying to teach him something new and he doesn’t know what I’m asking he just rolls over!
– Around – run around me in a circle
– Bang – play dead

As you can see, there are a LOT of commands LOL! He loves to learn new things though and he is such an absolute joy to train. There are of course some fun commands in there, too, because he has to have something to show off to the kids we speak to.  Anyways, that is my update! I’ll attach some pictures of Baron too! In one of them he is wearing his “doggy pajamas”. Yup you read that right!! Baron blew out his entire undercoat in November and didn’t grow one back…he’s odd – what can I say. He’s a shorter-haired Golden Retriever and he also has very thin hair. So he gets cold – he has 3 pairs of doggy pajamas (I only have pictures of the one) that he has to wear some days when it’s below a certain temperature. Otherwise, he refuses to go outside and if I force him out, his teeth chatter and he shivers. I think he’s actually a giant chihuahua, but that’s just me LOL.

Catt & Baron


Update from Inuko

From our dear, dear Inuko who is battling cancer. Luckily, her Service Dog Gadget loves her so very much. We are so indebted to her for continuing to share her battles with us – but she is never alone. We love you, Inuko and Gadget! Keep up the laughter!!!

“Last night was another bad night. I had another one of my infamous headaches and was curled up on the bed, exhausted… But Gadget never left my side. When I was frightened from the pain, I curled up around my girl and her breathing calmed me. Its strange, looking back at it… When did this puppy capture my heart so completely? When did she become such an intricate part of who I am? My day wouldn’t be complete without snuggles from my Gadget. She has helped me immensely. My PTSD is still bad, and I am still very sick, but I am surrounded by the ones that love me.

I am also attaching some pictures from our outing to Petco today. We were being goofballs, and Gadget sat there, wagging her tail and making us all laugh. Its so nice to laugh! So I thought I would share my laughter with my SDE family! I hope it helps your day get better. It sure helped me.

With all my love,
Rain (Inuko)

Update from Wounded Warrior Andrew and SD Mozzie

From our dear client, Wounded Warrior Andrew, who adopted and trained with “Mozzie” (formerly “Ozzie”). They passed their Public Access Test a little while ago, and now Andrew is back home in Maine. He wrote this wonderful update!


Thought I’d update you with how Mozzie and I are doing (very well together!).

He’s enjoying the snow like *crazy*, and we leave in two weeks to begin our Appalachian Trail hike for the summer. We’ve been hiking a few days a week in our own, each of us wearing our training weight, and he absolutely *loves it*.

If you’d like to follow us as we hike this summer, I’ll be posting on my website (

I hope you are all doing well!
Andrew & Moz

Kendra’s selfless act

Here are some bittersweet pictures of the day Kendra, our client from New Jersey, and her mother flew in with TBI and PTSD trained Service Dog Sadie, so that they could hand her off to a client that needed her more than Kendra now that she is recovering. It was a very, very difficult day for Kendra and her dear, loving mother – but they knew in their hearts that there was someone out there who could fully utilize Sadie’s amazing skills. Sadie is staying with the most wonderful foster – Jill – and will be meeting her hopefully new “dad” with PTSD and TBI, Wounded Warrior James, this coming week!!

Kendra and her mother arrived back home in New Jersey, and they have definitely felt the absence of this amazing Service Dog that they have had for almost her entire life. But both Kendra and her mother are so strong – they fight back their tears with the reminder that Sadie will continue to help someone else and retain the amazing, loving spirit that only Kendra could have instilled in Sadie.

Here are some pictures of the last day they had together. Of course, they will always have visitation rights!!!!


Makes your heart swell with pride and joy

You know when you have one of those clients and their SD that when you see pictures of them together, it just makes your heart swell with pride and joy? Well, it’s that way with the most compassionate Wounded Warrior, Marine Andrew, who is finishing up his separation from the Marines due to PTSD and TBI, and his BFF, the adorable “Mozzie”. Working diligently beyond belief with the amazing Unleashed Dog Training in North Carolina, near Camp LeJeune, these two have consistently impressed me with their bond and their dedication. Talking to Andrew on the phone often to maintain that bond between he and I while he is undergoing training in NC has been an absolute privilege. He is going through some difficult times right now – we are trying our hardest to get his Chain of Command to allow Mozzie into the barracks for the short time Andrew will be there for out processing – please wish us luck. They NEED each other!