Category Archives: Virginia

Ashley and her SDiT

An update from our trainer, Catherine, in Virginia, and her new client, Ashley! Ashley suffers from Bipolar 2 Disorder, depression, and panic attacks in crowds. These issues have caused problems with school, her relationships, and being at large social gatherings.

“Meet Ashley and her new SDiT (name to be determined)! Ashley met this beautiful 8 month-old pitbull/mastiff mix today and the first thing the pup did was plop herself down in Ashley’s lap! It was kisses and belly rubs and snuggles from then on! We took her outside and I did some temperament and trainability evaluations on the dog. The dog passed with flying colors, and while the pup was snuggling with Ashley, she asked “would you like to come home with me?” The puppy proceeded to give Ashley a big kiss, jump up, and run around the yard like a crazy girl!!!! She is very eager to please and quickly figured out “sit” in a matter of minutes – so she will be a joy to train!

Ashley is a bit worried about the fact that the pup does look more like a pit than a mastiff, and that people will give her trouble. However, I told her I know she is strong enough to handle this and that there are plenty of people at Service Dog Express (including myself) who are behind her to support her!”


Baron is doing just fantastically

An update from client and trainer Catherine, in Virginia, with her SDIT, “Baron”.

“Baron is doing just fantastically! He “comes” flawlessly and barely needs a play-time break between classes anymore (we’ll go through 2 classes with no break sometimes). He also comes to work with me and hangs out at the research lab. He is so so good! Everyone always comments on how well behaved he is for such a young dog.

He’s doing a LOT better at ignoring people and “leave it” as we walk around. If I can see that he’s distracted on a certain day, if I just say “Baron focus” before we’re about to pass someone, he looks at me and ends up walking right past the person. Usually, though, I don’t even have to say anything.

He’s great at restaurants, though he’s getting bigger and having more trouble fitting under tables lol

Baron started an interesting behavior in the last couple weeks when I get stressed out at work and start feeling really anxious. He gets up from his down/stay under the table and lays his upper body and head over my lap. He was doing this completely on his own, without any prompting, and so I decided to start introducing him to “cover” since he seems to be sensing some of my moods. What he’s doing with laying over me is a lot of what I want him to do with “comfort” or “hug” when I need that calming pressure, so I’m encouraging him to do that when I’m feeling stressed, but ONLY then, not just for the sake of breaking his down/stay.”


Goodbye Duke – RIP

Very sad news for client Catherine, who is training SDIT Baron in Virginia with Shannon. Catherine had a dog named Duke for two years whom she loved very much. He was a rescue – Shepherd mix. Duke was Catherine’s best friend, and they had two wonderful years together. However, Catherine called me a couple of months ago to let me know that out of the blue, Duke was starting to show aggressive tendencies – with no pattern of instigation. He would be the loving, gentle Duke one minute, and then turn on her or her SDIT Baron or people walking down the street in an instant. She asked Shannon if she should take Duke to an animal behaviorist to figure out why this was happening, but based upon what I heard of Duke’s history and the sudden changes with no pattern, I knew it must be something medical going on – I suspected a cancer of some sort causing him pain or a neurological issue, including the possibility of a brain tumor. Catherine took Duke in to the veterinarian as I advised immediately, and, sadly, the veterinarian confirmed that Duke had a brain tumor.

Catherine knew that Duke’s quality of life was extremely deteriorated. Each time he would turn aggressive and try to bite or actually bite her, he would suddenly snap out of it and lick her wounds with a look on his face as if he were saying, “Mom, what have I done?” Catherine did not want to put Duke through chemotherapy and radiation.  So, she took a day and just spent it with Duke, giving him wonderful things like steaks, hot dogs, plays in the park, lots of love, long walks, and a lot of snuggling. She wanted his last day to be happy and filled with wonderful memories.

Catherine humanely had Duke, 2 years old, euthanized the next day. Please give a moment of silence for dear Catherine and wonderful Duke. Please also be very aware of odd changes in your dog’s behavior. They may not be behavioral at the root – there may be something medical going on.

Rest in blessed peace, dear Duke. Thank you for loving Catherine for the time you were here on earth.

Catherine wrote:

This bond between us
Can’t be broken
I will be here
Don’t you cry

‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

Joyce and her Boxer, Willa

From our trainer Shannon, in Virginia, who is working with client Joyce, who suffers from PTSD, and her 9 month-old Boxer, Willa. Joyce is self-training the basics, but needs help with the more advanced skills.

“Hi Laurie! Joyce is working consistently, training every day with SDIT, Willa. Willa is learning the basics and doing very well! I have advised Joyce not to rush and to enjoy the special pride of taking her time with Willa! We also discussed heeling, and I advised Joyce to use the Pet Corrector when Willa fights the leash, accompanied by a gentle NO. I informed her she is doing great and to not rush the process. I also advised her take Willa out once a week in her vest during the walks so she gets used to wearing it, and to work up to a public appearance with Willa as a self-confidence builder when Joyce is feeling confident and ready to take that next step!”