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