Training with Pat, Matthew, who suffers from epilepsy, and his Anatolian Shepherd/Lab mix, Tatiana, passed their Public Access Test. Matthew and Tatiana came to Service Dog Express with some Service Dog training and experience under their belt, and wanted to complete the requirements for the Public Access Test. Tatiana is an affectionate, attentive, and brilliant Anatolian Shepherd mix, about 2 years old. Matthew is legally blind; while he retains adequate eyesight to navigate around his environment, he is unable to drive. The reason he acquired Tatiana to be his Service Dog, however, is that he has a neurological disorder that causes him to have seizures without any noticeable warning.

Pat writes about her training and history with Matthew and Tatiana:

“Within three weeks of adopting Tatiana, Matthew had a huge seizure! Tatiana, with hardly any training at the time, knew exactly what to do. She laid down at Matthew’s head, and wrapped her body around his head and cushioned him from injuring himself! She licked his face until he came down from his episode. Thankfully, Matthew’s seizures have been under control in the year and a half since. Tatiana began her training at that time, but sadly it was interrupted, since his former trainer moved from San Antonio, before they could take the Public Access Test.

During one session, we visited the Target where Matthew works. I wanted to personally evaluate the workplace environment, as Matthew had told me it was not safe for the dog to be there during working hours. He works in the back off-loading trucks, handling and trucks, staging boxes of product and large items, and general hands-on product movement. Other employees are driving fork lifts and other powered handling equipment, and distribution product as Matthew does. Aisles are narrow; product is stocked from floor to ceiling in all spaces except for aisles. This would be a scary environment for Tatiana, and not one where she could relax, or even be safe right with Matthew.

Tatiana and Matthew’s mock Public Access Test elements were completed the week before. Later, I observed whether they would be consistent with their training, and they were. Tatiana had developed some ‘lazy’ habits between the stoppage of her previous training and when we started. She would swing around in front to eyeball Matthew when he stopped walking, and lead him so that he was unable to make turns without yanking her back. All that was fixed during our training, along with fine-tuning distance stays and restaurant behavior.

Consistent public etiquette and obedience behaviors were maintained. Also resolved during our sessions was a reliable recall in the back yard; effective sit and down stays in the house; and an alert to let inside people know she wants to come in the house. We taught her to ring a set of bells hung outside near the door. We also discussed options to this, including installing a doorbell outside and transferring her ‘bell-ringing’ skill to the doorbell.

Over the past two months, Matthew and Tatiana have were tenacious about their training and are excellent students, having passed their Public Access Test! Congratulations to Matthew and Tatiana!”

YAY TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!