CONGRATULATIONS to Tracy, who suffers with extreme PTSD, flashbacks, and disassociation episodes, and her now SD Cooper!
Tracy has been through SO much over this past year. She was originally paired with SD Apollo, and at first, it was an instant bond. Tracy and her loving husband, Jon, met Apollo about one year ago, and immediately at my house, Apollo started doing covers for Tracy. For a long time, and with a lot of training, Tracy and Apollo passed their PAT together.
However, as time went on and Tracy’s therapy was not working, her disassociation episodes continued to get worse. She began withdrawing from everything – even Apollo – and Apollo started bonding more with her husband, Jon. Apollo would not sleep on the bed nor next to it to wake Tracy from her night terrors. They realized, sadly, that Apollo would be better off in another home. They gave Apollo to a Wounded Warrior, whose symptoms were not as severe. It was a bittersweet day for Tracy.
However, in the meantime, Tracy had already adopted Cooper, a magnificent dog fostered by a woman named Margaret, who already knew most of the PAT command – he had just not found the right “person”. Tracy and Jon adopted Cooper while still looking for a home for Apollo, and Tracy went right to work practicing everything she had learned from working with Apollo to working with Cooper. Cooper had the very opposite type of personality as Apollo – while Apollo was very laid-back and slow-moving, Cooper was more active and much more in tune with Tracy’s moods and behaviors. Cooper immediately started sleeping with or next to her, waking her from night terrors, and would alert every time she went into disassociation. It wasn’t that Apollo wasn’t a great SD – he just wasn’t the one for Tracy’s particularly strong needs.
They practiced and perfected each and every inside command – as Tracy made up her mind not to give up on the idea of a Service Dog – and they started going out into public (something that Tracy had stopped doing as much when her symptoms returned and Apollo was becoming unresponsive). She said it was like night and day. Cooper never let Tracy out of his eyesight, alerted the minute she would start to have a flashback, would get Jon if she needed help, and Tracy began to feel confident again.
After many intensive, multi-hour sessions, Tracy and Cooper passed their PAT! They were perfect together. They passed every command out in public over and over flawlessly. Cooper automatically covers Tracy without command from whatever direction she needs it. We even dressed Cooper up in Halloween attire, and he got a lot of meet and greets with happy little children! Now, Tracy is off to receive intensive outpatient therapy with Cooper ready and by her side, and she rests comfortably knowing that fully-trained Apollo is helping someone else.
BEST WISHES, TRACY, COOPER, AND JON! THANK YOU FOR YOUR BITTERSWEET SACRIFICE!