Well, I have to admit I have absolutely fallen in love with Mastiffs of all types as Service Dogs. I have worked with so many recently, I am completely amazed at their perfect combination of sweetness and intelligence. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with three new clients with Mastiffs – two English Mastiffs, and one Cane Corso. Despite their size of about a zillion pounds, they are gentle, loving, and bond SO closely to their handler. In addition, one of the things I have noticed the most is their eye contact. They become totally focused when engaged in training and tasks. “Watch me” is like asking a child if they want a new toy. There’s no second asking. They also seem to have an amazing capability to learn a new skill SO quickly – and they don’t forget it once it is reinforced a few times. Because of their size, of course they are great mobility dogs – but they also make perfect Service Dogs for people with PTSD, psychiatric issues, anxiety, depression, and are so gentle with and protective of small children.
That being said, I want to talk about my first English Mastiff SDIT, Beatrice! Beatrice’s handler, Elizabeth, went into the training obviously very unsure if Beatrice would do well. Beatrice far surpassed all my and Elizabeth’s expectations. We had our first session at Elizabeth’s home, where we discussed Elizabeth’s need for a Service Dog and her expectations. On our first public outing, we went to Petsmart. Beatrice left me in awe! She can “sit’ and “down” no matter how many people or dogs are around her with the proper tone of voice and hand signals. She “loads” and “unloads” perfectly with a wait signal. Beatrice will sit and wait at doors until told “go through”. She knows “watch me”, and “heels” perfectly on just a regular flat collar! Beatrice performed several meet and greets with children, adult males and females, sitting first, then being petted or having the stranger offer a treat. She LOVES all other dogs – small, tiny and large dogs, and is submissive to dogs she meets who seem afraid of her large size. She will even go into a “down” if she feels the child or dog she meets is a bit nervous! We practiced 20 ft off-leash sit/stays and down/stays and she was marvelous. She also stays in a heel position when the leash is dropped for a few steps. I would say Beatrice’s only fault is her occasional massive drool when thirsty or excited!!! It was completely a dream to train Beatrice – who even ignored created distractions. Poor Beatrice recently suffered from a prolapsed uterus, and had to have major surgery. But she has healed just fine!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures at Petsmart because I was so amazed, but here are some from our first meeting at Elizabeth’s house.
I AM SO, SO PROUD OF BEATRICE AND MOM ELIZABETH, WHO OBVIOUSLY HAS DONE AMAZING WORK WITH BEATRICE AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HOW WELL SHE HAS DONE!!