From our trainer, Cherry, who is working with Wounded Warrior, Cody, and his SDIT, Mastiff/Labrador mix, “Zeus”. Cody suffers from PTSD and multiple TBIs. Zeus was adopted from Cherry’s rescue, In Dog We Trust.
“It was super special to train with Cody, who adopted amazing Zeus. Zeus knew me when we first saw each other after Cody had bonded with him for a while, and wagged his tail, but wasn’t over excited. This gave me mixed feelings because on the one hand, I feel sad that the dog I rescued and worked so hard with really wasn’t that bothered to see me again, but on the other hand, it’s so nice to know that the bond is so strong with the new owner that the dog has “moved on”. It was clear to see that strong bond with Zeus and his owner, Cody, and far more important.
Our session was about heeling. which Zeus did perfectly, and as one can see by the photo, performs beautiful covers by leaning right in to Cody’s legs. Zeus’ “sit” and “down” were perfect – so Cody has been doing his homework! The next thing to teach Zeus is “stay”. He does a good stay in the sit position, but his down/stay needs work.
We walked past busy aisles, crowds and noisy children and Zeus just ignored them all – keeping a steady pace next to Cody. At one point during the session, a man walked up to us and reached out his hand to Cody to thank him for his service. Cody smiled and shook his hand, as we walked away he said to me quietly, “I wish people wouldn’t do that. It triggers my anxiety.”
This is an excellent point that Cody raised. We all want to thank our brave men and women, but they have a Service Dog for a reason. In many cases, that reason is PTSD, and a simple gesture like suddenly coming up to the Wounded Warrior can trigger it. My advice to anyone wanting to thank the men and women, is to nod and smile first; the client’s body language will let you know if they welcome an approach. If the client does, the person approaching must step forward slowly; a sudden appearance of a person with an outstretched hand can startle some.
I left Cody with some homework to practice the Down and Stay and asked him if I could pet Zeus; I couldn’t resist a snuggle on his gorgeous face! :)”