I'm a new trainer of a service dog for Helping Paws, a non-profit organization that places service dogs with physically disabled people. My son has a wonderful service dog that has changed his life. So I was called to provide that gift to someone else. I have a beautiful golden retriever puppy born Feb. 1, 2009 that I will be teaching/learning from for the next 2-3 years. This blog will chronicle our journey.
One of the pleasantries of fostering a service dog is being assigned homework that requires us to “get out.” We are to socialize! Wooohooo – an excuse to go visiting and check places out. Having a cute puppy wearing a service dog vest is like having a magnet at the end of the leash…. People look. People stare. People approach us. Izzo attracts all kinds of attention from all ages of people.
I guess I knew it would be like this. I’ve seen Jake and Miles graciously deal with lots of attention these past couple of years. But it was always Jake and Miles who had to “deal” with it. Now it is Izzo and I.
I really do enjoy telling people how much a service dog can change someone’s life because I have seen it! I love educating questioners about what the dogs do for people with disabilities and explaining that I am getting trained on how to train Izzo at the same time as the dog is getting trained.
(I just don’t like being out in public for too long because you can really only explain, “It’s not a muzzle, it’s a gentle leader. We use it because it gives greater control of the direction of the dogs head versus the control a collar around her neck gives,” so many times before you start to go a little batty… )
Getting out – it really is fun. Izzo loves meeting people and I love showing off her newly learned social skills. Since we’ve brought Izzo home, I’ve also learned that, yes, there can be an upside to housebreaking a puppy if you just look for it.
As much as it has been a pain in the butt to take the dog out all hours of the day and night, (only to have her come inside and pee on the floor) there is a positive. I have been outside my house at more different times of the day and night than I have in a long time. I am hearing and seeing things that I never would have, but for housebreaking Izzo.
As a result of taking Izzo out to “go” I’ve been blessed to see brilliant stars and a thumbnail moon set in a pitch black sky in the middle of the night, while simultaneously being serenaded by the intermittent squeak of an old rusty windmill turning in the breeze at the neighbors house a half mile down the road.
As a result of taking Izzo out to “go” I’ve heard pheasant roosters cackling, turkeys gobbling, coyotes yipping, wood ducks flapping in our maple trees and Canadian geese honking. Sitting at the table waiting for my morning coffee to kick in, has been replaced by stepping out into the cool crisp fresh spring air and hearing a multitude of birds singing a joyous morning greeting.
As a result of taking Izzo out I’ve stood in the sloppy wet snow storms of late March and the drizzles of an April shower. I have a renewed appreciation for the warmth of the fireplace upon our return inside.
Thanks to Izzo – I’ve been getting out AND getting outside. (video is our yard in the morning with wood ducks)