Becoming a service dog is hard work. My human found me at the “dog pound.” I didn’t know why I was locked up or what I did wrong. I was only 8 months old, still a puppy. So many humans looked at me and some even played. There was something different about this human. I know she felt it, too. Soon after, I went to the Walla Walla Penitentiary. That was scary. The doors all clang behind you and everything smells different. I met my trainer. I really have learned a lot from him. I know how to sit, stay, down, and heel. I no longer jump up on people to say hello. I guess humans don’t like that. I’ve been working hard at learning how to be polite so I can go to my new home. I’ve been here two months. That’s a long time when you’re a puppy.
Today, my trainer’s trainer, she’s in charge of the program, took me to visit my new home. I remembered the lady. She was really nice. I met these odd animals called “ferrets.” There were two of them. I met them one at a time. They were in a little barred place so I could see and smell them but not play. The humans took the ferrets out and let them climb on me. I wasn’t sure I liked that. It didn’t hurt, but they smell weird. I think I did ok. I got scolded a few times for wanting to play. I guess I nip-played at them. I don’t think she was angry with me but maybe I’m not supposed to play with them? I’m not really sure. I also got in trouble for trying to chase the cat. Well, she ran. What else was I supposed to do? All in all, I know the lady was impressed with what a good dog I am becoming. I did my down/stays and come really well. It was hard to concentrate because everything was so new! There were so many smells to sniff. I like this human. And she likes me. I wonder what I else I need to learn to be a “service dog?” I know I get to help her. That will be fun!
I overheard the humans talking. I get to spend a night next weekend! That will be so good to be with the new human a while.
They also talked about what I need to learn to do. There’s so much! In addition to my basic commands, I have to be comfortable out in public, no matter what happens. I’ll get to go into stores and resteraunt. I have to leave things alone, not beg, get on something called an elevator, go through “automatic doors,” get into and out of the car on command. I like people, so being nice to them and not barking isn’t a problem. I forget sometimes and jump up to say hi. I’m working on that. I also have to help my human when she needs it. She gets scared if someone comes up behind or from the sides. I’ll learn how to tell her someone is coming. From what the humans say, I have to learn three “tasks” that directly address my human’s problems. I’m a smart dog. I can do it. I’ll be “in training” for almost another year. I’ll also get my own uniform of a harness and patches to wear, telling everyone I’m training to be a service dog. There’s so much to learn! This tells you about service dogs: http://psychdog.org/publicaccess.html That’s what I have to learn to do.
My human seems happy about getting me home soon. I’ll be a good dog. You watch!