Years ago, I was taking Oliver out to socialize him when he started alerting me to some weird symptoms I had been having for nearly 20 years. Once I recognized that I had a disability and that Oliver was alerting me to aspects of it, I started trying to learn about service dogs and realized that Oliver had the temperament to become one. With the help and understanding of PSDP’s community members, I began to learn about all of the laws, training, etiquette, and ways to interact with the public when you have a service dog.
It took a couple years to train Oliver all the way to full service dog status. Now he’s been working for me for the last 10 years, helping to mitigate my multiple disabilities. Oliver has been my lifeline, and PSDP has been our support system.
I’ve recently gotten a service dog prospect, a very active puppy named Peregrine. Once Oliver retires, I plan on Peregrine taking over his duties. I thought that with 35 years of dog training experience and 10 years of service dog training experience, taking on a puppy would be easy. It’s turning out to be a much bigger challenge than I ever imagined!
The listserv is once again stepping up to help me, this time with the difficult process of going from a fully trained adult service dog to a wild, untrained puppy. Because of the advice and empathy of my peers on the listserv, we’re making steady progress. In spite of some darker times, PSDP’s support encourages me that in the next couple years Peregrine will also become a full service dog, mitigating my disabilities just like Oliver!
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