I have now had the reconstructive work done to my kidneys and I have been back to work for a Month. The surgery seems to be a success and now I can concentrate on moving forward to a new life with my Service dog in Training.
I choose to train my own service dog as it is next to impossible to get funded for one if you are working and they are very expensive. Depending on the work you want them to do a service dog costs anywhere between 30,000.00 and 60,000.00. Since I could not afford this I decided to train one my self with the help of others in the Service Dog community.
Despite being involved in obedience training for the last 30 years training a service dog has been quite challenging and very different from obedience training and the first step in this journey began when my doctor prescribed a service dog for me. After battling chronic pain from fibromyalgia, Chron’s disease,kidney stones, dizziness and asthma that is crippling in cold and humid temperatures my doctor thought a dog that was trained in mobility would help my walking and balance, deep pressure therapy done with the dog would help me from becoming too anxious when these symptoms occurred and we are hoping she would medically alert me when the dizziness was severe so I would not fall.
After her prescription for a service dog was given to me the next task was to decide on a breed to train. We have always had German Shepherds and they do wonderfully as Service dogs but I had just lost our German Shepherd Bruiser to liver cancer he was one of three that we had that died young from cancer and I just could not go through that again. So I begun to research breeds of dogs that might make a good service dog. The first thing I considered when choosing a breed was the size of dog I would need. During the last three years I was on a drug called Lyrica and the drug prednisone whose main side effects were weight gain. and swelling . As time went on my weight soared to a whopping 258lbs and no amount of dieting helped the situation. Since the dog would be used to help me up if I fell I knew a small dog would not work so I was looking for a large breed dog with some weight behind him or her. The next trait that I considered was the type of temperament I would need in the dog that was going to go everywhere with me. Since the dog I was going to work with was going to be large I wanted a dog that was known for being calm, easy to train and friendly to both adults and kids alike and I wanted a breed that would not be scary looking to the general public. After much consideration I decided on a Saint Bernard
Now a Saint Bernard might not be the first dog to come to your mind as a Service dog but they are a friendly breed known to be intelligent , very friendly, calm steadfast loyal dogs that are easily trained. When researching the breed I was amazed to find out that the Monks that used the dogs to save people trapped in avalanches and bad storms did not train the breed to do this. The dogs did these things all on their own. They Monks would let the dogs out to roam in packs and if only half the dogs came back they would know that the missing dogs would be with travelers who were caught in the pass and they would send out search parties to rescue them.This breed also had an uncanny knack of finding people buried under large amounts of snow after avalanches had fallen. Again the dogs did this all on their own.Since I wanted a dog to alert me to an onset of dizziness when I walked I thought their uncanny knack of sensing unpredictable weather phenomena might help with medical alert training since an intuitive nature already seemed programmed in their DNA.
After making a decision about the breed I found a good breeder that I trusted and was introduced to the future mother and father of my service dog in training.Both Sam and Mocka were big solid dogs with calm temperaments and beautiful markings. It was love at first sight and I couldn’t wait to take a pup home.
On July 14th Riley was born and I was overjoyed to see the first pictures of the litter shortly after .
At six weeks of age we went to pick out our puppy. Upon arrival I knew that looks had nothing to do with the puppy I picked it was all about how the puppy scored on temperament tests. It turns out we picked the perfect day to go because the breeder had just moved the pups away from their mother to a puppy pen that was located at his daughter’s house next store. That meant that I would be testing the puppies in an enviroment they were not used to. This was perfect for me because It would be a great opportunity to see how the puppies would act in a place they were not familiar with. That is one of the tests that helps you see what a puppies temperment is like under some stress. All of the puppies tested really good but the one thing that made Riley stand out from the others is that when I showed her the tennis ball I had brought with me she got excited and when I threw it for her she was the only one who brought it straight back to me. This test shows a pups willingness to want to work with me. So I picked her and that little bundle of fur was my hope for a more independent life and I could not wait to bring her home. Most breeders insist on waiting till the pups are eight weeks old so it would be another two weeks to wait for her arrival but it was worth it and after what seemed a lifetime we were able to go and pick her up.
Riley at eight weeks old
(Next Blog Riley starts training)