Happy 2019 y'all! Where do I begin? I can say I'm excited for the new year. There's going to be new challenges and triumphs, new dogs (of course) and new wonderful people that I'm honored to meet.
But first things first, let's meet the new (canine) faces of t1dogs!
Poozik: 2 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Interests: Being sassy to his Mommy, playing fetch with the chuck-it ball, snacking, and napping behind furniture.
Ok, lets be real for a second here - I'm a total Corgi nut! Some girls are obsessed with Disney princesses, but not me. I'm obsessed with corgis! If you don't know how adorable these little low riders are then I encourage you to spend some time on the internet admiring these stumpy little munchkins that are the preferred breed of the Queen of England.
But seriously, all things considered, Corgi's are not particularly easy. They are part of the herding breed group, which means several things including they have a chasing/prey drive instinct, they are high-drive and high energy, and they're sassy! They require lots of structure, training, exercise and attention - without these things they can easily become pushy, grumpy, and not pleasant to have. Many people are fooled by their short & seemingly small appearances and get them as apartment dogs thinking they'll do well in a small environment. Some can, with a dedicated owner who devotes a lot of time to their well being, but most don't. I can say that I was lucky that Poozik's previous owners were dedicated and amazing parents and gave this guy just what he needed.
I actually drove to Colorado and back, in the beginning of November, to adopt this guy from a young couple who had just had a baby and knew that giving Poozik all that he needed was going to be hard. This couple was amazing, they did everything right; they interviewed people, they were honest about what type of home Poozik (it means tummy in Russian) would do best with, and they waited for the right match for him. To be honest, the second they gave me the all clear I hopped in my car and made the trip there and back in less than a week.
To be honest, I've been searching for years for a corgi that I could adopt/rescue and I'm beyond excited to have Poozik in my life! He's quirky for sure, and sometimes needs to be reminded that he's not the big man on the block, but he's great with the other dogs, and is all I could have asked for. Originally I just wanted to adopt him as a pet, but, I would love to work towards training him as a Demo Dog for my program. This guy definitely has the smarts to make it, and I'm excited to see what this year has in store for us!
Felix: 8 month old Border Collie Mix
Interests: Tearing around the back yard, Wrestling with anyone who'll oblige, Eating kongs
I'm such a herding breed fan, so it's no surprise that I decided to give Felix a chance. Over the years I've discovered that too much herding breed tends to not be great for Full Access Service Dog work as herding breeds from shelters tend to have some behavioral baggage that prevents them from graduating as a service dog. However, some herding breed traits are great for alert work, so if you can get that perfect mix of just enough herding breed to be super determined for alert work, but just enough of something else to round them out then you're good to go!
I found Felix on craigslist (I'm going to discuss more of this in another blog coming soon) and his ad stated he was looking for a new home because the owner's resident Pointer was constantly picking on him and beating him up.
I'm still not sure why I reached out to the previous owner - he looked VERY border collie and was clearly living in a very rural part of CA (which usually means very low socialization which can be a killer for public access work) but he was young, and according to the owner, very sweet and not once had stood up to her Pointer but instead chose a passive role in the household. He was living with her myriad of animals and sometimes hectic household (which included horses, donkey, kittens, other dogs, and her young children) and had done well with all. My thought process was: worse case scenario this dog was just a bit too under-socialized to be a service dog, but would be a great pet. If service dog work didn't suit him I could always Career Change him and rehome him to a family as a pet and he could still have a wonderful life.
Well, needless to say, I decided I wanted this guy the second I met him. I'm so glad I took a chance on this guy and brought him home as he is doing well with his training so far. It's still early, and any service dog trainer worth their salt will tell you that you never really know if the dog is going to make it or not until you get there, but I have high hopes for this guy. He's responsive, energetic, treat motivated, sensitive, sweet, and all around seems like a well rounded guy for growing up in a secluded countryside type setting.
It's still early for Felix, but, so far so good. We've been out several times training and his responses to outside stimuli has been fairly good for the limited training and exposure he's had. Currently, Felix is healing from his neuter surgery, but, he should be up and on his feet again soon and we'll be continuing our training journey together. As I write this he's laying at my side, and enjoying being close. He should be making many more appearances on our social media!
Moose: 10 month old Aussie Mix
Interests: Jumping over dogs in playgroups, Lifting his paw for snacks, Cuddling
I have to admit, I'm kind of in love with this guy. He came to us from Madera Animal Services and he has a bit of a story to him. Moose (previously Moo) had escaped his owner's yard and landed in the shelter 5 times since May 2017! I guess his family just finally had had enough because this last time they decided they would not come to reclaim him but instead allow the Madera Shelter to put him up for adoption. Note to self: Moo is an escape artist!
I honestly wasn't looking for another dog, I swear! The part about my job that is different than other programs is, because I work with shelter dogs, I have to be ready to make room for anything at anytime, because basically, I never know what will come into rescue and I don't want to pass up on a good candidate. I felt like Moose was one of those I had to check out.
It's still early for Mr. Moose and I'm still working out whether or not I think he's a good candidate as he's pretty rough around the edges. Moose is still trying to figure out if he's interested in training - I get the feeling this guy was "nagged" into complying with training as in the beginning he would completely disengage when I would pull out some treats (even high value ones!) He was only interested in his surroundings and didn't particularly care about what I was doing. He was wary about being in his crate, was crazy on the leash, and wasn't super food motivated.
After several weeks of working with him though, I see him making a turn for the better. He offers sits when I have cookies (it doesn't have to be training with bacon all the time anymore!) and he gets in his crate when asked, and in fact, enjoys spending time in there during quiet times. His leash work is better, but we still have a long ways to go. I love his personality though! He's sensitive, and once you win him over, he's a devoted companion. I know that this guy will bless someone's house and family, whether he's placed as a pet or a service dog at the end of this. I really am excited to see where 2019 takes us!
Last year held a lot of changes for me in my personal life, and to be honest, it took me some time to grapple with it all and get to a place where I felt like I was ok. I didn't blog and post on social media as much as I would have liked. I can promise that in 2019 you can, as always, expect transparency from me, both about dog training and my program as well as my life with Type 1 Diabetes. I'm taking a step outside my comfort zone this year and keeping it extremely real with you guys - so you'll get to experience it all with me; the good, the bad and the ugly. If there are things you'd like for me to write about or address, leave me a comment down below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'd be happy to oblige. I get countless inquiries about selecting an appropriate service dog for owner trainers, so, I will be continuing my blog series about how to pick a great service dog for you as well. Don't forget to tune in!