One of my favorite things about training dogs is helping people. I've learned a lot over the years about the relationships between people and their dogs, but there's something extra special about the relationship a person develops with a service dog.
The first time I trained a dog to do a service task was in school at National K9. I trained my pitbull puppy to turn on the lights by flipping a switch with her paws. It was a long, grueling process for me and the dog, but when the light bulb finally went on (both literally and figuratively), I danced for joy. I was so proud of us!
I get that same feeling of accomplishment every single time I train a service dog to perform a task for someone. It's demanding work but the reward is so meaningful. Whether the dog is learning to detect a change in body chemistry for diabetes detection work, or retrieving a set of keys for someone with limited mobility, each task is vital to the owner. Occasionally I'm asked to teach a dog a task I've never taught before, so it's new to me as well as the dog and owner. I always look forward to these challenges as opportunities to expand my education.
Though it's a small portion of what I do on a daily basis, I will always treasure the time I spend teaching service dogs and their owners. It's a wonderful feeling to know that in some small way I've been able to make a difference.