“Who Rescued Who?”
I’m sure you’ve seen that saying on bumper stickers before. Heck, I’ve got one on my own car. But this is truly a case of two souls rescuing each other.
Sam, a German Shepherd, was rescued from a back yard, where she had been chained up, presumably for her entire life. When she was adopted by her human, Roger, she was severely underweight, and fearful of everything. When I met Roger and Sam, they had only been together for about a week.
Roger wanted a service dog for a brain injury, and approached me with some very specific tasks. I decided to approach the training the same as I would a PTSD service animal, and it worked great. From the very beginning, I could tell that Sam was incredibly smart and Roger very dedicated. Sam would pick up on most tasks on the first try, and I quickly began calling her Sam the Wonder Dog. Roger spent many additional hours beyond our lessons working with her to perfect her tasks. If she had trouble with anything, or decided she was going to be stubborn, Roger and I worked diligently to figure out a different approach to teach her the task. She learned how to “guard”, walking around in a circle, so that Roger could have space in public places. She learned how to distract Roger when he was anxious, nudging his hand with her nose if he started to shake. She learned to switch sides from a left heel to a right heel smoothly, to avoid walking into people and objects in public. She quickly learned to ignore distractions, and best of all she came to trust Roger so much that she learned not to be afraid.
Sam and Roger spend a great deal of time together now. She has helped Roger take trips to conventions and theme parks, and see his daughters’ theater productions. None of that would have been conceivable before Sam came into Rogers life.
Sam finished her training quite a while ago, but Roger sends me updates now and again, which I love. It’s always a relief to hear that a dog you’ve trained isn’t frightened of a fire breathing dragon!