As some of you know, I do some volunteer training for a service dog organization called Patriot Paws. They are here in north Texas, based out of Rockwall, Texas. Patriot Paws trains service dogs for veterans with disabilities – both physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress.
Last summer, I worked with a dog named Logan, who I wrote about some on my blog. Logan had developed some issues with wearing his service dog vest and also was a bit too distracted when he was out in public. (He often wanted to say “hi” to everyone!) Logan lived with me for several months and the ORCA graduate students from the University of North Texas helped me with his training. You can find links to all of the blog posts about Logan on this page. Logan finished his training at the end of last year and successfully graduated as a service dog.
Most recently, I have had a service dog in training named Drill Bit who has been living with me for the past handful of months.
When Drill Bit first came to us, he had a lot of potential as a service dog, but he was sometimes somewhat unconfident in new situations or around certain types of people. In these types of situations, he often didn’t know what he was supposed to do, which would then cause him to be even more concerned.
The ORCA students and I worked extensively with Drill Bit, teaching him to be calm, relaxed, and friendly around all sorts of different types of people. We also helped him learn to be calm, confident, and relaxed in all the typical (and not so typical) situations he may encounter in public.
One of the fun things about a college campus is that we encounter all sorts of different things and situations. Even better, the students on campus are a friendly bunch, and we are often able to ask them to stop for a moment and help us with training, if there is something Drill Bit needs a bit of extra help with.
For example, the building across the street from our building houses the music department. The first time Drill Bit saw someone rolling a giant bass, he wasn’t sure at all what to think! However, after a couple of these encounters, he learned that basses were nothing to be concerned about.
Most recently, we had a TV crew from a local news station come out and do a piece about Drill Bit and all of the work that the ORCA students have done to help with his training.
Drill Bit did fantastic during the filming of the piece. It was really evident how much progress he has made during the past months.
Drill Bit is now confident and relaxed when working in public, and also much more focused than he was before. So, in talking with Patriot Paws we decided that Drill Bit was ready for the next steps in his training program. He recently left us and went to stay with one of the Patriot Paws trainers, to continue learning the rest of the tasks he will need to be a service dog.
The ORCA students and I are looking forward to working with another service dog in training later this year!