Raising, training, nurturing and socializing young, carefully selected puppies into stoic, resilient, funny and competent service dogs for their future partner is one of my superpowers. And it helps that I have an able team of canine assistants — most significantly Franny and her son Shamrock. It’s an exhausting journey for us all, at times, working 24/7 with a puppy underfoot for at least 3 months — the first part of the usual 6 month service dog agreement. And if truth be told, sometimes I keep puppies longer because once I’m at the place where they’re really ready to work, I enjoy advancing their skills and sometimes finding the right partner takes time. For me it is not a race, it is a marathon, to help start a well matched young dog into a service dog team — a partnership that nurtured and responsibly cared for, can provide functionality and companionship, often for well over a decade.
And so it is that I am one week away from letting Kevin move on in, full time, with her partner, Miranda. Kevin has spent periods of time with Miranda, but only briefly. Kevin has also spent time with different puppy raisers I am now adding to my services to help accommodate the increased interest. Her education has included exposure to different things by different people with the same methods under supervision to see how the raising/training/and socializing I started her first two months will stick. And stick it has. I’m very pleased with how this chocolate, ever growing labradoodle puppy has done within the home, out in the planet, in public access outings that required movement and stillness, and her responsiveness to direction and redirection. She is still at 6 months very much an adolescent, testing limits, but she has a heart of gold and a spirit of generosity.
I’m going to enjoy our last week together and look forward to seeing how the fruit of the labor — putting in what is needed to properly guide an innocent puppy towards a life of amazing purpose.
Kevin’s story will continue to unfold and she will become part of the Online Service Dog Training Course slated for a late spring publication. For more information on service dog training for you or a loved one, GO HERE.