Monday, June 30, 2008

Self-trained and Program-trained

Here's a new picture of me. As you can see, I like to talk a lot. Mom took my picture in mid-sentence. I don't remember what I was saying, but I'm sure it was really amazing. I have very interesting conversations with mom and John.

I'm very quiet when I'm out in public however (unless we're doing a demo and Score is showing-off...darn puppy!) All of the stuff that I like to do at home, I refrain from doing out in public...sneezing in human faces, snorting into pillows when I roll around on the couch, and talking back to mom...I leave that all at home.

Being a self-trained Service Dog is really fun, but it is a lot of work. Mom and John had to work with me quite a bit on different skills and behaviors. They didn't have help to do this, they did it all on their own. This is all legal, because there is no national certification for Assistance Dogs. There is much debate on this topic...which we hear about all of the time, and everyone has their ideas. One of the problems with not having a national certification program is that people like to take their pets with them to restaurants or malls, or put "Service Dog" capes on them so they can fly in the airplane with them. People tell us this all of the time, thinking we'll think that they're clever or something.

John's first Service Dog was a big smooth collie named Charlie. I met Charlie a few times, he was nice, but he was really old, and not really interested in playing. Charlie retired when he got old, and laid around the house doing nothing. John said he retired him when he just refused to pick up stuff anymore. When he retired, Fidos made a video of all his pictures from his years of service...and played the song "Take This Job and Shove It". That summed up the Charlie that I knew.

Charlie was from Fidos For Freedom...trained by them and matched with John. He's what the industry calls a "Program Trained Dog". He was donated by a breeder, raised and trained by volunteers, and matched with John as a client when he was ready. John got another Fidos dog after Charlie retired, but he didn't work out due to temperament issues. He is now working at a different career (Search and Rescue). John didn't get another Fidos dog because nothing at the time was going to work for him. He started using me around the house, and then moved on to using me in public too. I just kinda fell into this job! I'm what's called a "Self-trained Service Dog" I was not trained with an organization. There are many people out there that train their own dogs to help with their disability. We are not alone!

I am a Fidos For Freedom Therapy Dog however. The Therapy program is for people who bring their pet dogs in to train in a group environment, and take their dogs to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, etc. John and I work as a Therapy Dog team, and often demo our Service Dog work too. I like having different hats!



Borias said...

Hiya SDS! Self trained Service dogs unite! I think we're really lucky, we get to form a deep bond with our people as we train together! We do just as good a job as program dogs...but often we have to prove ourselves more. I don't think that's fair, and my mom sure doesn't either! Seems we're facing a lot more discrimination lately :(
My mom made this new video about me, posted on YouTube, if you want to check it out.

Service Dog Sawyer said...

Sorry to hear about your troubles really sucks when people give us trouble like that!

We self-trained dogs have to stick together...and prove to everyone that we're just as good as program dogs!


Katrin said...

I owner trained my SD, James too and am currently training my pup, Obi. They're blog is

Enjoy reading about your adventures Sawyer!