Monday, March 23, 2009

The Right Fit

A partnership won't work well if the fit isn't right. Sure, there are always ups and downs in any relationship...but overall, a good relationship has two willing partners that work well together. The relationship between a dog and his/her human partner is no different...especially if that dog is an Assistance Dog.

There is a big difference between a person that uses a dog for help, and those people who have pets. Mom uses our talents as Service Dogs at home, but she doesn't have to (she's lazy). She's not relying on us to go about her day. If she drops something, or is clumsy getting a door open, it's not a big deal. If John does the same thing, it's a big deal in his day. Many things in his life cause him to struggle...and that's why I'm here to help. If I can save him time throughout the day, to make his life easier...I'm doing my job. But as I said, that fit has to be right for it to work.

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Mom knows people who are waiting for dogs...dogs that can help them...dogs that can make their life easier. Some are waiting for program-trained dogs, some are searching for a dog that they will train themselves, and some are training dogs that they already have. It's a long-road, no matter which way you chose. John was matched with Charlie (his first SD) for 10 years...it was good fit. They worked as a seamless team for all of those years. In between Charlie and me was another dog...who was not a good fit for various reasons. I came along, and it was a good fit from day one. What made me a good fit for John? I'm an active dog...and I like to move fast when I'm out. John likes to put his scooter in rabbit mode (as opposed to "turtle mode") and zip along. At the same time, I also like to snuggle and have no problem with down time. John has a lot of down time...when he parks his butt on the couch...he stays for a while. I'm okay with that too. I'm adaptable...so I can go anywhere, anytime and not worry about anything. I'm smart...and learn quickly...which is good because John doesn't get too committed to training. I pick things up after a few repetitions and some click/treating. So John doesn't have to spend a long time teaching me a new behavior. Also, I make great leaps in my training...and don't have to be shown step-by-step...so it makes training easier for John. Teach me to pull the drawer open? I'm go a couple of steps further and do a paws up, tug out your pants and bring them to you.

That's teamwork!

We know a lot of Assistance Dog teams...and we love to see a good pairing. That's part of the fun of working with dogs like me, according to mom. Finding that good match. A slower person that shuffles along...does not need a fast, active dog. That person that zips along in a scooter does not want a dog that pokes along. The person that has trouble getting up off the floor can't be helped by a small dog. A dog that LOVES to retrieve hopefully will go do a person who drops a lot of items... So on and so on.

The right fit is important with any dog...no matter if they are working or not. Makes me think of those AKC commercials they played on TV for a while...don't get a basset hound if you like to jog, for instance. :) Don't underestimate the importance of the right fit.

~SDS

2 comments:

Denise Portis said...

Great post, Sawyer. I went to Gettysburg today with Denise and "Dad". Several people commented about how my tail was wagging non-stop, even if I was having to pick up something Denise dropped. I just love to work, and love to see new places. New things don't unnerve me and I like being on the go. That's a good thing, because Denise runs a lot of errands and works part-time... PLUS her puppies keep her running non-stop! (They are both going to be in college this fall so Denise may slow down).

Sloppy kiss,
Chloe, Hearing assistance dog

Sarah said...

You know, Sawyer, my mom and dad and I were just talking about service dogs at lunch today (I told them how Denver is going to go live with you for a while so your mom can train him), and we were talking about how it's important to have a good fit. I've seen you out with John and it's easy to see that you two are a really good match. I'm really glad you found each other.