|Barked: Tue Aug 28, '12 9:35am PST |
|This is my first post.. Sorry if it's long!
So I have been in search for a while for a new service dog in training candidate. I had to wash out my last SDiT (a Golden Retriever puppy) due to excessive noise sensitivity. When a sound spooked her, even with a head collar she was so strong she'd pull me over trying to get home. She was impossible to take on even a regular walk around the neighborhood. It was incredibly sad and I rehomed her with her foster mom from the rescue, so now at least she gets to live with her mother and next door to one of her littermates, gets to swim on the weekends and just be a dog!
But after going through such a huge 'failure,' I'm even more cautious about picking the right dog this time around. I have fibromyalgia (widespread muscle pain, weakness, my hands tremble if I exert myself, etc.). I also have hypermobile joints (flat feet, hyper-extended knees which causes my hips and knees to hurt a lot if I'm standing or walking too much). I'm 23 years old and LOOK healthy, but I find that I avoid going out as much as I'd like to because I'm just too tired. I have like one friend in town and frequently have to cancel plans to hang out with him because I'm just too exhausted. I'm always switching scheduled work days at my job with other employees last minute because my pain medication makes it hard to get up, or I don't sleep all night, or I'm in too much pain or too exhausted to go. I tend to skip college classes because our campus is huge and requires a lot of walking around to get where I need to go.
Well, I work at a pet supply store and we hosted a Greyhound rescue event last Saturday. I got to meet Jake, a relatively small, very calm Greyhound. He was born through a pretty unethical kennel and went into a home with a woman who mostly kept him in the backyard. Then he was surrendered to the Greyhound rescue when the owner couldn't afford to keep her home. Somehow, through all of it, he's maintained an incredible personality. The only quirk I know of that he acquired was that he was reluctant to walk on tiled floors at first. But when I met him and walked him around our store (all linoleum), I would never have known that once upon a time he had a problem with it.
He is technically not a retired racer because he never had a maiden race. He is very small for a male Greyhound (maybe 58 lbs? One rescue volunteer said 50, and someone else said 68--I don't think he's 68 by looking at him). He is all black with a little spot of white on his chest and the tips of his toes.
I would like a dog for momentum and counterbalance, and some additional psychiatric service dog tasks for PTSD (turning on a light with a foot pedal or touch lamp, deep pressure therapy, grounding, etc.). I'm 5'2" and 105 lbs. Jake is a smaller male Greyhound and I can just barely lay my palm flat on his back while standing up straight.
I did a modified version of the Volhard test with him at his foster's house. He is 3 years old. (Ideally the test is given in an unfamiliar environment but we didn't have that luxury in this situation.) My boyfriend administered the test because Jake had never met him before.
1. Reached over his back and picked his two front legs up off the floor for 10-15 seconds. Didn't phase him.
2. Held each paw off the ground and firmly squeezed from his paw up to his foreleg.
3. Looked inside his ear, tickled inside his ear, grabbed and gently tugged his tail, rubbed his belly and throat area. Seemed unphased.
4. Crouched down and called him by name. Jake came immediately.
5. Called him again and walked about five feet away. Jake followed immediately and eagerly.
6. I tested his affinity for food with a piece of cheese. (I also lured him with a piece of kibble.) He followed the treats with his nose, but I was unable to lure him into a down position. He has no obedience history. He took the food politely from my hand but licked gently and persistently when I held it in a closed fist.
7. I walked him on leash outside. He walks politely beside me. He has a tendency to lean into me a little bit, but does not forge ahead and will change directions easily if you call him or signal the direction change in some way.
8. The rescue volunteer's 8 year-old son bear-hugged Jake from over his back. Jake used to live with them, and patiently stood still while the kid hugged him. He didn't seem upset or really phased by it.
9. We tested his sensitivity to noise by banging the bottom of a pot several times loudly while standing behind him and out of view. He turned around and immediately came up to us to investigate, but was not scared.
10. We opened an umbrella and laid it on the ground. He came up and sniffed it but seemed disinterested.
On the Volhard scale, I would rank him mostly with 4's with maybe one or two 3's.
Other details given by the rescue staff:
-- He used to live with two cats in his last foster home and was left uncrated for 8 hours a day with them. He never chased or bothered them.
-- He currently lives with a Chihuahua and has not shown any high prey drive tendencies towards him.
-- He is completely house trained.
-- He has been walked next to busy roads and is not shy about cars, loud noises, etc.
MY BIGGEST FEAR.. is that he has no obedience history. Do you think that a dog like this would make a fine service dog for what I need him for? Any other input? Thanks in advance!
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