This post is Part II of the previous post "She is My Light."
What is it about Roxi, a service dog, that
changed Aaron's life in such a positive way? What does Roxi do exactly that has
taken a boy seemingly destined for isolation and depression and re-routed him
toward participation and a fulfilling future?
In scientific studies, being with a dog has shown to decrease blood pressure and slow heart-rates better than being with another person. Other studies look at the "happiness" chemicals of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Most studies focus on oxytocin, a soothing chemical released when petting a dog, being near a dog, or just looking at a dog.
Aaron has great support from his parents and adults at school, but none of those adults can walk beside Aaron without intruding on the human-to-human, peer-to-peer dynamic. But Roxi can. Roxi can provide reassurance, physical contact, even eye contact, and the same resulting biochemical reactions without being a barrier between Aaron and peers. She is simultaneously invisible yet ever present.
Aaron says that "Roxi has a way of sensing I am stressed and having a difficult time coping." His parents report that "Roxi has the ability to sense Aaron's needs and fulfill them with patience, comfort and the strength Aaron needs to make it through any difficulty." Science has been backing this up with research into how a service dog's ability might be related to their heightened sense of smell. As found with dogs that detect cancer or a drop in blood glucose, some theorize that different human reactions - like fear, anxiety, and sadness - smell differently to dogs.
Hi everybody! It’s Tucker and guess what, I’m no longer a service dog in training. I’m now a full-fledged, 100% service dog. That’s the very exciting news I was talking about in my previous post. I have been super busy being the best helper ever to my forever person, so it’s taken me a while to have time to write this last blog, but I didn’t want to leave all my peeps hanging!
Last month, mom and Debi set up a time for me to meet my potential forever person. We were all a little nervous about how the meeting would go. After all, it meant I was going to be meeting the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with -- pretty heavy stuff. Well, turns out that there was absolutely no reason for nerves. The minute I saw my forever dad, it was love at first sight for both of us. It was like my foster mom had left the room. I immediately only had eyes for my new dad. Mom and Debi laughed the attachment was so obvious.
That didn’t mean we were home free, though. Mom and a team of service dog trainers worked with my new dad to teach him all of the commands that I'd spent the last several months perfecting. Of course, I did spectacularly!
After this, my mom and I said goodbye and I got to go to my
potential permanent home. Mom cried a
little and hugged and kissed me, but she actually did pretty good. She said it was because she knew I was going
to go to a new home where I would make a big difference in my new dad’s life.
I’m back! It’s me, Tucker, continuing my saga of becoming a Service Dog. Sorry it’s been a while since I wrote, but man, have I been busy. Today, I’ll tell you about some of my new adventures out in the real world.
I’d been to Costco and done so well that mom decided it was time to take me grocery shopping at HEB. So that I wouldn’t be too intimidated at first, we made our first trip early in the morning. I was a little distracted, but every time I started to lose focus, mom asked me to “Watch Me” and I immediately made eye contact with her. We didn’t stay too long and mom only picked up a few items, but I was a good boy and did a down stay at the checkout and waited for her to pay for our selections.
Over the next few weeks, we made several more trips to the grocery store during busier times of the day. Now, I’m able to go with mom while she does all of her shopping for the week, even going on the weekend. Mom says that’s even hard for her to do!
Hello Everybody! It’s Tucker the Service Dog in training again. I’ve been really excited to tell you about a big adventure I had in my journey to becoming a Service Dog. First, let me tell you, Mom and I have been blowing and going since I got my new vest. We’ve been to Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Specs, Bicycle Sports Shop and a whole lot of other places. For the most part, I’m a perfect little angel, although, I’m still working on ignoring other dogs.
One of the big milestones in my training came a few weeks ago. I went to Costco. Well, anyone that has ever been to Costco knows it’s a busy place. They have lots of cool stuff and THEY HAVE PEOPLE FOOD! Well, this was my first experience going somewhere that had a bunch of people food. Mom, Susan and I walked all around the store with a big basket past lots of different food. The hardest part of the whole experience was walking down the meat aisle. I thought I was in doggie heaven. I really wanted to look at all the different meat, but Mom kept asking me to sit and watch her, so I made it down the aisle with no mishaps.
Another thing I got to practice was settling. When Mom and Susan would stop to talk to
people about me, it was my job to lay down and wait patiently until they got
finished talking. I like doing this
since I can chill out and listen to all the nice things people say about
me. A lot of times, people have stories
to tell about their dogs or service dogs they’ve known. That part is cool, too.
Hi to everyone that’s been reading my blog. For those of you that haven’t been, my name
is Tucker and I’m a service dog in training with Austin Dog Alliance’s Hounds
for Heroes program.
Last time I told you about all my hard work in my Dog Manners 2 class. We continued to work on polite behavior like letting a person walk up and waiting patiently by my mom’s side until she told me it was okay to go say hi to them. That is totally tough for me since I really like people, but I’m starting to get the hang of it.
Another funny thing we worked on was playing like we were shopping in a store. I had to do a down stay while mom pretended to try on some funny clothes and a hat. Boy, did I want to get up and laugh at her, but I controlled myself and remained in my stay until she told me free (that’s my release word that tells me it’s okay to get up)!
After 4 of my Dog Manners 2 classes, I was doing so well that all the ladies who are trainers for Austin Dog Alliance decided I was ready for the next HUGE step in my becoming a service dog. I was going to have to take a test! The test is called the Canine Good Citizen test (also known as the CGC test). I was kind of apprehensive but everyone assured me that I could do it, so I was willing to give it a shot. The CGC test has 10 parts. Several of the parts demonstrate my obedience prowess. Well, I could ace those, no problem. The other items tested my ability to focus on my mom which was a little harder, but I still did pretty good. Finally, my mom had to leave me with a lady I didn’t know and walk out of my site for 3 MINUTES. That seemed like an eternity, and I did cry (just a little), but I did it.
Guess what, I PASSED. My reward for passing this test was an awesome surprise. I got my very own vest to wear that says “Service Dog in Training”. My mom was pleased as punch that I passed. Getting my vest meant that I could start going to places that normally don’t allow dogs -- can you imagine such a thing?
Our pet therapy teams are out in the community every day of
the week helping children learn, visiting hospitals and nursing homes along
with a wide array of other services. They really are a heroic group of people
But in addition to the routine requests we receive, we also receive requests that are outside the norm, for example:
“Do you have a team that speaks Spanish? The dog needs to speak Spanish too.” (Yes, we do!)
“Could you help us make a public service announcement? We need a dog who can open a box, jump in and close it behind him.” (Yes, we can!)
We receive many requests for media appearances and calls from all over the United States inquiring about our programs. But recently we received a request from a professor with UT and MIT, Dr. Bradley Knox, who is developing an interactive, animatronic dog to -- hopefully -- help children learn.