Kenneth and I have been blessed with the sweetest baby, Baloo. The founders of IDEA Service Dogs believe that many physically challenged people can achieve improved quality of life through the addition of a service dog, which they raise and train themselves through a comprehensive program designed specifically for their needs.
According to IDEA Service Dogs:
Most assistance dog programs utilize the guide dog school model of training. A puppy lives in a foster home with a volunteer for 12-18 months, then transfers to a kennel setting for an additional 6-9 months of training with a handler who is simultaneously responsible for multiple dogs. When the dog’s final recipient is selected, the student receives a brief introduction and training period and takes the dog home. Many dogs do not thrive in a kennel environment or with multiple handlers and thus a low success rate is often experienced. That is why long wait lists usually exist for dogs from these programs.
How IDEA Service Dogs are different:
Instead, IDEA Service Dogs places a temperament-tested puppy directly into the home of the disabled person. The dog is trained by the disabled student (and often a family member such as a spouse or parent as well) in a unique one to two year program, utilizing positive and rewarding techniques for both dog and trainer(s). There is no “hand-off” of the dog through multiple handlers, and the bonding process is nurtured from the early stages of the puppy’s life.
Baloo is going to help me in many, many ways. If I drop something once, I drop it 20 times a day. Baloo will help me “conserve energy while maximizing efficiency” by handing or retrieving items that I drop repeatedly. Also, once he turns 1 and his growth plates close we will have him fitted for a harness that will aid in stability while walking, bracing when standing, and helping me up if I fall (which hopefully will not happen anymore). Another thing he provides is companionship which gives me some of my independence back. By having him with me, the anxiety that accompanies the “what if’s?” of ALS is reduced knowing that I have help if or when I need it.
Brother Ian hasn’t quite warmed up yet, but he’s getting closer to the idea. Baloo wants Ian to play so bad that he can’t stand it, which results in lots of chatter and chasing around the house.
I promise to have him out and about soon. Kenneth and I are starting training with Barb the Great this weekend. I tried to get him dressed for clinic Friday but neither of us was ready. For now we’re just enjoying the lovin’s 🙂 work can wait!
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