My Service Dog, Jade

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jade Moves Into Precertification Stage


 Well, I have to do a little more bragging.  This coming week will be Jade and I's last week of actual classroom training.  We have been doing classroom and field training together now for a while, and now she will be moving into the pre certification stage, which means field training from here on out. No more classroom training.
     I'm very proud of my girl.  She's been able to skip a few classes along the way, because well....she's a quick learner and a great dog! This has also saved me some money, since the entrance fee to each class is a bit steep, but so worth it! I was informed by the trainer last week, that this coming week would be our last classroom experience and we will be continuing field training only; when the field trainer feels Jade is ready, we will take the certification exam and she will then be an official Certified Service Dog! Yay!
     Jade and I have worked really hard to accomplish this.  Yes, she's a smart dog and in my opinion, born to be a service dog, but it does take a lot of work on my part.  I've spent endless days in training with her, getting her accustomed to loud noises, strange environments, weird smells etc., and have had so many training sessions with her at home between classes, that I can't even count.  The trainer told me when we first began this program, that if we don't work with our dogs at home, they won't be successful.  I took heed to that, took it seriously, and got busy.  That's why she's able to move through the program so quickly.  It's been almost a year now that we've been in the program I think, and she's come a long way!
     I remember the first day I took her to class. I couldn't even get her to look up from the floor; she was so busy sniffing the floor and trembling from nerves, that I really couldn't get her to do much of anything.  Last week in class, she performed a down/stay while tennis balls rolled and bounced right by her.  I NEVER imagined I'd see that day!!! This dog is a ball dog to the death!
     So, after the trainer told me we'd be moving to pre certification, I have to confess, I became a bit sad, thinking of all the fun we've had in class together, moving forward, and watching all the other dogs move forward and grow into service dogs.  So, I took the opportunity to ask the trainer about the possibility of volunteering to help out in the classes.  We didn't talk much about it, kind of just a passing conversation, but I'm thinking it might be something I'm interested in.
     Regardless, next week, we'll be turning in Jade's blue vest and getting a pretty Red one, which signifies pre certification, and when she is finally certified, we'll acquire the teal colored vest.  What an accomplishment!!! I've learned SO much through these classes and these trainers, and through doing research on service dogs.  I can't thank them enough for the work they do to help the disabled become more independent and free, with the help of their canine companions.
     So off we will go with our pretty, new red vest, and continue our training out in the community with our field trainer.  We went to the mall, kmart, restaurants, etc. and will continue to do so until Jade is ready for the big test.
     I also want to mention that last week in class, I spoke to the classroom trainer about Jade's little episode in SAnta Fe where she went berserk when the other dog got in her face.  The trainer explained to me that this is due to my nervousness, fear and transferring it to Jade by yanking on the leash and feeling so anxious.  The trainer actually proved it to me, by using her dog.  We walked toward each other with our dogs, faced each other, got really close to one another, and walked side by side.  At NO time did Jade have any problems, because the trainer told me to relax, breathe and just know everything is fine.  It was! I was so happy! Jade doesn't have any aggression issues, as explained by my trainer, she has a handler issue, and it was me.  I'm glad that I can help Jade by being relaxed, and calm when another rude person puts their dog in Jade's face.  You'd be surprised how many rude people are out there.
     I'm really looking forward to another step forward in our training, and I know Jade will be just as proud as I am to put that red vest on.  Thanks for listening.


  1. That's awesome. You must be so proud of Jade. I'm not familiar with dog training like yours, so what happens when Jade is certified?

  2. Hi Jim,
    Once Jade is certified, that means she is an official Certified Service Dog, no longer in training. She already knows how to do an awful lot to help me out with my daily activities. She picks things up that I drop (which happens a lot due to my disability), she opens and closes doors, she finds and pulls me to the door when I am starting to panic while out somewhere, she performs "visit" (a grounding exercise) when I get too far out of reality (again my disability), she helps me with laundry, getting clothes in and out of the dryer for me, so I don't have to bend over, she braces me to help me get up from sitting position, or on the floor. If I fall, she runs to get my phone and brings it to me, and lays next me and waits. Although she does a whole lot now to help me, she is still "in training," but once she's certified, she's an Official Certified Service Dog! Yay! We've worked so hard to get here. Jim, have you thought about having Chico trained to be a service dog for your son? There are a lot of organizations out there that will help you train your dog to help your son. That's what I did with my Jade. At first, she was just a pet, now she's a real helper for me being disabled and all, it's a godsend, so to speak. It's worth checking in to. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment.

    1. That's incredible. I've never thought about getting Jacob a service dog. It's definitely something to look into.

  3. Jim,
    The thing is, trying to acquire a service dog can be very difficult in some places. Not sure how things are where you live, but it's difficult here, and can be very, very costly. However, I opted to train my own dog, who was once just my pet, just like Chico. I found an organization here in town that would help me turn my dog into a service dog, and I'm so glad I did! The training does have a cost associated with it, but nothing like trying to acquire a fully trained service dog. You and your son, and Chico could have some great times together, taking Chico to training every week and watching Chico grow into a wonderful service dog that could do amazing things to help your son. I don't know much about Aspergers (sp?) but I bet the trainers will, and could help Chico learn what he needs to learn to help your son, in ways you could never imagine. It's definitely worth looking into. Thanks, Jim.

  4. Jewel, first let me say Jade is a beautiful dog. And she seems very smart as well.

    I have been researching and posting articles regarding Service Dog Certification myself. I was wondering what your opinion is on a national certification program. Since there is no real legal way to certify a dog currently. Anyone can go online and buy a service dog vest, and bring their dog where ever they choose. The laws are written in order to protect the person with a disability, but at the same time make it very easy to manipulate. As someone who has invested a lot of time and hard work with Jade, doesn't it make you mad that people can get the same privileges you and Jade worked so hard to accomplish?

    And Jim, I am familiar with Aspergers (I have a psychology degree, and my wife is a social worker). Without knowing your situation personally I would definitely recommend you research a therapy dog as opposed to a service dog. This could help your son with any behaviors and calm him down when necessary.

  5. Cooke: Thank you so much for reading my blog and taking time to comment. Yes! It does make me very angry that all of my blood, sweat, and tears have gone into training Jade the proper way, and making sure she is well-behaved and official, yet there are those out there that are just slapping vests on their dogs, bought from fake websites and calling their dogs' "service dogs." There are many people doing this, and for different reasons. There are pit bull owners doing it to get around BSL, or home insurance restrictions, or other restrictions on their dogs. Others are doing it for the purpose of being able to take their dogs wherever they want to, when they DON'T belong, and yes, it really gets my goat!

    I would TOTALLY support a National Certification Program put in place by the Federal Government in order to verify that service dogs are official! I have often talked about this to several people. I think what needs to happen is that the Fed Gov needs to put a Registry in place to simply verify certifications. So, if a person's dog is certified through an organization that trains dogs, they would simply send a copy of the certification in and the Feds would verify it, and send them a Federal I.d. card for their dog to wear. If the dog was trained like Jade, through their owner, with help from an organization, I would simply send my certification in, it's verified and I receive my Federal I.d. for Jade to wear. If an owner has trained their own dog, they would have to send in proof that their dog is a service dog, and proof that it performs tasks approved by the ADA, then they would receive their i.d. If someone buys a fake certification off one of those fake websites, and they send it in, the Feds would know and they would NOT receive a Federal i.d., therefore, NOT being afforded any rights to public access with their dog.

    Business owners will then be able to ask for the Federal I.d. without having to ask those other two questions, and having to determine for themselves whether the dog is really a service dog. The business owner could simply look at the dog and be able to see the Federal i.d. somewhere on the dog, and would be satisfied.

    This would avoid all of the confusion and confrontation that business owners are now having to deal with, and would avoid embarrassment on the part of the service dog team. I don't see why the Federal Government can't put something like this in place. A simple registry to verify which service dogs are real and which aren't. Yes, it would cost money, but not much. It wouldn't have to employ that many workers, really, and would be fairly simple. As a disabled person myself, I would not mind at all having my service dog certification verified. The Registry wouldn't have to deal with peoples' disabilities, just service dog certifications.

    Thank you so much for your question, as this has made me think more about this. If you don't mind me asking, Cooke, do you know if there is currently a plan in place for something like this in the future? You said you have done some research as well, are you doing anything to push the government for something like this? If so, I am very interested in hearing about it. Thanks again!