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.