J.P. had a good night and seemed to feel better today.
Our dog also seemed to have more spring in its step this morning and did well as we learned more commands — and we even visited the dogs’ play area at the facility.
It’s really cool to be in class with several different dogs. While we were told early in the application process that every dog is different, it’s amazing to see how varied their personalities are when they tackle the commands they’re given.
Again, I am not able to disclose the name of our dog because of Canine Companions for Independence policy, but I can say the dog is fairly reserved, very loving and petite.
I think the dog is bonding well with our family and has one very cute quirk: One of the most used commands in class is to give the “sit” command. For most dogs it happens within a second or two, but our dog takes longer than you would expect to put its rear on the floor. It’s really kind of funny and has taken a bit of getting used to.
While all of our dogs have different personalities, so do many of the facilitators and recipients. I didn’t expect to meet so many great families during the training.
The 11 recipients have been broken into two groups. One of them is for skilled companion teams and facilities, and the second is for service dogs.
For those unfamiliar with the blog, skilled companion teams are for recipients who can’t offer commands or care for the dogs themselves. They require facilitators to do that part of the job. J.P. is receiving a skilled companion dog. There are two other boys getting them and three facilitators who will receive facility dogs.
The rest of the recipients are in another training room and will receive service dogs.
All of the people in school with us have grown into a big extended family. We’re sharing a very memorable time in our lives, and I hope the bonds we’ve made during this experience will last for many years.
While the diagnoses of the three boys in our class are varied, we have been through many of the same experiences and have shared our stories — both good and bad — and the things we’ve learned along the way.
One of the boys has the same feeding pump as J.P., so we both start looking when the alarms sound to see whose child needs the attention. We’ve laughed together about that several times.
There’s also an investigator for a law enforcement agency’s child sex crimes unit and two counselors who will be using the dogs to aid in building cases with the victims of child abuse and elder abuse.
In the other training room, there’s a teenager whose disability makes a dog her key to going to college, and a local theme-park employee who will gain independence with her dog. She also has a penchant for joke-telling.
Of course, the big thing we’ll all have in common very soon is that we’ve been given the amazing privilege of having a highly trained service dog that will go home with us — as well as the skills necessary to care for it for many years to come.
The link below will be used for a live stream of the Canine Companions for Independence graduation ceremony on May 17. Click on the link now to set up an account. You can then go back to the link to make sure you see the CCI graduation page. You can also put the Live Stream app on a smart phone for free and watch it there.
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