My new service dog, Lambo, has been with me for about a month now. Due to COVID-19 restrictions here in Missouri, we are spending a lot of time at home. I retired my second service dog, Tyler, during the height of the pandemic.
Getting a new service dog requires a two-week training course at Duo Dogs. This is where the trainers show me everything Lambo is trained to do and gives us a chance to get to know each other. It’s tough because it’s a transition from Lambo’s trainers to me, his handler. Training includes a manual full of commands Lambo knows, as well as command sequences, how to handle stress he might have, grooming, things to avoid, emergencies, when to call the vet, etc. During the training, Lambo often looked to his trainers for what to do next, until he started getting used to me. He is now very used to me and it feels great having extra help!
Since I am a veteran service dog handler, I finished the book early, and had my own graduation via Zoom. He’s certified to work in public for 45 days after graduation, and then will be retested on December 7 for certification for 12 months. That recertification takes place in my home due to COVID-19. He is tested on retrieves, door opening, food distractions, general dog handling, which includes leash work and his heel position (on the left side of my power wheelchair).
Lambo is trained to do mobility work. To qualify for a service dog through Duo Dogs and Assistance Dogs International (ADI), you must require assistance with at least three mitigating tasks. Here are three tasks that I use most often:
Lambo can pick up items as small as an earring. I usually have him retrieve my grabber (reacher), my laundry (I drop it a lot), my keys and my phone.
Dressing and Undressing
When it comes to my energy level, I have ups and downs due to my having cerebral palsy. I have Lambo remove my shoes, socks, and my pants at night, which really makes life easier when I get tired.
Lambo is the first service dog I’ve owned that knows how to push automatic door buttons and he loves it! He bumps the button with his nose and off we go! These days, it’s mostly for him to go potty outside, with the occasional outing.
I have a feeling that Lambo will do wonders and be a great asset for me at in-person Quantum events in the future.
About Alison Chancellor: Alison is a friend of Quantum. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she cheers on her beloved St. Louis Blues at hockey games. Click here to learn more about Alison.