Abbie, the Therapy Dog:
Christopher admitted that picking a puppy online was a little uncomfortable at first. He asked himself, “How is it possible to choose the perfect dog from one-week pictures and a video?” Chris had done his homework, though. He researched the breed,
AwesomeDoodle, and their dames and sires. An exchange of emails with the AwesomeDoodle team reassured him. With that, he discovered what he wanted in a dog. He chose Abbie after reading about the dispositions of Abbie’s parents, Gracie and Lego. Comfortable with his decision, he prepared himself by reading all the information on the website.
“I felt like a nervous father with a newborn when I brought Abbie home.” Even though he’d never raised a dog alone before, Chris had big plans for Abbie. She would become a therapy dog.
Chris knew that providing a good foundation was key to raising a well-behaved puppy, so he promptly hired a private trainer.
He adds, “I hired a different one because I didn’t agree with the first trainer’s approach.”
From day one, he created an enriching and social environment for Abbie. She learned by playing with toys and games that are mentally-stimulating, like puzzles and a snuffle mat. He played YouTube to introduce her to a variety of noises, like thunder, garbage trucks, fireworks, babies crying, and dogs barking. Chris provided Abbie with short training sessions 2-3 times a day that followed AwesomeDoodle’s positive training principles. As soon as she’d had her shots, Abbie hit the classroom. She completed a series of puppy classes that spanned from Kindergarten to Advanced Training, to the AKC Good Canine Citizen course and test. Abbie became familiar with walkers, wheelchairs, loud noises, distractions, and being touched by people she didn’t know.
“She missed a couple items on the test the first time so she had to retest.” Abbie ended up passing the second time with flying colors!
Next, it was time to find an organization to test and certify Abbie as a therapy dog. After some research, Chris chose Canine for Christ Therapy Dog Ministry and scheduled the test. His membership dues include the materials and resources they need, and insurance. They even help him set up their visits with the facilities.
Chris and Abbie go to local nursing homes and spend time with Alzheimer’s, Palliative Care, and Hospice residents. Abbie bonds with the people, and they love to see her. This time is fulfilling for Chris, however, it requires that he work, too. It’s necessary that he pay close attention to all situations during their visits and anticipate what may happen next. He watches Abbie’s body language for signs of unease.
“She does great work, but takes a three-hour nap when we get home,” he chuckles. “She’s learning tricks now, like “Bow,” “Touch,” and “Cover your eyes.”
Chris tells me he’s never scolded Abbie, and approaches all her teaching and training with, “All good things come from me.”
His ultimate goal: for Abbie to become a service dog who can sense the extreme highs and lows of blood sugar levels in a diabetic. He informs me that dogs can smell these alarming levels through the person’s pores and breath. Abbie has fun, too. Chris schedules a playdate with a doggy friend once a week. “She’s a normal dog,” he adds, “who went through that awful biting phase and puppy crazy time. Abbie still loves her toys. She’s been through four yellow Duckies!”
“We’re always working on something new. We’re currently addressing her fear of elevators and storm drains.” There’s optimism and pride in his voice.
Congratulations with Chris on this exceptional girl.
Abbie is a toy size female aussiedoodle. She is a red phantom color with beautiful chocolate brown and bright copper markings. We think she will look a lot like Winnie but with the color of Matti when she grows up, just in a much smaller package – with very bright copper. So adorable! Congratulations to Christopher in Ohio.