I’ve been in service dog training for this past week and I have one week to go. I’m talking 9-5 training and it’s hard catching up to a dog that is smarter than I am.
I’ve developed a little Q & A in anticipation of some of the questions you might have about service dogs and this whole process:
Aren’t service dogs just for the blind?
Nope. There are service dogs for just about every disability, including autism and Down syndrome! The dog that I will be partnering with is a trained Hearing Dog – a dog that has been specifically, professionally and intensively trained to work with the d/Deaf.
How long does it take to get a dog?
The whole process took me over 2 years! The application process is LONG: there is a lot of paperwork, many, many questions, an interview, then you basically have to wait for your dog to be born and raised through puppyhood
Puppies! I want one!
Oh man, the puppies we see around here are adorable! My dog is not a puppy (- she’s 2 years old) but she was raised by a puppy handler until she came to train.
So she’ll be able to tell you when someone is talking?
Yes, no, maybe so – she’ll be able to alert me to sounds that we train her on and work specifically with. It wouldn’t make sense to train her to alert me whenever someone is talking and it’d be kind of impossible to alert me to one person alone talking.
I think it makes more sense to work with her on just alerting me to voices saying “Meriah!” or “Mooooommmmmmmmy!”
What else can she alert you to?
She can tell me when the phone rings, a doorbell sounds (- not that we have a doorbell on our yurt), she can tell me pretty much anything that I train her specifically to alert me to. YES! Amazing, huh!
Do you love your dog?? Have you met your dog??
Yes, I met my dog and I cried when I did. We all did, all of us Trainees, when we all met our dogs. It was so emotional, meeting this creature that we’ve waited so long for and need so much.
“Do I love my dog?” – well – I was fighting attachment to my dog from the first time we worked together – I truly have been matched with an exceptional animal.
I want to see a picture! When are you going to post pictures?!!
My dog was raised by a puppy handler and then came to the training center for intensive training when she was old enough. Since the puppy handler put a lot of love and time into the care of my dog, the handler needs to be notified that my dog has been first pre-matched, then final-matched. Just basic consideration at work.
As soon as that happens, I WILL POST PHOTOS!!!!!!
In the meantime, check out my photos on Instagram (- I’m @meriahnichols there, if you care to follow my feed), or on the blog Facebook page (- linked here)
Did I miss anything? Are you curious about something else? Ask!
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.