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A few months ago I earned four Trick Dog titles from the American Kennel Club. It took a long time to get our certificates. But they finally came a couple of weeks ago. So I thought it was a good time to share with you what I had to do to earn my titles. And the tricks I performed.

As you know, I do many tasks to help my mom. Some of the tasks I do could be considered or viewed as tricks. And in many ways they are.

But some of things are just tricks. And are not something that ends up being a task that helps my mom. Although there are just a few. Because almost everything I do is part of a task in some way.

So if many of my tasks can be looked at as a type of specialized trick, what makes them different from just a trick? And what qualifies me as a service dog, instead of a well-trained pet, who does fancy tricks.

A service dog works with a disabled handler. The tasks I do for my mom mitigate her disability. They are tasks that help her with daily living skills that are difficult for her to do on her own. 

To do my job, I need to have a sound, stable temperament. The ability to stay focused on my mom, no matter what distractions are nearby. And the ability to handle any public access situation we encounter.

I need to be calm and well-mannered. And I need to always be ready to do my job, no matter what else might be happening around me. Even when my sister, Roo, wants to play, I need to ignore her, if my mom needs me. 

My mom and I enjoy training and learning new things. So working toward my AKC Trick Dog titles gave us goals to work toward. And the ability to learn a variety of new things. Along with having lots of fun together!

The AKC offers the following five Trick Dog titles: 

  • Novice Trick Dog (TDN)
  • Intermediate Trick Dog (TDI)
  • Advanced Trick Dog (TDA)
  • Trick Dog Performer (TDP)
  • Trick Dog Elite Performer (TDE)

When my mom did the Trick Dog titles with Buffy they had to perform the Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced levels with an evaluator in person. And submit a video for the Performer level. 

But due to Covid-19, the AKC opened up the opportunity to submit videos for all of the levels. We submitted our videos to my trainer, who is an approved evaluator. It made me happy that she could evaluate the videos. She said we did awesome with learning so many tricks! 

For Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced you do each of the tricks individually. For the Performer title, you can either do each of the tricks individually or make them into a story. My mom and I made our Performer into a story about some of the ways I help her every day!

For each level, a total of 10 tricks are performed. All of which come from pre-determined lists from AKC. Or guidelines for what types of tricks may fit within each level.

Over the past few months, my mom was making lists of tricks I needed to know. And made training plans for teaching each one. We even took a Trick Dog class at FDSA. The online school where my mom and I do our training.

Once a trick has been used, it can not be repeated on another level. Unless it is changed in some way from how it was previously performed. So that means I did forty tricks to get my four titles. That is a lot of tricks. And I’m still learning more!

Did you notice there are five Trick Dog titles listed above? And that I said I had earned four? That means we have one more that we can earn. The Elite Performer!

For this last title, we need to come up with a story or skit that we can perform in front of a group. Because of Covid-19, we will be able to video our performance to submit. Which will work well for us.

This will be a special accomplishment for my mom. Because, up until now, the highest level she has received is Trick Dog Performer. So to get the Elite level will be exciting.

My mom has written our story. And I have been learning some new tricks. So soon we will be able to put it all together. And submit for that last title! I will be sure to share once we finish our Elite Performer title!