I have been with my mom, working as her service dog, for a year. A whole year already! The time has gone by quickly. Although in some ways it feels like we have been together longer.
A year ago we had just met. So many new things to learn. And explore. An exciting future was ahead for both of us. But some losses, too.
I was used to my trainer. The way she interacted with me. And her expectations. The way she talked to me. And encouraged me. We had our own special language. And a predictable routine.
My mom was used to Buffy. And her predictability. She knew her strengths and weaknesses. And just what she needed. They had a strong bond. And a language all their own.
Even though Buffy was slowing down. And not able to still give my mom the help she needed. It was hard for her to think about a new partner. Because change is hard. Even if it is the right thing to do.
When my mom and I first knew we were partnered together as a team!
So now the predictability of the known was changing. For both of us. How long would it take to develop our own special language? And become a team that dances as one? Would that even happen?
The first few months were challenging. For both of us. But we embraced the change. And worked tirelessly to build our relationship and bond. With each passing day, we were evolving as a team. And becoming true partners.
We were learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses. What we both needed. And how best to support each other. We were developing our own special language. Which will continue to strengthen as time goes on.
Over the past year, I have shared with you many of the tasks I can do. Some that my trainer had taught me. And some that my mom has taught me. Ones that are individual to her specific needs.
Dozens and dozens of tasks! Each with a unique and special way to make each day easier. And add a huge piece of independence for my mom. Because that is what being a service dog is all about.
I love my mom!
Did you realize there are more tasks that I do to help my mom than Buffy used to do? In part because there has been progression with my mom’s disability so she needs more help.
But this is also due to a difference in personality and work ethic between me and Buffy. Even though we are both service dogs, we work in different ways. Which shows that each dog has their own strengths. And weaknesses.
I have a more go-get-em type of attitude. I follow my mom around all day so that I’m close by. Just in case she needs my help! As I have shared before, I love working and learning new things. But most of all I just love helping my mom!
My mom is always in awe of how effortlessly I execute a task. And how quickly I respond to her needs. I intuitively know what she wants. And am ready at a moment’s notice to help.
A service dog and their partner share a friendship and relationship like no other!
Buffy was more aware and sensitive to pressure from tight spaces. And preferred to wait until our mom called her to help. She willingly helped whenever asked. But, unlike me, she was content to just hang out and wait.
Over the past year, my mom and I have had a few competition accomplishments. With the dream for us to complete many more in the years to come.
Our first was the 2K-9 fun run. Which is a Fitness Specialty title through DMWYD. For this one, you can read about it in My first competition title! post.
And then our TEAM 1 title. Which you can read about in my Fenzi TEAM 1 obedience title! post. We are working on our TEAM 2 title. Although not quite ready. But soon!
We have also earned four AKC Trick Dog titles. Which I will tell you all about in an upcoming post. Maybe next week! The certificates came in the mail a few days ago. So now it is official that I really did earn these titles. Although my mom was quite sure we did. Since my trainer, who evaluated the videos, said we did an awesome job.
But beyond the competition accomplishments, we have achieved so much more. Things that are important for a successful service dog partnership. Ones that will carry us far on our journey together.
We have learned each other’s language. And the subtle signs of what we each need. We have developed a strong bond and a special friendship. And work effortlessly together. We are dancing as one!