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As you know I am a Labrador Retriever. I am a breed that is friendly, willing, and eager to please. And one that is easily trained and adaptable to a variety of situations.  I love my job and helping my mom!

The organization where I come from, Canine Companions for Independence, uses Labrador retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and a combination of both these breeds. 

Some organizations use these breeds as well as some different ones like Smooth Collies, Standard Poodles, German Shepherds, mixed breeds, and others. 

It is more important to look at the temperament of a dog than the breed. A service dog needs to have a stable, easy-going temperament. And able to adjust to a variety of situations and settings. They need to have a sound temperament which means they are not fearful or shy or aggressive. 

And with the many tasks that I do to help my mom I need to have a strong work ethic. This means I need to stay focused and do my job no matter what is happening around me. And be willing and eager to work!

When I am out in public with my mom we encounter many different types of situations. Some are ordinary and predictable but many can be unforeseeable. I need to be calm, steadfast, and dependable.

Sometimes there are loud noises like metal signs rattling in the wind or jackhammers pounding and machinery clanking in a construction zone or flags flapping in the wind. 

Inside stores and malls, there is the hustle and bustle of people shopping. And shopping carts rattling or bumping into objects. And babies crying and kids running about. Sometimes there are even other dogs!

No matter what is going on around me I need to ignore everything but my mom. It is important for me to stay focused on my job. Regardless of how loud the noises may be or how many distractions there are nearby.

If I got distracted right when my mom asked me to open a door or get her something she dropped I could miss the cues she is giving me. And not know what she is needing me to do. This could make it harder for my mom to get to her appointment on time or get her errands done in a timely manner.

Do sudden noises or odd-looking situations ever startle or surprise you? Disturbances like these seldom bother me but it can happen. The important part is that I recover quickly and don’t stay focused on what has just happened. Which I am happy to say I can easily do!

Riding with my mom on a crowded bus!

In addition to the noises and unusual situations that we might come across I need to be comfortable walking on all types of surfaces. There are things like manhole covers or grates or brightly colored stickers on the floors in stores or the mall.    

I also need to be comfortable walking on shiny floors. They can be slippery. Or have peculiar reflections on them. And sometimes we encounter bumpy, uneven sidewalks or parking lots.

When you are walking you are seeing objects from a much higher view than me. As I walk I see people’s knees and moving feet. I have to stay focused on my mom and ignore these strange movements that are all around me. 

And you know what else? There is another thing that can be distracting for a dog which is important for me to ignore. That is smells or unusual odors! My nose is keener than yours so I can smell things that you may not even notice. No matter what the odor is, whether appealing or not, I need to make sure that I don’t start sniffing and get distracted.

Remember how I told you about the time I spent with my puppy raisers? And my many months in advanced training? If you want a refresher you can go back and read my Special puppy raiser memories! post.

It was during these early experiences and training where I started to learn the different things that would ensure that I became a well-behaved service dog. One who could take everything in stride and remain focused on my job. 

In addition to the early foundation that I received through the experiences with my puppy raisers, the training they did with me, and the advanced training I got before becoming my mom’s partner I started with good solid genetics.

And since being partnered with my mom she has continued my training. We have practiced working around distractions and loud noises. And busy environments and out of the ordinary situations. Her calm reassuring voice lets me know that I am doing a good job. We share a special bond and no matter what we encounter I know I can trust my mom.

I have to say that being a service dog for my mom is the best job ever! Staying calm, steady, and attentive come easily to me and it makes me happy that I can enhance my mom’s independence. And make an ordinary day and an extraordinary one for her!