Wolfpack Working Dogs Community Involvement
One day, a young mother walked into the bank where Kathy works. She asked if Kathy was the dog trainer she had heard about. When Kathy told her that yes, she did train dogs, the young woman said something like “I want you to help me train a service dog for my son”. Kathy tried to indicate we usually didn’t do that kind of training, but Jamielee was insistent. Jamielee had already done her research on service dogs for children with autism, had contacted breeders and trainers who indicated they raised dogs for service dogs, and learned she’d be on a two-year waiting list and should be prepared to spend up to $20,000 for such a dog with training. Jamielee didn’t have the time or the money for that, so decided she’d have to train her own pup NOW for her son. Her son with autism was nonverbal, and would run away when overstimulated or upset. Jamielee had a younger toddler, and was having great difficulty running after her older son while trying to carry a toddler. The decision was that of course we’d help, especially after we learned she had already purchased a puppy for that very reason. We met Auzi the puppy, Jamielee joined the Wolfpack, and we were off! In the first 18 months, Auzi was trained in basic obedience, AKC STAR puppy graduate, and Canine Good Citizen certified. Service dogs are trained to perform specific behaviors for a person with disabilities so they can go into public places where pets are not allowed. Auzi was taught 1) the basic search and rescue response – go find his boy, run back to Jamielee to indicate he’d found his boy, and lead Jamielee back to her son; 2) an absolute DOWN, which means drop to the ground instantly if his boy tried to run. The boy wore a superhero vest and cape (which he liked), and Auzi had a bungee attached from his harness to his boy’s vest, and Jamielee kept Auzi’s leash looped on her wrist when they were in public, especially when the toddler was along. If the boy tried to run, Auzi would drop to the ground, and he was trained to hold that down position even if his boy was dragging him, Auzi’s adult 70 lb weight would slow his boy down considerably. 3) “Hugging” his boy – when long tantrums occurred, Auzi was taught to drape his body weight over the boy. Firm body contact was relaxing to his boy, and this behavior significantly shortened the tantrums. Jamielee, Auzi, and his boy “graduated” from the Wolfpack, and they now live in a different state. We love seeing them when they come back to visit.