Perfect For Me

When the topic “reactions” was announced for the upcoming round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival I wasn’t sure I’d be able to participate. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I thought I had nothing to write about. My family have never reacted poorly to anything to do with my dog guides and I haven’t experienced any noteworthy reactions from the public. But, after a few days of thinking and some more heart-to-heart discussions with Huib about the possibility of raising and training my next guide, I thought of something to write about.

My problem was now finding a way to write without offending others

As mentioned in my previous ADBC entry, I looked at different guide dog programs, but decided on the Lions Foundation of Canada
in 1997 and have gotten my second and third guides from there as well. I like the LFC’s small class sizes. I enjoy their laid back atmosphere. I like that they have very few rules/policies and that they don’t come out unless you call for assistance. In addition to all of this, I love their harnesses and have enjoyed each dog I’ve been matched with. Everyone has their reasons for choosing to go to a particular school, but for some reason; I’ve encountered numerous people who find it necessary to make me aware of their feelings surrounding my decision.

The LFC, like other schools, have had their “growing pains”. They have put out “good” dogs and not so “good” dogs. I think because they are located in Canada, and happen to be in the same province as I currently reside, I get a continuous stream of negative comments regarding their track record. I have had three dogs from the school and would not think twice about returning for a fourth. I think that if I lived in another country, near a different school, that I would more than likely begin hearing the same negative stories. I think people need to stop and think before they begin insulting someone for their choices because maybe that person has not had the problems their friends experienced. Or, maybe it wasn’t the dog’s fault at all and therefore not a result of poor training.

When I first began working with Cessna, I heard some of the worst jokes and criticisms. She was only a year and a half, so was full of spirit and had a lot of maturing to do, but still people bombarded me with negativity about my choice to receive a dog guide from the LFC. I think it was hard for people to separate the images they had of terrible dogs they’d met over the years from the newly working Cessna, because to them she did not fit their image of a fully trained dog guide. She was high energy, easily distracted, slow to obey commands and found it hard to settle.

To most, Cessna looked like a joke, but to me, she was a welcome challenge.

Some, desire a dog who will obey and work well from day one. A dog who they can immediately put a harness on and trust. A dog that will not question their authority or that they will need to put a lot of effort into. This, is not me. I look forward to the challenge a new dog will bring and thrive on being asked to think outside the box. I want my dog to make me work for their trust and respect. Phoenix and I bonded quickly, but it took time for him to realize that I knew what I was doing and that he could trust in my judgments. Cessna and I did not begin bonding until our second week together and weren’t even close to being a true team until a year and a half after “gotcha day”. Both have taught me important lessons that I don’t think I would have learned without them in my life.

So, next time you feel the need to express your opinions surrounding someone’s decision, please remember these final words. Everyone makes decisions in their lives because it’s right for them, not because it’s right for everyone.

Comments

  1. Excellent post Brooke!

    These dogs are just that – dogs. They are an animal that has been through a lot of changes, from foster homes to training kennel to new owner. Some of these owners have never owned a dog in their life!

    Dogs need time to bond and sync with a new person. They need time to settle and grow up.

    Dogs rely on consistency. They will repeat what is rewarding to them, and if a new owner changes the rules, or doesn’t reinforce the right things simply because they don’t know better, the dog will have no choice but to make his own rules. I have been in dogs for how many years? And I’m STILL learning!

    To place blame does no one any good. Every single dog/human relationship is unique, and we ask SO much of these service dogs.

    The organizations all have their strengths and weaknesses, but I truly believe they do the best they can at each stage.

  2. People can be so annnoying sometimes. As long as it works for you then nobody else needs to have an opinion on where your dog came from.
    I can’t think of anything to write about for this ABC.

  3. I heard some similar things about my program on some online forums. I discovered it was a small group of troublemakers but nonetheless, it hurt. I’m very invested in my program and what they do so hearing people bash them (without ever having been there or gotten a dog from them) really hurt.
    Great post!

  4. Very nice post. Could not agree more.

  5. Brooke–glad that you did your research and made your decision before other people interjected themselves. As K9-Crazy said, every organization is trying to do their best, and which organization is best for you is up to YOU! Nice post.

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