I just watched Through A Dog’s Eyes on PBS, an hour long documentary about a service dog training organization. Gotta say, not real impressed with them. Here’s my thoughts: task training is easy. I can shape new behaviors with my dog in a matter of minutes, and then reinforce them over a few days to get them on cue, and he’s not even a smart dog. It’s not the task training that’s critical. It’s the socialization and the manners. And those dogs were not well behaved. It is crazy that a 1.5 year old dog who has been trained, literally, from birth to be an assistance dog goes home not well trained enough to go to school with his person.
Not to belittle them. What they do is awesome. And it’s a good enough foundation for many people to work with and get great dogs. I just thought the shots of the dogs out, etc, at the end gave a bad impression of service dogs, because they really weren’t well behaved. If Toby acted like that while he was being a service dog I would be horrified. But I have high standards.
Anyway, while watching I was talking to my trainer friend, who lives 2+ hours North of me. We both would love to train service dogs, it’s a dream of each of us, but she would need another trainer and in her remote location there literally are no other positive trainers around, and I would need another trainer and someone who could handle all the paperwork, setting up a not-for-profit, fundraising, etc. That last bit is my biggest roadblock. And I found out while talking to her she has someone like that. In fact, this friend has already set up all of the paperwork for my friend if she wants it in the future, and has already established several successful not-for-profits, and actually loves doing paperwork and fundraising.
Seems like a perfect solution. She and I work together, and her friend helps us get set up and established and keeps us running with money, etc. We have similar training philosophies, an identical passion, and she even has knowledge of breeding and handling very young puppies.
Except that little bit I mentioned about her being 2+ hours away.
So close and yet so far. Why is everything in this region so freaking spread out?? I have one friend who lives within 15 minutes of me. Everyone else I know is much farther, often around 40 minutes away. If she were a little closer, we could make it work. But that is just too far. Especially since the dogs would have to stay somewhere with someone, so we can’t just set up shop in the middle. It’s just so frustrating to have everything I’d need, including the hardest to find part with the business side, to make my ultimate dream happen right there….and yet just too far away to do me any good.