What is Puppity? It’s the sound of little paws thumping on the floor following you from room to room (At least, it is when you’re Deaf!).
In November, 2015, we welcomed Fruit Bat into our lives after H discovered her running scared in a dark parking lot. She was terrified, traumatized, and panicked after being dumped by her previous owners, but she still came when H called her and then she fell asleep in H’s lap on the way to have her checked for a microchip.
H came home that night and said “Honey, I think we have a dog. I’m calling her The Honorable Fruit Bat.”
It’s been an adventure ever since.
What we didn’t expect at the time was how intuitively Fruit Bat would respond whenever E began to have an anxiety attack. She was so consistent in her efforts that we realized we had the perfect potential service dog in training for E. We began shaping her natural behavior and teaching her the work and tasks she needed to learn.
Since H was already in the process of searching for a dog with potential to train for autism and hearing service, we decided to dedicate more time to the process and raise two service dogs together. Whether that was a good idea or a bad idea, it’s been working well for us.
H wanted to find a dog big enough for brace work with the intuition necessary to train in autism service and hopefully, later, hearing work. The result of the grand search was Ada Luna:
With the thought that there’s always tomorrow to look for a dog to do brace work, and optimism that improvements in health might make brace work less necessary, Ada Luna, the world’s tiniest werewolf joined our home and began her training in autism service work.
This blog will be about the highs and lows, challenges and recommendations, and life with service dogs. We’re happy to answer questions and hope to make this path easier on others who think training a service dog might be for them.
As a bonus in our lives, having two small dogs who need clothes to keep warm in California AC and free of sunburn in California sun led E to discover a previously unsuspected passion for making dog clothes and reawoke H’s dormant pattern drafting and garment making skills.
The result is Puppity Mamas, the shop, always clickable at the top of the screen. Dog clothes off the rack seldom sat comfortably on Fruit Bat and Ada Luna without frequent adjustments, so we dedicate ourselves to creating clothing that’s more comfortable to play in, roll around on the grass in, sleep in, and wear all day.
As time went on, a previously underestimated weakness in Ada’s eyes became more problematical, and she became fearful of people who startled H. She began growling them away before they could startle anyone.
Not ideal for service work!
In the hopes that this was a reaction that could be trained out, H persisted in training and confidence building exercises with Ada.
Ultimately, it became clear that H herself was too easily startled and stressed by her fellow humans to overcome Ada’s insecurities, and Ada was becoming too easily threatened by humans who caused H stress.
Fruit Bat took on the role of Ada Luna’s minder, calming her down whenever she became overwhelmed, but a service dog can hardly go to work with a service dog of its own, and Fruit Bat was working double duty.
It looked like Ada would be destined to the rest of her life as a beloved house pet until something surprising happened. She started doing work for E’s retired parents. The same natural talents that made her so suited to training as a young dog had kicked in again, and she was adapting to apply her instinct for sensing human stress to a new environment.
With the full knowledge that it would take some time and consistency to lower Ada’s defensiveness and with no expectations she would continue to work, E’s parents adopted her, providing her a less stressful dog environment while giving her enough human stress to work on to keep her happily working.
We’ll keep featuring her and her work here on our blog, of course.
While all of that was good news for Ada Luna, it was terrible news for H, whose health was at an all time poor. That’s never the best time to train a dog, but sometimes you don’t have much choice.
H was fortunate enough to find Elsa through a foster agency who knew Elsa to be an incredibly intelligent, laid back, curious, and calm velcro dog who took life as it came.
She can be more challenging at times, as she needs to be occupied every minute of every day (or she’ll find something to occupy herself with – not always good). It’s the down side of a highly intelligent dog.
The up side is that she loves to learn, and she learns quickly, both from her humans and from Fruit Bat and Ada Luna.
H and Elsa are making progress together toward being a fully functioning healthy and happy service team, and Elsa lives for chewy peanut butter treats and romps in the grass.