Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hardy's a great young man but he's not Laurel!

Probably like with children, I shouldn't compare Hardy to Laurel but I do (and to be honest, although I tried not to compare our son, Devin, to his older sister, Kristen, occasionally I did that too). If I'm going to do it, I should definitely compare Hardy to Laurel at the same age but I usually don't ... when I compare, I compare Hardy to Laurel now. Obviously, that's not fair since Hardy just turned 1 year old on Sunday and Laurel will be 5 at the beginning of June. Additionally, I was working much harder with Laurel at this age while I have had the luxury to focus on Hardy's socialization and basic living skills while enjoying his puppy-hood and adolescence. As my first attempt to raise and train a service dog, poor Laurel was subjected to unnecessary pressure caused by my stress-level because it was so important she make it as my public access service dog,especially once she showed her natural abilities to alert to my medical problems. 
Just as we found that raising children was much more difficult (as well as wonderful) than we had expected, we realized that was true for raising a puppy service dog candidate as well. Additionally, family members who had been completely supportive of the "service dog idea" weren't prepared for the intrusion and bother that being involved with our puppy/SDiT presented for them. Certainly with a puppy and through at least the first part of the service dog in training period, it is hard work without the benefits of having the dog do task(s) to mitigate your disability. I realize that I could not do that without the help of my husband and even with that, since I only have so much energy and physical ability in a given day, working with the puppy or young dog takes precedence over other things I might like to do. 
I certainly believe that my service dogs will be learning new things their entire lives (as I hope I will be too) but there is a point when going out in public together becomes much easier and the help the dog provides outweighs to effort involved. Because of our years training together, that is where Laurel and I are at; Hardy and I are not there yet. However, because Hardy has such a lovely, stable temperament, all the things that we don't have yet are those that I can train. And because of that temperament, being out in public is easier for him than it is for Laurel. However, she knows and understands what I am doing and what I need; things which Hardy doesn't yet get. Hence, I have decided that I will continue public access training and work on task training with Hardy - meaning that I will generally take him out with me (understanding that he cannot yet do what Laurel does). This means I'll be leaving Laurel home on those occasions but will ask her to help me there and when we are out doing dog-related things (classes, trials etc). Because my two Labs have gotten so good at taking turns, I am confident this will work nicely for all of us!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Y'all,

    Been busy here so we played "catch up". The video of Harvy performing is great...despite the sniffing. Some dogs are more "sniffy" than others. He'll really learn quickly now that he is maturing.

    It's normal to compare animals. Perhaps it is a type of informal benchmarking.

    Hawk aka BrownDog and his Momma