For those of you who are new around here, this is Everest. Everest is nine weeks old. He’s as sweet as can be, and is coming home to live with us next weekend. Everest will be our son’s service dog and new best friend! And my husband and I couldn’t be happier!
Some people have been asking me what the process has been like for us; how we came to the conclusion of even getting a service dog, finding the right organization, what the application process like, the waiting, etc. Well, you run luck, because that is today’s topic of conversation.
Here’s how it all began
About a year and a half ago, my husband and I went away for the weekend, just the two of us. My parents watched our son for us, and a few days leading up to Willy’s weekend visit, my mom informed me that they were expecting a four-legged visitor for the weekend as well; Emily. Emily is a long haired Doxen who had quite the little personality, and took to our son immediately! My mom told me that everywhere Willy went, Emily was right by his side. They even napped together on the couch, and Emily followed dutifully when Willy went to the potty.
My mom told me (in a hushed tone, because she was watching them from a distance), that she had never seen Willy so relaxed before! He was calm and completely at ease. Listening to my mom use those words was almost unheard of when it came to my son. He was never relaxed and never at ease.
That was it for me. I bawled. I completely lost it, because I knew right then and there, what we had to do. We need to get my son a dog.
… but where the heck do I begin?
So I started to research dog breeds on Google. I needed a breed that was good with children, loyal, and smart. The search was difficult. Very difficult. I finally broke down and asked my son’s doctor what he thought, because I felt like I was at a total loss. He LOVED the idea of a dog for our son, and he thought that a certain kind of companionship would be a great for him… but it had to be the right one. He give me the phone number of a local organization in New England called Canines for Disabled Kids.
I went home and looked at the website for quite a while, and then gave them a call. I spoke with a wonderful woman who was beyond helpful, and I told her all about our lives and current situation. I also mentioned that my husband and I have a slight dog allergy. I really hoped that that wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for us, and lo and behold… it wasn’t. She immediately recommended that I contact a woman named Jillian Gartner, who is the president of an organization called APAW (American Poodles At Work).
In my life, I’ve have limited experiences with poodles, but what I did know about them wasn’t exactly positive. I always thought of poodles as tiny, little, yippie dogs, with froufrou haircuts, hyperactive personalities, and really annoying habits.
BOY WAS I WRONG! And I admit that I’m wrong whole heartedly (just to put that out there)!
Poodles are smart (very smart), compassionate, loving, proud, and LOYAL dogs. Absolutely nothing like I had previously thought. I learned that the reason why poodles have the froufrou haircuts; its because they are water dogs! The puffy hair cut look keeps them botant! They originated in Germany, but the poodle is regarded as the national dog of France. And the reason why their hyperactive, is because they are ment for a greater purpose than just sitting and looking pretty. They want to work. They need a purpose!
I spoke with Jillian on the phone a few days later and told her about my interest in her program. I received an application in my mailbox almost two weeks later.
My husband and I sat down together at the kitchen after putting Willy to bed, and poured over our application. We answered every question as best as we could, and I slipped $25 check into the envelope for the application fee, and put it in the mail the very next day.
We waited for week and a half.
I called her just to make sure she got the application in the mail.
We waited some more.
By now it’s December 2014. I heard from Jillian. She told me that there was a possible litter about to be born in February. She wasn’t sure if it was a true pregnancy, because sometimes even dogs can have false pregnancies. With baited breath and crossed fingers, I waited for word about the litter. Around the time that the litter would’ve been born, I gave Jillian another call… wondering how it was going with the mother.
… yep. It was a false pregnancy. But Jillian kindly reassured me that there was another litter planned for the spring and to not give up hope. I’m not gonna lie. I was crushed. I didn’t give up hope though, and I reassured myself that it’s no fun house training a puppy in the middle of winter and that the next litter would be even more amazing than the false one.
Fast forward three months
The puppies are here! The puppies are here!! I could barely contain myself. I think I must’ve shared this picture with the world on Facebook. But still, I wondered if one of the puppies would be for us. I never give up hope and I tried to prepare my son for the possibility of having a puppy come home with us in the not so distant future. So we waited five weeks until the puppies were old enough to have visitors. One by one, Willy got to hold each puppy and try to see if he had a bond with one of them.
Willy bonded with the puppy in the red collar. His name was Escort. But if he was really going to be ours, he needed a name that truly meant something. A name that had power as well as love and honor. EVEREST!! And what a love he is!
We begin puppy classes three weeks ago, and getting to know the newest member of our family is such a wonderful feeling. Everest is sweet and kind. He’s calm and dainty, and would rather watch his brothers and sisters rough-house then join in on the fun. He is social and well mannered, and always checks in to say “hi.” But best of all, Willy really loves him.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about Jillian and the entire APAW community. I almost want to say that they saved our lives. My son needs a service dog, and Everest is going to be his guide. Willy will be his human. His best friend. And his heart. I feel like I owe so much more to Jillian and her organization then just gratitude. I feel like they are giving us a new opportunity to live our lives again.
To start fresh.
To look at things in a more positive and “can do” way again.
If you of someone you know is interested in a service or therapy dog, please visit this website. http://www.caninesfordisabledkids.org.