My Experience

My First Week With My Service Dog

It’s been a little over a week since I brought my service dog, Crush, home from the facility that gifted him to me. As I’m writing this, Crush is trying to insist I play tug with him. It’s cute but not very productive. Having Crush home has been like no other experience I’ve ever had. Unlike our family dog, Crush is well trained and responds to most of the commands he’s given. He’s focused and attentive. We’ve been on several outings. Here’s an overview of our first week together.

  • Our First Outings

Crush and I went out together before the scheduled time. Due to some driving inconveniences, he went out after only three days of being home. We went to the doctor and I’ve found that people are either kind or trying to avoid us. Either way works for me, as long as no one touches him. Crush passed his ADI (Assistant Dog’s International) Public Access Test that same day. We went to a local mall and his trainer filmed us interacting in various situations. Crush is intuitive and very attentive. During a Target outing later in the week, he demonstrated great spacial awareness. Everything has been going well so far, the only hiccups were my own fault. I tend to make him anxious when I don’t trust him and he’s more prone to move around and wiggle in those situations. He knows I want something from him but he doesn’t know what to do. It would make me anxious too.

  • Training Sessions

Training sessions are going well. Crush’s tasks are all well established. A few need minor adjustments but training is more for me. Crush is going to turn four in April, he’s been training most of his life. I have not. I’ve never trained a dog and often I get flustered when I can’t get him to do what I need. This often leads to mixed signals and both of us feel a bit defeated. We’re working on our relationship together and getting to know the others needs. This week Crush alerted to an allergy attack I was having. Crush knows to alert when I start to itch, as a behavior intervention. This often allows me to get or use rescue medications. Unfortunately, I still had to go in for the attack but Crush was right by my side. He laid on the bed while my steroids were being given and slept on my lap. He was completely unbothered by everyone coming in and out. One person even pet him but he didn’t get distracted. It’s amazing to see him work.

  • Bonding

Bonding is going better than expected. It does help that I have kibble near to reward him for good behavior. It seems we have taken to each other. Crush has decided that he would like to be a lap dog. That’s fine but he’s seventy pounds. I sleep in a twin bed and despite my best efforts, I let him sleep with me. He seems to be much more comfortable being near me and on a nice bed instead of his crate. Crush likes to be very close when sleeping. If he’s laying down, he either has his head, paw, or entire body very close to me. I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s a protective behavior but I’m not sure. There are moments where I struggle to know whether he likes me or the treats. It reassures me that he comes back time and time again even when I don’t have anything to give him. I would say for the first week home, bonding is going well. 

Crush is an amazing dog. He’s intelligent, kind, loving, and dutiful. On outings he’s more than confident about what he needs to be doing. He checks in every minute or two to ensure we’re both doing okay. When shopping, he knows how to adjust in tight spaces and interact when people coo or whistle. He walks right on by without skipping a beat. Our bond is growing every day. I’m so proud of him and I’m so excited to work with him everyday. 

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