January 24, 2020
Here is a little summary of how our first days have been! Hard to believe it hasn't even been a week since I met him! Even harder to believe he is not even 11 weeks old.
Raven and I are doing well! We got home Saturday morning, spent saturday and sunday just bonding and relaxing, started training on Monday, and I returned to work on Tuesday. He has been doing so well. Clicker training and using his kibble as treats is going beautifully. He sleeps snuggling with me, and is on a hands free leash attached to me most of the time whenever I'm not out of the house for work. We wake up at 5am, and he gets about 2 hours of time with me, earning his breakfast with commands and confidence building activities as I go about my morning routine before I leave him for the day. Then, I get home around 4:30pm and start his training and quality time, he does everything with me until bedtime. My best friend / roommate works from home so he is home with the 2 dogs during the day while I am out. Raven is in and out of his crate through the day, getting practice with it, out to potty every couple of hours, and gets plenty of play sessions with our family dog Cali, who has been very accepting of him. He is so mellow the cats didn't hardly bat an eye at him. Very very different from when we brought Cali home at 14 weeks as an excited bouncy shepherd mix puppy. Raven has fit in seamlessly into our home from day 1.
How he is progressing:
Crate: He is doing well working on his crate skills - the whining after going in has lessened from 10 minutes to just a few, and then he is pretty quiet and settled, though we haven't left him crated more than 2 hours at a time at this point.
Potty Training: Also going very well - he gets a click and treat when he goes potty and I think he is starting to get the word association so we can work toward going on command. He has had an accident inside in days and he has slept through the night every night in bed with me without pottying (i woke him up the first two nights but he just wanted to sleep and not potty - slept solid through the night since then). During the day he goes out every 2 to 4 hours or so, usually going when we offer an opportunity.
Commands he is consistently following now, 90% or better (on and off leash, inside or outside): sit, come, lay down, stay (just a few seconds, and with me stationary or moving around near him - max distance 6 feet or so), stand, touch (nose-boop) using my hand as a nose target., watch me (eye contact) - he is so good at this, his duration and distraction-proofing is going very very well., sniff (anything I indicate by touching with pointer finger while saying "sniff!) - this is great for introducing and desensitizing to new gear.
Experiences and socialization: He has been on multiple car rides, public bathrooms, of course the whole airport and gas station and rental car return, etc. He even walked on the moving sidewalk at the airport. He has been acquainted with all of the appliances in the house and the noises and smells they make, had visitors come to the door and inside the house, been to the vet, to the pet store, and for a neighborhood walk so far. He has done remarkably well and so so calm for every outing - we got many compliments at the vet and pet store. He is an absolute joy to train and he is so perfectly content to be near me. He walks in a very nice heel already, and the long periods of hands free leash time have been great bonding. He is so good, not pulling towards people or animals (even excitable, reactive ones), and he just settles down near (or on!) my foot and takes a nap after I stop walking for a few minutes, and then happily follows me when I move again. He has already amazed guests last night with how well he listens to me and follows commands "I've never seen a dog that young do ANYTHING on command!!" (He was doing drills of sit, stay, come, leave it, touch, stand, etc.) to earn his dinner. The little boy hasn't needed a food bowl yet - his morning and evening meals are a game, and he earns every kibble over the course of a couple hours in off and on sessions of five minutes or so each. He would go longer, but I know his attention span is small and want it to be as fun as possible for him. He has even started to "touch" (nose boop) my leg and then offer a trick (or a whole handful of tricks in succession) to try and initiate a game - smart boy. Jess & Raven
October 14, 2019
To make a long story short, my pet dog was unsuitable for service work. My true match was a puppy bred for service work through a wonderful program called Heritage Service Dogs. I feel incredibly grateful for the journey that has brought me to this point in my independence and empowered me in my healthcare.
Besides, I find it much easier to ask for help from a cute, fluffy boy that is continually asking what he can do for me rather than request assistance from a fellow human. Wendy & Felix
November 29, 2017
Heritage is such an amazing program. It gave me an affordable way to be able to train my own service dog. The support from this group of people is outstanding and she is always there if I need help or I'm freaking out to help me sort through any situation. She is an amazing woman doing amazing things for people. I could not have asked for anything better. It's everything I wanted from a program. My dog is my everything and I'm so grateful for everything they've provided me with. Sarah & Jackson
From the day we brought our pup home we knew we made a good choice. He is intelligent, and instinctively alerts to blood sugar, injuries, and gets help when needed. His intelligence has made him a joy to train. He is also compassionate and sensitive to the feelings of people around him. He is great with other animals even ducklings. I could go on and on. Mike, Ramona & Gizmo
I owe Barb my life for providing me with my medical alert dog. Crispin is happy, healthy, and has saved my life more times than I can count. I recommend Heritage Service Dogs frequently because Barb has been easy to contact, and has helped us so much throughout the training process. Thank you, Heritage Service Dogs! Madison & Crispin
Update: October 15, 2019
Last night, at 1am, I woke up to Crispin barking and nudging my face. He wakes me up when I’m having cardiac issues in my sleep, so I engaged with Crispin to wake myself up a bit. My little dog scratched on the door to be let out, so I got up, and walked outside onto the deck. Crispin followed, stuck to me like Velcro. I remember feeling like my head was dunked in ice water, cold and tingly. My body went limp and I collapsed on the deck. I woke up to Crispin standing over me, pushing his nose into my face and pawing me in the chest. Once I realized what happened I pulled up to stand using a deck chair and made it inside. I collapsed again in the living room, and woke up to Crispin licking my face. Once I started petting him he laid on me for a couple minutes before letting me up. I was still very out of it, but managed to crawl to my bedroom and back into bed. Crispin curled up next to me and licked my hand until I fell asleep. Who knows how long I would have been unconscious in the cold if Crispin hadn’t been there to get me out of it. Madison & Crispin
June 9, 2017
This is a picture of a dog who does his job exceeding well. ? You can train a dog to sit. Stay. Roll over. Fetch. But to calmly go with the flow when a kid grabs it by the upper jaw with both hands and pulls it around? That's a whoooole lotta genetics. (And a whole lotta fast movin' mama.) I've never seen Crosby want to interact with a living creature SO badly. And we're working hard on teaching him *how* to always play with Obi nicely. I'm grateful Obi is so patient with our learning curve. (I see extra treats in his not very distant future...) Loel, Crosby & Obi
April 26, 2017
We stepped out on a limb and choose Gizmo before we met him. We drove all day and spent the night near by with family then on to Barb's house in the morning. We spent a brief visit with Barb and Gizmo then away we went. Gizmo was such an amazing traveler. We stopped at a pet shop and got him a personalized tag, while there he was a perfect gentleman, he ignored two different dogs and lay down by my feet each time I stopped to look at something and to pay. We harnessed him in a seatbelt/harness for the ride for his safety and he rode like he had been doing it his whole life, we made several stops on the 12 hour trek to the other corner of Oregon. The first week and a half he had a hard time in the kennel, but the rest of the time he was great. He finally figured out that the kennel is a pretty comfy place to sleep. He had a few accidents, but he was just a baby and had to learn the cues to give us when he needed out. He has only been with us for about 9 weeks and we are blown away every day by what he has learned and how calm he is. The training program is easy to follow and there is lots of advice and techniques to try if what you are doing isn't working. I have never taken a dog to formal training and am glad it was a requirement because it has been a great motivator and nice to have the hands on assistance in training. We like it so much that we have signed him up and paid for 3 more 6 week sessions. This little guy's calm teachable nature is priceless and we would do it all over again. Ramona, Mike & Gizmo
April 25, 2017
First I have to say, we still sleep like this! He's my cuddle bug!
A little about me… I am not deaf, I am hearing impaired. I lost about 70% of my hearing five years ago. I cannot hear certain frequencies. I cannot hear fire alarms at all, I have to be standing next to the sink to hear the water running, I have to be standing next to the stove or microwave to hear the timer. If I am 3 feet away I cannot hear them at all. I can hear people talking depending on their tone I can understand them. Some people I have to read their lips in order to make sense of what they're saying. On the phone I use the speaker to amplify the sound along with my hearing aids and sometimes I still have difficulty understanding and have to ask people to repeat multiple times in order to understand.
Barb's program and dogs are amazing! I had Rusty for about five or six months when he first alerted me to the fact that I was about to burn down the house. I was not expecting him to alert me because we had not worked on this yet. He kept barking at me and I kept telling him to be quiet and settle. He would for about 30 seconds and then he would start again and then I repeated myself. 30 seconds later he's barking again only this time barking like you were going to listen to me! I should have known to listen to him the first time because this was unusual behavior for him. I got up to see what was wrong with him and the smell hit me in the face. I had put a tea kettle on to heat up water and forgot. And if it wasn't for him the kitchen would have caught fire.
Some things he alerts me to are....when someone comes up to my desk and I don't see them he gets up and stands next to my chair (he's always under my desk so him standing up next to me works for us), lets me know when someone is at the door (does the same thing if the cat is at the back door and wants in ??), if my alarm is going off and Dan doesn't wake me up first he'll wake me up.
One of the things I need to work on and he will pick up quick, is the fire alarm at work. We are in a new building and i guess it's a different sound. Obviously they can't keep setting it off for training, so we are planning to record the sound so I can play it in my office and show him what to do. I have to coordinate this with the facilities manager so I can be ready to hit record when someone tells me it is going off. Then I can play it on my phone and show him what to do.
I can't say enough about Barb, she is wonderful and will be there with you every step of the way. Also the support that you will receive here is unlike any you'll get anywhere else. It's been fun watching this last bunch go out and everyone posting what the pups are doing....the good and bad because I went through it too, so I sit back reliving Rusty's younger days and offer advice where I can knowing that one day before you know it you're like 'wow!'
Barb shipped him to Nashville, TN, so he had a long flight with a layover in Atlanta. While I signed paperwork my mom took him out to go potty. We were expecting a 'dirty' dog since he was crated for so long and I was prepared. Then shocked that he didn't go in the crate.
On the way home we stopped at a BBQ restaurant for lunch. As we were walking in, it was like he was afraid to come through the door. I had read in Barb's paperwork that when this happens, just keep on walking and don't stop to say it's okay come cause then it confirms there's a reason to be scared. So I kept going and then so did he. Keep in mind I'm so nervous I'm just as new as he is.
We get seated and Rusty goes under the table and starts to chew on the corner of my seat. I put my hand over it and said 'NO!' So he stopped but then started chewing on the table post. I put my foot over it and again said 'NO!' all while thinking what did I get myself into? I thought back to what I had read, grabbed a treat out of my purse. I positioned Rusty under me and got him to lay down. He got his treat. He stayed put the remaining time! Not once did he look up at the waitress. Me and mom kept looking under the table like 'Wow!' He amazed us the rest of the time we were there. Here is a pic from that day.
Rusty and I have traveled a lot in airports. He only barked at one dog in the very beginning, not anymore. The TSA dog saw him coming and started barking like crazy at him and the agent was having a hard time holding him back. Rusty just looked at him and then to me like 'what has he been sniffing?' Rusty never made a sound. I've had other dogs barking at him, but he keeps his focus. He only barks at other dogs when he is not wearing his vest, even then it's rare. Amy & Rusty
October 15, 2015
Molly has been working with this young man for about a year and a half. She assists him with his anxiety disorder.
Letter from Mom,
From my view, Molly has helped him enter into the public, to go places that he could not go alone and stay in public longer than he could before. It was hard for me to believe that a dog would help with his anxiety at first. I could not wrap my brain around it. I felt that it would bring attention to him rather than away. But now I get it. One of the counselors explained to me that people focus on the dog and not Vance and that how it can help. Molly gives him that barrier, that safety. If he gets upset, Molly will push on him and be a little pain in the butt. Get him to refocus or get out of the situation. When he gets in a situation that is uncomfortable and needs to get out, Molly is his out. I have seen him grow tremendously as a functioning adult since Molly. Not only does she help shield him from people, she also forces him to be social. People ask about her and want to touch her and it forces a conversation. He has to talk to others but it is safe because it is a surface discussion and it is short. He does not bring her to class very often anymore but he does bring her everywhere else. He has mama dog at home for comfort and molly when we go out. They have both been a vital part of his growth. Andrea, Vance & Molly
June 18, 2015
I got Cookie when she was 10 weeks old, with no intentions of training her to be a service dog. But when she was 13 weeks old, I had a seizure, and just before the seizure, she started jumping all over me. To make a long story short, Mrs. Pierce found out about it and told me I really needed to think about training Cookie as a medical alert service dog. A few months later, she got me started with the online service dog training program.
It isn't hard to train your own service dog. Basically, all you need to have 4 things: a dog, motivation (for you and the dog), knowledge, and a consistent practice time. The Heritage Service Dogs SIT (Service dog In Training) program provides you with the knowledge of not only what to teach your dog, but how to teach it. The online lessons are clear and easy to understand. Mrs. Pierce is always willing to help you troubleshoot should you run into some sort of problem along the way, whether it is a broken link or a disobedient pup.
We faced a lot of inconvenient and/or awkward situations in our first year of training. Everything from my family being pretty sure I was never going to end up with a trained service dog, to a hilarious encounter with an adamant shopper in the Costco produce fridge! It took a lot of hard work and effort before Cookie became reliable wherever I took her. However, all that time and hard work was worth it. I can trust Cookie to behave well in stores, airports, on busses, airplanes, in cars, and pretty much anywhere I take her. She's still a fun, crazy, high-energy dog when she's “free”. And the neatest thing of all- as we've worked together and become a better team, I can trust her to alert me 3 hours, 2, hours, and 10 minutes ahead of a seizure. It's pretty cool. I'm not going to say anyone else's service dog is going to be just like mine (especially not at first). But because you trained your own dog, you and your dog will develop a deep bond and learn to work together as a great team. Araya & Cookie
July 31, 2014
Barb, I love you with all of my heart. YOU ARE RIGHT. Indi, has changed my entire life. I am now up and living a life instead of watching fake life on the TV
I thank Heritage Service Dogs and your Staff, every single day for the unselfish, work that you do to save a person like me from just fading away. I truly do.
Having Indi, brings us joy and smiles every where we go. Strangers that would have ignored me, come and say, I know I am not suppose to touch, but I so miss my dog, or I want a Standard Poodle so bad. I tell them of course they can touch, let him smell their hand and than hand him the treat I am going to give you. Hold it in your hand and than say "take it". They are delighted and if I am in a hurry, I have my I need to go "hat on" I am rarely stopped, but when I am looking or browsing where ever, Indi, is a crowd magnet. John, is John he gets what he needs and says say good bye to Jeanne Lee. She is going home now. I do not know how many people have petted Indi on the head and said Good bye, Jeanne Lee. I laugh so hard inside. Indi, is good for John's and my insides and outside. Jeanne Lee & Indi
January 8, 2013
Frosty was placed with his family for socialization and training as a service dog. Mom has 2 boys, one in first grade and the other a three years old, diagnosed with autism. Frosty was 8 weeks old. Initially we had planned on making the placement the following week. This is their story.
“I am truly amazed how fast he (Frosty) is learning. He has even learned how close he can lay or sit by Colton for Colton to be okay with him. Frosty is sitting, staying, coming on command. I have had him in several public places and he does great. He even slept through the first night on Cody’s bed and the rest with me on my bed, since Cody is at his dads at nights this week. The best thing was Monday coming home from town and Colton was eating his dinner while I was driving and started to choke without even making a sound and I would have never known and been able to save him except for Frosty started barking and directing my attention to Colton. This is the only time he has barked, I showered him with good job. We are extremely happy and Frosty has even gotten Colton to like bath time without a screaming match. I can not thank you enough for this little guy, soon to be a big guy. They are amazing and I thank God that I got him last Sunday because Colton would have possibly choked to death with out Frosty letting me know. He is my hero already.”
Pretty amazing at 8 weeks old. It gives me chills. We had not planned on placing him for at least another week. God is so good!
Update: January 31, 2014
Frosty has continued to amaze us over the last year. He is such a good example of the instinctive abilities of these dogs.
He repeatedly has redirected Colton away from the street, and alerts if he tries to leave the yard. He moves to the outside, closest to traffic when they are walking down the sidewalk. If people crowd too close to Colton, he circles around him to make room. When Colton runs off, he runs ahead and cuts him off. Frosty licks Colton's face when he has a meltdown. He also does medical alert.
Colton's vocabulary started increasing almost immediately. At first it was mostly to yell at Frosty when he wouldn't let him go where he wanted to. Both boys continue to progress by leaps and bounds. Tamara, Colton & Frosty
February 3, 2013
What a blessing Puppy Julie is to our family. She is just what Hannah needs both for emotional support and a reason to exercise in the fresh air. Julie is even sturdy enough for my nine year old rough and tumble boy. Rat terrier chihuahua mix has also made friends with pup.
Dan said that the pup was no trouble on the airlines. People were thrilled to sit next to a service dog in training. Pup disdained to use a piddle pad though, and waited until the entire flight was over and she could use grass.
Thank you so much for our new four-legged friend. Julie has passed all our expectations. Even Dan was surprised at how smart she is. Good genetics makes a big difference.
God bless you in your service dog adventures. Cynthia, Hannah & Julie
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