Meet Frodo, Mordecai’s future service dog.
Frodo is an eight week old labradoodle puppy who we will be training ourselves.
Why a service dog?
Chuck and I have been discussing the idea of getting Mordecai a service dog for a year or two (ever since I found an organization that trains service dogs specifically for people with FASD). The dog will do a few things. He will provide what is called “social lubrication” to ease Mordecai into new situations with new people. These are being used more and more for kids with autism. While Mordecai does not have a diagnosis of autism, he has many of the same characteristics (lack of eye contact, lack of social skills, social emotional deficits, etc).
We will also be training the dog to approach and nudge or lick Mordecai when he begins to get upset. Mordecai often tries to retreat to his room or bed with one of our cats when he is upset, but the cats aren’t always interested in cuddling with him…and a dog can be trained to do that.
Frodo will also be trained to stay with Mordecai. He does wander or run off if he is upset. Frodo will be trained to stay by his side and keep an eye on him.
Why train your own service dog?
An already trained service dog for FASD costs about $14,000. This generally requires a whole lot of fundraising (unless a person has $14,000 to spare). There is a two-year waiting list and it requires a trip to Ohio for a week of training. That is a lot to take on.
This spring a friend who raises labradoodles contacted me saying she had a litter of puppies on the way. If we were willing to commit to training him as a service dog, she would gift us a puppy.
Chuck and I talked and I spent hours researching service dogs, training and requirements.
I have known several people who raise puppies as future service dogs, so the idea is not entirely new to me.
What if he doesn’t pass the test?
What happens if Frodo isn’t smart or well-behaved enough to become a service dog? As my friend said, worst case scenario we end up with a really well-trained pet. And even that will be a help to Mordecai.
Now here is where I need your help.
If you know us in real life, know that Frodo is a service-dog-in-training. He will be out and about with us a lot and we will always been working on training him. Please respect what we are doing with him. Feel free to approach us and ask questions, just remember his training is of absolute importance.
Last night was Frodo’s first night home and his first night away from his mom and litter mates. We are planning to crate train him (standard procedure for service dogs). Last night he cried/barked/yipped for two hours straight. He finally quieted down for about 15 minutes. When he started up again, I took him outside to go potty (he is not house trained yet) then slept on the couch while he lay on the floor beside the couch. He settled in quickly this way. He awoke every couple of hour and I took him outside to go potty.
I have read everything I can find on crate training. I am looking for encouragement and personal stories about crate training puppies. I am already chronically sleep-deprived from Apollo. Any suggestions, help, encourage you can give me will be appreciated!
What is your experience with puppies?