Kal finished his Service Dog Training at three years old and is working regularly now. When he's not working, he spends his time chasing balls. This journal shares stores and information about his life and his search for The Ultimate Stick. (Scroll down to see past stories and posts.)
Kal has been home and working with me for two months now and he is doing great. He still wears his "In Training" stickers and a lot of people ask me how long he has to go before he is fully trained. It is my opinion that most of our first working year together will still involve training which we will need to get through before I consider him "fully trained." He is working and making a big difference in my life already, but there are still rough edges. Once in a while he still gets board and wants to be entertained during long waits and there are still a few commands we need to get figured out. We will spend the rest of the summer shaking down the training he already has, in the hopes that we can identify any holes that we need to fill. (For instance, we are discovering that we need a "back yourself under the table" command to help get him out of the isle in crowded restaurants.) And some of the commands we have planned on from the beginning need more work to be use-ready (For instance, we began the Go Get Help command, but have only had a few sessions with the trainer in perfecting that one.) By the end of the summer, we should have a good idea of exactly what still needs to be taught and improved upon, and we will send him to the trainer for some additional, intensive training. This also gives us the rest of the summer to do some more fundraising for this last part of his training.
In the mean time, Kal is working when I need him and playing when I don't, and it is wonderful to see how clearly he can switch between the two. Even at home when our other dogs are chasing balls and jumping in the pond, if I pull out his vest, he stays by my side. If I don't pull out his vest, he is the first one in the pond and the last one to tire of chasing the ball all over the ranch. And whenever I leave the ranch, he is right by my side, providing stability support for walking, help getting up and down, and an early warning system when my energy is going to crash.
Here are some pics of him from this summer - he has grown into such a handsome boy and a great partner.