I had forgotten what a beautiful thing it is to have a dog that you communicate with on a personal level. It takes years of working together to achieve such a bond. I haven’t had it since my dog Duncan passed in 2013. I noticed recently that I have reached this point with Shelby.
She watches me and is generally able to anticipate what I want from her. I have had Shelby for about 7 years now. She is 9 years old and has been a certified therapy dog for 5 1/2 of those years. I was without a therapy dog after Duncan’s passing so had to train Shelby with no one for her to learn the ropes from. She learned the basic behaviors quickly and passed the test with no problem. The trusting working bond is not something you can teach though. It is something that is built, something earned. This takes time and experiences.
It dawned on me recently that I now have this with Shelby. She is my go to dog whenever I need assistance on a job, or a reliable partner. Shelby has worked numerous public events with me including some with hundreds of people petting her. She has assisted me at county fair demonstrations. She has taught two (so far) therapy dog training classes with me at the vocational school. She has helped me test potential new therapy dog and handler teams for 5 years.
Shelby and I have put in many trips to visit at nursing facilities. She has earned the title TDIA (Therapy Dogs International Active) and is well on her way to the next title. She will “go visit” on command. She will hold a sit-stay will I put chairs away after a visit. We have done reading to kindergarteners, we have visited with college students to de-stress.
Shelby is a happy worker. She loves to work. In fact if I don’t give her a job, she will find one. Such as barking at extra cars through the window until they go away. Or stopping the cats from too much roughhousing. I can trust Shelby to do a job and do it well. I always watch her when we are working though. Unexpected situations do arise and I am her protector.
This level of relationship is rare. My hope for you is that you are able to experience it. It is a blessing and a gift.