By Jim Burwell of Jim Burwell’s Petiquette Dog
Dog Training Saves Lives
Dog training in Houston Texas has been my profession for most of my business career – and absolutely the most rewarding. One of the highlights of my career happened when a client called with a very special need.
The Special Need
She called last summer about her daughter who has a seizure disorder. They wanted their daughter to know that when a seizure occurs, there would always be someone there to help in her time of need. They wanted a dog to be with her and perform special tasks. The most important of these tasks was to “alert”, make an emergency phone call then return to their daughter and lay down next to her until help arrives.
We Started by Choosing Their Dog
My client was pretty certain they wanted a Labrador retriever and wanted to know how to pick one. I said that they should look for a dog that was moderate in temperament and food treat motivated with a high ball drive. And, I also added, “It would be good if it could be a rescue dog.” They could save a rescue dog and this act of love and kindness would come full circle in the help the dog gives back to their daughter.
It seemed like I no sooner hung up the phone than they had their rescued Labrador pup – a female under 12 months of age. They named her Chloe. Our work began.
Phase One – Obedience Training
We began phase one of Chloe’s obedience. It went quickly as we uncovered the hidden talents of their new pup. This was followed by phase two – task training for their special needs.
Phase Two – Training the Most Important Task
For phase two I wrote out a lesson plan on Chloe’s dog training task for our weekly sessions. The training was all reward based using a clicker. First we taught Chloe to “Touch!” the phone. For Chloe this meant touching the phone button with her paw which immediately dialed the emergency hot line. A concern I had was that the button was small. To insure Chloe was successful at hitting the target easily every time, we stuck a rectangular piece of white Styrofoam to the smaller button just to be safe. It worked like a charm. They worked Chloe and the plan diligently and everyone made straight A’s on all their homework.
We followed that with “touch the phone on the night stand” and then we slowly increased the distance Chloe was required to go to touch the phone. Now Chloe can go to the phone from any location in the house. This all came together one day when I received an email stating that Chloe had actually alerted three times for actual seizure episodes. What else is in store for the wonder dog, Chloe?
Phase Three – Additional Tasks
We are about half way through our next task which is to have Chloe turn the daughter over if she were to fall face down during a seizure.
Our final task is to have Chloe lay down by the daughter and bark for help during a seizure outside the home.
To share in the extreme intelligence and devotion of this very special pup we invite you to view this video (authorized to show by my client.)