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A service dog drop-out

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Travel Buddy by Julia Hart

My Buddy has been doing his best to find ways to become a service dog. But, I am afraid my little Yorkie pal is never ever going to make the cut.

He and I have been reading a lot lately about people trying to claim their untrained and extremely unsuited animals as service dogs. Some of those untrained and uncertified dogs have ended up being put down by animal control because of overly aggressive behavior.

Unlike the dogs described as real service dogs, Buddy is a pet. The United States Department of Justice, which monitors such things, makes it very clear that service dogs are not pets.

A real service dog doesn’t bark and charge at people and doesn’t spook easily.

Buddy fails on both counts. He barks too much and he spooks at practically every sound. Riding in the car with me on some errand, he will growl for no reason at people in the other cars also stopped at the light. Not good behavior for a service animal. It’s okay to growl at dangerous situations maybe, but not just because.

I can’t in good conscious take him to the movies or into a restaurant, even though he would like to go.

I doubt I can make anyone believe that because of his celebrity status, he should be allowed special considerations.

Buddy and I have seriously looked into the service dog training, but I think we just started too late in his career. From what I have read on the subject, in order for Buddy to have become a service dog we would have needed to start his training when he was still a puppy.

Now he is just a naughty teenager. Plus, as a service dog, he would have needed to demonstrate two main attributes – a talent for a service and the ability to behave in public.

Sadly, I am not a very good teacher and he is a difficult student.

Nonetheless, Buddy is alert and really smart, but he just won’t listen. He isn’t even a very good lap doggie, unless you wear him out chasing his stuffed squirrel for half an hour. He does like his treats, too, but he won’t share.

I had originally thought he would slip right into the role of a therapy dog, helping to lower my blood pressure. Most days, as soon as he knows I’m awake, it is full speed ahead until nap time.

On the plus side, once you put him to bed, he will sleep all night. That’s something, I suppose.

If I wanted to cheat I could just go on-line and buy Buddy a cute little red ‘Service Dog’ vest and get him a tag and pay $50 for a piece of paper certifying him as a service dog.

But Buddy would give us both away the first time someone wanted to talk to me and not him. I can hear his barking objections now.

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