The Wash

One of the hardest things to do as an owner trainer is washing a service candidate that just is not suitable for the work.  Unfortunately, sometimes it must be done regardless of one’s attachment and high hopes for the dog.

Mahler is one of those dogs.

He did start out with a lot of promise.  Happy, eager to work, social, all that good stuff you love to see in a puppy.  However, as he’s grown and his drives have grown, many issues have surfaced that just make him unsuitable for this sort of occupation.

I need a handler hard dog.  Mahler is extremely handler sensitive.  He takes physical corrections (collar pops) personally, and emotionally speaking, if I get anxious, he gets anxious as well and starts screaming.  A service dog cannot scream if their handler is having an anxiety attack.  Not only is it disruptive, but it makes the situation worse for the handler in terms of stress level, and can make medical personnel extremely hesitant or even render them unable to help the person in need.  If I have a meltdown, I must have a dog beside me that can remain calm and collected while I am attended to.

I need a dog that can think on his feet.  Mahler is unable AND unwilling to think independently.  Puzzles frustrate Mahler, and when he gets frustrated, he shrieks.  Yet again, not ok.  The work I am asking him to do does involve him needing to do a decent amount of independent thinking.  Finding pathways, understanding when it is appropriate to disobey my commands, and just “thinking on his feet” are all things he is unable to do.  He needs to be told what to do every step of the way, and if I’m having a day where I’m feeling particularly dizzy and am stumbling, I don’t always have the presence of mind to direct my dog where I really need him to go.

I need a dog that is ok being left when I take out another dog to work.  Yet again, Mahler screams.  And while we are working on correcting this to begin with (because it is absolutely OBNOXIOUS in general), he is very slow to understand that this behavior is unacceptable.  He goes from 0 to over threshold so quickly that he basically doesn’t even know he is screaming.

The aforementioned issues are the big three that have caused him to wash out as a possible candidate for me.  And those things do not mean that he is a bad dog.  He is a GREAT dog!  But he is a bad, bad dog for the kind of work I need.  Excellent for sport, but not service work.

If he had been slated to be a guide, he would have washed out far sooner than he has.  I gave him more time because the work I was going to be asking of him was different, but it was just not meant to be.

I took a (foolish) gamble and lost.  That happens sometimes.  But now there is nothing to do but hug my Butter Bean and see what lies ahead for us.

Flail on,
– Classical Spazz

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~ by ClassicalSpazz on January 28, 2013.

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