Young Women and Service Dogs

I am only 18 years old and being out in the world with a disability is a very stressful and scary thing. One of the top things the trainers at the program were looking for in my dog was to make sure the dog would be able and willing to protect me. There are a lot of creeps out in the world and I can’t imagine what they would do if I was having a seizure. During Keen’s training, he had a little bit of an aggression issue, but the trainer didn’t train all of it out of him because she wanted him to be a bit protective.

He has progressed a lot since then, and he tends to watch people now and if a person looks, smells, or sounds sketchy, he will give a warning growl for them to back off. Sometimes his reaction is a bit uncalled for like he will growl at someone that is kind of hunched over their cart and staring at him. When that happens, I tell him to “leave it” and “watch me.” The watch me command is him giving me eye contact. When he does that, it breaks his focus on that person and we move on. 

When the person really is a bit sketchy, I don’t correct his growling. He doesn’t growl in an aggressive way like showing his teeth and snapping. He just gives a low rumble and makes eye contact with the person he is directing it towards. The person usually gets the signal and move along or stop looking at me or Keen. I remember the trainer telling me that if I ran into a situation where I was in danger from another person, all I would have to do is let go of Keen.

Before I had him, I would be out in town and be watching everybody and wary of people’s glances. Once I got Keen, all of that went away because I knew he had my back and he would let me know if something was happening behind me. I don’t live a very dangerous town, but there are always those few people.

I guess the point of this post is to tell young women, or really all women, that it would be a good idea to get a large dog with a bit of a protective nature. Always talk with a trainer about what dog would work best for you, but it would be wise to think about their ability to protect you if need be. Especially if your disability includes passing out, seizures, or any form of unawareness. It will put your mind at ease to know that your dog has the ability to keep you safe in all aspects.

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