Although Don is trained as an ADL service dog, he does many things for me that he's not been trained to do. He's a sensitive dog and picks up people's feelings very easily. This can have a negative impact sometimes. When I'm stressed, he also gets stressed and working with him becomes impossible.
Having a sensitive dog can also be very helpful. Even before I realise I'm having a bad day, he can tell me I'm having a bad day. Often when I feel like he's stuck to me like a permanent shadow because he constantly wants cuddles, I'll be stuck on the couch an hour later with muscle pain or a headache. Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night with his head on my feet. It takes me two seconds to realise I was restless while trying to sleep and a few seconds more to feel the pain that I caused myself.
Don is not only psychic, he's also a great confidence builder. I notice this the most when I go to visit my sister and her husband at their farm.
I have visited a few times without Don, before he even came into my life. They were great visits, but I was very shy and found myself allowing my sister to do more for me than was really necessary.
The first visit with Don cost a lot of energy. It took time to find a routine that worked well in combination with farm life. Both my sister and I struggled to get up early enough for Don's morning toilet run. After a good conversation and some help from my sister's husband, we finally found our way.
Each visit since then has only got better. Don and I have been able to make our bond stronger. With his stubborn persistance, he's managed to show me that I'm capable of much more than I thought I was. In and around the house, he's shown me he can behave so that I can stay safe. This means I don't always have to ask for help when he needs a pee or exercise break. Of course my sister and her husband support me in everything I want to do with Don while I’m there. This in combination with Don's sixth sense, has helped me become a much more confident person. That is something I never expected to get from a service dog.
Photo by Codee