As most know, Charlie is Steve's Giant Schnoodle Service Dog that was given to him from K9's For Warriors back in April 2013. Prior to meeting up with Charlie, "K9's trainers spend months training each dog prior to matching the dog with a warrior. This training includes behavior modification, general obedience and manners, plus service dog and public access skills." Once Charlie and Steve met up, they "began a three week stay in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Our Warriors come here, meet, & train with their new dog. K9s For Warriors focuses on the recovery of the warrior. We offer monthly classes and can accommodate up to 5 Warriors a month. We believe that by including the warrior in the training and giving them the training tools necessary the warrior is also becoming part of their own recovery. We are seeing amazing results." At the end of the three week training, the Service Teams take the ADI Public Access Test (ADI PA Test). The purpose of this test is to ensure that the dogs that have public access are stable, well-behaved, and unobtrusive to the public. This test is not what makes them service dogs! What makes them service dogs is their specialized training for the person's disability. The PA Test just shows that they have advanced obedience and will not be a "disturbance" to public areas. As we are finding out along this journey, it's one that is vital to making PTSD/Mental Health Service Dogs a legitimate service team. In theory, once the Team takes the ADI Public Access Test and passes, they really don't need to take it again. In reality, that's not the case. If we don't use certain commands everyday because they are not really needed for our disability then they are forgotten, right? However, what if there is that one time that you really need your dog to do Fill In The Blank command? Taking the test yearly just shows that your dog is up to speed on his/her obedience and if there is room for improvement, you know where to start! It's not to prove your team is failing or you are somehow wrong. It's about the health and welfare of a good team working together and communicating in a fashion that shows non-serve dog users this is what a properly train service dog look and works like. What SD team wouldn't want that? Well, you'd be surprised by how much drama the fake service dog teams are making over this; hence how hard it is to not only take PTSD/Mental Heath Service Dog Teams seriously but in my case, Self Training a PTSD/Mental Heath Service Dog!
So, Steve and Charlie had their one year re-evaluation. As much as we really wanted to be able to send them back down for a day or two for see the K9's Team, we just couldn't afford it, so I made a video of Steve and Charlie working the various test requirements with the help of my Trainer, Ron Murray from Montana Murray Kennels who called the commands needed. We did this at Town and Country Foods, our local grocery store and deli, and only having to explain once to an elderly lady that Ron really was not trying to scare or hurt Steve and Charlie when he walking up behind them and dropping a tray (startle Charlie) she really DIDN'T need to call for help. (grin) So with permission from Shari Duval and K9's For Warrior's I am proud to show of my AMAZING husband and his DIVINE dog, Charlie, taking the ADI Public Access Test.
And yes, I had a little fun editing it and music and things. I had to!