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Karma, service dog in training

by Viki Gentilman
(Sarasota, Florida)

Karma and Billy's selfie

Karma and Billy's selfie

Karma and Billy's selfie
our family

Karma is now one year old. We chose her birthday as July 4th because two Vets estimated her age and July 4th was smack in the middle of the two estimates.

Since, fingers and paws crossed, when she finishes training she will be Hubby's new partner. He lost sweet Hannah, his first partner, in January of 2014.

Karma is a Ridgeollie, as far as we can tell. She looks like a Ridgeback except her ears...so much so that people that own or have owned a Ridgeback stop and tells us about theirs! Her ears are more Collie shaped, sometimes one or both will stand up, sometimes with the tips flipped over and sometimes straight up like antennas. But usually they kind of flop to the side. I love watching her ever changing ears!

Karma also talks like a Collie...she whistles, whines, chatters and barks. The hardest part of training has been teaching her not to bark in public! She is still working on that but for the most part does well. It is something very strange that gets a bark now --such as the man that suddenly began doing somersaults then cartwheels and handstand walking down the isle in Target one day. I can't say I blamed her since he could have hurt himself or someone else. But this is a city built by the Ringling brothers so strange is fairly normal here. Ha!

Karma is totally task trained and helps hubby do so many things. She helps get shoes, socks and clothing off at the end of the day when energy levels are drained. She does directed retrieval, where he asks for an item. She knows the name of about 40 things or he can also point or direct her with the command forward, back, behind, left, or right. Karma also has a fantastic automatic retrieval. If hubby drops something, he rarely has to even ask her to get the item. Usually it is in her mouth already. We make sure she is not near him when he takes his medication.

The problem with the auto retrieve is when someone else drops something. She has that Collie "I can do that for you" attitude! This can be a distraction in public places so we are working to get her to the point of only working for myself, as trainer, and hubby. She is beginning to understand. She is still a puppy but is maturing.

Hubby works more and more with her in public. I am stepping back from my training mode. It is bittersweet. I miss working with her and yet watching the team they are becoming is SO wonderful! I pray each day that this will be a long and exciting partnership. One thing that is great about stepping down the training is that I have my wonderful partner, Mildred, back almost full time...just the two of us working together again is awesome!

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