Shortly after the GBM discovery last year, I was really interested in finding a support dog. If you’re a friend, you know how much I love dogs, so it didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted a support dog to help me out. It’s hard to find a seizure detection dog, but that was the kind that I was interested in because you know, it sucks when you have a seizure and you’re not prepared. I was also interested in one that was considered an emotional support animal. Until recently I was stuck in the house because I was unable to drive. You kinda go a little crazy with cabin fever.
So we started looking around at places that raised and trained support dogs. Alex put in calls and talked to folks, but received responses of a sort she wasn’t expecting. In the best cases, she was met with sympathetic people that tried to find a nice way of saying that they wouldn’t provide a dog to a person with a terminal condition. They’d throw in that there was a long waiting list (usually 1-5 years) , so hey, by the time my application would get reviewed, I’d be past this life and hanging with my much-loved family dog, Nickel. Then there were the places that just seemed irritated that we’d even request a support animal given that I was supposed to die soon. It seemed like they felt it was a selfish request. Seemed like they were saying, “Man, you’re as good as dead, so get the f$~* out of line so we can help someone that’s gonna be around a little longer.”
Given the unlikeliness that we would be able to get a trained support dog, we looked into what it would take to begin training one of our own. I ordered training videos, did a ton of research, and we located a great breeder of goldendoodle dogs in Ocala. Once the litter of pups was of age, we picked up our dog, but unfortunately we were the last in line for that litter. We named our dog P-nut. Be prepared for a cute attack.
There were two issues we experienced with our plan. 1] You know a pup is going to have a lot of energy, but P-nut seemed like he had an entire litter full of energy in him. During his training course at Petsmart for some of the basics, the teacher was surprised by the energy of this little ball of fur. Our other dogs kept getting super upset with him. 2] Over the time we were training him, I realized that my health was preventing me from putting in what I needed to. We ended up calling the breeder we got him from, and he was able to get him into a big family that lives on the beach. So he’s running crazy on some beach in Florida now.
We changed our expectations. We couldn’t get a pre-trained support dog, and we couldn’t train one ourselves. We started focusing on looking for a dog that would be more of an unofficial emotional support animal. Months after the failed teamup with P-nut, we decided to begin fostering so we could see determine if the new dog would get along with our other two pups and would be chill and friendly. We began fostering a dog named Rainy from Alachua Animal Services.
While we were fostering Rainy, we enjoyed how sweet she was. She was always just flopping on my feet or climbing up the dog stairs to our bed and flopping near me like she was a small dog. We were about to adopt her, but the day before we did, she snapped over bed turf and viciously attacked Wicket. She grabbed him by the throat and began thrashing. Alex and I were able to pry Rainy off Wicket, but it wasn’t easy. While he was a little bloody, Wicket’s cuts were not serious. We were so scared that night because for a short time we thought we were about to lose one of our best friends. We took Rainy back to animal services and provided good imagery of her along with an updated description detailing that, though she’s as sweet as peaches, she’d have to go to a house without other animals. It took months, but animal services let us know that an older couple finally adopted her.
Due to the scare, it took us a few more months until we felt comfortable fostering another dog. Before fostering again Alex put forth another wave of inquiries to support dog breeders and trainers to see if our chances would be better. They were not, and she heard the same lines as last year. Our next foster dog was a hound mix named Conga who we fostered from the Alachua Humane Society.
Conga was a people person who wanted to make sure she was doing the right thing. Over the time we were fostering her, whenever we’d say “un-uh” if she’d done something wrong, she’d instantly submit and roll over on her back. We’d always tell her not to worry so much. Like P-nut, though, she was a dog full of energy that she couldn’t release within my docile lifestyle. We knew she’d be happier in a more active family. I’m looking forward to hearing about her getting adopted. She’ll be adopted easily because she’s so obviously a cute and friendly dog.
We then went back to animal services to see if they had any smaller, calmer dogs that we could foster. There were three that had just come in that we were interested in fostering, but we had to wait for them to get their heartworm tests back before we could take one home. We got the call that a small mutt had gotten a clean heartworm test result and was ready to be picked up. I rushed on over and picked him up. I’ll let you know what happens in the next post.