I’ve written several posts about service dogs—most of them have been Labradors or Golden Retrievers because they seem to have the necessary temperament.
I had an email from Carol from Berthoud, Colorado telling her experiences with Ian, a standard Poodle that has served her as a service dog. Carol has a progressive debilitating disease that has rendered her disabled.
"I adopted Ian from a Poodle rescue when he was a year and a half old. He had grown up in a motel room with six other dogs and knew nothing about the outside world. I lived in the country at the time and he had to get used to tall grass, wind, and all the experiences he had never had. He learned quickly and wanted to please me.
He was sweet and loving but also protective. Twice he gave forth with growls that told questionable people to stay away. He sat by my side during that time and didn't move.
As time went on I had trouble walking and bending to pick things up. With the help of a friend who trained and showed her Golden Retrievers I learned how to teach Ian to pick up things for me from a table or the floor. He loved helping me.
I used the kind of harness used for guide dogs so that he could help me with balance. I lived in Michigan at the time and had a flight of stairs to climb.
Ian has been a wonderful companion who also does very well in restaurants and public places. Since he doesn’t shed, there is no concern with hair flying everywhere.”
Carol had trained dogs in the past but she did need the help of a professional trainer to teach the dog skills needed by the disabled, such as picking up items.
Carol does acknowledge that the personality of the dog should be accessed because standard Poodles are an energetic breed needing a lot of exercise. Sometimes the routine duties of a service dog do not challenge them physically or mentally. Some Poodles are so social they would rather work the room, somewhat like a politician or the homecoming queen.
Thanks, Carol, for sharing your experiences with a Poodle service dog.