About Happy Tails Service Dogs

Happy Tails Service Dogs Training is dedicated to the education and training of a person with a physical disability and a dog to become a working team. This in turn will lead to greater independence in their homes, neighborhoods and communities. Learned tasks are based on individual needs of the owner, thus enhancing their daily activities.

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Joyce Weber
(623) 580-0946
One West Sequoia Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85027

Warren & Mackenzie

    Thursday September 7, 2006 , was the first day of class for my wife Sandy, me, and our sheltie, Mackenzie. Along with two other teams, we were in the hearing service dog program of Happy Tails Service Dogs. Because this was a pilot program, we were all a little nervous and apprehensive. The program is designed to help you train your dog to become your service dog. The philosophy is: you have already bonded with your dog making the transition to become a service dog easier.

    We had to go back to the basics. This involved not only obedience work, but also breaking old habits that had been formed. In our case, it was not feeding Mackenzie any people food nor allowing her to eat the food that the granddaughters had dropped. The work was intense, and we worked very hard, both in class and at home in-between classes. After passing the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test, we started work on public access. When it came time for Mackenzie to take the public access test, I was more nervous than when my kids were born. Mackenzie of course just looked at me and said “no sweat” and passed with flying colors.

The next phase involved sound work where the dogs had to locate the sound, come and touch us, and then take us to the sound. In my case, Mackenzie had to alert me to the door bell, the alarm clock and the smoke alarm. MacKenzie did very well on the clock and the door, but we really had difficulty with the smoke alarm. She had to come to get me and take me to the door, not to the sound. I rigged up remotes for both the door bell and the smoke alarm so that I could be in different parts of the house for her to come and locate me. Once again when it came time for her qualification test, I was nervous and she was very cool. Needless to say she passed once again with flying colors.

Having taught high school shop for 30 I have lost the upper sound levels. Dealing with a hearing loss has been a difficult and frustrating process for both my wife and me. As my hearing loss became more profound, we had begun to deal with our ability to communicate negatively. We were reacting to the situation instead of becoming proactive in finding solutions. Our experience with this program, our instructors, and Happy Tails has provided both of us with new insights and tools that enhance our ability to deal with this life changing disability.

We can not express enough thanks not only to Happy Tails, but also to our teacher, Kristi and her volunteer Elly. They did a marvelous job teaching the class and making sure that we all did well. It should also be noted that part of Kristi’s training came from Nancy Reynolds who got training from the San Diego Hearing Dog program. To one and all our heartfelt thanks.

We were told at the beginning of the class in September that future classes for hearing service dogs depended on how well we did. We must have done okay as there are two new classes starting this fall.

 

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