Yeah!! My 1st Service Dog Team just certified!!

sheepco(MN z4)August 26, 2006

I'm so proud of them!!

I've been a field trainer for Hearing and Service Dogs of MN for several years and have trained 4 Hearing Dog teams but this is my 1st Service Dog team. Not that I did much, the wonderful staff and volunteers at HSDM trained 'Merlin' very well, and he was placed with Neil just 3 weeks ago. (Neil has Cerebral Palsy) The 3 of us put in alot of hours in these 3 short weeks and today it paid off when they passed both their public access and home skills portions of their certification test with flying colors!

'Merlin' can open drawers, shut doors, push handicap door buttons, retrieve anything Neil wants or drops (including a dime off the floor)and go get help if Neil asks. He can sit or down and stay while a stranger steps over him or under a restuarant table while you drop french fries on the floor. And after all that and more, 'Merlin' gives Neil more independence, more sense of security and of course, unconditional love.

Look out world, my guys are goin' places now!!!!

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Congratulations to all of you! That is SO great! Merlin is so precious and smart! Neil has a wonderful life ahead of him with his new buddy!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 7:05PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Thank-you Socks, I'm still just SO thrilled they did this!

Neil was on a waiting list for 4 years with another organization, but was 'matched' with a dog within a month after applying to HSDM, so he is over the moon! And 'Merlin' was rescued from a pound as a 10 month old incorrigable pup. Neil works for a Walmart, in the returns department, and 'Merlin' will go to work with him every day. Neil also rides horses once a week for therapy, 'Merlin' hasn't met the horses yet, that's NEXT week!

I'm glad HSDM calls me when they have clients out here in the boonies so I can help. This high may get me thru the first big freeze!

:) :) :) :) :) :) !!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Hearing & Service Dogs of MN

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 9:31PM
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zinniachick(southwest Ohio)

Oh, what a great job! Congratulations! I'm real proud of you, too.

That part about the french fries brought tears to my eyes. Such a good dog. Such great training.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 9:51PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

LOOK at those big smiles! I'll bet you are grinning from ear to ear too. You certainly made my day!

Thank you for caring so much, for spending your time and efforts to help get this team together. You have just made a world of difference to them both, you are an angel.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 10:14PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Now that is really something to smile about. So many solutions in one small (or medium) sized package. I'll ditto all the remarks above with great joy. Sandy

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 2:10AM
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Oh, Sarah, that is wonderful!! The look on Neil's face has me crying like a baby.

Bless you (as well as Merlin and all of the service dogs)! I'm so proud to know you. :)))))))


    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 2:11PM
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maryo_nh(z5 SouthernNH)

Oh, Sarah, what a wonderful thing to do! You're such a treasure.
Like what Brenda says! Bless you bless you. And Neil and Merlin.

:) Mary

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 7:26PM
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semper_fi(Z7 GA)


Neil's amazing attitude really puts things in perspective next time I *THINK* I'm having a bad day at work. It serves us (especially myself) as a great reminder how fortunate we really are.

This is also proof once again that there is no such thing as a bad dog. Just bad owners. Thanks for saving Merlin's life. I salute your patience, determination, and compassion.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 10:07PM
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Congrats! The look on Neils' face says it all. You did a fantastic job.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 1:44PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Thanks to you all (I just knew you all would understand my elation), but I am far from an angel. THEY are the ones that made this happen, Neil and Merlin, his family, and the great people at HSDM. I just took the dog and the young man and pushed them, or adjusted them, in the right direction (I've always been a pushy person!) They are fantastic!

I look forward to seeing them next week to check on their progress!

STILL Smilin' !!!


Here is a link that might be useful: Hearing and Service Dogs of MN

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 11:03PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Okay, so you are a MODEST ANGEL!!! :^)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 8:52AM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

That is great, Sarah ! Lots of hard work and dedication to change someone's life for the better x 2. :-)



    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 5:34PM
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semper_fi(Z7 GA)

This is the gift that keeps on givin'. Just finished a 15 hour work shift in one of those days where everything that COULD go wrong, DID go wrong. I started to feel a little down but then I remembered Neil's great attitude working his Walmart job for minimum wage while overcoming all those incredible hurdles. Suddendly my problem seemed oh so insignificant. Thanks again for posting this.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 10:54PM
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Amen!! I have to say, this is one of those stories that will be with many of us for a long time. I know I'll never forget it.

Here's to modest angels! :)


    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 10:18AM
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That's just beautiful what you did!!! You're an angel indeeed!


    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 3:43PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

FYI. Neil has worked at this Walmart for almost 5 years. This past spring they built a "Super Walmart" to replace the regular one. Neil was instrumental in making it a more handicap accessible place. For example: Neil was involved with decisions regarding aisle width, doors, extra handicap carts, floor textures, and 'family restrooms' (where a parent may take a child of the opposite sex in, regardless of age) in addition to "men's" and "women's". These changes are evident in public spaces as well as behind the scenes in the back rooms. I don't even want to get into Walmart's abominable reputation, but maybe this once they did OK.

We may look at this as using the token handicapped kid, but Neil and his mom Lori are outspoken advocates for equal access!

Lori told me one of her biggest peeves is people that park so close to handicap slots that you can't operate the wheel chair lift out the side of the van. She usually waits a few minutes, then calls the local police, has the people paged if possible, and (ya gotta know her, she's one caring mother. And while she doesn't WANT to make trouble for anyone...) in no uncertain terms explains the complications their inconsiderate behavior is causing. :)

I think I saw it best when Neil, Merlin and I visited his Walmart for the first time during training. We manuvered around the store and bought a few things, and then went into the back to see if his boss was around...within 2 minutes we were surrounded by 15 of his co-workers, all congratulating him, wishing him luck and bombarding him with questions!

No offense, but god I love small town living!

PS: Neil and Merlin made the front page of the Starbuck Times this week!

and PSS: Next time you're walking through the clothes racks at Herbergers or JC Pennys, or K-Mart or whatever, try to imagine yourself in a wheel chair with a service dog beside you...wanna knock some clothes on the floor? I truely have a whole new appreciation for my ability to walk on my own 2 feet.

Sarah -- And now I really will quit the sermon :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Starbuck Times

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 10:41PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Forgot to add...when you knock those clothes on the floor you say "oops, I'm SO sorry"! Works for us fat people too! What ARE they thinking!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 10:52PM
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Sarah, that is SO true about not only the clothes racks, but the aisle widths, too! I usually end up walking past at least 3 aisles until I find one that's empty. Maneuvering past most folks (and their carts) ends up being a big hassle for both of us, so I can only imagine what Neil has to deal with on a daily basis!

BTW, I hope you have a VERY happy birthday today, lady! You deserve it! :)


    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 10:39AM
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maryo_nh(z5 SouthernNH)

And a VERY happy birthday also from the east coast! Here's wishing you a wonderful day and a wonderful year.

:) Mary

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 2:01PM
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semper_fi(Z7 GA)

Dang! They beat me to it. Anyways, hope you had a sheepish B-day Sarah!

Sorry, that was ba'aaaad. :-)

Where's Horton when you need him?!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 10:59PM
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