Life with a service dog: Thoughts on Tracy

We have now had Tracy for eight weeks. Over these weeks, I have learned a lot about what it means to take care of a living thing. I have to think of Tracy’s needs before I do what I need or want. This means that when I get home and I need a drink, I must give Tracy water first because I know that she needs it. This is a major change for me because I never had to do that before. Taking care of her first also includes taking her potty. If she needs to go potty, I have to take her out no matter what I am doing. As annoying as this is, I know that it is necessary and that I need to do it for Tracy because I love her. I also have to get up and take Tracy out to exercise right away. I have to exercise for a minimum of thirty minutes, meaning that I will be walking three or more miles each day. I will have to go farther if I run or bike. It is annoying for me to have to do this every morning because I cannot skip any mornings, but Tracy needs me to do it, and the exercise is good for both of us.

One thing that I certainly know is, as much work as Tracy is, I am absolutely glad that I have her. We just did a training session with her in which we hid pistachios and a peanut individually in different things outside like a pile of rocks. She did great. I have learned that the training sessions are more for me to learn how to better work with Tracy than they are for Tracy to get better. Tracy is already very good. I am the one that needs to learn how to find nuts with her. We are both doing very well, and the training session was a success. I made the mistake of telling her to show me where the nut is before she had caught the scent, but I did not do it again and I learned that I have to wait for her behavior change before I tell her to show me. During the session, Tracy learned that she has to work for me outside. There were a few times that she got distracted, but she got right back to searching and did a great job overall. 🙂