I started working with a rescue dog named Baxter in October of 2017. He is what we call a Bassador…a Black Lab and Basset Hound mix. At first I thought him a strange looking little thing since he is clearly a Black Lab but then he has these short little legs with front feet that look like they are always in second position for ballet. When I first started working with him he was nonchalant to me and aggressive with most other dogs. He had been picked up on the streets in Nashville, TN and had obviously been bullied. He would fence fight and jump and bark constantly!! We started working together, me learning to train with positive clicker training and him with an attitude. He wouldn’t take the treats offered to him when he looked at me and I was skeptical as to where I thought we were going with all this. As it turned out, Baxter was more interested in working for touch. It almost broke my heart! He would look at me with these liquid brown eyes and truly beseech me to just touch him. So, that’s how we started our relationship… me loving him and crooning to him until he could gain enough trust to listen to me. Bless his heart, he is a really good dog.
After almost three months of making tiny baby steps in training, I thought we would try to see if we could be around other dogs. He was tethered to the wall while I sat beside him touching him and when he went to bark or jump at other dogs I would get him to focus in on me. When he did, he was treated. We would take long walks around the field and sniff and snuffle on a long line but when he pulled on the leash or tried to dart off I would say stay with me and change direction. He was doing particularly well one day, in early July, so we went into the training center to work on some other skills. When we got in, I noticed another dog tethered to the wall who didn’t have the skill set Baxter now had. Baxter worked pretty well with the distraction and barking of the other dog as he began to focus more on me. I wanted to see how he would react to the other dog, so we went closer but out of reach and stood there. Baxter neither jumped nor barked back at the other dog but kept his eyes on me. I clicked and treated him and we walked away. I was so proud of him and told him so and gave him a huge hug.
Our Baxter is currently awaiting a person who needs his services. He is in training as a service dog. Contact CrittersWork for more information about applying for Baxter.
Also, please help us with our Service Dog Confidence Field. The project is enormous and will be so very special for persons needing assistance dogs and the dog handler teams.