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Service dog in training

April 27, 2020

This is Dolce. But don’t let his calm demeanor and cute button eyes fool you. Dolce is in training and soon enough he will have a very important job to do.

“Today we are really excited because we’ve been donated a puppy by a very gracious breeder in Red deer to work towards service dog training and a service dog team and his new owner is here to pick the dog,” said Shelley Beck of the Cypress Canine Society.

At just four months old Dolce will be going to a family in Airdrie to help 17-year-old Olivia who has been diagnosed with autism.

“It’s great, it is really great. I think she will be a great companion that will always be there for me, which is really great, and somebody that I can take into places that you can’t take normal pets,” said Olivia Levy.

For her family, it’s a long awaited relief.

“It’s been a surreal process, we’ve been focused on it for a few months and we haven’t made any real progress. It seems that dogs for anyone that is autistic seems to be for a younger child where Olivia was diagnosed later in life,” said Olivia’s mother Tanya Levy.

Diagnosed with autism at 17, the family hopes the dog will be able to act as a companion and help Olivia overcome some of the challenges.

We are hoping for calming. She suffers from anxiety and depression so we are hoping the dog will be able to break up some of that,” Levy said.

For Dolce the dog, training involves a lot of specialized scent training. The training is needed to help detect when Olivia needs assistance.

“When she starts to have an attack, she’ll have different smells in her mouth, her electrodes inside her body will be different, the dog keys on that and the dog goes right to that person and nudges and that person, will go ‘oh I better start petting my dog there’s something wrong,’” said dog trainer Sterling Hintch.

Aside from picking up smells there are some other key skills needed in order to get a passing grade as a service dog.

” The temperament, for one thing, the ability to pick up clues on some people, and it is something that you will need to read in the dog, with the person that it is being matched with and lots of patience,” said Hintch.

Skills needed to make life a little easier for the people by their side day by day.

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