Being a trainer for Little Angels Service Dogs is absolutely the best job I could ask for. Many people say it’s a “dream job,” while I agree with that, people only look at the fun side of what we do. They don’t see the incredible sacrifices we make… There is no way to train a dog to the extent we do without bonding with them. Training a service dog is built on trust-the handler trusts the dog and the dog trusts the handler. If you ask anyone on our staff if they love what they do, the answer would be yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. We raise these dogs like they are our own. Of course, it’s always in the back of our minds that we will have to give these dogs up one day, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get attached. Sometimes we have a dog from the time they are 8 weeks old, until they are a year and a half old and then get placed with their recipient. Imagine going through all the hardships of raising a puppy, all the accidents, the whining, the late nights, and extra baths because your puppy decided to roll in the mud right before you go home. Now, imagine all of the good times, the puppy kisses, the snuggling, the goofiness that a puppy brings to your life, teaching them right from wrong, watching them grow, and teaching them to do what they are meant to do. We love these dogs; we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t. No matter how many dogs you place, it doesn’t make it any easier giving these amazing dogs up.
The day your dog in training graduates and goes to their furever home must be one of the most bittersweet days of your life. Part of you is so proud that the little 8-week-old puppy you once had-the one that woke you up at 3am because they had an accident-is now changing someone’s life for the better, as a certified service dog. Another part of you is so happy for the recipient! They have likely been waiting for this amazing animal for YEARS and seeing the immediate impact and smile on their face definitely makes your heart warm. The other part of you is so sad that this may be the last time you see this dog. It’s such a hard feeling, because I always feel selfish. I knew from the start that one day I’d be handing this puppy over to a recipient, why did I let myself get so close to this dog? Then, I remind myself that I’m human and its okay to feel sad, because I know deep down this is the moment that makes every bark, scratch, late night, and frustration worth it. “Gotcha Day!” Of course, we all love dogs, but THIS is why we are all here. We love helping our recipients, it makes every tear from missing our dog in training worth it, knowing that they are changing lives and giving our recipients their unconditional doggy love.