When Bruce and I first met in August of 2022, we were both sad and damaged. I had lost my beloved Maxine during covid. My cat, Scamp, stood looking out the front door waiting for Maxine to come home every night. He stopped eating. Lost weight. Two visits to the vet concluded depression. Two years later I found the courage to adopt Bruce from a young family who was on the rocks of divorce. Bruce lost his people, his German Shepherd brother, his cat and his home.
The day the young woman showed up with Bruce, I was excited, but afraid I had bitten off more than I could chew. She let him out of her SUV and my first thought was. " Oh. Lord, what have I done?!"
He was sweet, calm. friendly and maybe a little dumbfounded when she left him here. I found out straight away that he wasn't leash trained. Augh! But, he was house trained. I was a wreck until he and Scamp worked it out. (Scamp had seen his kind before!)
I sought help immediately. My cousin is dog trainer and suggested a 15' leash. That helped until Bruce saw a deer, bolted, and left me flat on the ground. Square one. Don't go on walks where there are deer.
Then, I was blessed that the Invisible Fence guy came almost right away to reactivate the underground electric fence on my property that gave Bruce two acres of freedom. And I was free to open the door when he nosed the bell on the door to let me know he needed to go out. (His previous owner taught him that.)
Then, I decided I wanted more than a well behaved pet. I wanted a constant companion to help me with my PTSD.
I enlisted the help of Maxine's trainer in Durham. N.C. He trains German Shepherds and walks on water. It about killed me but I sent Bruce to bootcamp. He returned a month later a young man. (He almost held the door for me!)
Still, I wanted something more official. I signed up the Psychiatric Service Dog Training Course with not much confidence in myself, but with lots of determination. The beginning was easier than the middle and the end! Repetition, consistency, positive attitude, faith in Bruce got me through. We got stuck on RETRIEVE. I was determined not to give up. I think he knew how to do it all along and just got all teenage on me. The rest was easier. Success built on success for us both.
Now, I feel so proud of us. I am planning a graduation party!
But here is what Bruce did that is not mentioned explicitly in the course:
For these things, I dub him a Saint.
Would that I could do half as much for him.