Rachel's Story

by - August 30, 2017

As if navigating an Alzheimer's diagnosis isn't bad enough...I was gullible and scammed. Here is where we were in February.

February 6, 2017

Rachel's Story (*AKA Racheal): She is a Standard Poodle and German Shepard mix. She was just over a year old. I got her to be a Service Dog for my husband as he has early onset Alzheimer's.

I worked with a Service Dog breeder and trainer from May until the dog (we named her Rachel) was brought to us in September. I began to have concerns about his integrity when he brought Rachel to us. There were several things that he said about her training that frankly was not true. This person's Service Dogs are advertised for people with Autism and Alzheimer's.  

Rachel is shy and has anxiety and startles easily. She has some very good pet qualities, but I am not comfortable in continuing to try to mold her into a Service Dog for my husband. 

We've worked with Rachel and have gotten professional trainers to help us. Rachel has a good command of basic obedience commands.  She is fairly consistent and reliable in following instruction when she is at home with us. She knows "In your bed" and she knows "lay down". I use this when I need her to calm down or I need to keep her accountable while I work on something.  She also knows "go" which we use to reinforce moveable invisible boundaries.  She is crate trained and gets along really well with other dogs but she does not trust people. She is very capable of walking correctly on a leash but is not consistent in walking politely.  

Jordan and I have come to the conclusion that we cannot keep Rachel. I will need to begin figuring out the best way to re-home her. I have seen a big improvement in her behavior since we got her in September with lots of help from professional trainers, like you. Both of us think Rachel has the potential to be a great dog.

The real issue is that Jordan cannot handle her with his Alzheimer's.  It's clear that we did not get the trained dog that we need. This is not Rachel's fault. --I was an "easy mark" when I was searching for help right after my husband's Alzheimer's diagnosis. 

The "breaking point" is that Jordan has been physically hurt as a result of Rachel's behavior. Yesterday when he was walking her she was startled and bolted, knocking Jordan to his knees. It's not the first time he's fallen because of Rachel. Last night he had a second and worse fall while he was walking her. Again, she bolted and Jordan fell. Worse, she began to run towards the parking lot.

I'm not equipped to transform Rachel and to work with Jordan's illness at the same time. I feel it would be irresponsible for me to continue to try to "make this work" when it puts Jordan at risk. Plus, because he can not control her, it puts her at risk too. 

Both Jordan and I are incredibly sad because we adore her.

My initial thought is that she may do better with some fostering and continued training either before joining a new family or as part of her new family.

The Rachel that I know is adorable, sweet, funny and incredibly playful. She plays incredibly well with other dogs. She loves to run and is quite proud that she can jump the hurdle at the dog park and jump through the tunnel. She has the potential for fun agility play.

I'm worried about so many things about finding the right new owner for Rachel. I don't trust my judgement in assessing a good fit. I don't know how to overcome Rachel's overt fear of new people when potential new owners want to evaluate her for a fit with them. I also want to make sure that I let the new owner is fully aware of Rachel's challenges. 

The breeder and organization where I got Rachel is in CA. I began to have concerns about his integrity when he brought Rachel to us. There were several things that he said about her training that frankly was not true. This person's Service Dogs are advertised for people with Autism and Alzheimer's.  I have not tried to work with the breeder because when I re-read our contract (with more cynical eyes) I saw that the contract states additional help requires me to pay additional money. I also am not comfortable returning Rachel to him as I no longer trust him.  

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