Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jacob. Jacob had 2 cats that he loved but was terrified of all other animals. One of the only ways to stop Jacob’s incessant crying and screaming was to follow his cats around the house and always stay within sight of them. Hours and hours of this activity never bored this little fellow (the cats on the other hand….)
School trips to the zoo or a petting farm were disasters, as little Jake would spend most of the day screaming until all animals were out of sight and hearing range. He was so scared that if we were out for a walk and a dog was on leash heading towards us, we would have to cross the street to avoid the pooch. Jake’s fear was known to all who cared for and about him, and his scared, white-as-a-sheet face was something we tried to avoid by staying away from any animals other than his beloved Spot and Brother.
Fast forward a few years and nothing changed. Walks were still filled with plenty of dog-avoiding street crossing and in-home cat following.
Last year a friend started posting about the work her family was doing to get a service dog for their PMD son and I started thinking about how great a dog would be for Jake. I reasoned that if he had a dog of his own, it could be trained to stay with him and we wouldn’t need to follow Spot and Brother around the house. If Jacob had a dog, they could hang out together and maybe, just maybe, some of Jake’s screaming would subside.
Just one problem stood in the way….Jacob’s fear. I had to figure out how to show him that dogs are fun and playful, not scary.
Pictures of dogs were ok for Jacob, and so were stuffed animals that resembled dogs. Friends with canines helped us, by letting Jacob spend a bit of time with their pooches but only until Jake let us know he had enough. Gradually, he started warming to these familiar furry creatures until I noticed one day that Lola, Taryn’s Goldendoodle, was sitting on Jake’s feet and that helped calm his crying. That was when I knew Jake had become a dog-person!
Thanks to Chris and the incredible team of puppy raisers and trainers at National Service Dogs, Jake now has his own furry foot-warmer named Felix.