So I have yet to introduce my dog, Nahum. First I want to say he is a “support” dog, not a “service” dog. Big difference. I don’t even think he could manage to be a service dog, he is just too much of a scoundrel to learn the lessons. But still, my doctor recommended a dog and he is what I got. I will add, I would never give him up.
So a little brief introduction. He is a papillon, about 9 pounds and black and white. Papillon means butterfly in french and that name fits because their big frilly ears make them look like butterflies. This is him as a puppy. It’s blurry but you can see how big his ears are:
Now when I got him he immediately went to obedience school. I was determined he should be a well behaved dog that would learn to meet my needs and then become a service dog so I could have him in high anxiety situations. I bought a papillon because everything about them fit the bill for me. Small so I could handle him even with my fibromyalgia. Friendly so he would love everyone. Intelligent, his breed is the 7th smartest breed in rankings, so he would learn the skills needed to be a service dog.
When we first went to obedience training I am sure the trainer was laughing inside. We were asked why we chose the dogs we did and I pretty much said the above. But I did stress intelligence. Little did I know that intelligent does not necessarily mean teachable. Now he did fine in puppy school, but as we got into the intermediate class things didn’t go so well. I mean he did learn, but he refused to retain while at home. And he also developed some behavioral problems, partly my fault. Later Dulcey, the instructor, told me that smart dogs are often stubborn dogs. The AKC says that papillons are supposed to be eager to please, but my dog missed that trait.
So the behavior problems, there was no picking him up, only if you could catch him. I know one person who can do it and it isn’t me! And that is only because she is faster than I am. When he got hold of something, don’t think you were getting it back. He eats sticks (and clothes pin springs). And pens, he loves pens. He had an ink pen party spreading ink all over the dining room and living room one time and himself one time. He jumps, and I don’t mean he jumps on your leg for attention, no my 8-9 pound dog can jump and get things off the dining room table, the desk, and the kitchen counters!!! It’s all fair game. Lastly he has now discovered his bark. He makes a variety of noises that are absolutely adorable, but his bark is not one of them and lately he barks at everything. Now the ones I take credit for are the sticks, and the jumping. I thought it was so cute that he would pick stuff up on our walks and carry it as far as the dumpster so I could throw it away. So I encouraged picking stuff up and carrying…the eating idea is all his own. As to the jumping, he just looked so cute bouncing higher and higher and so I would hold out rewards to see how high he could go…now I know.
So my dog is a scoundrel. I plan on doing some more training when this virus gets done. Private one on one though so I can try to manage the things I have inadvertently caused. But let’s talk about the good things. He was meant to support me emotionally and he takes that job seriously. He has two very special skills that melt my heart every time. First is he can hear a pin drop from a mile away and so before I even let the tears fall he knows I am crying and he is not satisfied unless he is in my lap to be held. Now he doesn’t know the difference between a happy and a sad cry so we get some extra love, but who doesn’t want that! The second is if I am having a nightmare he will wake me up. With PTSD that is an invaluable skill. The poor guy usually gets pushed away to begin with because I can’t quite figure out what is going on, but he comes back until the job is done. So despite his little rascally self, he is a great dog. My mom doesn’t see it, neither does my dad, though they both still like him since he makes me happy. But I know we just have to work out the kinks and keep on loving each other and it will all be good.
Here he is now:
Actually that isn’t as recent as now. This is before he was attacked by a pit bull/mastiff mix. But that is another story.