Monday, April 7, 2014

Coco My Akita Service Dog

Whenever Coco and I go out to run errands people come to see her.  Some times they come out of their stores to see her.  She is so kind and sweet with them.  Some times people know she is an Akita and some times they want to know what kind of dog she is.  Every now and then I've heard people say, I've never seen an Akita Service Dog.  And they ask what she does to help me and I tell them our story.

I have wondered about why Akitas aren't used more and this past year I came to an understanding about it.  Clarified by the recent raccoon incident in the backyard.

In the States a potential service dog is kept with a foster family or person.  They are taken everywhere and socialized and during that first year they learn basic obedience.  And then they are tested for temperament and those who will not do well in all public situations do not go any further in their training.  The next year they are usually trained in a facility where they are kept in kennels.  And depending on their training this could last another year or a little longer. 

My first two Akitas were my service dogs without any training.  They watched me and knew when I needed help.  And they knew what to do about it.  My first Akita, Angel, would walk in tight circles around me and take me into the house if she thought I had been out in the garden too long.  She decided all on her own whether I needed to go to a chair or my bed. And of course, she was always right.  Bear was the same why when I got dizzy and was having a hard time walking.  As Bear aged I realized I was going to need to put my name on the list for a service dog.  I couldn't find any training organizations that trained Akitas.  I had published a book and was showing artwork and was getting ready for a book tour and I knew this time around, without the acres of farm land around me, I would need a service dog.  But I knew that my Akitas were amazing and I felt that they could have been trained.  I read books, watched dvds and then one miraculous day, while I had been waiting for years for my service dog, someone offered to donate an Akita to me to be my service dog.  I decided to try because I knew their heart.  Their heart.

Coco and I began our lives together and every night she slept on the pillow next to my head.  I had lots of amazing advice from trainers all over the world (thanks to YouTube) and Coco and I were inseparable.  And I realized an Akita could never go through staying with a family and then be taken from them and kenneled and then go to someone else.  Their need to bond begins at birth and it is as important as the air they breathe.

Coco has protected me twice from large loose dogs.  The first time she flipped the dog over on its side and jumped back at heel as soon as the owner gave his dog a kick and yelled at him to come. The second time she laid across my body and her eyes never looked away from me, even when the dogs were grabbing at her.  That time I went away in an ambulance and Coco was taken away in a police car.  When she realized we were going in separate places her ears went down and still she never took her eyes away from me.  I had to go to the hospital for a week.  She stayed with me in the hospital and my family took her for walks.  She was kind with everyone who cared for me and listened intently to the doctors when they were explaining my brain injury to me.

The other night a raccoon got into our yard.  A few steps into the house I heard terrible barking and screams in the backyard and I knew something bad was happening.  I grabbed a broom and put my clogs on and ventured out.  It was still pretty dark outside though the sun was beginning to rise.  I saw Coco was fighting with a raccoon.  I called her but she was still protecting me.  Protecting our safe refuge in the back yard.  I took the broom and got it in between their bodies and kept calling her to me.  The raccoon scurried up a tree and Coco again came to my side.  This time we were a team.  And a little later that is when I realized that while our Akitas love treats and they love praise and they love moving in sync on a leash; there is no greater joy to an Akita than knowing that they are connected with their human; their need to share a reciprocal understanding with us.  And when this is realized they are elated.  For those of us who have experienced this understanding and who appreciate the great treasure we have in our midst, everyday, Coco and I would like to say... isn't life a beautiful thing? 

Have a great day.  Enjoy your Akitas and walk in harmony with them.  Always let them know you see what they are telling you and they will tell you even more.

This is a video of Coco having fun with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment