Angus the St. Bernard is the second dog to be certified under a pilot project to allow Albertans to train their own service dogs to suit their unique disabilities.
Carla Schneider, of Bentley, said by training her dog herself she could choose a larger breed and have it to respond to words she can remember.
Schneider, 40, was in a serious vehicle collision on June 17, 2004 in Red Deer and sustained brain injury that affects her memory. She lost the sight in her right eye so her balance and depth perception is poor. Her lungs are severely scarred making breathing difficult at times. She can’t lift or carry things due to damage to her neck, shoulders and back.
Angus has given her confidence, helps her to get around and avoid everyday obstacles.
“He has been by my side since he was five months old and I can’t imagine going anywhere without him. I really can’t,” Schneider said about her 3.5-year-old mobility service dog.
Angus passed his rigourous three-hour test at West Edmonton Mall on Tuesday. Schneider should received their photo ID and Angus should get his service dog badge to wear in about two weeks.
She said it was important for her to get a dog hardy enough to deal with the snow and ice and strong to help stay her on her feet with the help of a special harness.
“Angus prevents me falling nine times out of ten.”
Angus keeps her safe from things she can’t see. He has restored her independence, and helped her to rejoin society because people are always drawn to her furry friend and assistant.
Her doctor recommended she get a service dog.
“I was afraid to walk out the front door. I was afraid of getting hurt. I was paranoid. I was becoming a hermit.”
The service dog pilot project, run through Alberta Seniors and Community Support Services, continues until the end of the year and is looking to certify 12 owner-trained dogs.
“I know there’s more people like myself that have got dogs that help them and they’re medically recommended dogs. But they just don’t know how to get them recognized.”
Businesses exist that train service dogs.
But there are many benefits to training a dog yourself, Schneider said.
“I believe Angus and I as a team have an advantage over other teams because we have been together since day one. I have taught him everything. We’ve lived together. We’ve worked together.”