In this post I mention no names, no programs, and no particular locations or groups because I do not wish to offend. It is not my intention to be rude, or to offend anyone. With that said though, this is my blog. The things said here are my opinions nothing more and nothing less. If you are really that mortified by them don’t read them. Again, these are my opinions, and my experiences. Other people have had wonderful success with this group and trainer, so what I say is purely from my experience.

Infuriated, fuming, raging, seriously pissed off, and madder than hell, cannot even close to cover how angry I am right now.

I was rather excited about going to the group last night, I have noticed that Bri is a mite behind on her socialization. She’s a little wary of new people, dogs and situations. Not good traits in a Service Dog candidate, but definitely workable and I wasn’t too concerned. I’d heard excellent things about the trainer and was really looking forward to working in an environment that would understand my disability and be able to work with me, and my dog without pushing either of us too far, too fast.

Boy was I wrong.

First off, we were late. Terribly so. It was rather mortifying, but we got horribly lost in unfamiliar territory and ended up missing about a half hour of the group session.

When we finally got there I was very anxious, borderlining on panic attack, but also excited. What a wonderful opportunity this was going to be!


We walk in and the first thing we get from the trainer is a glare.

Okaaaay… understandable I guess, considering we were extremely late. But it only gets worse.

Bri was getting rather nervous, tucking her tail, not wanting treats, and even huffing softly at other dogs that were too close. Not good. I recognize these signs from Holly before we started working on her fear issues. So we wait.

The trainer then has me walk her around the room, Bri is nervous, not wanting to go. I wasn’t praising well enough so I get yelled at. Again, understandable, I do tend to be really quiet when praising, particularly when around groups of people. Social Phobia, remember? But the trainer doesn’t really know me, so I just shudder through my panic attack and keep going.

Then we go to try out one of the obstacles, the stairs. Easy peasy right? We have four flights at home that Bri bounds up and down with ease. Nope, she’s still really nervous and doesn’t want to go. So I try coaxing her up, nope. Luring doesn’t work either, I’m about to move away and give her some more recovery time when the trainer comes up, and without a word to me grabs my puppy, picks her up, and proceeds to drag and push her up the set of stairs.

During this nightmare training session, I would have traded the world for Holly, my rock. She always knows what to do in a tough spot.

Let me make this note here. When I’m in an environment that is this stressful for me, most of my mental energy is going into not running screaming from the room, or bursting into tears, which at this point I desperately wanted to do. When I’m this way, I’m mentally absent. I see what’s happening, try to keep a normal face, but behind it all I’m not processing things correctly.

Both Bri and I were getting more panicked. I took Bri around the loop several more times before the trainer came up to us with a wheelchair for us to work around. Great!

Again, ha!

Bri was nervous about the wheeling thing and started backing away from it, so I proceed to encourage her forward, just like I’ve done with Holly. If you change their emotions while they’re near the object then they come to associate the new, better emotion with it. Big mistake. The trainer then lectures me on how I should never encourage or comfort a scared dog, then drags her near the wheelchair and corrects her every time she tries to back away.

Again, mentally absent, so I smile and nod. But somewhere back in my head I’m thinking, hmmm, this doesn’t sound right.

The last big thing that just hit me between the eyes as inappropriate, rude, and completely uncalled for was the trainer’s comment on Newfies.

Bri was lying down next to me, sleeping as the class dispersed, and I asked if I should work on getting her more focused while we’re out. The trainer looks at me down her nose and says: “You got a Newfoundland, better start learning to live with it.”

Excuse me??

By the time we reach the car I’ve finally snapped. For all my mental blocking and efforts to cope I’m past the point of no return. I sobbed, shook, and tried to figure out what I had done wrong the entire ride home.

Finally I get home. I’m still in an attack, still crying my eyes out, but my mental functioning is beginning to return and I’m starting to be able to process all of what just happened. Slowly, the panic fades into irritation, then cold fury.

Yes, this is a program group, but it’s also supposed to be for kids with Service Dogs, or Service Dog candidate puppies. Never once was it acknowledged that I might need a little more room.

Secondly, again, yes this is a program group with a trainer used to working with a certain breed of program bred dogs. However, Bri is not her typical breed, nor is she from the program. She is my personal dog, I paid for her, I work her, I own her. How dare someone lay a threatening finger on my dog. This is my dog, my way of training, my investment, and my future. I don’t care how long you’ve been training, or how smart you think you are. She is my girl. Period. End of story. Whether you agree or not, how I train her is my decision, don’t force her to do anything. Not. Ever.

Lastly, the trainer seemed to think that I had gotten her without thinking, without research, and without any dog knowledge.

Sorry to disappoint. I do my homework! My breeder is amazing, her bloodlines are superb her dogs are Champions, or Grand Champions, all thoroughly health checked. Puppies are placed with the home for which they are best suited.

I did not take the decision of getting a second dog, especially one that is so expensive, lightly. I did not get the first dog to catch my eye. I’m sorry if the trainer did not think that Newfies are wonderful dogs. Tough stuff! I have a list of needs, a Newf fills them all.

To wrap up this rant:

I will not be going back to this group.
I will never recommend this group.
I will never recommend this trainer
I cannot in good conscience raise a puppy for this program.
I will never again allow my fear to get the best of me in a situation where my one of my dog’s well-being is at stake.
I will never, ever allow someone to manhandle my dogs again.
I will follow what has worked best for me, not what a stranger thinks is best.
I will never push my dog into a situation they are not comfortable in.

Holly used to be incredibly fearful. Thanks to NOT pushing her too far, too fast, she is now the best dog I could ever hope for.

Whether others like this or not, this is how it is. Yes, I may be a teen. Yes, I may be mentally disabled. But I am not stupid.

I could go on forever. I’ll write some follow up posts on how I train and why, but for now, the rant felt good.

Hope you’re having wonderful, successful training days!

Until Later,

Kat, Holly, & Brigantia