This topic is going to be a feature for the next several months. Not only are we going to share our collaborative story about how a dog becomes a service dog, we are going to share relevant topics surrounding service dogs and the challenges associated.

It’s been some time since we’ve shared on our blog. Let’s start with a little bit of history to get you all up to date. Several months ago, I was contacted by Brandy Keely, Director of Veteran Services at Carroll College. A judge from a veteran’s treatment court in Great Falls had contacted the Anthrozoology program to see if there were students interested in training a service dog. No specific veteran, no specific dog.

We started talking about what it looked like. Fast forward to just a couple weeks ago and I found myself, and the two students who were going to work with the pup, in Great Falls on a crisp, sunny November morning. None of us were sure what to expect. I was struck by Judge Pinski’s kindness and genuine reflection on what he felt would best help the veterans in his program. As we listened to him review the veterans in his program with his team, the want to help each one was apparent. No judgment, just facts.

After hearing what these veterans needed, I had a specific dog in mind and shared that with the students, Ali and Madie. After talking to them about him and sharing his picture, they were all in. I returned to Billings to follow up on this specific dog I had already evaluated. I knew in my gut this dog would be a perfect, and like that, we welcomed another rescue into our program.

All paths converged, and on November 26, 2018, a young black labradoodle renamed Major began training to be a service dog for a veteran. His job will be to help this veteran with the daily struggles of hidden injuries. But to get there he will need to be well mannered and obedient. This is where Ali and Madie come in.

Ali has been puppy raising for Guide Dogs for the Blind since she was 16 and has her own service dog, who has served as a sort of mentor for Major. Madie began her own dog training business this past year and raised a puppy through the ANZ program last year. These two young ladies will be co-training Major with mentoring from our Dog Tag Buddies trainer in Helena, Adele Delp.

Major’s journey to a fully trained service dog matched with a veteran will come to fruition by the end of April 2019. Until then, he will reside on the grounds of Carroll College, living the life he was meant to have. Follow this journey on Facebook at Major: Psychiatric Service Dog in Training @MajorSDiT and check back as we share his journey.

Major and Raime on the stairs of Simperman Hall at Carroll College. He has a great mentor in Raime, who is already a trained service dog.