My second phase of training officially began in early July, when I moved into the Hero Dogs kennel for college! When I arrived, five of my Hero Dog buddies were already settled into the kennel and knew the routines, and they assured me that I’d adjust quickly. They may be larger than me (unusually large in my opinion) but they don’t treat me any differently; they treat me as an equal, so don’t worry!
My neighbor Rosie informed me that the other two goldens are very boisterous during playtime, which didn’t surprise me because they are siblings, and I made sure I was ready to keep up with them during playtime. Rosie also hinted that Radar is the most experienced of the kennel dogs, and Gracie has several months of experience too, so I should follow their lead, and I hope that in the future I will become a pro at everything kennel-related and set a similar good example for new kennel pups.
I love college so far. There are many nice people who come to the kennel just to feed me, make sure I have fresh water, groom me, play with me, and of course give me treats for being a good dog! When each kennel door opens, sometimes they go in order and I am the last dog to be let out of their kennel, and even though I am only waiting for a few minutes, I do feel the need to remind them that I am still here. Apparently that is not how you ask them to let you out of your kennel though, because they never seem to see me unless I am quiet. That’s odd, I know, but it seems that the key to coming out of the kennel is to sit quietly and wait patiently. I try my best, but being quiet and patient can be challenging when a few of the dogs have just left their kennels and are starting to play with toys and wrestle with each other. I love playing with my Hero Dog buddies! As soon as it’s playtime, I love to pick up a toy and wag my tail excitedly and start playing and running with any dog who wants to join in. I especially like playing with Gracie, who is a black lab like me, but Radar and the three goldens are also a lot of fun! I also have fun playing with some of the younger Hero Dogs, including Sammie, when I have the opportunity.
Trust me, though, college is not all about playtime. From the first day I arrived at the kennel, I have made a concentrated effort to keep up with the other dogs, who have lived in the kennel longer than I have. I am adjusting nicely to college life, and I try to stay quiet and calm when I am supposed to. I have not let my short stature stop me from doing anything. I even helped Jennifer put her groceries up on the counter! I think everyone is impressed with how quickly I pick up my leash for them and other skills that I continue to use daily. I am also starting to learn new skills, and it is amazing to think that I will soon be working on more advanced skills that are valuable for my career as a service dog! I have been on several special training outings already, including businesses closer to home as well as places in the city of Baltimore. I also continue to attend my weekly training classes with other Hero Dogs, as well as events such as the Hero Dogs Golf Tournament in early August.
Everyone describes me as a good dog, sweet and friendly, a hard worker, and a dwarf labrador. I don’t know exactly what that last part means, but they say it very kindly and sometimes with a genuine smile and a treat, so I suspect it’s a good thing! I am excited about this phase of my training, and I know that I will mature into an excellent service dog for just the right partner. Just as my namesake (Ulysses S. Grant) made valuable contributions to our country, I feel that I will make an important difference in the life of a veteran, and in my very own way serve our country too.