Rescue Dog to Guide Dog: Part 1

The story of Buddy's amazing Journey

When I first met my wife, Cheri, I would not have known she had  a serious vision impairment if it weren't for the big yellow dog (AKA Clifton) proudly sitting at her side wearing his uniform (guiding harness). As Cheri explains it , Clifton was her confidence rolled up in a fur ball.  Although Cheri was extremely independent Clifton helped her navigate through life's obstacles. I too quickly fell in love with him but sadly just a few years later Clifton fell ill and was forced to retire. Losing Clifton was a big blow to Cheri as he was not only her friend, companion, and often entertainment but she had become reliant on him for most of her mobility.  After losing Clifton we came to the sad realization it would be at least a year (if then) before she would be paired with a new partner who would meet her rigorous demands of ten mile hikes and insanely fast walking.  To give you an idea of why the process is so long many guide dogs are bread in a test tube and genetically engineered to have all the characteristics of a perfect service dog. They are then groomed for two years to exact standards of obedience and deportment and taught how to perform flawlessly in most any situation. Once a dog is matched with its new partner that team spends a month at the training school working from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM to ensure that they become a perfect unit.  Net cost for a fully trained guide dog - $65,000.

So we decided to think “outside the box” - way outside the box. 

Meanwhile Cheri started working on a "Get Healthy - Adopt a Pet" project for our business, Total Wellness Resource Center.  The idea was to cross market with a local rescue, “Whiskers and Tails " in Palos Verdes, CA and give back to the community.  I can only describe this project as, "putting a kid in a candy store". in fact, I am not sure 24 hours passed before Cheri saw a photo of Buddy on the rescue's website and it was love at first sight. 

Then along came Buddy.

In Cheri's mind Buddy had exactly what it would take to be her next partner which included size, personality, temperament and energy level. But he was a street wondering, untrained rescue dog - not a highly trained service dog.  If you know Cheri then you know there was no point arguing - with in 24 hours I had a new 90 lb. roommate.  Don't get me wrong, Buddy is a beautiful dog (mix of Rottweiler and "we think"! Shepard)  but he had untamed boundless energy and had been living on the streets fending for himself for - nobody knows how long; with absolutely no training. 

So with all that said, we want to invite you on this journey with us.  The journey of Buddy's transformation. We have had him for about five weeks and the training has begun. We have seen signs of brilliance and times when we’ve honestly wondered what we got ourselves into. But we can see that he has a good heart and takes great joy in pleasing us. There are millennia of man/dog interaction bread into Buddy’s DNA so that he experiences his greatest fulfillment when he is working seamlessly as our helper. Our job is to help him become what he was created to become. (If that sounds familiar it’s also the vision of Total Wellness Resource Center but we focus on humans)

This time of training for both Buddy and us will be the content for our up and coming "Selfless Saturday" Blogs. Please follow along with us as we learn more about Buddy’s world and how he begins to learn how to be Cheri's new "confidence in a fur ball" Guide Dog.