Throughout my teenage years, and even prior to that, we had a dog named Clemintine Grace. Clemintine, which is what we, as a family eventually named her, was an absolutely beautiful Golden Retriever! Before we got her, someone had told us that if you are going to pick a puppy out of a litter, and you want a dog with specific coloring, you should look at the tips of their ears when they're puppies. When we went to pick Clemintine out, (luckily, we had first pick of the litter) we knew we wanted a dog with a dark coat. She had the darkest ears, and the best temperament, and we felt she would be a perfect fit for our family. That was it, she would be ours. We picked her up two weeks later, and instantly became a family of five!
At the time that we brought her home, my mom was doing in-home daycare. Many of the kids had a really hard time saying Clemintine. It always came out "Leminlime" instead. Leminlime stuck for a while, until we got some younger kids who couldn't pronounce their Ls either. My mom eventually taught everybody to say "Gracie", even though for most of them it came out "Gacie". From the moment that they started using Gracie, it was permanent. We only used Clementine if she was in trouble.
About four years ago, Gracie got really, really sick. The vet put her on some antibiotics, and she improved. However, the improvement was short lived. A couple weeks later, she got even sicker than she was the first time. We rushed her back to the vet, where they decided to do a hysterectomy because the infection was in her uterus. When they opened her up, her uterus was EXTREMELY inflamed! She did make it through the surgery though. Now that the surgery was over, all we could do was wait. My mom got a call the morning after the surgery telling her that heartbreakingly, Gracie had passed away. What made it even more heartbreaking was the fact that the morning that she got the call just happened to be Mother's Day.
After Gracie died, my mom swore that she wasn't going to have another dog. By this time, my brother, sister, and I were old enough that she felt she didn't need to worry about getting another dog for the sake of our broken hearts. So it was settled. She wouldn't have another dog because she knew she couldn't handle losing another dog. Her heart and mind remained made up until my search for a Service Dog began in 2005. I had a trainer lined up, but he was having great difficulty finding a puppy to start training. In a measure of desperation, my mom and I decided to go on to petfinder.com and see if we would be able to find a dog that would be suitable for training on there. Unfortunately, when it came to finding a puppy that was suitable for training, we were very, very unsuccessful.
However, while we were browsing the dogs that needed good homes, we came across a German Shepherd/Husky mix named Asia that my mom just absolutely fell in love with! For days on end after we discovered that Asia needed to be adopted, she was all my mom could talk about! Within a matter of about a week of finding Asia, my mom had already arranged a meeting with the agency who would be adopting her out. Once she had met her in person, my mom was more determined than ever to have Asia be hers. It wasn't quite time for that though. The agency also required that they do a home visit with my mom to see that conditions that she would be living in. It was only after this home visit that the agency would decide where Asia was going to find a permanent home. As it turns out, Asia did find a permanent home with my mom. My mom has once again been a happy dog owner for about three years now.
When Asia first became a member of the family, although it made me think about the fact the fact that I didn't yet have a Service Dog, it was only a fleeting thought. I was just happy that my mom had once again found something to fill the void of losing Gracie. Besides, at the time mom got Asia, my sister and her husband-to-be didn't have a dog, so I wasn't all alone in not having a dog.
Then about five months ago, they too got a dog. She is a Norwegian Elkhound who is very much a typical puppy. She recently graduated from puppy classes, in which she did very well. As in most, if not all puppy classes, she learned how to sit and stay. During class, they're taught using both the hand signal, and the verbal command. I think it goes without saying that it is almost impossible for me to use the hand signals. With that being said, I didn't think that getting her to sit without the hand signal was even a possibility. One day while my sister and I were just siting around, I told Madison to sit. Excitingly, my doubts about not having the hand signal were laid to rest! She now sits for me every time I tell her to do so.
Since she had been doing so well with "sit", the other day I decided to try "sit, stay". She does know "stay", but as far as I knew, she only knew it using both the verbal command and the hand signal. Once again though, she came through. I bet we did it 30 different times, and she only refused probably five of those times! My next goal is "sit, stay, come".
Now to some, mastering "sit, stay" with just the verbal commands may seem pretty insignificant. For me though, it's HUGE! Why? Well, here's how I see it: if I can get a puppy of five months to sit and stay using only verbal commands, then I really should have no issues keeping my future dog on task because she will be much more grown up by the time we graduate. Mastering sit, stay is to me just another sign that my biggest dream EVER is meant to come true!