CLEARWATER, FL - What does it take to go from “puppy” to “service animal”? When it comes to training, we bet no dog’s been put through the paces like 7 month-old Kaoko. Teacher Christina Chapin is a volunteer puppy raiser and guide dog trainer. With permission from the school and parents, this year, she’s bringing Kaoko to class everyday.
Service dogs are assistants and companions for people with health issues ranging from diabetes to autism to PTSD.Not only are the dogs trained to sense and respond to specific symptoms, they also have to stay focused and block out a world full of exciting distractions.
Chapin explains, "It's like a jungle gym for Kaoko to learn all these great things…He's learning so much by being around these kids, with all the different noises and little things like the fire bell. It might scare him. He might do great, but it's all great exposure for him."
In March Kaoko will return to Guide Dog School to finish his training and be paired with his forever partner. For now, Ms. Chapin's students get to learn what a guide dog does- and how to care for a working animal. It's sure to be an incredible year!
Chapin agrees. "That's what I want for them. Is a memorable year and for them to be very successful and Kaoko is just along for the ride." Kaoko sure is lucky- and his “forever partner” will be too, thanks to Ms. Chapin and her students.