I am a 59 year old, female disabled Air Force Veteran with Lupus Erythromytosis, Sarcoidosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. My diseases render me at times unable to move my legs and either bed-ridden, or ambalatory only with crutches. I also suffer daily from extreme fatigue which inter feres with my ability to wake myself, even with alarms, to completedaily tasks, but most importantly, take my daily medications. Good days render me often unable to do simple physical tasks. Periods of flairs make normal daily function impossible without my dog, Moses a 10 year old border collie. I have been involved with obedience and other training of my own animals all my life, as I was raised on a farm in Louisiana. I have successfully trained dozens of dogs and otehr animals; however, I was unfamiliar with training service animals until I contacted Ken Knabenshue.
I first contacted Working Dogs for Vets on August 4, 2014 because I read an aritcle about Ken Knabenshue's program (Working Dogs For Vets In House Program) that trains service dogs for veterans and,(The No Veteran Left Behind Program) which offers assistance to veterans who want to train thier own service dogs, FREE OF CHARGE. The purpose of my contact was three -fold; gather information and determine legitimacy of the organization; train my own service dog to be more assistance to me; and ultimately, I believe I can learn to train dogs to help other veterans as well, which is a specific goal of the program.
I called Working Dogs for Vets and spoke to Kenneth Knabenshue for approximately 30-40 minutes. I have years of experience training animals and Ken inspired me. As I listened to Ken speak, his experience training dogs and dedication to veterans was profoundly evident. I never considered that I could train my dog to help me with daily functions that are so difficult for me at times. Ken immediately gave me ideas and instructions to help in my particular circumstances. I completed the application and physicians exam required by W.D.F.V. and within days I was sent the Service Dog Registration Certificate, ID Badge, and Patches to sew on a vest for my service dog.
The first task I began working on was having Moses pick up things I drop or can't reach; Moses accomplished that in 2-3 days because of Kens instructions. Next I worked on having Moses close doors for me: 10 minutes a day and a week and 1/2 later, Moses closes the door on command (video available link) Moses also reminds me to take my daily medication at the same time every day; even waking me when I am asleep, and will not stop barking until I take my medication. I would have never thought of teaching my dog these tasks if it had not been for that first conversation I had with Ken. I have called several times with training questions and IMMEDIATELY was given a working solution. I have the ability to train dogs, but without ken's knowledge and assistance, it would take hours of research and reading to learn what Ken articulates in "seconds."
Since initial contact with WDFV, I have interacted with other veterans who are also dependent on (Working Dogs for Vets) for assistance with their dogs.