I’m delighted to announce that the Pet Of The Week is a Border Collie/Golden Retriever called Ariel.
I am truly amazed and blown away by Ariel’s abilities and skills. She is a true hero and your heart will melt when hearing her and her handler’s story.
From the time she was just three months old, Ariel has had a very important job. Ariel is a Psychiatric Assistant Service Dog in Training.
She is helping a handler with an invisible disability. Before Ariel, the handler could not function in a normal society. A loud noise would make her scream and hit the floor, men approaching her would make her lose her breath and she had constant night terrors to the point where she would stay awake until she couldn’t anymore because she was so afraid to sleep. She had constant flashbacks, even when surrounded with people she trusted. She couldn’t enjoy the 4th of July because the constant fireworks would make her brain go into an overdrive that terrified her, she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything except sit there and cry–paralyzed by flashbacks.
Now, Ariel helps her handler enormously. Everyone notices how much happier the handler seems because she knows she doesn’t have to be in such a constant state of terror. At almost seven months of age, Ariel has almost completed her training and is only working on how she is expected to behave in public. She knows how and when to block access to her handler, she knows when her handler is having a night terror and soothes her out of it or wakes her up, she knows when her handler’s anxiety begins to rise and starts to make a scene to get her out of it before it reaches a full-blown panic attack, and if it does reach a full-blown attack, she kisses her handler’s face to focus her back to where she is.
Ariel takes her job very seriously and even does duties that are not required of her. If her handler is not feeling well, Ariel will do everything in her power to try and make her handler laugh and if she cannot, she will stay and fuss over her and protect her. If, for some reason, Ariel does not have access to her handler, even for just a moment, in public, she will apologize by putting her head on her handler’s lap.
You can see the love in her eyes when she looks at her handler. They share a special bond that is based on trust. Her handler trusts her to do her job in public, she trusts her handler to always treat her correctly.
Ariel is not all business, though. Being a puppy and half border collie, she has lots of room in her life for play. She loves water, in fact, whenever her handler tries to bathe or shower, Ariel tries to put a toy in so she has an excuse to jump in after it. She enjoys putting her tennis balls under the recliners or couch so she can try to get them back. She has many toys that she enjoys coming to press against you, and if you try to take it, she will jump away in a game of keep away. She enjoys running as fast as she can and then crashing and taking a nap.
But even when napping, Ariel keeps constant tabs on her handler. She will often sleep with her eyes open, and if her handler leaves the room she will wake up to follow her… then go back to sleep in whatever room her handler is in, just so she has access to her. She is very expressive and communicates well, you can watch her thinking, and see the wheels turning in her head.
Ariel is being whistle trained. Each command has a special whistle that she knows. There is one for come, sit, and lay down, and soon she will be learning her commands for stay, heel, block, and “help”, which will be any time the handler feels she needs her to come and cuddle up to her to get her to focus. For one who is still a puppy, Ariel constantly baffles everyone–including her handler–with how well she behaves, how easily she picks up her tasks, and how seriously she takes her job.
She’s genuinely a one of a kind, and very special. She’s saved her handler’s life.