(light cheerful music) – [Narrator] The service dogs in training from Doggy Do Good have a big day ahead of them. It’s beach day! The sun, the surf, and boundless distractions that could cause any of these dogs to flunk out of Service Dog School. This is Puppy Prep. ^(light cheerful music) None of the pups are more excited to smell that ocean air ^than eight-month-old Golden Retriever, Luke. He’s been hanging out by the beach since he was only a couple months old. ^His half-sister, Remmy, is also excited, maybe too excited. It’s all right for her to take a second and adjust to the new sights and smells, but when it comes time for work, Remmy’s going to need to focus. For these puppies, the first order of business at any new location is to sample the local grass. While they’re not supposed to chew on the foliage, it’s easy for the pups to sneak a bite when the trainers have their backs turned. And the trainers turn their back frequently. Having this many puppies around draws attention, and people are excited to learn about the service dogs. But Nelly and Remmy are taking this chance to mess around. (dogs barking) The dogs aren’t supposed to go on the sand after 10:00, and while special exception can be made for service animals, there’s no shortage of other activities by the ocean, like the playground. The playground offers a multitude of different surfaces, sounds, and experiences. All of this builds confidence, getting the puppies ready for anything. ^First one up, six-month-old Chocolate Lab, Benelli. Climbing on rocks and walking on sand may appear simple, but it’s actually building the puppy’s comfort on a variety of surfaces. Wherever Benelli goes, she needs to be focused not on where she’s standing but on what her owner may need. – Good girl. – [Narrator] After breezing through the different surfaces, it’s time for something that will really disorient her. – Good girl. – [Narrator] The slide. While Benelli’s future owners may never actually take her down a slide, it’s important she has confidence to handle all kinds of new experiences. At first, she’s nervous, but with some coaxing and the promise of treat… – Good girl! – [Narrator] …even a puppy like Benelli can find her courage. Now back on firm land, the trainer is sure to praise Benelli up, building a connection in the puppy’s mind between bravery and reward. Fresh off the excitement of the slide, Trainer Paul tosses his keys to ensure Benelli still knows it’s work time. – Good, get it. – [Narrator] And she happily does her job. – Benelli, great, get it. Benelli, get it. Good girl. – [Narrator] There’s still one more slide for Benelli to attempt. (dramatic drumbeats) The spiral slide. That is, if she can get up to it. With a bit of a running start… – Benelli, jump. – [Narrator] …she makes the leap. – Good girl. – [Narrator] Her lesson from the other slide has her excited to try this one. Having never seen them before five minutes ago, slides are now simple for the six-month-old Chocolate Lab. – Woo hoo hoo! Good girl!
Good girl. – [Narrator] Back with the dogs in down stay, ^Karen tries to refocus Remmy. She tries to get the Golden to heel, and focus in, but the eight-month-old won’t settle down. This isn’t good. Remmy’s future owner will count on her, day in and day out. And, it looks like Remmy’s lack of focus is starting to spread. Luke, get back! Come on, Karen’s trying to focus on Remmy. Kaya, are you serious? Come on! – Kaya, no! – [Narrator] All three Goldens have the sillies now, even usually dependable Luke. Kaya has to refocus, and quick. It’s her turn to walk the playground. ^The eight-month-old enjoys jumping on different surfaces. – Good girl! Good girl. Come on, let’s go. – [Narrator] The straight slide. – Good girl! Good girl, Kaya! Good girl! – [Narrator] And when it’s time for the spiral slide, what was a tough jump for Benelli is an easy hop for Kaya. But, what goes up must come down, and Kaya’s confused how that’s supposed to happen. When Sandy, the owner of Doggie Do Good, leads the way, Kaya eventually figures it out. She’s immediately praised for her bravery. – Good girl! Good girl! – [Narrator] A second attempt down the slide… (laughs) Oh, look at you. Oh, no. Good try, Kaya.
Good try. – Good girl. Good girl, Kaya. – [Narrator] But, what’s important is that Kaya’s conquered her fear, and admirably so. Back in the down stay, it looks like Remy has finally calmed… Oh. Relax, Remmy.
It’s just a bird. All right.
Good girl, Remmy. Thank goodness you’re finally starting to show some self-control, otherwise today could have been the day you failed at… Oh no. – [Trainer] Remmy! – [Narrator] Breaking from a down stay to this degree is a bad sign. With Karen working with Kaya, Paul has to leave the dogs to find where Remmy ran off. Even though they’re unsupervised, they don’t dare to break; no one wants the fate that’s about to befall Remmy. Lockdown. Remmy now has to think about what she’s done, and hope it doesn’t mean expulsion. ^Now, it’s Luke’s turn to take a lap around the playground. – Good boy. – [Narrator] His first challenge is the rocking horse. Karen is trying to get Luke to jump over it, in preparation for future awkward spaces. – Stay. – [Narrator] Luke is not having it. – Good boy.
Jump over it. – [Narrator] He hasn’t had problems of bravery in the past, so this is a new issue. – Over it.
Nope. Over it.
Good boy, come on. – [Narrator] Eventually, our hero figures it out. – Good, good! Good boy! – [Narrator] And Karen is sure to reward his courage. – Good job! Good boy, let’s go! – [Narrator] If Luke shows the same hesitation on the slide, then… – Good boy! – [Narrator] …well, nevermind. – Good job, Luke! Good boy! – [Narrator] Looks like after only a couple attempts, he’s already a pro. – Good job!
Good boy! – [Narrator] Good job, buddy. – Good job. – [Narrator] When Luke returns to down stay, he finds Deacon is still getting used to his harness. He’s not quite sure why he can’t flip all the way over on his back. Paul straightens him out, and it’s back to down stay. ^Okay, Remmy. ^You’ve had a tough day so far, so time to redeem yourself on the playground. First up is the rocking horse that Luke struggled with. – Come on.
Good girl. Over it. – [Narrator] Just like with her half-brother, it’s a matter of confidence. – Let’s go. – [Narrator] And it suddenly looks like Remmy’s lost most of hers. The culprit? The pirate ship steering wheel. – Just need a second. – [Narrator] Notice how her tail is tucked between her legs? So do the trainers. They’re hyper-aware of the pup’s attitude, and this is a huge signal from Remmy. Karen gets down on Remmy’s level and starts feeding her treats. She pets her and praises her, trying to show Remmy she’s safe. Remmy then has to pass by the wheel several more times, ensuring the dog has confronted her fear. – [Karen] Good girl. – [Narrator] If Karen can get Remmy to sniff the wheel or be still next to it, that’s going to be a great indication that Remmy’s making progress. – Good girl! – [Narrator] Eventually, a sniff. – [Karen] Good job! – [Narrator] And after a few more laps, her tail starts to wag again. Remmy’s done extremely well, and with so much excitement already had on the playground, the slide can wait for another day. ^Back on the grass, the undeniable Mr. Pip ^finds himself in an embarrassing situation. – [Trainer] Mr. Pip. – [Narrator] Because he is by far the worst at down stay, Mr. Pip has to be tied up, to the other dogs. Luke seems confused why he has to babysit, but he doesn’t mind. It gives him something to watch as he snacks on the grass. – [Trainer] Luke, leave it. Luke, release. – [Narrator] Finally, some respect. Unbelievable. Chin up, Mr. Pip. You’re still a hero in our hearts. (Mr. Pip whines) ^Another hero from Doggie Do Good is recent graduate Sammy. Sammy transitioned to his forever family only five months ago, but his bond with handler Bryce has been immediate. Sammy helps Bryce with several diagnoses, including generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, inflammatory bowel disease, and bipolar disorder. One way Sammy aids Bryce is during Bryce’s regular blood draws. Before going into an appointment, Sammy gives Bryce hugs and pressure, helping to prepare the boy for the anxiety the needles cause. During the draws, Sammy gives Bryce constant pressure to help him feel more comfortable. Sammy knows Bryce isn’t in distress now, but the 18-month-old lab checks in constantly, making sure, if Bryce ever needs him, he’s there. While Bryce’s family had always had animals, at first, they weren’t sure about adding a service dog. The support that Sammy’s provided in only his first few months, however, has made it all worth it. Someday, the puppies in training will have similar bonds with their owners and be just as important to a family as Sammy is. Back with the student pups, it’s time for a long walk on the beach. ^Or at least next to it. ^Remmy’s had a big day, so trainer Paul takes this walk very slow. Whenever Remmy begins to pull away or move in a different direction, the trainer stops. This teaches Remmy to stay focused. During a heel, the puppies need to be paying attention to the handler constantly, not drifting away on their own line. – [Paul] Good girl. – [Narrator] Eventually, Remmy starts to do better. On the stairs, heel is even more difficult for these pups. Dogs want to be on even ground, and prefer bolting up and down steps. The people they’ll someday aid, however, may need help with stairs, so it’s important the puppies learn patience. To end her day, Paul works with Remmy on one of her special abilities: hug. As difficult as the day has been for the young Golden, it’s important to remember that someday she’ll be a huge comfort to a lucky family. It’s going to take work and patience, but it’s clear it’ll be worth it. – Release. Good. – [Narrator] Some dogs can become nervous on the pier, as the spaces between the uneven surfaces can be uncomfortable under their paws. ^Not our Mr. Pip, though. ^He even finds the time to get in some of his best down stay work to date. Good boy, Mr. Pip. As the day winds down, Paul begins ^to test a special skill with Kaya: steady. Steady allows people with mobility issues to put pressure on a dog, to sit down, stand up, or just regain their balance. It’s one of Deacon’s specialties, and might someday be Kaya’s as well. Knowing her eight-month-old joints are still developing, Paul puts only the lightest of pressure over her legs. Once she’s grown, she’ll be able to take much more weight, and may even wear a harness like Deacon. At the end of the day, some dogs took steps forward, while others, steps back. For all these puppies, though, it’s still too soon to tell who will flunk out, and who will graduate Puppy Prep. (light cheerful music)