The main thing that Noble will be helping me manage is my anxiety. One of the main things that the trainer would remind me is that your feelings travel down the leash to the dog. This can lead to the dog being fearful themselves and have overprotective or bad behaviors, if your dog is not confident/mellow enough.
My previous service dog, Keen, was not confident enough to help me with my anxiety. This lead to him taking leadership and going into overprotective mode. This behavior does not help me because now I have to worry about myself and controlling my dog.
It is all about temperament. Labs tend to have the perfect temperament for psychiatric dog duties. They’re more mellow and “happy go lucky.” I chose Noble because of the fact that he was chilling out (chewing on my shoe laces), while his brothers and sisters were running around like psychos. I knew he was the one.
I knew that Noble is perfect for the job earlier this week. I had a rough start to my week, and I was going straight to bed once I got home from work. One night, I decided to have Noble sit with me on the bed before I put him away for the night. He was chewing on his toys and on a pillow occasionally. But after a couple minutes, he was just sitting at the end of the bed and watching me.
I had the anxious shakes and a few tears, and Noble came over and snuggled right by my face and just sat there. I didn’t realize what he was doing until he started licking my face and just having me hold him. THAT is exactly what he will be trained to do. The fact that he is doing it naturally this young is absolutely awe-inspiring.
Now, I want to clarify that a mellow lab isn’t the best temperament for every job. For example, a mobility dog for a paraplegic may need to be a bit more energetic. It depends on what the dog’s task will be and what the handler can handle. I can’t handle an energetic dog when I’m anxious, so I need a dog more chill and go with the flow. It has taken a couple tries for me to figure out exactly what I am looking for, and it might be the same for you.