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My First Year in Training as a Service Dog By: HOTAH HENNE

Updated: Mar 27


Aho, readers, this is HOTAH HENNE at the keyboard!


It was my birthday on February 19th and I turned ONE! It has been an amazing first year and I have been learning and experiencing so many cool things. My trainer, Momma Sharon, is making sure I am well rounded so I will be able to help my person down the road.


Ever wonder what it takes to train as a Service Dog? I’m going to share with you my first year in service dog training so you understand the work that will help me become a great companion.


I live and train on a small farm in Lancaster County, PA. My family consists of Momma and Daddy (my trainers!), my foster siblings Cooper and Devaney, and my cousin, Cora Lee. My day starts with me grabbing a toy and as Momma says, I ‘parade around the room' with it and talk to everyone while I get lots of love! Then all of us go for a long walk/run through the many acres of fields behind the house. We run up and down the hills, play tag and get to see the many cows and chickens around and smell the fresh farm air. When we come back to the house, we go swimming in the creek which is my favorite. I have developed quite an impressive set of muscles and have a lot of stamina for my age! Then it’s time for a BIG country breakfast which is yummy in my tummy! Momma says it’s important for us to eat a well-balanced variety of foods. Whether it’s eggs, oatmeal, turkey, beef, tripe, fruits and vegetables, or she even spoils us with special homemade treats like doggie ice cream! After chow time, I am ready for a short snooze and then the learning begins.


Each day is different for training. Some days we train at home and my lessons might include cues such as ‘sit, down, stay, wait, go, touch, alert’ and others. I have a special ‘place’ where I go and from that place we do other fun things too, like jump on/off a platform or I ‘stay’ in a position there until my name is called. I like the field trips best though and when my training vest goes on, I punch the time

clock and know I’m going to work. Momma gives me cues such as ‘car’ when we get ready to leave then ‘out’ when we arrive. ‘Heel’ is a cue I am asked for a lot and I realize Momma is asking me to walk next to her on her left side. I really like training and learning new things and there are always LOTS of treats involved so

I’m always on my best behavior. It’s a pawsome system and I am mastering it

well.


While in different locations, Momma and I work together. She might say,

‘down-stay’ while she looks at items on the shelves a little bit of a distance from me and I patiently wait until she calls for me. If something catches my eye and I start to investigate, she will say ‘leave it’ and I listen and focus back on her. We train in lots of cool places like the food store (I always mind my manners and look, but don’t touch), clothing stores, the drugstore, bank, pet stores, the feed store,

restaurants that smell oh so good, Tractor Supply, and Lowe’s. The Dollar Store is fun and I have even been to the DMV and the famous Herr’s Potato Chip Factory where the ladies really loved on me and made me feel like a rock star!


I get to meet some really cool people too who always stop to talk with us and always want to touch my soft white fur. I especially like the kids. They are closer to my height and we get to look each other in the eyes. They’re always so happy and sometimes they hug me and giggle – it’s so neat! I get to go on many road trips and have even gotten to run on the beach and play in the water at Myrtle Beach (shout out to the Henne Goldens Homestead in Myrtle Beach! Hi Jessica, Nick and Matthew, Jacquie and cousin Ares!).


In between training and going places, we go out for a lot of exercise! We have these cool squeaky balls that we all run and play with. You should see me leap up in the air and catch! There are also these flying saucer things (Momma calls it a Frisbee) and tug toys. We also have a sandbox to dig in which is the best day ever! My cousin Cora Lee and I love to kick the sand around, hide our toys, then dig them out! Around here, it’s not all work and no play as we have such a great balance between my studies and playing. After dinner and another play session, I’m usually dog tired. Sometimes I’ll watch tv with the family, but mainly I just want to sleep.


If I had to share the best part of my first year, it would be hard to choose because there have been so many really neat things. The training is fun because Momma makes sure I learn, but we also have a good time with it. And I love the silly things we do like dance with her when she cooks and sing along to the songs. Momma

LOVES to dress us up for special occasions and takes a plethora of pictures – we

humor her, but secretly I love it! The whole family goes for fun car rides to get

snacks and we ride around in the EV Daddy has on the hilly roads of the countryside taking in the sights. When I look in my Mommas eyes, I know I am loved and that I am making her proud. She has already had the talk with me that one day I will go away from the farm to live with someone who really needs me and my special skills – someone who I can help to be more independent and confident. I really like helping others (Momma says I was born to be strong for others) that’s how I got my name, HOTAH, which means “strong’ in the Lakota language. I wear my name with pride, as I am strong in mind, body, heart and soul.


This is my life, my first year!



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