KONA: From shelter dog to service dog

In the fall of 2017, I was at an all time low. My physical and mental health was abysmal, and I was spending most of the day inside, in bed and shut out. After some research and working with my health care providers, I decided that I needed a service dog. I was unable to afford a program dog, and didn’t want to have to wait for a donated one. I took a giant leap and started to look into adopting a dog and task training it myself. I looked all around California for “my” dog. Every time I got close, something would fall through or apart. Across petfinder, I kept seeing this goofy german shepherd looking dog and I thought “okay, maybe if he’s still there in a week I’ll put in an application”. He was still there 2 weeks later, so I put in an application and on January 27th 2018 I drove 4.5hrs to Yreka to meet Kona. It was love at first sight. Kona came bounding out to me and immediately rolled over in my lap. After evaluating his behavior, working with him for about an hour, I signed the papers and took him home. We started training right away, and Kona was right off the bat a pro. Kona has an abundance of energy, loves treats and so desperately wants to please–making training him pretty easy as long as you could see his puppy brain focused! Despite this energy, on days where I was physically unable to do much, he was perfectly content to stay in bed with me, and is happy to curl up under my chair during class, and wait for me to need him.
In just a year Kona now has amazing public access skills and can task under pressure. He never meets a stranger, and has fans wherever he goes. While chasing squirrels is still one of his favorite activities, he will still come back to get me when I’m down. Kona has traveled up and down the West Coast, and will be traveling with me and my team to competitions in Texas later this year, as well as a vacation to Disneyland–He loves flying! Kona truly changed my life. I’m able to go out in public again, able to get out of bed again and able to live my life normally again. I can’t imagine life without him, and I would not be here without him.

~ Olivia


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