The Adventures of Alaric Part 1

May 21, 2010

The Adventures of Alaric Part 1

By Michele Forto

At Denver Dog Works it is my job to choose, temperament test, evaluate, train, and place the dogs whose job it may be to become a cherished service dog for someone in need.

I haven’t bred or purchased any puppies in the last two years, and I had one dog still hanging out with my puppy raiser family.  His name is Alaric Dracul Van Helsing and he was whelped on July 19, 2008.  Alaric was placed with a puppy raiser family who had never experienced raising and training a pup they would not keep.  A twelve year old girl was in charge of him and her responsibility.

Recently, a person in need contacted me, and after a few meetings and going through a few ups and downs, I decided to pull Alaric out of the puppy raisers home and try his placement with this young woman in need.  It shouldn’t have been a difficult decision, but it was, you see I saw for nearly two years a special bond grow between my young puppy raiser and my young pup.  I didn’t have the heart to break up the team unless I was absolutely sure that Alaric’s placement was sincere and true.

When I took Alaric to meet this young woman – they bonded almost immediately.  After the lengthy interview and several visits it has been determined that Alaric has found his calling.  He has been transferred from puppy raising status to full service dog training.  The training is intensive.  He will spend the next 12 weeks with me brushing up and learning 35 commands which are specific to the young woman’s needs.  Alaric visits her weekly for a few hours so they can do trust building exercises, leadership will be established, and a friendship will be solidified.

Today was their first “bonding” session and as the weeks play out I’d like to continue the Adventures of Alaric and take my readers (you) throughout his journey in training to become a psychiatric service dog. Upon arriving Alaric stood up in the back of the van and began showing excitement, we approached her home and he waited patiently for her to open the door, once inside he cautiously checked on her beautiful birds and then returned to my side.  I asked her to offer Alaric some water and led him to the kitchen where it apprehensively took a drink but then surprised me by going to her and licking her hand.  Today’s bonding assignment is to work on bonding with him, leadership exercises include keeping him on leash and taking him everywhere she goes in the house today and a short walk outside for potty breaks and fresh air.  The bonding session went well. It should continue to build and be successful. Alaric just like any dog will test his boundaries and see what he can get away with but I’ve left the young woman with some tips and tricks.

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Michele Forto is Denver’s Dog Training Examiner and the business manager for Denver Dog Works. Michele can be reached through her website at