Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Four Legs at a Time

Name: Claudia Currie
From: Goleta, Ca
Grade: Junior
School: University of California Santa Barbara
Votes: 0

Think about when you remember seeing someone with a legitimate service
animal. Now, imagine what that service animal means to that person;
maybe that animal acts as their eyes or alerts the person of low
blood sugar or an upcoming seizure. Those animals had to have a
beginning; someone who trained them to be proficient in their duties.

For me, I devoted my volunteering to training service dogs, specifically
for the blind. I chose this volunteering avenue because we take many
of our senses for granted and I wanted to be humbled by the fact that
I am able, truly capable, of helping others regain their
individuality through animals. As a volunteer trainer, it was my sole
responsibility to make sure the puppy was competent in many commands
that were needed for the dog to continue on the adventure of becoming
someone’s eyes. For that to be accomplished, my volunteer hours
were twenty-four hours a day seven days a week for a little over a
year.

There were many challenges that came with raising a service dog. One of the
most challenging aspects of training a professional service dog is
learning about the “fake” service dogs that people “certify.”
Those people don’t realize the dangers of making their pet dog a
service dog. Many pets do not receive adequate socialization for them
to stay calm in many environments that a person might encounter
during the day. It takes months of training for service dogs to
calmly escort their partner out of a dangerous situation.

Although there are many challenges, there are many rewards as well to this
avenue. Living a breathing along with the puppy, I am able to judge
whether a situation will be too overwhelming for the dog in training.
I am able to make the dog happy as well as let the dog know I care
for his needs and limits which creates a trust between us.

There are many things I have learned from being a volunteer puppy raiser.
The one most important lesson I have taken from this experience is
that there will always be people out in the world who need the help
from others. I plan to make a change in the world one trained dog at
a time by showing others around me that doing something for someone
else, giving up time, money, and energy for those in need, is more
rewarding than striving to live one life. Forward looking to me means
keeping my goal in sight and helping others reach their life goal.
While I am striving forward, I can help a blind lady get her eyes and
independence back through training a dog.

Without a doubt, I know my volunteer activities have made a difference. Maybe
not to the whole world, but I know I have helped open up one person’s
world with opportunities that they could not have accomplished
without my service.


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