Thursday, February 4, 2010

Buf and SALLY

Two beautiful pictures of SALLY when she was still in California.

(If you haven't already, please read Buf's story at


I've just spent three days training with Buf and SALLY at Alderson. Buf is one of our newest veterans to receive a service dog and SALLY is the wonderful yellow lab that Kyria and I brought home from Bergin U. this summer.
There are many reasons why this was a huge success and such a moving experience to witness. For those of you who know Buf, many parts of Buf's training will stand out to you as momentous. For those of you who don't know Buf, please read his story so you can have a full appreciation of the courage he showed throughout this trip and its many challenges.
Every time I think of Buf and SALLY I just get a huge smile on my face. I can't stop remembering watching the two of them walk down the hall together: SALLY with a spring in her step (watching Buf's every movement), Buff grinning and talking to SALLY in an upbeat, attention grabbing voice. That upbeat voice was no small feat-Buf had to work hard to keep his voice upbeat and light hearted-to do that he had to focus on SALLY...and not other thoughts that brought him down. We told him that his emotions traveled right down the leash. To keep SALLY upbeat, happy and responsive, he had to be genuinely upbeat, happy and responsive. The more Buf practiced with SALLY, the easier this seemed to come to him.

I loved watching Buf give SALLY all kinds of commands: sit, down, stand, turn, shake, wave, stay, roll, heel, let's go, ready, go in, pay attention.... I have not seen a transfer move along so quickly. SALLY really watched Buf and paid close attention to him. Her tail was up, wagging, her body was relaxed and orientated to Buf, she was alert and having fun.....and guess what? My guess is that Buf was having fun too (based on the smile on his face).

I loved when our two excellent inmate trainers did a demo of SALLY's special skill of "pay attention". When this command is given, SALLY will alert Buf with a firm nose nudge when anyone is approaching from 15 feet away. This helps Buf a great deal since he is very concerned about someone approaching him without knowing. Even better is when we practiced this skill at the grocery store that night in the checkout line. When SALLY followed through on this command in a real life situation, the look on Buf's face was priceless. He has said that this one skill alone gives him hope for a more normal life with SALLY by his side....

I love how Buf accepted ANY challenge that Terry and I threw at him. He shook my hand and the inmates hands several times, he shopped in a grocery store, he went out to eat with Terry and I four times, he worked with SALLY in a hallway crowded with loud people walking in front and behind him, he practiced with SALLY on his own time, took video of the two of them and wrote incredible blog entries. And this is a short account of the great work Buf did this week. (For any of you thinking "Why are those things such a big deal?"-read Buf's story and you will know!!)

All of these things are great highlights of the last three days, but I have two favorite memories:

The first memory is after we pulled into a parking lot (can't remember where). Buf was driving his truck and he had SALLY. Terry and I were riding in Terry's car. As soon as we got out of the cars, Buf called us over and showed us SALLY-in the front passenger seat (instead of behind the seats). He laughed and laughed as he told us he tried to put SALLY in the back behind the seats but that she looked at him as if to say "What are you doing?? I belong up front!" And up front is where she stayed :)

The second memory is when Buf brought SALLY to my room yesterday evening after spending several hours with her. He told me about walking her several times, working with her, laying with her and getting down on her level only to get a bath with her huge sloppy tongue.....his face was completely lit up with the biggest ear to ear smile telling me about all of her antics. That makes it all worth while!!

To read about Buf's three days of transfer training in his own words, check out his blog:

Visit paws4people for more information about our Assistance Dog programs, NPOFundingSolutionS for more information about our nonprofit fundraising programs, and to purchase online raffle tickets, support our programs and Win $1Million!

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment