It was not really Dan I wanted - I actually wanted my former Service Dog, Tag. Tag was a Border Collie who had certified as a Service Dog when she was less than 1.5 years old. Tag was “My Dog”, she had my front, she had my back, Tag had it all. Unfortunately Tag also had some sort of neurological abnormality resulting in her devastating death before her second birthday.
Dan had a huge spot to fill. He soon stole my heart but the training was difficult for me, since I wanted him to be Tag. At 15 weeks of age he flew to Calgary with me, as my Service Dog in Training. Again at 7 months we flew back out to Calgary to visit my daughter Miranda. He was so well behaved on the planes and in the airports it was difficult to believe he was a pup.
Dan's first un-cued alert behaviour happened the Wednesday before Easter weekend. I needed a few items at Walmart; Dan and I got a cart and proceeded up and down crowded aisles. As we were making our way to the check-out area I heard someone call out my name, “Heather, Heather”. It was a good friend Nancy whom I had not seen in a very long time. I backed myself up to an aisle end, cart in front, Dan to left side and Nancy on left. We were having a fine chat when all of a sudden Nancy said, “Dan must want to leave.” I looked down to see Dan had moved from his position beside me and was now standing with one foot on mine and was poking my left thigh with his nose.
Finely the light bulb came on and I said, “No, he is alerting me,” and just then two people associated with my PTSD injury walked by chatting to each other as they shopped. Evidently I had been hearing their voices without consciously recognizing them, and Dan was picking up on my rising anxiety level. I was able to quickly leave the store and got to my wonderful Ford Escape before breaking down. “My Dan” got me out of a situation that could have become emotional and embarrassing in public.