In the Fall of 2016, my chronic health conditions had declined to the point of disability. For over a decade, I have been battling the wars inside my body, searching for answers and finding very few. It had been a discouraging journey and I felt at a loss for what to do next. In my research, I came across a special Golden Retriever Service Dog that mitigated her handler’s various disabilities. Watching this incredible dog with her handler immediately resonated with me and I began to delve more deeply into researching Service Dogs and their purpose. Soon, I learned of the many different tasks that a dog could be trained to perform to mitigate my own disabilities. I wish I could explain the sense of relief that washed over me once I realized that I could regain a bit of independence–that of not needing another person to assist me with various activities throughout my days–or receive an alert ahead of time regarding an oncoming medical difficulty. After speaking with my doctors and specialists, I continued my research and began connecting with various Service Dog handlers across the United States.
Australian Shepherds have been my heart and soul since we adopted our first Standard Black Tri male when I was only five years old. We tragically lost him to an unexpected medical condition when he was just three years old. It was only natural that my first inclination when choosing a Service Dog breed was to lean towards an Australian Shepherd. However, after nearly a year of research, I understood the weight of choosing a Service Dog prospect when it comes to owner-training. I reached out to multiple Australian Shepherd Service Dog handlers and was dismayed when they both told me that if they had known what they knew now, they would have chosen a Golden Retriever instead. Even though Australian Shepherds were my favorite breed, the purpose of a Service Dog was to mitigate my disabilities. I therefore spent months searching for a reputable Golden Retriever breeder and finally placed a deposit for a litter planned a few months later.
During this time, our family had begun house hunting and found the perfect property in our dream town. Since we come from humble means, it was a very tumultuous process and in the end, we were short on our closing costs. It was a devastating decision, but the money I had saved for my Service Dog prospect then went towards our costs. Getting into our own home was just as important for my health, if not many times more. It took me a little while to come to terms with not being able to afford a Service Dog for quite some time… if even at all. Instead, I focused on the positives that were in my life and what I could accomplish with where I was.
About a month later, I began talking with a local breeder of Mini American Shepherds and Toy Australian Shepherds. Since I was not able to afford a Golden Retriever prospect, I decided perhaps I could eventually add my favorite breed to our family to enjoy during all of my days spent at home. To my surprise, the breeder told me she still had two females available from past litters that I could meet. Because of my health limitations, I was most interested in the Toy female since she would take less effort to care for. But when we arrived, I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous Mini puppy. Even though the Toy was the all-around ideal puppy, I felt a connection with the Mini that I just couldn’t shake. For days, I thought about her and how she would fit into our family. Later that week, I was blessed with the greatest opportunity to be her mama, despite our family’s financial situation.
Which brings us to today… Nihmh’s arrival to our humble ranch in the countryside. I still cannot believe this all is real and it feels as if everything is finally falling into place. Although a Mini American Shepherd is not the ideal breed for Service Dog work, I honestly feel a special bond with this little four month old pup and know she has greatness in her future. During the next few months, I hope to access her abilities and potential for mitigating my disabilities. Until we have consistent schedule on the blog, please follow us on social media at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We are so thankful for all of our friends and followers and can’t wait to share Nihmh’s journey from puppy to partner!