Danie Coote lives in the California countryside with her ever-caring husband, their four dogs and their three rescued Mustangs. Danie has been a chronic illness warrior for over a decade and has recently become disabled as multiple of her conditions have worsened. In an effort to regain independence in her chronically ill journey, she adopted her first Service Dog prospect, Nihmh, in April 2017. In July 2017, Danie launched their blog as a way to document their journey and inspire others around the globe to live a positive, happy life, no matter what life’s circumstances may become.

Nihmh is an AKC Miniature American Shepherd born on November 29, 2016. Her sire is currently ranked number 9 in the nation for Conformation. Nihmh began training to become a Service Dog at four months of age and has done exceptionally well. As time progresses, she continues to grow in her confidence and has already become a dependable partner for alerting Danie to her medical needs and changes. Nihmh loves her girl and their bond is clearly evident to others.

What photography equipment do you use?
We currently use a Canon Rebel T3 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens and are planning to eventually upgrade our camera to the Canon 5D Mark IV, while also adding additional wide angle lenses to our collection.

What Service Dog gear do you regularly use?
Nihmh uses the Premium Tiny Vest from WireDog which is equipped with patches from Patience and Love. We also have multiple leash wraps from Patience and Love to suit various occasions. If we will be attending a place where Nihmh will be required to settle for long periods of time and/or the ground is unsuitable for a down-stay, we bring along our favorite mat from Yellow Dog Gear. Our absolute favorite collars are from Dream n’ Design–we can’t recommend this shop enough and have used their check chain collars from puppyhood to adulthood.

What should one look for when selecting a Service Dog prospect?
In order to set a team up for the highest chances of success, a prospect should possess important qualities. A Service Dog is expected to be exceptionally well-mannered in public settings where pets are not permitted, such as restaurants, theme parks, or large events. Therefore, the prospect will need to be confident in such environments so that they may dependably obey commands and perform necessary tasks to mitigate their handler’s disability. A Noise Sensitivity Test is commonly used to test a prospect’s reaction to a variety of sounds and circumstances. Another test often performed is a Body Sensitivity Test. This test is evaluating the dog’s level of forgiveness for occasions when a stranger may accidentally bump into the dog or a child may tug on the dog’s extremities without warning. A third test, referred to as a Fetch Test, is used to measure the prospect’s innate willingness to cooperate with their handler. If the prospect picks up the item, they show promise. If the dog retrieves the item, bringing it back to the handler, they pass the test with flying colors. Finally, when choosing a prospect (especially if the dog is older), it is important to take into consideration the tasks the dog will need to perform and whether it is fair to ask the prospect in question to perform such tasks. Keep in mind that dogs must be a certain size to safely perform certain tasks such as Counterbalance, Bracing, or applying Deep Pressure Therapy. It is always recommended to have an experienced evaluator and/or trainer accompany the handler when choosing a Service Dog prospect.