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Service Dog, Trainer Visit Groom ISD

Freshman+Katelyn+Burger+reaches+out+to+hearing-service+dog+Haven.+Haven%27s+owner%2C+Bill+Rupert%2C+rewarded+her+for+staying+still+while+small-animal+management+students+pet+her.+%22It+was+really+cool+seeing+how+she+%28the+dog%29+reacted+to+hearing+the+bell+and+alarms%2C%22+freshman+Kaylie+Ritter+said.
Freshman Katelyn Burger reaches out to hearing-service dog Haven. Haven's owner, Bill Rupert, rewarded her for staying still while small-animal management students pet her.

Freshman Katelyn Burger reaches out to hearing-service dog Haven. Haven's owner, Bill Rupert, rewarded her for staying still while small-animal management students pet her. "It was really cool seeing how she (the dog) reacted to hearing the bell and alarms," freshman Kaylie Ritter said.

Kaylie Ritter

Kaylie Ritter

Freshman Katelyn Burger reaches out to hearing-service dog Haven. Haven's owner, Bill Rupert, rewarded her for staying still while small-animal management students pet her. "It was really cool seeing how she (the dog) reacted to hearing the bell and alarms," freshman Kaylie Ritter said.

Service dogs have two key purposes: protect and help their owner in the day to day tasks that that person may not be able to do with impairments. Having a hearing impairment comes with a lot of difficulties. That is why dogs like Haven, who visited the Small Animal Management Class this semester, are here to help.

Service dogs can be found anywhere and everywhere – even in Groom, Texas. And, one was found in Groom on Jan. 30.

On that day Groom students met Haven and her owner Bill Rupert when they visited Groom ISD to talk about the-behind-the-scenes life of a service dog, as well as how their trainers prepare them.

“Having a service animal come to class and demonstrate, first-hand, for us how she helps her owner function was an amazing opportunity,” Kamy Whatley, Small Animal Management teacher said. “It is one thing for us to look at pictures and videos of animals providing services to humans, but there is a completely different level of interest and knowledge obtained when the animal comes to your class.”

Texas Paws Dog Training LLC brought Haven and Rupert. Along with them came Kheli Harless, a behavior specialist. Harless specializes in dog aggression.

Rupert and Harless showed the class special tricks the service dogs can do. If Rupert says “touch” and holds his hand palm down, Haven is supposed to touch her nose to his palm and sit. If Haven hears a ring, like a bell, she will jump up and alert Rupert, who can’t hear the ring. He then asks “where?” and Haven will go find the noise.

“I had a lot of fun, and I loved learning about service dogs,” freshman Laurel Fields said. “I really loved Haven.”

Rupert has trained Haven to alert him when the microwave is done, or if their alarm system goes off. Haven has even figured out that when Peggy, Rupert’s wife pulls up she hears the car and it clicks that the garage door is going to open. Haven then alerts him that she is here.

Service dogs have many rules and commands they need to follow. They can even recognize hand motions like “touch.” If Rupert says, “close,” Haven then needs to move closer to him and sit. Treats are given to encourage the dog after obeying the requests.

Service dogs are always training. They need to get re-licensed every year. With this much training, the trainers try to be as positive as possible. Being too negative with the dog can discourage it, causing it to not want to do its job.

“We try to avoid using ‘no,'” Rupert said. “We want to encourage the dog to do its job – and be positive with the dog.”

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Working Like a Dog