By Director of Training and Placements, Andrea Paul
I have worked at International Hearing Dog for 20 years and have been placing dogs since 2008. I have never had the experience like I did when I placed Moxie, a little white terrier, in Arkansas. Everyone that works here and has placed dogs can tell you that during the placement we get to watch an amazing transformation. Usually, it takes a couple days for the dog to get acclimated to being in a new environment with a new person. They are still happy to see the trainer but begin to bond with their recipient and by about the third day the dogs really don’t want anything to do with the trainer. Moxie had just a little different experience, which I was quite shocked by, especially since when Moxie first came to the facility she was a little shy and unsure of herself. We as trainers could see that deep down, Moxie had the ability to be outgoing and playful. We worked on cultivating that part of her personality and in the end it was a wonderful thing to watch. I picked Moxie up from the facility for her trip to Arkansas and I have to say that she was more excited and more vocal, dancing and play bowing and talking her little head off. Those behaviors were something that I hadn’t seen that much of but that day she was going all out. During our trip she was unusually happy and outgoing and wanted to say hi to everyone. This is much different than during her training.
It’s important to know that Moxie wasn’t the easiest dog to train on her sounds. She would have her good days which were mediocre and then she would have her stubborn bad days which were just plain bad. This made me question whether she would even work in a home so I wasn’t expecting too much from her. If she just did a little bit, I would have been proud.
Once we arrived at the house of her recipient, Jean, Moxie was hesitant and was looking at me a lot and really not sure if she wanted to be with Jean when I handed Jean the leash. This was of some concern for Jean and she thought that Moxie was way too attached to me to stay with her. I told Jean like I tell every recipient who has that concern, “Just give it a couple days and I can promise you that after the second day, Moxie will love you every bit as much as she loves me.” Still Jean was hesitant. I left Moxie with Jean that afternoon so they could bond.
When I arrived to start Moxie’s sound work the morning of the first full day of the placement, they were sitting on the couch. When I knocked, Moxie raised her head, jumped off the couch, and ran to the door. This was a shock to both Jean and me since we hadn’t even started the sound work. Jean opened the door and said, “She did it!” I walked in and what I saw next was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Moxie came over to me, said hello, and then went back over to Jean and stood by her feet. She just looked at me like she was saying, “Ta da…Did it…Now go home Andy.” Let me remind you that this is the first day, not the third when we as trainers usually see this. It was like Moxie had always been there and had just been away on vacation. She worked better than I had ever seen her work, and after that initial greeting that first morning I really didn’t receive another greeting.
She was really happy working the door and then when she saw me, it was, “Oh, it’s you.” and then she would go over and sit on the couch with her back to me most of the time. The third day, I couldn’t get her to do anything. So I happily left her to her new forever home with her new forever person.
The day I left, I knew that Moxie would be fine. That night they had strong storms in the area and what do you know?! Moxie alerted Jean to a tornado warning! Even though Jean was hesitant about getting Moxie to work after I left, Moxie did her job anyway and Jean and all her friends were so excited at lunch the following day.
Welcome home Moxie!! So extremely proud of you!!