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Rated: E · Assignment · Animal · #1849840
Story about how my partner and I met; Punctuation Station assignment.
We met because I told my friends, "I'm looking for a service dog." Her past, an unsolved mystery: before this walking skeleton was
found—I had no idea what to expect. Immediately falling in love with this emaciated, sweet, loving soul who has a very kind spirit, I had to be certain I wanted my new friend for all the right reasons. In a few weeks, I would let my friends know my decision.

Unexpectedly, after about a week my friends phoned to ask me,
"would you watch the dog because our daughter, (who is her care giver), is going on vacation?"
Of course I couldn't say no.

Reunited for only a short time, I realized this dog had many very serious issues such as; fear of eating or drinking from a dog dish {requiring many months of different approaches to get her accustomed to the dish}, extreme fear of sudden movements and noises such as; containers sliding, tipping over or; internal strange noises because a cat was inside; the slamming of doors, drawers; objects hitting the floor; things rushing up from behind like bicycles, cars, people, animals: and yelling—an unhappy spirit would crush her.

During our relationship, from the fall of 2011 to 2012. she has been working very diligently and faithfully to over come her fears and the skills she needs to be my service dog. Here to stay for the rest of her life; she loves working for me and being with me.

Some of the tasks she has learned are, opening and closing the laundry room door; so we can enter or exit the house, closing the cabinet doors (using her paw or nose to push them closed), standing perfectly still so that I can gently lean on her, fetching many items; especially her leash, phones, her fleece, and my sun glasses, and; very small items such as a coins, finishing nail, and whatever her anatomy will allow her to pick up. This is a major success because American Pit Bull Terriers do not have this fetching ability built into their DNA like the retrievers. I had to take microscopic slow steps to show her what I wanted her to do, how to perform this action, and why this was necessary.

A very important skill for a service dog to learn is to lay quietly beside their person for hours while their person is doing activities which do not require the dog to move for any reason. Bella has had plenty of practice being a statue because I had to practice punctuation such as; (a) dealing with colons and semi colons (My favorite places to visit are; Washington, D.C. and Annapolis, MD.; (b) Did you know she said service dogs are allowed. indirect questions don't require question marks, (c) (Bellas' coat helped her stay warm, while she was outside.) showing possession of the coat, and (d) en, em, and dashes are the last lesson; (The blue-green color of the coat was beautiful.) Bella spent a very long time under my desk waiting for hours while I worked on my studies. Only when we are at the mall, I would occasionally allow her to enjoy visiting with our friends—a well deserved reward for her hard work.

She is a very devoted dog and well behaved for a 2 year old. We will be continuing our work for the rest of our lives to learn to improve our skills and Bella will learn many more activities and tasks which will help me. School will be in session daily because there is always something new to learn.

word count: 597
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