Service dogs do some incredible things to help people with disabilities and challenges. We wanted to get a more personal insight to this special bond and interviewed Kathy Bowman and her dog Jackson.
When did you first get Jackson and how did you hook up with him?
I was matched with Jackson on August 2, 2013. I went thru Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence (ADAI) in Slyvania, OH.
What sort of training did Jackson have before you met him, and how long was it?
Jackson was born in WI and was breeder donated to ADAI. He spent almost 2 years with a Foster Mom who attended basic training classes on a week at ADAI. His Foster Mom is a school teacher so he went to school with her every day. Then Jackson went into the Toledo Prison Inmate Dog training program for 4 months. Jackson was then returned to ADAI for further training for my specific needs.
Did you need to train Jackson yourself to work specifically with you?
No I did not do any training myself, I went to classes with Jackson for two weeks at ADAI to learn Jackson’s commands and to adjust any training that I thought would be successful. We regularly go over all of Jackson’s commands both the ones we use everyday and the one’s that he knows but doesn’t use regularly…like ‘HELP’.
What sort of day to day things does Jackson help you with?
Day to Day Jackson helps me with my balance when I walk, he helps pull covers up and off, he can pick up things that I drop at home or in stores. He helps me pull off my jacket & socks. Pushes drawers/doors closed.
What is the single most important thing that Jackson does for you?
The single most important thing that Jackson does for me is confidence to go out and live my life, that I’m not alone, if something bad happens, I don’t have to face it by myself.
How does a typical day start for Jackson?
A typical day for Jackson starts by Jackson pulling down the covers for me, assisting me out of bed. A potty break, breakfast for both of us but no coffee for Jackson! 😀 I shower (Jackson lays on the floor between the bathroom & bedroom while I am in the shower. I get dressed. I brush Jackson’s teeth with a regular toothbrush & doggie toothpaste (He loves getting his teeth brushed!) Clean his eyes and give him a quick brushing of his coat. I brush my teeth, comb my hair & apply make-up. Put Jackson’s harness on and we are ready to start our day.
Does Jackson partake in the normal play activities that any dog does? What does he do for exercise and fun?
Yes, Jackson does have play time. At least once a day he plays a very vigorous game of fetch in the back yard. He has 3/4 acre to run and play; he covers every inch of it. I also have several friends that have dogs that we go visit and Jackson has play time with them. We also like to go to the area malls & walk for exercise for both of us.
How would you describe the bond you have with Jackson?
Jackson and I have a very attentive and caring bond, my safety and well being come first. He is very loving and funny. He makes me laugh every day.
Does Jackson like getting a bath?
He’s had several since I’ve had him, and I wouldn’t say it’s his favorite thing to do, but he’s very compliant. He just sighs and does what’s asked. It doesn’t make him sad or anything, and he doesn’t try to get out of the tub. He accepts it as the task he is given.
Has Jackson had any health issues?
Jackson has had a slight cough but it was treated with medication by his vet Dr. Dawn Kennedy. He gets weighed once a month and has physicals twice a year. He is a very healthy dog.
What advice would you have for someone in your position who is considering a service dog?
It takes time to become a ‘team’ and Service Dogs are work! They take time, to get ready, groom, to take outside to do their duty, to get them in and out of your vehicle. People ask a lot of questions about them and are constantly petting them. You have to have patience and be polite. It’s a learning experience not just for you but for everyone you encounter and you represent the organization where you received your dog. You may be someones first encounter with a service dog.
What has Jackson taught you?
Jackson has taught me patience, time management (I never want to be late, I now have to figure in the extra time that my disability has given me and the time it takes to get Jackson ready to go as well). He’s given me confidence in my ability to walk without falling. Trust that Jackson will be there and will help me. He calms me and reassures me & my husband that I’m okay to be home alone when Jackson is there. My husband doesn’t worry as much as he used to.