Four Things I've Learned From Fostering A SDIT

Four Things I've Learned From Fostering A SDIT

I know I'm supposed to be teaching him, but he's been doing most of the teaching.

I have been given such an incredible opportunity to foster and socialize a service dog in training (SDIT) through 4 Paws for Ability. 4 Paws is a nonprofit which provides service dogs to children and veterans with disabilities. They have a university program, where college kids like me are able to foster their puppies and socialize them to anything we can think of -- fire trucks, malls, libraries and classrooms, and anything else you can think of.

My first foster is my current foster -- he is a ten-month golden doodle named Luther, and he has been the brightest spot in my life since my co-handler and I brought him home at the end of August. For all the things Maggie and I have taught him (he knows how to hit the handicapped buttons on doors!), being his mom has taught me so many things I never thought I could learn from a small horse.

1. Dogs are way smarter than we give them credit for

Maggie and I have had the easiest time teaching Luther his basic commands -- sit, down, hit it, leave it, roll over, nuzzle, etc. He picks things up so quickly and easily, I can't believe I ever thought that dogs weren't crazy smart. That being said, teaching a puppy commands does take a lot of hard work, both from us and from him, but Luther is always happy to learn new things, especially because he gets beef treats when he does something really well!!

2. They are crazy intuitive

Luther always knows when Maggie or I am having a bad day, and sometimes that means extra snuggles from our favorite small horse (if you can't tell, he is gigantic, and still getting bigger). He is intuitive even of people he has never met or barely knows. This is why dogs are such good therapy animals; they can tell how we're feeling. And it isn't even just sadness or frustration -- he knows when we're upset with him, or when we're really proud of him.

3. Dogs are just tiny people who can't talk

Luther goes through moods as often as I do, and he makes those moods abundantly clear. He has a very distinct personality -- he's silly, he's loving, and he's very attached to me and Maggie. He is very expressive with his facial expressions, something I never noticed on my dog at home. Maggie and I have learned his facial expressions and have nicknames for them. My favorite is the "dufus" face, which usually means he has to go potty.

4. Having him around has made me a better person

I am socializing this puppy to someday be the right-hand-man for a child with a disability. There is no way to do that massive job and not find yourself becoming better, albeit slowly. I have learned patience and love from this big bundle of fluff, and he reminds me every day of the blessing I've been given in helping him on his journey to being a service dog.

Cover Image Credit: Kate Marlette

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Warning: cuteness overload.

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Sunset Skies And Salty Skin

These pictures will almooooost make you feel like you're on vacation.

Everyone has a happy place right? Mine is by a beach. Always has been, always will.

I think the beach has something magical about it and it always has a way of making any big problem seem small. My family goes to the beach be it rainy, sunny, cold or hot- Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter. I think that's why it's my go-to place.

But Chloe, please tell us why you're going on and on about the beach.

Well, I just spent a week of my Spring Break at the beach and turns out it wasn't enough time. I'm extremely nostalgic right about now.

Can you tell?

Considering I'm going through a very hard time and not dealing well with spring break withdrawal, I thought I would try a little experiment.

I'm gonna use Odyssey as my therapy.


Below is a compilation of pretty Sunset pictures that I've taken in the past. I'm hoping that by just viewing the image, it'll help me (and hopefully you as well) make it through the next couple of weeks (i.e. until Summer).

Now, excuse me while I play background music that sounds like I'm in the Caribbean and continue to stare at these pictures until I magically get transported back to a beach somewhere.

Palma de Mallorca, Spain: I would say the view isn't that shabby...

Cahors, France: Can you say Cotton candy skies?

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina: My all time happy place.

Somewhere along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. But here's the catch: this is actually a sunrise picture — I just thought it was pretty.

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina: Did I tell you guys that this is my happy place? No? Because it is.

Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.: Not minding these views at all.

Somewhere along the coast in Maryland: One of the top sunsets I've ever seen, the pictures don't do it justice.

Well, turns out the pictures weren't the 100% reality but they were close enough. I guess I'll just have to content myself with 1) staycation 2) Charlottesville sunsets. Which 1) can be a lot of fun, time to explore Charlottesville as much as I can until I graduate and 2) the sunsets here are also out of this world.

I guess it's time to stop thinking the grass is greener on the other side and appreciating what I have in front of me!

But hey, I'm human and I like tropical drinks on sandy beaches. Can ya blame me?

Cover Image Credit: Chloe Laird

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