Training Expert Dogs to Hand-Off to Amateurs with Miranda Turenne

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with Miranda Turenne from Pacific Assistance Dogs Society about Assistance Dogs.

Science Highlight: Canine Olfaction: Scent, Sign, and Situation

How do you prep dogs for new/green handlers?

  • Selection of the dogs is important
    • Dogs that are highly biddable and highly task oriented
  • Building foundation skills to fluency
  • Training system created with the transfer to the client in mind
  • Clean cues, proofing, generalization

How do you prep handlers for dogs? Can any handler (any dog) do this transition?

  • Service dogs are not always the best choice, so the client must be prepared for a lifestyle change with a lot of work
  • Proper matching helps with preparation
  • Educational hours to ensure client is prepared with how to care for the dog
  • In person hand off course to learn the tasks and behaviors as well as care
  • Continuing education

What causes hiccups?

  • Training
  • Incompatibility
  • Reinforcement history
  • Lack of training mechanics in clients

Do you offer brush-up training or support?

  • As much or as little as the client needs/wants
  • Yearly recertification

Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Training Without Conflict

Where to find Miranda: Website | Advanced Dogs Instagram | PADS Instagram | Miranda’s Instagram

You can support the K9 Conservationists Podcast by joining our Patreon at patreon.com/k9conservationists.

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Transcript (AI-Generated)

Kayla Fratt 

Hello and welcome to the K9 Conservationists podcast, where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs join us every week to discuss detection, training, canine welfare, conservation by biology, and everything in between. I’m Kayla Fratt, a co founder of canine conservationists, where we trained dogs to detect data for land managers, researchers, agencies and NGOs. Today, I’m absolutely thrilled to be talking to Miranda Terena from Pacific Assistance Dog society about training assistance dogs, and specifically training their handlers so that dogs can be kind of effectively handed off after training. So welcome to the podcast, Miranda.

Miranda Turenne 

Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.

Kayla Fratt 

Yes, this is gonna be a lot of fun. So for those of you who don’t know, Miranda, which we understand if you don’t, she’s not really in the conservation dog world yet.

Kayla Fratt 

We’ll see if we can get her. She is an advanced dog trainer and Assessment Coordinator for Pacific Assistance Dog society, which is a nonprofit that places highly skilled service dogs with people who live with disabilities other than blindness. Motivated by her passion for partnering people with life changing service dogs, Miranda takes pride in training and placing highly skilled, happy and reliable working dogs. Miranda has trained more than 40 Dogs towards successful working careers, and she uses her teaching degree to help her organize and run ongoing client education, and was a presenter at the most recent assistance dogs International Conference. In addition to working with her dogs professionally, she also spends the rest of her free time competing in IGP with her crew of Belgian Malinois IDs. So this is going to be a very exciting interview, super excited to get into it. First, though, we are going to go through our science highlight. So this week, we visited the article canine olfaction scent sign and situation which was written by Simone Gadbois. And Catherine Reeve, came out in 2014, in domestic dog cognition and behavior. So this is an absolutely fascinating article that I’ve probably read four or five times over the course of the last four years. And it’s pretty dense stuff, it goes over the physiological and neurological underpinnings of odor processing. Their goal was to describe briefly three main components of the olfactory system that are involved in more cognitive processing of olfactory information, as well as being involved in the motivation, motivational mechanisms, underlying olfaction, and code. This paper also goes over the role of dopamine in motivation, and the what, where and how much of searching next to this book chapter, not an article goes into the psychophysics, olfactory learning and cognition and gives a lovely view of errorless discrimination, learning lineups and issues with memory load for sensory processing, as well as ecological processes for sniffer dog work. Again, this is a really dense but fascinating, informative book chapter. More so than a study, I think this is one of those papers that if you read it, and reread it, and strive to understand it, it can be a pretty cool paradigm shift for kind of how we understand detection dogs. So we’ll put the link up in the show notes. And you can find that over at Canine conservationist.org When you’re ready to read it. So Miranda, let’s, let’s get into it. Do you have anything to say about the concept of that paper first, before we

Miranda Turenne 

get into having not personally read that paper? I can’t speak to the paper itself. But I will plug another podcast actually has some Gadbois on it. That was really good. So Ivan Bell, but knob has his own podcast and had it’s actually a couple of our interview with Simone regarding canine olfaction dopamine usage and that type of thing. So it was a great podcast, and it’s a little bit easier to maybe it’s a little bit it’s quite accessible, which is you don’t have necessarily a few hours or days to process book chapters. He’s an absolutely fascinating person, a really brilliant scientist. And it was a great listen. So I would highly recommend because I want to touch on a lot of that.

Kayla Fratt 

That’s great. I didn’t know Ivan Balvin off. I don’t think I know his podcast, what’s it called?

Miranda Turenne 

So he he’s a bit of a controversial figure, but he is not. You know, he’s, he’s an IGP trainer and he’s okay, world level competitor. And he certainly has some really great people that he interviews on his training without conflict podcasts. So it’s absolutely worth listening to, in some regards, because the people that he’s interviewing are absolutely fascinating. And so my god was one of those ones, and they do touch on canine olfaction and working dogs. So I think it’s a really great relevant option. That is easy to do while you’re in the car. If you’re like me, and you’re busy, and you get most of your learning, auditory,

Kayla Fratt 

same, yeah, no. And we love Dr. Gadbois. We’ve had him on the show here, at least twice. And I’m in the process of wrangling him and putting him down for a third one.

Miranda Turenne 

We love him.

Kayla Fratt 

Oh, God, I actually, this is a bit of an aside, but I have been trying on and off for like five years to try to figure out how to be a PhD student under him and the US Canadian grad school funding nightmare has just not been doing me any favors in that endeavor. But

Miranda Turenne 

well, that would be really an exceptional opportunity if you can

Kayla Fratt 

work. Goodness, I can’t imagine. I shouldn’t say this out loud. Because I’m probably going to end up getting my PhD under someone else. But I can’t imagine someone I’d rather study under.

Miranda Turenne 

Yeah, yes,

Miranda Turenne 

I could, I would absolutely. have a hard time not fangirling every.

Kayla Fratt 

It might be hard to have him give feedback on my papers.

Miranda Turenne 

You know, you would work you would be very motivated and work your absolute hardest. So I think that would be, you know, a great opportunity for you to be your best self.

Kayla Fratt 

Yes. But anyway, enough about Dr. Gadbois, let’s get to you and your work? No, it’s okay. First things first, I guess let’s get some definitions out of the way. What do you call? Do you call them a service dog handler? And then would the appropriate word be like a novice or first time? How do you kind of describe the person who’s getting their very first service dog.

Miranda Turenne 

So

Miranda Turenne 

inside of our organization, we often refer to the people who are partnered with our dogs as clients. Part of that is that we do want to have a service first mentality towards supporting these clients. These are the people that we are working with. And and they’re the underpinning of why we do what we do. In general, we refer to the dog and client together as a partner, because we are focused on supporting relationship first training and relational based interactions with their dogs, because they really, truly are partners, not just in the skills that they do, but in how they support their clients. So it’s, it’s a relationship for us, and we tend to run terminology around

Kayla Fratt 

it. Yeah, I like that we we use the term teams a lot, you know, you’re handling teams. Yeah, and there’s a lot of in the conservation world, there’s a lot of terms that we’ve been trying to trying on for size as an industry, separate from the word handler or handler trainer. You know, it’s so there’s a lot of different ways to put it. That makes sense. Anyway, so actually, this is a good time for me to take a step back and say, you know, the reason I wanted to do this episode with you is because there’s a bit of a perception by some in the conservation dog industry, that you can train a dog to a really high level for a very specific job, and then hand it off to someone else, and have that dog succeed in that job in the long run. And that you can have the best trained dog in the world, but you hand them off to some newbie, and they’re going to ruin the dog. And it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money, and it’s a money grab to go ahead and do this. I, I might be dramatic sizing a little bit, but actually not by much.

Kayla Fratt 

And there are some people who, who are very well respected in the industry who do do this. But then there are other people kind of on the other side who think it’s, in some cases flat out impossible or irresponsible to do. So when I was thinking about, you know, personally, I love the idea of raising a dog training them to do this job, helping meet a client’s needs, partner them with the right person and get that dog out into the job where someone could maintain the the work that that don’t do does, and maybe they need some brush up work intermittently. But how do we make that succeed? And when I was thinking about this episode, again, partially selfishly, because this is something I would love to do. Okay, let’s, let’s talk to the service dog industry, because this is what you guys do.

Kayla Fratt 

And I, I can’t. There were obviously massive differences between what you’re asking your dogs do and what I’m asking my dogs to do. But I don’t think that either job is inherently more difficult than the other. And I don’t necessarily see why you could train a dog to do something in an assistance dog role, and have that dog succeed in the long run. And you couldn’t do that in the conservation rock world. So that’s where this episode is kind of coming from.

Miranda Turenne 

Yeah, and I really liked that you framed that question? Because I do see that there are quite interesting parallels between these two working dog roles. And I think the biggest one that might be most important for the listeners. And this is just me projecting. So I can, I can only speak for what our priorities are, is that reliability is at as an absolute must. So we require reliability, because in our industry, reliability can mean the difference between life and death. If you have if I’m training during a candidate, if I’ve tried to hearing dog, and that dog fails to do their job, and fails to alert to something like a smoke detector, a baby crying, a tornado warning, anything that could be an emergency in that person’s environment, and that dog fails to do that. That is literally life and death for that client. Yeah, so reliability is an absolute monster. And I and my impression from the conservation industry in the Working Dog conservation industry, is that reliability is a priority for you, folks. Yeah.

Kayla Fratt 

And when I guess, sorry, sorry, you go ahead.

Miranda Turenne 

No, I was just gonna say, I would just want to reflect that, like, when I hear someone saying, like, you eat, you shouldn’t do that. Or if the dog won’t be the team won’t be successful or reliable. It makes me think a little bit about gatekeeping. And what providing access to right. And for me, I come from a perspective where it’s entirely unfair to gatekeeper access to a whole range of people who might not have had the privilege of acquiring a dog from or had acquiring dog experience. So quite a few of our clients, depending on what their disability is, can be first time dog handlers. And I it, I would just want to invite people to ask themselves, like, what are their goals for the industry? And then how would they want to reflect on those goals and see that their practices match the goals, because it, I can’t speak for what their challenges are. But I mean, to me, it’s a lot of what we have is like, the models that we use, or to think about our world connect the beliefs about our disciplines. And our perceptions about what our expectations are, or what the expectations of the field are, or what makes somebody a good dog trainer or a good handler. Some of the best dog trainers I know, are people who are living with disabilities.

Miranda Turenne 

So, so I think there’s a lot

Miranda Turenne 

really bound up in our thinking about dog training. And it’s connected to our experiences, right? Our training philosophies, like our messages that we send to other people.

Miranda Turenne 

And I feel there’s a lot to unpack, as there is.

Kayla Fratt 

And I’m so glad, though, that you brought up this idea of gatekeeping and inclusion, we’ve got another episode that we’re recording here in a couple of weeks. So it’ll come out probably a month after this one with a diversity educator about, you know, expertise in diversity and equity and inclusion in these in this field. And I think so my, my understanding of where that concern comes from is it it’s from a very understandable route of this is a new field, or it’s not even that new of a field, but it’s not that well known. It doesn’t have a widespread understanding and acceptance in the scientific community. And therefore, one of the biggest fears that a lot of experts have would be the market, quote, unquote, being flooded by poorly trained under trained ineffective dogs, that therefore, you know, me and my dogs, we couldn’t do this, at this really high level, there’s all these amazing studies coming out, they’re showing that, you know, dogs can do this at 97% specificity. They can, you know, accuracy, all of these numbers are like off the charts. They’re amazing. But that’s with expert dogs and expert handlers. And we don’t really know, I assume that the ceiling or you know, that’s kind of, we can assume the ceiling, because you can’t really get much better than 99 97%

Kayla Fratt 

with most of these measures, but then the floor is really really low as well. You could conceivably have dogs that not only never find a single target, maybe find you a couple things that are absolutely not what you were looking for, but they could trace wildlife, they could kill wildlife, they, you know, like the floor of like what the worst case scenario of a badly trained conservation dog could do, and could therefore kind of do to the field. is I think a very important thing to consider. My, my hypothesis is that part of this comes around in this particular field, because many, particularly of many of the big names in our field currently in the conservation dog field.

Kayla Fratt 

Many of them have a conservation background, maybe a bio sensing background, but most of them are kind of ecologists or conservationists, and I’m talking particularly about a lot of our big names who have been around for 1020 more years. But they’re not dog trainers. And I think, therefore, there can be times where there is a misunderstanding in this field of how dogs become successful how dogs learn to do this. And if you don’t have a lot of really solid dog behavior, or training coaching expertise to build on top of that ecology conservation background, I could see how it may be so difficult to actually train a dog and hand that dog off to another handler that it may be functionally impossible. Does that make sense? And I don’t, I don’t mean that in any way to disparage these people. It’s just it’s a different skill set from the idea of training a dog well enough, and then coaching a human well enough that they can ride off into the sunset successfully together.

Miranda Turenne 

It is, and it makes absolute sense. So we want to make sure that we’re not dismissing what aren’t legitimate concerns. And I think there are parallels, there are parallels, even inside the service dog industry, where we talk about owner train service dogs. So for us what we think about as dogs as a privilege, and focus, a large amount of energy and resources on educating about public access, and appropriate service dog etiquette. In order for us to maintain the privilege of being able to have dogs in a working role in public where they’re generally not customed. The I can see the parallels where there can be a feeling even in inside our industry is who is helping these owner train service dogs, who is making sure that that dog is not biting people, that dog is safe at that dog, that that dog is not going to interfere with other people’s experiences or other service dog teams. And so for us, in our industry, what we’ve kind of done is, you know, we have amazing organizing bodies, like assistance dogs International, that create a standard, they create a standard for the organizations and how we serve our clients and how we make sure that we are transparent, responsible, and putting out a professional product. But we also have standards of a public access test. And so I think there’s probably a lot of unwritten rules that are maybe expectations that get in the way of either opening up these opportunities to other people. So to me, what is part of the challenge is that you’re it’s a young, nascent industry, and that you’d have not yet had or maybe you have, but perhaps not widely adopted is a organizing body that does assess and set standards of expectations of knowledge. So theory and training and efficacy. So that can be very challenging for those for, for you in the industry. Yeah, because you’re trailblazing and, and it’s something that 30 years ago, I feel like assistance dogs International was was doing as well. And so as the industry grows, I suspect what you might find is that there will be more coming together and community of practice to set a gold standard for what conservation action looks like. And that’s probably the best solution to to managing all of the anxiety that goes around who is appropriate, how do we know what they do? How do we know that they’re supportive, that they’re that they’re doing the best that they can do, ethically and effectively? So it’s outside of that conservation mindset. We know you know, if, if Kayla has a degree from a university, that degree says that you’ve met a minimum standard.

Miranda Turenne 

So you know

Kayla Fratt 

if Don’t joke. What do you call the doctor who graduated bottom of their class? Doctor? Oh, they graduated? They did. They did. And they, you know, that’s a lot more than your uncle on Facebook. Maybe, maybe, unless your uncle and Facebook is also a doctor. Yeah, no, I think that’s a that’s a really good point. You know, the best that I can think of is we in our field is we do have. There’s a lovely paper written by Dr. Karen DiMaggio called fundamentals for success for conservation dogs, and it kind of talks about the basics of dog selection, handler selection, study, design, setup, et cetera. That’s a really lovely paper, but it’s just kind of a, you know, it’s a document. It doesn’t, you know, it’s got limitations. It’s just, it’s just a paper. And then I know like there’s the Australasian conservation dog conference. Conference. Well, no, the conference is actually starting today. But there’s a cut the network, the Australasian conservation dog network. And I think they have quite a few good kind of joint standards of practice and those sorts of things. And my understanding is, we could join, even though we’re not Australasian, but you know, it’s relatively limited in the field right now, there’s not, there’s not a variety and like, you know, my, my best example, in comparison would be in the concert in that just plain old dog training world, you know, you can join the pet professional guild, you can join the International Association of Animal Behavior consultants, you can join the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, you could join the certification council for Professional Dog Trainers, and they all have pretty good standards of practice, they all vary a little bit in what they’re catering to, you know, if you want to train sport dogs, actually score dogs, I don’t know which certification you would necessarily want to go towards, I would probably go with like the Karen Pryor, clicker training, actually. Versus if you want to work with dogs with aggression, then the IBC is probably where you’re going to be going and you can kind of find your fit, and find your tribe within those those organizations. And actually, even a lot of organizations do have joint standards of practice. So you can’t get away from expertise just by joining one instead of the other. And I think I hope that that’s a direction that we can go and again, really thinking of it through the lens of elevating everyone together and offering education and offering security not using that as a, you know, as a pike to reinforce any sort of gatekeeping, you know, build build bridges, not Moats.

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Miranda Turenne 

That’s the hope anyway. And certainly sometimes a moat is necessary. Absolutely. That we’re not going to, we’re not going to say a moat doesn’t have its time in place. Totally. I see for myself, I see education as an opportunity for those who are hiring conservationists. So that’s where these networking organizations that have they do have a training standard. Now it’s time to think about maybe in the industry, how do we educate those who are paying the people who are doing the conservation work? Right. So whether that’s working through lobbying through government, because a lot of this is done through probably through government programs, at least in Canada, it’s there’s a lot of generally government funding of NGOs that work towards managing our ecology around here. So that might be something to look into in order to manage the standards that are set. But also, I think, to get back to your original question, it’s about selecting, right. It’s about selecting those people who are 100% invested in the goal that you have. And so for us, service dog industry, that goal is happy, reliable, and professional working dogs, right, that are able to support people and foster independence. And if they have that mindset that they do that they buy in and they buy into what we are doing, then we can support and coach almost anybody through almost any training challenge because we’re really about setting and fostering a community of practice that makes that makes those things available to people. So yeah, I think that that’s kind of a mentality that I would personally prefer to focus in, is just thinking about like the teams that I train, and that they are able to demonstrate professionalism and reliability, and a positive training ethic. That’s where our priority He is. And there’s quite a bit of research in education in the education field that drives that correlation between self efficacy or internal motivation, and things like grades or outcomes in courses. So if you’re blessed like me, I come from a field that’s very rich with people who are intrinsically motivated to work hard to develop and maintain the best skill levels and relationship with their working dogs as possible. And then I we, I think we do a good job of orienting our clients selection and teaching approach to enhance their self efficacy. And I can only speak from personal experience from even from my sport work. That if you want to have an IGP title, if you want to do work in a three phase sport, if you want to do any sort of scent detection, it’s a miles game. It’s like I do tracking that is absolutely like, you have to really be self motivated to do that. It is not a quarter of what you folks do. But you know, if it’s in Canada, we’re up at dawn, and I’m out on a tracking field at seven in the morning, every morning, if I’m prepping for competition, right? Yeah. So if you don’t have self efficacy, you’re probably not making it you I suspect that they, the wheat sorts from the chat a little bit, in that those who really want it, who are really motivated by it, they’re absolutely going to get it. And those who are less motivated, will start to sift out towards the bottom because, you know, that motivation pulls is the difference between effectiveness and or winning, or getting a contract and not getting a contract. So I would be less concerned about how reliable is the dog and more concerned about maybe how, how motivated is the hammer? Because yeah, I think our dogs can only be as good as our training.

Kayla Fratt 

Absolutely, yeah. No, and I think that is, I think that almost brings us full circle to you know, that is a legitimate concern, in that you could have a really amazing dog. And if you train them really well, and then you hand them off to just kind of whoever wants to pay, you know, say 10 grand for a fully trained dog, which might be kind of cheap. You know, they could have this dog where looks amazing at the beginning, and then it could fall apart. So I think, you know, like, all of it is true at once there are these really legitimate concerns about making sure that we can maintain this, but I think you’re right, you know, you can only you can’t actually get that far in fields like this, like a it doesn’t pay that well be. It’s not as fun as it looks on Instagram. See, it’s really, really, really hard work. So I think there is a little bit of this like boogeyman effect of the idea that if we like, let out our secrets, everyone’s going to go out there and become a conservation dog handler and be able to fool all of these government contractors and whatever ended up hiring all of these people and dogs who don’t know what they’re doing. And I just don’t see the evidence for that. So far, and a lot of it

Miranda Turenne 

seems it does seem like it would be

Miranda Turenne 

I mean, you’d have to, it’s like, you’d have to put a lot of work into cheating. Yeah, so

Miranda Turenne 

most people who I think like you would, if I was preparing the dog for conservation work, and preparing perhaps I would rather see that dog go to a first time dog handler who is extremely motivated, and extremely invested in what they were doing. Then an experienced dog trainer handler, whose cup of resources and knowledge is already full, who’s perhaps not necessarily ready to take on the effort that it takes to be able to be effective at your job, or in my queries, the effort that it takes to be effective as a service dog, trainer. Like I said, I’m very privileged. We have amazing clients who are talented dog trainers who are exceptional in many ways, and who see the amount of work that it takes to maintain their dogs at you. Just because we give them a trained dog doesn’t mean that they’re not still training, because every time they pick up a leash, they’re training a dog. And so for us we focus on A lot of our energy on making sure it’s a good match. And then making sure that the dog has the appropriate skill set that we can use to transfer over to that person, which is detailed, but perhaps a little bit too detailed for our conversation today. And then really working on coaching, and educating people. So that they can maintain those skills. Because at the end of the day, I’m not, it’s very hard to separate sometimes your pride of what that dog look like with you, versus what that dog looks like for somebody else. Sometimes, and it, but it’s not for me to lay judgment, or to say, what is good enough for that person. Right, right. And if you want to say what’s good enough as an industry, then that needs to be an industry standard that has a set a minimum bar of entrance, that add that has for us, we have yearly recertifications for our client teams, that they are able to demonstrate that they are actually able to pass a public access test yearly, we have a strong system of client education and support. And if I see a team that is not thriving, then I’m going to want to approach that from a place of needing more support. Not not, that person’s not doing good enough, because if I selected them correctly, they are doing their best. That’s, that’s that’s the goal at the end of the day, right? It’s not, it’s about wanting to see that this person can be their best selves, or they can be an amazing dog trainer, if they have the right mindset. And I just need to as an educator, pull them along with my enthusiasm about what an amazing service dog can do can look like can feel like and can provide for them. So I think I think if you take it from an educators approach, rather than from a kind of an authoritarian or an approach of like, you, you know, this is mine, the resource guarding the conservation industry.

Miranda Turenne 

Right? Because even

Miranda Turenne 

if even for us, like there are many really great owner trained service dog teams, and I can’t, as a person who works for an Adi school say, Hey, you’re not doing it good enough. This is my standard.

Kayla Fratt 

Or it’s good for you to have those public access questions aside. If someone says that their service dog is helping them, I would be kind of inclined to believe them. If they say, hey, the way he opens this door works for me. Even if you’re like, Wow, that is absolutely not the clean, beautiful train behavior that we have, that we’ve worked on. You know, who are we to say the fact that your dog, I can’t even think of like a good example, but just does something pretty crazy.

Miranda Turenne 

Retrieving, pick retrieving, because retrieving is actually a very complicated skill. To have a retrieve to the standard that I train to retrieve is take somebody who’s effectively a dog trainer,

Miranda Turenne 

it takes you know, like, it’s you takes

Miranda Turenne 

that level of interesting Control Freak to have that perfect retrieve

Miranda Turenne 

where? Yeah, okay, you

Miranda Turenne 

know, dog trainers, we’re all control freak. Yeah. The elephant in the room, you just came back from Kenya, like, this is why trainers are all kind of a little bit neurotic. That’s why we like herding breeds there.

Miranda Turenne 

But to have a perfect, so I’ll see

Miranda Turenne 

stuff that I’ve trained to dog. I’ve placed it with a client. And, you know, you’ll see stuff. And it will have varying levels of having maintained that picture that I built. You know, what? Is the client happy? Is the dog doing the work? Is it reliable long queues ever? You know, like, and, and is the dog happy? And as long as those things as long as like I said, they’re professional. The dogs are motivated and healthy, and the clients are happy.

Kayla Fratt 

What like and I think in the world, yeah, like our our analogy would be, you know, I think our public access analogy is probably wildlife interactions. It’s safety for wildlife. That’s something that I think broadly speaking is pretty non negotiable. You know, we can we can quibble on the details, but everyone can pretty much Great that Yeah, that’s really, really important. Um, it’ll be interesting to see if I get any, if there’s any reason that I’m wrong on that.

Kayla Fratt 

You know, who knows? But then, as far as like your dog specificity, it’s a pretty big one where I can see reasonable people disagreeing. So say you’ve got a dog trained to find. Let’s just pick something random.

Kayla Fratt 

white tailed deer scout. I don’t know why you would do that. Because there’s white tailed deer poop everywhere. But let’s pick that one. Because I don’t know. I don’t think anyone’s going to think I’m talking about them. Because I don’t think anyone’s doing. If they are, I don’t know about them. So. Exactly. And then, you know, over time, I’ll send your dogs also finding mule deer scat and elk, Scott and moose scat. And for whatever reason, you haven’t remedied that. Maybe because you don’t know how, maybe you don’t care. But if you get to the point where as a handle, you’re like, okay, great, now we’re doing an Ungulate study, we’re not just studying deer we’re gonna look at, we’re not just looking at whitetail deer, we’re looking at all the deer in our area, I could, as a trainer, say, oh, my gosh, your dog, like started generalizing to all these other species. That’s not really what we wanted the dog to do. But if that works for you, and either because you’ve shifted your study goals, and you’re like, Great, now we’re just studying all the ungulates in this area? Or you’re just like, you know, yeah, we pay extra on genetics lab fees, because we collect some off target samples. And if that’s fine for someone, that is not the sort of thing that I think I need to get my panties in a bunch over.

Kayla Fratt 

You know, unless, then they’re going out elsewhere and saying, Yeah, you know, these dogs will train themselves to find other stuff, and they won’t really stay on target. And, you know, then they’re, they’re harming the industry in some other way. But that’s, that’s kind of a side. So I think I do. I apologize. We went on, like, I asked one question, we went on a crazy tangent, I want to bring it back and ask you like, okay, you know, we’re here to talk about the idea of kind of both preparing the dog and the, the client for to become a partnership and to succeed together. Maybe let’s start with the human side of things. If someone reaches out to you to work with your organization, you know, what are some of the things that you’re going to explore with them to see if even partnering with a service dog makes the most sense for them? Because I can imagine with certain disability types, or maybe certain lifestyles, there may be a better tool or, you know, even medical device for their needs than a dog? Or maybe for whatever reason, the dog would be a good fit for their needs, but their lifestyle doesn’t support it, or their personality? How do you think about that? And how do you kind of screen that?

Miranda Turenne 

So I will say that I do think of myself in the business of convincing people not to get service dogs. Because really, it is, it is a large commitment, and it can feel like a lot of work. So when we’re thinking about looking for partners, for our dogs, for to create new service dog teams, we’re really looking to find applicants that have a great mindset, that are those people who are I mean, we come loaded with intrinsic motivation in the industry. Most of the clients there, these are life changing dogs, because the dogs are doing everything from pulling wheelchairs to retrieve and dropped objects to signaling for anxiety with post traumatic stress disorder, all sorts of types of work that is really fostering a sense of independence, and also a relationship that is at its foundation, non judgmental. It’s difficult to be a person living with a disability on a good day. And so to be able to have that relationship with an animal that is absolutely non judgmental, and that, you see asking for something brings the dog joy, as opposed to feeling like a burden is really incredible. So we’re loaded with intrinsic motivation in general, but I think that’s one of those qualities that is most important when we’re thinking about going through our applications for people who are looking for service dogs. In it’s an unfortunate reality that we have a application list that is a mile long and 10 miles deep. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult in some scenarios to do owner train service dogs. And so there’s a huge demand for for the dogs that we give to clients. And so while we do our best, we are non discriminatory, we are proud members of assistance dogs International. And so we are focused on providing dogs for, for all types of people, regardless of physical ability, but we definitely want to, when we’re going through those applications, we have people expressing, we call it an expression of interest. So they let us know, hey, we’re interested in having a service dog. And then if they fit the profile of the types of dogs that we serve people with, then we allow them to fill out an application, which gives us a general description of who they are. And then based on that, if we tend to work together to place at best fit, first, and then longest on the list second, so it’s kind of a long process, but if they fit in, so if they tell us, you know, if we’re like, okay, we’re looking for, say, a wheelchair pulling dock, we have a wheelchair pulling dog coming up, we’re gonna need a client for them, we start looking at people who fit that type of profile, and then going through that profile and seeing Okay, what does does the dog fit this person’s lifestyle based on what they’ve told us? And does the dog fit their skill set requirements, and NPS then we start looking through those applications and saying, Okay, we have three or four people, well, let’s interview these folks to see, to get a feel for their personality and to see where they are as far as their readiness for a service dog. A lot of times you might have health issues, or lifestyle concerns, or, you know, just life changes that maybe says right now is not the time to have a service dog come into your life. And then once they have, if they meet all those criteria, we’re looking for a best fit as far as personality type. And like I said, This, for me that’s a lot about mindset is, is this person, a good fit for the style of dog that we’re giving them, the personality of the dog that we’re giving them. And then for the other requirements of willingness to work to maintain a working dog, as wonderful as our dogs are, they say, We know thanks, behaviors and static. So they have to be a bit of a dog trainer because there’s a standard of public etiquette that is followed up on by the organization. So we’re looking for people who have the mindset that they are flexible in their approach, that they are coachable, and that they are happy and willing to work towards meeting our standard of, of deployment for our service dog teams.

Kayla Fratt 

Patreon book club is in full swing, we just finished up detector dogs and scent movement by Tom foster camp and are about to start canine ergonomics, the science of working dogs. To join our book club for three bucks a month head on over to patreon.com/canine conservationists. We also offer monthly group coaching sessions for aspiring handlers, puppy raisers and pros, as well as a monthly rotation of free webinars, workshops and roundtables with experts. Again, three bucks a month up to 25 bucks a month, kind of depending on what level of support you want to give and receive. Check that out at patreon.com/canine. Conservationists, I hope to see you join us there soon.

Kayla Fratt 

As you’re training the dogs, what are you thinking about as far as ensuring that the dogs are going to be ready and able to work with someone new? Is it ever? Is it ever the dog that has the problem where the dog works well for you and then falls apart with the handler even though there’s nothing obviously kind of funky with their handling? Yeah, let’s talk about the dogs.

Miranda Turenne 

Yes. Okay. Now we get to geek out about dog training. Excited. So, absolutely. Like the first thing, it comes down to selection of the dogs. So we’re blessed. We have an amazing breeding program in cooperation with like the assistance dogs breeding cooperative. So we are right from the whelping pen right from the parents where we’re breeding working dogs. So we’re very lucky, but that is not necessarily a home run. We’re also looking at dogs who perhaps don’t want to work. And I think industry wide about 50% of the dogs Going to client is kind of a standard for our programs into placement. So what we’re selecting the dogs and we’re selecting the dogs who, for me if I’m going to just focus on, like service skills, so our PTSD service dogs are mobility service dogs and our hearing dogs, those dogs are going to be motivated either because they’re highly biddable. So they want to do the work for the poor people in general, or they’re highly task oriented. And in an ideal world there both of those things. Sure, now, that’s ideal. And then as I’m going through training dogs, I’m really thinking about creating foundation skills that are going to involve high level of fluency in how to learn, right, so that they’re learning how to learn. So we do a lot of shaping. That clicker is always the same, no matter who is wielding it, we’re going to do things like, for me, I focus on beginning with failure in mind, so that if my dog is struggling, I’m going to set up my I’m going to train with already the ability to know if this fall apart, falls apart. A retriever falls apart, a kick back stand falls apart, a, you know, button falls apart, that I have a hierarchy of relevance in place that I now go and sort of go like, now what I go, then what first. So I’m we’re going to have a system of hierarchy of relevance. So if we think about for dogs, inputs and relevance of like, tactile is probably the most relevant, then a visual cue is the next most relevant cue, and then a verbal cue, all of our dogs are trained to task on verbal cues only. So we don’t use any hand gestures or prompts. Because those things might not necessarily be able to be translated to a person who doesn’t have arms. Who has spasms, if they have special skills, or absolutely so different, yeah, levels of functionality. So a verbal cue, and so I’m going to train to fluency. But I’m also going to know, if I, if my dog, here’s an easy one, I say stand and my dog doesn’t stand, I can always transition to the client, okay, so they didn’t stand, what you can do is you can prompt them to stand by using the collar with gentle pressure pull backwards towards their tail, and the dog, that’s a prompt that will allow the dog to oh, this is what you meant. So we’re always creating those prompting systems in order to support the dogs to be it to fluency, so that there’s less frustration for the dogs, as we transition to other handlers. So we have a training system that incorporates that final picture of that transition to the handler in mind. And then you’re going to want the clean to use, quite frankly, that’s what it is, is we’re going to work really hard on you know, the word is proofing, but it’s probably good generalization, right? So that I can be. So if I want my dog to sit on my left, it’s called heel position. So if I want my dog to sit in heel position, like I’m getting ready for an AKC competition, or I’ve got a dog returning to heel position to drop off a bird or something, I’m not sure. But if I’m training a dog to do something like heel positions, and I’m going to make sure that I’ve done a great job in anticipating that perhaps that client is their way that their body functions that they are always leaning to the right, so the opposite direction. If I cue the dog to do a heel, a lot of times if they’re prompting off of my physical, my visual picture, they’re not going to do it.

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Miranda Turenne 

So

Miranda Turenne 

I have to work really hard on making sure that I have generalized all of these things, and that I know who the dog is going to in an ideal world. Sometimes power chairs are bigger than other power chairs. Sometimes it’s a scooter. So it’s long in front of me instead of tight. Sometimes they have verbal differences, right? So I might want to know how they speak in order to try to mimic that. I might want to know how they hold their hands for delivery. I’m certainly going to want to know things like can they even use their hands or are they using their mouth to free of the eye and from the dog that the dog has picked up. So there’s a lot that goes into making sure that I’m have really strong auditory cues that are extremely well generalized to different visual pictures, and that I have a dog who’s able to discriminate those cues really well. So, to me, that is a really good foundation. And then things go sideways from there.

Kayla Fratt 

First thing, I just want to say, I am just sitting here and like, I, I thought I knew how hard it was to try and service dogs for other people. And I am just in awe of what you are saying that you do on a daily basis. That’s pretty incredible training to really I mean, people can’t see but you know, I knew exactly what you meant when you kind of held up your hands with the fingers really curled. And so you had like the pads of the tips of your fingers against the inside, like almost against the fleshy bit of your palm. You know, and you know how that how that hand configuration would really affect treat delivery or whether or not you can accept a retrieve. And, you know, these are, I think those are really salient and clear examples that we would see versions of, we see versions of as far as differences in handler’s skill and receptiveness in our field. But you have to deal with just this much more kind of diverse or kind of concrete, easily identifiable versions of it, and it’s just really impressive. So hats off to you.

Miranda Turenne 

So I, I’m a hand talker. So here I am, John, upon giving visual prompts. So thank you for clarifying.

Kayla Fratt 

I think you did a good job explaining it anyway, though. Like, I was just thinking as you were holding your hands in that way. I was like, oh, yeah, one of my friends. Younger brothers in high school had a I can’t I think it was cerebral palsy.

Kayla Fratt 

I can’t quite remember now. And I just remember being like, oh, yeah, that is exactly kind of the position that his hands were generally more or less stuck in.

Kayla Fratt 

So okay, so you started saying, okay, and then this is where stuff can start falling apart. So we’ve, we’ve got the person selected, we’ve got the dog, we’ve done a bunch of basic training on the dog. Now we kind of know. And then it sounds like at some point, you’ve kind of identified this dog is going to this person. So then you start kind of working on making sure that the dogs training is more specific to that person. Is there anything in that phase we really need to bring up? Or do we want to jump to how we actually then how do you perform the handoff? Like do they come to your facility for a month? Do you go to them with the dog for a month? Is it just three days? Like How on earth does that happen?

Miranda Turenne 

So in some ways, the the global pandemic that we it’s overriding some ways, it has been a bit of a blessing in disguise, because it’s forced us to be a little bit more innovative and how we deliver our team trainings, we are very blessed that we were able to stay open when a lot of schools weren’t able to stay open. And so that was taking advantage of digital technologies such as zoom, to be able to do our theoretical portion. So we have a minimum standard of education that we have to provide all clients and even clients who are having multiple dogs. So that’s a repeat client. Those, they’re still going through our full team training, which involves probably I mean it classroom time, you’re probably looking at about 15 hours minimum of classroom time for theory. So everything from wellness, canine wellness, to grooming to public etiquette, cue structure, you know, canine learning theory, all sorts of stuff. So we cover everything from the basics, like, here’s your new dog. This is things you need to know about dogs in general. So we make no assumptions about what people know. So we do an online portion to our training. And then we do in person team training. And this is where we do the handoff for the dogs. When we’re doing that handoff that’s usually in person. And historically it has been a multi Person class. So we’ll have 345 clients who will basically be getting their new service dog and who will be going through the practical portion of that which looks like this is what he’ll looks like sitting on my left. This is what a stand looks like kicking back this is what right this is what this is our retrieve sequence. This is how we get the dog to retrieve. This is how we set dogs up in order to be able to visually locate door buttons or light switches, all sorts of stuff. So we this is how you to groom your dog, this is how we brush the teeth. So there’s a lot that we cover. And usually that’s a minimum of a five day course. So that might be four days with their dogs trainer, who’s working with those clients to problem solve and support the client in the transition. And then maybe a day in their home setting up their home and working through the, the needs that they’ll have to deal with in the house. Right? So we’re really looking to tailor everything from okay, we’re in a training center. Okay, we’re in a mall. This is a restaurant this is it’s quite jam packed. And then at the end of that we have a put here, can you imagine you’ve never owned a dog before?

Kayla Fratt 

Dog on our bootcamp, it is.

Miranda Turenne 

Up, yes, it’s fun. But dog

Miranda Turenne 

owner boot camp. And the thing is, it’s like, at the end of the day, pads retains ownership of our dogs. So, and people are not guaranteed to go home with the dogs that they came to boot camp with. Or they came to me. So they do have that is in some regards. High Stakes because people are deeply invested in getting these dogs. But they don’t necessarily always leave with the dog. Sometimes that’s a team problem, right? It’s a compatibility issue. Sometimes that’s a training problem, perhaps there’s some holes in our training that we need to go back to to fix before we can continue. And sometimes it’s like it’s an X factor. So I’ve had dogs who do team training, who are really, really good dogs who are snipes solid dogs, but they’re very handler oriented. And they’re very, they, our dogs tend to be less independent. For our mobility. Dogs are not guide dogs, they’re not doing it on their own, they’re kind of doing it with the support of the relationship with the person. So they look at me, they’ve spent eight months hanging out with the I call myself the ice cream lady. I have ice cream truck, and I am the ice cream at the same time. Because there’s a lot of reinforcement and reinforcement history, all wrapped up in this package. And then I give them to somebody who’s absolutely not me. But they have to work for that person. While I’m standing there telling that person what to do. So you can see there can be these, these moments of absolute confusion where the dog, I had once where a client said to tell the dog to heal, so sit on its left. And so the client goes, he’ll and the dog goes, and I’m standing next to them. And the dog comes around and sits on my left. I don’t like and it’s so frustrating for these clients. But a lot of that comes like I don’t stress out about that stuff. Because that’s relationship, right. Like

Kayla Fratt 

once you’re gone that shadow away. Once I’m in the most

Miranda Turenne 

difficult part of managing a service dog is doing it in front of the person who has the better part of a year of reinforcement history in reinforcing.

Miranda Turenne 

So we can be strategic

Miranda Turenne 

where we might do things like new queue, old queue, where the client will say he’ll and then I’ll say he’ll, we might do things depending on their mobility or their function. We might do things like they queue the dog, I click I give the I give the handler a reinforcer to deliver to the dog. We might even consider having the dog’s day with the client prior to started team training with no necessarily like formal training on board. But we have all just somebody you know, we set up to some bonding time depends on the dog, it really does. Each of them are individuals and so we respond to their individual needs. And then be thoughtful about how to support the client. Right. So that’s where those then what’s come in, right, so if the dog does it incorrectly, perfect. This is great. This is a learning opportunity. Let’s help the dog be correct. So that might we might ask them to reset do a couple of behaviors that are easy and cheap, build some momentum, change the training environment so that we’re setting the dog up for success and then rescuing the dog and sometimes that looks like me like hiding. Yeah, it’s gonna

Miranda Turenne 

leave the room but like peek out from you like we’re using a mirror

Miranda Turenne 

around the corner.

Miranda Turenne 

Or change where my setup is because I’m a giant reinforcement magnet around the dog. So Tonight, so we’re really thinking about being thoughtful in our process. And then the client goes home with the dog. And things usually get better. Yeah, team training is hard. But we’re doing running online content, I call them continuing education courses. So by bi weekly we do one to two, our continuing education course that hits the things that we absolutely couldn’t have time to cover, like biological fulfillment. husbandry and cooperative care, we might be hitting things like, hey, remember, this is what can I learn in theory and cue

Miranda Turenne 

structures look like? This? Right? So

Kayla Fratt 

day one, and your reverse certainly overwhelmed? Yeah,

Miranda Turenne 

absolutely. Because there is no way that most people are either able to retain it, or retrieve the the knowledge that they’ve retained effectively in that type of environment. So we expect a minimum of 12 weeks support post graduation, yeah, with the dog, so that you’re at least touching base with a trainer every other week. And then sometimes doing directed training interventions to help problem solve with the clients. But because we use a lot of props in our training, because we use, because we because we know how our dogs are trained, we have a really easy way to help progress that behavior because we have a progression in how it was trained. Right? So if it was a detection dog and say we have issues with final source indication, I’m not sure how your dogs indicate source. So we have an issue in source indication, will I know where my foundation is in source indication? And if you’re struggling to get the dog to alert on on an odor that is a trained odor, then okay, well, did you start that alert with a Kong? Let’s just go back to learning how to alert on honk, right so that I can have an appropriate sit, you know, sit and indicate or hover indicate on the thing that we started? Why do I need to start with final odor or final indication on trying to odor when I could be training that

Kayla Fratt 

was started in the context of a big of a 20 minute sourcing, you know, odor puzzle? That’s, that’s like the number one thing in our Patreon coaching calls, when people are dealing with alert problems. I’m like, Okay, we’re gonna take this back to your living room, you know, we’re we’re not going to try to install this into a big search. Until we really like what we’re seeing elsewhere in these easier, cleaner situations. Not great example. I’m sitting here not. So okay. So you’ve got they’ve got the kind of the onboarding team training section, and then they have at least 12 weeks of kind of continuing education that’s weekly online, one to two hours. That sounds incredible. And then you said that there was kind of that yearly recheck? How does that? Is that kind of, say, someone’s three years out of getting an assistance dog from you? Is that kind of the main retouch that you have? Or do they? What other kinds of continuing support do they have? From from you guys? Yeah.

Miranda Turenne 

So I feel like it’s, it’s almost an overwhelming amount of support sometimes. And it’s as much or as little as the client needs or wants. So, so it’s not like we’re hovering but we want to be available. So each dog is supported by the person who trained that dog for at least the first year of the dog’s working career. So if I’m about to place a couple of dogs, with service dog clients, so they will be in my heart for a minimum of a year, there’ll be in my heart forever, but they’ll be, they’ll be in under my umbrella of support. So client will contact me directly if they have any problems. And then we support them all the way up until that first year milestone after they’ve passed their recertification for public access test. So assistance dogs international requires that we ensure it’s like, Sorry, I’ll finish my thought requires that we ensure that the dogs are safe and reliable and public. So that looks like every year we have our client care coordinator or client care person, touch base with the person and run that person through a standardized public access test. And then that also gives us a touch point to make sure that things are going well. How much does the dog weigh?

Miranda Turenne 

How are the teeth looking how like, like we’re really

Miranda Turenne 

maintaining the, the care of the dog, and that the client is also being cared for. Right? If they’re frustrated if there’s behavior Challenges that perhaps all of a sudden show up. When you get someone in front of you, sometimes these things happen. So incidentally, then we’re then we’ve got that client care person who is touching base with them a year, on a yearly basis. And then that goes on for the entire working career of the dog until the dog is retired. And then once the dog is retired, the client has the option to either adopt and keep the retired dog. And so depending on the situation, some clients will put their dog in a retirement home because for mobility dogs, they don’t, it would be like going out on your conservation field where you do your studies, and taking them with you every day, but asking them not to work, because they love our house, and they do a lot of tasking inside of the house. So for them, there is no such thing as retirement. They just keep working because they want to make you happy. And they love their jobs. And so it’s like they don’t know how to retire properly. No,

Miranda Turenne 

they do get rehome for retirement.

Kayla Fratt 

Don’t definitely and you know, there there’s actually there’s a story that I just I feel like I need to tell here. Um, so wicket was a she was a conservation detection dog with Amy hurt from working dogs for conservation who she was an incredible dog. I got to meet her at the very end of her life. And she knew like 32 odors. She’s one of those dogs where like half of the papers that you read that come out of working dogs for conservation, there’s a good chance a wicked was on them. Just this amazing dog. When she was 15 I think she was out on like a little a little walk around the cabin with Amy and the other, you know, the other current working dogs, and wicked at this point is blind and deaf. And you know, really this was just a couple of months before she went. And they came across a pile of bear scat. And gosh darn it. This dog sat and told Amy about the bear Scott.

Miranda Turenne 

Amy it’s right here.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, and I wasn’t there for this or anything, but it’s just yeah, you you don’t take it out of the dogs. I know. So my older working dog is he’s eight and a half he’ll be nine at the end of November. He’ll actually probably nine by around the time this episode is live in Yeah, moving him towards retirement, it’s gonna be really really hard because he’s going to want to continue working forever. And yeah, luckily for me, I can just choose to not let him out of the truck. When we get to a field site

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Kayla Fratt 

if I take him on a walk and he’s so happens to indicate on something that’s great, you know, you’d like with with wicked, I think Amy probably had food or toys or something on her and was able to make that

Kayla Fratt 

into a party. What a good girl. We all stepped in that bear poop. We knew it was there. But now I’m now making up stuff. But But yeah, but I can imagine with a dog in your home. That’s that’s not a possibility. You can’t actually separate the dog from the work. So I’m glad you brought that up. I hadn’t thought Yeah, it’s a

Miranda Turenne 

it’s quite an it’s a it’s a lifelong process for for these clients and for dogs. And I know many, many clients who retire their dog, but actually don’t get a successor dog until the first one has, you know, crossed Rainbow Bridge. Because the idea of, of separating themselves from their beloved dog is like, that’s not going to happen. They’re here till till they’re not. So it’s really but I mean, also if that dog is an important aspect of your independence, then you have to make a life choice that’s best for you and for the dog. So, you know, there’s lots of options.

Kayla Fratt 

I don’t think there’s any judgment either way. Yeah, absolutely. But

Miranda Turenne 

it’s key I can just imagine trying to, to make that decision. And, you know, there’s no, there’s no good way to it’s the best. The hardest decisions are sometimes the right ones, right? Yeah. It’s definitely a

Kayla Fratt 

friend. I can imagine a lot of cases like us within the conservation working dog world, many of us just have a lot of dogs. Part of the reason I got niffler when I got him my younger dog, and I only have two, which is I think a very, very reasonable number of dogs. I think it will say how many I end up with in the long run, but part of the reason I got niffler when I did was Barley was seven. And I was thinking okay, this way by the time even if barley has to retire younger than I expect, because I expect him to likely be able to work until he’s 1011 12 kind of depending on the project obviously. But that way I can more or less guarantee I’ve got a dog kind of ready and I won’t feel like I’m replacing him. I’m not having to try to decide at what point I want to do it You know, make those decisions, I won’t feel the need to push barley to keep working for longer than necessary because I kind of have that success already. And I’m also getting that successor before that decision becomes as emotionally fraught. And that is, that is not necessarily a luxury that I can imagine. assistance dogs folks have, because you don’t necessarily I mean, you, I don’t know, can you have? Could you have to at the same time, like you couldn’t really? You?

Miranda Turenne 

Could you can? You wouldn’t say?

Miranda Turenne 

It depends? It depends. It depends on the client, it depends on the dog, it depends on the situation. Right, some dogs will happily be like, That’s all yours, but some dogs would not. So it depends on the types of tasking work that they’re doing shortly. But in general, if one person is going to have two dogs, it’ll be a retired dog. And then a and then a current working dog. Yeah, the timing would if they’re going to have to pass dogs. But that is not necessarily going to be great for every team in every scenario. So yeah, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of individual thought process about what’s most effective thing for them. But I don’t, in general, most of the people I know who are having mobility service dogs do not have two in the house, they would have, they would basically either rehome, the original, like the older dog to a retirement home a lot of times the friends or family, and then they’ll have time and space to bond with a new dog because it’s an incredible bond that they have, and in order to create space for a new dog. Right? So you’ve been very proactive and thoughtful about how you’re going to incorporate that new dog into your life so that there’s not that sense of tragedy. Because as a person who raised puppies, I’ve certainly done that where you go, you’re nice, but you’re

just not Holly

Miranda Turenne 

because of the loss is very tragic feeling. So to have a little bit of overlap was eventually the right strategy for me in my puppy raising career. And but some people, some people are able to process things differently than others. So it’s not necessarily as complicated as my personal emotions.

Kayla Fratt 

No, part niffler I’m actually I’m preparing a whole other episode about he’s an amazing dog. And he still he has really gotten the short end of the stick with having to compare to barley and live in barley chateau. And there’s nothing wrong with him there. There really isn’t but, and I can imagine it would be that much worse. If I was getting him after barley. It’s been really interesting. This season is my first time working both of them. And we’re out on the wind farm and I’ll work one dog, and then work the next dog from turbine to turbine. And it’s really walloping me over the head every single day that niffler is just as good as partly. And I think if I didn’t literally have that in front of me, I don’t niffler probably wouldn’t be getting a fair shake at how incredible he is for a couple of years.

Miranda Turenne 

It’s amazing what that relationship does to color to kind of color our lens about Yeah, stuff because the firt that first dog, I still get missed yet. When I talk my first assistants, I always ask all my friends, anyone I know soon as I talk about horror, Holly SRT cry, because it’s just, it’s ridiculous. But it’s, it’s amazing. And so there is a lot of emotion that goes with loss. Because even though like Holly just moved on to a career as a breeding dog, there was a lot of lost a process that went with that. That was really for me as a young adult, my first pet that I’d never lost and so it really it really is hard for a lot of people. So you have to think about it in that context of almost grief. Right? Because even as you have niffler and you love him, you’re also preparing in a way grieving barley while he’s still in front of ya.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, niffler is definitely it is niffler as a reminder of barleys age, you know, like his very existence. You know, like this morning we went for an hour long run. And niffler is full on galloping, probably 27 miles an hour. I’ve clocked him a couple of times in the past and you know, do When 22 year old month old boy stuff and barley, you know, he’s trotting along right next to me. You know, and it is it is lovely, like the relationship and the understanding that Barbara and I have is I know I’m gonna cry. It’s, it’s something I wouldn’t trade for the world. But it also like having both dogs at the same time is a very I don’t think I would necessarily notice that Barley was just running next to me if I didn’t have niffler running a quarter mile ahead, running back to check in on us sprinting out, you know, like, it’s a very stark reminder of the even though barly can still do everything physically that he wants. He has not like, he hasn’t lost any capability. But he has slowed down. Yes. So yeah, I don’t want to end on this note. How do we know so

much don’t leave me.

Kayla Fratt 

He shook up to 16 So I have seven more years with him.

Miranda Turenne 

I had you, the viewers can’t see it. But that’s my Australian Shepherd. That is no longer with us. And she was darn near 60. And they just, they are they are fit. They do. Bless their hearts. They are just they are like toy poodles.

Kayla Fratt 

Like they just Yeah, I mean, it’s part of this. It’s an incredible part of what

Kayla Fratt 

I like about the breed. You know, it’s

Miranda Turenne 

so vital for a long time.

Kayla Fratt 

Exactly. Yeah. I love when I watch like the agility world championships, and there’s a bunch of dogs on the podium that are 10. Yes. Okay. Yeah. This is like seeing this new breed. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Okay, so you just said that a year and a half before you before you’ve aged out of the agility World Championships, we got to get training. You can’t do 12. That’s okay, we’ve got other skills. So okay, let’s, we’re going a little bit long. What are kind of some of the any common hiccups or particular anecdotes, you want to share about kind of that handoff process and kind of identifying areas that need work kind of anywhere in between the matchmaking and like the long term success of a team, I would love to hear if you’ve got any, any anecdotes or kind of Yeah, common hiccups that come up

Miranda Turenne 

in the handoff process,

Kayla Fratt 

kind of anywhere in that team success framework.

Miranda Turenne 

I mean, I think, okay, so I don’t want to be tragic.

Miranda Turenne 

In an ideal world, we are making sure that we’re placing dogs who are going to have a lifetime of success with their partner. That doesn’t always happen. Quite frankly, like, sometimes we have dogs, who are, you know, for, there’s nothing that they’re doing that doesn’t say that they won’t be a long term successful service dog until they get to a client, and then the wheels fall off the wagon, which is very humbling for us and very hard on the client. So our goal is to hopefully find out make sure that those things don’t happen. And then to put them with people who are really good mechanics, so that the wheels stay on, they’re like, Oh, do we.

Miranda Turenne 

And if you’re looking for hiccups, like

Miranda Turenne 

those tend those just generally, I find tend to come in the flavor of orienting towards the, towards their previous reinforcement history. Like I said, I’m kind of like the ice cream man. And one of the things that I find the most interesting in the process of handing off is how all in the dogs are. That is, I think, a good way to kind of frame this as like, because we can think about, you know, is it ethical to rehome my dog, and I have re homed, dozens and dozens and dozens of dogs like I have rehabbed many dogs and seen friends do the same thing and seen my partner do the same thing. And so I think for me, one of the most powerful experiences that I’ve ever had in re homing a dog was actually with a good friend, who, during our graduation, so we do a yearly celebration of all of the dogs and teams that have graduated and all of the community, a village of people who have raised and train this dog because it is absolutely a community project. And so it was maybe my second year actually, here’s the funny story. It is the dog. So after I turned in my first puppy I ever raised, I brought home a new dog, who was six months old for me to raise. And you can imagine my tragic state of mourning, my first dog. Her name was Ella. And it was like, Ella, you’re really nice, but you’re just not Holly to the point where my amazing mentor and good friend our puppy program manager, Heather kid was like, maybe you need a different dog Miranda, because I literally thought it was a great idea to take the dog on vacation, drop it off at the campus, and then come home with a new dog.

Miranda Turenne 

It was terrible. It was a terrible experience. I do not recommend that, like, let someone else take the dog like don’t take it on occasion with a farewell tour. And then don’t think you’re gonna be a okay for your next dog. Happens If,

Miranda Turenne 

like me, so my good friend got roped into puppy raising this beautiful little dog that I brought back and she ended up graduating as a hearing dog. So that was amazing. And her and I went to the dog’s graduation ceremony in Burnaby. And our graduation ceremony, we call it a leash handoff. So the client goes on to stage. And we’re sitting next to Ella’s client, Roger. And, you know, we’ve cried, we’ve met the dog back, we had a little reunion cry, we’ve met this person, they’re so very worthy. And the person goes on the stage and, and they get introduced about, you know, this is who this person is. And they’ve been paired with hearing dog, Ella. And I remember, we’re sitting in the seats in the stadium waiting for this leash handoff, where Brittany goes onto the stage to hand off the leash to the client and have a hug and a public. A lot of crying. I remember so Roger gets up to go on stage. And the dog is looking for Roger. The dog is sitting with the person who has loved her intensely for a year and a half like most of her life. And she hasn’t been with this person for maybe six months. And that dog is like, where is my person and she’s kind of like dodging around Brittany to try and see where Roger went. And that was that moment. You’re like, Oh, they’re not mine anymore. There. And it was just so powerful to be able to see that like, all of the anxiety that we go through that in our you know homosapien heads.

Miranda Turenne 

And we’re mourning and we’re grieving. And we’re like, hey, they’re gonna be okay without us. And they’re busy forming new relationships that are even more impactful than the one they have with you. So for me, I think that’s that point of like, I love it when the dogs don’t love me anymore, because they love me a lot. Because I spend a lot of time with them. And then I’m when I see that they don’t love me anymore. They’re like, Oh, hey, Miranda, nice to see you. Like, we’ll give me like a token like, Oh, hey, give me a little wiggle like, Yeah, cool. Cool, cool beans, I’m going back to my real person. This is my ice cream man now, that I think is the most powerful

Miranda Turenne 

recommendation for giving dogs away, or like giving people of all different backgrounds and all different abilities, the the opportunity, and the privilege of working with and building a relationship with a dog of the way that is easy for me to do. And is maybe not easy for someone else to do. And to give, I think, to bring it back to conservation to give someone the opportunity to do what you do, Kayla, if moral you couldn’t keep niffler he would like he would still do what builds his heart. And you could see him do that for fill someone else’s bucket and have an amazing working relationship with them. And that is why we give away because it’s the most impactful thing I have ever done in my life. And when you have someone take you by the shoulders and look at you and say you have changed my life.

Miranda Turenne 

Who wouldn’t leave like to rub like can I get another puppy Can I go through this go rodeo, I would like to do this again.

Miranda Turenne 

And again and again. And it’s absolutely worth it. And I highly recommend if anyone’s listening and they’ve ever thought about doing something like raising a service dog or a guide dog do it, it’s the best thing you’ll ever do. Because it goes with you everywhere. And you are, it is a privilege to be able to give somebody something that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to have without you. So I highly recommended we have a dog surplus, if you have a dog deficit, come find Adi organization that does the same thing, because it’s absolutely worth it.

Miranda Turenne 

Ending on return

Kayla Fratt 

to add on No. It’s really powerful. And yeah, no, I think I think we should just end it there. So

Miranda Turenne 

better to say than Yes, do it.

Kayla Fratt 

Thank you so much for coming on the show. This was great. I think I hope people learned a lot and kind of have some stuff to think about, as you know, regarding things that we can learn as far as maybe being successful with training dogs, and helping conservationists and ecologists use dogs and in, you know, broaden the impact of this field. And, you know, maybe that’s not something that’s going to happen in a large scale way anytime soon. But I think, I think you’ve given us a lot to think about, and if and when that is a direction that this field starts going to, I hope that we all have the wisdom and humility to remember to look at other fields that also train highly, you know, highly specific, high impact dogs for long term, important hard work, because we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. With this. We can learn from you guys. And you know, obviously, the specifics of what we’re training are different, but we can learn how you select, and paradox and how you select the handlers and how you make sure that they succeed in the long run. I think we can learn a lot from you. And I think we already did today. So again, thank you for coming on.

Miranda Turenne 

Well, thank you so much for having me and letting the conversation just.

Kayla Fratt 

Yeah, and for everyone out home. You can find show notes and a transcript of this episode over at Canine conservationist.or. You can buy T shirts and tote bags and mugs and stickers and all that great stuff. Also on our website, you can join Patreon. If you’re interested in getting coaching calls with us. All of that, again is over at Canine conservationist.org Miranda, where can people find you online or learn more about assistance dogs if they’re so inclined?

Miranda Turenne 

Please, I’m always going to direct people to our amazing website, it’s a great resource. It’s just pads p a ds.ca. So Pacific Assistance Dog society, you’re also able to find them at pads, dogs on Instagram, if you’d like geeking out about dog training or just cute pictures of labs and Goldens. Then I have a personal blog on Instagram, it’s a little bit of a long name. It’s pads, Calgary, advanced dogs,

Miranda Turenne 

if you check out if you just put in pads, Calgary, the city, I live in CA L T ar y, it should pop back up.

Miranda Turenne 

We always have fun training videos on there. So we’re always happy to engage with and mostly medium. It’s me. I’m happy to answer any questions people have about what we do with our dogs and the type of training we do. And maybe YouTube get to follow some of the journeys of some of the dogs that we train so that they too can go to their clients. And it’s about $35,000 to get one of these dogs to clients. So we’re sponsored for all through individual and corporate donations. We don’t get any government funding. So we’re always plugging away for money in order to give dogs to people.

Miranda Turenne 

Yeah, like I would be remiss if I didn’t. My director would be sad if I didn’t say,

Miranda Turenne 

please. It’s absolutely worth it, though.

Kayla Fratt 

We may or may not leave this in. But one of the things that God I wish, I hope that maybe one day we get to the point with the podcasts that we could do is like there’s a podcast called ologies. That’s one of my absolute favorite podcasts and they just interview experts and all sorts of different ologies you know, so biology, psychology, blah, blah, blah. There’s hundreds of episodes. It’s amazing. They get very detailed, but one of the things they do is every episode their podcast sponsors instead of going to support the podcast They get donated to a charity of the guests choosing. And that’s something that we don’t yet have enough revenue to do. But we have, like almost every single one of our guests is involved in the nonprofit world in a way that I would love to be able to send them some money and said, So, in lieu of that, maybe go donate five bucks to Pat’s. And with that, we’ll we’ll end the episode.