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woman with his service dog


Tina and Clifford

February 01, 2024

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What a fun team to work with and get to know.  Tina is a natural dog trainer. She even self-trained her first service dog, so she knows the independence and confidence that a dog can bring.  But this time around she wanted more support, more follow up, other students to share with and so fate brought her to our doorstep.  She and Clifford are so sweet together.  During training you could look over at almost any time to see Clifford starting up at Tina and Tina looking back with a huge smile on her face.

They made me smile so many days as I headed to the office to see them camped out on the tail gate of Tina’s SUV, taking a break and eating lunch, sharing some quiet time together with Clifford’s head or crossed paws laying over Tina’s legs.  Clifford brought us a few giggles. He sleeps deeply during lectures (I didn’t think they were that boring) and often, timed just right , would let out a huge sigh as if to say , “enough already!” They won the My Service Dog Can Do That game, wowing us as they accomplished a pheonomenal number of tasks in the timed event.  They’ve had challenges. Clifford does NOT like to carry plastic bags (although paper bags are a bit better – sorry dude, the world is full of plastic).

It was a riot to see Tina during graduate support class. She and Clifford had been learning to negotiate the scary training steps at CPL over the first week.  There are no hand rails on these steps (on purpose) so she had been doing them with Clifford on one side and Holly’s mom Sharon on the other.  But, being the mean trainer that I am, it was graduate support class day when I casually said, “let’s do it without Holly’s mom today.” The look of horror and panic just made me smile. I knew  that she and Clifford could do this but she didn’t yet have the faith to trust him.  Scared of telling me no I think,  she said OK in a shaky voice and up they headed; a little wobbly but totally safe, and then they went down—the even scarier part: with ease.

Steps never slowed them down again.They even climbed into the tree house at Longwood Gardens!  Tina was a great supporter of her class mates, sharing stories and ideas, and bringing in Mutt Muffs for them to see (and Ripley to try on) should they ever go into a very loud environment and always giving an encouraging word or praise to another team that was struggling.  Tina has a very big heart and praise comes from her easily.  I think that’s why Clifford adores her so much.  They don’t live too far from CPL and we’re thrilled!  They head home to family, friends, hobbies, and a busier more active life.  In particular they want to come back to enjoy LongwoodGardens at Christmas.  Anyone who is ready to tackle those crowds must be feeling very confident in their partnership!