"Championing Success: Marina and Her Southernwind Star, Druid"
"Meet Marina, who, after losing her previous service dog, discovered Southernwind, renowned for its prestigious and responsible service dog breeding program. She found in Druid, her Southernwind-bred companion, the perfect partner for her unique needs and aspirations."
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Written by Marina:
In spring of 2022, I retired my first service dog and started looking for a new dog to train. I reached out to Southernwind K9s that July and was told they had two puppies they think could be what I need. I made the four hour drive to go meet them a few days later.
A big part of our discussion was “what if he fails service dog training?” And the simple answer to that was he would still have a home with me. That worry never became a problem.
After some talking with Ceci, she introduced me to two puppies. One crawled right onto my lap and wanted cuddles, the other investigated us, said hi and walked off to explore. Ceci called him her little explorer. I brought that puppy home, and named him Druid after a game based on exploring new worlds me and my friends play.
Since day one he has loved to learn and see new things holding true to that first title of “explorer”. The first thing I learned about him was that when he was scared he would walk towards this scary new thing to figure out what it was. Something that I loved about him. Dogs will be sacred just as humans are but it’s how they handle that fear that matters.
We started his training to be my next service dog slow at first but he picked up everything fast.
By December of 2022, he started to come to classes with me as a service dog in training. It took a while for him to get used to settling for that long but frequent breaks for fetch helped a lot.
In the spring of 2023, I sent Ceci an update on Druid as I do every once in a while. However, this update was different, that day Druid had, for the first time, successfully detected, alerted to, and helped me through a medical episode preventing me from passing out and possibly going to the ER. Since that day he has helped me through daily medical episodes and began coming with me everywhere, work, class, stores, restaurants, renaissance festivals, Kennedy Space Center, Universal, ect.
And while he does his best to let me live my life as best as I can, I do the same for him. He has always had the drive to learn and train and often will remind me it’s training time and I forgot. We’ve trained in Scent work, obedience, tricks, and now herding. We also hope to try out FCAT this fall as well.
In August, Druid got his OFA prelims done for his hips and elbows to clear him for the next stage of training. He passed with flying colors and a “perfect condition” from his vet and orthopedic vet. In early September, he went off to his trainer for 8 weeks to learn mobility and guide work to further help me.
I’ve gotten comments in passing “oh that poor dog your forcing him to work” when he was dressed in his service dog gear. If you’ve ever met a GSD you know just how much they love to work. He dives into his vest in the morning to get dressed for service dog work, will sprint to his place mat when I pull out the scent work box which is his starting point, runs to the door when his bite toy is brought out for training, ect.
His drive to learn and work is one of my favorite things about him. My last service dog didn’t have that drive and it made it a chore to train. For Druid, working and training is the best thing in the world and so it’s always a fun game for us.
I honestly can’t thank Southernwind K9 for trusting me to bring home one of their puppies. Druid is exactly what I needed in a service dog and in a pet companion.
Next May, he will walk across my college graduation stage with me to receive my bachelor’s as a huge part of why I was able to complete it. He has sat through classes, study groups, presentations, interviews, exams and late night ice cream runs. I can’t say if I would’ve completed my degree without Druid. But I can say that he has made it so much easier by knowing I have someone watching my back in case of a medical episode.
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