Dogs with Jobs - Winston

Tell me a bit about yourself:

I am a 4 year old Labernese (black labrador/Bernese mountain dog).
I've been a service dog for nearly 2 years now, but I was in school learning the job for a year before that. And my first year was spent with a foster family that socialized me and made sure to expose me to a wide range of environments and experiences to make sure I'd be happy and comfortable when working.

Why are you using an alias?
I am using an alias, not for any deep and mysterious reason.
As a service dog I must be 100% focused on my job and the welfare of my human.
Imagine if I was about to assist my human across a busy road and another human spotted me and shouted my real name.
This would not only be distracting, it could be very dangerous for both myself and my human.

Do you enjoy being a service dog?
Absolutely; Not only do I get to spend all day every day hanging out with my human, I get to go to loads of places not normally open to your average dog.
He brings me to all kind of weird and wonderful places with new smells, new people. I get to help him and he rewards me with love and treats. People say I'm working, but really, I think it's a great game.

Are there any rules or special things we need to do/consider if we meet a service dog?
It sounds harsh, but you and your humans must not pet, talk or interact with me while I am working as I must be totally focused.

Do you get to have time to relax and play?
When I'm at home, I don't work. Or rather, I'm on call. I don't have to wear my work harness at home, and I can just crash where I want (usually I stay close to my human even if I don't have to).
We play games like running up and down the corridor between the entrance and the kitchen. I have toys (oooh boy, my stuffed turtle is my favourite! and I haven't managed to destroy it yet).

In summer, my human gives me a kong filled with canned food that he put in the freezer.
That keeps me occupied and cool for a good hour! And 2 or 3 times a week, we go to the dog park where I can be off leash and sniff around and run like a wild thing.

Do you not get lonely not having a dog pal to play or meet up with?
Not at all as I have a human that is 100% focused on my health and welfare. Not only physically but also emotionally as I am never left alone and I receive plenty of cuddles and treats.
Every day is an adventure and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Have there been any funny moments while you have been a service dog?
As for funny moments, there are a few that jump to mind. Like the first time my tail swiped my human's tv remote control off the coffee table.
I didn't even think, I JUMPED to go get it and gave it back to my human.

Or the time someone at the airport dropped their passport in front of my nose. I picked it up, gave it to my human, who handed it to the man who'd dropped it.
The man complained that his passport was a bit wet from saliva - but he laughed because he thought it was cool.

Or the time we came across another dog and their human. The man told the other dog to "get out of the way, he works for a living, unlike you, lazy lump".

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