Rooney is a chocolate Labrador, born in June of 2020. She is rather small, at about 60 lbs, making her easy to fit in small spaces. She comes from excellent lines with stellar health testing in her lineage. Her sire has won numerous shows and currently has his AKC grand champion, junior hunter, and companion dog titles. Rooney began her training at 8 weeks old with an MD Dogs associate trainer in Pittsburgh PA (hence the name "Rooney" after the Steelers' owners). At 1 year old she came to Kentucky for assessment and to determine if she could become a DAD. Since then she has been in training with me (Libby).
She is a typical high energy adolescent Lab who loves anything that is edible or fetch-able! As she continues to mature she'll calm down a little, but she will always be far from a couch potato and need a lot of exercise as well as a family who enjoys a dog with endless enthusiasm! She is pretty much the furthest from 'dainty' as you can get, but is bound to bring a smile to your face. She is ready to go in a blink of an eye - whether that is a car ride, a game of fetch, or even going into her kennel. She's about as eager as they come!
While she's very eager, she lacks some confidence in certain overwhelming situations and can become hyper and unfocused. Because of this, she prefers routines and predictable scenarios without too much stimulation.
Rooney's scent training:
Her scent training is continuing and she gains confidence daily. So far Rooney has learned to alert to low blood sugars of 80mg/dL and below, and is phenomenal at responding when there is also a visual cue such as a scent tin. She's getting better every day with responding to live alerts in the home - we are working on increasing her confidence to provide a firm nudge alert rather than primarily calming signal pre-alerts. Once she masters this, we will begin practicing this in other environments outside the home.
If her future handler would like her to alert by holding a bringsel on her collar as a secondary alert, then that can also be added into her training.
Rooney will also be started on high blood sugar samples, and then during transition training we will finish up live high blood sugar alerts if the handler would like.
Rooney's obedience training:
During obedience training Rooney is incredibly focused and attentive, and throws herself into any position desired! Her eagerness is phenomenal and she will work just as hard if you don't have a food reward as she will when you do - which is very unique!
Rooney knows the following commands currently:
- Sit Stay
- Down Stay
- Stand Stay
- Close (go to my left side)
- Side (go to my right side)
- Heel (walk at my left side with me)
- Reverse (take a few steps backward)
- Watch Me
- Leave It
- Bring It
- Powder your nose (relieve herself)
- Get Dressed (put her vest on)
- Load Up (get in the car)
- Floor (sit on the floor of the car, not the seat)
- Paws Up
In the next month I will be finalizing whether Rooney is suited to be a public access DAD or if it would be best that she remain an in-home DAD. As mentioned above, her confidence decreases in stimulating environments and that shows in her demeanor. Rooney will likely never be a dog who would thrive in a scenario such as Disney World or numerous novel situations. If I determine that she is suited for public access work, her ideal scenario would be going to a predictable office job, perhaps classes, or simple grocery stores, etc.
How Much Does Rooney Cost?
Rooney is MD Dogs' only DAD to be provided at low to no cost for the handler. Since Rooney came to MD Dogs at 8 weeks old, we have been fundraising for her training - over $18,000 is needed to cover the expenses. We have raised over $13,000 and now just need around $5,000 to be able to graduate her and place her. If we are able to raise this before she is ready to finish her training, then she will be given for free. If we aren't quite able to raise that amount, then we will work with the handler to fundraise for the remaining amount before she graduates her training.
Rooney is a sweet and sensitive chocolate Labrador who is the first puppy in MD Dogs Diabetic Alert Dog pilot program. Rooney began her training in August of 2020 and is learning to be a Diabetic Alert Dog with the help of MD Dogs Associate Trainer, Amira. By the end of her training Rooney will be alerting to low and high glucose levels which will be a lifesaving skill for someone in need, regardless of their financial situation.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
This program is an M.D. Dogs dual purpose pilot program to help train a trainer and train a Diabetic Alert Dog. This program works with individuals passionate about Service Dog training, and over the course of 18-24 months teaches them to train an 8 week old puppy to become a Diabetic Alert Dog. At the conclusion of the program, if the dog has successfully passed graduation criteria, the Diabetic Alert Dog will be provided to an individual in need. The goal of this program is to teach additional Diabetic Alert Dog trainers and provide a fully trained Diabetic Alert Dog to an individual, regardless of their financial situation.
WHY ARE WE ASKING FOR YOUR SUPPORT?
Diabetic Alert Dogs can help. The dogs' physical alerts keep individuals in a healthy glucose range more often, and their physical presences provides emotional assistance every minute of the day.
HOW MUCH DOES A DIABETIC ALERT DOG COST?
The image above shows the breakdown of expenses required for Rooney's training to become a fully trained, healthy Service Dog for an individual with type 1 diabetes.
HOW CAN YOU HELP TODAY?
Corporate partnerships are available and partners will be recognized in various ways such as social media posts, mentions on the website, and even being mentioned on Rooney's vest!