About a month ago I got a call from George who is head of MSAR - Service Dogs. He called to ask me if I'd be open to the possibility of a different service dog who would be better able to suit all my needs and my active lifestyle in a busy city.
He was expecting 3 labs/goldens that month to arrive from Israel, as part of MSAR's new partnership with DogSchool Israel. He explained these dogs would be able to do everything I needed and LOVE to retrieve, which is an essential task I require. He also explained to me that they were extremely confident and would be able to handle travelling with me, attend speaking engagements with me and just handle life in the big city exceptionally well. Toronto is A LOT for a dog to handle and even some of the best trained dogs and dogs who are raised here sometimes struggle to handle the stress of downtown and transit etc.
We were on the fence for quite a while, because I'm prone to open wounds and infections and my mum is allergic to dogs(we live in the same house). At the end of the day(and after being offered one of these dogs two more times- never pressured, but had it thrown out there as an option) we decided we needed to do what would be best for my needs and said YES to one of the dogs from Israel!
A few weeks later I was on a plane bound for Winnipeg to meet my new dog, Foreman. I was nervous and excited and had a million thoughts running through my mind. "what if the dog doesn't like me?" was a big thought that crossed my mind. Another thing I should add here is, these dogs were trained in Hebrew! So, naturally I was a little nervous about if the dog would understand me seeing as English is my first language and I only had a couple of weeks to learn his commands.
In true Sinead form, I overthought EVERYTHING and things turned out perfectly and exactly as they were meant to. George could not have been more spot on when it came to finding me the right dog to fit my needs.
The week I spent in Winnipeg was full of training, bonding and learning important lesson--sometimes the hard way.. ha!
Foreman has been amazing since we arrived back home. He has been helping me in ways, I didn't think were possible, which has made life so much easier!
Our first week together, we went downtown and I got him on the train for the first time. We completed our first Rick Hansen Foundation ambassador presentation together! We also got to meet with his trainers from Israel, as they had a layover here after dropping 3 more dogs off in Winnipeg! Being able to meet them was such a privilege, as I was paranoid I was doing things wrong, butchering the commands in Hebrew and going to screw things up. They helped clarify some things and taught me things I had yet to learn and answered all the questions I had. I am so grateful to have had that opportunity!
Unfortunately, I became very sick and have spent the last week in hospital. Foreman has been AMAZING and has helped me get through it! Not the most ideal way to spend the second week together, but in a weird way, for our bond.. I think it was helpful??
Looking forward to what the next week holds for us as well the future. Can't wait to share more about Foreman!