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An Interview with Dave Grotzinger


Where did you go to get a service dog?


I got my service dog from Susquehanna Service Dogs.  They are a wonderful organization and are very helpful in any way imaginable. There are other places where you can get a service dog; a quick google search will find many more.


Is there a process for receiving a dog?

http://www.keystonehumanservices.org/ssd/appprocess.php This link explains the application process in depth.  For my first dog Freedom I was on the waiting list for about one year, after he passed it took about a year and a half to get paired with Jona.  Each dog was $500 for me, SSD found grants to cover the rest.


Once you qualify for one, what is training like? 

Team Training as they call it, is held every few months when they have a group of dogs and partners; my first team training consisted of 5 dogs where this last one had 8.  We attend classes that lasted for two and a half weeks from 9am – 4pm.  Much of the time is spent working on specific skills and tasks we need our dog to perform for us.  We also spent a lot of the first few days just listening to lectures, going over our training manual, and just learning basic care.  The second week we spent a lot of time taking the dogs out in public, we went somewhere different for lunch everyday. 


Do the dogs already know certain skills or do you give the program a list of your needs?

These dogs are very highly trained but of course some dogs are better with working with someone in a wheelchair where as another may be better suited as a hearing dog.  There is a lot of paperwork that is filled out in the application process and a list of your needs is included in this.


What things will he help you with?

Jona picks things up for me that I may drop onto the floor, such as my phone or the remote and gets things for me that may be out of my reach. He can open and close the doors for me around the house. He can assist me at a checkout counter or a Dr.’s office by getting a bag, appt. card, piece of paper and bringing it to me. He is also a great resource for emotional support as well.


Dave and Jona

Since this is your second dog, did you find the training easier?

Yes, the training was much easier the second time around.  I knew what to expect and I knew all the commands before the trainers introduced them.  There were a few new things to learn but for the most part all the training was very similar.   


What similarities/differences are there in your fuzzy friends?

Every dog will have there own personal personalities.  Jona is very calm, never barks, he lies around a lot but loves to play, he will play with any of his toys.  Freedom was a little pickier when it came to his toys, a bit more excited if someone came to the door, and he barked quite a bit.  They booth do a great job listening to me and doing what I need but they do have there own individual personalities.


Describe a favorite memory with you and Freedom.

I miss Freedom a lot and I can’t say that there is a one favorite moment I can point out.  I missed him a lot and really wanted to see him walk in the door when I was in the hospital this past winter.  When I was in the hospital in ’04 he came to visit me and it greatly helped lift my spirits.


Describe a favorite memory established with Jona so far.

We took part in the first annual Walk-n-roll on City Island this past July.  Jona and I jogged/rolled around City Island three times.  Jona loves when I go as fast as I can so he gets to jog, almost run to keep up with me.  We go out for a walk around town just about every evening. 


Any advice for someone thinking about getting a service dog?

Just keep in mind that having a dog requires a lot of work and you must keep up with their care.  I’m not able to do much of Jona’s personal care but I have my attendants and family help with what is needed.  Vet bills and food add up but I couldn’t give you a price.


Click here to see more pictures of Freedom

Click here to see more pictures of Jona.