Ember – Birthdate 6/21/19
In the Spring of 2014, the Foundation decided to make a donation to one of its favored partners - the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS). In turn, we received the honor of naming one of NEADS puppies that would enter into their service dog training program. In the Fall of 2014, we found out “our” eight-week old puppy had just arrived at the organization’s “Puppy Nursery” to begin her service dog training and she needed a name. We decided to let First Trust employees decide what she should be named and our employees did not disappoint! Austin, Trusty, Charity, Grace, Phil, Blackjack, Pandora, Chupacabra, Buster, Hero, Partner, Champ, Hope, Kodi, Shasta, Dexter, Happy and Bowen were all suggested names. After holding a contest to see which was the most, Trusty won and our little pup had a name!
Trusty was trained at the Laura J. Niles Early Learning Center (puppy house) on the NEADS campus. While she was at puppy house, Trusty learned some basic obedience. Between lessons, she had plenty of time to play and socialize with the puppy house volunteers.
At 9 months of age, Trusty learned more advanced commands. She learned the task work that will be useful to a potential client, such as retrieving dropped objects, turning light switches on and off, and pushing automatic accessible door buttons. This was part of Trusty’s Assistance Dog task training, and was taught to her by her NEADS trainer and inmate handler. On the weekends, her volunteer weekend raiser took her to visit hospitals, and go for rides on a bus or train. Together with her volunteer, Trusty also continued to take trips to familiar places, such as the shopping mall and grocery store. All of these visits helped to round out her socialization training, helping to make her comfortable in all types of social situations.
Her NEADS trainers provided the training update when she was 9 months old:
“She’s doing well- we call her an “old soul” since she acts like a much older dog than she really is. Trusty is a role model for all of the other puppies at MCI Framingham and demonstrates good confidence, training and energy. She’s polishing up her task training and beginning to work on more complex behaviors, such as retrieving objects out of the refrigerator, carrying objects in a backpack and finding the telephone on cue.”