Rocky Kanaka (Animal Advocate):
At first, she failed as a service dog. And then this happened.
Alana (Toothless’s Owner):
I was 19, I had just graduated college and I had asked for a dog my entire life. And finally my family gave in and said, You can have a dog. Went down to the shelter the next day. I was like, I gotta do this fast before they changed their mind again.
Went down there, I saw a listing for a puppy that didn’t have a picture online, so I rushed down there and I’m going through all the kennels. There she was, she was nine weeks old and about eight and a half pounds. But I put my hand up on the grate and she immediately came up and put her little paw on my hand and I said, That’s it, she’s Mine.
Toothless was originally trained to be an allergy alert dog for Alana. But initially failed.
I started training her to be an allergen alert dog, which she failed. She couldn’t detect my allergens once they had been cooked into stuff, so she failed. And I was like, That’s okay. I already planned on keeping her if she failed.
As I got older, I developed more severe hypoglycemia and hypotension. She tells me long before they’re ever gonna happen, like we’re at a point where we’re, I’m getting alerts, you know, 45 minutes to an hour before I would actually see any problem.
I taught her that her alert is to like do a vertical jump and tap me on the shoulders so it completely interrupts anything I’m doing cuz there is a dog jumping in front of me. I cannot ignore her. It is a blessing, especially at Comic Cons, where you are caught up in the moment and everything’s exciting and you, it’s very easy to forget to eat, forget to hydrate.
I like to call myself like as a relatively abled bodied, disabled person. Like I have the spoons to talk to people about my problems and like into them what service dogs can and can’t do and how to behavior on service dogs. And so I, I like to use her as kind of an opportunity to educate non-service dogs users about service dogs in the service dog community and the disabled community.
The cosplay is a really good way to do that because they see her in a costume and they come up and talk to me and I’m like, Ah, yes, she’s a service dog who does all of these things. At Cons I make sure I devote the energy to it. And the cosplays are just a great way to break the ice so that people feel comfortable coming up and asking me questions and talk to, talking to me about it.
She recently gained popularity on social media, creating awesome videos for nerds like myself and service dogs alike.
Especially right now, a lot of service dogs are struggling with the quarantine because they’re not working as much, They’re not working as often. I’m just very grateful for how many people have been saying, “This made my whole day, or I was really struggling this week and she made me smile for the first time this week.”
I’m so grateful cuz that’s exactly what we’re trying to do. We are trying to, I am trying to spread the joy that she gives me.
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