Transitioning From One Service Dog to Another

June 12, 2009 · Posted in Aging Dogs, Service Dogs 

Currently, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I have two service dogs. One is my 11-year-old retired dog, Morgan and the other is my current 4-year-old service dog, Whistle.

Whistle is my third service dog and I have to say it was quite a different process transitioning from Morgan to Whistle than it was from my first service dog, Ramona to Morgan. Ramona had to be retired abruptly because she was ill. Morgan, on the other hand, declined much more gradually. I think I can confidently say that Morgan was not interested in retirement. He was perfectly content staying at home as a working dog and felt sure that I should be content staying at home also. It was difficult to help him to understand that I could not stay home all the time. I had to go to work everyday, but it was okay for him to stay home.

When Whistle came into our home, I think Morgan believed he was a foster dog who was only crashing with us for a while. He didn’t understand nor appreciate me working with Whistle and developing a rapport with him. Transitioning to Whistle was definitely one of the hardest things I have done since becoming a member of a service dog team. The hardest, of course, was saying good-bye to Ramona when she suddenly passed away.

The second hardest thing was looking at Morgan’s face when he would rush to complete the tasks that Whistle was now doing for me. Morgan and I were one. We knew each other so well and transferring that trust from him to Whistle was difficult. It still is. Morgan was so loyal to me and Whistle sometimes has a wandering eye. He’s definitely my service dog, but I don’t always see the adoration in Whistle’s eyes that consistently sparkled from Morgan’s eyes. Morgan has aged rapidly in the last year and I know I made the right decision to retire him and transition to Whistle. Whistle has become such a strong, mature service dog but when I look at Morgan, I can still see that twinkle of pride in his eyes that says "I am and will always be your devoted service dog."


One Response to “Transitioning From One Service Dog to Another”

  1. Judy on August 2nd, 2009 11:24 am

    Glad to finally hear that I am not the only one with this problem. I have only had one service dog, Lacey and am awaiting the arrival of her replacement. Lacey is almost 11 and has severe arthritis everywhere. She continues to struggle to go with me but can’t hold out. I worry about when the new dog joins the family how she will fell. Yea the vet tells me dogs dont feel but I don’t buy that crap. Paws with a Cause tells me she will gradually transition to house dog and be grateful but am holding my breath

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