In July the Law Library Staff welcomed a new member to its team, Bubba Jeb, a Hearing Service Dog. He accompanies his deaf human, Teresa, to work each day. Bubba Jeb sat down with MoreUs for an interview and a few treats. Here is the first half of that interview.
Part 1: The Journey from Shelter Dog to Service Dog
MoreUs: How did you choose the profession of Service Dog?
Jeb: Well, I didn’t choose being a Service Dog as much as I was chosen to be one by the deaf woman who adopted me in July 2011. I had been in the Rockbridge SPCA in Lexington, Virginia for six months. No one wanted to adopt me, but then Teresa saw me on the shelter’s website and came to meet me. She took me out for a walk on a leash. (Well, it was more of a tug. I was really into pulling on the leash then.) She came back two days later to adopt me. She named me Bubba JEB, with JEB standing for Just Everyone’s Bubba because I’m so friendly. I truly love everyone I see and meet.
MoreUs: Did you know at the time that you were going to be a Service Dog?
Jeb: No, I had no idea what was in store for me. I just stuck my nose out the window and enjoyed the ride to Charlottesville.
MoreUs: Tell me about your academic credentials.
Jeb: Teresa and I started basic obedience classes together four days after I was adopted. I had never been trained to do anything so this was a new adventure in life for me. So along with a new name, I had to go to school and learn lots of stuff: how to walk on a leash, how to sit, stay, come, and do many other things. School wasn’t difficult—I was given a treat each time I did something correctly. Being a Lab mix, I am very food motivated so I was the fastest learner in the class.
MoreUs:What else did you have to learn?
Jeb: Well, I had never been exposed to stairs so I had to learn how to walk up and down steps. That’s not natural to dogs.
MoreUs: What was your favorite part of the class?
Jeb: That’s hard to say. I loved the treats. Getting to eat a lot of treats was great, but I also loved meeting the other dogs and humans. Since Teresa is deaf, the teacher had an extra person on hand to write everything down for her so that she could follow along in class. The assistant loved me and kept saying that I was a great dog and very smart. What wasn’t there for me to love about school? Treats and praise—that’s heaven for a Lab.
MoreUs: Do you have to take continuing education classes?
Jeb: Yes. I work on my basic training each day and Teresa is applying for a grant to receive additional training for me so that I can learn to alert her to the telephone when it rings. She has a phone that provides captions for her to read, but she misses phone calls because she can’t hear the phone ring. So, I need to learn to alert her when I hear that obnoxious sound.
To be continued in “Interview with a Service Dog, Part 2: A Day in the Life”