Tazuna: My Australian Shepherd Service Dog

Tazuna is my Australian Shepherd Service Dog. She was born June 10th, 2020 in Columbus, Wisconsin and it has been an interesting journey as to how our story came to be.

Australian Shepherd Service Dog

Let me start with the fact that I am a dog person. Don’t get me wrong, I love cats too – pretty much any animal, but dogs have always held my heart. We had a black lab/border collie mix and after she passed? My husband wasn’t eager to get a replacement.

It was a topic I brought up a few times over the last ten years, to no success.

How We Got an Australian Shepherd Service Dog

Let’s face it – a global pandemic is a challenge for everyone. The lockdowns, the empty shelves, the uncertainty of it all. Our teen was having a very difficult time with everything, and after 10 years of no dog, I talked my husband into getting a pup.

The timing was perfect as my friend Cindy was soon expecting a litter. I may or may not have been part of what helped drive my hubster over the edge: he couldn’t say “no” to something that might help our kid with their anxiety.

Cindy was expecting a little of Australian Shepherd pups – and we were to soon learn that a litter of eleven was to be chosen from. I knew we wanted a female and there were only two of them: a Merle, and a Bicolor.

Here is the mom with 9 of her babies

Why do I like female dogs? I had a female German Shepherd growing up, and then a West Highland White. I just always thought that they were easier to train, more eager to please, and slightly better with kids.

That is just me, of course, I am sure many would debate the fine facts of that with me. Adamantly.

The Dog-Whisperer Picked the Pooch

I had originally picked the merle – but the kid bonded with the bicolor. Since it was going to be her pup – that is what mattered: which pooch she was comfortable with.

You can see them here:

Australian Shepherd Service Dog
Look at this precious baby Aussie!

We got a couple of visits in before it was time to bring her home to us – that time seemed like it took forever and went super fast at the same time.

Before we knew it, she was home with us and we were working on crate training and basic tricks.

Tazuna wasn’t planned out to be an Australian Shepherd Service Dog – but more of an emotional support animal (ESA) for our teen.

What we learned? The kid is a cat person like her father.

(sigh)

Tazuna spent most of her time in my company, from walks to snuggles.

play hard rest hard
It is a ruff life – all this playing and sleeping

She Started Alerting

When she was about 6 months old, she started climbing into my lap, putting a paw on each shoulder, and nudging my jaw with her chin.

We thought it was cute and I rewarded her.

She did it again about 2 weeks later, and she got another treat.

3 weeks later? Same thing.

THEN we figured it out – it was happening before I had a migraine!

I have suffered from nasty migraines since I was a young teen – to the point that I might spend a few days recovering. Many neurologists and “pain doctors” have tried the gambit of non-narcotic treatments for me over the years to learn that I am allergic to pretty much all of them.

Toradol closes my throat, Imitrex gave me a seizure, and the list goes on.

The only thing that did work?

Narcotics.

I had been taking shots of Demerol to break up an attack and then I was switched to morphine. After my gastric bypass surgery, I was actually given liquid morphine to take from the comfort of my own home instead of venturing out to urgent care or the emergency room.

Living the puppy life
living the puppy life

Still – after I take the medicine, I am out of commission for 12-18 hours. I lose time and then have to play “catch-up” afterward.

Having a pup tell me in advance?

GOLDEN!

I was able to get a few things done so I could intentionally NOT stress when I needed the downtime.

We figured out, by tracking later events, that she was giving me a 12-hour warning.

A six-month-old pup!

We dug a little deeper and learned that there IS such a thing as a Migraine Alert Dog and what all we needed to do to turn her into a real service dog.

The alerting part was easy – she was totally in tune with me for a medical condition.

Time For Training

The training was the big focus: making sure she was polite in public and basically seen instead of heard – being mostly a simple accessory.

waiting for daddy

We did a 2-week board and train program for manners and basic commands like “Place” where she would drop at the location we popped her on and stay there until released. To sit under a table or chair in a restaurant and out of the way. To walk on my right as most are trained for the left side but I had broken my arm years before and needed the certain side to be customized.

Australian Shepherd Service Dog
The perfect “under the table” dog

It was amazing how 2 weeks of intense training made a difference! It was up to me to take her out and about for practice.

We even took her camping with us in Northern Wisconsin and she totally rocked everything from the pop-up camper to the 4-star supper clubs.

camping with the dog
You can see how alert she is at 13 months – while we were up North camping

We would find small things to overcome – like strollers are something that you don’t deal with when you have a 15-year-old. Flies are super annoying and easy to snap up. Other dogs are not supposed to be in her yard…and we bark a bit.

Since it takes up to 2 years to fully train a service dog, I think she is doing brilliantly for a pup who still is only 16 months old.

I don’t take her with me everywhere – as a travel writer, I can’t always take her on a press trip. We have a fantastic place to board her and they treat her well.

I Spoil Her

As she takes care of me, I think it is VERY important to take care of her. She is current with the Veterinarian and hits the groomer every three weeks for a Spa Session. It is a wash, trim, nail trim, teeth brushing, ear cleaning, extravaganza where she is pampered and gets playtime. Mr. Jordan takes excellent care of her!

pampered pooch
Just look at doggie day at the spa!

Whenever we venture out, she knows that there is a serious playtime reward when we get home. It could be her Chucky Ball, Frisbee, or even the tennis ball flinger. It boils down to some serious one-on-one fun time with momma and lots of praise.

When I have an actual migraine? She stays by me, until I recover.

She usually sleeps in her kennel, unless she knows I am dealing with a migraine and then stays with me.

As we navigated all the things we had to learn, we decided that we needed to create a site as we had to search through tons of different sites to answer our own questions.

It amazes me how many bloggers have recipes for homemade dog treats on their sites that have ingredients that are toxic to dogs. All of our recipes are checked by a Veterinarian for safety and Tazuna approved for likeability.

Having a thrifty site, we wanted to help save money on dog toys and different items to help take care of them. It can be expensive to have a pet – and these are still trying times. If you can save a few bucks here and there, it is a good thing.

So, what is our future?

Hopefully many years together with my Australian Shepherd Service Dog Tazuna.

She’s my special bud and I couldn’t be happier that we ended up together. May our journey help inspire you to start your own.

baby Tazuna
I know she has a fur coat – but she loves her sweaters!
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