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Update with Elmer

Second installment in Puppy Jake service-dog-in-training series

In the past month, Puppy Jake Foundation foster mom Shanna Davenport has run into some surprising challenges. For the most part, the sales and customer service manager at Boyt Harness Company, couldn’t be happier.

“It is so fun. I love it. I really do,” said Davenport.

It helps that Elmer has been rated one of the top dogs in his class. He took like a champ to the escalators at Jordan Creek Mall during training sessions earlier this month and has become so well-behaved in public no one even notices when he’s around.

“He really has been a rock star,” said Davenport, but there is a downside. “You really have to be viligent so people don’t step on him, step on his tail.”

Davenport’s children, Tyler, 11, and Jessinda, 13, have been very helpful in protecting him when they’re out and about at the store.

The biggest challenge so far?

“These dogs have to be able to do their business on any type of substrate. It’s natural for them to go in the grass. It’s not natural for them to go on concrete,” said Davenport. “I don’t know if you just saw him do it, but he just did it. Big, big celebration!”

Teaching him was quite the fete. Elmer, convinced he would get in trouble, held it for four and a half hours until he finally couldn’t stand it. Now that he knows he won’t get into trouble, there’s no turning back, but Davenport said, “it was hard on my heart.”

Sibling rivalry

Gemma, Davenport’s older dog, is slowly adjusting to life as a big sister.

“It’s on her terms. She’ll play with him,” said the foster mom. “At night, when he’s tired, he likes to relax and cuddle up beside her, but she will have no part of it. Slow process, but it is coming along”

Elmer’s first big field trip is coming up June 3 at Living History Farms. Until then, readers might catch a glimpse of him around town as he accompanies Davenport into more stores.

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