Initially, Mary Stillman discussed with us our preferences in characteristics for a dog: size, temperament, long/short hair, male/female; and our need as to service. She then researched the breeds that would match those preferences and needs and helped us decide what breed would be a good fit. Mary did all the leg work: researching and interviewing breeders, testing the pups, and choosing one for us.
Tammy, our boxer, has been with us for over a year now. Her primary “work” is to assist my husband. Tom was left partially paralyzed by Guillain-Barre Syndrome, is in a wheelchair, and has minimal use of his hands. If he drops the phone or the remote, Tammy picks the item up for him and puts it in his hand or on his lap. It is a great comfort to me when I have to be away from home for appointments or run errands.
Mary did an extraordinary job training Tammy. Tammy is extremely well-behaved (not common in young boxers). We take Tammy everywhere with us – shopping, to restaurants, to doctor appointments and therapy – and we are complimented on her calm demeanor quite often.
Mary Stillman’s Agility Training Camp. Put your boot straps on!! Yeah, Lola, you completed every one! 2 dogwalks, tire jump (Styrofoam hoop), pole jump, pause box, weave poles, matrix puzzle on the ground, etc. If you want a great trainer for your dog, Mary Stillman knows her stuff!
I met Mary the summer of 2015. She came to my kennel to visit because she was looking for a service dog puppy for one of her clients. I was impressed from the moment I met her. She demonstrated a lot of knowledge of puppies/dogs and their training. Over the course of this year of having one of the pups, I’ve gotten to enjoy updates via emails, pictures, and videos. She has done a really nice job with the pup her client purchased from me. You can tell she loves what she is doing and in turn the pup has responded nicely to her!
I realized my choice for a service dog challenged the best of trainers, but Mary Stillman met the challenge. While Mary provided a lineage of preferred service dogs (those most often placed in service because of temperament and less-aggressive or high energy), my choice was a female Boxer. They are dominant, great territory definers and their menacing bark could deter most unwelcome guests. With my current paralysis impacting my hands I preferred a four legged gun, in addition to assistance picking up the phone or retrieving various remotes. Tammy can do it all. I have dropped pencils, magazines, credit cards, keys and her treats. She will not eat food until she is instructed. Tammy will patiently wait for the signal to eat. She is very disciplined upon dawning her “service vest”. She recognizes (time-to-work) signals. We are confronted with many VA veterans, nurses, doctors, therapists, as well as going to the cafeteria for breaks. Tammy is a champion. Nothing phases her (other canines, doting admirers). Her duties are not treat based. She wants to please and expects acknowledgement, love, petting, and our visual appreciation.
If you spend a day in our world you will recognize Tammy’s presence at home. If you spend a day in our world (in the general public) you will recognize the constant adulation coming from others praising Tammy. If you spend a day in our world (eating at a public establishment) you will recognize ‘no one knows’ Tammy is present. Thanks Mary….Great Job!!
I want to help the military Veterans, or someone who needs a great deal of canine assistance, find their special companion they want trained for their specific needs (therapy or service work), help the senior citizen find their best friend and become more independent, help children find their therapy or assistance canine and become more confident, help a jogger enjoy his run with the perfect dog, or make an older lady feel secure with a calm dog that will guard her when she is threatened.
I am able to get a dog trained for your needs now. Service dogs take a year to be trained specifically for the needs of the owner, but it is better than waiting 3 years, 5 years, or 7 years! Therapy dogs are a public servant and must qualify to be one. I can train your current dog or a mixed breed from a shelter. Depending on the dogs breed and age, the dog will need 3-6 months to qualify for a therapy dog.
I create a team-based approach to investigate, assess, and establish a training program for your dog. I set up an interview with the dog owner and any other family member that handles the dog, and talk about their experiences, create a plan with milestones to achieve, review, reassess and focus on your dog and its behavior. I have been successful in learning a dogs’ behavior, mannerisms, fears, joys, and removing their perceived threats or fears, and awarding for good behaviors that change behavior.
Mary's brother, Tom, was a Vietnam Vet in the Air Force, and needed a service dog to assist him and let his wife leave him for errands she had to make. Tom wasn't active duty military, so he didn't qualify for a service dog. Eventually, Tom and his wife chose a Boxer puppy and named her Tammy. I took Tammy and after 11 months, she was ready for service. Tom and his wife followed Tammy's progress through photos and videos until she could come home a be a true team player. Tammy picks up and carries items, notifies Tom if someone is coming to the door, and joins him at the VA Hospital 3 times a week. She is welcomed and admired at the VA every day.
Currently, Mary is training a Labrador Retriever named Jackson for woman in Colorado. Jackson is fully trained for stabilization, balance assistance, pressing buttons, stepping on items, opening doors, barking on command, carrying items, finding keys or other important items, picking up items that are dropped, taking covers off of the client, raising the client's arm to place back on the wheelchair, announce he needs to go outside, and knows how to show attention and "love" to his new owner. Angel Dogs for Service and Therapy has a lifetime commitment with the program to keep your service dog current with your needs. Service Dogs are trained for 12-18 months, $1,500 per quarter (3 months) for a total of $6,000/year.
Here are some examples of Mary's experience in Service Dog work.
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I am working with a professional woman who drives to venues to sell products needed for patients who need assistance in their anxiety, or who live in pain, and need a lift in their spirit. Her Therapy Dog, a Shiatzu named Dora, not only helps to brighten the lives of many of the people she come in contact with her, but performs tasks that give Dora a purpose. Dora is working on her skills to receive her Therapy Dog certification.
I had the good fortune early this year to meet Mary Stillman’s dog in service, Jackson, the Lab. It was a reunion of previous work comrades and we spent 3 days together. I was so impressed with Jackson and the excellent job Mary did training him. He was extremely well mannered in the hotel and never wavered from following commands given to him. He went with us to restaurants and behaved very calm and polite at all times. I understand he will be sent to his job as a service dog for a retired military individual in November, and I feel confident that he will bring happiness and a sense of comfort and well- being to his recipient!
Dora came to us at the age of 10 weeks after being with Mary Stillman for 4 weeks. She was trained to sit, stay, good start in potty training, no bite, knew the names of toys and was on a wonderful eating, outside play, and nap schedule. Mary did an excellent job of training Dora as a tiny puppy and training me to take care of her as well! My goal is to have Mary train her to be a Therapy Dog and work with me in the public.