CHARGER: The Inspiration behind the ZENCRATE
Hi, I’m Charger the guide dog!
I live in Florida with my dad Jonathan. It’s really cool living here, with lots of stuff to do outdoors like sailing and swimming. Dad takes me everywhere he goes and we’d like to share our adventures with you through my blog. There’s something I should come clean on. Im not really a guide dog. My fear of thunderstorms got in the way of my big dream. When I was a puppy, dad raised me as a dog for the blind. Labradors like me make great guides. Dad and I spent a wonderful 15 months together. When it was time for me to move on, I passed my training with wagging tails. Off I went to NYC to be trained on a hard harness. I rocked at this! Another 15 months in NYC and I was starting to look like a fully fledged guide dog! One week before my graduation, disaster struck – there was a huge scary thunderstorm with loud noise and flashing lights. I got really scared and hid under the bed until it was all over. This never happened when I was back with dad so I was given a second chance.
3rd Time’s a Charm?
For the next week, I worked extra hard to impress my trainer. Then, out of the blue, another thunderstorm. I couldnt help but hide until it finished. It was really scary. Things were looking bad for me. Scaredy dogs cant guide the blind – a guide dog has to be calm in all situations.
So much time was invested into my training that my trainers didn’t give up on me too easily. It was after the third thunderstorm that they realized I’d never graduate as a guide dog for the blind. Dad was given the opportunity to adopt me permanently and Florida became my home.
Anxiety Continued at Home
Even though I was back with dad, happily going on a new adventure each week, my doggy anxiety and fear of thunder stayed. Dad tried lots of things to help me. He tried rubbing essential oils between my eyes and on my forehead, I got a Thundershirt, we played music… nothing helped. Drugs were not an option for us.
This gave dad the idea of building a crate. It’s a very special crate that blocks out the noise and vibrations of the thunderstorm. It even plays soothing music! The enclosed space makes me feel nice and safe. And the best part is, I can get into it when dad is not there.
Life After Training
Cortney, dad’s girlfriend, takes me to work every Thursday to meet her patients and brighten up their day. It’s awesome because I’m a dog that suffers with anxiety. If you read my last blog post you’ll know that it ruined my chances of becoming a full Guide Dog for The Blind. If you missed it, don’t worry, you can view it here.
Some of the people that we visit have the same illness as me and I get to help them feel better. Pet Therapy is becoming a popular way to reach mental health goals. It’s free, doesn’t involve drugs and makes people happy. The patients have lots of fun putting different hats on me and I love to make them laugh. Helping others is my favorite.
Thunderstorms, on the other hand, are definitely not my favorite! Where we live in Florida, we’re still getting thunderstorms every week. During the last storm, I was so glad to have the custom crate that dad built for me. Before the crate, I used to hide in the laundry basket and even in the bathroom shower. The most common things that dogs like me do when we hear loud, scary sounds is to hide or destroy something in the house. When I hear a thunderstorm starting, I want to hide somewhere safe and secure, with no noise.
They Call it the ZENCRATE
Not sure if I should be telling you guys this, but, I heard a whisper that dad is going to build these for other doggies with anxiety. A local veterinarian clinic would love to try them out on their doggie patients with anxiety. They are calling it the ZENCRATE.