Service dogs are trained to detect seizures and soothe autistic children, even dial 911 when their owners aren’t capable of doing it themselves. But Oakley has a different sort of training. His owner, Amber Aquart, suffers from panic attacks, so when he detects changes in her breathing patterns and body temperature, he knows she’s on the verge of a breakdown.
While waiting in an airport terminal on their way home to Massachusetts last month, Oakley picked up on those changes right away, even though he was lying at her feet facing the opposite direction.
He has been taught to break my hands apart and away from my face and is supposed to encourage me to put my hands and even face on him – which calms me down. I think he did an excellent job!
Amber had already gone through several other panic attacks that day and knew another one was coming, so she set up her camera to show Oakley’s response. And it was spot on! He scrambles to his feet, then circles around until they’re face to face, then starts licking and nuzzling her, encouraging her to do something else with her hands – something like, oooh, I dunno, petting his head or reaching down and giving him a little scratch on the butt?
Wrapping her arms around his neck, Amber rests her head on his shoulder, then gives him a little peck on the neck in gratitude.
It seems to be working, but as it turns out, he’s not off the clock just yet. Moments later, her hands are firmly pressed back against her face, and he thinks, “Nope, not on my watch,” and resumes his soothing routine.
There is so much to say on this matter, but I will just leave this video here for you to see for yourself. Sharing this video and these things make me vulnerable, but I’m sharing them with you so you can see how this dog has changed my life.
Amber’s been a professional dog trainer for the last seven years, and she used those skills to teach Oakley the signs to look out for and how to respond. His calming presence and mannerisms come in handy in all sorts of situations, not just airports, from mingling in crowded places to waiting in long lines, even when someone’s invading her personal space.
Watch Oakley work his magic in the video below, and share if you agree his response couldn’t have been more perfect.
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