Congratulations to AKC Canine Good Citizen Storm, an abandoned German Shepherd Dog who on Saturday, June 13, became a certified service dog. Storm graduated from a service-dog program in a ceremony at the Plano (Texas) Animal Shelter. She was presented to former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jay Fondren, an Iraq War veteran who lost his legs and right thumb to roadside bombs near the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City on the day before Thanksgiving 2004 (read his full story here).
Fondren’s new service dog was found tied up and abandoned in a Plano park after a severe November thunderstorm. When the wet and shivering dog was brought into Plano Animal Services, her calm, confident demeanor caught the attention of technician Jackie Konold. Konold also works with Rebuilding Warriors, a nonprofit that gives service dogs to honorably discharged veterans. She thought the young dog would be a good fit for the program.
“What I look for is how well a dog is handling the shelter environment,” she says. “She was very alert; not scared. Someone walked by her and dropped a bunch of metal bolts, but she didn’t get rattled at all.”
Storm was also friendly when people entered her kennel and when other dogs walked past, which is important for service dogs required to be comfortable in any public setting.
Konold worked with Storm, training her to pass the Canine Good Citizen test and learn skills that would help Fondren physically and emotionally. “She will retrieve dropped items, pull his wheelchair up hills, and help him with light switches and elevator buttons,” Konold says. “She’ll also help keep him calm and relaxed whenever he feels anxious.”
Fondren, a native of Waco, Texas, told the Plano Star Courier, “That song ‘Broken Together,’ that’s kind of like Storm and I. We’re working through our issues together.”