The Collies in this video are in the final stages of their training for a highly-specialized service job. They are mobility dogs, and will be teamed up with people who have conditions that make it difficult to get around.
These Collies will specialize in walking, providing added stability and balance in cases where a person may just need someone to lean on. Several conditions can limit mobility, anything from multiple sclerosis, to stroke, to accidents.
Leslie Rappaport, an Oregon-based fancier who trained the dogs in this video, has been molding beautiful Collies into helpers for the disabled for more than two decades. The web site for her Kings Valley Collies Kennel brims with stories of how lives were changed, immeasurably for the better, after a mobility dog entered the scene. Collies are great for this work because of their level temperaments and size.
In this video, there are two rough Collies, the kinds who have long coats, like Lassie. Ripley, the first dog in the video, is a promotional dog, who raises awareness about the program, says Rappaport. Kona, the third dog in the video, is working as a “walkabout dog,” giving demos of how these canine helpers work, until he is teamed up with a handler.
The smooth Collie, Cole, has already found his partner, Yujin, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis four years ago. “It was very touching to me as a trainer, because Yujin is a wonderful young man. He’s only 34 years old and has been mostly confined to a scooter for mobility for the past four years—until he met Cole. He started walking with Cole on day one of team training.”
In this video, Yujin and Cole step out together on their fourth day of training.