Friday Feature: Chelsea & NSD Joey

“Hello, my name is Chelsea and I am an RPN in St. Mary’s, On. NSD Joey is the first NSD puppy that I raised and I also had NSD Yzer for a couple of weeks as her “finishing home”. My experience with NSD, raising and training a service dog, has been a whirlwind of emotions. It has been very stressful, frustrating, and disappointing at times but it has also been the most exciting, rewarding, and enjoyable experience I’ve had in my life. I don’t regret my decision to volunteer and I’m quite disappointed I didn’t do it sooner.

As a nurse, I deal with so much stress and fear at work that I wasn’t sure if I could take on this big commitment at the same time, but I knew I needed a change. The first two weeks were probably the most difficult and stressful with little sleep and the puppy crying every hour to go outside.  I live on the third floor of an apartment building so I had to carry the puppy up and down 3 flights of stairs every time she wanted out. There were times in this experience I wanted to just cry and give up. The third week was so much better. She finally slept 5-8 hours with no crying, I could finally sleep. As I learned more about the NSD puppy I was raising, I began to understand what to do and what she wanted. Finally, we found a rhythm.

Some people thought I was crazy for being a nurse and training a service dog at the same time. I started to believe them but after my first shift with NSD Joey, I knew everything was going to be okay. She was amazing. She blew me away. I thought it was going to be a rough shift but instead it was quite surprising. My first shift during the day with her, my residents LOVED her. They took her to play and some even wanted to help train her. In times of need where I couldn’t watch her, I had an army to help me. I had my amazing, helpful coworkers, I had my caring and loving residents, and I had my family. With the strong support from the NSD puppy trainers, I felt as if I wasn’t alone. I felt like I was being assisted through the process step by step. She taught me everything I needed to know and even tricks to help if my puppy was being stubborn.  I felt so supported throughout her training and never felt alone. Joey continued to get better and better. She continued to become smarter and better at different tasks. She has learned so much and so have I. I am so proud of this sweet, gentle girl.

Recently Joey was recalled into training. Instead of being sad or upset that she was leaving, I was nervous. I was nervous like a parent is nervous, hoping she would succeed. Please don’t get me wrong I was extremely sad but ever since the beginning, I knew this day would come. Joey has meant so much to me and has helped me in ways that I cannot describe.  I would never trade this experience for anything. I cannot wait to continue to volunteer for National Service Dogs. I have learned so much through this process and I’m so excited to use what I’ve learned to continue to assist people through our furry friends.”

Thank you Chelsea for all your hard work raising NSD Joey!