A hardware store can be a busy, noisy place. A key machine could be cutting a new set of keys, or a paint mixer might be firing up.
But that noise, and those potential distractions, are just what Ohio company Circle Tail’s service dog trainers are looking for as they find places to work with new service dogs in training.
BDK Feed & Supply in Blanchester, Ohio, gets weekly visits from Circle Tail’s newest puppy recruits. Owned by Darrell Kingsland, the store caters to a large farm and pet owner customer base and has received visits from Circle Tail’s newest puppy recruits at least once a week for about five years.
“It’s a fun relationship for a store to have,” Kingsland says. “We try to accommodate the dogs’ training as much as we can.”
Circle Tail trains hearing and seeing-eye dogs, as well as service dogs that can help someone with a physical impairment that limits mobility. Recently, the nonprofit organization began training diabetic alert dogs as well.
The store offers a unique training ground for new service dogs because of the diversity of distractions it offers for a properly trained dog, says Circle Tail executive director Marlys Staley.
With large products being moved, loud machinery in use and lots of foot traffic, it gives the trainers a good look at how a potential service dog may react in many situations.
“When you start out with young dogs, you don’t know what skills they’ll have—whether they can be distracted too easily, or if they have trouble not saying hello to everyone they meet,” Staley says.
“You get a good feel for the temperament of the dog,” says Staley. “Is it able to keep up with someone active, or is it going to be content to lay under a desk and retrieve a pen or open a cabinet?”
BDK has more than a great atmosphere, Staley says. The employees and customers have been quick to welcome the trainers and puppies into the store and even help get the trainees ready.