Birgy Schonberger’s dream is starting to come true, with one of her standard poodle pups being sent for training as a service dog in Australia.
Standard poodles could be trained to help children with conditions such as autism and Asperger’s, she said.
Children with such conditions tended to settle into everyday life better when they had a service dog with them.
“The dog lets the child know when its behaviour is out of line,” Miss Schonberger said.
The Mataura woman starting to make a name for herself as a breeder of quality standard poodle pups.
Not only is one being exported to Australia but another had been bought by a Tahitian buyer and a third was in Bangkok, she said.
The litter of pups was tested for suitability as service dogs before one was selected by the Australian buyer.
Miss Schonberger said two out of the four pups passed the tests.
The buyerhad been searching for suitable standard poodle breeding lines for six years, she said.
The eight-week-old male pup called Lumiere will undergo service dog training for 16 weeks, then another test would be undertaken, she said.
If Lumiere passed the 16-week test then he would become a recorded service dog.
Then Lumiere would be able to accompany his owner in situations where other dogs would not be allowed, such as on public transport or in restaurants.
“It’s the same status as guide dogs.”
Having a puppy trained as a service dog was Miss Schonberger’s dream.
“It means a lot to me,” she said.
Miss Schonberger has first-hand experience of the value of dogs. She had complex post-traumatic stress disorder and her first standard poodle, Phalcor, helped her through her bad times, she said.
One of the worst times for Miss Schonberger was nights, when she would relive her past trauma.
Phalcor slept on her bed and woke her when she was having nightmares, which in turn meant the counselling she was receiving became more effective because she was not as tired as she previously was, she said.
“Phalcor set me free from my emotional jail.”
She was delighted one of the pups she bred could help someone else.
Miss Schonberger paid tribute to her son Bastiaan (15), and her friend, Linda Sim, for all the help they had given.
CVS Vets had to deal with complicated processes to enable the pups to be exported overseas, and Ms Schonberger said the staff had gone out of their way to make sure the canines met all criteria.