By: KDKA-TV News Staff
NEW ALBANY, Ohio (KDKA) — The journey to becoming a Canine Companions’ service dog begins today for our new KDKA pup, Pickles, who we will follow on Pittsburgh Today Live.READ MORE: New KDKA Pup Revealed! Pickles Joins The Pittsburgh Today Live Family
Pickles arrived this week at the Canine Companions’ training facility in New Albany, Ohio, to be introduced to his puppy raisers – Jill, John and Jack Sabo.
It all started with a full circle moment as Pickles was introduced to Penguin, our very first KDKA pup.
“The feeling is indescribable. You get this little eight-pound ball of fluff. The feelings from Penguin are still kind of here, especially because we were able to turn Penguin in at this facility, so being able to bring that full circle and start the new journey is something that brings us a lot of joy,” Jack Sabo said.
Penguin is in the middle of his advanced service dog training with Canine Companions. He’s learning specific commands in order to be able to help someone who is living with a disability.
“He’s brushing up on those 30 commands we taught him while he was with us, and he’s also expanded his knowledge to learn 30 more specific word commands – picking up dropped items, working to pull wheelchairs, learning how to tug doors open and closed,” Jack said.
WATCH: The Sabos and Penguin Reunite —
It’s all the things Pickles will be working his way up to as he lives his first 18 months with the Sabos.
Jack’s mom, Jill, says it all starts with getting to know little Pickles. His personality, his favorite things, how he learns. She says it’s a vital part of getting him started in his training.
“The next couple months are going to be taking it slow, so that he can get acclimated to us and we can get acclimated to him,” she said. “He’s going to have different personality traits than Penguin, because every dog is different, so we’ll have to learn how he learns best so we can start to teach him his basic commands. Then, we’ll start acclimating him into public scenarios just very, very slowly, we don’t want to overwhelm the puppy at first because they’re still developing all their confidence and you don’t want to put them in a situation that would frighten them.”
It’s all part of the Canine Companions mission to help people with disabilities.
“The program is designed to expertly train service dogs with children, adults and veterans with disabilities. What they’ll do is give them a little more independence, so they can do things on their own,” Jill said.
You can watch Pickles’ journey on Pittsburgh Today Live weekly here on KDKA at 9 a.m. with the repeat on Pittsburgh’s CW and streaming on CBSN Pittsburgh at 2 p.m.
The Sabos will provide us with training updates as we watch Pickles grow into a well-trained, loving companion. We’ll also continue to get updates on Penguin as he journeys closer and closer to being matched with a forever person.