Personalized Dog Training, LLC joins the Real Life Choices Program


Personalized Dog Training, LLC, which specializes in dog- and family-friendly in-home dog training lessons recently joined the State of New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities Real Life Choices (RLC) program as a "qualified provider".   The program allows families to create their own cluster of services to keep disabled young adults with family or in their chosen living arrangement.  Each participant in RLC is assigned an annual budget which they may use to purchase services and supports that they have identified to achieve the outcomes of their Plans of Care. 


Melissa Wheeler of Shamong, NJ is a new participant in the Real Life Choices program.  The program will provide services which will allow her to maintain her independence, to continue living at home with her family and to remain integrated in the community.   Through Real Life Choices, Melissa's budget can be used for services such as aides, physical therapy, transportation, home renovations to support her disability, and even a dog trainer to assist with in-home follow-up training for her and her service dog, Sasha.  Martha Windisch, owner of Personalized Dog Training, LLC, first met Melissa after she donated a golden retriever puppy to Canine Partners for Life.  Martha had a great interest in how dogs can assist those with disabilities since high school when Doris, a friend of her family traveled to Morristown, NJ to receive a Seeing Eye Dog.  This golden retriever named Teddy prompted Martha to fall in love with the breed and to become interested in dog training.   The puppy that Martha donated to Canine Partners for Life was named Bob and, once he completed his initial puppy-raising and service dog training, he was placed with Melissa as her first service dog.   At that time, Martha was informed that the pup she had donated to CPL in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, had come full circle and was now helping a high school girl in Tabernacle; the next town over from the puppy's birth place!


The non-profit organization that trained Bob, Canine Partners for Life, was founded by Darlene Sullivan in 1989 with the mission of increasing the independence and quality of life of individuals with mobility impairments by providing professionally trained service dogs and support services.  CPL's goal is to establish a lifetime bond between the recipient and the dog.   CPL trains several types of assistance dogs including service dogs, home companions and residential companions.  Each CPL dog receives a comprehensive and customized training program to meet the specific needs of their human partner.  Follow-up is necessary to ensure the success of each team throughout the lifetime of the partnership.  CPL has one of the strongest follow-up programs in the industry.  This, combined with the Real Life Choices Program's addition of Personalized Dog Training, LLC to their list of "qualified providers" allows Melissa to receive follow-up for her current service dog Sasha, a yellow Labrador retriever who she graduated with from CPL after having lost her first service dog, Bob, to complications of Lyme disease. 


Melissa can attend Graduate Support Classes at CPL and also can obtain in-home follow-up through the Real Life Choices Program and Personalized Dog Training, LLC.  Personalized Dog Training, LLC specializes in teaching dogs to listen "because they want to, not because they are forced to".  This relationship-building in-home training is a perfect fit for working with physically or developmentally disabled clients and their dogs.   Martha Windisch's Personalized Dog Training program came highly recommended to Real Life Choices by a client who Martha had helped in the training of her pet Alaskan malamute.  The client stated, "I met Martha Windisch this past winter, when I needed a dog trainer who would come to my home, because I am physically disabled.  Martha's teaching techniques used dog-friendly, positive, informative and patient methods, involving both the dog and its owners.  Martha immediately established a great rapport with both our dogs.  She also often spoke of her interest in pursuing programs that would expand the ways dogs can interact with people in a mutually positive manner.  At the end of seven lessons, Gracie, our young malamute, who was always a loveable dog, finally became a "liveable" dog."  Martha's goal through the Real Life Choices program is to assist disabled clients with service dogs or home companion dogs.  She can help the client teach new behaviors or reinforce behaviors that have already been learned.  She does not train service dogs from scratch since there are non-profit organizations, such as Canine Partners for Life, that specialize in the training of service dogs and their recipients; however, Martha does provide in-home follow-up and support in addition to the follow-up already being provided by the service dog organizations.


Martha will be helping Melissa use her service dog Sasha to make everyday life easier.  She will provide follow-up training for Melissa and Sasha by allowing them to review behaviors already learned at CPL.  If requested, she may also help the team learn new behaviors, or remember some old behaviors that were once learned, but that they have gotten out of practice with.  The combination of Canine Partners for Life, Real Life Choices, and Personalized Dog Training, LLC will continue to empower Melissa by allowing her to live a more independent lifestyle.