As many of you know, Patriot Service Dogs introduced our first Rottweiler to the program in late 2021 when we welcomed Rosie (sponsored by the Jacaranda Island Neighborhood). Almost exactly a year later, Rosie was joined by her little sister—same parents, different litters—Dolley (sponsored by Douglas Brodbeck). Our two Rottie girls have been a pleasure to work with; they are both quick learners and love to train. To make sure we are adapting our training from our usual cast of retrievers, PSD has formed the Rottie Team!
What is the Rottie Team?
The team is made up of a small, dedicated group of raisers who have taken on extra responsibilities with the team. We have held Rottie team meetings and training sessions in addition to our regular raiser meetings to go over enrichment we are trying with Rosie and Dolley, how training Rotties might differ from training retrievers, and our goals for the placement of Rosie and Dolley. And, of course, the Rottie Team is taking our sisters home on their weekends out. Little Dolley just went out with team members Denise and Gary for her first weekend outside the prison program! Their report: Dolley completed the puzzle we gave them to entertain her for an afternoon in about 35 seconds, but she was not so sure about meeting someone on crutches.
Because we have a group dedicated to working with them, we have been able to keep track of Rosie and Dolley’s strengths and challenges. While they each have their own personalities, they share many traits as Rotties and full sisters. Like any younger sibling, Dolley is benefiting from everything we’ve learned up to this point with Rosie. But when it comes to learning new tasks and skills, Rosie continues to amaze us!
How are the Rotties Different?
Unlike Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers are a working breed. They don’t love to play games like the sporting breeds, they love a challenge. For us, this means that Rosie and Dolley keep their trainers on their toes. They both learn new skills very quickly and would rather be learning than playing, but they also get bored quickly once they’ve mastered a skill.
We introduced Rosie to elevated platforms one afternoon to sharpen her skills and build her confidence. By the end of that first training session, she was working on three platforms of different heights. For her next session, she worked on taking individual steps with a training tool she’d never seen before. By the end of that session, we put the step tool, all three platforms, and an agility tunnel together to create a special challenge course just for her! She loved it until she perfected the whole course—then, she was bored with our course and wanted more.
It is our hope that the Rotties’ problem-solving skills will make us able to match them with veterans who we might not otherwise be able to serve as well with a retriever breed. But Rosie and Dolley still have a long way to go in their training and we will enjoy every milestone with them!
What Do We See for the Future of PSD Teams?
The Rottie Team is not only helping PSD train Rosie and Dolley, it is also helping us develop the small group format. If this first team proves successful and is something our volunteers enjoy, we will create more specialized teams. We see potential to create a team for graduating dogs, puppies, and dogs working on a specific challenge. Patriot Service Dogs is always working hard to train the best service dogs we can for our veteran recipients.