Little One is a problem solver.
As a service dog, her primary responsibility is helping her mama move in a world that doesn’t always accommodate people with disabilities.
She navigates busy stores and senses danger for and stress in her mama, turning to comfort her when she needs to.
She’s a big Big White Dog Photography fan, and I appreciate her as a friend too.
A Lab among shepherds
I’ve seen Little One among her pack.
If a dog could give rolleyes, hers would be permanently locked into position, thanks to the German shepherds that surround her.
Little One is a gorgeous chocolate Labrador retriever, and sticks out among Vinny, an extra-large black German shepherd, and the black-and-tans, Jazzlo, Zander and Zenith.
“I met her when she was just hours old,” Laura says. “I knew at a very early age she was different from the others. She was a problem solver, doing things the other dogs in the litter were not.”
Laura latched onto the little one … er, to Little One … and started training her to replace her existing mobility service dog who was nearing retirement age.
“She has exceeded all my expectations from an early age.”
A service dog like no other
Little One has become Laura’s partner, a constant source of guidance and support, even as Laura trains the three younger shepherds to give the Lab periods of rest.
“She has given me back so much independence and allows me to do so many things,” Laura says. “Vinny and Lobo were in the process of retiring when I was training her and she quickly learned to take over where they left off and then some. I don’t even know how many tasks and commands she knows.”
Little One continues to learn new tasks all the time.
Among her most import responsibilities is keeping Laura focused.
The functions of a service dog remains a largely misunderstood concept in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
Persons with disabilities, like Laura who was in a life-changing motorcycle accident 10 years ago, are able to resume independent lives with the help of a service dog but they face a number of challenges.
Kids wanting to play with a working dog
Humans with pretend service dogs
Employees/managers denying entry to businesses
Laura, who facilitates education as the founder and CEO of the Northwest Service Dog Alliance, relies on Little One as a stress reliever in those moments.
“Even when we have had access denials at events she has been a rock and kept me focused until we have sorted them out and been granted passage,” Laura says.
Every hard worker needs a break
Little One takes her job seriously.
With her harness on, she is stoic and resolved to be a working dog. Laura allows her to say hello to friends and accept rubs and scritches (people … ASK FIRST).
Laura knows how hard Little One works and understands that every dog needs her day.
She signed Little One up for a session to appear in the Paws of the Inland Northwest fundraiser book and we had a blast.
We took Little One to one of my favorite play spots at Plantes Ferry and walked for a bit.
Her eyes sparkled at the chance to run up and down the field for me. She posed like a fashion model, and she happily scarfed down treat after treat after treat.
The girl got spoiled.
Spoileded, as say in Chez Schneider.
All around the circle
Little One also helped me out for the Splash week of my Embark challenge with Unleashed Education in the spring, an image that placed top 10 among 50-some competitors.
(I have to do one of Bella next week for my summer edition and I’ve no idea how I’m going to make that work. Bella is not the splashy type.)
The smile on Little One’s face as we threw a ball over and over and over and over again into Hauser Lake was unmistakable.
It was the look of pure joy.
And it filled my soul.
The pet photographers blog circle is focused this week on service. Let’s go see how my friends are writing about that topic.
Start with Nicole of Pawtraits by Nicole, sharing how Las Vegas gives back. When you get to the end of Nicole’s post, click the next link in the circle and then keep going until you find yourself back here to Little One in the spotlight.
It is National Service Dog Month. The best way to celebrate that is to leave a working service dog alone when you see them out and about with their handlers.
Because they take their job very seriously.
A quick note about working with Big White Dog Photography in 2022
It’s been a heck of a year.
2022 launched with the death of my mom and I continued to plow through the production of my second self-published book, Paws of the Inland Northwest. My mom’s death, which I have yet to fully process, is part of the inspiration behind One Last Network, a podcast dedicated to connecting pet guardians with the support and services they may need as their pets age and ultimately cross the Rainbow Bridge.
I’m also teaching professional pet photographers how to be better service providers for their clients who come to them for end-of-life pet photography.
And there’s yet another project due to be launched in January with my co-conspirators Holly Cook of Holly C Cook Photography and Marika Moffitt of Soul Dog Creative, both magical women and magical artists.
So I’m winding down for photography in 2022 and taking two mini vacations in October. I’m accepting a limited number of sessions for October, November and December. Emergency sessions will always be a priority.
If you want to make sure you’re on the schedule, book now!