Last week, Helen gave us the go-ahead to remove the 'in training' patch on Bo's service vest. She gave the directive after assessing Bo work over the course of a two day adventure that took us across the country. The trip provided the opportunity for Bo to demonstrate his ability to alert to Austin's highs and lows, as well as to work in public for extended periods of time. Additionally, it provided Helen many opportunities to observe Austin and Bo working as a team in a variety of environments with varying levels of distractions. Together Austin and Bo traversed busy airline terminals and commercial airplanes. They rode public shuttle buses, ate in a restaurant, and worked in close proximity to other dogs. Helen was at their side every moment observing, assessing and offering guidance and support as needed. At the end of our trip, while we were on our flight preparing for departure, she told me Bo was working as a trained service dog and to remove the 'in -training' patch.
When we got home from our trip, I asked our neighbor Syl to remove the patch. She had sewn the patches on Bo's vest, so I thought it was fitting that she be the one to remove the 'in-training' patch. I sat watching her carefully remove the stitching that had held it in place for two and a half years. It was a happy moment -- a true milestone on our journey.