Cub Scout Pack #271 learns about Maine Paws for Veterans’ service dogs

Sun, 01/31/2021 - 8:45am

Cub Scout Pack #271 welcomed Maine Paws for Veterans volunteer LCDR Terri Schlotterbeck (Ret.), service dog Ranger and service dog in training Luna to the American Legion Post 36 Jan. 28. Schlotterbeck spoke about her history with Ranger and the organization and service dog training. The Scouts’ meeting with her and the dogs completes a next step toward their disability awareness belt loop.

Schlotterbeck retired in 2009 from 22 years in the Navy. In 2016, she decided to find a dog to train to be her service dog. “Ranger and I tried to do some training on our own, but then I ran into Embrace A Vet, which is now Maine Paws for Veterans ... and they helped us train together for him to be a service dog for me.”

Schlotterbeck said she and Ranger did about four months of training, but she liked it so much she decided to stay on as a volunteer and now helps train other veterans with their dogs. She showed the Cubs two videos explaining how service dogs can help those with disabilities in everyday life and then gave several examples of service including deep pressure therapy, when the service dog senses distress in its master and nudges them to a sitting position where it sits atop them and applies pressure. She also showcased simple commands. Schlotterbeck said the ideal time to begin training is just days after birth, getting newborn puppies used to routines before they even start walking. It takes about two years of training for a dog to become a guide dog and the cost is about $20,000, she said.

“You really want couch potatoes like (Ranger), but puppies generally aren't couch potatoes, so that's why they take a lot of training to get calmed down … They can't be tearing around the place. So, some of the things we need to teach is for them to sit quietly … they need to learn how to walk through a crowd without touching people and nosing them. Would Ranger like a hot dog? Yes, but he's got to make sure he doesn't go eat the hot dog out of somebody's hand.”

When a veteran enters Maine Paws for Veterans, they can come with their own dog, but in many cases the organization helps find one for them. Schlotterbeck said the program graduated nine teams last year in about 20 weeks of classes which were, all but one, held outside successfully. There will be 16 teams this year and seven still need dogs.

The Cubs ended their meeting with Schlotterbeck by handing out treats to Ranger and Luna. Cub Master Robin Ford said the Cubs do not see a guest at every meeting, but are doing their best to bring in as many speakers as possible. “It depends what badges, belt loops or pins the kids are working on … Next week, Chloe Maxmin is coming because they're working on their political belt loops. It's nice to get new people, those who don't mind coming in because of COVID, but the place is so big we can all spread out.”