I had been reading anything I could about BRT 's, for a couple years. But my mother didn't want a dog that big. We lost her her from cancer over just a few weeks in 2010. Months later out of habit, I searched again and I came across a young dog for sale right here in California. Of course I went down to LA, my dear friends helped me. 90 patient minutes later, the breeders could see I could handle him, and that he accepted me....9 month old Armani came home with me.
All that research paid off...he is quite true to temperment and type, and guard ability. We joined a group of folks in the mornings for an off leash group wallk, and he was pretty darn good. Always responsive, even recalling at full speed from 200 yards. His favorite is Jack (the Jack Russel Terrier). It is amazing to see 15 pounds standing off with his then 90lbs, and teasing each other to play up and down hills, spinning, weaving...Jack was even bold enough to jump up and bite Armani's shoulder. Only the Greyhounds could out run them. We had to stop though. One afternoon I took more than 200 cockleburrs out of his leg hair. We are both still glad we are not doing that anymore!
One day with the group I had a panic attack. Armani was off someplace with Jack...but he came charging up and circled around me pushing the other dogs off. He laid down next to me, until one of the Greyhounds ran towards us. He got back up and intercepted her, and again established the perimeter, and laid down. My friends at that moment said several things. First that had never seen a dog do that; and they were amazed we already had such a close connection; and it was obvious we were meant to be together. (Armani was born on the anniversary of my first collapse with PTSD).
That is when our friends brought up getting him service dog status. This protection protocol he initiated was all on his own, at 10 months old, and after being with me only one month. After that...I was mobile again! He has allowed me to relax more about my fears, and take less meds. We go into every situation together. We get questions, and exclamations everywhere we go. I am talking to people again. We have become Ambassadors for the breed, and for service dogs.
My Armani is also my service dog. but I didn't intentionally get him for service work. During 16 years of law enforcement, I became unable to work, or leave the house easily, or even grocery shop. I take a lot of meds also to control those issues, so I am foggy or groggy at times. I was frightened to sleep, or to come in the house after being out. Nightmares woke me up. I couldn't draw, or dance any more, even listening to music stopped.
I never even thought to go into a conformation ring. Or obedience. We took a basic obedience class out of necessity. He had to learn English :-) Eventually we volunteered at the meet the breed booth in December 2010. We got a lot of input from other breeders about my big boy. And I decided to try a show or two and see if this was another thing we could do together. His first weekend out, he got BOW for a 3 point major. I didn't even know what that was!
So I learned to groom him adequately, but not perfect. I got shampoos, conditioner, table, a bath tub, clippers....just all kinds of things. Even if we weren't showing...they really do make bath and grooming time easier. I made a generic patch design (to the right), and got it made up into patches. It was the first art thing I had done in more than 18 months.
I got into websites recently...having been asked to develop a concept and site for a new kennel. My site, Paladin Black Russian Terriers, developed out of setting up a test site for the client. So when Armani is all tested and documented, we will be ready to go!
You can see the development process for the Paladin theme here: The Paladin Concept