Blue has been working with me for the last year on "helping" me around the house. He comes to my bed in the morning and he helps me get out of bed. He also helps me get out of the bath tub and off the toilet. He knows to stand steady until I am able to get my balance. He follows me from room to room and eight months ago I fell while nobody was home and he helped me get to the telephone by dragging me across the floor. (I had broken my hip). He also brings me my cane on command. If my cane should happen to fall onto the floor while I am sitting down he picks it up and gives it to me. We tried teaching him with treats, but he seems to prefer hugs. When we ask him if he wants supper he dances around the room. When we give him his bowl we ask him "what does the big dog say?" and he barks every time. He has become a wondeful companion for me since I am bed-ridden now and he has enabled my husband to feel comfortable leaving me home alone which is great for my daughter so she can get out more.
I have watched many television shows where handicapped people use their dogs to help them and the labs are usually chosen for this training. I don't know if Newfs have been used before, but Blue has been a God-send for me and he has never had any formal training of any type. He has always just been very quick to pick up any task I have given him and he constantly amazes me. He seems to instinctively know what I need when I need it. I don't call for him much since he just seems to show up when I need him and he just looks at me as if to say "what do you need me to do for you". We got a cell-phone a few months ago and he has learned to bring the phone to me...this is great since I misplace it alot and he seems to be able to find it every time which I think is just amazing. The only draw back is he refuses to go outside and play unless I come along. He will get excited to go out and he will bring me my cane. He will stand by the bed to help me up and if I am not he will lay down by my bed and he will refuse to move unless I tell him "let's go " and then he gets up and helps me get up with the cane or into my wheelchair. My daughter has to pull on his harness to get him to go out to go potty.
When we go walking at night my husband used to push my chair, but Blue has learned to let me hold his harness and he pulls the chair for me. If my husband tries to push me Blue nudges him out of the way so he can do the work. The neighbors cannot believe how amazing he is and I was asked a few months ago where he received his training and when we responded that he had learned to help me from one on one owner training people have been amazed since I guess this is something dogs spend a few years learning in a controlled environment. Maybe someday these organizations will realize how helpful the Newf can be and I wrote the folks at Animal Planet last month to see if they would document our experience with Blue so other handicapped people would recognize the value of the Newf in helping. Since the Newfs are so smart in learning they could obviously learn to help in a shorter period of time and given their size they are able to help in more areas than the average service dog. If I hear back from them I will let them know who his breeder was since obviously breeding has alot to do with intelligence and soundness. He was originally suppose to be a companion for my daughter, but she doesn't mind that he has become Mama's helper and companion. We got her a lop-eared bunny and Blue plays with him to if you can imagine this. We were a bit fearful at first, but he likes the bunny and when he is out of his pen Blue tries to corral him so he doesn't go out of the room when we aren't looking.. The bunny accepts him to and it is not uncommon for the bunny to curl up and sleep with Blue.
These guys are truly the gentle giants and I couldn't imagine life without my buddy.