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Purplesaurus Rex trained to aid freshman student

Posted on: February 26, 2021
Purplesaurus Rex & team

Purplesaurus Rex & team

By Paul Allmon

This year, I became Purplesaurus Rex’s Handler for Anthony while he attends school. Together, Rex, Anthony, and I are considered a 3-unit team. This means the adult handler -- not the student -- must always have control of the dog. Rex and Anthony will be best buddies for Rex’s entire life. 

A handler has a lot of responsibilities which vary with every service dog. The specialties of this service dog required me to have 60 hours of training with the dog owner before I could be considered a “handler.” My responsibilities are not just controlling Rex, but also protecting him and being sure he is not harmed while at school. I take him out when he needs to, give him water, toys, treats, and training reinforcements every day. I am responsible for Rex’s safety even on my lunch break. Rex is crated in a quiet place and I take off and put on all his safety gear during these transitions. Rex gets about a 45-minute nap in the middle of the day.

Rex is a Golden Lab service dog that is specifically trained in Medical Alerting and Search and Rescue. Anthony is a Type 1 diabetic and Rex is trained to detect low blood sugar. When Anthony’s sugar drops below normal range, Rex will alert me using extreme licking and nudging. We are a team: I am trained to read him, and he is trained to alert me.

Rex is also trained as a Search and Rescue dog for Anthony, which means if Anthony were to run away, Rex and I are trained to find him. The harness that Rex wears is a Search and Rescue harness, meaning the harness just needs to undergo a few minor changes if we need to find Anthony. Rex can go to Anthony’s last known location and start searching from there. He can search outside in any weather condition and search for miles, as well as searching indoors in other cases. He can do this at school or any store, mall, etc. If Anthony were to travel between inside and outside, Rex also has the training to detect that. 

The majority of Rex’s day consists of following Anthony through his typical 9th grade school day. He goes to all his classes, escorts him to lunch, the nurse, the office, or anywhere he may go.

Anytime Rex is wearing his harness, he is “working,” which is what he loves to do. Whenever he gets done and gets to take off his harness, he is a great big puppy who loves to play and nap.

I would like to Thank the Myles family for trusting me with Ant and Rex. I love my job and look forward to seeing them every morning.