Wagner’s Service Pups


Photo Courtesy of: Savannah Wagner

Wagner is seen tending to one of her dogs.

Bella Hawkins, Journalist

Service dogs are an essential part of some people’s lives. They aid them in many things, such as getting around if they have impaired senses, alerting them of upcoming events like panic attacks, fainting, or seizures, and much more. But they can’t do any of that without the help of the people who train them, one of which is Shadow Ridge junior, Savannah Wagner.

I had no idea how fulfilling it would be when I started, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

— Savannah Wagner

Wagner is a 17-year-old choir student who enjoys reading and singing, but one of her biggest knacks happens to be dog training. Specifically, service dogs.

“I have had an interest in it since I was little,” says Wagner. “I was watching the news one day and I saw this girl who was in high school, and she trained service dogs.”

Wagner has been training dogs for 3 years as of 2021. Two of the organizations she works with were Domesti Pups during her middle school years, and later Smarty Paws in high school.

“I used to have a service dog when my anxiety was extremely bad,” tells Wagner.

The dog was a female Golden Doodle, named Remy, but Wagner ended up retraining her for a different family in Colorado.

“I mainly train dogs for other people,” says Wagner. “I love seeing the look on other people’s faces when they receive their service dogs.”

Despite one of the various dogs, she trained being trained for her specifically, Wagner says she doesn’t have a favorite dog.

But for every up, there is always a down.

“The best and the hardest part of training dogs goes hand in hand,” tells Wagner. “Seeing the looks on the families faces as I handed off the leash to them is an experience that is beyond words.”

Wagner says that for some people, a service dog can be considered a “lifeline” but she also explained how attached a person can become to the dog while training as well.

Wagner’s service pups! (Photo Courtesy of: Savannah Wagner)

“[…] it’s hard because I had bonded with the dog, and I knew that I was giving them up for good.”

Wagner goes into detail about how once a trainer gives a dog up, they cannot have any contact with that dog at all anymore. It even goes as far as not making eye contact with the dog. This can be difficult to do if the trainer and the dog have connected and bonded. Even so, Wagner wouldn’t give that experience up for the world.

“To anyone who wants to train dogs as a service dog trainer, my advice is to be prepared,” says Wagner. “It will be difficult, but it is also going to be an amazing experience.”