Meet C.A.R.E.S. foster Lynn and service dog Ninja

By on July 28, 2015

We’ve introduced you to C.A.R.E.S., a wonderful organization out of Concordia, KS, which provides all kinds of service and assistance dogs to people around the U.S. and abroad, now read an account from one foster , Lynn Bolay of Omaha. If you believe you would like to become a foster for a service dog waiting for a permanent home in the C.A.R.E.S. system, read Lynn’s story and be sure to familiarize yourself with the process and experience!

Below are notes from Lynn’s experience with Ninja, a Golden Retriever trained through C.A.R.E.S., as she helped socialize and love this pup who is soon to be placed with a person in need of an assistance dog.




Ninja, my first service dog


On December 5, 2014, I met Ninja, a six-month-old golden retriever puppy who was coming to live with me for the next several months.  My role in this relationship is to teach him how to behave while out in public and to continue his obedience training.  Ninja is being trained to become a service dog, and when his training is complete, he will become a partner for some very lucky person.



It took me a while to decide if I really wanted to make the commitment to having a dog around all the time.  I hadn’t had a dog in my home for thirty years, and I had to be certain that taking on this responsibility would be good for both the dog and me.  So after nearly two years of deliberation, I decided to make the leap and apply to be a foster home/trainer when I retired from my work as a high school English teacher.  This decision has been one of the best of my life.  Ninja has brought a sense of purpose and joy into my life that I never could have imagined.

He is a beautiful specimen of a golden retriever.  He has the broad, block head of a golden, the beautiful, long, orange coat with the feathery legs and tail of a golden, and above all, he has the calm demeanor of a golden.  All in all, he is a handsome dog with a charming, easy-going personality.  Without a doubt, he has been a great puppy to begin my retirement project.







To describe Ninja as noticeable is the epitome of understatement.  He is big and beautiful and always friendly.  We can’t go for our daily walk without at least one passer-by stopping to pet him and ask about him.  When I take Ninja to the grocery store or on other errands, I must plan to allow lots of extra time to visit with other shoppers who are curious about him and his training.  I don’t mind having to take the extra time.  Because of Ninja, I have encountered some of the nicest people who are so supportive and encouraging.  If I’m feeling down, all I need to do is put Ninja’s yellow vest on him and take him out.  Within a very short time, he and I will be visiting with some interested stranger who will shower us with praise and attention.  It’s nearly impossible to nurse a bad mood when you are being lavished with so much kindness.

That he is intelligent is obvious.  His ability to execute more than fifty commands is impressive.   We have so much fun during our daily practice sessions.  I drop pens, pencils, car keys, a TV remote, and other day-to day-items that someone might need help with picking up.  He treats each one of these tasks as though it is his pleasure to be helpful then eagerly awaits his next assignment.  He loves pulling gloves off my hands, since that’s a sort of tugging game, but the really amazing thing is that he doesn’t run off with the gloves; he simply sets them on my lap.  He can carry a basket from one end of the house to the other, but he makes me laugh because before he picks up the basket, he has a need to inspect every item in the basket.  (We’re working on that.)  One of the really impressive demands that he must meet is to remain in a sit or down position while a plate of food is placed on the floor.  He may not break his position in an attempt to sniff or eat the food.  Ninja passes this test with flying colors.  In addition to his ability to follow commands, he has a subtle sensibility of space.  When babies come for a visit, he knows not to knock the baby down but that it is perfectly fine to wrestle with other visitors.  I don’t think a day goes by that Ninja doesn’t impress me with some aspect of his amazing abilities.


Noble seems like such a ponderous word to describe a puppy, but it fits.  Ninja has a certain gravitas that’s hard to explain.  He enters a room with a disciplined dignity and when other people become aware of his presence, they are impressed by his demeanor.  Of course, I can’t omit the fact that he is going on to do one of the noblest jobs assigned to a working dog.



Of all the words to describe Ninja, joyous might be the one that hits the bullseye best.  He is a puppy with a smile, and he brings a smile to everyone he encounters.   It’s been my experience that people can’t help smiling when they come upon a handsome, well-behaved dog.  (This seems to me to be a maxim of the human/animal connection.)  Ninja is his most joyful when being asked to do a job, especially one that involves retrieving.  He throws himself into the exercise with gusto and a grin.  I know, the authorities say that dogs don’t really smile, but I have to differ.  If they took one look at Ninja when he has executed a command, I think they’d change their minds.  Ninja smiles with his whole body, and his face lights up with joy at having done a good job.

Ninja takes adorable to new heights.  He is cute, charming, sometimes clever, sometimes a little naughty, and always ready to engage people in a friendly manner.  He is the whole package:  good looks, good manners, good temperament, and a good purpose.  What more can one ask for in a dog ?  And I ask you, who could resist that face?

Ninja is still with me as of this writing (July 4, 2015), but I doubt I’ll have him much longer.  He is ready to move on to meet his permanent partner.  I have no doubt that he will shine as a service dog.  I will repeat here the words that have become my mantra:  Whoever gets Ninja is going to be a very lucky person.

 Lynn’s experience as a foster for Ninja has been rewarding– that’s easy to see from her account. If this has been at all inspiring to you, please consider becoming a foster as part of the C.A.R.E.S. team. Not only will you be blessed with a buddy like Ninja, you’ll be preparing a future service dog for life as a companion and assistant.







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