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Service dog, Las Cruces boy forge a new normal

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 28, 2013 at 4:01 am •  Published: April 28, 2013

At the training session, the dog chooses the owner. A trainer brings out a group of dogs and watches how they interact with the potential owners, seeing which ones bond best.

Colonel chose John-Dylan. The black lab and retriever mix turns 2 in May.

"These two were the stars of their class," John said. "The trainers said they did really well together."

Now home, the duo work on bonding the first two weeks.

"The only person' who's supposed to be treating him or doing anything fun with him is John-Dylan," mom Jamie Cully said. "They want him to know the good things come from him."

She and John fill Colonel's bowl with food, but place it on John-Dylan's lap for feeding. Colonel licks the bowl clean in a matter of seconds.

About half of Colonel's strict daily food allotment goes into John-Dylan's treat bag, which John-Dylan doles out copiously.

Colonel accompanied the family to church on Sunday and was very well-behaved, John said.

"All he did was sit," he said, until John-Dylan spilled half of the treat bag on the floor and a feeding frenzy began. "But everything went well."

The hardest part of the training process will be teaching the people around John-Dylan not to touch or talk to Colonel, encouraging him to look for attention, Jamie said.

"A lot of the training is you want the dog focused on the person and not everyone else," she said.

John-Dylan shows off Colonel's skills, dropping a TV remote for Colonel to pick up. The dog quickly scoops up the remote and drops it in

John-Dylan's lap, searching for a treat. They try out "tug" next, asking Colonel to open a cabinet door by pulling on a red bandana tied to its handle, but that trick needs some work.

John-Dylan is excited to take the dog to school this fall, once the family feels he has complete control of Colonel.

"Really nobody else brings a dog to school," he said, "and all the kids are going to be jealous."