Leo’s journey as a potential service dog with Paws for Purple Hearts took an unexpected turn when he didn’t meet the high passing standards.
According to Samantha Welborn, Leo’s owner, these dogs who don’t cut are often called “career change dogs.”
Despite Leo’s remarkable emotional intelligence and intelligence, his penchant for using his smarts for personal gain became the reason behind his exit from the service dog program.
Welborn noticed that Leo thrived when he worked on his terms and tended to engage in behaviors like taking items from counters and cupboards, which were not part of his training.
Leo joined Welborn’s family just before his second birthday, and three years later, he still retained some of his training skills, putting them to creative use.
One of his favorite activities is bringing random objects to his mom, especially when eager for a walk.
Welborn shared, “I always find him waiting right outside the shower with a few clothing items for me. He will also bring me things he isn’t supposed to have, almost as if he is asking for permission.”
In a twist, Leo uses the skills he learned during his service dog training to encourage his mom to do things like take him on walks, even though it wasn’t the original purpose.
Despite not graduating as a service dog, Leo’s training left a lasting impact, and Welborn believes he would have excelled in providing emotional support.
“When I’m stressed, anxious, or upset, he always tries to get my attention on him,” Welborn shared. “I’ve been around a lot of incredibly intelligent dogs, but Leo is by far the most emotionally intelligent dog I’ve ever known.”