55 and for the last year found out what I want to do when I grow up. I have volunteered for Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, CO for the last 3 years. For the last year I have fostered and trained dogs in the service program. FSD trains dogs rescued from shelters and dogs are donated to the clients that receive the dogs. Some dogs they bring in to the program aren't meant for service dog life, and FSD always finds them a furever home. It is just about the perfect place for me. Though it is hard to say goodbye when the dogs graduate and are placed with their matched client it is all worth knowing the changes the dogs make in a person with challenges of different kinds.
I seem to have a talent for training, definitely a great passion. The truth is that the opportunities to train service dogs for a living is rather limited. FSD is operated by donations only, and they keep as small of training staff as possible, no openings for some time so working there isn't an option. I've been out of work for several months after getting laid off from an attorneys' office that closed. I need and want to work, yet I so very much don't want to work in an office again. So now I feel quite lost.
Transitioning into a new career seems difficult. I think that prospective employers (such as working in a boarding kennel, dog walking) think that I am not physically capable of doing the job. Truth is I am in better shape now than I have been in younger years. But getting them to believe it is, well I don't know how.
It is to say the least frustrating. I stayed away from Freedom the last few months for other reasons too, but it hurts some times to know that the likelihood of a job like this is very low. I've been going back some now, and I LOVE working with the dogs. The other issue I face is that my husband complains when I have a foster dog at the house - we already have 3 Poms. I really miss having the service dogs with me - they go most everywhere with me as part of their training.
Felt like writing this tonight because my husband and I were with his famiy today, and he said there is no way WE are going to have another service dog live with us. I understand that we have a small house, and there are always changing dynamics when a new dog moves in for a few months. Though what I don't understand is that some inconvenience on his part is not worth it for me to do something that fulfills a great passion in me. I try to be a fair and equal partner but his attitude is hurtful - I don't ever ask him to share in the care of the dogs,and he often ignores things that I ask him not to do with the service dogs (or do, he refuses to use the cues we train for specific desired behaviors) just to remind me that he doesn't want them in our home. He admits he has liked most of the dogs that I have fostered but still doesn't want them around.
I feel very sad, and don't know how to go about having my dream. I'm not getting any younger, and don't want to spend the rest of my years working at some office that I hate. I guess I haven't ever been great at knowing what to do in my life and setting goals to meet.
I found TuDiabetes when googling for info about Diabetic Alert Dogs and haven't found out much more than I already knew but a couple of ideas. I really don't think the training would be that difficult - no more so than tasks I have taught service dogs. Where this would go I don't know either.
Paraphrased Socrates, "the more I know, the more I know the more I know I do not know."