NEKAYAH, THE PROTECTOR
Nekayah just never ceases to amaze us. Just when we think she has reached the circumference of her training she demonstrates she has more beyond. I have studied, researched and self-educated so I could be very particular in training Nekayah for her service as a hearing-impaired assistance dog. Linda is deaf and I thought, “What a wonderful gift to provide Linda a dog that could assist her in her impairment. Nekayah’s serious training began at three months and when I reached my limit I contacted Kevin Knartzer of, Tails Up Paws Down, Indianapolis, IN. For several months Kevin worked with us, giving us the foundations for teaching Nekayah specialized alerts. Some of Nekayah’s alerts are for different sounds in the house. An especially helpful alert is the phone. When the phone rings Nekayah finds Linda and nudges her in a certain way that says, “Linda, the phone is ringing.” When we are in a restaurant Nekayah alerts when our table is approached. When we are out Nekayah alerts when someone is approaching Linda from behind. Somehow Nekayah can differentiate between a passerby or someone approaching Linda. If Linda drops something, Nekayah picks it up and gives it to her.
Nekayah is also trained in assisting Linda up inclines or stairs. She knows just the right pressure to pull without causing a stumble.
There are many times that Nekayah surprises us with her understanding of our needs. An example of her assisting with inclines took place at my brother’s farm just a few weeks past. I was helping my brother cut trees, carrying the debris down a steep hill about fifteen yards and throwing it on a fire, and climbing back to the top. After an hour of this, this old man was getting tired. My legs had a hard time putting one foot ahead of the other. Nekayah was playing and having a great time. About every half hour she would come to me as if to check in, then off she would go again. This time she seemed to sense my tiredness. When I turned to go up the hill she came beside me and nudged me with her head. I understood her perfectly. She was saying, “Take my collar, I’ll pull you.” That is exactly what she did for the next half hour. She would follow me down the hill, wait, I’d throw my debris on the fire and she’d pull me back up the hill. When I was done off she went to play.
Well, today she surprised us again. We were at the mall. We wanted to get her out to enjoy some new surroundings, smells, and activity. When we approach the lane of traffic, entering or exiting, she normally sits before we cross. Usually the cross traffic stops and Linda proceeds. This time there was no traffic to the right or left but there was a car directly in front of Linda and it began to pull forward right at Linda. Nekayah saw the car and quickly jumped between Linda and the car, placing her body sideways. It was as if she was pushing Linda out of way to take the impact herself. We had no idea that Nekayah would think to do that. The people in the car couldn’t believe what they saw. It just seems that Nekayah understands she is an assistance dog and her job is to take care of Linda in whatever form that means. Nekayah has an uncanny way of filling in the blanks of her job description. When we put Nekayah in the car Linda loved and hugged her with tears. Nekayah’s reaction to it all was like, “What’s the big deal.”
Nekayah has had lots of training and we are most grateful for the time and expertise of Kevin and a few others. But there has to be something there to work with. Nekayah has that something and she is a natural as both an assistance dog and a certified therapy dog. More than all that she has partnered herself to us and so often just anticipates our needs. She has found her place and purpose in life and we are thankful they are with us.