From here on out…

Written by Michelle O'Neil on January 29th, 2011

Jingle’s going to be over on the main page with the rest of us. When we first got her it seemed like a good idea to have a separate page, but she’s such a part of things, it doesn’t make sense to keep her over here by her lonesome.

For the time being, I’ll leave this page up, for others who might stumble upon it searching for info on service dogs.



Jingle at the homeschool co-op

Written by Michelle O'Neil on January 22nd, 2011


Jingle is a big hit at the homeschool co-op. I’m teaching a class about dogs there and it is a very popular class.


Riley just amazes me, both in sharing about herself, (her Asperger’s) and also literally sharing her dog. The kids devour Jingle and Riley is happy to let them.

Jingle and Riley. Both such generous souls.


Happy Mix

Written by Michelle O'Neil on July 31st, 2010











Jingle met a new friend yesterday, another Aussie mix who is loved adored and spoiled rotten. His name is Gus and he’s my friend Lidi’s dog. Gus is old, and not so nimble anymore. He was cordial, but not really up for bouncy play. Still, it was thrilling for Jingle to meet him.  Gus and Jingle have similar faces. Looking at him, I see a preview of what Jingle will look like when she’s old and gray.

You don’t get to pick which dog you get at 4 Paws for Ability, but you do have some input. One of the reasons we put “mixed breed” as a choice on our application is because the vet said they tend to live longer and have good temperaments.

I imagine the people at 4 Paws are psyched to see the mixed breed box checked when so many people have their heart set on Standard Poodles, or Goldens, or whatever.

Riley and Jingle have a very tight bond. When we go for walks, and the kids take their scooters, Jingle has a nervous breakdown when they get too far ahead. She looks and sounds ridiculous, a shrieking kind of bark, tugging on the leash like a sled dog, not “good behavior” by most people’s standards.

But she wants to be near her girl. I can’t fault her for it.

We’ll take our mixed breed any day.

May she live a long, and happy life.


Retractable Leash

Written by Michelle O'Neil on July 12th, 2010


I’d been thinking about buying Jingle one of those retractable leashes. When I first mentioned it, HT was against it.

“Won’t she just forget how to heel?”

I put the idea away for a while. I do that sometimes. Substitute his judgement for my own.

Often we get caught up in the erroneous belief that because Jingle is a service dog, we have something to prove. Like if her behavior isn’t exemplary we’ll be facing the raised eyebrows of the community, many of whom contributed toward Riley’s receiving her.

Jingle should heel perfectly, 100% of the time, never bark, never jump, never display any sort of regular dog-ness.

And yes, for some types of service dogs, that kind of control would be very important. But Jingle is trained in behavior disruption. Responding to a child’s meltdowns. That is her “service.” Heeling perfectly, while it’s nice, it’s a constant struggle.  

When does she get to be a dog?

Why am I pushing her so, to walk directly by my side, to never succumb to sniffing? 

When does she get to live a little? I usually give her some ”free” time on our walks, one whole solid block to sniff, but it’s never enough. She wants more, more, more! And who can blame her? Do you know how many dogs are peeing all over our neighborhood? It’s like taking me through a chocolate factory and not allowing me to have a sample or two.


She’s a great dog, and she does really well, but I’m sick of constantly trying to control her. So, finally, in full defiance of my husband, I pulled into Petco, and on the front table as you walked in sat a basket of retractable leashes (with skeletons) on sale for just $6.00.  It was a sign, a pink, (slightly disturbing, why the skeletons?) sign.

We gave it a whirl. Jingle loves it. I love it. She’s behaving so much better on walks, having that freedom. And when I need to reel her in, she still heels. Perhaps even better than before, because she’s gotten some of the ants out of her pants.  

The moral of the story is, don’t hand over your judgement to someone else, no matter how well intentioned they are and no matter how much Ben & Jerry’s they have brought home for you in your lifetime.  

Riley feels Jingle’s new leash is very “goth.”  Pink retractable dog leashes are the first thing you think of when you think goth. At least, they will be now.

Wishing you and yours freedom to sniff or whatever else makes your heart sing.



Heat Wave

Written by Michelle O'Neil on July 7th, 2010

Someone make it stop!


Snip Tickle Snip

Written by Michelle O'Neil on June 29th, 2010


snip tickle snip



Every so often, Jingle will start sliding across the hardwood floors. She’ll suddenly be afraid to go down un-carpeted steps. This tells us it is time for an in-between-the-paw-pads trim.

Everyone loves it.

Jingle lies on her side, the children take turns feeding her tiny pellets of special occasion treats.

I trim the fur with my sharp scissors. Jingle flinches with each cut, like her feet are ticklish.

We all tell her how beautiful she is. What a good dog she is.

“Who’s a good girl, who?”

“Thump, thump, thump,” answers her tail on the floor.


Eight Months Later, On Riley’s Birthday

Written by Michelle O'Neil on June 5th, 2010



One of the only drawbacks of receiving Jingle, was Riley’s beloved cat’s opposition to her. Tanya the calico had always slept on Riley’s bed, and as much as Riley loved her new dog, she really missed her cat.  After some initial drama, they slowly learned to tolerate each other in the house. Hissing rarely happens these days. Both are attention seekers and neither one can stand if the other is being pet, so I often find myself with a dog on one side, a cat on the other, scratching one of them with each hand.  

Yesterday, was Riley’s birthday. After our morning cupcakes, and sending Seth off to school, Todd and Riley and I snuggled up in bed, looking at a photo album from the day she was born. When we paused, we noticed this. Jingle and Tanya cuddled up at the foot of the bed. Tanya’s white mitten paw resting on Jingle, who is flat on her back. Both of them, zonked.  

Riley was beside herself.

It was a very happy day.


Jingle Tracks

Written by Michelle O'Neil on May 28th, 2010



Last week, Riley ran away during her clay sculpture class. She went screaming down a long narrow hallway which led to several places. I followed with Jingle on the leash, but we weren’t quick enough. Riley took a corner and disappeared. We didn’t know if she had gone upstairs to the public library? Outside(not in the best neighborhood)?  To the bathroom, or if she was hiding somewhere in the studio which is in an old winding basement with lots of nooks and crannies and side rooms. Jingle went toward a side room. I poked my head in and looked around but she wasn’t in there, so I took Jingle with me to look all over. I went in one direction and the teacher went in another.  
Turns out Riley was hiding in the room Jingle led me to, but I  hadn’t let her go all the way in to find her. A lot of the dogs at 4 Paws for Ability are tracking dogs, but Jingle wasn’t trained for that. 

I didn’t pay attention to where Jingle was trying to go and actually led her away from Riley.
Their bond has increased so much since Riley started homeschooling in January. If we are out somewhere in public, and Riley walks away to use a restroom, Jingle cries until she comes back out. Riley has made up a “Jingle” voice, and she speaks to us from Jingle’s point of view. We learn a lot. Jingle has much to say.

Next time, I will listen to her.


Service Dogs Have Unlimited Supplies of Love

Written by Michelle O'Neil on May 13th, 2010


I got very sick with a flu bug on Monday. It was my Mother’s Day gift from HT. He’d gotten sick the day before and decided to share. On Tuesday Jingle stayed by my side, power napping as I laid in bed.

It was cozy.

It was nice of Riley to share her dog with her mom.

After all, sometimes moms need help too. 

Luckily, Jingle has more than enough love to go around.


Smiling Service Dog

Written by Michelle O'Neil on April 30th, 2010


I love this photo of Jingle. She’s waiting at the side door, ready to go play with her canine BFF. Riley is her human BFF. This picture captures her absolute sweetness. She’s smiling, isn’t she? Can you get a feel for just how soft her muzzle is? Do you see how white her chest is? Her fur is thick, but it’s like silk.

Fluffy? Check.

Cute? Check.

Those were Riley’s only two wishes.

The smiling is a bonus.