Seizure Alert Dog

I've been accompanied by a medical-alert service dog (SD) for more than  a decade.  I have worked with many excellent trainers, but not one of them knew about the special considerations that arise in training an SD.  My elderly SD passed away; the dog I had trained up to replace him tore his ACL and was unable to do some of the work for which I needed him.  Fortunately, another trainer directed me to Rita, who worked with me through the selection of a puppy, then taught me vastly simpler and more effective methods to train my new dog in scentwork and public access.  Rita is an extraordinarily skilled trainer, she is fluent in dog language, and she also is conversant with SD matters.  She provides fabulous support, expert advice, and tremendous insight, all in an energetic package dusted with a delightful sense of humor.  I cannot recommend her highly enough as a trainer and mentor.

-Lyn Oppenheim

Hearing Dog

I met Rita Martinez in 2006, shortly after receiving the news that a slow-growing brain tumor had become large enough that it would need attention soon.  We had known about the tumor for about two years and had been monitoring it closely.  However, we were in no hurry to remove it because removal would mean permanent, irreversible, 100% hearing loss – DEAFNESS!  But not removing the tumor would have even worse consequences.  I had hoped that news would never come.  I was 48 years old and had no idea how I would ever adjust to living without sound.

Rita met with Rylee (my recently adopted rescue dog) and me to discuss the possibility of training Rylee to become a hearing dog.  I was vaguely familiar with the concept of hearing dogs, but I didn’t really know much about what they did or how they were trained, or whether Rylee and I even had what it takes.  I don’t know if Rita saw potential or just felt sorry for us, but she agreed to take us on.

The several-month-long training period was life changing for me.  Rather than worrying about how difficult my life would be after I lost my hearing, I concentrated on and was inspired by our training.  Without Rita and Rylee, I would have been in a state of utter despair.  Instead, Rylee and I were challenged, we had fun together, and our bond deepened.  It was a wonderful experience.  My focus was completely changed from something negative to something positive.

I remember the moment when Rylee looked at me and I knew that she “got it”.  I saw the light bulb go on.  I’ve never experienced anything else like that, and it was the BEST feeling!  Wow!

Throughout our training, Rita was the ultimate coach.  She is extremely knowledgeable and is a very kind, compassionate person.  She is also very professional and incredibly well organized.  She taught us.  She encouraged us.  She knew what to do when we got stuck.  She was patient.  She gave me useful feedback – after each training session, she e-mailed me an evaluation sheet explaining what looked good, what needed work, and what to do next.  I honestly cannot think of a single thing Rita could have done any better.

Rylee became a Certified Hearing Dog in 2007, just a few months before I completely lost my hearing.  I’d had such a wonderful experience going through the training with Rylee, I felt much more confident and less fearful about the surgery.  I will be eternally grateful to Rita for getting us through that difficult time, and for facilitating the wonderful training experience that Rylee and I had.  As far as I’m concerned, Rita Martinez is a superhero!


-Deb Frame

Diabetic Alert Dog

My 12 year old son, AJ, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes February 2011. A nurse at UCSF medical center opened up my world to the name of a trainer who could train dogs that can detect blood sugar levels and prevent hypo/hyperglycemic events in diabetics.  I thought wow how amazing, I have to call!  I really didn’t expect to make a friend as I do consider Rita; however she is much more to my family.

Rita has helped us from the start with AJ’s new guardian angel, Rudy.  We brought Rudy to Rita as a 9 week old puppy, yes 9 WEEKS. By the first day Rita had him doing things I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t been there seeing it with my own eyes.  Our family learned more about AJ’s new illness and before I knew it Rudy was 4 months old and with Rita’s teaching he was alerting to AJ’s low blood sugars.

On Saturday August 20th 2011, Rudy, who was now 6 months old, alerted for the first time all by himself. My son AJ was low and had not noticed the low due to him being sick at the time. Just before bed time that night, Rudy did what he had been trained to do and he alerted to the low that AJ was unknowingly experiencing. AJ tested his blood and discovered he had a blood sugar level of 92. Figuring Rudy was right and he was going low AJ ate A LOT of ice cream.

Even after eating the ice cream, AJ was still not feeling good so I had him test again. We soon learned AJ’s blood sugar was still dropping as the test revealed an even lower level of 72.  Even though AJ had just eaten a whole tub of ice cream (his blood sugar level should have jumped up) in fact his blood sugar was still spiraling down more then before. AJ decided to eat skittles this time, and again tested which revealed a blood sugar level of 64. Knowing he was still dropping AJ tried juice and with that his blood sugar finally started to climb back up. I would hate to think what would have happened without Rudy that night! 

One last alert I feel I have to share happened very recently. AJ has gotten very confident with caring for himself as have I.  After school one day I decided to do some grocery shopping leaving AJ home alone, (with Rudy of course!).  When I got home AJ said (very nonchalantly) “Rudy wouldn’t leave me alone and insisted I was low, I felt fine so I ignored him. He was very annoying so I finally tested, and guess what?  He was right - I was 35!” I just cried and hugged that dog! 

These are only a couple of many alerts that have saved AJ’s life over the past 10 months and it just goes to show how important he is to our family, and how amazing Rita is to us!!  As a lifelong dog lover, training with Rita is one of the highlights of my life.  She is compassionate, hardworking, organized, extremely knowledgeable and helpful with all aspects in dog care and training.  Rita has always been there for me whenever I had questions or concerns even when we were not training or stuck in hospital. I can not say enough good things about Rita and how she has my whole hearted recommendation for anyone needing help with any service or alert dog. Thank You Rita!!!!!!!

-The Molien Family

Assistance Dog

My young dog, Tango, and I met Rita when I was looking for a trainer for service dogs. She completely understood my needs and what tasks my dog would need to learn. She accurately assessed his temperament and general intelligence. Rita then discussed with me what I specifically needed from my young dog. He was 8 months old then. Most dogs don't begin training until they're much older. Each day became much easier, as Tango became more a part of my life. He learned to open and close doors and drawers, pick up whatever I need from my knees down to the floor, he 'does the laundry', takes stuff to the washer, puts it in piece by piece, and then goes on to the dryer as well. Because of his mobility training I'm able to go for walks and run errands like a regular person. Before meeting and training with Rita I was walking with canes and crutches. With Tango I walk freely. A well trained service dog also provides companionship. Rita always encourages dogs to be dogs and be well mannered and also a fun companion. Dogs trained with her are happy and like to work.

-Morgan Henderson