On Rescue Dog to Super Dog (Saturdays, 10 p.m. ET), trainers Laura London and Nate Schoemer give former pound pups — and the owners with which they’re matched — a new leash on life as service animals. Hmm, that sounds like it could get emotional. “I tear up when I watch it,” says Schoemer.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you start training rescue dogs to become service animals?
NATE SCHOEMER: I worked with a few dogs that I trained to be service dogs [before the show] and I actually got them from rescues. It helped the dogs, of course, but sometimes there are [added] benefits. The dogs tend to be really appreciative, and because of that, they will quite often work harder.
What is the key to successfully matching the dog to the owner?
LAURA LONDON: It’s really individual. We look at every person, and what they need from a dog, and what their ability is to handle the training. Then we’re looking for the right temperament, first and foremost, to make sure the dog can do service work, because not every dog can. They’ve got to have the aptitude for it, the skill set to learn. I have a French bulldog. He’s not going to pick up anything I drop. There’s no way. So you have to find the dog that wants to do the work.
What’s the most amazing thing you’ve trained a dog to do on the show?
SCHOEMER: That’s a tough one.
LONDON: I think the cutest thing ever is, Nate worked with Diana and her Havanese. Diana had a rock-climbing accident about two years ago and she lost one of her legs. To see this cute ragamuffin run down the hallway of her apartment complex and hit the elevator button, so the elevator is waiting for her, is ridiculous.
I was in tears watching Rescue Dog to Super Dog, which is a bit embarrassing to have happen at work. Can you train me not to cry at your show?
SCHOEMER: I tear up when I watch it.
LONDON: We were asked to use three words to summarize the series. It’s “Get Your Tissues.”
Watch a clip from Rescue Dog to Super Dog, above.