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Bruno -- 2-yaer-old male black Lab 75 lbs Neutered

Background: Bruno was surrendered to Lab Rescue by his owner in late 2022 as his owner just did not have sufficient time to care for him. The National Institute of Canine Service and Training (NICST) expressed interest in training Bruno to become a service dog and Lab Rescue transferred him to NICST in January 2023 where he currently is.

What Bruno's NICST Trainer Says: Bruno is a goofy, playful, loving boy who loves to play fetch, chew on bones, swim, and nap in the sun. Bruno is food motivated, quick to learn new skills, and engages well with his handlers. He is easily managed by handlers that focus their attention on him. We received Bruno from Golden Gate Lab Rescue -- he was originally an owner surrender to their rescue organization -- then we evaluated him while he was in his initial foster home. During his evaluation, Bruno was engaged as long as food was involved, immature in training and development, but showed potential for learning the service dog tasks. Bruno was placed in the Paws on a Mission prison program shortly after his evaluation. Immediately we observed kennel stress and resource guarding of toys with other dogs. When Bruno was loose in the play yard, he played appropriately with toys and the other dogs, however when he was kenneled in a crate or the outside run and given a high-value treat (stuffed kong or everlasting treat toy), he resource-guarded when other dogs passed in close proximity. NICST’s Lead Trainer was called into the prison to assist in modifying the behavior. We formulated a behavior modification training plan and the POM trainers worked to improve on his behavior. Within 2 months, his behavior was practically non-existent. Bruno was a vocal dog from the beginning; requiring handler focus to ensure he was not barking all hours of the day and night. We increased R+ techniques, changing his environment, location of his kennel, placing him on tie-down more frequently, changing the type of kennel he was in, and training alternative behaviors. On top of barking in general, he barked/whined for attention while on leash and during class periods. After working with him for a few months, we changed his training team and his attention demand vocalization did improve with the new training team, but the behavior did not extinguish completely. Four months into Bruno’s training, we rotated him out for a week to be placed with a foster evaluator to observe his progress outside of the prison program. In the foster home, we observed that his general barking behavior was much improved in the home environment and the resource guarding was not present.

Bruno was observed to have sight sensitivity to unfamiliar and novel objects/shadows at low light or night. Over the course of the week, Bruno alert barked at shadows and silhouettes of people walking, riding bikes, or walking dogs. Bruno took several minutes to relax and stop looking for the stimulus after the barking episode. It was reported that the alert barking increased the longer he was out with the evaluator. We considered that the alert barking at low light may be a product of cataracts or other vision issues; we went ahead and scheduled him for an eye exam with an ophthalmologist. NICST’s Program Manager took Bruno to this appointment in Berkeley. While walking Bruno to the clinic, she observed extreme fear sensitivity behavior to the new environment, fear reactivity to a homeless person, and a fear response to a fire truck driving down the road with sirens activated. The results from the eye exam were good; at this point we turned to behavioral reasons for his reactions. We wanted to give Bruno the opportunity to be out of the prison program, receive gradual increase of socialization and work on his home behaviors.

In October 2023, we pulled Bruno from the prison program and placed him with an NICST foster. The foster would work with him for approximately 3 months and at the end of the timeframe, we would make a decision on his future in the program. Over the course of time that Bruno was with the foster, his alert barking became more and more frequent, increasing with new and novel sounds as well as noises and visual stimulus he saw on a daily basis. We worked on counter conditioning his behavior response to noise stimulus, increased desensitization to new environments, and socialized him to the same environments in the effort that we would see an improvement in his behavior. On 12/11/23, Bruno was observed by NICST Lead Trainer in the parking lot of the Solano Prison. Bruno alarm barked at every person that walked by, upon hearing keys jingling in the distance, and any truck that passed by him, increasing in intensity the longer we stood in the parking lot. Bruno’s foster informed the Lead Trainer that he also keyed in on and barked at homeless people, primarily men, but also anyone that had an odd gait.

Due to the expectations of the dogs in the program – frequenting new environments, experiencing loud noises (alarms, sirens, traffic, etc.), needing to be comfortable around all types of people – we do not feel Bruno will be successful and is better suited to become a family dog.

What Bruno's Rescue Rep Says: Bruno is currently still in the care of NICST. Bruno would do best in a quieter (non-city) environment. A home with another dog that can mentor Bruno would be ideal. No idea how Bruno is with cats. Bruno has had little, if any, exposure to young children. An ongoing rigorous exercise and training program would be great for Bruno.

Medical: Bruno is in great health. Neutered, microchipped, current on vax, and heartworm negative.

Located In: Concord.

If you are willing to foster (or adopt) Bruno, please contact Rescue Rep Dave at

Please note our service area: GGLRR adopts to the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

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Our volunteers donate their personal time phones so please only call during reasonable hours (8am - 8pm). The Rescue Rep identified in the dog posting is the only person with information about the dog - please only contact the designated volunteer. We do call everyone back within 2-3 days so please be patient. We work very hard to make the right matches for the dogs and for the new owners. We get 3-5 dogs per week; we do not have a facility where the dogs are housed, they are in foster homes throughout the Bay Area.