Bureau of Reclamation Lower Colorado Region Banner
Reclamation Home             Reclamation Offices             Newsroom             Library             Projects & Facilities

Reclamation-Lower Colorado Region: Human Resources Office's Tarabilda Undergoes Training to be Matched with New  Service Dog

John Tarabilda, seated with Oro at his side, talking to employees during a meeting in the Lower Colorado Regional Director's office.
At a meeting in the Lower Colorado Regional Director’s Office on Feb. 27, John Tarabilda, seated left, describes the process he went through to acquire his new and first service dog – Oro, a two-year old, male, Golden Labrador mix. Photo by Alex Stephens, Reclamation. 

“This has been a truly amazing experience!”

That one sentence sums up human resources specialist John Tarabilda’s sentiments regarding his recent acquisition of a service dog named Oro (Spanish for gold).

For the past 10 months, Tarabilda, who works in the Lower Colorado Region’s Human Resources Office, has gone through the process to apply for a service dog, the first in the Region in more than a decade.

In February, he completed an intensive two-week training course called Team Training in Oceanside, Calif., at the Canine Companions for Independence Southwest Regional Training Center.

During that time, Tarabilda was carefully matched with a specially trained assistance dog. Sometimes called service dogs, these canines undergo up to two years of specialized training.

While at the training, Tarabilda said he was working “... very hard with the CCI staff ... to begin an important relationship with my new working dog.”

“Oro and I bonded very quickly,” Tarabilda said. “He is a welcome addition to my life.” This is the first time he has had a service dog.

“My managers and co-workers were very supportive and welcomed Oro with no reservations,” he added. “Oro is a Golden Labrador mix.”

Oro was born on Jan. 15, 2012, and “... lived with a puppy raiser for approximately 14-16 months,” Tarabilda said. “Then, he was placed with a trainer for another 6-8 months.”

Commenting on the changes Oro has brought to his life, Tarabilda said, “I went from taking care of just me to taking care of me plus one. I didn't realize how much work it is to have a dog. But it's great!”

“I think we're on a roll now,” he added. “Besides providing Oro with the obvious – fresh water and food, I brush his teeth, brush his coat, exercise, and play with him every day. He is with me all the time. We are a team! I have a scooter I ride when Oro and I exercise. He runs along beside me on a bike trail near my home. When people see Oro and me, a lot more of them stop to talk now. My life feels fuller, and I am honored to have been paired with Oro. He is an awesome dog!”

He also said Oro “... is a great companion and assists me with daily tasks in order to make my life easier and less reliant on other people.”

“I am grateful to work for an organization that allowed me to pursue this great opportunity,” Tarabilda concluded. “Oro has brought so much more into my life than I ever could have imagined.”

Webmaster: sha-lcr-webcomments@usbr.gov
Updated: February 2014