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Thread: Questions for those with assistance dogs already

  1. #1
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    Questions for those with assistance dogs already

    Have you ever been restricted or refused entry to a public place because of your service dog? If so what were the circumstances?

    My friend is about to get a great dane to help her with her balance issues due to MS. Would it be possible for a great dane to do the same assistance for a walking SCI injured person with balance issues also? I was wondering this because we don't really know what effects aging is going to have on our SCI.

    Also what kinds of things does a service dog help you with?

    I know that most service dogs are labs/retrievers large breeds but it would take a big dog to assist with balance. Could a lab/ retriever assist with balance issues also?
    T12-L2; Burst fracture L1: Incomplete walking with AFO's and cane since 1989

    My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown

  2. #2
    I think for the retriever sized dogs to help with balance issues, they use a special harness with a rigid handle, but I'm not sure.

    I have also considered looking for a dog to help me with balance (when my 13 1/2 YO std poodle is no longer with us) so I would be interested in hearing what others have to add.
    Last edited by cre8tivestyler; 08-21-2006 at 02:18 PM.

  3. #3
    daisy-it shouldn't be a problem,but then again we're not celeberties.I was going to get a dog when ifirst got injured.I gave it up because i was getting the run around.
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  4. #4

    Cool

    labs are used and similar breeds because of their strength. I have seen labs "brace" mine does for when I need support for picking things up off the floor. In this case I do not think size matters unless your friend is 6'6".

    Great danes are huge. I personally have never seen one utilized as a service dog. Just because they are big do they have the ability to support a person? They maybe actually frail dogs (big dogs are prone to osteoporosis).

    I was "stopped" once at a movie theatre by an assitant manager for being a threat. My friend was with me and mumbled, "Ot oh..."

    Mind you Nello and I were at this theatre many times before.

    I politely handed her my ADA card and told her when I was leaving she could give me the attorney's name for the theatre...that shut her up.

    I was going to follow-up with some training for the theatre etc. but I slackassed.
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  5. #5
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    I remember seeing a news type show years ago about a man with Parkinson's who used a Great Dane for balance. Size may be an issue on planes and such but for everyday tasks a Great Dane just needs to be very professional and have a friendly personality. Obviously this kind of dog you would also want thoroughly checked for sound health and especially rank excellent on hip tests through OFA.
    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.

  6. #6
    my dog has state and federal access laws in a card on his uniform. if I have trouble, I whip that out. mainly my problem is people thinking they can just interrupt what we're doing and start petting him when it says, please do not touch..

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lizbv
    my dog has state and federal access laws in a card on his uniform. if I have trouble, I whip that out. mainly my problem is people thinking they can just interrupt what we're doing and start petting him when it says, please do not touch..
    That has got to be hard on the dog when he knows he is working......I guess I would just tell people but then I guess that would be like repeating a broken record.
    T12-L2; Burst fracture L1: Incomplete walking with AFO's and cane since 1989

    My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by darkeyed_daisy
    That has got to be hard on the dog when he knows he is working......I guess I would just tell people but then I guess that would be like repeating a broken record.
    You get used to it. are you getting a dog? kids I dont mind, its adults that baffle me how strange they are with it sometimes. lol.

    on the balance thing, yes I've seen retreivers n labs help. one person I know has her dog, instead of crutches. then, he'll get the crutches for her if she needs them. also, a German Shepard would/could be a good potential.

  9. #9
    Great Danes are great balance and mobility dogs, particularly for larger individuals. My husband is walking, but has TBI's and an SCI which impair his balance. He is 6'2" and weighs about 260 lbs. He trained his own Great Dane SD, and she is just amazing at her job. She braces him, counterbalances him using a harness-fitted strap, and helps him up if he falls (which he does much less frequently now that he has the dog working with him).

    Great Danes are typically very laid-back, sedate dogs with calm temperaments. They have a number of traits, including a natural inclination to lean up against humans, which make them fabulous balance and mobility dogs. They don't eat significantly more than most German Shepherds. The oft-cited risk of bloat is dramatically reduced by giving free access to food or multiple small feedings instead of a single large feeding once a day, and by avoiding strenuous excercise (running, wrestling, jumping, etc.) immediately after eating. If you get a Dane puppy, ensure that you feed a high-quality food designed for large breed puppies and that you do not overfeed, since improper feeding can lead to irreversible bone growth problems that would not be present if appropriate feeding had been followed. An excellent diet fed in appropriate amounts throughout the dog's life can make the difference between a sound, sturdy Great Dane who lives 12 to 14 years and an unsound, frail one who dies at age 8 or 9.

    Here is some information on criteria and recommended size ranges for balance and mobility dogs. It is taken from a publication aimed primarily at those using psychiatric service dogs which also do double duty as physical assistance dogs, but the information is still valid:



    Different Kinds of Balance Support Work in Public

    Some people find balance assistance from a service dog helpful in coping with intermittent medication side effects or symptoms which have not been successfully abated by the treatment received. When listed in the section about “assistance in a medical crisis,” the tasks detailed were intended for home use. To make these skills a viable task for the dog to perform in public settings, the dog must go on many field trips to school the dog to ignore distractions like kids, bike riders, other dogs, squirrels or people who reach out to pet dogs without permission. If the dog fails to perform as desired due to being distracted, the disabled person could be knocked off balance and injured in a fall. To keep these safety improvement skills viable, practice sessions must take place on a regular basis. Ethical use of a dog for this purpose requires the dog’s size and physical fitness via x-rays of the dog’s elbows, shoulders and hips to be evaluated by an orthopedic specialist. Only dogs scoring an OFA Good or Excellent have the degree of physical soundness to provide such support without harm to their joints.
    A large sturdy dog, a minimum of 22", 55 lbs., recommended for someone up to 5'4” and 130 lbs. Taller heavier dogs, 80 - 100 lbs. would be appropriate for taller more heavily built partners, if such tasks are needed frequently. Anyone weighing over 200 lbs. needs a giant breed over 100 lbs. for this task to be appropriate. The use of a proper harness with a handle designed to distribute the person’s weight through the dog’s shoulders is customary if walking assistance needed outside the home.
    NOTE: The use of smaller dogs [ 10 lbs - 50 lbs] for balance support by having the dog drag the owner along, keeping the leash taut, results in the owner putting a heavy strain on the poor dog’s neck through the collar. Whether or not it aids the owner to keep his or her balance is irrelevant, for it is ethically viewed as abusive treatment of an assistance dog, which is inexcusable. Orthopedic and nerve damage can occur to the spine if the ignorant or inconsiderate owner puts their weight on a small to medium size dog’s spine to boost themselves to get up off the ground.

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