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Thread: Just applied for a service dog! Wish us luck ...

  1. #1
    Senior Member zillazangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    North Carolina, USA

    Just applied for a service dog! Wish us luck ...

    Tonight, my s.o. and I finished the paper application (the first step) for a service dog from the Southeast Regional section of Canine Companions for Independence. They have two types of "teams", of which we don't fall into either category exactly, but we are closer to a service team where there is a facilitator (me) and a recipient (my disabled C4/5 s.o.) that works together as a team. The teams are required to always be together in public, and that's the hitch, we want the dog to go to work with him during the day (and I work somewhere else) to do things like open doors, push elevator buttons, pick up his mouthstick when it falls, etc.

    So we're hoping we get accepted, it would be SO great to get a service dog. The other team type is not even accepting applications because the waiting list is 4+ years long!! The current wait for our type of team is about 10-14 months, but I'm not sure how out of date the application materials are, it may be longer.

    We just mailed the application tonight, and my son kissed it for good luck before we put it in the mailbox. WISH US LUCK!!!!!!

    Anyone else have a service dog?

  2. #2
    Yay! Good luck!! Keep us posted...

  3. #3
    My partner never had an official service dog, but many years ago she had trained her Boston Terrier to do amazing things - including pulling her manual chair (they are very strong little dogs), picking up things she'd dropped, and a few other things. Her family had raised Bostons and she knows dogs very well. She did check into service dogs, but - like you - found there was a long wait which is why she decided to train her own for her needs at the time. I'm not recommending this - service dogs get much more training and have the clearance to go where "normal" pups cannot, just sharing what she did. However, we've had friends with service dogs. They can be really wonderful. The key is consistency - when they are being a service dog, make them be a service dog - and when they are being a pet , let them be a pet. Keep the training reinforced and don't let other people treat him like a pet when he's on duty.

    Good luck. Should be a fabulous adventure when your s.o. gets his dog.

  4. #4
    I am to get mine in July, it's been about a year since I applied. I have met my dog, yellow male lab named Liberty.


  5. #5
    Originally posted by dgrotz:

    I am to get mine in July, it's been about a year since I applied. I have met my dog, yellow male lab named Liberty.

    What a wonderful name for a lab.
    Lewis one of our members has a great boy named Dexter. If you have any questions I feel Lewis would be happy to answer them for you.

    He's a busy college student so doesn't come
    online as much as we would like..but does
    show up often. of luck!!
    Inside of every older person,
    is a young person saying, "What the hell happened?"

  6. #6
    zilla, crossin my fingers for ya

    I had a CCI dog and am now in process of getting a successor dog.

    I would like to offer few thoughts tho-

    If you will not always be with the recipient (S.O.), then this MUST be told to the trainers at CCI. You should not make them assume that you will be always present as a TEAM in order to get a dog, because then you, your S.O. and the dog will not be matched appropriatly and all will end up NOT utilizing skills the dog was trained for, nor will you/S.O. benefit as you would otherwise, if matched with dog per your/recipient need. It may be more difficult/work and even dangerous, if wrong dog is matched with you.

    Dogs are trained to do certain tasks and assigned to the different category teams, in part depending on their temperament, ability to listen to/complete commands etc, which can reflect the different temperament of the dogs. Even the mildest of dogs will need physical handling and correction, if behaviour warrants, so if you will not be with the team and hoping to have dog assist S.O. alone, it is important that THEY train together as a team without you. CCI may need to match him with the appropriate dog to accomodate his needs- as a person who is a high level quad w/minimal upper body/arm/hand control, and a dog who can respond to HIS disability, not your commands as a facilitator.

    Just keep in mind that if a person will be alone with a dog, the person will need to be able to verbally/physically command the dog, and the training will need to adjust to the individual's need/abilities, so the best dog can be matched and become a part of a team.

    "do not be too moral. you may cheat yourself out of much life. aim above morality. be simply not good; be good for something."

  7. #7
    That is very sound advice.
    Is your dog retiring?

    So few really know all that is involved in
    this type of dog training..I for one.

    Inside of every older person,
    is a young person saying, "What the hell happened?"

  8. #8
    Senior Member zillazangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    North Carolina, USA
    Thanks Chick, great advice. We are absolutely making them aware of our situation, I didn't mean to imply we would try to mislead CCI in any way, I was just saying that we don't exactly fit the two categories they have listed.

    My s.o. is a high level quad with zero arm/hand/upper body function except to shrug his shoulders and to use his head/face muscles. So he cannot physically command the dog in any way, but we'd like a dog to go to work with him to help with doors, elevators, mouthstick/item dropping etc. But perhaps this is not feasible based on your input. And we're at the very, very beginning of this process of course, so we'll learn as we go and hopefully we'll qualify for a match.

    What level is your injury chick and how has your dog helped you? I'm very curious about your experience as we've never met a person with SCI with an assistance dog.

    Thanks for any thoughts and thanks again for the great advice and well wishes so far everyone!

  9. #9
    Lindox, my dog passed away last year Here is one of my favorite looks.

    [This message was edited by chick on 06-04-04 at 05:13 PM.]

  10. #10
    Zillah, I don't think you would mislead, but just wanting to let you know how important it is that you guys make your needs clear and share as much of your persoonal living/environmental conditions in which a service dog would be used. It is only in YOUR benefit that all information is shared, so you end up with as good a match as possible and the best dog for your and BF's needs, as I'm sure you are already aware.

    There can be great expectation for a srvice dog, but I think many underestimate the amount of work and responsibility involved in having one. It's a lot of work having any animal as a pet, even, but the requirements (in care/skill training and maintenence) for a sevice animal is much more.

    The level of his injury wouldn't preclude him from attaining a service dog, but may affect type of team he may qualify for, especially if he can not physically handle the dog himself and will need to be independent with he w/dog alone, ie at work, etc. This and other issues will be assessed by CCI and you never know, he may be a great candidate!

    Some things I am thinking about are:
    If he wants the dog at work, will he be able to take the dog outside to go to the bathroom?
    Will he be able to depend on others to do this for him if he cannot, even on rainy and snowy cold days?

    A perfectly trained dog may not require correction and may not even need physical handling- on leash, etc, but you can't expect a dog to not be distracted, to lunge at food on the floor, or to become excited and focus attention elsewhere, esp other people who are going to want to pet your dog and shower him/her with lots of attention.

    The dogs leash may be atached to the chair, if it is a power chair, and there may be no worry about dog running off somewhere, but it isn't recommended that leashes to attatched to chair (I recall this being prohibited). You definitely can't attach leash to a manual chair, because it is unstable and can be very dangerous. Even holding onto leash, while pushing manual, the dog can jerk away, with you losing balance and/or control of the chair. I have even had my dog become distracted by a squirrel while going down a park concrete path, pulling me ever so slightly, which then made me veer a little to the left in my powerchair, off the path and onto the grass. There was an inch or so drop, and maybe with the soft grass, my chair flipped over with me ending up on ground. My dog just lookin at me like... "uhh... whatchu on the ground for?"

    BTW, Im C5/6 complete. Used dog mainly to help pick stuff up from floor and close my apt door sometimes when leaving out. I didn't utilize many of his other skills, since I didn't need them, but will with a new dog, just to keep him sharp and better focused on his role as service dog. I did go through regular skill training with my dog, so he doesn't get too lax on his skills/tasks. I did want to use my dog to help pull my manual chair, but we never got around to doing that.

    Honestly, it was much more work having him with me sometimes, than he was being of assistance to me. It can be because of others giving him/us too much attention, he becoming distracted and requiring much more work to manage him, my having to schedule my day/activities around his needs- ie feeding and bathroom, etc... but for me, any work I had to do was well worth having him in my life.

    "do not be too moral. you may cheat yourself out of much life. aim above morality. be simply not good; be good for something."

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