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Thread: Service Dog, anyone?

  1. #1
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    Service Dog, anyone?

    Do any of you have a service dog? I'd love to hear about it...what kind, how old, program trained or owner trained, what tasks it does for you, how long you've had it, how has your SD changed your life, etc.

    I am training my own service dog. He is a Rottweiler Mix, 16 months old, and I adopted him from the Humane Society when he was 8 weeks. I had help from a Service Dog trainer in Michigan until I moved out of state last summer and have been doing it on my own since then. We will be flying back to Michigan in June to take the Public Access Test and have him certified through the organization our trainer is with. He technically meets minimum standards to be a full SD right now, but I won't be comfortable with that until our trainer sees him in action and agrees.

    He only knows a few tasks so far.....picking up items, bringing items to a specific person, and providing light counter balance when I'm stepping up or down a curb...we are working on quite a few others right now, but nothing else is solid yet. Since I am a walking quad he will provide me with mobility assistance such as bracing, counter balance, helping me up and down stairs, and pulling my wheelchair on the rare occasion it's needed, just to name a few.

    If you have one, please brag on him/her, I love to hear about them and would love to know what tasks he does for you so that maybe I can come up with even more to teach my boy!
    Tina
    C5-C7 Walking Quad - Very Incomplete
    Aug '03

  2. #2
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    Bah, I lost my post and am going to bed so ill only retype a few things and then come back!

    I hope you haven't begun mobility work such as bracing yet. Since large breeds are not physically mature until they're 2 it shouldn't begin until then and preferably nothing much until after the hip and elbow xrays.

    You don't need to fly somewhere for certification, since 'certification' itself is meaningless. Have you tried to find somewhere to assist you in a public access evaluation that's local? I understand not feeling comfortable without the evaluation, I was the same way. Many service dog organizations or trainers will be willing to help an owner trainer by evaluating your public access work. How many hours have you logged so far in public access?

    I owner trained my dog Tessa for mobility work, I had her evaluated by the ICAN locally. I'm going through an organization for my next service dog. I had to wash out my service dog in training but she's a member of my family and staying as a pet. So I can't risk another washout, plus as my disability progresses its more difficult for me to train and I just don't have the ability to keep up with the requirements.

    I'm a board member of the Assistance Dog Advocacy Project. We do a lot of education about service animals, so if you have any questions feel free to ask! I can also see if I could find you some help locally for the evaluation so you don't have to travel. Let me know if that interests you and ill start contacting people.

    Lin
    Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

    I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Lin View Post
    Bah, I lost my post and am going to bed so ill only retype a few things and then come back!

    I hope you haven't begun mobility work such as bracing yet. Since large breeds are not physically mature until they're 2 it shouldn't begin until then and preferably nothing much until after the hip and elbow xrays.

    You don't need to fly somewhere for certification, since 'certification' itself is meaningless. Have you tried to find somewhere to assist you in a public access evaluation that's local? I understand not feeling comfortable without the evaluation, I was the same way. Many service dog organizations or trainers will be willing to help an owner trainer by evaluating your public access work. How many hours have you logged so far in public access?

    I owner trained my dog Tessa for mobility work, I had her evaluated by the ICAN locally. I'm going through an organization for my next service dog. I had to wash out my service dog in training but she's a member of my family and staying as a pet. So I can't risk another washout, plus as my disability progresses its more difficult for me to train and I just don't have the ability to keep up with the requirements.

    I'm a board member of the Assistance Dog Advocacy Project. We do a lot of education about service animals, so if you have any questions feel free to ask! I can also see if I could find you some help locally for the evaluation so you don't have to travel. Let me know if that interests you and ill start contacting people.

    Lin

    No, we aren't doing any mobility work yet, not until after he turns 2 yrs old. Even going up and down curbs, it's just light fingertip touch, just enough to steady me, no weight on him at all. I'm very careful with him! We'll be getting his OFA's done before we start anything like that. Our trainer is on the board of IAADP so I'm following her instructions closely and won't do anything without her permission.

    I will be flying to Michigan in June for my son's graduation anyway, so that's when we'll meet with our trainer and do the public access test. I know certification isn't required and I was fine with not being certified, but when I mentioned to our trainer that I'd be up there and she offered to do the test and certify him I jumped at the chance. I want the certification more for my family than anything. My parents are very negative about the work I've done with him and they don't believe that I can actually train a dog to SD standards, so the certification would just be proof to them that I CAN and HAVE done it! We will also be taking the CGC in the next few months, just for further proof to my parents and in case I ever need it for insurance purposes, since a lot of homeowners insurance companies won't insure homes with Rottweilers.

    I'm so sorry your SDiT washed out! That's one of my BIG fears! I'm nervous about his OFA's, even though his vet thinks he'll be fine. I've just put SO MUCH work and effort into him that it will be really disappointing if he doesn't pass and couldn't be my SD. There's no way I could rehome him, he's my best friend, and I have another dog in the house already, so I wouldn't get another dog if he were to wash out for any reason. I think I'd just keep him and have him do things for me here in the house like he already does and go without a SD for public use.

    I've never heard of the Assistance Dog Advocacy Project, so I'll have to look that up! I like having as many resources a possible to learn from. If, for some reason, we aren't able to make it to Michigan in June, I'll let you know so you can help me find someone here to do the access test. Thanks for the offer! When will you be getting your SD from the program?
    Tina
    C5-C7 Walking Quad - Very Incomplete
    Aug '03

  4. #4
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  5. #5
    Senior Member IsMaisin's Avatar
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    I have two dogs in training. One just turned two (a Golden Retriever) and one is 21 months (an Anatolian Shepard, see my profile pic).

    I am an epileptic. I chose to raise my own dogs instead of receiving a fully trained dog because all my research showed that dogs raised from puppyhood with their person have a better chance of developing the ability to detect seizure auras. My Golden can, but my Anatolian can't.

    I thought I had the ability to train the dogs myself, having done that when I was still able bodied. I was wrong. Both dogs are now under the guidance of a local TADSAW trainer with the goal of first achieving therapy dog status and, if possible, progressing to full service dog status.

    Both are sturdy enough for mobility work, but I haven't begun that part of their training yet. Both are already trained to lie down next to me after I have had a seizure (actually, it was a trait they showed and we developed as a trained reaction.) The Anatolian is tall enough that I can already do fingertip touch on his shoulders, and he accepts that guidance with no problem.

    With severe PTSD, I have found the comfort of the dogs and the feeling of safety I get has allowed me to significantly reduce the level of medication I need. It is much easier to fall asleep without going into a panic when the Golden lies with her chin on my neck. The Anatolian, at 160lbs, thinks he is a lap dog. He comes to my chair and backs up until his whole back end is in my lap, but his front legs are on the floor.

    Overall, my quality of mental health is significantly improved already. Once they are mobility trained, I will need a chair less and that will improve my quality of life.

    I do want to recommend one harness maker that I have worked with in the past and had some very nice custom work done. She also makes a leash hook for a wheelchair.
    Last edited by IsMaisin; 01-30-2013 at 11:22 AM.
    Played with bombs- No SCI, Brain Damage enough that I require a chair and a caregiver.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ZEN12many's Avatar
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    I trained our family pet, Sky, a Labrador retriever, to pull me in my wheelchair. I don't consider her a service dog but she does allow me to go distances and places otherwise impossible. In 2012, we went out 168 times for a total of 466 miles. Our longest run was 5.9 miles and our top speed was 13.9 mph.

    It really isn't that hard to train your dog to pull. In one month of patient and consistent training, you will see wonders. Of course, you need a Freewheel. And, to independently train your dog to pull, you need to be able to stop your dog.

    It ultimately was one of my better decisions when I decided to train her to pull. I didn't know that when I started.
    TM 2004 T12 incomplete

  7. #7
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    Theres a big difference between a dog that just pulls recreationally and a service dog. Also a big difference between a dog that performs tasks in the home and out in public, the term companion animal is frequently used for one that performs service work but only in the home. Public access is the biggest part of service work and the most difficult for the dog.

    The 3 sections of service dog training are obedience, public access, and service task. Service task training refers to the individual tasks that mitigate the handlers disability. This is the easiest part of training. Pulling a wheelchair would fall under this. Unfortunately because service tasks are the easiest to train thats also why we have so many shady/non reputable service dog training organizations. Mobility work is one of the worst offenders as well. Obedience is more difficult, but there are plenty of dogs that have advanced obedience titles that still don't have what it takes to be a service dog.

    Public access is where I had to wash out Emma. She had no glaring issues, but enough little ones that she would never have my full trust in public as is required. Washing out is horrible, there was so much time and money invested into Emma's training. But since mobility work is so physically demanding, she will still be used to assist me outside of public to lighten the load for my service dog. Currently thats Tessa but she's in semi-retirement due to some health issues. Luckily making the move from forearm crutches to wheelchair really lightened her load and has helped me be more independent again both with and without her!

    I have to save up plus fundraise for the organization that I'll be getting my next service dog from. Once I have enough for them to acquire the puppy and cover the first 6 months of training they will begin, so its going to be a few years! The organization I'm going through is a small one and currently doesn't have a lot of sponsors/funds but its the one that best meets my needs and is reputable, the head trainer also being a personal friend. So they're also making some slight changes for me as a result that would be available otherwise. For example, my chosen breed is the german shepherd. Happens to be the same for my friend, but due to the breeders the organization currently works with the GSD isn't included at this time. So a GSD puppy will be acquired from a reputable and service work experienced breeder who then will be trained through the organization for me, which adds on some time as we have to start from the beginning instead of just matching the best dog for me from those currently in training. Though this way also allows me to make payments broken up into 6 months chunks, 1500 every 6 months for training instead of 3000 down and 3000 at the completion of training. But I'll also be VERY screwed if the dog was to wash out, we haven't completely worked out what would happen in the event the dog washed out.

    Service Dog Central is a great resource for all info service dog related. Its an especially great resource for quickly finding applicable service dog law, for many countries. A great source to find other sources too

    There is a forum there as well but I don't post much due to an issue with moderation there. The group is very opinionated, in both good and bad ways. The head of the forum does not believe mobility dogs should be trained to pull wheelchairs, feels it is too dangerous for the dogs. As a result some of my posts and an entire thread I started was wiped off the forum as if it never existed. I disagree with that kind of censorship. So, many GREAT people there, GREAT resources on service dogs, but do not discuss SDs pulling wheelchairs if you join lol.
    Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

    I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

  8. #8
    Senior Member IsMaisin's Avatar
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    First, a disclaimer: service dogs do not need a special certification or test to be considered a service dog under the ADA. But as we all know, people WILL end up sticking their nose in or asking stupid questions.

    Pet Partners (formerly the Delta Society) is perhaps the gold standard in the certification of a fully trained dog.

    Their standards are a great goal to work towards when you are training. Again, you do not need certification, just proper training. Remember that any dog which displays inappropriate behavior in public may legally be asked to leave and also makes it more difficult for anyone else with a service dog to be taken seriously.

    A service dog in training is not a service dog. But many places will allow you to bring the trainee in if you ask first. Some places are legally barred from allowing any animal that is not a service animal and other places just don't want one. But asking politely is not going to hurt.

    There are also a few, very few, places where a service dog can not go at all due to the fundamental nature of that place being compromised. I used to work in a hospital, and while service animals were allowed in almost all places, they were barred from the sterile areas (the operating theaters, the lab, and the pharmacy prep room where even the humans had to wear special coverings to reduce the risk of contamination). There are some places within a zoo where the animals in the exhibit may become too stressed by the simple presence of a predator. So while you would be able to see the majority of the zoo, there might be one building marked off limits.
    Played with bombs- No SCI, Brain Damage enough that I require a chair and a caregiver.

  9. #9
    Tinamarie, I'm only mentioning this to you so you can check it out before you might have problems down the road with that breed of dogs. A lot of insurance companies won't insure homes with a rottweiler and the few that due charge extra for them and they still exclude coverage from them. They don't care that its a mix or not or trained. And if your renting check with the landlord. I have seen many policies canceled for that reason.

  10. #10
    Senior Member IsMaisin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRainman View Post
    Tinamarie, I'm only mentioning this to you so you can check it out before you might have problems down the road with that breed of dogs. A lot of insurance companies won't insure homes with a rottweiler and the few that due charge extra for them and they still exclude coverage from them. They don't care that its a mix or not or trained. And if your renting check with the landlord. I have seen many policies canceled for that reason.
    A service dog is NOT a pet and can not be legally excluded based on breed. If a landlord tries to cancel a lease, first educate him, and, if necessary, contact a lawyer. Many lawyers will, probono, at least contact the landlord and let him know that he is in the wrong.

    The law that governs rental housing is not the ADA, it is the Fair Housing Act. Please note that the example of a service dog is specifically addressed by HUD. It is a "reasonable accommodation".
    Played with bombs- No SCI, Brain Damage enough that I require a chair and a caregiver.

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