ACCEPTED for 2nd Service Dog!!

mixed-smiley-046Joy reigns in our household! Kim from PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services) called on Friday (yesterday) and said it is official – that I have been accepted as a client for a second mobility service dog! YAAAY!!

Now the final wait begins. There are “lots of dogs” in the pipeline. It is simply a matter of whether it will be this year or next year. That may seem like a long time. But given the number of people waiting and the number of dogs available (nationwide), that is a very short time! At the time I partnered with Emmy, there were over 2000 people waiting for service dogs and only 700 dogs available each year.

Emmy in 2012 - Right After Her October Grooming

Emmy in 2012 – Right After Her October Grooming

 

And more people apply all the time. Obviously not just with PAALS – there are about 300 service dog organizations across the country. Only about 100 of these are members of ADI (Assistance Dogs International) or other certifying organization.

In my last post I referred to another website that discussed how to spot fake service dogs. The reason there are fake service dogs “out there” is not just because the owners want their precious pet to go with them everywhere. There are people who need a service dog so badly and have waited so long that they “create” a service dog. While it may be well-trained by the owner, the owner-trained service dogs I am familiar with are less well-trained. They are not kept as clean and well-groomed as they should be. They frequently have a bad smell because of poor diet. Their behavior is not as good as it should be.

Yes, I admit my bias. Waiting – however long it takes – to get a service dog through a well-run organization that trains the dogs carefully and ensures their behavior through annual re-certification by unbiased testers means there will be no problems with my dog. I will be re-trained to be a good partner – to be sure I know what I need to do: daily grooming, brushing of teeth, brushing of fur, excellent diet, no table scraps, regular vet visits, keeping up with immunizations, quarterly bathing, and daily practice of the behaviors she (or he!) will have been trained to perform. Over the course of a week, each behavior should be practiced at least 3 or 4 times. If there is hesitancy or improper execution extra time must be spent to bring that behavior up to speed.

This level of care and ongoing training is somewhat difficult for me with my Rheumatoid Disease and Fibromyalgia and with the attendant pain and fatigue. But it is worth it. Frankly, taking care of Emmy (my previous service dog) forced me to move more and to be more active. “Therapeutic,” said my rheumatologist. “Moving around helps keep your joints from freezing up. Keeps your muscles working.” It’s true. I will admit I have less inclined to be active since Emmy retired – not just because of the diseases, but because it is hard to force myself to do the moving I need to do. Himself helps me with that (“Come on, old girl, come sit with me in the kitchen while I cook supper.” “Go with me to Home Depot.” “Time to go to the grocery. Come on.”), and the gardening I started doing the year before Emmy retired helps, too. But – I have to admit honestly that there are times I don’t move around when I could if I just “pushed” myself more.

So – we are very happy. A new dog will be here relatively soon! She will be my helper, my companion, and my new friend.

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Between the Woofs – I: IADW 2013

So, this is International Assistance Dog Week (IADW), and I’m promoting it! Please do visit their website.

A new “Woof” is being trained for me and may be ready (fingers crossed that it doesn’t “wash out” – always a risk) sometime next summer.

“Why would a dog be removed from PAALS training program?

“A dog can be discharged from the program at anytime during the two-year period it’s being trained for any of the following reasons:

  • “Hip and elbows X-rays show that the dog may not be strong enough for a working role
  • “Temperament problems demonstrate that a dog is too shy, too aggressive, or too protective
  • “Skin allergies develop which can be too big a problem to be handled by a person with a disability
  • “The dog has difficulties with the stress of the kennel or public work.”

from: http://paals.org/frequently-asked-questions

Golden Retriever Service Dog

Golden Retriever Service Dog

The only thing I know about the Woof is that it will be a Golden Retriever. In the meantime, I’m gearing up learning as much additional info as I can about dogs in general, assistance dogs in particular, training of dogs, feeding, grooming – etc.

Another place to visit would be the Working Like Dogs website. They have several resources and informational articles that any dog-lover will enjoy.

Right After Her October Grooming

Right After Her October Grooming

As I think about a new Woof, I also think about Emmy – OF COURSE! I did a lot of things right with her, but I recognize that I also did a number of things wrong. I have to do fewer things wrong with the new Woof, so I’m “practicing in my mind” the things I should do or not do in the future.

I’ll be posting irregularly – as usual – over the next year. Please subscribe or at least check in every so often to see the new posts. Some will be longer than this, some shorter with just a reference (or three) to other websites.

mixed-smiley-046Another request – please support PAALS! They work so hard, and are so dedicated to the provision of trained service dogs to people who need them – Service Dogs for Mobility Challenges, Service Dogs for Autism, Service Dogs for Facilities, Skilled Home Companions, and Service Dogs for PTSD or Traumatic Stress Disorder. Do explore their website – and Please donate-smallest!!!

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Service Dog Etiquette [reprise]

Emmy gets my dropped cane for me

[I am reposting this, with some additions / revisions from my old “Waiting For the Woof” blog. The ADA Law and Regs have changed a little.]

I recently read some information about service dog etiquette that makes a lot of sense.

Since not everyone knows about service dogs, not everyone knows about service dog etiquette.

First – a service dog is not a pet! A service dog has at least 2 years of intensive socialization and training behind him and is an expert in what he does. Most have been bred from working dog stock and not only thoroughly enjoy, but need to work.

A person who has a service dog has a very well-trained working dog. When you meet them, remember that the dog is working. Don’t interrupt it.

Always speak to the dog’s partner first, and always ask before beginning to interact with the dog.

Don’t pet the dog or make noises at the dog without permission of the dog’s partner.

If the partner says, “No,” then the answer is, “No,” and simply agree with it and go with it. It has nothing to do with you, it has to do with the service dog and his duties.

Never offer food to a service dog! This will distract him from his job. It can even cause injury to the disabled partner.

If you encounter a service dog in training or a puppy in training, ignore it! At this stage of training, they are easily distractible and can have a whole day’s training lost if interfered with.

It is impolite to ask the partner about his disability. If you are intrusive enough to ask such an invasive question, do not be surprised if the partner refuses to discuss it. The partner is not being offensive – he just doesn’t want his privacy invaded any more than you would.

Business Owners

If you are a business person, you may not prevent a person from bringing his service dog into your establishment with him. Both Federal and State laws specify that service dogs are to be permitted into any business or location where other members of the public may go. Even clinics or hospitals usually permit service dogs to come in.

If you don’t like dogs, or are afraid of them, simply put yourself on the other side of the person from the dog. Do not make a scene, or otherwise distract the dog.

If the dog “forgets” his manners and barks or growls at something or someone, you may inquire as to what the problem is. If someone has been teasing, poking or otherwise alarming the dog, they should be reprimanded. On the other hand, some service dogs alert their partners to impending seizures or crashing blood sugars by barking once or twice, and that may be the source of a bark or two.

You may ask the person to remove their service dog from the premises if the dog’s behavior is disruptive or destructive.

If another customer has a severe allergy to dogs, you might ask the person with the service dog if you can help them outside or if they can wait outside until the person with the allergy is through. This problem has not been defined by law, however. Balancing the health needs of the allergic against the rights of the disabled with service animals will probably be worked out in courts of law in the future.

If other customers complain about the presence of the service dog, explain that the service dog is medically necessary, and that Federal law AND State law protect the rights of the person to have their service dog with them in public places.

Many disabled people with service dogs carry pamphlets or cards that explain Federal ADA laws about service dogs. Some carry information about the training their dog has gone through and any certifications it has. You might politely ask the disabled person if they have such information with them if another customer is confused and you feel you don’t have enough information yourself to help the situation.

Places To Go For More Information

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Update: Primer for Small Businesses – section on service dogs

Americans with Disabilities Act: Title II 2010. Took effect on March 15, 2011.

Delta Society

Assistance Dogs International (ADI)

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)

Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS)

I Try to be Prepared…

… but sometimes I’m less prepared than others. Like during our Public Access Recertification Test last Saturday. We had practiced and practiced the things we did poorly on last year. But I had the wrong time for our test, and we were late. OMG – I was just mortified!

But I tried to put that behind us, and just concentrate on what we needed to do.

I got her out of the car safely and appropriately. Then we went into the Columbiana Mall, and the first thing I did was not give Emmy enough leash, so when I told her to “Wait,” she was forced to try to crowd in with me. OOPS! I realized it, and gave her more leash. Yikes! I had also forgotten to tell them Emmy had “done business” just before we rushed into the car at the hotel to get there and didn’t need to “go” right then. Yikes! Again!

Well, first was the Recall test – Emmy had to be left in a “Down-Stay” then called from 6 feet, and again from 20 feet, bringing her leash to me each time. She was picture perfect! Whew! I reached into the treat bag – OOPS, again! I had forgotten to put any of the “high value” treats into the pouch!! In fact, I was running a little low on treats in the pouch! So I had to be sparing when giving her treats. Probably just as well in terms of her weight and nutrition status (although I was pleased at out last visit to see she is still, at 58.2 pounds, within 3 pounds of her weight when we became partners).

Then through a store that had an elevator – or two! My daughter-in-law (my “pusher!”) did the elevator bit just fine, and so did Emmy. She “Waited,” then went “Through” and sat down in the elevator, then “Moved” out of the way of my wheelchair! We went up one very small elevator, and came down another, very slightly larger, elevator with a “panorama.” We wandered through the store checking that I controlled Emmy, preventing her from “sniffing the merchandise.”

Later she had to demonstrate how she picks up things for me. She was perfect, again!! In fact, the testers (all 4 of them) were so intrigued, they threw down more things of different sizes, shapes and textures for her to retrieve! But the joke was on them – Emmy retrieved them all, and brought them to ME. So I had to sort out who had tossed out what and deal out the items to the right people!

In the food court we demonstrated how she can restrain herself when tempted and even teased with food (she was shaking and drooling, but she maintained restraint). She went “under” the table (as best she could – small mushroom tables with “X” feet), and stayed there until allowed up. SUCH a good girl!

Emmy did all kinds of things – brought things to people, went “Under” a bench I was sitting on, “Braced” to help me stand, resisted temptation when other people offered her food, remained calm as people stepped over and walked close to her and when not just 1 or 2 but FIVE children all came up at the same time to pet her! Then she absolutely NAILED the “Target” (pushing the button to open the handicapped door). She “did business” a little on command in the grassy plot by the car, and we got her into the car correctly and safely.

All was well!

We went to a high tension lunch, while all the testers gathered at a separate table (along with the head of the PAALS program) and decided our fate. We passed! All of a sudden I had an appetite again!! I have our certificate in hand for 2010-2011! Yea!

Emmy is so smart and so cooperative! How wonderful she is!

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