Response to a Veteran

[A comment was made on one of the posts of this blog and my reply got long. I thought it might be of more general interest, so I’m making it a post for any here to see.]

A reader said:
“You are full of crap if you were to read the ADA and what it says about service animals there are only two on the list. One the dog and the other is the miniature horse and only if it is house trained to relieve it self outside. ADI wants everyone to believe that they are the only ones that can pass or fail a dog so it can the full monopoly on the entire world to be the only organization that is qualified to train and test a service animals qualifications. They already own Europe so why not give them America as well. Considering we the veterans that served our nation should have nothing to say about our animals and the help they give us. Again the ADA states clearly that only dogs and mini horses make the cut and then only if the mini horse is house trained.”

My Reply:
“There are several things to be addressed here.

“First, most members of the general public don’t know what ADA says, and the majority don’t even care. They have no idea that a snake is not a service animal. Yet snakes have been passed off as service animals! As of 2012, the ADA has revised requirements for service animals. The Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animals set separate requirements for the mini horse, and does not support the wider public access permissions a service dog does.

“Second, given the numbers of companies that are selling service dogs with little or no attention to what a service dog should be, some kind of guidelines need to be in place. A company that has been training guard dogs for years, then decides they’d like to get into the service dog business has no clue about service dogs. Service dogs are an entirely different thing. Similarly, the person that wants to hang a vest and patches on their pampered little darling or their guard dog and call it a service dog is giving service dogs a bad name. A well-trained service dog will not growl, bark and certainly not snap or bite. “Service dogs” trained by guard dog companies can be problematic in this regard. Many dogs trained by their owners also have difficulty in this regard. The public access test is supported not only by ADI (Assistance Dogs International), but by IAADP (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners) and by Pet Partners (formerly know as the Delta Society).

“Third, I don’t know what your problem is with ADI. It started in the US in 1985 with trainers of Hearing Alert Dogs and Hearing Alert Dog training/placement organizations getting together and agreeing to certain basic standards. [This is similar to any professional organization start-up. The members start it, the members set the standards, and the members enable the standards. Medical and Nursing professional organizations are like this – and they set the standards and guidelines for practice in various specialties. Architects and Engineers have the same kinds of organizations. Many of the organizations, if not international in scope, have collegial relationships with similar organizations across the world.] In a short time, ADI grew, and decided first to formally affiliate with the Delta Society and a couple of years later to formally affiliate with Assistance Dogs Europe (ADEu). In a short time, ADI grew, and decided first to formally affiliate with the Delta Society and a couple of years later to formally affiliate with Assistance Dogs Europe (ADEu). See the ADI History page on their website.

“IAADP was started by people who used service dogs – the assistance dog partners themselves. It, too, grew in scope and became international. I know a bit less about Pet Partners, except that they support the public access standards needed to ensure public safety and public access for assistance dogs. ADI has done very good work. Their members provide various kinds of assistance dogs (Guide Dogs, Mobility Assistance Dogs, Hearing Alert Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs, Medical Assistance Dogs, and PTSD Assistance Dogs – probably others that I’m not listing). The ADI, in my opinion, is filling a needed gap/niche.

“Fourth, as a user of an assistance dog, I can input my needs and concerns to PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assistance Life Services) which provided both my Mobility Assistance Dogs, and through IAADP – which meets jointly with ADI and maintains a close relationship with ADI – after all, it is the assistance dog partners who are the people who need and use the dogs provided by assistance dog providers. (I know, that sounds redundant, but I have been up with serious pain since 4am and I’m not a coherent as I would prefer.) PAALS also provides Service Dogs for Vets.

“Fifth, Veterans can, should, and do have a lot of say as to what help their dogs should give them. When obtained through a legitimate service dog organization, the vets, like any recipient, are interviewed extensively about what they need. If they want to train their own dog, they are certainly permitted to do that under ADA. There can be a problem with public access and poor behavior on the part of the dogs not tested for public access. This would not be a problem if those training their own service dogs understood the need for the specific behaviors needed for public access.

“The Public Access Test is published on the website of ADI, and IAADP has a page that discusses various aspects of the public access test. If your home-trained dog can pass all items on the test, plus 3 specific items it needs to do in public for you, I see no problem.

“The needs of Veterans, while somewhat different from those of other citizens, are being met by member organizations of ADI. As I am seeing it, the main problem is the vast need and the limited number of organizations and limited availability of appropriate dogs. It takes a special dog to become the service dog partner of a Veteran. Not every dog is qualified to become a service dog – of any kind – much less for a Veteran. As one among many organizations, however, PAALS is providing service dogs to Veterans with various needs. If you need one, I hope you get one soon!”

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.

Between the Woofs: Grief – Ups and Downs

Well, 3 months have passed. There are times I think the pain is getting worse rather than better. Emmy is extremely happy with her new family (does that make me jealous? I think so, at times) and her health needs are being addressed very well.

In the meantime, between the woofs, I’ve contacted the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) about their Assistance Dog Loss Service. I don’t want my grief over Emmy to interfere with me bonding with the new woof, do I?

My (now Their) Emmy – such a wonderful assistance dog! I have a brief slideshow that I made from some of Emmy’s pix. I watch it from time to time – not so often that I get maudlin about her, but just to refresh my memory and love for her.

Himself keeps reminding me, “She was your employee, not just your precious pet.” He is right. But the 5 1/2 years we were together were precious to me, and created a bond deeper than I, a “cat person,” ever dreamed I would or even could have with a dog. Himself has taken up many of Emmy’s tasks – and I realize just how independent I was with her. I still needed help, you understand, but SHE provided most of the help. I didn’t have to ask other people for help nearly as much as I do without her.

So, life goes on. My birthday is coming up – and we are going to Medieval Times for dinner! I’m sure I’ll think, “wouldn’t Emmy be interested in those horses!” But, we’ll just have to go to Medieval Times again [this is the original website] after the new woof comes into our lives. Maybe for my next birthday! That’s something positive to look forward to!

Meantime, here is a picture of Emmy with her little boy – just too cute! Think she fell into clover? You betcha! 🙂

Emmy sleeps with the youngest boy (9). Think they adore each other?

Emmy sleeps with the youngest boy (9). Think they adore each other?

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!!!

Related articles

Stardate: -309719.1535705226

Well, Emmy’s been back since January 31. When she arrived she had well-furred ears (!) and looked great. She, naturally, was a bit shaky on her cues, but we finally got those pretty straightened out.

Now, after 2 1/2 months, and the onset of deep Atlanta spring, Emmy is back to itching, licking, gnawing, and scratching. I’ve started wiping her off, especially her feet and legs, when she comes in from being outside. I have tried a wet washrag, dog wipes, and baby wipes. The baby wipes work as well as the other two, leave a slight fragrance that doesn’t seem to bother Emmy, and are easier than the wet washrag. They help some, but not enough. Emmy has also had her first yeast infection (R ear) of the season – despite cleaning and drying ears daily – sometimes twice daily. So, I’ve added Posatex to the grooming routine – again. She is taking Hydroxyzine Pamoate (one of the older antihistamines) and it works better than the (cheaper) benadryl. She is less groggy, doesn’t sleep as much, and can function fairly well despite it. But she still has some problems with paying attention while under it’s influence. I give her a cue, and she stares me (or off into space) as if to say, “I’ve heard that before, I know I should know it, but I can’t get it together.”

We have talked with my liaison at PAALS, and we are looking at a “re-career” move for Emmy – to being a pet with my youngest son and his family. As for me, we have a lot of thinking to do. A smaller Lab from this year’s class, or wait for a Golden Retriever from next year’s class. We have decided to not go for this year’s class because I really need a larger dog, so that will make it next summer before I can be partnered again.

Another option our liaison mentioned is to apply with another service dog provider who might have a larger breed. Well, that’s certainly an option, BUT – we are very strongly attached to PAALS, it’s programs, what they stand for, and the people who are there and who train the dogs. Our liaison said PAALS will understand whatever decision we make because we know what I need and how soon it will be critical.

So, here we are. Already grieving about losing Emmy as my partner – after only 4 1/2 years together. But she’ll be with our youngest son and we’ll be able to see her from time to time.

SIGH! It’s a big decision any way we look at it.

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)

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