Service Dog Puppy Raising

Service Dog Puppy TrainingMy last newsletter addressed Pet Therapy and all the information you need to know before venturing into that world with your dog.

This week, I’d like to address “puppy raising” for a service dog organization. (Thank you Pam English, Sylmar Puppy Leader for Guide Dogs of America for checking my facts here!)

Many people have inquired as to how they can become involved as a puppy raiser for a dog being groomed for performing “physical tasks” for a person with a disability.

First, you need to have PATIENCE! You will be given a puppy of approximately 8 weeks of age to take home and blend into your home and, and for some, work life. From the get-go, it’s feeding and relieving and getting some basic obedience skills nailed down early in this process. Also required, are monthly meetings and obedience classes. Your puppy will be evaluated by the staff on a continuing basis to make sure it’s on track with their socialization, health issues and obedience.

You are required to give your puppy basic obedience skills, socialization and house manners. Socialization is key. Taking your dog with you to all environments is essential and required. You will be stopped continually so give yourself more time to run your errands. Your dog will be given a bib, then a “big dog” jacket/vest. This identifies the dog as a “Puppy In Training” in public and also gives the dog the idea that when the jacket is on, they have to be good little canines outside their home…obedient and quiet in all settings. One such example would be laying under a table in a restaurant quietly. The best pups in training are those that other patrons have no clue that a dog in their midst. [Read more…]

Flying Turkeys

Turkey on PlaneAs you can imagine, I have a LOT say about the turkey, yes, like the one on your Thanksgiving table, that recently boarded a domestic airline as an “emotional support” animal accompanying a passenger. I seriously did not believe this absurd story to be real, until I researched and found it to be true.

This flies in the face of being completely and “flutterly” ridiculous because it really pushes all boundaries, and personally, I feel it mocks the entire Emotional Support animal system. I can see a cat, dog or even a bunny, but the mere fact the airline was bound by the Air Carrier Act to have to allow that bird in the passenger cabin is really beyond my comprehension.

So, let me once again state the law as it pertains to “emotional support” animals relating to modes of transportation. They are not “service” animals nor are they bound by the regulations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

When on an airplane, governed by the Department of Transportation Air Carrier Act, not the Department of Justice, Emotional Support Animals can accompany passengers, who have a note from their doctor, that this animal (of questionable species) is required for the comfort of said person. They do NOT perform any physical tasks to mitigate a disability like a true “service” dog or miniature horse (both legal service animals under the law). They serve one purpose, and that is emotional support for anxiety in public. [Read more…]

Pet Therapy New Year’s Resolution? 10 Answers to… Is It Right For You?

Whiskey and II have been asked numerous times why I’m in a training mode about pet therapy. Seems many people feel they have the PERFECT dog, and they want to know how to qualify their dog for this new adventure.

Having done pet therapy myself years ago, I enlisted an expert in the field, Sandy Dubin, who is a Pet Partner Evaluator and Instructor, to “correctly” answer 10 basic questions.

Just remember, pet therapy dogs are NOT service dogs. They are not allowed in public settings… only those where they are directly doing the therapy sessions, i.e. hospitals, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, schools, libraries, etc.

Here is my interview with her covering these topics:

  1. What can I expect my time commitment per month to be?
  2. How old does my dog need to be? Is it a requirement they be spayed or neutered?
  3. What does CGC mean?
  4. What is the next step when my dog passes the test?
  5. What happens if my dog fails the test?
  6. How much does it cost to have my dog certified?
  7. How often is certification given and re-certification needed?
  8. What other animals can become therapy animals?
  9. What do I have to do to prepare my dog for a therapy visit?
  10. Who do I contact if I want to do pet therapy in a hospital, nursing home, library, etc.?

[Read more…]

Service Dogs & Canine Good Citizen Title (CGC): The Importance of Respecting the Rights of Disabled People

Service Dogs & Canine Good CitizenHopefully this article will help educate dog lovers – perhaps knowing what it takes to become a service dog will stop some people from turning themselves and their dogs into imposters.

Passing the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test is a worthy goal and a significant accomplishment for pet owners. Well-socialized dogs with basic obedience training are more apt to live out their lives in loving homes, and are less likely to be re-homed or surrendered to shelters.

Guide dogs, passing the CGC test, does not give dogs the right to go into places of public accommodation (restaurants, public transportation, stores, hospitals, etc.) where pets are not allowed. Having an AKC (American Kennel Club) Canine Good Citizen Title does not qualify a pet to be a service dog.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as a dog that has been “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities”. Per the ADA, a disability is defined as: a condition that causes “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities” of a disabled person. To be a service dog, the animal must perform skills or assist with tasks that mitigate some aspect of the person’s disability. [Read more…]

Part III – Emotional Support Dogs and Airline Transportation

Part III - Emotional Support Dogs and Airline TransportationThe U.S. Department of Transportation regulations are different than those pertaining to the U.S. Department of Justice “Americans With Disabilities Act” regulations.

In summary, per the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners:

“There are new, more detailed procedures for the carriage of emotional support and psychiatric service animals. The carrier may require the passenger to provide current documentation from a mental health professional caring for the passenger that the passenger has a specific, recognized mental or emotional disability and that the passenger needs to be accompanied by the specific, emotional support of psychiatric service animal in question, either on the flight or at the passenger’s destination.”

“Foreign carriers are not required to carry service animals other than dogs.”

“If you are traveling with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you may be required by the airline to provide 48 hours’ advance notice.”

Naturally, contact your airline for their specific rules on service animals and seating. All service dogs will need a current health certificate as well. Most of the time, you won’t need to show it, but there may be a situation where it is required to board. Make sure you have it on you, not packed in your checked luggage.

Part II – Emotional Support Dogs

Training dog in vestIf you missed part one, Service Dog 101, you can read it here.

Continuing the discussion…

It was brought to my attention that I forgot to also mention emotional support dogs need to do physical tasks or “work” to mitigate a medical condition. I will repeat that just having a dog in your lap for emotional “comfort” is not a legitimate service dog in “public” settings. Service dogs must be trained to provide “physical” work or tasks to mitigate a disability.

Here is the link to my website with the Federal Housing Act regarding emotional support dogs. This document will give you the complete information on housing and emotional support dog rights. 

Part III – Emotional Support Dogs and modes of transportation – next installment!!

Service Dog 101 – Part 1

Golden Retriever - Training Page PhotoWelcome to my new monthly series: Service Dog 101

a) Let’s start with…What is a disability?

An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

“Major life activities” include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking and breathing, learning and working.

You must meet these criteria before you will be considered to be a potential service dog handler. There is extensive and intensive training – both for the person (with the disability) and the dog.

b) What is a service dog? [Read more…]

Super duper pooper bags! You’ve got to read this!

Super duper pooper bags! You've got to read this! 2I’ve found a great product based on the feedback I received from many of you from my annual survey.  New product information for your dogs was on top of that survey list. And why not?  We are all part of a billion dollar business dedicated to those 4-footed love machines who let us into their homes every day!

If you’re like me, you never leave home without a “busy” bag or “dooty” bag or whatever you want to call it. I find my baggies stuffed in all sorts of places in my car and every purse!

With city ordinances leaning towards being more eco-friendly the millions of plastic shopping bags littering our landfills are slowly being outlawed.  Biodegradable products are becoming ever more popular.  Eventually, there will no longer be that unlimited supply of plastic shopping bags to repurpose for picking up after your dog.  What to do????

Alas. I’ve found a great product…one I’ve tested for a few weeks now and love. It’s called a “BioBag” and it’s 100% biodegradable made from resin based on plant starches and vegetable oils.  It’s very sturdy (ok, you’re not using it for luggage), folds up to something tiny and it’s easy to hide…that is until you need to use it!  

I’ve made ordering this product super easy for you!! All you have to do is click on the box above, and you’ll be on your way to doing your duty with your dog’s “dooty.”  (I know…corny!!!!)

Have a “pawsitively” super day with your dog(s).  Off I go to prowl for other great products to share with you!

Use Caution with Pet Safe Lawn Products

Spring is definitely here in Southern California. Actually Spring has been here all year to a great degree.  We finally got some much-needed rain a few days ago, and that will make for a much happier walk with Rocco tonight. He has smelled the same old scents in our neighborhood for months! Time for the rain to bring new flowers and new smells.

Garden and lawn sprucing up is big right now. I know… Home Depot was packed with buyers of all things garden and home improvement today. That brings to mind my video for you based on my own negligence!  Yes, even I was a BAD dog mom. I hope my mistake does not become yours!!! Lesson learned! Watch this video to learn why you need to use caution with “pet-safe” lawn products.

4-9-14 Use caution with pet-safe lawn products

P.S. Thankfully, Rocco had no lasting effects and has been just fine ever since. Whew!! 

Doggie Dental Care… the Road to Disease Prevention and a Healthier, Happy Dog

Doggy dental careFebruary has been Pet Dental Health Month!  Looking for that long-ago puppy breath (and pearly whites) your dog used to have…or when your dog pants, could its’ breath stop traffic and put you in suspended animation? As you know, some of that dragon breath could be caused by neglected oral care. Here’s a tip to look for when trolling for the most effective dental chews that work.  Look for these initials on the packaging….”VOHC”…. This means these treats help retard plaque and tartar and have been given the “seal of approval” by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, an entity of the American Veterinary Dental College.

As always, it’s important to have your dog’s teeth checked annually, by your vet, for any malformations, broken teeth, cracks and to maintain general good oral care including cleaning their teeth if need be.  Just like humans, you can be proactive in helping prevent certain diseases (like heart disease) with good oral care by keeping that plaque and tartar at bay! This might be a good time to learn how to brush your dog’s teeth, if you haven’t done so already! Your vet will be happy to show you!

[Read more…]