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…]

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…]

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…]

Honoring All Veterans, From All Conflicts, and What Service Dogs are Doing to Help Those in Need

November 8 Blog - Roc & DebAs I nurse a sore back that I threw out over last weekend, I’m not exactly looking like a video “model”…ha!…Hair is up and I’m NOT ready for my close-up this week, so a written blog is definitely in order.

Aside from the kick-off of the holiday season, there are some very important dog “days” on this calendar month as well.

November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month, National Senior Pet Month, National Pet Awareness Month, Pet Cancer Awareness Month, Pet Diabetes Month and National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week (11/10-11/16).  Do we love our pets or what???!!!  Wow!

But as we near Veteran’s Day on Monday, I want this blog to acknowledge the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country, in all wars and conflicts over the years. This year I took a very big step in honoring my “revolutionary war” ancestors by becoming a member of our local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and I’m proud to do what I can to honor the military. 

Soldiers, forever, have suffered from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) because so many are very young and grow up way too fast upon witnessing the horrors of war.  Just watch our veterans talk about their experiences in WWII, Korea or Vietnam…and he or she will get emotional every time while trying to finish their story about losing a comrade, in a hellish way, who served with them. PTSD has been a factor in every war but it was never talked about because of the stigma attached to those who suffered from it. Thankfully, today PTSD is a legitimate diagnosis openly discussed. Still, there are many who fear the repercussions if they divulge their symptoms to their superiors.

[Read more…]

Service Dog Attacks and How We Can Protect Those Heroes on 4 Paws

2 Service DogsSo I’m sitting here a bit idle today as the tree trimmers do a monumental job with a huge group of fichus trees that overwhelm our yard every year. So, this is the day for a major tree haircut and a good creative-writing blog day!

What came to mind this morning (and many of my waking moments) was thoughts about my yellow Lab, Rocco. He is my logo pup that has grown to be a beautiful, sweet and well-mannered dog.

He greeted the tree trimmers this morning with his usual butt wiggle and smile…no jumping (or “marking” their tools…whew!), and I just had to “rescue” the tree trimmers from being supervised by him a few minutes ago.  Yup, right underfoot with tree branches falling everywhere. He has no fear. Ha! When they question his “friendliness” I answer with my usual, “You’re ok as long as I’m ok.”  Straight to the point, he is going to be your best buddy as long as he knows I’m out of harms’ way. Does that mean he has been trained to “protect?” No, but does he have that “instinct” to protect me…I’m sure it’s in there somewhere. I’m very glad I have not had to test that ability (or perhaps inability) in him, nor do I ever hope to.

[Read more…]

Service Dogs Are Daily Heroes

One goal of mine was to finish going through work-related memorabilia from a former job. Through mostly photos, from my 16 years at a local guide dog school, I can’t help but reminisce about my life during those years.

Since I was the Development / Public Relations Manager / Sponsorship Coordinator / Event Planner and Official Photographer, (yes, that is typical for a non-profit life), I was able to capture so many moments over the years, that told countless stories of successful graduations, thrilled and grateful recipients, happy and sad puppy raisers, countless fundraising events, puppies born and photos of those who have since traveled over the “Rainbow Bridge” and the gates of St. Peter.

[Read more…]