Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Book Review: A Dog Who's Always Welcome by Lorie Long

A few weeks ago I was in a local book store perusing the dog section (as I frequently do) and I came upon A Dog Who's Always Welcome: Assistance and Therapy Dog Trainers Teach You How to Socialize and Train Your Companion Dog by Lorie Long. This book shares the foundations used to raise and train service dogs, therapy dogs, and their human partners to flourish in the unpredictability that is human society. Ms. Long along with staff from Blue Ridge Assistance Dogs, St. Francis of Assisi Assistance Dogs, and Assistance Dogs of America impart the methods used by many service and therapy dog training organizations to raise happy, confident dogs who love to work and can handler (with support from their human partners) just about anything the world might throw their way.

Ms. Long shows the average dog owner how they can help their dog live the full life of a true best friend and companion. This book is not just about raising and training your dog to be a good canine citizen. Just as a service dog is only as good as the person on the other end of the leash, a confident dog about town needs an owner who is consistent, fair, willing to put in time, and who love them as unconditionally as our dogs do humans. Through out the book Ms. Long, along with the seasoned therapy and service dog trainers stress the importance of choosing a dog appropriate for your family, lifestyle, and how you envision the role of your dog in your family. Dogs are sentient beings who can be happy, driven, confused, excited, stressed, tired, and sick; they can reach extraordinary heights when they have owners who not only love them-- but respect and understand them as the unique beings they are. In A Dog Who's Always Welcome reader learn about understanding who their dog is, defining the experiences and skills their dog will need in their everyday life, developing a plan to teach their dog about their world, and teaching the dog the skills they will need to enjoy life to the fullest. Ms. Long weaves the example and experiences of service dog partners and trainers to illustrate the keys to raising a dog who enjoys learning, problems solves, and know that you will be their when the human world just doesn't make sense. The positive training techniques, emphasis on socialization, and list of useful commands can help even the most novice dog owner understand how that dog that they didn't even notice under the table next to theirs could have been there all day and they wouldn't have noticed.

While overall, this reviewer found Ms. Long's book to be well done, I was disappointed to see that Ms. Long choose to use disempowering language when talking about people with disabilities choosing terms like suffering, confined and wheelchair bound rather than more respectful terms in People First Language . Ms Long also states the the ADA guarantees public access for trainers training service dog. Unfortunately, this is not true. In fact, the ADA silent on the issue on access for trainers working with possible future service dogs. The ADA left the decision on access for dogs in training up to the individuals states. Anyone with a dog in training should check their state laws about public access and use the steps in A Dog Who's Welcome to ensure you dog has the skills to begin training in public.


Kirsten said...

Thank you for pointing out that the ADA does not apply to trainers. This is an area of great confusion for many would-be trainers.

Melissa Mitchell said...

Dear Kirsten,
would be service dog trainer should check their state regulations in this area. A good practice is to enlist local businesses and their employers to assist you with training a potential service dog candidate. My experience while training my first dog was that many business owners were happy to assist with the dog's training from time to time. There are also many business that are dog friendly that can make for useful and challenging training grounds.