Wednesday, December 30, 2009

News: Service Animals: Unraveling the Differences and Best Practices Conference Call

The rights of people with disabilities who use service animals vary, depending on which law applies. The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Air Carrier Access Act, and the Fair Housing Act each have different standards for service animals and their owners. Complicating the topic even further is the issue of the definition of service animals, especially in relation to emotional support or therapy animals. This session will provide information about the definition of service animals and the rights of service animal owners under the ADA, the ACAA, and the FHA. We will also discuss the differences in how the various laws treat service animals versus emotional support or therapy animals, as well as model service animal policies for educational institutions and healthcare facilities.
January 19, 2010 1:00-2:30 p.m. (90 minute sessions) Central Time Zone(CT).
11:00-12:30 p.m. PT
2:00-3:30 p.m. EST
Jacquie Brennan, Attorney, DBTAC-Southwest ADA Center
Guest Moderator:
The program is available in three formats:
  • Teleconference
  • Streaming Audio via the Internet
  • Real-time Captioning via the Internet
All sessions will have a written transcript as well as a digital recording of the session archived on this site.For assistance with any of our conferences contact us at (877) ADA - 1990 or (877) 232 - 1990 (V/TTY)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dating while Partnered with a Service Dog

I know we haven't been posting as regularly as usual; I suppose that's what I get for working three part time jobs and deciding that my social life could use some livening up at the same time. At the recommendation of a good friend I recently signed up for an online dating site and am pleased to say I have gotten a few responses. A few weeks ago Shiloh and I went on our first date and I thought the process I go through when dating with my service dog along might make and interesting discussion for readers of Service Dogs: A Way of Life.

First, in my online profile I make it very clear that I am a person with a disability who is partnered with a service dog and uses a wheelchair ( I do stop short of saying exactly what my disability is in my profile, since I prefer to be able to name it and explain to those who are genuinely interested in me myself. Also, by leaving it out I hope to avoid nasty stereotypes or people with some sort of fetish.)

Second, I also make it clear that I am a dog enthusiast to say the least bording on efficianado and those who do not also love dogs need not bother. Love me, love my service dog.

Third, I make no bones (pun intended) about the fact  that if we meet and my dog does not like you, I am out of there. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 style. I consider my service dogs to be great judges of character, since they generally like most everyone. The few times I have run across people they did not like, I was always glad to have put my trust in their judgement.

Fourth, I always take my service dog on a first date. I figure it's just as well that they get the whole picture up front and if they decide they can't or don't wan't want to deal with it then we are only out the time and expense of a drink.

Fifth, I always explain that my service dog is working while we are out and cannot be pet without my permission and can't be fed while working or accept treats from anyone but me. They may, however, ask me whatever they like about what my service dog does for me. This also prime time for them to ask about and see the level of my disability for themselves.
I must smile because my dates usually say something along the lines of "I wish my dog were so well behaved." or "Your dog is better behaved than those kids over there."

Sixth, I freely admit to primping my dog as much as I do myself before a date! After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Note: We are still here!

We are still here. I have some interesting posts I am working on... Life just got really busy, so bear with me and stay tuned,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Gift ideas for Service Dogs and their Handlers

Need gift ideas to share with family and friends? Looking for something to thank your hard working service dog? Looking for something to accessorise the handler? Check out

Gifts Service Dog Partners and their Service Dog will love

Don't forget to add your faviriats and suggesting in the form of comments!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

News: Demand Grows for Phsychiatric Service Dogs

It's common knowledge that dogs can be trained to give people who are blind a greater degree of independence. But it may come as a surprise to learn that dogs are increasingly being used in the field of psychiatry -- in essence, seeing eye dogs for the mind. ideastream®'s Eric Wellman reports.
Baron, a brown labrador retriever dons a vest and leads Tracy Corso into an Oberlin supermarket. Eight years ago, Corso wasn’t able to leave her house let alone go shopping. She suffers from severe post traumatic stress disorder, having survived physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her adoptive parents. Read More

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Thanksgiving Adventure

Shiloh and I chose to spend Thanksgiving (for my International readers who may or may not be familiar with this American Holiday) with my parents and some friends. I decided to take the train instead of driving, because the last time I drove up for Thanksgiving I got stuck halfway back because they closed the freeway due to incredibly heavy snows! Due the busy holiday Amtrak added buses to get people to Portland, so Shiloh and I took a bus partway and were supposed to be on an actual train (See Tails of Trains for details on taking a train for the first time with a service dog or service dog in training) for the rest of the journey.  Due to the chaos created by the increase in traffic for the holiday, what should have been a two hour bus ride with an hour layover in Portland turned into a four hour ride.  Amtrak had made plans for another long distance bus company to take the passengers on the late buses north; sadly, the did not include Shiloh and I in their plans (despite the fact I have called them 48 hours in advance to let them know about my reasonable accommodation requirements). So then, beleiving I would have to stay in Portland overnight (since that's what the Amtrak operator told me) I called my parents. They then got on the phone with Amtrak and started to raise hell. By the time I actually pulled into the station I had five staff looking for me!
I told them I need to take, myself and my dog to the restroom and find something to eat --as I had planned to eat on the train--. They told me they would have an accessible taxi drive me the rest of the way to Tacoma! By the time all was said and done Shiloh and I arrived in Tacoma two and a half hours later than we should have. We travelled by foot, city, bus and taxi. Moral of the story be prepared for anything when you travel and always carry at least two days worth of food for your service dog as you never know what will happen!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review: Bark Magazine What Dogs Know and How They know It

Alexandra Horowitz, The Canine Mindseeker
What do dogs know and how do they know it?
We talk with Alexandra Horowitz, assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College, about her new book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. This engrossing work is inspired by Horowitz’s experiences with her dog, Pumpernickel, and draws upon her own and others’ research in the field of canine cognition. This book expands our understanding of the nature of dogs and provides a channel to seeing and “smelling” the world from a dog’s point of view.
Bark: Your fascinating new book, Inside of a Dog, begins with a discussion of canine “umwelt.” Can you tell us more about umwelt and how it might affect our understanding of our dogs?
Read More (I'm still reading myself but I wanted to get it up here for you all)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Preparing your Service Dog/Service Dog in Training for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time if you are prepared. I invite all of you to read and add your experiences and suggestions through comments.

Thanksgiving: A Time for Family, Friends, Training, and Caution

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Book Review: Blog Roll Updates

New to the Blog Roll:

Leaving the Blog Roll because they are inactive:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Service Dog Humor: Most Common Unbelievable Questions and Comments

As a a long time service dog handler I have regularly hear these questions and comments :
10.Is that dog in training? When do you give them up? (No, she's for me.)
9. Where can I get a vest like that? (answer: I don't know, it came with the dog)
8. I wish my dog was that well behaved! (Answer: I can recommend some local trainers)
7. You should teach the dog to pull you. (Answer: Darn! I never thought of that, thanks.)
6. He looks sad. (Answer: you're projecting)
5. How does the dog know where to go? (Answer: He has GPS.)
4. Is that one of those blind dogs? (Answer: I hope not or I'm in trouble)
3. What do you do with the do at home? (Answer: I put him in the closet.)
2. Is that a drug dog? (Answer: Yes, she's under cover as a service dog.)
1. You don't look blind. (Answer: Really? What does Blind look like?)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

News:Gannon Found! Missing Guide Dog Puppy on his Way Home!

I have wonderful news! Gannon the missing Guide Dog Puppy is on his way back to his puppy raiser family. Read more

Friday, November 6, 2009

News: Reward Offered for the Safe Return of Lost Guide Dog Pup Gannon

Guide Dogs for the Blind has set up a reward for the safe return of Gannon, the Guide Dog puppy who went missing from his home five days ago. Anyone with any information about the whereabouts of this three month old Black Labrador is encouraged to call  please contact Jim Russell at 209-669-7657 or Guide Dogs for the Blind at 800-295-4050. His puppy family is hopeful someone will find him or if someone has him they will turn him in. For more information see

Reminder Gannon comes from very identifiable breeding stock, and has unique Tattoo numbers in both ears. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

News: Guide Dog Puppy still Lost!

Gannon is still missing from Lido, CA with no good leads, if you know anything about this pup's disappearance please call community field representative Jim Russell at (209) 669-7657 or Guide Dogs for the Blind at (800) 295-4050.

Monday, November 2, 2009

News: Attention California Readers- Guide Dog Puppy Missing

San Rafael, Calif. (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) - Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) is asking for your assistance in locating a lost puppy named Gannon. Gannon, a 3-month-old black Labrador Retriever male, is a Guide Dog puppy in training for the GDB puppy raising program.

Gannon was last seen on Friday morning, October 30 near the corner of Armstrong and Davis Roads. He may have been spotted early on Saturday afternoon in the area of Thorton Road, north of Stockton, between 8 Mile and DeVries Roads.

Gannon is being raised by a volunteer puppy raising family in Lodi, Calif. The puppy raiser families teach puppies, like Gannon, to have excellent house manners and socialize them to the world by introducing them to new people, places and experiences.

Gannon, like other Guide Dog puppies in training, stay in their puppy raising homes until they are approximately 15 – 18 months old. At that time they begin their formal guide work training at GDB and are eventually matched with blind students enrolled at the school.

Gannon has tattoos in both ears with his ID number and is wearing a black collar with Guide Dog tags. If you have any information about this lost puppy, please contact Jim Russell at 209-669-7657 or Guide Dogs for the Blind at 800-295-4050.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

News: Service Dog Community Sounds Off in Response to a Recent Blog Hosted by Bark Magazine

Unethical or Responsible Pet Care?
Playing service dog to travel first class.
The legitimacy and training of service dogs has come up a lot recently, and many of the cases do not have clear solutions. But what about when someone is consciously taking advantage of the privileges granted to service dogs?
With the USDAA Cynosport World Games coming up in Scottsdale, Ariz., I’ve been talking to many of the local competitors about how they’re traveling with their dogs. Some are caravanning in their RVs and others are reluctantly putting their pups in cargo.  Read More

Friday, October 30, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

News: International Association of Assistance Dog Partners says Goodbye to Dr. Edward Eames

Share your thoughts or memories below for our Memorial Keepsake Book that his wife, Toni, will be putting together. How has Ed or IAADP touched your life?

Part I of III

Photo of Ed and hiw wife Toni with Guide Dogs Latrell and Keebler

Ed and his wife, Toni, with guide dogs, Latrell and Keebler, in this photo, traveled the world to foster the assistance dog movement, lecturing at many conferences, co-authoring two books, magazine columns, hundreds of articles and scripting an award winning video / DVD, “Partners in Independence.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shiloh Comes Through When it Really Counts!

This morning I woke up with severe pain in my neck and right shoulder(again). At first I wasn't even sure I could get out out of bed, but with a little persistence I managed to make it out of bed. As I tried to transfer into my chair my shoulder gave way and I ended up on the floor! I tried a few times to get up, but quickly realized my right shoulder was not going to weight bare at all, so even using Shiloh to brace a bit was out.I tried Plan B yell, for my roommate Leslie, no dice, since she sleeps like the dead.
Time for plan C, get Shiloh to roust my still sleeping roommate from her bed. My roommates and I have been working on getting Shiloh to find them by name and Shiloh loves my roommate's room, so time to put it to the test. I asked Shiloh "Where's Leslie? Go Get Leslie!" She went to my roommate's door and found it closed ( I could see her and the door from where I was on the floor), so I cue her to touch the door with her paw again and again. She would come back every few times, and I would send her back again. After, a few minutes Shiloh finally succeeded in waking my roommate's Guide Dog, Cammy, who I heard come over to the door and sniff. Shiloh continued to paw the door, while Cammy (deciding that it was time to be up) went over and stuck her nose in Leslie's face, finally waking her! She then heard Shiloh pawing away at the door. Disoriented, and still half asleep, I see her come out of the room saying "What the hell?!" Now I tell her I need help I can't get off the floor! She being the wonderful friend and good roommate comes in immediately to fish me off the floor.
Even if my roommate had not been there and I would have had to wait for someone to come help me, or until I felt it might be safe to attempt to get myself of the the floor having Shiloh there, knowing the that I was not alone she could get the phone and show the people who came to my calls where I was kept me from slipping in to that fear that I could be here on the floor until God knows when! Not falling into that fear left me able to more logically process the situation and stay calm. Shiloh is my constant companion and between the two of us we can figure out a lot of really difficult predicaments! Even it the best thing to do is wait, I am not so vulnerable with Shiloh around she will patiently wait with me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Anniversary: Celebrating One Year as a Team

Today Shiloh and I are celebrating one year as a partnered service dog team! We have come a long way in that year. I must admit this year has been one wrought with change, learning, fun, change, and frustration on both ends from time to time.

It really has taken Shiloh and I this entire time to really develop a shared languages and a set of share experiences that we can use to communicate with and understand one and other.
"I met this sweet girl for the first time while I was attending the Puget Sound Assistance Dog Club's Second Annual Conference. Sue was presenting a seminar of temperament testing and service dog candidate select and had chosen to bring along this little shepherd mix as an example of all the things they look for in a service dog candidate. From the minute I saw her I was impressed with this dog's calm, quiet, sweet, yet attentive nature. I even volunteered to be a part of the demonstration, just so I could have a chance to interact with her one on one. She never once showed me anything but what a lovely, soft girl she was." Read more from this post

"Our relationship is still very new and a shepherd's loyalties run deep. If Sue has been working with her or leaves and comes back Shiloh still only has eyes for Sue at this point, but there is a glimmer of a relationship already. She is happy to see me, works willingly, and after a bit of time can focus completely on me." Read more from this post

"Almost once a day I ask her to do something with a leftover cue from my first service dog, Bastien. She looks at me like "I have no idea what you want" and sometimes takes a guess." Read more from this post

You can read more about:

Finally, I wish to thank everyone who made Shiloh and I possible:
-The Staff and Volunteers of Summit Assistance Dogs
-Shiloh's Trainer Sue Meinzinger (known affectionately around here as Aunty Sue)
-My cousin April for her $100 Donation
-My longtime friend Wayne Terry for his donation of a Large Dog Crate ($100 value)
-Shelley Maynard,Owner of Pewter Rabbit Antiques for her $25 Donation
-Kathleen Ison for her $10 donation
-Olivia Emilia and Rob Harden for their $50 donation
-My longtime friend Anne Hensley for her $50 donation in memeroy of her first SD Andrew
-My longtime friends Pam and Loc Reader for their $100 donation
-My former co-workers at Pierce County Deparment of Emergency Management for their $155 donation.
-My Aunt and Uncle, Steven and Marie McDonald for their $100
-My college internship supervisor Mr. Jim Stevenson and family for their $100
-My Unce Dale McDonald for his $300 donation
-My Grandmother Mary Ellen for her $200
-My parents for their $600 donation to Summit and their love and support through out the entire process
-My best friends Leslie Weilbacher and Katie Berger for all their love, support and perspective!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Service Dog Stuff: Tips for Lightening your Load while Working a Service Dog

Let's see.... Leash, poop baggies, vest/harness, towel/blanket, water bowl, chew toy, food/teats (maybe), door pull, wallet, coat.... is that everything?  Service dogs come with a lot of stuff and use a lot of tools that the handler must have with them in order to ensure their service dog can complete all the tasks their handler needs. Over the years I have picked up a few tricks to lighten my and my service dog's load when out working, and I would like to share them with you (I hope my readers partnered with service dogs will share their tips as well).

Watering a Service While Out
There are a number of ways to accomplish meeting your service dogs thirst; the most common being a Collapsible Water Bowl, however, I find these types of bowls awkward to handle, hard to dry completely, and eventually mold growing. Here are some ways I have found that work to water my service dog while working that do not require either of us to carry more than we would have (and that work for my fine motor limitations).
1.Ice cubes. Ice cubes are a great way to quench a service dog's thirst and bond with your dog (since most dogs love ice cubes!). I usually ask for a small cup of ice from the restaurant, coffee stand or whatever. I have never had anyone refuse my request. Note I only do this at places I am patronizing.It's kind of bad form to do otherwise.
2.Teach your service dog to drink from a water bottle. This can be easily accomplished by using a sport top.You dribble the water out slowly while your service dog licks (like a hamster bottle). You can use the same water bottle with the lid still on or if you don't want to drink from the same lid as your dog remove it and enjoy a cool drink yourself.
3. Float your dog's food. This a way of being sure they get a certain amount of water. It's also handy when traveling with your dog to combine food and water this way as you can speed up the process and only need one bowl.

Cleaning up After your Service Dog
Most handlers (including me) buy some form of those little plastic blue/black poo baggies. I have an Outward Hound poo bag dispenser velcroed to my wheelchair. However, it is possible to run out. Plastic grocery bags and plastic sandwich  bags make just as good poo bags.

Keeping Your Service Dog Comfortable (and Clean)
I know many handlers who lug about bath mats and other types of dog blankets to keep their service dogs comfortable and clean on long down stays on dirty floors. I, for one, find it much easier to have my service dog help me off with my coat and then let them lay on it. This practice allow them to be comfortable, clean and dry, without requiring us to lug around something extra. Plus, it's soothing for the dog because it smells like you!

Have Leash, Have Ever ready Door Pull 
I use a six foot cotton web leash that I tie a handle in the middle. I use this as a door pull one of two ways:
1. Tie the leash to the handle and have the dog pull on the excess length.
2. Hook one of the handle to the doorknob and have the dog pull

From Bastien working

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Anniversary: Team Training Starts

Today is October 11, 2009. A year ago, today, I awoke to begin seven days of training with a dog I hoped would become my next service dog. It was even more uncertain than these trips  usually areas the week before I had lost my job of four years. I needed to spend a week bonding and working with a new dog and I didn't even have financial stability. Stressful would be an extreme understatement. I felt I had to go, after all, who knew when they would have a dog they felt would be suitable for me again. So, despite all this uncertainty I packed my bags and head to the first day  of my team training with Shiloh. I had teats,my clicker, my laptop, my camera, and my leash. Come what may I had decided to put myself into the process full out. Read about this day:

Team Training: Round Two Day One

Friday, October 9, 2009

News: Exploring the Health Benefits of Pets

When Chad, a yellow Labrador retriever, moved in with Claire Vaccaro’s family in Manhattan last spring, he already had an important role. As an autism service dog, he was joining the family to help protect Ms. Vaccaro’s 11-year-old son, Milo — especially in public, where he often had tantrums or tried to run away. Read More

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Humorous Encounters Around Town this Week

Shiloh and I spend a lot of out and about.When my first service dog, Bastien, was in the process of retiring in combination with increasing pain levels I experience lessening of capacity in energy levels and activity that was distressing to say the least. In the last year with Shiloh I have been able to increase my activity levels nearly to those equal to the prime of Bastien's and my partnership. Given the condition of my shoulder and some other energy concerns; I know I won't reach exactly the same point but to be able to go out and work everyday is no small thing.
I know I often write about happening that annoy or distress me, so I thought I would write about a few humorous instances this week. On Saturday, we were waiting at the library to meet someone when this adorable little girl around seven or eight years old came up to Shiloh and I and said "that's one of those working dogs, isn't it?!" I responded that yes she was. She then asked me "Why do you need a dog?" I told her that Shiloh helps me open doors, pulls my chair when I get tired, picks things up for me, and even helps me take my shoes and sock off. She immediately respond "Wow, she's really smart!" I said yes she is. The girl then decided she should tell me about her plans at the library that day and that she was their with her family. As she was talking she point and said that's my mom, about a lady walking towards the library doors.I told her she better go catch up, it looked like her mom was going inside.
Today, Shiloh and I went to Starbucks to catch up on some work and be out of the house. I ordered my drink and a treat. As I turned around Shiloh tripped  over my spastic outstretched foot (something she rarely does unless she is not paying attention). Surprised I looked to see what could possibly have caused her to do that. Low and behold, there was an older gentleman holding a piece of croissant out at dog level.My foot, luckily got in Shiloh's way while I had a second to see the scene. I explained as kindly as I could that Shiloh is a working dog and can't have people food. The woman with him tried to help me out by saying to.him that's a service dog in a very matter of fact tone to him. He just forged on saying that she looked hungry. I told him that she was not hungry. He then asked "Do you pay her?" I smiled and responded, "Yes, I feed her the best organic dog food money can buy."  

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Date: September 24, 2009                                          DBTAC National Network of ADA Centers
               The public has been given 60 days to comment on proposed revisions to regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  The regulatory changes, contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking just announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), focuses on providing individuals seeking protection against employment discrimination under Title I of the ADA with a more expansive definition of “disability.”  Written comments must be submitted on or before November 23, 2009.
The ADA is an antidiscrimination statute passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in July 1990.  The EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities.  The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants with disabilities.

The ADA Amendments Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2009, and the regulatory revisions embedded in the proposed rule now available for public comment, makes it easier for an individual alleging employment discrimination based on disability to establish that he or she meets the ADA’s definitions of “disability.”  The ADA Amendments Act also modifies the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination in the federal workforce on the basis of disability.
The regulatory changes in the proposed rule emphasize that the definition of disability—an impairment that poses a substantial limitation in a major life activity—must be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA, and should not require extensive analysis. 
The regulatory changes expand major life activities to include “major bodily functions, and clarify that mitigating measures, such as medications and devices that people use to reduce or eliminate the effects of impairment, are not to be considered when determining whether a person has a disability.  They also clarify that impairments that are episodic or in remission, such as epilepsy, cancer, and many kinds of psychiatric impairments, are disabilities if they would “substantially limit” major life activities when active. 

Finally, the regulation revisions provide a more straightforward way of demonstrating a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working, and implements the ADA Amendment Act’s new standard for determining whether someone is regarded as having a disability.
            The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking containing the regulatory changes is posted on the EEOC website, along with a question-and-answer guide about the proposal and instructions for submitting public comments to the Commission. 
You Can Submit Comments by Mail, Fax and Electronically, Here’s How:
Written comments should be submitted to Stephen Llewellyn,  Executive Officer, Executive Secretariat, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 131 M Street, NE., Suite 4NW08R, Room 6NE03F, Washington, DC 20507. 
Comments submitted by fax As a convenience to commenters, the Executive Secretariat  will accept comments transmitted by facsimile (``FAX'') machine. The telephone number of the FAX receiver is (202) 663-4114. (This is not a toll-free number.) Only comments of six or fewer pages will be accepted via FAX transmittal to ensure access to the equipment. Receipt of FAX 
transmittals will not be acknowledged, except that the sender may request confirmation of receipt by calling the Executive Secretariat staff at (202) 663-4070 (voice) or (202) 663-4074 (TTY). (These are not toll-free telephone numbers.) 
Comments submitted electronically You may also submit comments and attachments electronically at, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions online for submitting comments. Copies of comments submitted by the public will be available for review at the Commission's library, 131 M Street, NE., Suite 4NW08R, Washington, DC 20507, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. or can be reviewed at

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Stories from Around Town

Dear Readers,
I know I most be sounding like a broken record (or for those who have never used a record player an MP3 file with data errors),but things just keep happening while Shiloh and I are out working that highlight the state of "service dogs" where I live. These incidents are neither all good nor all bad, but certainly enough to give one reason to wonder what happened.

Yesterday,  I was, once again, in the library. I decided to get some lunch in the little cafe there. I spotted the perfect opportunity to use Shiloh's counter retrieve/ transfer. I gave her the money to pay for my purchase and she promptly did a ginger Paws Up and handed the money to the gentleman working the counter. He and everyone in line was very impressed. Since I was due change in both bills and coins I, then handed Shiloh my little pouch to allow the gentleman to place my money in and hand it back. Once again, everyone was impressed and told both me and Shiloh how wonderful she is.  The counter retrieve allows me to work with counters that are too high akwardly shaped to reach myself from my wheelchair, as well as in cases this week when my shoulder/neck pain have spiked so high as to make certain angles of reaching a near cookie tossing level of pain I can with Shiloh's help accomplish the transaction with minimal pain spiking movement.
Later that day still in the library Shiloh again impressed a security guard, the volunteer desk person, and a library patron by activation the automatic door button. The security guard exclaimed "Wow, a Service Dog that actually does something!" The lady library patron said "Finally, I see a service dog do something. That was wonderful!" I assured them I know how wonderful my girl is and went about my urgent business of getting to the bathroom. Shiloh assisted by Pulling my chair on the cue to Forward. By time we made it out of the bathroom word about the service dog that actually works had made the rounds and the staff manning the check out desk said "So that's the service dog that opened the door!" I responded proudly that indeed she was and allowed Shiloh the pleasure of a pet. Shiloh graciously accepted his homage and resumed assisting me across the foyer on cue Forward. She, then, dually impressed the staff person by activating the door button that is somewhat obstructed by the security detectors. 

I was dumbstruck today by a "service dog"and handler at the bus depot.Shiloh and I were exiting a bus and getting to the curb cut and out of the corner of my eye I see was looks to be a Border Collie in a blue vest about 15ft away. When they are still around ten feet away I see the handler jerk back on the leash HARD and scream at the dog in a gruff voice "No,Leave it!" She then proceeds to say in my general direction "He like to check out other dogs." It  is no wonder people in this town no longer see a service dog vest as a sign that both dog and handler have the skills and knowledge necessary for them to fee comfortable and safe with a "service dog's" presence. I will not go so far as to say Shiloh is perfect and never makes mistakes (she is a living, sentient being after all), but I believe how a team is perceived is a dual perception. The piece everyone thinks about is the dog's behavior.The biggest piece to people being comfortable around a team being in their space is the attitude of the human half of the team and how they communicate with their canine partner. Those who handling skills consists of hard (albeit ineffective usually) leash pops, swatting their dog, and or yelling and screaming "NO!" put everyone on edge and on notice that this team is not in control. Handlers who choose a lower volume for the few and far between verbal corrections and pay attention to the environment giving cues the dog can be rewarded instead produce a picture of a calm, cool, loving partnership that puts everyone at ease making being out in public less stress and more fun for the team. Handling a service dog in public is far from easy and garners attention at all times, whether a team wants to be noticed or not they will be and the image they present of teams good or bad in the eye of the beholder affects teams that follow.A handler has to find ways of dealing with this attention and the stress it produces with out allowing it to change how they interact with their partner. The swift, harsh, loud scenes I see on a regular basis do not instill confidence from the general public in service dog teams; though, I imagine the intent some handlers have in this behavior is to show they are powerful enough to handle this dog.  


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Norwegian Guide Dog Organization Video Don't Play with the Dog

I Think this video says it all. If you wouldn't do something to a person working lend a hardworking dog and their partner the same respect. Food for thought.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tell Tail Signs of the Culture and Concern Over How a Service Dog and Handler Should Behave

It is the day to day things and the little interactions that at once make me proud to be a half of a working service dog team; while also worry about our future. Shiloh and I will celebrate our one year anniversary in a little more than a month and we have come a long way in that time. I needed to send a package FedEx today for my second job, so Shiloh and I boarded the bus. Shiloh is very uncomfortable riding the lifts and it is not absolutely necessary that she does so, so in the interest of both safety and keeping her happy about working I send her up first when boarding. She waits for me at the top of the stairs and then we go to the wheelchair spot and settle in. When de-boarding she waits on the bus, until I call her after getting off the lift. I always tell the drivers how we board and de-board so they will feel confident that me and my service dog have a plan. Today we had a driver we have had before and she remarked how well behaved Shiloh is and it's too bad not all the "service dogs" are that way. She said two of them got in a fight once. I said it's sad because it makes it even harder for responsible handler and owner trainers. She agreed heartily.  
The second thing that happened today that gave me solace (instead of grimacing like the above) happened just ten minutes later as Shiloh and I were working to enter the Fed-Ex store. I knew these doors were the heavy glass type and so I brought along our special door hook (for most doors our leash works great as a door pull). I really wanted Shiloh to work the door, so when a woman came along and offered to help I said Nno thank you, I would like my dog to do it, but you can go ahead of us if you like." The woman said she wasn't in a hurry and let Shiloh and I work the door. I really appreciated her patience as this door was HUGE and HEAVY, it took Shiloh and I working together to get it open. She allowed us our independence and space. As we went it the door I thanked her for allowing my dog to work. This made me feel great!
The third thing that happened today once again gave me cause to worry. Shiloh and I were walking back to the bus depot I passed a local antique mall with a sign on the door that read "Service Dogs Only" Great right? Yes until you read the second line of the sign that read "Must be on leash." Why would a service dog not be on leash, service dog handlers must comply with leash laws same as everyone else.
The final vignettes from today happened on the bus on the way home. I got on the bus and there was another woman in a wheelchair who wanted to know what Shiloh does for me and as soon as I mentioned picking up dropped things and counter retrieves her interest was piqued. She then wanted to know what it was like having a service dog. I did not sugar coat it in the least I gave her the great parts as well as the harder parts to consider. We had been on the bus ten minutes by now and another women who had been standing right in front of us turned and blurted out "I didn't know there was a dog there!" She had been standing within six inches of Shiloh the whole time! I casually said, "That's right a good service dog can be all but invisible sometimes."

Friday, September 11, 2009

At the Library and More

Last week Shiloh and I accompanied our roommate on a few errands because her guide dog is healing from a mysterious allergic reaction and there where a couple of incidents in less than an hour that remind me why dressing/ marking your dog visibly as a service dog is so important( I discussed this early this summer).

The first encounter reminded me that I live in a town with a lot of puppy raisers for Guide Dogs for the Blind --This is not a negative commentary on GDB--only observation. Guide Dog puppies here all wear green puppy capes when really small, and green vests as the they get older. Summit Assistance Dogs chose green as their color and as such all Summit Teams graduate with a nice green vest.The vest is now Shiloh's light duty gear; I use it when we are going on quick outings where I will not need her to pull my chair. When Shiloh is wearing her Freedom Design Harness, which is red (soon to be purple though the red one belonged to Bastien), we never get asked if she's in training.

The second incident involved someone else who had a "service dog" in the public library. This was a large Black Labrador that was wearing both an Easy Walk Harness and a Gentle Leader but no vest or patches of any sort and the person's disability was not apparent in any way.She was complaining  because a library employee had come to question her and tell her her dog was in the way (he was laying down sprawled out). The person felt the library employees needed to be better educated and were being unfair to her.Mean while My roommate and I were inline waiting. We got up to the counter and when we were conduction our business the lab began whining loudly and pulling to get to Shiloh.
Lessons here: Chose  your gear carefully and if you Chose not to dress your dog don't be surprised when you get hassled.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Books: Free Downloadable Intro to Clicker Training Books

Ms. Shirley Chong began training dogs in 1982 and made the cross to clicker training in 1992. She specializes in analyzing dog behavior as well. She offers two books for free download on her website Just Plain Clicker Sense, an introduction to clicker training and some work on common issues; and the Clicker Cookbook, this book teaches all foundation behaviors and takes you through all the steps. The number of steps may surprise new trainers, but take head because slower really is better (and lumping steps will slow you down in the end!).

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Letter to My Service Dog

This video show the true journey of a service dog and her partner from beginning to tearful end (have a box of tissues ready!)I want to thank the human half of this partnership for being so open and public with her feelings.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things I'm Planning on Reading

I would share with you all a list of books  and articles I am planning on reading about service dogs, dog training, and the dog/human relationship.
"Things to Check Out" by Rovingrebel []

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Commentary: Schools and Service Dogs

Recently there has been a lot of chatter on the Internet over young children with Autism and the burgeoning movement partner them with dogs. Whether these dogs meet the definition of Service Dogs as defined under the ADA is at question as well as many other issues in the news.
Some things that concern me about the cases currently in the headlines and I think could add to the discussion:
  • Immature dogs being placed with children.In one high profile case from the news accounts the dog in question  is less than a year old.
  • No apparent preparation work going into: the child having a dog and preparing the staff expected to work  with said child and dog based on news paper accounts. 
  • No discussion of how the dog will be looked after and cared in early articles for since the children in question are incapable of doing it.
  • The constant comparison of the dogs place with these children to people with guides for the blind. The simple fact is many of these programs say in articles they get dogs that washed out of other programs because they were unsuitable for full service dog placement. Some people seem to think if we were talking about a blind child and a guide the whole thing would be a non-issue.This is simply not true, in my opinion. For one thing a young child would not have the orientation and mobility skills required of a blind person before they can even be consider for partnering with a guide dog. The youngest person to ever partner with a full guide  dog in the world was 11 when he did it. Still most guide programs require applicant to be at least 16 and those are accepted on a case by case basis.I'm sure everyone can agree for most children there's a huge difference between 11 and 5.
  • The backward application of the umbilical leash technique.Trainers spend years teaching dogs people are not paper weights to be dragged around at will and that being with humans is great.Yet with these some of placements the children often cannot give the dog warning it is about to move and may be prone to violent tantrums which the dog can't get away from and possibly could be injured by. I just don't see how this can end well for the dogs or children, in my opinion. (see comments for a program's views).
  • The Social Ice breaker. Dogs only work as a limited social ice breaker. In my experience, the person must be taught how to recognize use those initial interactions because of the dog to have deeper interactions or as soon as the fascination of the dog wears of the person is isolated from other humans just as before. It is just as likely (not too mention a poor substitute) that any and all interactions the person has are always about the dog --never moving on to get to know the person who brought the dog.
  • How do Children Cope in situations where it is truly not safe or appropriate for the dog to accompany them? We all know service dogs are great but  there are dogs and there are limits on where they can and or should go. Who is teaching these children how to cope when they can't bring the dog? If this is not done the child's world will once again be limited. Furthermore, dogs are living beings who get hurt,sick, and need to retire. Will children miss days or weeks of school because the dog is out of commission? 
This article was updated 8/27/09.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

State should license dogs that assist the disabled

Carol McAlice Currie

August 21, 2009

It's time to keep grocery stores and restaurants from going to the dogs.The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced recently that it will begin a public awareness campaign next month to remind Oregonians that it is illegal for any critter other than a service animal to enter a grocery store or an eating establishment. Read More

Saturday, August 22, 2009

News: The Cost of a Service Dog and Choosinga Program

A good start to the conversation about the cost of partnering with a service dog and tips on choosing the right program featuring Ed andToni Eames of IAADP in yesterday's NY Times.

This is an issue anyone considering partnering with a service dog must consider carefully before taking the leap to partner. I know I personally spent about $100 a month caring for and maintaining Shiloh after all is said and dog with food, grooming, equipment maintenance,vet care, and enrichment like toys.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Purdy prisons service dog in training goes missing

Purdy prison's service dog in training goes missing in Gig Harbor
If you are in the area and have seen the dog please contact the program at 253-858-4240 or through email at There is a picture with the article.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs in Dorms

Today I ran across this news article Texas A&M Denies Request for Emotional Support Animal in the Dorms and I was saddened to see the huge misunderstanding of the laws as they related to emotional support animals.
Errors made in the Article:
1. Emotional Support Animals are not covered under the ADA; therefore, the law will not help this student.
2. Emotional Support animals are covered under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act
3. Has the student applied for and been approved for accommodations based on disability documentation from the university disabled student support services?
4. Since the dorms are closed living spaces it is common practice (to my knowledge) for universities to request health certificates, proof of vaccination, proof of training, and proof the dog is housebroken since the university is responsible for the safety and health of all the students living on campus.

Note: New Email for SDAWOL Readers

So my dear readers have you ever wanted to email me directly with a question, comments, or suggestion for a post topic, book review, etc.? Now you can! Email Shiloh and I at We look forward to hearing from all of you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Note: New Part-time Job

My dear readers,
As you know this is a tough economy in the U.S. and to make ends meet I now work two part-time jobs, both of which allow me to serve and work with other people with disabilities. My latest job is as a recruiter and facilitator for the Healing Pathways Project described below:

APPROVED: Jul. 6, 2009

Healing Pathways
Women with physical disabilities who experience depression may be eligible to participate in an Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) study. The purpose of the study is to test a peer-implemented 12 week group therapy program. Participants will be randomly assigned to an initial intervention group and a wait-list control group, however, all enrollees will eventually receive therapy. Depending on group assignment participation will last between 6 and 12 months. There is a possibility that dealing with depression will cause emotional distress. Participants will receive monetary compensation. Study sites include Eugene, Salem, Portland, and Medford/Grants Pass, Oregon. For more information call toll-free 877-226-4221. or in Portland call Elizabeth McNeff at (503) 475 4307 / email You may also contact the OHSU Principal Investigator Dr. Hassouneh at (503) 494 2714 or email to inquire about the study (OHSU IRB#4296).

This flier was sent out on behalf of OHSU, however, neither your name nor any other information has been disclosed to OHSU.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Media potryal of Service Dogs: What does it do for people perceptions?

When I think of how media portrays service dogs the words "Wonder Dog" immediately come to mind. Most stories you see and read about service dogs are look how amazing and wonderful they are and this person, this poor disabled person had no life before their dog. Unfortunately, while this stories can be nice to see and read; they also perpetuate beliefs about service dogs and their human partners that can do real harm. Some beliefs that are commonly upheld in service dog media coverage:
1) The dog makes the person with a disability more of a person.
People are people no matter their disability and should be treated as such with or without a dog. Sadly, most people with disabilities often feel and are ignored on a regularly basis. The dog gives the people around the person with the disability something they can all comfortably talk about.
2) Service dogs are not dogs and never do doggie things.
This is part of the wonder dog scenario. People are amazed that service dogs are generally calm, quiet, clean, and well behaved. Teams regularly here the phrase "Wow, I did know a dog was here." Truthfully, though service dogs are just that highly trained dogs who just like any dog are capable of barking, getting dirty, playing a good game of keep away, getting into things they are not supposed too, and having off days where they just don't feel like working. The human partner of the team is responsible for ensuring the dogs half has everything he/she needs food, good care,love, play, down time, and continued training. In spite of everyone's best efforts it is possible for a service dog to be surprised by something and let out a bark or do some other doggie thing occasionally while working.
3. Service dogs never get time off.
This is so untrue. People who partner with service dogs understand everyone needs time off in order to keep at their best. Sure the dogs live with their partners and are their pretty much 24/7 but that does not mean the dog never gets to play, nap, or chew it's favorite toy.

Here is an example that leads people to some of these beliefs:House 97 Seconds
Here is and example of a good story-however- I think this story left some holes for instance no one ever said why you shouldn't pet a working service dog.
What are your opinions on media portrayal of service dogs? Do you know of other example good or bad that would interest the readers here?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review: Blog Roll Updates and Additions

New Blogs worth a following on the blog role:
  • Memoirs of a Puppy Raiser- I can't say enough how important puppy raisers are. Having raised and trained my first service dog myself I know it is no Sunday walk in the park. This blog is long running, going on three years and even shares the heart break of having to career change or wash out wonderful dogs because they just can't do it for one reason or another. Making the decision to career change and SDIT due to health, physical, or behavior problems is never easy even on seasoned professionals.
  • Ours for a Year - Raising A Guide Dog Puppy- this blog has been running for a eight months and will each day we all have our finger crossed Cabana will make it as a guide dog.
The following blogs have been eliminate from the roll for lack of activity to make room for more active blogs that will be of interest and use to you my readers:
If you are reading this and are the owner of any of the blogs listed above and were just sick or on vacation and would like to have your blog back on the blog roll just leave a comment at the end of this post.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

HOT: Tips on working a Service Dog in HOT Weather

So last week it got up to 106F where I live, which is unusual living in the North West U.S., so I thought I would share a few things I have learned over the years about keeping a service dog happy, healthy and able to work if need be in the heat. (though I'm sure those living in hotter climates will share additional tips)
1. Exercise in the cooler hours, if at all possible conduct your business in these hours.
2. Know the signs of Dehydration
a. To prevent dehydration in my dogs I will:
  • Float their food with water
  • Add electrolyte solution to water bowl and water bottles
  • Offer water frequently though out the day
  • Never shave my double coated dogs, since the coat cools as well as warms.
3. Be ware of hot ground/pavement. Dogs feet can and will burn. I have trained my service dogs to tolerate booties. The only brand I have found that I am capable of putting on my dogs are Muttluks, since they pull on like socks I don't need to be able to stand over my dog will they are standing to get them on.
4. Plan to hide in the air conditioning. Air Conditioning is far from common in private homes here. My favorite places to hide include movie houses, book stores, libraries, malls, and coffee shops.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shiloh and the Canoe Canal

Yesterday my roommate and I took Shiloh and Einstein to his favorite place the canoe canal in a nearby park for a little swimming and tennis ball-- his two favorite things in life! Shiloh, being the dainty little she is, will usually only run along the shallow banks in an inch or two of water. This day, however she decided to go for it, after much teasing by Einstein. Einstein loves the water and out swims a lot of the labs and goldens around here with his huge feet and long rudder of a tail. Einstein kept getting out of the water, running around Shiloh getting her to chase him and jumping back in. Shiloh finally got tired of stopping short, gave a bark to Einstein and jumped in! She hopped around a few times like she would in the snow and hopped out. It was really one of times I kicked myself for not carrying a camera.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

News:New Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 starts today

From today, all guide, hearing and assistance dogs will have access to public places and public passenger vehicles, including planes, under new Queensland legislation. Minister for Disability Services Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 will take effect from today with the tougher fines commencing fromSemptember 1st. Fines for denial of access will increase from $100 for an individual to up to $10,000 and from $500 to $50, 000 for a business. These rights and not with out increase requirements for the standards recognised assistance dogs and their partners must meet. Read more
The most interesting thing about this, though is currently there are no assistance dog programs approved under the act. See Queensland Government pages.
Handlers will also need to apply for a government ID card.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Examples of How Shiloh Increases the Work Flow

Today I saw two great of examples of how Shiloh not only helps me, but allows others to continue their work when before Shiloh they would have had to stop what they were doing to help me (conversely, I would have also had to wait for someone to help me) causing both me and the person helping to slow down their work/activities.

Example One:
I was running down stairs to get the mail from another office. They had a child there who kept running in the hall, so they closed the doors to keep him in. Since the doors are glass the staff started to get up to open the door for me;however, it only took a second for the staff to see Shiloh was doing it and she could keep working with the client she had in front of her.

Example Two:
I dropped something while talking to a co-worker. The co-worker and I were able to continue working while I asked Shiloh to retrieve the dropped item.

The above example may seem insignificant, but the time Shiloh saves myself and those around me by picking up where my capabilities leave off, instead of always having to find someone to help and waiting until they have time to help me.

Can you think of examples like those above where your service dog (or seen a service dog) has saved time and energy as well as allowed activities to continue uninterrupted?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Note: Sorry for my absence

I recently moved and have temporarily lost my Internet service. I will be back up and running shortly, keep checking in.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Note: Attending Conference this weekend

I will be attending the Assistance dog Club of Puget Sound Annual Conference this weekend. I will bring you the details when I return. I also plan to visit my retired service dog, Bastien.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

News: Service with a Snarl

Service with a Snarl appeared in this week's San Francisco Weekly. I was horrified to read of a person with a dog who has been designated as vicious and dangerous animal in public. The article has generated such a buzz as to have picked up by the area public radio (listen here, sorry no transcript yet but I am asking).
Some things that bother me about this whole situation are:
-the attempt to pit members of the disability community against one another i.e. I need a service animal and you don't.
-the mistaken idea that vicious and ill-behaved animals are covered by the laws
-the, again, mistaken belief, that the owner simply having a disability makes the animal a service animal
The program does take an upswing with regard to encouraging people to train their animals to a high standard. The writer of the original article does also bring up a good point about the laws being too open to fraudulent use. These articles are taking about San Francisco specifically but I think it needs watch since several large well known, well respected service dog institutions are based in California. These organizations, and rightly so, want to keep their dogs and teams above reproach of any kind. Just because we don't live in a place doesn't mean how California and the service dog community choose to react or not won't affect the national service dog community. As handlers and ongoing trainers of our dogs, whether owner or program trained, it behooves us all to make sure that our service animals and those of people we see are above reproach. The decision that a dog needs to retire or was never a good candidate for service dog work is not an easy one. As a community we need to be educating each other about what is and isn't acceptable dog behavior, and supporting people making the brave but had decisions to retire or career change a dog.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Educating Friends and Community Members

As a very active team Shiloh and I work diligently to present our community with an image of a happy, reasonable, and responsible team and recently our efforts have been paying off since people see us (all right me) as a credible resource for their questions.

Shiloh, myself, my roommate, and her Guide Dog Cammy went into a local bookstore to sell some books we no longer wanted for a little cash. As I entered the store I was pleased to discover one of our dog park friends worked there and that her little Boston Terrier, Little D, served as shop dog. She knew that our girls were on duty and quickly moved Little D behind the counter so that we could simply go about our business. (Not that our girls couldn't work with him around, it just gave her peace of mind that he wouldn't pester us.) As we finished our business she asked if she could ask us a question about our dogs. She wanted to know if service dogs had to wear harnesses, or vests when out in public. Not wanting to increase confusion or spread misinformation-nevermind how simple it is to dress one's service dog so people are not always pestering you about bringing THAT DOG in here- we told her no the law doesn't require that service dogs wear any kind of special harness of vest. However, we went on to say that most people will since it is so simple to do and cuts down on people hassling them. She asked because a lady had come into the store with a dog who wasn't dressed and not the best behaved and when she asked the lady about the dog the lady got offended saying it was a service dog. We also told her the questions that the DOJ has said businesses can ask. She thanked us and said she looked forward to seeing us again.
How about it readers (Those who are partnered with SDs) do you dress your service dog? Why or why not? leave a comment and tell others and me what you think. Those readers not partnered with service dogs how do you feel about harnesses and vests for service dogs?

We have a housekeeper who comes every couple of weeks to help with the deeper cleaning that neight myself nor my roommate can do very well and as I sat relaxing one evening I her voice come over the answering machine wondering if I might be able to give her some resources on service dogs who do seizure response, since she know that is what Einstein does, for a friend of hers who has epilepsy and is now living alone for the first time in years as her son just moved out. When she came over later that week I gave her the websites for ADI and IAADP to share with her friend since her friend is very new to the idea of a service dog. I was happy to pass on credible sources of information for her friend, since I know there are a lot of websites out there full of misinformation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One Year Anniversary of My Blog and a Contest

Today marks the one year of Service Dogs: A Way of Life and the 140th entry on this Blog! I want to thank all who read faithfully, post thoughtful comments, and link to my blog. I want this blog to be of service: a place of learning, sharing and community to all those involved with service dogs in anyway.
I thought I would share a little about what I know about my readers over the past year thanks to Google Analytics:
  1. You come from all over the globe representing more than 40 countries including such far off locals as Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Israel, and South Africa.
  2. Over the past year I have had nearly 2,000 Visitors (and that's not counting repeats)!
  3. You, my loyal readers read an average of a page and half each time you visit.
  4. Your top favorite posts include:
5. Nearly 40 percent of you find me through other blogs/websites! The top blogs/websites referring people here are:
  • A SD By My Side (Listed in my Blog list on the right side of this page)
  • Service Dog Central (Listed under Service Dog Community Links on the right)
  • Charlie the North Star Dog (Listed in my Blog list on the right side of this page)
  • A Service Dogs Journey (Listed in my Blog list on the right side of this page)
  • Great Dane Service Dog (Listed in my Blog list on the right side of this page)
  • Service Dog Sawyer (Listed in my Blog list on the right side of this page)
Thank you to each of you for feeling my blog was worth pointing your loyal readers to and for participating in this real time story about life with service dogs.

Now I promised you a contest and here it is!
Win a copy of Excel-erated Learning (this is my copy bought it, so I can give it away) simply by writing a short essay (between 200-400 words) on the most important thing you have learned about yourself because of your service dog or that your service dog has taught you. If you have a blog post your entry on it and leave a link for me in the comments under this post. If you don't have a blog send me an email. If you are not big on writing or your disability makes it difficult you can either dictate it to some one to write for you or (if you know how) send or post an audio entry. I will post the top three entries on my blog and the winner will get the book provided they remember to leave me a way to contact them. The deadline for entry is June 24, 2009.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Preventing and Curing Separation Anxiety in Service Dogs

Recently, I read an article Cocoa: don't leave home without him. I was horrified to read this little service dog's reaction to a practice run of being boarded with some family friends before the family went on vacation that they deemed not the best for Cocoa to join them. Cocoa was so traumatized at being left he escaped running more than ten miles over two days, "Cocoa's paws were all raw, his hair was matted and he hadn't eaten for days, but when Skyler and his special friend finally reunited it was as if this was a Hollywood movie! With film crews capturing every jumping, yelping, and "piddling" moment, tears of joy were shed." It is very fortunate that Cocoa was not more seriously injured or killed while lose.
All service dogs, no matter what their job need to be comfortable staying home alone, staying with family/friends, and being crated. There are times when having your service dog with you may not be the best choice for you or them, as well as times they can't be with you and it is up to us to make sure that our dogs can handle being with out us. Examples:
  • You are having surgery
  • You are in the hospital and so sick as to not be able to care for your dog yourself.
  • You are going somewhere not safe for your service dog like a loud concert, a bar, a wild animal park, a private event.
  • Your service dog is injured/sick and should not work.
  • Your service dog needs to stay at the vet for procedures.
  • Your service dog is going to be professionally groomed.
  • You have worked your service dog particularly hard for a day, week, or month and decide they need rest.
Many service dog handlers unknowingly create separation anxiety in their service dogs by:
  • Having the dog with them around the clock everyday of their lives together. Even medic-alert/seizure alert dogs need to be comfortable being alone.If the paramedics come to pick you up from your home, chances are pretty good the dog will be left behind.
  • Allowing their dogs to see them anxious about leaving them. If you're anxious chances are pretty good your dog will be too.
  • Believing they are the only one who could possibly care for their service dog. This is a self created problem. It doesn't take that much work to teach a few family members/friends your service dog's basic cues, schedule, and particular care needs. The work pays off in comfort and confidence for both your service dog and yourself should you ever have to be separated. This could be explained to child partners of dogs using human independence examples like why the learn to play alone, learning to sleep in one's own bed, learning to have fun and feel safe at a sleep over/ sleep away camp, or places you don't take your child because it is not safe for them. The child (if able) could be involved in teaching the surrogate doggy carers how to care for their dog, and choosing who/where the dog will stay.
I have no less than five people Shiloh is comfortable with and could stay with if there was a need. I also leave Shiloh behind and go out several times a month and ask her to spend time in her crate regularly. I don't want her injuring herself or getting lost just because I left.

For those of you living with dogs with separation anxiety or looking to prevent I found a couple resources:
  1. Canine Separation Anxiety Workbook
  2. I'll Be Home Soon- By Patricia McConnell, Ph.D (you'll notice her blog linked here and other books by her in my favorites list. I don't know Ms. McConnell but I find her work easy to understand and put into practice.)
Video: Good Dog U: Separation Anxiety (Animal Planet)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Susquehanna Service Dogs on Characteristics of a Good Service Dog

Don't miss this enlightening posts on Characteristics of a Good Service Dog. This post is first in the series What Makes a Good Service Dog.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Book Review: This Month's Bark Features a Marathon Running Guide Dog

The May/June 2009 Issue of Bark Magazine features "Two for the Road—Guide dog helps his partner navigate the course" By Brad Crawford. This article shows what a well-matched team can achieve together. Audi, the yellow lab Guide Dog and his human, Kerry Kuck run marathons together. The article is well-written showing both the pros and cons of Kuck's decision to use his guide dog to run. For those wanting to read the rest of the article, you'll have to buy the issue or find a copy at your public library,sorry.
This month's Bark also features tips on teaching the all important "leave it"(which you'll also have to buy the magazine for however the Bark team offers this video on "leave it") and a discussion on whether gender affects a dog's ability to learn.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Review: Dogs are from Neptune by Jean Dobbs

Dogs are from Neptune by Jean Donaldson is what I call an oldie but a goody on my shelf of dog books published in 1998. This book offers answers to common situations around aggression and other common behaviors in dogs as posed to the author in letters from readers. The book splits the letters into six categories: Aggression towards strangers, resource guarding, dog-dog aggression, behavior problems, Obedience problems, and fear & anxiety. Jean answers reader in detail providing additional information about dogs with these problems, posing questions for the reader to consider, and clear step-by-step options to addressing the problem at hand. The reader is can read just the letters and solutions that address their particular problem, a section at a time or the whole book cover to cover and come away with an array of knowledge and useful approaches. She even included a letter from a person partnered with a service dog, whose dog had begun breaking stays while she was presenting. I know many people whose service dog's stays break down when they have their back turned or are out of the room. Jean's advice was positive and addressed the fact that something in the environment was mostly likely working against this handler's work to strengthen he dog's stay providing a high value reward to the dog for breaking its stay.
Other problems the book discusses which are often dealt with by service dog teams and dogs in training include: counter surfing, separation anxiety, off leash control, heeling on the street, and pulling on the leash.
I highly recommend this book for is ease of reading and practical approach to common problems. Happy reading!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

News: Oregon Family Battles Landlord over SDIT

A local story about a family battling with their landlord over a service dog in training and their right to have it housing is woefully lacking in details and information.

This landlord has not violated the federal law because service dogs in training are not covered by the ADA. The law only protects task trained full fledged service dogs. They may be violating Oregon State Law ( which protects service dogs in training. At ten weeks old this dog is a puppy in training and the family may need to provide proof that the dog is in formal training and/or connected with an organization helping them train the dog. Letters from doctors only say the person can benefit from a dog, they are not dog trainers and cannot vouch for the dog meeting the standards set by the ADA ( Since, they do have a doctors letter for need they may also be covered under the Fair Housing act as an emotional support animal while in training This story serious lacks pertinent information; I, for one, am disappointed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

News: Nutro Announces Limited Recall of Dog and Cat Foods

Nutro Products announced a voluntary recall of select varieties of NUTRO® NATURAL CHOICE® COMPLETE CARE® Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO® MAX® Cat Dry Foods with “Best If Used By Dates” between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010. The cat food is being voluntarily recalled in the United States and ten additional countries. This recall is due to incorrect levels of zinc and potassium in our finished product resulting from a production error by a US-based premix supplier.

Consumers who have purchased product affected by this voluntary recall should return it to their retailer for a full refund or exchange for another NUTRO® dry cat food product. Cat owners who have questions about the recall should call 1-800-833-5330 between the hours 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM CST, or visit
To find a list of affected products visit