Friday, January 30, 2009

News: Alberta, Canada Extends Full public Access Rights to Person with Disabilities using Service Dogs

According to the Edmonton Sun the Canadian province Alberta now extends the same access rights for people with disabilities partnered with service dogs as it does for visually impaired people partnered with dog guides. One large difference between protections for service dog partners here in the U.S. and our northern neighbors in Canada is that owner training is not recognized. Handlers must carry and present ID cards issued by recognized programs if asked. If you are planning a visit to Canada be prepared to meet the standards in the province you visit by getting up to speed at Access Laws for Guide Dog Users: Canada.

Monday, January 26, 2009

News: Proposed ADA Changes on Hold

Obama's order to hold all pending legislation until his administration can review and approve it has extended to the proposed ADA regulations. Seee the news release Proposed ADA Regulations Withdrawn from OMB Review for details.
For information on the current definition see my previous postWhat is the purpose of a Service Dog.

To read more about the proposed changes see my previous posts:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

News: Fox Valley FABLAB develops a new tool to assist service dogs in opening doors

The Fox Valley FABLAB develop a universal door tool to be used by people with disabilities and their service dogs. Unlike other tools currently in use this one holds the base of the lever and has and extension that translates the dogs pulling action into the simultaneous downward motion needed to operate the handle. Being a gear head I bought several tools over the years. I hope I can try this one!

News: Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits Recalled

The recalled products include only the following types of Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits sold between Aug. 21, 2008 and Jan. 19, 2009:

  • Small Assorted 32 oz., UPC 73725702900
  • Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb., UPC 73725700601
  • Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700605
  • Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb., UPC 73725702755
  • Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700638
  • Extra Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700779
  • Peanut Butter 4 lb., UPC 73725700766
For more information visit

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Humor: How Having a service dog is Similar to a Small Child

The other day I was visiting my former boss. We were talking about how things were going with Shilo. I triumphantly shared that I had just taught her to flush toilets in public restrooms. My former boss laughed and said, "I just taught my 22 month old daughter to flush the toilet too!" We were then off on a long list of how having service dog is simia small child!
1. When you have a service dog/small child you loose your own identity. You become so and so's mom!
2. Everyone has an opinion about how you are raising/treating them.
3. They will often surprise you with the latest thing they know how to do.
4. They live for positive attention from you.
5. They have to have time to play and let their hair down everyday. No one can be on their best behavior all the time.
6. Their down time adventures can from time to time leave you with someone who covered in mud, strange, smells, and upset stomachs.
7. Play groups have to be monitored so no one's feeling get hurt. And so no one hords all the toys!
8. Accidents happen- often in the wee hours of the morning!
9. Manners have to constantly reinforced and honed.
10. Their successes will make you the proudest you have ever been.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

News: Service Dogs for Kids

Today I came across two articles about service dogs for children:

While I did not have a service dog as a child, it was the interaction between myself and one of the family dogs as a child that caused my mom and myself to think a service dog would be a great help to me as an adult on my own. See my earlier post How I chose to have a service dog. Even though I was a very responsible child, I was also very into myself and my own wants and needs. While, I could have benefited from the skills my service now provides. I can remember battles with my parents over who forgot, to walk the dog, feed it, shut the door (a causing the dogs to escape) and ect. I think the newness of a service dog, just like many new things can elicited temporary changes in children who want to show they can do it, however, service dogs can quickly become just beloved family pets if the training is not routinely used, and maintained. This maintenance training often eludes novice adult service dog handlers (now imagine how difficult it would be for children with school, friends, therapy, doctors, hobbies, scouts. ect). I found two articles detailing the pros and cons of service dogs for children:

Friday, January 9, 2009

News: More on the Leaked DOJ Rules Regarding Service Animals

The reporter with the original leak posted DoJ's Rationale Behind Banning Non-Canine Service Animals. I must disagree with many of the commenters on this post. Service Animals of any kind have never been exempted from any animal control laws. People with service animals must follow local law with regards to the health, registration, and legal owning of their animals. That means if you want a bully type breed (commonly called pit bulls), a rottweiller, or other commonly banned breed or species for a service animal you must either live in a place that doesn't have such a law, or apply for a varience through the proper channels.

She also posted specifically of the department's stance regarding service animals for people with psychiatric disabilities.

"The Department has adopted regulatory text in § 36.104 to formalize its position on emotional support or comfort animals, which states that "[e]motional support, comfort, companionship, or therapeutic benefits; the promotion of emotional well-being; and the crime deterrent effects of an animal's mere presence do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition." The Department notes however, that the exclusion of emotional support animals from coverage in the final rule does not mean that individuals with psychiatric or mental disabilities cannot use service animals that meet the regulatory definition. The Department has proposed specific regulatory text in § 36.104 to make this clear: "The term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric and mental disabilities." This language simply clarifies the Department's longstanding position."

The DOJ provides futher clarification:

"Under the Department's previous regulatory framework, some individuals and entities assumed that the requirement that service animals must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks excluded all individuals with mental disabilities from having service animals. Others assumed that any person with a psychiatric condition whose pet provided comfort to them was covered by the 1991 regulation. The Department reiterates that psychiatric service animals that are trained to do work or perform a task (e.g., reminding its owner to take medicine) for individuals whose disability is covered by the ADA are protected by the Department's present regulatory approach. Psychiatric service animals can be trained to perform a variety of tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and ameliorate their effects. Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take medicine; providing safety checks or room searches for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; interrupting self-mutilation; and removing disoriented individuals from dangerous situations.

The difference between an emotional support animal and a psychiatric service animal is the work or tasks that the animal performs. Traditionally, service dogs worked as guides for individuals who were blind or had low vision. Since the original regulation was promulgated, service animals have been trained to assist individuals with many different types of disabilities. In some cases, individuals who have impairments that do not qualify as a disability under the ADA have concluded mistakenly that the regulation gives them the right to use service animals. "

See my earlier post What is the Purpose of a Service Dog? for more on what a service dog is, behavior standards, and commonly trained tasks (including tasks for people with psychiatric disabilities.

Many are asking why the sudden need to regulate the species of service animals to just dogs. There are two reasons: the first being people choosing animals that may and is some cases out right do pose a risk to the public; the second being people choosing animals that cannot be trained to perform tasks and their sole pupose is comfort; and the third is my previous postPeople Claiming Their Dogs are Service Dogs to Take them in Public Beware.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

News: Leak of New Service Animal Definition- Dogs only?

Well, the latest new to hit the service animal community is a leak from the DOJ suggesting that the definition of Service animal under the ADA may be limited to dogs. This would be a quite a change from the proposed rule changes to the ADA put out for public comment this past August. See my previous post Backlash from dog killing on Portland Public Transit for more detail about the original proposed changes and the DOJ response to people's comments.

In the U.S. there has traditionally not been any limit placed on what kind of animal could be used as a service animal;however, service animals could not pose a direct health or safety threat to the public and any animal not under adequate control of its disabled handler could be removed from the business. Furthermore, the animal had to be trained to perform tasks to mitigate the handler's disability.

When choosing animals to be service animals for people with disabilities it was no accident that dogs were chosen. Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to live and work with humans. National Geographic has a whole series on how dogs and humans came together:
The Origin of Dogs
How Did Dogs Become Adept at Playing to Humans?
Human Gestures Fed Dogs' Domestication
Did Carolina Dog Arrive With Ancient Americans?
Human, Dog Genomes Similar, Study Finds
Scientists Start Deciphering Dog Genome
National Geographic magazine: Wolf to Woof—The Evolution of Dogs

After doing an Internet search I could find no mention of animals other than dogs being used to assist people with disabilities in other parts of the world. Even if other animals can be trained to assist people with disabilities potential handlers for these unusual animals must ask do the advantages of having a unique assist out way the challenges. I can't help but wonder if this latest definition change is the DOJ's effort to come inline with the rest of international policy regarding animal assistants for people with disabilities?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our First trip

Christmas dinner with my parents presented the perfect opportunity for Shilo and I to go on our first overnight since finishing team training in October 2008.We were meeting in Portland at the Heathman Hotel for Christmas dinner. Due to the snow and ice encasing Portland I could not drive so the train, namely Amtrak, was the best option. I had never traveled with Shilo, but I knew during her training with Summit she had the opportunity to fly, cruise and stay in hotels. I was fairly competent she would handle it well. I know that travel, no matter how experienced and enjoyed, does put added stress on both service dog and partner. I wanted to ensure Shilo's first trip with me was as positive and fun for her as possible. I also had another goal of establishing travel behavior paterns for her. Many trainers I have worked with have warned me to be careful what I let my dogs do in a new environment. Since dogs do not generalize behaviors, whatever they are allowed to do when entering a new environment they will think is the rule for that environment. I wanted to ensure she would ride on the floor in the taxi, sleep on her blanket in the hotel room and adjust to the new environment of the hotel.

I was pleased to discover Shilo comes alive when traveling. She took everything in stride and impressed everyone with her loving, calm demeanor and quick response. I think she was happy that it was just her and I for three days. We worked, we played, we relaxed.

People with disabilities who need a service dog who not only can travel, but loves to travel can do somethings to help their service dog see traveling, a normally high stress situation for both dog and human by associating travel with:
  • Special toys, treats and other rewards that are reserved for travel
  • Giving your dog stress breaks through play (you'd be amazed what a short game of tug, or game of find the item will do to lower stress for both the dog and handler.
  • Rewarding your dog at a high rate for both new and from time to time entrenched behaviors such as a particularly well negotiated crowd, or leaving a particularly yummy tidbit thrown at them by the person in the next seat.
  • Find itineraries that work for both human and dog schedule's
Happy traveling!

Monday, January 5, 2009

News: NYC Transit for Denying her and her Service Dog Access

Today's New York Daily News shares a story about a woman denied access with her service dog. The story brings some important points up for people with disabilities who are partnered with service dogs, training their own dogs, or looking for a dog to train.

1. Be careful what you say about your service dog/ service dog in training on the Internet. It could come back to haunt you. "Their legal papers draw on 8,000 pages of Stamm's Internet postings, in which she suggests Wargas' breed - livestock guardian dog - is dangerous.

"Livestock guard dogs in the subways is a wonderful sight to behold. The seas of people part before us," the former ad agency manager boasted in a 1998 posting.

In other postings, Stamm discussed dog-on-dog attacks involving her previous service dog, Mishka, a Caucasian Ovcharka that died of cancer last month.

She described livestock dogs as genetically wired with "tremendous killing power" and said Mishka could be aggressive toward elderly cancer patients because "she can smell death, and she doesn't want it near her.""

2. If you decide to sue over access denials be prepared with proof of your disabilities and your service dog's task training as it relates to your disability. See Deciding What to Train.

3. Choosing unusual animals or unusually large breed dogs may increase the likelyhood you will experience access denials with your service dog. "pony-sized dog".

Friday, January 2, 2009

Notes: Blog Roll Updated

New Blogs added:

Inactive Blogs Removed:
  • Summit Assistance Dogs
  • Service Dog Blog
  • Waiting for the Woof

For other blogs about service dogs and dog training see My Blog List on the right side of this page.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Shilo and I would like to wish all of our readers a Happy New Year. We resolve to continue to put our best paw forward and hope you will do the same!