Monday, March 9, 2009

When a Service Dog Can't Work

This last week Cammy, my roommate's guide dog pulled a muscle in her leg. My roommate realized her girl needed a couple days off and pulled out her white cane. Her white cane is far from her favorite way to get around, but she had to go to school and work. Many people considering partnering with a service dog think that having a dog means they will no longer need other tools or people to function with their disability. Even though our dogs are amazing, one should never make a dog, no matter how well trained, solely responsible for one's health and safety. It is important to have back up ways to meet your needs in case your service dog is sick or injured.
1. When you get a service dog do not get rid of any mobility equipment you already have and make sure you always have it where you can get to it quickly. Guide Dogs for the Blind encourages their graduates to carry at least an ID Cane in case something should happen.
2. Carry a cell phone in case you need to call someone to help you.
3. If you have caregivers do not eliminate them because you think the dog will handle it all.
4. Identify people who could come babysit your service dog if they cannot work and you must go out.


Carolyn said...

Melissa, this was a really interesting post. I'm curious about working dogs that perform physical services ... do they also get "breaks" during their day? I know that as we've been training Charlie our trainer has made certain that we remove Charlie's work vest when we're giving him some play time. Does your dog get scheduled play time too? This would be an interesting post topic to me. I'm really enjoying your blog ... please keep it up!

Melissa Mitchell said...

Dear Carolyn, I posted on this subject last month see I think for mature dogs and handlers it is possible to incorporate stress /play breaks through out the day. It is sometimes difficult for me to remove my service dogs vest, so I start and end these breaks through out the day. I also allow certain people who can follow the convention of her training to visit with her.