Friday, October 30, 2009

Prepare for Halloween Training Opportunities

Don't miss out on all the great training opportunities this weekend has to offer- read Halloween is a great opportunity for Training Potential Service Dogs!

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."