Sunday, April 25, 2010

Power Chair Test Number 2

So we have the second power chair the DME provider feels is comparable  to tone I originally chose or so long ago, except unlike the first one I get to rode test this one for a whole week! Stayed tuned for some video of the first day Shiloh and I were using this chair and my observations of working a power chair versus a manual chair.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Commentary: Through the Eyes of a Dog

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrating Earth Day: Earth Friendly Products for Service Dogs

From Shiloh, Summit Assistance Dog
I try to be as environmentally conscience as I can with the supplies and gear I use and buy for Shiloh, while keeping in mind my very real budget concerns. I recently had to switch from Organix, an organic (definition of organic from the USDA) dog food made locally in my home state to a natural (the USDA does not currently have a definition for "natural products" ) dog food because Organix--much as I and Shiloh love it-- just became too expensive for the budget.   AACFO that regulates the pet food industry defines "natural" as, "For the most part, "natural" can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product. As mentioned above, artificial flavors are rarely employed anyway. Artificial colors are not really necessary, except to please the pet owner's eye. If used, they must be from approved sources, the same as for human foods. Especially for high-fat dry products, some form of preservative must be used to prevent rancidity. Natural-source preservatives, such as mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E), can be used in place of artificial preservatives. However, they may not be as effective" (taken from AACFO/FDA page on Pet Food Labeling). 

Food is just one area one can use to reduce the carbon foot print of a service dog. The pet product market is awash with biodegradable, sustainable, recyclable, and products made of reclaimed materials and according to The American Pet Products Association Survey of Pet owners in 2008/2009 the industry expects to see a continued demand for eco-friendly pet products of all kinds.

Examples of Eco-Friendly Products for the Busy Service Dog:
  • Biodegradable waste bags
  • Collars/Leashes/ Harnesses/ Beds made from recycled or sustainable materials such as recycled plastic, rubber, polyester; hemp; or bamboo to name a few.
  • Organic or Natural food  (I hear all you Barf and Raw Diet people yelling at me to include you:))  
 * Note: I haven't linked to any specific Eco-Friendly pet products or companies because there are just too many and I do not want to offend you, my loyal readers, by leaving out your favorite company. Free free to discuss you favorites by leaving a comment on this article.

Examples of Eco- Friendly Practices for Life with Service Dog
  • Bring Reusable traveling gear in your bag such as refillable water bottles, and reusable water bowl
  • Save and/ or Trade outgrown vests/harnesses/collars. I cannot tell you how much money my friends with service dogs and I have saved by trading/loaning gear that does fit or is not being used. Not to mention we don't throw away things we otherwise might this way.
  • Use biodegradable grooming products
  • Turn the water off while soaping up your service dog in the bath
  • Take your Service Dog in the Shower with you... Really, Seriously. I've done it and I know others who do this too.
  • Turn those warn out towels and blankets into dog towels/bedding
Do you have other eco-friendly practices and tips you use in life with your service dog? Share them in the comments section!

Resources and More Information on Topics in this article:
  1. FDA Pet Food Labels - General -Updated March 2010
  2. Appendix: USDA-NOP Organic Pet Food Task Force Initial Report April 7, 2006 DRAFT GUIDANCE DOCUMENT FOR DISCUSSION ONLY Examples of Labeling Terms Allowed for Pet Food Compliant with State Regulations and Proposed Organic Regulations 
  3. American Pet Products Association Survey of Pet owners in 2008/2009

Monday, April 19, 2010

Autism Awareness Month: Featured Links

  • What Every Caregiver Needs To Know About Service Dogs by Joan Froling

    IAADP has been frequently contacted over the years by parents and spouses seeking a service dog to assist them in watching over a disabled loved one with Alzheimer Disease, Downs Syndrome, Autism, TBI (traumatic brain injury), or some other serious cognitive impairment. They fear for the safety of the mentally disabled person. They want a dog trained to alert them if the cognitively impaired family member attempts to leave the house or the yard.
    I view such requests with sympathy. It is exhausting to be constantly vigilant. I commend the person for leaving no stone unturned in the effort to keep a loved one safe. Then I level with them. As wonderful as service dogs can be, they are not the right kind of assistive technology for every disability and every situation.
    While in theory it is possible to teach a service dog to perform a hearing dog type alert, responding to a bell jingling on a door or back yard gate when it is opened, it is wrong to put a dog in charge of a disabled person's safety. Read More

Other sensory processing disorders include blindness (vision processing) and deafness (auditory processing). Service dogs can be trained for some people with Autism to help them gain independence, confidence, and the ability to perform activities of daily living that they could not otherwise perform. For the most part these dogs are trained to perform tasks similar to those of service dogs for other sensory processing disabilities. A guide dog for a person who is blind signals the handler when the team approaches an intersection so that the handler knows to stop and check for traffic. An Autism dog might be trained to do the exact same task, except that instead of giving visual information ("I see an intersection"), the dog gives prioritizing information ("I recognize a situation that requires focused processing").Read More from Autism Service Dogs from Service Dog Central


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life: What's that Noise?

As I was hard at work on an enormous Excel spreadsheet listening to U2 on Pandora a strange, soft tapping noise coming from under the desk caught my ear. I turn to see what could possibly be responsible for such an odd sound. A smile spread across my face as I saw Shiloh sleeping at my feet with head head resting on her paws. As I watched her ears twitching and her toes tapping the plastic desk chair runner, I could help but smile.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Autism Awareness Month: Watch Temple Grandin's Eugene, OR Presentation

Dr. Temple Grandin “My Experiences with Autism and Animals”

Quicktime MP4 for fast connectionsQuicktime MP4 for slower connectionsWindows Media Player for fast connectionsWindows Media Player for slower connectionsAudio OnlyDr. Temple Grandin will present her highly creative and scientifically acclaimed work on autism and animal husbandry. Through her autism, she has cultivated the ability to think in pictures and developed an acute sense of the emotional life of animals. In order to understand animals, Grandin says, one has to get away from language. She has harnessed her unique abilities to develop ethical guidelines and technologies for the care and slaughter of cattle and other livestock. Grandin will explore issues of animal welfare from a practical perspective. Download the video

This is the very same presentation I attended with Shiloh on February 9, 2010. Read about our experience.

UO Today #440 – Temple Grandin

Quicktime MP4 for fast connectionsQuicktime MP4 for slower connectionsWindows Media Player for fast connectionsWindows Media Player for slower connectionsAudio OnlyTemple Grandin, professor, Animal Science, Colorado State University, discusses her work as a designer of humane livestock handling systems. She also talks about her life as a person with autism. Bonus interview with Temple Grandin, download the video.

Want to know more about Temple Grandin and her work? Visit her website.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Note: Enjoy the Reorganization of SDAWL

Dear Readers,
Service Dogs:A Way of Life (SDAWL) contains over 200 entries with vast amounts of information valuable anyone interested in, considering, or currently living with service dogs as a way of life. In an effort to make all SDAWL has to offer more user friendly I am adding pages such as:
  • About Me- so readers may learn about me, my experience with service dogs, and why I spend the time doing this
  • Links (coming soon)- So readers don't have to spend the time searing through post to find that link they know they saw
  • Owner Trainers(coming soon)- a page collecting the many valuable resources for current and those considering owner training
I am considering other pages, and -as always- would welcome suggestions from my readers.  Along with the addition of these pages, I am systematically going through all post and updating the labels (listed on the right hand side of this blog) that allow readers to read all posts addressing a particular topic. I hope this makes SDAWL an even more valuable resource to my many loyal readers.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Autism Awareness Month: Research around Autism Service Dogs

This post shares a group of scientific studies and articles around Autism Service Dogs.


An assistance dog is specially trained to act as a companion to the person with autism.
It encourages him to communicate and be more sociable.
It may also prevent him from getting lost or hurting himself.


There is currently very limited scientifically valid or reliable evidence to support the use of assistance animals for people with autism.
However the personal experience of some of our trustees/members of our scientific and advisory committee suggests that assistance dogs may be beneficial to some individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The benefits reported are not huge but do go some way to making life better for certain individuals.
For these reasons we believe that research into this the use of assistance dogs for people with autism spectrum disorders is warranted. Read More

  • Sentinels of safety: service dogs ensure safety and enhance freedom and well-being for families with autistic children.

    Ontario Veterinary College, Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


    Children with autism might display unpredictable and volatile behavior that places them in considerable physical danger and creates stress for the family. Families of autistic children often have limited freedom and experience difficulty with everyday activities. In this qualitative ethology study, we examined the effect of integrating service dogs into ten families with an autistic child. Data included participant observation, video recordings of family-parent-dog interaction, and semistructured interviews with the parents. Read More

  • Factors affecting behavior and welfare of service dogs for children with autism spectrum disorder.

    Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


    The use of service dogs for children with autism spectrum disorder is a relatively new and growing assistance-dog application. The objectives of this article were to identify and describe the factors influencing an autism service dog's performance and the impact of this type of placement on the dog's welfare. A qualitative approach uses interview and observational data to characterize the dogs' behaviors and welfare with relevancy to the dogs' home environments. Identification of potential physical stressors included lack of rest or recovery time after working, unintentional maltreatment and prodding by children with autism, lack of predictability in daily routines, and insufficient opportunities for recreational activities. Read More

  • Challenges of service-dog ownership for families with autistic children: lessons for veterinary practitioners.

    Belau National Hospital, Ministry of Health, Koror Republic of Palau.


    The purpose of this paper is to describe the challenges of service-dog ownership for families with autistic children. Through a qualitative interview process, this study has found that the integration of a service dog into a home environment is a highly dynamic and interactive process with numerous benefits and challenges. Public-access issues, learning to interpret dog behavior, the time constraints of increased social interactions, and the time of year the dog is placed into the family are important components affecting parental satisfaction. Parent, family, and child challenges included the dog being extra work, finding added time to maintain training, financing care for the dog, and the impact on family dynamics. Read More

  • While service dogs for autistic kids paw their way into the classroom, scientists have decided to finally study the link between kids and their pets.
    Sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the study is meant to go beyond anecdotal evidence that therapy animals have a positive affect on kids, especially those with autism. Read More

    Readers may be able to easily find the full text of these studies with the help of the local public library, happy reading!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Autism Awareness Month: Past Posts on Autism and Service Dogs

The first installment of my Autism Awareness Month post-a-thon showcases past posts I have written in the past dealing in some way with autism and autism service dogs:    

  1. Choosing a program  -originally published June 23, 2008- I mentioned in an early post I mention that I had been accepted as a potential recipient for the Purdy Prison Pet Program years ago. The reason I did not reapply to the that program when Bastien needed to retire was that program had changed the format of its team training format, so it was no longer possible for me to meet their requirements. Especially since I now lived more than 200 miles away. When choosing service dog programs to apply to there are many things one must consider .... Read More 
  2. News: Service Dogs for Kids-originally published January 11, 2009- 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. Read More 
    3.  Book Review: New Blogs on Blog Roll- originally published February 14,2009-I believe that reading honest accounts of life with service dogs helps people decide whether adding a service dog to their lives and family is right for them.
    New this month:
    • Charlie the North Star Dog-a tale of a a boy (with Autism), his mom, and a service dog in training. This blog shares the triumphs and challenges of tandem training a service dog with a program. Read More 
        4.  Commentary: Schools and Service Dogs -originally published August 26, 2009-Recently there has been a lot of chatter on the Internet over young children with Autism and the burgeoning movement partner them with dogs. Read More

        5.  News: Exploring the Health Benefits of Pets -originally published October 9, 2009- 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... Read More

        6.  We met Temple Grandin last night! -originally published February 10, 2010-Yesterday was a whirlwind day for Shiloh and me (though Tuesdays usually are since I work two jobs on Tuesday). After working from 9-7:30pm I drove back to the University of Oregon to hear Dr. Temple Grandin present "My Experiences with Autism and Animals" Read More

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    April is Autism Awareness Month

    April is Autism Awareness Month so Service Dogs: A Way of Life will be showcasing:
    • Past articles around service dogs and people with autism spectrum disorders
    • Studies of Autism Services Dogs (particularly focused on children for the most part)
    • Links discussing the issues Autism Service Dogs
    • Video from the Temple Grandin appearance I attended in February 2010 (you can watch the entire presentation!) 
    For those interested in finding out about Autism in general check out these links:
    1. Centers for Disease Control Autism Spectrum Disorders 
    2. Autistic Self Advocacy Network
    3. Autism Society of America