Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Few Precious Pictures from the Holidays and Tips for Dogs and Kids

This Christmas Shilo, me, Cammy, and my roommate Leslie were invite to my sister-in-laws parents house for Christmas Dinner. Shilo and Cammy have both been to this house several times before and always impress everyone with their, quiet, calm, yet friendly demeanor typical for a service dog. They are both also very good with children, and as such are good dogs to introduce to very young children like my nephew Elijah (see photo on the left) who is five and a half months old.
Introducing children to dogs and dogs to a child is in my mind always something to be done very carefully and with supervision of both the child and dog throughout the interaction always. Shilo and Cammy are both what we like to call "Mommy types" who are very tolerant of typical behaviors of small children for instance grabbing, poking, squealing, screeching, and falling but that doesn't mean that we let children run roughshod over them.Patience is, after all, a virtue with limits.
One must also watch that dogs behaviors that are perfectly benign for an older child or adult like licks, sniffing or vocalizations don't scare or startle a small child. First impressions can have lasting affect on the relationship between child and dog.
  • Ensure neither the child,the dog, or the supervising adult are cranky or tired at the time of interaction. Beings who are in these states have less patience for the new and unusual.
  • Use your happy voice throughout the interaction
  • Use cues your dog knows to keep the interactions under control and non- threatening such as Sit, Down, Off, Say Hi
  • Help the child to gently pet and interact with the dog. With babies I tend to gently guide the hand they are reaching out for the dog with in small touches finished by a nice long stroke from me for the dog. 
  • If either child or dog get too excited with the interactions happily say your calming cue for your dog and take a break.
  • Make sure the child or dog has nothing the other may want like food or toys before initiating interaction. Children and dogs both tend to live by the What's mine is mine and what I can get of yours is mine rules of possession so it's best not to involve high value items into the interaction.
  • Always look for sign that either the child or dog are tiring or would like to move on. Keeping interaction short means that it is less likely anyone will loose patience. 
For more tips on kids and dogs read Advice and Tips Children and Dogs at home


Monday, December 27, 2010

Laws Protect and Impose Penalties for Interferring, Injuring, or Killing Service Dogs

More than half the states have laws laws on the books protecting service dogs and their handlers for interference, injury, or death caused by a person or their animal, based on a self conducted count of the results in a Google search. I have wanted to write this post for a while, but I didn't know of a good compilation until recently. I discovered the Harm to Service Animals and Criminal Interference Laws
Resource from the Animal Legal and Historical Center at the University of Michigan.
Many people don't see any harm in:
  • letting through dog "say hi" to a working service dog
  • Coming up, grabbing and petting a service dog
  • Barking, whistling, clapping their hands, talking to in a baby voice, or making kissy noises with the intent of attracting the attention of a working service dog
  • Throwing food or other objects at a working service dog 
  • Yelling a working dog's name with the intent to distract them 
  • Crawling on the floor trying to pet a working service dog
  • Issuing commands to a service dog to see if it will listen even just one to them
  • Hitting,kicking or purposely stepping on a working service dog to see if they can make it react
  • Allowing their children to do any of these behaviors
I know some of the things on the list seem unbelievable, but they do happen to most teams at some point in their partnership. These things often seem funny,or harmless to the people doing them because they:
a) love dogs so much they can't help themselves
b) want to see if the dog is really as well trained as everyone says
c) want to be able to provoke a dog to bad behavior because they don't like/fear dogs and know  if the dogs act up they will have to leave
d) think that they or their children should be allowed to play with or do whatever they want because these dog are there and are safe
I can think of many instances in the media such as the women whose guide was dropped kicked off it's feet, and the hearing dog who was attacked by off-leash dogs in a mall parking lot (warning very graphic description) to name a few.

Sadly, I also have no shortage of instances in my own life both minor and large where people, their children, and/or their pets have interfered with my service dog safely executing their duties in peace.

  • Bastien and I were crossing a five lane street when someone who knew us from the bus decided to call his name when we were in the middle of the crosswalk causing him to stop,turn and look as he was trained to do leaving me stopped in the middle of the street. Most crosswalks don't give me enough time  to get safely across going as fast as we could, it was something I never allowed this to happen again because I stopped giving out his name.
  • Bastien and went to a neighborhood store one Sunday morning to pick up a few items for brunch.Bastien was minding his own business laying as close the the case as he could get to be out of the way while waiting for me to decide what I wanted, when I felt his head turn toward his tail. I turned to see what was bothering him,and was astonished to see an eight year old child  repeatedly purposely stepping on his tail. I told her to please stop stepping on my dog and she did it again! I told her again to stop stepping on my dog. This time her mother heard me and proceeded to start screaming at me tat her daughter could do whatever she wanted and ,well let's just say the situation continued to deteriorate until store staff who knew us came to our rescue.
  • The college students on the bus to work who repeatedly call to, make noises at, and pet Shilo. This happens so often I have lost count.
  • The women on the Amtrak who decided it was a good idea to come up behind a strange dog (Shilo), and start scratching her behind without saying a word to her or me while we were trying to exit the train.
  • The dog shut in a car at the beach with the window down starting to come out the window,barking and bearing its teeth while the owner who was twenty feet away tried to convince us the dog was "harmless". We, My roommate,her guide Cammy,and Shilo, decide it wasn't harmless back tracked crossed the road and went up the other side where the side walk was non-existent.
I could go on for pages with various stories. I am fortunate that none of these instances have caused me or my service injury or death. However, it is not at all hard for me to imaging anyone of the above situations having turned out very differently. Service dogs are with their owners to assist them in: navigating a world that remains difficult at the best of times; give them the help they need when and how they need it rather than hoping for someone to decide to help then hoping the person doesn't hurt them somehow in the process;being able to actively decide and participate in the business of living their lives. The time you have the urge or see someone actively trying to distract or interfere with a service dog, I hope you will think of the real danger your seemly harmless action  may cause choosing instead to exercise self-control and admire our dogs quietly, from distance. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best Holiday Wishes

Wishing all our Reader a Happy Holiday Season!
From Christmas 2010
We hope you can spend it with those you love!

Monday, December 20, 2010

News: Kroger Pet Food Recall

(CNN) -- The Kroger Co. is recalling select pet food packages from stores in 19 states fearing some of these products may contain aflatoxin, a toxic chemical byproduct that could be harmful to animals.
The recall involves certain bags of Pet Pride Cat Food, Pet Pride Kitten Food, Old Yeller Chunk Dog Food, Kroger Value Cat Food and Kroger Value Chunk Food, the company said Saturday.Read More

Specific food and Sizes List

Recall States/Locations:Indiana (except SW IN, -Evansville-), Illinois, Eastern Missouri, Greater Cincinnati, including Northern Kentucky, Dayton, OH and South Eastern Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Knoxville, Tennessee, Greater Memphis, TN, Arkansas, Mississippi and Western Kentucky, Michigan, Central and Northwest Ohio and N. West Virginia panhandle, Greater Louisville (including Indiana), Lexington, and Nashville, TN, North Carolina, Virginia, Eastern WV, Eastern Kentucky, SE Ohio, Texas and Louisiana; Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, FoodsCo, Baker's, Gerbes, and Food4Less Fremont stores.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Cautions- Tips to Keep Service Dogs and All Pets Safe During the Holidays

Protecting your Pet from Holiday Dangers

Remember, as the holidays approach, this is the most dangerous time of the year for our pets. The two greatest dangers are lost pets and pet poisoning.
Fall and Winter HolidaysWith the fall and winter holidays come many new faces, guests and dog sitters. Each time guests enter your home pets are exposed to new levels of stress, both positive and negative. Many pets are locked away from the guests while others are allowed to roam freely among the visitors. Doors, gates and garages are opened and closed at a feverish rate during the holidays. The opportunity for your pet to get out and explore is surely at paw! After the 4th of July, the winter holidays are the number one time of the year that pets are usually lost. Read the Complete List of Tips

Friday, December 17, 2010

News: Career Connection Series: “What can be done to make service dogs easier to accept in the workplace?”

Career Connection Series: “What can be done to make service dogs easier to accept in the workplace?”

By Guest Blogger Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant, Job Accommodation Network
This is a great question, and it’s one that we’re hearing a lot at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) as more and more people with disabilities start using service animals.
In the past, service animals were typically used by people who were blind and were often referred to as “seeing eye” dogs. Now people with a variety of disabilities use service animals to assist with everyday tasks. There are service dogs for people with all types of mobility impairments, seizure alert dogs for people with epilepsy, psychiatric service dogs for people with mental health impairments, hearing dogs for people who are deaf and even dogs that can detect low blood sugar for people with diabetes.
With this increased use of service animals comes a corresponding increase in public awareness. It’s no longer unusual to see a service dog in a store, restaurant, hotel or even on an airplane. So why then is it so difficult for employers and co-workers to accept a service dog in the workplace?
Perhaps it’s because the workplace was traditionally seen as a sort of kingdom, where employers ruled and employees either followed the rules or sought employment elsewhere. One of the standard rules was often NO ANIMALS ALLOWED.
Even current law makes a distinction between public access for service animals and workplace access. In the workplace, having a service animal present is a form of reasonable accommodation, which means employers, unlike owners of public places, do not have to automatically allow the use of service animals. And many employers resist allowing an employee to bring a service animal to work, not only because it’s against their rules, but also in part because co-workers sometimes express fear or concern about having a dog around.
So how can you overcome this resistance, fear and concern? Let’s start with the employer. Read more

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dreams About Service Dog

So it's pretty common knowledge that our dreams are influenced by the things that are important or occupying large portions of our lives; therefore, it should come as no surprise that I regularly dream about my service dogs past and present. Unfortunately, these dreams usually come in the form of nightmares where something bad happens to my service dog and I can't do anything about it or no one will help us. I will keep the details of these dreams to myself because I don't want to traumatize or trigger anyone.
This  morning's dream was of a very different fair though. I dreamed I have to go the the UK and for some reason I didn't get Shiloh through the Pet Passport requirements within the window to be able to bring her (strange since I used to work for an organization advising people with disabilities about international travel). So when I got to the UK one of the assistance dog organizations there offered to let me "borrow" a service dog who was  almost done training and ready to be placed to help me and as sort of a test run for this dog who happened to be a white Labradoodle not unlike our friend Clive over at Austism Assistance Dog.  Interesting concept that left me smiling as I woke up.

How about it... Do you dream about your service dog or service dog related topics?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pets and Santa Claus

No matter whether you are working with a service dog or a service dog in training the local malls are offering pictures with Santa Claus!
Valley River Center:
Pet Night with Santa
Monday, December 13, 2010
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Bring your special pet to visit Santa!
December 13th from 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Pets must be on a leash or in a cage.

Gateway Mall

St. Nick's Pet Pics

11/29/2010 - 12/13/2010
A waggin' good time.
Monday nights from November 29 through December 13 are St. Nick’s Pet Pics.
Four-legged friends are invited to capture a holiday-hugging photograph with Old St. Nick. Costumes provided make your fuzzy companion even more adorable during a special mall trip to celebrate the holiday season.
Santa welcomes dogs and cats only, please.
TIME: 6:00pm - Set Close

These events are a great way to work with a service dog in training in a mall environment. Candidates ready for this kind of event are able to:
-Walk at their handler's/ Trainers side in a highly disstrating environment
-100% house broken including no marking behaviors
-Mastered at least intermediate obedience skills
-Can work/stay on task around other animals and display no inappropriate behaviors in their presence (i.e. barking, whining, growling, lunging, pulling)

From the Archives: Christmas

Gifts Service Dog Partners and their Service Dog will love

No matter what holiday puts you in the festive mood, getting the right gift for your four-legged companion can boggle the mind. This can be especially true for the friends and family who may want to thank your service dog for the service and energy they have brought into your life. Read More

Monday, December 6, 2010

News: Romania’s first guide dog shut out from city

Golden Labrador Chloe helps blind city resident Gabi Nicolescu move around the streets of Bucharest – but shops, hotels, taxis and buses ban them from going further

Around the blocks, streets and parks of Bucharest, 51 year-old Gabi Nicolescu is walking the first guide dog for the blind in Romania – but no shop, hotel, cafe, taxi or bus will allow access to his three-year old Golden Labrador Chloe.
“The guards say no entry with the dog,” says Nicolescu.
His movement has became so restrictive that he collected signatures on a petition to present to the Government – outlining his plight and calling for a change in the law.
But when he tried to walk through the security gates of the seat of Romania’s Government, Palatul Victoriei, the guards barred his passage - due to his canine assistant. Read More

Friday, December 3, 2010

International Day of People with Disabilities: Service Dogs Around the World

Happy International Day of People with Disabilities!

My Favorite! Simple and True!