Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vote for Summit Assistance Dogs to receive a Toyota Car for Good

Summit is an amazing Assistance Dog organization that does whatever it takes to support their teams including coming all the way to Eugene, OR from Anacortes, WA to follow up on Shilo and my progress six months after placement - that's a distance of 728 mile round trip at a cost of $114 (and rising every day)!

Friday, April 29, 2011

New Service Dog Partnership Memoir: A Dog Named Slugger

I ran across a press release for this book today. I can wait to read it and add it to my dogbrary (otherwise know as my dog book library)!


I followed Vicki, mine and Slugger’s teacher, into the building’s cool basement. Several dozen folks awaited us there. A woman in a plaid skirt and crisp white blouse ushered us warmly to the front of the room.
She addressed her colleagues, “Okay, everyone, we’d like to get started. We’re honored to have with us Vickie Polk and Leigh Brill from Caring Canine Companions of Virginia. They’re going to be telling us a little bit about their lovely dogs.” She turned and smiled at the Labradors who were now lying quietly in heel position. “How beautiful! And so calm, too!”
Sensing appreciation in the woman’s tone, Slugger flicked his tail twice. “Well you’re welcome, gorgeous!” His admirer cooed. Laughter rippled through the audience as she settled into to an empty folding chair.
Now Vickie stood. “Thank you all for inviting us. I’m a trainer with Caring Canine Companions. This is Zack, my newest student.”
She gestured to the black Lab. Then she pointed toward me. “That’s Leigh and her new service dog, Slugger. They’ve joined us today, so Leigh can see what it’s like to be on this side of a presentation. The two of them have been working really hard finishing up their team training, and I’m happy to say they’re turning into an impressive pair. Slugger does a great job helping Leigh deal with the challenges of her cerebral palsy.”
Vickie paused and beamed at me, but I was suddenly besieged by a wave of panic. Oh God, the voice in my head shrieked, I can’t believe she just told a room full of strangers I have CP! Now I was afraid to look at the audience, afraid I’d find their faces pinched by morbid curiosity. I’d encountered such expressions all my life.
Buy A Dog Named Slugger (Note:I get no support from the sale of this book, but service dog programs do!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pet First Aid Month April

April is Pet First Aid Month! This year's there is Pets & People Staying Healthy Together.  As service dog partners we ask our canine partners to accompany us nearly everywhere and in do so they may come across situations where we as handlers need to either be able to administer first aid or instruct someone in the proper dog first aid approach called for in the situation. In 14 years of working and living with a service dog there have been a number of situations with my dogs where I was relieved to have the basic knowledge of Basic Dog First Aid and what situations are always considered an emergency and require the attention of a veterinarian ASAP.

Finding Pet First Aid Classes Near You:
Red Cross Pet First Aid Classes

There's an App for that!
Once you have taken a class you can Download  an App to help your remember what to do in a specific situation when it really counts.
 Tools and Things

Now that you have the knowledge and the App make sure you have the tools you need.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Here's a Happy Dog to Brighten Your Day

We hope your day was this good! Nothing's better than hangin' with your best friend!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone! I pulled the following except from the SDAWL archives.

Celebrating Earth Day: Earth Friendly Products for Service Dogs

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.Read More

Thursday, April 21, 2011

News::Breed-Specific Causes of Death in Dogs Revealed in Landmark Study

ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2011) — Dog owners and veterinarians have long relied on a mix of limited data and anecdotal evidence to assess which breeds are at risk of dying from various conditions, but a new University of Georgia study provides a rare and comprehensive look at causes of death in more than 80 breeds. Read More from Science Daily article

Ready the study-Mortality in North American Dogs from 1984 to 2004: An Investigation into Age-, Size-, and Breed-Related Causes of Death

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shilo and Cammy Meet Ian Dunbar!

The girls scramble to get to Ian!
I was very lucky to be able to scrape together enough money to attend one day of a three day lecture series put on by Dr. Ian Dunbar called "Science Based Dog Training with Feeling." While I would have loved to go to all three days, it just wasn't in the budget. Therefore I chose the day focused on Lure & Reward training. I learned and was reminded of a lot, so let me see if I can boil down some top points from the lecture.
Keys to Lure and Reward Based Training
1. Lure and Reward Training allows the Training to attach verbal cues immediately (1st trial) to a  behavior
2. The food Lure should be  gone (in other words the dog can see and smell the food while they are doing the behavior) in 6-12 trials for a given new behavior. Note that you continue to reward behaviors you want.
3. Allows the Trainer to immediately select and reward for the best performances of the behavior.
4. When phasing out food ask  more for less and replace with other reinforce like praise and life rewards.
5. The games Tug,  Fetch, and chase are intrinsically rewarding for dogs and can/should be used as rewards in training.
6. Train opposites

I could go one for days with what I learned about lure and reward training, instead visit Dog Star Daily read more about this training technique.

Understanding Pet Professionals & Getting What You Need
1. All pet professionals run their business on the assumption that you dog is both people and dog friendly. If your dog is not good with one of these two expect to be charged more because the work will be harder, take longer and use more staff to get the job done.
2. Don't be surprised if a Trainer fires you, if you don't follow through with exercises and homework. Your dog could be trained by them, yes, but it is your dog and they need to respond to you. The only way that will happen is if you do the work.
3. Don't sign up for group class with specific goals then go in expecting the trainer to throw the whole syllabus out the window because you and you dog aren't ready for it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Notes: SDAWL Tweets!

Sometimes you just want to let world know by keeping it Short and Sweet in a Tweet! That's right Shilo and I are tweeting now, follow us at!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Disability Law Lowdown covers Service Animals

Disability Law Lowdown 48 - Service Animals Pt 1
This podcast discusses the definition of service animal, changes under the new proposed regulations, and how service animals are treated under Titles I, II, and II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
(Running time is 12:42, filesize is 11.7MB)
Listen to show: Disability Law Lowdown 48 - Service Animals Pt 1 
Disability Law Lowdown 49 - Service Animals Pt 2
In the second part of the service animal series, Jacquie Brennan looks at the rights of individuals with disabilities who own service animals or comfort animals under the Fair Housing Act.
(Running time is 07:11, filesize is 6.8MB)
Listen to show: Disability Law Lowdown 49 - Service Animals Pt 2
read the shownotes and transcript for show 49
Disability Law Lowdown 50 - Service Animals Part 3
Service Animals and the ACAA: In the third part of the service animal series, Jacquie Brennan discusses the rights of air passengers who use service animals, the definition of service animal under the Air Carrier Access Act, and the documentation requirements under the Act.
(Running time is 08:15, filesize is 7.6MB)
Listen to show: Disability Law Lowdown 50 - Service Animals Part 3
read the shownotes and transcript for show 50.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Social Networking to Save Money on Things Your Service Dog Needs

By now most of us are probably getting deals via email, text messaging, facebook, and iphone apps from our favorite vendors of all kinds of items and services we use regularly. I, recently, signed up for a couple free services called Living Social  and Groupon offering one day deals for all kinds of services in my area (and around the world) at up to 90% the regular price; and being a person who is on a very tight budget I love a deal (especially on things that often there would be no room for in said budget like meals out, movies, plays, etc). My deal hunting doesn't stop with stuff for me.... oh no sir, the dogs and stuff for them is fair game!

Online One Day Pet Supply Deals
Please note I found several other services; the above two are the only ones that checked out as active. Enjoy!All my readers, please share your best places for deals in the comments below this post!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Autism Awareness Month!

April is Autism Awareness Month! Autism is on of many, many disabilities that service dogs can be trained to assist with. I have written several posts on Autism and Service dogs I hope you will read this month:

Autism Awareness Month: Featured Links 

News: Exploring the Health Benefits of Pets 

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

Autism Awareness Month: Research around Autism Service Dogs

More post can be found under the tag Autism and a few more post will be coming later this month!