Thursday, December 6, 2012

Therapy Dog and Person with a disability Communicate through iPad

You don't need to be able to speak to communicate with a service dog. Dogs will accept anything as a cue as long as it is consistent and the dog is rewarded for responding.What I like most about this video is near the end the young women chooses to pet the dog as well as give her a treat!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Service Dogs as Welcomed Guest Over the Holidays and Beyond

Shilo in her harness laying in the grass next to the pool fence
Shilo at a Barbecue at a friend's house on a down stay off the deck, away from the food and out of foot traffic patterns.

Shilo and I with friends at a Thanksgiving celebration.
The holidays are chocked full of invitations, family events, and more requiring the human half of a service dog team to decide whether or not to bring their service dog when the event in question is being held at a private home. With some family, friends and co-workers the invitation may specifically include the service dog by name; however, that is hardly the end of the decision making process regarding the service dog's attendance.


Considerations for Taking An SD to a Private Home
  1. Is the person inviting you the owner of the home/host?
  2. Do they know about your service dog?
  3. Did they include your service dog in the original invitation?
  4. Do they have other pets in the house that would be upset by the presence of your service dog? Would the presence of other pets upset your service dog/ affect their ability to support you?
  5. Are the residents of the house or other invitees allergic/ afraid of dogs?
  6. If the home is a rental, could there be issues with the property owner/landlord?
  7. Would the presence of your service dog have a negative affect on your ability to enjoy the event?
  8. Do you require the assistance of your service dog in order to be able to get to and/ or participate in the event?
  9. Can you handle any negative reactions to the presence of your SD?
  10. Is their anyone coming to the event that has caused problems with regard to your service dog before?
Tips for Ensuring your Service Dog is a Welcome House Guest
If you are bringing someone to an event at someone's house, it is because you need them to mitigate your disability. This means that your service dog:
  1. Is in working mode. Remember, dogs are situational. Whatever behavior you allow the first time you visit someone's house, they will list as acceptable rules for that environment.
  2. Is well groomed.
  3. Calm, quiet and unobtrusive. Your service dog should be under your supervision at all times. If your service dog begins having problems of any sort leave before you are asked.
  4. Has all their needs planned for and met by you. Never assume that the host will provide for any of your  dog's needs even if their are dogs at the residence.
  5. Keep all four on the floor at all times. If staying overnight, bring you dog's mat or bed with you.
  6. Ask if there are any areas that are off limits to your service dog.
  7. Do not allow your service dog to wander.
  8. Ask where you should relieve your service dog and clean up after them.
  9. If your service dog damages anything, pay for it, fix it, and apologize.
  10. Give people a chance to see some of the support your service dog provides for you, and be proud of them/ the independence they bring you.
Shilo is the only dog regularly welcomed in my friend's houses. I work hard to ensure she is always on her best behavior and representative of how a service dog should behave.

Monday, November 12, 2012

News: Service Dog Seminar 2013 May 2013

Service Dog Seminar 2013 
Friday, May 31, 2013 9:00 AM -
Sunday, June 02, 2013 5:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Dogs In The Park Training Hall
582 Massey Road
Unit B
Guelph , Ontario N1K 1B4

Map and Directions
Dogs in the Park is pleased to announce the 6TH Annual Service Dog Seminar! 
Registration is $375 and will include lunch and refreshments for all three days.
CEUs for IAABC & CCPDT are Pending!Learn about the world of service dogs and how they help people with disabilities. Whether you are already partnered with a dog, looking for a promising prospect or interested in how service dogs are trained, everyone will take something new away from this seminar! Core sessions include preparing for a service dog, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, and people training. 2013 will have exciting events such as Sports with your service dog, Successful Access and much more.

TRAINING LABS and GUEST SPEAKERS including Sue Alexander CPDT-KSA CDBC CBCC-KA, John Alexander "The Puppy Guy" BA CPDT-KA, Sharon Palmer, Pete Woolley and Melanie Woolley RVT; speakers & agenda to be firmed up by February 2013

       Anyone who shares their lives with a service dog or who is interested in sharing their life with a service dog; partners, trainers and family members of service dog users!
***Please advise us if you require CEUs for OAVT, NYSAVT or MAVT.
*Service Dogs are Encouraged to attend, friendly service dog candidates are welcome*
This is a Fragrance Free Event


Friday, October 12, 2012

Multilingual Dog Relief Area Request Card

I thought I would share this multi-lingual card I created for a co-worker to use to better communicate with those providing her gate assistance at airports. It features four different images that are used indicate relief areas at the top with the phrase "Please take me to the dog relief area" in English, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Hindi.
Cut of the extra at the top, fold in half, and laminate! Voila!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy 4th Anniversary Shilo!

Today Makes 4 years to the day that Shilo and I became partners though Summit Assistance Dogs.
In the past four years Shilo and I have:

  • Lived in 2 apartments
  • Worked three jobs
  • Taken dozens of Road trips
  • Gone on 8 first dates
  • Had a hand in raising 13 puppies
  • Dated and broken up with one boyfriend
  • Experience Survived a the  of my first SD together death together
  • Flown together
  • Traveled to DC and advocated on Capital Hill together taking 10 meeting with representatives and Senators
  • Gone Sailing for the first time together

I'm sure there's more but those are the highlights standing out right now! Stay tuned for a picture slide show!
Yours in Canine Partnership,
Melissa and SD Shilo, Summit Assistance Dog

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ending the Way We Began

Melissa and Bastien 8mo oldOn Friday September 21, 2012 I started my day with a flurry of calls from my parents, which could only mean that something big was wrong. Little did I know when I returned the call just how big. You see in my family animals are just as important as the people. I called my parents back and found out Bastien wouldn't or couldn't get up, so they we taking him to the vet ASAP. As usual my parents put me on speaker phone so that Bastien could hear my voice, as soon as her heard me call Bastien... Bastioni-Macoroni he was on his feet. I could hear the relief in my father's voice that he was up; maybe it wouldn't be too bad. 
Less than hours later I got a call back from my mom. Bastien has cancer; it's bad- wrapped around his intestines. The vet wanted to end things then and there. There was nothing to be done. My mom, always having been my fiercest advocate that I knew my own mind and body gave my Bastien no less respect. She said "this dog will tell us when he is done, as he has many times before." She left vet's office with a week's worth of pain meds and called me with the awful news. I promptly planned with my best friend, Leslie, to get everything in order for mad dash to Washington. I knew I would know what was in store for my baby boy.
I walked into my parents place and knew the instant I set eyes on him he was not long for this world. Due to a massively bad allergy season he had lost about half the fur on his body, and while the skin had healed thanks to my mom's diligent nursing the fur just could not recover. Even in such a state, he go up to come greet me, Leslie and Shilo before we could get over to him. As usual he knew Grammy (my mom) had set out a fruit and vegetable tray and he wanted his share! So I laid on the floor with him stroking, and doing puppy massage until he purred (yes some dogs do purr with delight). I don't know how long I was on the floor, but we we there for a while. I shared the last bite of each fruit or vegetable I had from the tray., and just as he always had Bastien waited patiently for his bite taking whatever I offered gently.  He didn't care what it was if it was fruit or veggie and I was offering he was eating! We shared squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
I knew as I drove the four hours up, I was going up to see for myself and to say goodbye. I didn't want to even risk that he might suffer just so I could get there say goodbye. Bastien die on Monday September 24, 2012. The world has lost a happy go lucky, mischievous, wicked smart dog who never met a person or dog he didn't think was his best friend. Me, I lost my kindred spirit in a dog suit who outlasted 3 jobs, two boyfriends, saw me through my 20's, saved me from the utter confusion/depression that was what to do after college- afterall, to that point my whole life had been about college. He was the best ambassador and travel companion ever accompanying me to more than half the states and four countries over his career. He taught me patience and the true meaning of consistency. He was always up for a party and finding interesting ways to solve any thing that got in the way of fun. He loved snow and snowballs. Bastien thank you for it all, even the sad parts.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Breaking Up While Partnered with a Service Dog

A while back I wrote Dating While Partnered with a Service Dog, and since it's bound to happen I am back with the follow piece. Sometimes relationships aren't going to last; we as humans know this and have many and varied ways of dealing with the dating phenomena known as breaking up. Our service dogs;however, are mystified as to how a person can go from being a friend and possible member of the pack to disappeared. Oh sure, as service dogs they have had life transitions- puppy raiser, to trainer, perhaps to another trainer, then to partner; however, these transitions always took them from one person who loved and taught them to another who would love and teach them. Thus, this breaking up wherein we not only stop seeing a person, but are highly likely to be uncomfortable at the very least when we see the person completely confuses our service dogs. They just don't understand why we are now embarrassed we they do the "Oh my God your back!" happy greeting dance or when the lead us right to our former partner in a public place with a look of absolute pride conveying the "Aren't you proud of me, I found the lost pack member!" while we try to disappear on the very spot.

*Please note these tips are for surviving a simple break up/dissolution of a relationship; they might help some with more serious reasons for ending.I have rarely experienced more serious reasons like abuse, true cheating, financial wrong doing etc. so I  know some of these tips helped me, as to whether they could help you-only you know that.

Tips on Surviving a Break Up While Partnered with a Service Dog
  1. Be thankful you still have your service dog. Yes, you may lack human companionship, but they will do their best to be there for you while you are sad and try to lighten the mood with their antics. The best part is they will never say "I told you so."
  2. Renew your relationship with your service dog. Just like our human friends we may have let our more solid relationship with our service dog rest on its laurels while we put all our energy and effort into making this new relationship work. Resume those play sessions, long walks, super long grooming sessions, whatever you let go in order to make time/energy for that person.
  3. Expect your service dog to act as they always have around that person. Remember, just because your relationship with that person has changed doesn't mean theirs instantly has also. If you let training protocols slide like allowing them to pet your service dog while working, allowed your partner to be very active with your service dog by providing basic care fore them, or let them be the one primarily to exercise your service dog in order to show the person how much you loved/trusted them your service dog will remember those good and happy time. Expect they will behave with happiness for all that love. You created the relationship over time, it will take time for your service dog to realize that person isn't in the pack anymore. If you feel the need to avoid the person or establish new rules that they are to completely ignore your service dog if they see it, then do so. However, for the dog's sake please don't punish them for behaving in a way that was once totally acceptable. To do so will succeed in damaging the dog's relationship with you as well as the person you are no longer with.
  4. Know your furry wing man/woman will be there to help you try again. Service dogs have a way of keeping us out there and doing things whether we really feel like it or not. They also have ways of bringing people into our lives whether we think ourselves ready or not. Know your furry wing man/women and take a chance!
  5. If something happens to your service dog and your ex calls to check in, be kind. Being nasty to them will only make a bad situation worse and make you feel worse.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

News: Register Today for National Service Dog Oral Health Exam

National Service Dog Oral Health Exam

The AVDC Service Dog Oral Health Exam program is a philanthropic event provided to the Service Dog public by board certified veterinary dentists of the American Veterinary Dental College. If your Service Dog qualifies, it would receive a complimentary oral health screening exam in August 2012 to help identify any problems that may affect the dog's oral comfort and health.
Our veterinary dentists understand the tremendous daily contribution Service Dogs make to the lives of individuals and to all of us as a society. In return, we want assist in these efforts, by assuring that the Service Dogs can have pain free and healthy mouths.

Event Goals

  1. To promote oral health awareness in Service Dogs by providing oral exams during August.
  2. To identify painful oral disease and provide treatment options to alleviate pain, and
  3. To benefit those who rely on Service Dogs by teaching preventative oral care in order to provide their dogs pain, free, healthy mouths.
  4. To enhance referral relationships with primary care veterinarians.
The mission of the AVDC Service Dog Oral Health Exam is to promote oral health awareness in service dogs in order to prevent and relieve pain, which will benefit, not only the service dog, but all the people they serve every day.


The AVDC Service Dog Oral Health program will provide free oral health screening to Service Dog groups including seeing eye dogs, hearing dogs, handicapped assistance dogs, detection dogs, search and rescue dogs and for certified therapy dogs (through the Delta Society or similar). Dogs must be active working dogs that are certified by an organization or are currently enrolled in a formal training program. The certifying agency must be regional or local. Essentially, the dogs need to have some form of certification and/or training paperwork from an agency to qualify for this program.
While we would like to offer complimentary oral exams to all dogs performing assistance to their owners/handlers, this program is limited to the groups listed above. There are limited appointments available to examine these animals therefore a specific group has been defined.

How will this work?

Owners/handlers of the dog will register the animal via an online registration form. Once registered, the owner/handler will be given a confirmation and list of participating dentists in their area. The owners/handlers call a participating office to schedule an appointment and provide the registration number to the clinic which will be given on the confirmation form. This process is included on the registration form.

Appointment Dates and Time

Appointment dates and times will vary based on the availability of exams offered by each clinic. The clinic sets the schedule for exams for certain set days, select times on specific days, or during times of their choice during the month of August. Identify yourself as participating in the AVDC Service Dog Oral Health Exam and provide the registration number given on your confirmation form. The appointment will be set by the clinic at that time. Some clinics may request that you present certification of the Service Dog's formal training. Be sure to ask if this is needed at the time of appointment scheduling.
Once the owner/handler has registered the Service Dog, they are asked to respect the dentist's time and show up for the appointment. Arriving on time is essential in allowing as many Service Dog's to receive exams as scheduled.

What should I expect during the appointment?

The complimentary oral health exam is of a screening nature. No sedation or anesthesia will be given. Factors that limit our ability to detect every dental or oral problem in your dog may include:
  1. Lack of patient cooperation can impair proper visualization, especially of the back of the mouth
  2. Many periodontal problems can be detected only by probing under the gum with a dental instrument with the dog under anesthesia,
  3. Dental tartar can hide underlying cavities or fractures.
If any problems are found at the time of the exam or if additional tests are needed (e.g. dental x-rays, periodontal exam under anesthesia, etc.), the dental specialist will present options to best treat your Service Dog.
A copy of the exam form will be given to you to give to your primary care veterinarian. Data collected on each dog will remain private and be utilized for research purposes only.

How do I participate?

Step 1: Registration.
If your Service Dog qualifies, register on-line. If you do not register, you cannot participate in the program.
» Register here
Step 2: Locating a clinic.
Once you have registered, the confirmation page will provide you with a link to a page that will provide a list of participating clinics. (Clinics may not be available in every state.)
» Find a participating dentist
Step 3: Scheduling
After locating the clinic you would like to visit, call the office directly, identify yourself as participating in the Service Dog Oral Health Exam program and make an appointment. Dates and times will vary from clinic to clinic throughout August. We suggest you register in early July to ensure a better chance of securing an appointment at your Service Dog. Slots are limited, and those that wait to register may find it difficult to find a clinic that has filled all appointments for this program. There are no "rain checks".
Step 4: Visit
Visit the dentist at the appointed time. Please call ahead if you will be late or have to cancel your appointment.
Step 5: After the Exam
After your Service Dog's oral exam is complete, your veterinary dentist will give you a copy of the examination form and information. Please take this back to your primary care veterinarian to complete your Service Dog's medical care to schedule any diagnostics or treatment that may be needed. Your primary care veterinarian is an important part of the team in providing your Service Dog with the best oral health care. The dental specialist will make a recommendation for treatment for your service dog instead of present options.
Most important: You MUST pre-register prior to calling to make your appointment with veterinary dental specialist.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Caring for an Elderly Dog - Age is Often Mistaken as a Symptom of a Treatable Illness - Whole Dog Journal Article

Aaron Epstein’s 14-year-old Australian Shepherd-mix, Sam, was losing weight and his appetite wasn’t the same. “I just thought he was getting old because in addition to not eating with the same vigor, he was slowing down a bit, wasn’t able to walk as far, and sleeping a little too much,” Epstein recalls. The once 45-pound dog had shed close to 15 pounds -30 percent of his body weight -before concerned friends could convince a reluctant Epstein to get Sam to the veterinarian for an exam and blood work, both long overdue.
Caring for an Elderly Dog - Age is Often Mistaken as a Symptom of a Treatable Illness - Whole Dog Journal Article

Monday, June 25, 2012

New legislation recognizes role of service animals in Canadian Providence of Newfoundland & Laborador

Advances in animal training have prompted the provincial government to rework its service animal legislation.
The traditional guide dog, while still in use, is not the only type of service animal, states a government news release.
The Blind Persons’ Rights Act, passed in 1981, will be repealed once the new legislation is passed.
The Service Animals Act takes into account the wide variety of uses for service animals, and recognizes they may not always be dogs, said Felix Collins, the minister of justice and the general.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Messy Job: Poop Scooping with a Disability

There are many responsibilities that come with a a service dog. Without a doubt one of the most gross, but paramount for being viewed as a responsible handler is poop scooping. This can be a challenging job for those of us whose disabilities and the equipment we use prevent use from easily reaching the ground.

 Long Handled/ Low Dexterity Pooper Scoopers

Then there are those of use who can bend but don't want to touch it or who can bend but have hand dexterity problems that prevent them from performing grabbing motions.

No Touch Pocket Size 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Service Dog Word Cloud

This is a word cloud I made off off of this blog, pretty neat!Wordle: Service Dogs: A Way of Life Word Cloud

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

TSA & Topical Flea Control

This week has been full of travel adventures for by Shilo and myself as well as my roommate and her SDIT Blaise. First my roommate took Blaise on his first plane trip. He handled the flight and security well ( though he is not to fond of turbulance, but who is?). My roommate had an interesting experience with TSA that both she and I think should serve as a cautionary tale. Being blind she can go through the metal detector, but this time she was flagged for increase screening. When the TSA agent swabbed her hand the machine said she had an unknown substance on her hands, but the machine didn't know what it was. Translation, the substance was not a typical compound used in the making of explosives, but it wasn't something typically found on a person's hands in daily life. My roommate remembered that she had put topical flea control on Blaise the night before and the residue was still in the top of his coat. She explain to the agent what she thought it was and showed them her dog's coat. Fortunately, everyone was happy with this explanation and she was cleared through security. My roommate remember Blaise was due for flea prevention as she was doing her packing and didn't want to take him south without being sure he was protected, so she put it on him never imagining it would cause her difficulties getting through security. Most topical flea preventatives take about two days to fully integrate with the oils in the dog's fur.
So if you are preparing to travel, put it on your prep list to be done at least two days before to ensure your service dogs will be fully protected against parasites and the TSA won't be concerned.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review of Disability Studies Editor Shares Encounter betwwen Hearing Dog & Autistic Child

In her editorial, Into the Light, Megan A. Conway, Ph.D. RDS Managing Editor shares an encounter she and her hearing dog had with a child living on the autism spectrum while visiting her daughter's class:
 After the story and a handful of eager questions from my audience such as, "What happens when Buddy has to go to the bathroom?" I sat with my dog while the children came up one by one to pet him. At last it was Mary's turn, and the aide manhandled her to the front of the room while Mary, not surprisingly given that her hand was being given as an offering to a large furry animal with sharp white teeth, was resisting. "No, no," wailed Mary, pulling away as the aide stood behind her, blocking her exit and shoving her towards me. "Hey," I said, "Let her go. She doesn't have to pet the dog. Step away aide! Mary can come on her own if she wants to."
The aide was in such shock she actually did what I said. She stepped back, ready to pounce on
Mary if necessary, but releasing her arm from the death grip.
Mary got the most wonderful expression on her face. She stood there, surrounded by empty space, free, for a split second, to decide. And of course, as I had expected, she decided to come forward. She reached out her arm and she patted the dog, and then she gave me a great big smile, full of light, full of understanding.
Read the entire article
This article is a great reminder children and animals should never be forced to interact and that a non-compliance is a vital part of self determination!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Mobility: Travel Matters: Traveling with a Service Dog to Hawaii

New Mobility Travel Matters: Traveling with a Service Dog to Hawaii 
I’m a wheelchair user and have a service dog. I’m planning a two-week vacation in Hawaii. I understand Hawaii has mandatory quarantine period for dogs and cats flying in from the mainland. I’ve heard that this is waived for service dogs, but they must enter through Honolulu. I have a direct flight to Kona. Do I need to re-book my flight through Honolulu? And what kind of paperwork do I need to bring? Read Response

Monday, April 2, 2012

QR Codes & Service Dog Teams

I am constantly looking for ways to have emergency medical and contact information easily available for professionals who genuinely need access to it in order to assist me and/my service dog in an emergency situation without also having that information easily readable by any person walking by.
Currently my service dog has:
  • An Avid Microchip 
  • A standard engraved collar tag with the words "Service Dog" and my cellphone on it
  • A Rabies Tag with her veterinarian's information on it
  • An ID card from her program with their contact information
In the past my retired service dog also wore a matching medical alert medallion to mine and his information was in my Medic Alert Profile. I constantly think about and look for ways to have information easily available for those professionals who really need it to help us without worrying that it will be too available to just any random person on the street.  I stopped subscribing to medical alert many years ago because the bracelets and other jewelry  and I did not get along very well and it was a bit too recognizable for my comfort that I had medical problems. We now living in the age of Smart Phones and QR (quick response) codes.
 Just the other day I discovered QR (quick response) Code Pet ID Tags that come with their own customizable forever website for one simple flat fee!You can put whatever information you want too the website and transfer the tags if needed.  This just piqued my curiosity if QR codes could provide a wealth of chosen data on my service dog,what could they do for me as a handler with disabilities and what forms could they take.

Answer, QR Codes can be put on anything (i.e. ID cards, key chains, clothes, clothing labels, dog tags, stickers, clothing tags, etc.). QR Codes come different types sending the person scanning them to a variety of destinations including:  Websites,  your contact information (business or personal), your email address, or calendar events. These codes also come in a variety of sizes and the size determines how close the Smart Phone user must be to unlock the data contained in the code. I learned from QRworld that in order to be able to read the QR code the size on the dog tags (2.4 – 4 “) a person and their phone must within 1.5-2.5 feet. In other words they must within arms length of you. Learn More about QR Code Sizes and scanning distances. 
Arms length seems like a reasonable distance for someone to be able to unlock emergency information without worry that just anyone can access it to me. 

QR Codes for the Human Half of the Team

Getting a QR code for your personal information can ran in prices depending on what you looking for from a $15 one time fee to an annual subscriptions service ranging from $24-$39.95.
Depending on what you want to pay you can get:
  • $-Simple Emergency information embedded
  • $$-Multiple forms of your QR Code (i.e.stickers, key chains, ID Cards)
  • $$$-GPS tracking of your QR Code Location sent to an emergency contact when it is scanned
 Here are a couple of companies offering QR Codes for Medical Information and Response (*Note: I get no funding from any of these companies, I simply provide these as references)

 I love to see technology put to use helping people stay safe and live more independently! Kids and Adults with disabilities can use QR codes equal safe but cool and/or discreet. What do you, my readers think about this option?