Sunday, November 24, 2013

Five Years Together and The Process Begins Again

October marked Shilo's and my fifth anniversary as a team. As many of my loyal readers may remember Shilo was taken into training as an adult dog estimated at 2 years old, so that made her three-ish at placement. I believe in retiring my dogs before some age-related health concern makes it an urgent necessity on both parts;  therefore, at the end of September I emailed Summit to begin the process of a successor placement.  Many of you may be asking yourself why I am going through a school when I am capable of training a dog myself to meet my needs in a service dog. The answer is simple.
1.Finding a suitablbe potential candidate is a crap shoot in the best of times even when one knows what they are looking for and what they need.
2. Anything can happen during the training and maturation process to turn a once promising candidate into a washout; leaving the person needing a service back at the beginning maybe a little richer in experience but more poor in time, emotional fortitude, energy, and money.
3. A service dog partner must look at the successor process as it will fit into their life as a multiple year process. The age old where do you want to be in 3 years question. Do you want to be just starting a full time working partnership ot do you want to have been in a well established partnership for a year or more?
With my life including full time work with adult with developmental disabilities, dating, family, advocacy, and more I know I can have nothing less than a finished, mature service dog who is ready to join my life full time right out of the gate.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Favorite Harness is Back!

My absolute favorite multi-functional service dog harness is back on the market! I bought this harness for my first service dog, Bastien, used it until he retired then transferred it to Shilo and used it until it literally died from use. I was saddened to discover the woman who made each harness by hand had passed away and the harness it seemed would not be made anymore. I decided to see if I could find someone to fix or re-create my harness to no avail. Non of the fixes or remakes would as well as the original. The Freedom Design harness is designed with service dog partners using wheelchairs in mind, but I have seen this versatile harness used for partners needing guiding, and light counter balance as well. I cannot say enough good things about this harness! If you are looking for a haness that is:
  • Multi-funtional
  • designed for use by people with extremely limited hand function
  • designed to allow the dog freedom of movement
  • designed to allow for a flexible and angle variable connection between dog and partner ( this is how I was able to have a wheelchair pulling dog who did not have to lean sideways to pull from along side the wheelchair)
  • attractive
  • light weight
  • machine washable
  • durable (at least I hope it still) I had mine for 12 years before it died.
  • Reasonably priced at $85
This post is peppered with pictures of both my dogs in the same Freedom Design harness (that's right, the one I bough and used for 12 years)! Before you ask, none is paying me for this post. I just like to sing the praises of a quality product when I find one!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Petition Seeks to Stop the Sale of Service Dogs Products for Fraudulent Use

One of the biggest and oldest providers of service dogs for people with disabilities other than blindness, Canine Companion s for Independence, posted a petition urging Congress to take action against the Sale of fake service dog products.They need 10,000 signatures.
Read & Sign Petition

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wired Magazine Article Encourages Service Dog Fraud

A reader brought to my attention this week  that Wired Magazine published an article, The Cheat Code to Life, encourage their readers to pass off their pets as service dogs to gain entry to places and avoid fees. 
Make every day Take Your Dog to Work Day and go everywhere—the coffee shop, the grocery store! How? Simply dress him in a vest that just happens to be bright orange and slap on a “Service Dog” patch. VIP status: confirmed.
My response: "I can't believe Wired Magazine is so desperate for content that your editorial team has decided that encouraging people to commit federal fraud by claiming that they qualify as a person with a disability under the ADA and that their dog is a service dog under the definition found in the same law. As a person living with a disability who has worked service dogs for over 12 years and has to deal with aggressive dogs, unhousebroken dogs, and off leash dogs in public all being passed off as service dogs causing  the community of legitimate service dog experience additional requirements such as current letters of medical necessity for people experiencing psychiatric disabilities to fly, the necessity to add to the definition that a service dog must be unhousebroken, under control, not aggressive and more. I urge Wired readers and editorial staff to consider the damage passing off their dog as a service dog does to people who require the assistance of a service dog to live their life considering legitimate and legal ways they can ask for their dog to accompany them and avoid fees such as developing a pet resume for them, or simply asking permission from the business they wish to enter. For a more on how serious the effects of service dog fraud have on the service dog user community visit
Melissa Mitchell
Service Dogs a Way of Life

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Whole Dog Jounal- Dog Care When You're Down

The latest article from  the Whole Dog Journal, Dog Care When You're Down, gives its readers a glimpse into living with dogs when a person is sick, injure or recovering from some sort of medical procedure. As the population ages and people must figure out how to care for their furry companions with less physical capacity I am sure we will see more of these articles. Don't miss my article,
Dealing with Low Energy,Illness, or High Pain Days, which deals with setting up supports and plans for those of us living with chronic issues to ensure our dogs are well cared for.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

News: Oregon Bill Defines Service Animal as Dogs

ORTLAND, Ore. – A proposed change in Oregon law would make it clearer what's a service dog and what's not.

If the Oregon bill becomes law, it would more closely match the changes in federal law when it comes to service animals. It would narrow the types of dogs allowed in places like grocery stores, boutiques and even apartments.

For someone like Patricia Kepler, who has been blind since she was 17 years old, a dog's not just a pet but a necessity. The increasing popularity of allowing dogs in stores and on MAX trains and buses, she says, puts her and her working guide dog, Nisha, at risk.

"My dog has been lunged at, especially in the MAX is the biggest problem," she said. "People bring their pet dogs on the MAX because there is no train operators in each of the cars and she's been lunged at and barked at. It's been an issue."Read More/Watch video

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Big Changes & Excitement Ahead!

Today is Shilo and my last day working for the University of Oregon supporting the Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities and the Youth Enrichment and Talented and Gifted program; we are proud to announce that we will be working for Albertina Kerr as the Program Manager for their Community Inclusion program! This is a big change on many levels as we have spent the last four and a half years surviving the economy by working no less the two part-time jobs at once going up to as many as four trying to make ends meet.  We will be working full-time! Shilo will have a four-legged co-worker as well here, a black lab male from Guiding Eyes for the Blind!

 We are also going to two conferences:
The Abilities Expo in L.A. March 15-17, 2013
CELA-National CRT Leadership and Advocacy Conference in D.C. April 9-11, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Whole Dog Journal discusses Canine Allergies

5 minutes to improve your understanding of allergies in dogs. Allergies are another common reason dogs are career changes from service dog work.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Furry Valentines- Four legged love!

Labrador Love!
True comfort with everything that come from being with me!

What, it's cozy!?
The girls, Cammy and Shilo
The girls working

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Free Audio Excerpt Exploring Shaping Available

 Recently, I stumbled across this audio excerpt from one of my favorite books on clicker training, Don't Shoot the Dog, by Karen Pryor. Since finding dog training books in any format other than print is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, I had to share! Never stop learning!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Made the Local News for Sunstone

Made the news yesterday for Sunstone Service Dogs! Access the written article here.