Service Dogs and “B**bies!”

BEFORE you read my headline, it’s really not mine but the brilliant writer of the Blog “The Girl Upstairs.”  I wanted to share her brilliant thoughts to those of you who have never had nor have been around service dogs nor have helped your children understand what the do’s and don’t’s are when they are around these amazing animals.

This comes after my escapade in Sam’s (which seems to have the most amazing people (although Wal-Mart comes first) shopping in the morning) in which a gentleman walked up to me and said, “What a beautiful guard dog….” HUH!?

With that said… read on PLEASE!

Service Dogs and Boobs- A Complete Guide.

Required Reading: Service Dogs and Psychiatric Institutions

Recently Anything Pawsible a blog I follow diligently has recently released an Extensive article about Service Dog teams and the use of them in psychiatric institutions, inpatient, outpatient as well as those who work as Administration individuals.

I have to say that if anyone has, or even is considering a service dog this is REQUIRED READING and I give Kudos’ to the writers and staff of the Anything Pawsible blog and it’s an extensive amount of information for those who work as, and train Service Dogs.

Here is this article, and I suggest you read it several times and keep it handy just in case your family ever needs to work with you and your K9 in your hospitalization etc.

Psychiatric Hospitalizations and Service Dogs

Inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations can be frightening and stressful. For Service Dog teams, inpatient admissions are often more of a struggle. The complications of having dogs on a locked unit focused solely on safety and security are innumerable. However, they’re far from insurmountable! Admission with your Service Dog for inpatient psychiatric treatment can be made easier. It just takes a little planning, organization, and forethought. Read More…

Unbelievable!

This is a story that truly I need to share.. just in case, there are those who have run (and I am sure you have) into the same situation that Ma, Pa and I were part of just a matter of about of 24 hours ago in our local grocery store. Now granted, we have had dirty looks, snide remarks and ultimately even a few comments here and there that have been off-color and otherwise downright humiliating when we are all out together. Some of which I haven’t gone into yet just because in most cases, it was truly the idea that the “attack” was either due to uneducated employees for ADA laws as well as even a few people who freaked out due to “allergies” to dogs or even childhood trauma that involved a dog.  But in this case, I have to say that I could feel and see the strain that rushed across my Ma’s face and truly put my Pa (who is blind) at complete odds with the man who decided that verbally attacking us was going to put his in his position in which he wanted to remove us from the store,  and for anyone else who was within hearing distance.  I encouraged Ma to write a letter to the elderly gentleman who truly didn’t even deserve the educational blip that Ma always tries to educate other people who do not know how to act around the dogs, let alone the people who are truly fearful of them.Here is the letter:

Here is the letter:

Dear Elderly ole’ Man who has nothing to do but harass the disabled,

Your visit to Smith’s Market in the SW area of my city was welcomed but I am so glad that I was the only one who had no interaction with you.  I was having a beautiful day, even if Bear (aka Pa) and I were attempting to fill our cabinets with food and to get out as soon as possible.  After having visited this store 100’s of times with both my Katana and her predecessor Sampson, I have never been harassed by employee’s let alone the patrons and that is the one reason I have felt soo safe going to this store to shop for what I need.  There is always that one person who seems to attack and otherwise make snide remarks due to the idea that there is a large 100lb Mastiff standing next to me, helping me keep balance as well as giving me a steadier sense of mobility and continues to be that extra helping hand when I am unable to bend over to pick up items off the floor and even keep me from having a full-blown attack that would bring even more attention to myself …something I do not want or need.

I was having a beautiful day, even if Bear (aka Pa) and I were attempting to fill our cabinets with food and to get out as soon as possible.  After having visited this store 100’s of times with both my Katana and her predecessor Sampson, I have never been harassed by employee’s let alone the patrons and that is the one reason I have felt soo safe going to this store to shop for what I need.  There is always that one person who seems’s to stop me and ask questions, most of which are a repeat of others who ultimately want or need to know some of the in’s and outs of the legal responsibilities for the dogs that are used for service dogs.  Because there IS NO CERTIFICATION for service dogs, I find it harder to explain to them the tests, training and extensive evaluations that are given by multiple trainers (as well as myself) that will give her the temperament of a calm and cool K9. In this case, Katana has over 3 AKC CGC™ (Canine Good Citizenship) certificates and has passed with flying colors.  She only has one more to take, but because of health reasons on Ma’s part, it has been put on hold for a few more weeks so that we can be sure our evaluator is able to do her evaluation.

As you stood there, staring at my dog for over 3-4minutes refusing to move your cart, and I was very courteous about asking you to move so that I could get to the items that you were blocking, you insisted that the “dog” was the issue and how vicious my animal was and he was afraid to move in fear for your life. First and foremost, at this point, my dog hadn’t even paid you much head let alone barked NOR growled at you.  I surely was aware that this point you were staring at my dog (something the tag on her vest says NOT to do is gain Eye Contact with her)… This can be a cue for a dog to do one of two things, play or a challenge that can set some canines off into an aggressive stance.  But the words that left your mouth was astounding to me and started the hackles on my neck up on end.

“Sir, could you please excuse me, I do need to get to the cheese that you are in front of.”

“I was just looking at your vicious dog there… I have no intention of moving until I know I am safe.”

“Sir, truly, she is a service dog and have many hundred’s of hours training and passing her through AKC certification tests that prove her temperament is not at all what you think she is.  She would rather lick you to death than to take a chunk out of you. It’s not in her nature UNLESS you are aggressive towards her or my family. She has not been challenged on that level ever, and I don’t want her to stop so please move on and allow me to finish my shopping.”

“Yeah, everyone says that…” as he started to move forward slightly giving me the room needed to reach for what I wanted.

As he walked off, Bear made a statement, “Do you take us as morons?  What kind of person would bring in a violent or aggressive dog into a public environment and risk not only hurting others but hurting themselves?”

“Get in line!” said the old coot.

At this point, Ma was shaking. I couldn’t tell whether it was because she

The elderly man’s sarcastic response was enough to send me off as the conversation continued to go something like this:

 

Pa:  You do realize it’s ass****s like you that ruin the day for people like us who use an animal such as this to have normal lives.

Ma: You know, it’s people like you that have very much turned my head to the teachings that taught me to ‘respect my elders’ but in this case, you have tested me, and the theory in which that you deserve any type of respect I hope you feel better, harassing two people who are both disabled and ultimately have a K9 assistance animal that will make our lives more fulfilling and more normal.  I could care less of your opinion of my K9 as I assure you, I wouldn’t let her nor you touch her with a 20′ foot pole.

But as he started to move and Katana and I decided to slide behind him to get what I wanted from the shelf his right hand with a balled up fist swung backward missing my dog by a foot, and my husband by not much more.  He outright went to the physical attack mode directed at my dog and I have to say that if I had had the mind to, and he connected his fist to either my dog or my husband, he would have struggled to walk out of the grocery store under his own power.

I will say, I may not be muscular, strong, or trained in any of the plethora’s of martial arts, but a good old’ boxing match would have ensued at that point.  I TRULY love the elderly, but in this case, I find that this man was impossible, and if anything violent towards my dog, my husband and myself by harassing us.  By the time I had thought to follow him, with my cell phone dialing 911 to get the assault on record, it was a situation in which it would have been too late.

After losing him in the store, we quickly got out ourselves, checked out, and decided that we are not being stalked by a 70+-year-old man that obviously had issues with (service) dogs and their handlers. I know I am not the only one that has ultimately found very little conflict in my past, but I am sure that it won’t be the last, and would LOVE to hear some stories from those who have had something similar happen to them.Please, feel free to write me information how you handled the problem and what you feel you could have done without or done with to educate them OR even to get them to turn their heads and make them think twice about harassing other handlers.

I love the elderly, and after being raised by my grandparents, I have a soft spot in my heart to those that I meet and I enjoy the stories and antidotes that they give me to make me smile… but in his case, I truly hope that I am not so grouchy, and gruff that people find me less valuable than they do valuable.  I can only hope that at some point, someone who is afraid of dogs, or is not a dog lover that the best way to get through an uncomfortable situation is to WALK AWAY SILENTLY…. it truly makes the individuals, including the K9, more relieved in which we can all be better for because as my grandparents taught me, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all!”

Sincerely,

Ma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything Pawsable

It has been awhile since Ma has been able to write. She was recently gone for over a week, in a place called a “Hospital” where she had “surgery”…. only to end up coming up to find Pa being whisked away and having emergency surgery as well.  She has been laid up for awhile now and was told not to work with me, but she has been also unable to train much due to the horrid weather conditions and cold that have kept us in the house and me curled up on my bed with my fuzzy blankets keeping warm.

This also means that she has been able to do more work towards her certifications and learning and has received a new certificate as well as been reading a lot.  She found a wonderful blog/website that is called “Anything Pawsable” that is geared towards service dogs, their trainers, and their handlers giving a TON of good information, changes in laws, and resources for those of us that are being trained to be service as well as those who are looking to be service dog handlers.  Look for the logo before and or visit our website at http://www.anythingpawsible.com.

www-anythingpawsable

The most informative of articles has been the recent “5 Common Service Dog Myths” that I wish Ma could memorize.  As much as we are ‘stopped’ and asked questions of, the more we begin to sound like a broken record player.  The stories, some of which are hysterical due to the uninformed public naivety, are too numerous to mention so the idea that this site gives you a ton of information in laymen’s terms is a great place to learn more.  They even have a subscribe ability so you never miss a post.  Their writers are precise, informative, and are on the ball on updates across the country and even some oversea’s.  I do believe that even Ma continue’s to learn more about the industry herself and is always excited about being able to give that information to those who ask.

Hope you enjoy their hard work as much as Ma and I do!

Is there a Downside to a Service Dog?

I came across this article the other day that was recently come across my normal reading repertoire and had to smile.  This individual speaks of her Leader Dog and as much as I understand the trials and tribulations of a Service Dog, I couldn’t imagine the other challenges that came across the Blind that use a Leader Dog.  You see, my husband is blind and even though I am not personally involved in Leader Dog training, I get asked all the time why my husband won’t use one.  Personally, I tell them it’s his decision, but ultimately he has seen/heard others with them and then has seen the struggles of being completely reliant of a K9 companion and said it wasn’t for him.  He is a stubborn man, but I do have one story I want to share of my own.

Sampson, my beautiful Bullmastiff that for some reason, saved my life twice while I was struggling with my health.  I ended up with a blood infection that shut me down, and drove me to high fevers to the point where I could not warm up, no matter how many blankets I put over me and no matter how many hot baths I took.  Having such a high fever, he also knew that I was unaware of my surroundings and the dangerous part of falling asleep in a bath tub that I could have drown in.  He sat right at the head of my tub and every time I started to nod off, I got a bit fat tongue of Sampson juice across my face and a nuzzle to wake me up.  And then when I got out of the tub, he jumped up on the bed (which was a forbidden sin) but then curled up around me all 150 lbs of him, and spooned me after having grabbed the blanket and covered me up with it.  For that, I knew that he and I were inseparable and he became a huge part of our family.

When Pa lost his eyesight, it was amazing to watch him click and know exactly what had happened to Pa.  Having not eaten yet, Pa, great grand ma, and Ma went to a Sweet Tomatoes for a salad and because Pa could not carry his tray, I took his tray and handed Sampson’s lead.  Sampson was AMAZING as he looked up at Pa and took a step forward each time Pa did, and followed me to the table without the use of a leader harness and even a cane. Pa’s emotions were running high so instead of sitting near me, he sat with his giant head in Pa’s lap and refused to move as he knew Pa needed some reassurance after having his eyesight taken.  Sampson was his safe zone and it was so amazing to watch as I, never taught him that.

So in reading the story “The Downside to a Guide Dog” I had to chuckle, as my new K9 in training does so many of the things that Viviene does to her Handler that Katana does with me.  This also shows the connection between Handler and Dog and why I get so darn angry when others reach out to pet Katana even with a huge sign on her side that says, “PLEASE DO NOT PET!” I still get interrupted and people reach out to pet her….. I am so going to fix this if it’s the last thing I do!

IMPORTANT State Assistance Animal Laws

Ma was reading an article on a K9 that was twice asked to leave the same facility with several local restaurants.  In this article, this table was shared and I felt it was CRUCIAL to give this link out identifying in which state needed what items completed and how certain events were and should be treated. (For the story, read HERE.)

Please visit this link to find out about your state and be armed with information to help those who may not know or those who need that extra hero to help them when you see them being objectified due to their Service Dog:

https://www.animallaw.info/topic/table-state-assistance-animal-laws

Diabetes and Dogs

I came across this article, that helps people understand the amazing work that dogs do for humans with Diabetes. Most people with these dogs are Type 1, an onset that is determined prior to age 30.  I know  far too many juvenile diabetics and alway say that having a dog to help their sugar levels.  Have ‘lows’ is a horrible feeling and if not taken care of immediately, it is impossible to come out of it unscathed. It takes a lot out of a person.  I am proud to say that my last dog came to his nose extremely naturally and would not only paw me, but my husband as well indicating so much for us that we may have never had the chance to deal with in a safe manner.

Here is this amazing article:

http://gizmodo.com/we-finally-know-how-dogs-sniff-out-diabetes-1782670434

The one thing I am constantly asked about myself and my team mate Katana, is that “How do I get a service dog…?”

I have to be honest, and tell them the truth.  Have you been diagnosed with a debilitating disease that is a struggle to maintain?  are you willing to lose your independent and have a child (albeit a furry one) that you will continue to raise, play, TRAIN (yes I say train because training these K9’s NEVER stops!) and make sure that they are constantly seen by a vet for health issues and then there is the heartbreaking decision of giving up (retiring) your K9 for a new younger version.. and knowing you may not see them again…

It is extremely hard to have a K9 and after years of 24/7 service, having to say good bye.  As a trainer myself, I adore the work, but it is also heart breaking to see pups age and slow down.

 

Katana Receives New Title!

Ma and I had another test. Darn I hate these tests, because they pop them on me and I get a little nervous. But, my evaluator had good patience and we worked extra hard to pass ALL 10 of the Canine Urban Good Citizenship test that I took back in February. Some of the testing that I was tested on was (Taken from the AKC website):

  1. Exit/enter doorway with no pulling in dog-friendly buildings. Exit building to start test, additional Public buildings items are below.
  2. Walk through a crowd on a busy urban sidewalk.
    • People come toward the dog from 1-ft. away
    • Tolerate distractions (people wearing hats, coats, men, women, etc).
  3. Appropriate reaction to city distractions. This includes movement, noises, and walking on a variety of surfaces. Examples:
    • Noises: horns, sirens, construction noise, etc.
    • Moving objects: skateboard, bike, carts, person running
    • Surfaces: concrete, grass, grates, plastic tarp, wet sidewalk
  4. Crossing street: Stop at corner, stand or sit to wait and cross with no pulling (on leash, with owner). Crosses street under control.
  5. Ignore food on sidewalk. (Dropped food, or cups, bags, cans, in which food was wrapped).
  6. Person walks up and pets the dog. May be carrying an item such as a small dog in a bag, a computer bag, etc. Person does not put the bag down to pet the dog.
  7. Public Building (that is dog friendly). Walks under control in building (slick surface, carpeted floor). Down stay (3 min) in lobby or outdoor area, or waits while owner has a meal or snack.
  8. Stairs, steps, or elevator under control.
    • Steps (at least 3 – up and down)
    • Elevator (Enters under control, exits, rides under control)
  9. Housetrained for apartment, condo, city living. Owner may verify this item. Evaluator may also observe in public buildings, or have observed in training classes.
  10. Transportation. Owner’s choice depending on transportation needs.
    • Car. Enters/exits, remains under control during the ride. (Crate? Seatbelt?)
    • Subway. Small dog in bag for ride. (large dogs are not always permitted; know and abide by the Transit Policies in your area).
    • Dog friendly (enters/exits or allows to be put in/taken out) under control.

I hear that there is another test that I have to take. An “Advanced” of all I have learned, and I am a bit nervous as usual, but I am sure Ma will prepare me properly for it.  Meanwhile, I have had some time to rest from training, and usually I am a bit more active, but having some time off to be a bit lazy has been worth it.

Here is my certificate!  *giggles*… I *puffs it up* am Mastiff!  Hear me roar!

20160307_162551

 

Black Dogs Rule: So You Say You Want a Service Dog

Ma recently ran across a post that truly hit her to the core. She was quite happy and made mention that she wished she could print this out and hand it to everyone that approached her and I while I was working or while she and I were out and about on in the town.  It does seem to be the norm that those who do not or have not had any type of connection with service dogs, don’t seem to realize what is done to get us to the point where we are working dogs and how we continue to keep ourselves trained, and up to date.  Think of us as “Nurse Practioners.”  If you had a nurse that didn’t keep herself up to date with her skills, medical procedures or other disease knowledge, would you want her working and making crucial decisions about your loved one’s health?  Probably not.  I know my travels down the road of work is a long one, and that as much as I sometimes like and act like an lazy dog remember a few things:

1) I am only nine months old and my puppy energy is STILL there. I am trained, worked with daily and learning something new to challenge my growing brain daily.

2) I still am growing and even at 80 plus pounds, my body needs it’s sleep (when I an get it) to grow and continue to do so in a healthy manner.

3) I am a short muzzled K9, or in more scientific terms, a “brachycephalic” dog.  These dogs can include Pugs, Chin’s, Bulldogs, Bullmastiff’s, Dogue De Bordeaux, Boxers and a few other breeds that look like they hit the wall full force as a pup.  Our noses are our cooling system (as well as our feet) and in that the longer the nose (muzzle) the most time and room the air has to be cooled down by our bodies before it hits our system.  The shorter the nose, the less time we have to cool it, therefore, we are no always at all successful.  Because of this, the brachycephalic dogs should be kept cool and out of long term heat exposure.  If I am being lazy or lying on my side, it is one way for me to help my body cool down faster than just relying on my nose to cool the air I am breathing in.

4) And just because I am laying there, doesn’t mean I am not aware.  You would be surprised what our noses do when our eyes are closed.

Please read this article and pass it along.  I can’t count on my paws the number of times she has been asked stupid hooman questions when she really should be concentrating on me.

You Say You Want a Service Dog

Care Packages to K9 Military Units

I recently saw this article regarding the idea of sending care packages to those K9s that serve faithfully next to their human partners.  We always wonder and consider the stress that is placed on our human servicemen and women, but what about those four-legged ones that continuously work, tirelessly and without complaint?

Read this and tell me you don’t feel the urge to do your part to make their lives just a little bit easier….. I know Ma is considering it, and I hope you do too!

http://barkpost.com/care-packages-soldier-dogs/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=barkpost