- What is a Disability?
- WHAT IS A SERVICE DOG?
- WHAT IS A THERAPY DOG?
- WHAT IS AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?
- The Unofficial Code of Conduct for Service Dog Handlers- by "Please Don't Pet Me"
- Level 1 SERVICE DOG IN TRAINING-- STAR Puppy and Puppy Obedience Class
- Level 2 SERVICE DOG IN TRAINING-- CGC Class and Test
- Level 3 SERVICE DOG IN TRAINING-- Therapy Dog (Through Therapy Dog International)
- ADI's Public Access Test for Service Dogs
- ADI's Minimum Standards for Service Dogs
- All About Border Collies...
- Rowena's Photo Pedigree
- A SPECIAL STORY... The Story of Blizzard, a Border Collie (Under Construction)
Saturday, April 30, 2005
"Regarding Certification for Service Dogs"
Because not all service dogs are going to be doing the same things, there is no set standard of service dog training. People disabled by the same disability can vary so much from one another that his/her service dog must be trained specifically for that person based on symptoms or major life activities affected by the disability. It is not necessary to have a prescription, however I highly reccommend it. To see if you qualify to use a service dog, there are things you must have the correct answer to: "Are you disabled as defined by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)? This means that your disability affects one or more major life activities... getting dressed, going to work, running errands, personal safety, or simply going into the community. Can a service dog be trained to do work or perform tasks that will help mitigate your disability? If you are new to this, you may need extra guidance from someone a little more seasoned with service dog experience.
Service dogs can be individually trained for many things: they can detect epileptic seizures, blood sugar fluxuations in someone with diabetes, can steady individuals who are unsteady on their feet or have a difficult time balancing themselves without assistance, there are seeing eye dogs (who have specific training), dogs that assist with children with autism (grounding and safety tasks), hearing dogs, dogs that are trained to work not with the disabled but as public servants assistance: canine police dogs, bomb or mine sniffing dogs. Then there are dogs like Rowena who are being trained as a psychiatric service dog. I am sure there are many other types of service dogs out there as well. There are trainers who train dogs for some specific jobs, but there are not enough trainers around and not all types of jobs require such special training to do their job. There are usually long waiting lists, is very expensive and there are criteria to qualify for some such dogs. This makes it difficult for a person to find A trainer... let alone one that will train the dog for his/her specific needs. That is why it is okay for the person with the disability to train his/her own dog. Who would know the needs of a person seeking a service dog better than the person with the disability? Especially in the case of Rowena where my needs are so varied from any other individuals with a disabilities I know that is paired up with a psychiatric service dog.
Rowena's requirements are not too hard to train for. First and foremost, she must know basic obedience and must know what I call, "public etiquette". For example, not jumping up on people, not pulling ahead of me, sitting and lying next to me or out of the way of foot trafic when I am in meetings, not begging when there is food, and she needs to decrease her dramatic reaction to all of her little phobias (ie- briefcases, big bags, garbage cans and bags, carts...). I was told that this is a phase she will outgrow. Vocalizing is something that I discourage her from in public as well, unless it is only loud enough for me to hear (like a throat bark). What makes training most difficult right now (as she is almost 8 months old) are: her ability to focus and not get distracted during training activities, some of her phobia reactions, and when she learns bad habits from watching other dogs who are behaving badly (such as in her present obedience class).
I feel more comfortable having Rowena with me in public places when I keep a copy of my Doctor's prescription with me at all times even though the ADA says that I do not have to show proof that she is my service dog at all (all I have to do is tell them that she is my service dog). I will show people the prescription card only when it is totally necessary (not very often), and carry a copy of her vaccines. I also like to carry an identification card that describes and identifies Ro as my service dog. I don't need to show it, but just its mere presence may prevent any access problems (as with Ro wearing her vest). I know that there are individuals out there that abuse the fact that ADA says they do not have to show proof. Those individuals make it difficult for those of us who try our best to play by the rules, and truly do need the assistance of a service dog.
The last biggest requirement for Rowena is that she must be able to keep up with me. Therefore, it is my job to take care of her the very best I can so that maybe she can be with me for many more years. Rowena is a very special dog, and we have a partnership that makes us inseparable, and we love each other very much.
ANYONE WANTING MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PSYCHIATRIC SERVICE DOGS, CHECK OUT THESE LINKS: