Friday, April 28, 2006


Yes, service dogs ARE welcome here, but... Did you know that if your dog misbehaves: Barks in public, growls aggressively or otherwisw disrupts things in a public place that you may be asked to remove your service dog from that setting and come back without him or her? It's true... and it is NOT considered a violation of your rights. That is why it is so important for you to make sure that you and your service dog keep up with your public access training and obedience.

Yes, it is true that when you are asked if your dog is a service dog that the person only needs your word ("Yes, my dog is a medically necessary service animal") and that you do not have to show certification, ID or varify by any other means.


Did you know that people can ask what tasks your service dog performs to assist you? You do not have to share what your disability is, but your dog must be able to perform a minimum of three (3) identifiable tasks to assist you with daily living.


Though your service dog does not need to be certified, you must carry with you a prescription written by your doctor for you to have a service dog to assist you with your medical(including psychiatric) disability. The prescription also must state how the service dog assists you, and should understand all of these things before s/he writes the script for an SD. It can be helpful to carry this script with you at all times (or a copy of the script). If you license your dog as a service dog (special), you will be asked to present this script along with proof of up-to-date vaccinations.

It is VERY important to remember that you should NEVER falsely present a dog as your service dog when in truth it is not. This is against federal law... considered "perjury" and carries a hefty fine. Though the biggest impact is not on you but on the whole service dog community, making it more difficult for those SD teams who are going about things honestly. If you see a person falsly identifying a dog as a service dog and you know for a fact that it is not that person's service dog, say something to that person. Ask about the dogs tasks. People who lie or abuse the rights for people with disabilities to own and publicly use service dogs are acting selfishly and are breaking the law. It should not be taken lightly.


Did you purchase a trained dog or are you training your dog yourself?
When you and your service dog go out in public, you and your dog are representing every service dog team out there. Though as handlers, we are allowed to train our own service dogs, we should do our research and make sure we teach and train our dogs everything they need to know to act like the professionals that service dogs are.

Basic obedience classes and puppy classes are a great place to start your service dog onto the right path. Look for a dog trainer that works well with both you and your dog. Don't be afraid to do more obedience work with your dog later on! This is great for the both of you.

If you want to go the extra mile to make sure your service dog gets and keeps his/her professional edge, try some of these classes and tests:

1. Train your dog to pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test (CGN or Canine Good Neighbour in Canada).

2. Have your dog study for and pass a public access test.

3. Keep doing advanced obedience classes.

4. Look into taking a "Pet Therapy" class with your service dog.

5. Look into entering your dog in some canine sports where the two of you can work as a team in a fun setting. (Flyball, Agility, Ultimate Frisbee...)


It is not a good idea to encourage your dog to bark, or allow the dog to bark or growl. Your dog may vocalize at the wrong time resulting on getting kicked out of a public place. Some handlers train their service dogs to vocalize as a way of alerting them of something (seizure, panic attack...) though there is some controversy among the service dog community as to whether this is acceptable or not. The general public may translate a barking or growling dog as being a dog that is displaying aggression. Other methods of alerting can be taught.


Do not EVER encourage aggressive behaviour in your service dog. (some barking may be aggressive). A guard dog's place is not out mixed in the general public. An attack dog cannot be a good service dog as it will be unpredictable, even when trained. Make sure you socialize your dog with other dogs and people as soon as you are able to do this (beginning before 4- months of age is best). Expose your dog to many settings and many situations as these things can help decrease the chance of dog aggression and some fear aggression. This will make for a more relaxed and pleasant dog for taking into the public.

I am not an official licensed or certified dog trainer. I am simply a person who has a service dog and reads a lot and researches the things I need to know to train my service dog. The best thing you can do is to invest in working with a dog trainer on any behavioural and training problems that may arise during your work with your dog.

SERVICE DOGS IN PUBLIC:1- Your service dog must have three (3) identifiable tasks that s/he performs to help you to better function in skills of daily living.

2- Your dog should neither be seen (if this is possible) nor heard when in a public restaurant

3- You may be asked to clean up after or pay for any clean-up or repairs for any damages or messes your service dog is responsible for.

Did you know that if your service dog stains or damages something that you may be asked to pay for the cleaning or repairs (if it is policy for clients and customers in general to pay for such things if they ocur). Also, be respectful and clean- up any feces your dog leaves behind. An easy to carry piece of equipment to assist you with this unpleasant responsibility of dog ownership is a small plastic "poo bag" dispenser filled with a roll of bags. The dispensers can hook to a belt loop, leash handle, pocket book strap, or backpack and is fairly descreet.


(Actually, your service dog is considered as being "adaptive equipment".)

Is your service dog getting the medical care and up- keep s/he needs to be healthy and working in the public?

1. Take your dog to the vet on a regular basis

2. It is highly recommended that you get your SD spayed or neutered.

3. Keep your SD up to date on vaccines

4. Give your dog a general de-worming treatment monthly (or as prescribed from a vetrinarian)

5. Give your SD preventative flee/tick medicine

6. Keep thorough medical records

7. Carry proof of vaccines with you at all times.

All of the above medical treatments and preventatives cost some money, but it can save your dog's life. It is healthy for you, your SD and the public when your dog is well cared for in this way. Some public places may want to see proof of vaccinations before you can enter the building (hospitals, places with other animals...)

1- Your dog must not smell bad. Also perfumes and colognes are not allowed in some public places anymore due to allergic reactions of some individuals.

2- Your SD must be groomed (brushed) and be kept mat- free.

3- Keep your SD's nails trimmed.

4- Bathe your SD regularly. (I normally give Rowena a bath every week)

Also remember...

5- If your SD is sick or is in pain, DO NOT make the dog work. This is cruel and neglectful.

6- Keep your dog leashed in public places while working (and abide by public leash laws at other times) and make sure that your dog can follow and obey basic verbal/gesture commands and remain under control.

7- Pick up your dog's poo!

Not all dogs are cut out for service work. If a dog intended for service work does not work out or if you find that training and caring for your SD is more than you can handle and you have run out of options, make a responsible choice. Retire the service dog to live as a house pet either with you or in a new home. If you purchased your SD from a training program, you may have signed a contract with them in regards to such issues. Also, some dog breeders have you sign a contract with them asking that you return the dog to them before finding the dog a new home. Not all dogs are cut out for service work, and training and caring for a service dog is a great responsibility that not everyone will feel ready for. Where are a lot of internet support groups for people who use service dogs and they can be helpful.

Remember: When you and your service dog are out in public, you both are representing every service dog team. The future outcomes in legistlature, public attitudes and acceptance of service animals and the right we have to train (and not certify) our own service dog can be greatly affected... either positively or negatively, by how you and your service dog present yourselves and behave. Do not make us look bad or we can all lose out. Only work for and expect the very best from your SD.



Monday, April 24, 2006

My Computer is Still Broken... Here's Some More Photos!

She looks like she might be tending sheep, but the only thing she has her eye fixed on in this photo is her frisbee being waved in the air to get a good pose from her.

Rowena's regal "herding dog" pose on the stone wall.

Chloe and Rowena take a break from a rough game of frisbee tag.

Rowena and her pal, Chloe, attempt to share a large stick that Rowena had found.

Recently, Rowena actually went after a stick in the pond at the City Forest. There is still ICE in it when this was taken! After this day, she has not had the nerve to go back in after anything. Too COLD still!

Rowena meets two rowdy labs on the landfill by the City Forest.

Rowena poses nicely on a stonewall with her frisbee so I can take a photo.

Rowena chases snowballs in the City Forest this past winter.

Rowena's Frisbee landed in a tree. She wasn't sure quite what to do at first!

Me and Rowena enjoying a day at the City Forest.

Monday, April 10, 2006

"Touch of the Stomach Bug"

An E.R. Nurse pets Rowena's head after covering us both with warm blankets

A Service Dog at work

Rosie at the Doggy Emergency Department

Two weekends ago, Rowena began vomiting and couldn't even keep water down. I took her to the "Doggy" ER and they concluded that she did NOT have an intestinal blockage (this cost about $500). After the Barium series that took all day, Rowena and I returned home and she ate a special diet for about 2 days before resuming a somewhat regular diet. The following weekend, a similar story pursued only this time it was me who was not keeping anything down. Being dehydrated and my medications out of wack, I went to the human E.R. Like I did for Rowena a week earlier, She did not leave me but stayed at my feet. She kept vigil at home at my feet as well, becoming a bit stir crazy by the third day. Today was Rowena's and my first day out of the sick house. We had a short work day and a good playtime both in the field and I let her play while I was at my friend's house using her computer. It amazes me that Rowena will stay with me for as long as I stay in bed even if it means ALL weekend! I hope that I can return the loyalty.