Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rosie Training Update: Changes Cause Changes

Rosie, parked on top of Mt. Battie, Camden, Maine.

Sasha's angel wings (and moving background) were given to her from a Kitty pal on Catster.

In Memory of the Late Great Princess Sasha-Ama. Thank you for being such a great cat. I wish we had had more time together, but I am sure glad I got some time.

Rosie has been dealing with a lot of changes this year... a change in family structure and routine, and as a result, she has had some problems. None of the problems are interfering with her public access privileges, however they have created some issues in training and at play. Chris got a job down in Georgetown, Maine last October. I was not able to join him, and as a result, Rosie's "Daddy" has been gone a lot. He works mostly evenings and into the night with a couple of days off. He tries to make it here to be with us some evenings, but the drive is two- hours. After a long day at work, sleep might be a wiser choice than travel. We have both suffered, Rosie and me. Chris's absence has left me more depressed and without regular transportation. I am now less active due to both of these issues. The affect on Rosie has been that it has made her depressed as well. It has made her more difficult to train and also has made her slower to respond to my commands. On leash this isn't as big of an issue as when she is off- leash and at play. Situations do arise in the forest where a bomb- proof recall is crucial. Hesitation or tuning me out until she is ready to do what I ask is not acceptable. though for the most part, she has been coming when called, she is not doing it immediately, will continue to go sniff the flowers she had meant to sniff before I called her and make her way leisurely to me. I have become more strict and less tolerant as a result of her behavior and I hate having to do that. I have made it my goal to spend more time with her either cuddling or training or playing together and less time on the computer. The blog entries will show this lapse.

Rosie continues to be obstinent and stubborn and when I back track her training and maybe work with her on lead, she does fine. I am at a loss as to how I am going to approach this training issue. I am unable to travel out to Levant for any training classes, and my money is very tight as I am back on full benefits for my disability since I no longer have Chris's income. I have foodstamps now, but no appetite. I have been having to make Rosie eat her food as well. She is not as filled in and solid as she was last year. I was so happy to have found a decent dog food that she would eat with out me pestering her and force feeding her. Now she is back to that. She will eat the cat's food, her treats, and my food without ever having a hesitation about it, but not her food. This means she is quite capable of eating her food. I have had to cut down on treats (even in training) just to get her desperate and hungry enough to eventually have to eat her own food.

I get so darn frustrated with her lately because she has been so stubborn. However, she remains a great support and my best friend, always there for a kiss or a smile (her kisses to me and her smiling!)

Our Persian mix cat, Sasha, who I got last February from the humane society died a few weeks ago. We only had her a year and I was looking forward to spending a long time with her. She had a massive coronary and died very suddenly. No suffering though we do think she didn't feel very well. This loss deeply affected me. Amazing how deeply attached I had gotten to her in a year. It was like losing a child in a way, because I did have hopes and dreams for Sasha. I am happy that I did rescue her from the shelter as scraggly as she looked at that point. I knew I could make her the princess she was meant to be, and I did. Her hair grew in, her eyes cleared up, and besides an occasional problem with allergies (she was very allergic to fleas, even using Frontline she would still get sores once in a while). I know that Rosie knows that Sasha had died. Then we get a new kitten who turns out to be Sasha's polar opposite. His name is Solace, but we call him Spawn (as in Spawn of Satan) once in a while which seems a more appropriate name for the little devil. He is a handsome kitten and will be very sought after by the females when he is fully matured. He plays quite rough with Rosie, who handles him very gently. she will put his whole head in her mouth but she never tightens a grip on him no matter what.
Anyway, I am going to continue this post later on. I have lots more to say. After this Wednesday, I should be able to say something new about Maine L.D. #289 that is supposed to "Redefine Service Dogs". At this point, Maine is at the verge of either putting themselves deeper into the dark ages, or finally updating their service dog laws so that they comply with the ADA completely. As it was left, possibility still sways towards Maine continuing to be archaic.

Summertime: More Fun! (Year 3)

Rosie and me on the Carriage Trail leading up to Mt. Battie and the Tableland Trail. Camden, Maine.

Chris (Daddy) with Rosie on top of Mt. Battie looking towards the harbor. Camden, Maine

Me and Rosie on the tower on top of Mt. Battie, Camden Hills State Park, Camden, Maine

Rosie at Reid State Park, Georgetown, Maine (State Parks ask that ALL dogs be on 4-foot leashes at all times. Who uses 4-foot leashes??? and on a hike??)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

2007 Spring Thaw Photo: Spring Beauty

Rosie celebrates the disappearing snow from the field with a high flying game of Frisbee!

Support Your Favorite Local Service Dog Training Facility!

Here is Tail Waggin Training Center:

If the State of Maine's LD #289 had lived and past as written, little gems like this facility would be out of business. The nearest non-profit service dog training facility is in Portland, Maine, a good 2 hours from here (Bangor) and a good 4 hours away for those in the northern most parts of Maine. Waiting lists for these already trained Service dogs available at this Portland training facility (My Wonderful Dog) are most certainly enormous as they are everywhere else in the country. The demand for service dogs are high. There is no way that they would ever be able to keep up with the demand if LD #289 had past as written. Not to mention the cost for the disabled individual to get such a dog is higher than what it cost me to raise, train and care for my owner-trained service dog for her first 2 years (maybe even 3 years). A well-bred pup can go for about $1,200. Health checks, care and training is (for me) about $4000 (or so) a year. By raising my own pup, my dog is already tuned into my moods and chemistry and may already be able to alert before basic training is finished.
Tail Waggin lets me know about eye clinics to get Rosie's eyes CERF'd and let me know who to go to for hip checks. Since Rosie's puppy training, my need for hospital visits and stays, ER visits and doctor visits in general have gone down incredibly saving tax payers thousands of dollars. My care providers are happy. Best of all, Tail Waggin does "house calls" and will meet with Rosie and me, and do public access work with us alone. We can work on Rosie's own weak areas of training (those darn garage doors that close all by themselves!) They keep up on service dog laws and standards and preach these things to their clients so that they are responsible service dog handlers and pet owners.
Note: Tail Waggin Training Center is not responsible for ANY of the content of this blog. This blog and all of it's content is purely my fault. Heather Gerquest. If you know my email address, you may email me with any problems you have with my blog's content or use the link provided in this blog to leave me a message. Make sure that you leave your email address with your message if you wish for me to respond. If you do not wish to get a response but I want to give one anyway, I will respond with in the blog.

The Latest on LD #289

Rosie poses for me in her new purple PSD vest from
The PSD patches came from the Psychiatric Service Dog Society ( with
which Rosie and I are members.

The last thing I heard about the controversial LD #289 was that it was on hold due to the simple fact that people were realizing that so much was added onto the original document that it no longer was the simple doc on dog licensing it supposedly began as. There were many violations to the ADA in this document and many SD trainers and disabled handlers wrote letters to their reps. It also seems like the major add on to this document (the part about SD certification through non-profit organizations only) was added on by an individual who has a conflict of interest in this whole thing. He is on the Board of Trustees at a non-profit service dog training facility in Southern Maine which is (surprise surprise) where this document originated. If it weren't from my friend in Windsor (southern Maine), I would not have heard of this LD and the people in the Northern most part of this state would not have known about this thing.
I am a strong supporter of owner-trained service dogs (that train with assistance when needed and as necessary) and also a strong supporter of the smaller, for- profit dog training facilities that assist those of us who want to train our own service dog. They do not charge thousands of dollars more than necessary for a trained dog and are just as capable of training or assisting to train service dogs. I do not belief any one breed as superior in the service dog profession as each person may want and need something different from their dog. Each dog is an individual and any breed of dog can wash- out of the training. Some dog breeds have a higher rate of wash- out, but a person has to choose the breed wisely, looking at the pros and cons of the breed and learning how to make certain breed characteristics work in favor of the service dog tasks needed. I do believe Border Collies are the superior breed, :) but realize that they are not the breed for everyone (which goes for every breed). Border Collies do not necessarily make a great service dog though they are unbelievably smart and a joy to teach and work with. I do not believe that service dogs have to come from a special breeding program because that would mean that the choice of dog breeds available would be greatly limited (mostly to retriever type dogs). I believe that I am the best person to train my service dog, know what my needs are and know that I can do this myself and do not like the fact that this LD would take that choice away from me. I do not see how sending a puppy from foster home to puppy raiser and so forth can be very healthy or helpful if a person is capable of raising his/her own puppy. The bonding developed during this time are invaluable between puppy and handler, even beneficial in building the bond needed for some services the dog will later provide. I also recognize that disabilities come in many forms and that service dogs can assist people to live better with many types of disabilities... not just the physical or visible ones.

I know what the ADA says (the Americans with Disabilities law) and wish that the people in the government, legislature in in the law making department would learn what these crucial laws are before trying to pass bills that violate them.

Please, no matter what State, Country or wherever you live, keep up on the laws in your area. Remember that though the ADA is the same all over the United States, State laws regarding training and handling of service dogs vary per State. The ADA is supposed to preside if the State law doesn't provide the most protection, but at what cost?

Learn your laws so you can fight your fights and I pray that we all can have the energy to do so!!

Good luck training your dogs everyone!!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Really Awesome Greeting Cards:

Photo copyright by Sumner Fowler
Card says: "All who wonder are not lost". quoted by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)
Blank on the inside.
Do you like it?
copyright 2006 by The Borealis Press Inc.
P.O. Box 230 (Surry Road at Wharf)
Surry, Maine 04684 USA
They print with soy inks on acid-free, chlorine-free recycled paper, which produces no dioxins in the mill waste.


If you have a handler-trained service dog, have a psychiatric service dog or autism service dog, or if you have a NOT non-profit training facility that trains and helps handlers train service dogs in the State of Maine, this bill could affect you!
It sounds innocent enough, but it is not. Please read the following LD carefully and be prepared to write a letter to your representative as soon as possible! There will probably be a number of people going to Augusta to testify against this LD at a later point. Below you can read the LD out for yourself. The added colors, italics and use of bold lettering has been added to hopefully make this piece easier to read. The print that is in yellow is my little editorial of the last section. I am hoping that the "editorial" will help give you a (rather biased) idea of what the thing is trying to say, or what could happen if this thing passes and becomes a law. If you do not want to read that part, just skip over all of the yellow type. If you have any problems, leave me a message in the blog and I will get back to you if you leave your email address.
__ __ __ __ __
"This bill enacts a definition of "service dog". It requires documentation of minimum training standards for service dogs and dogs trained to assist in law enforcement and search and rescue efforts in order to receive an exemption from licensing fees."

Legislative Document
No. 289
H.P. 233

An Act to revise the definition of "service dog"
Referred to the Committee on Business, Research and Economic Development

Presented by Representative ROBINSON of Raymond,
Cosponsored by Senator HASTINGS of Oxford, Senator COURTNEY of York, Representatives AUSTIN of Gray, BEAUDETTE of Biddeford, BEAULIEU of Auburn, FARRINGTON of Gorham, PRESCOTT of Topsham, RECTOR of Thomaston, and SAVAGE of Falmouth
_________________ _________________ _____________________
Bill Text
An Act To Revise the Definition of Service Dog
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1.7 MRSA sub.sec.- 13, as enacted by PL1987, c. 383,sub.sec. 3, is repealed.
13. Guide dog or hearing dog kept for breeding purposes... means a male or female dog owned by a nonprofit organization for the purpose of producing puppies to be trained as guide dogs or hearing dogs and living with a resident of the State.
---What does this mean to me? Breeding dogs are worth more to the State than my task-trained, handler trained service dog even though she has saved the State of Maine more money than conventional methods. Any dog can become a Service dog if it has the right stuff. It doesn't have to be specially bred for the purpose.
Sec. 2.7 MRSA sub.sec. 24-A is enacted to read:
14. Guide dog or hearing dog kept prior to training... means a dog under 18 months of age, owned by a nonprofit organization for the purpose of training as a guide dog or hearing dog and living temporarily with a resident of the State prior to training.
---What does this mean to me? It means that I will no longer have the right to raise and train my own service dog, and that a temporary puppy raiser is more suited for the job of raising my future service dog than I am.
Sec. 3.7 MRSA 3907, sub.sec. 24-A, is enacted to read:
24-A. Service dog... means a dog that has been or is being trained to provide special services to its handler including a guide dog for a person who is blind or visually impaired, a hearing dog for a person who is deaf or hard-of- hearing and a personal care dog as defined in Title 17, section 1312, subsection 7.
---What does this mean to me? It means that because I do not have a "physical" disability that I don't qualify for a service dog according to the State of Maine.
Sec. 4.7 MRSA 3922, sub.sec. 4, as amended by PL 1995, c. 409, sub.sec. 4 is repealed and the following enacted in its place:
4. Trained guide dogs. If a trained dog has not been previously registered or licensed by the municipal clerk to whom the application is being made, the clerk shall not register the dog nor issue to its owner or keeper a license and tag unless written evidence is provided that the dog is trained and educated and intended to perform guide dog service for the applicant.
--- What does this mean to me? Is written evidence a doctor's script? No where do I see anything about having a prescription for a service dog here. Also it is further proof that I will not be able to raise and train my own service dog.
4. Service Dogs. When the owner of keeper of a service dog is applying to license a dog that has not been previously licensed as a service dog, the owner or keeper must provide the documentation required under section 3923-A, subsection 3-A.
Section 5.7 MRSA 3923-A, first as amended by PL 2003, c. 405, sub.sec. 13, is further amended to read:
Exempt as provided in subsection 3 3-A and section 3923-C, a dog owner or keeper obtaining a license from a municipal clerk or dog recorder shall pay the license and recording fees established in this section.
--- What does this mean to me? This just says that owners of pet dogs still have to pay the licensing fee.
Sec. 6.7 MRSA 3923-A, sub.sec. 3, as amended by PL2001, c. 422, sec. 9 is repealed.
3. Exemption from fees. A municipal clerk or a veterinary licensing agent shall issue a license upon application and without payment of a license fee required under this section for:
A. A trained guide dog owned or kept by a visually impaired person or such a dog awaiting training,
B. A trained hearing dog owned or kept by a hearing- impaired person or such a dog awaiting training,
C. A trained service dog owned and kept by a physically impaired person or such a dog awaiting training,
D. A trained search & rescue dog recognized by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife or by the statewide association of search and rescue that cooperates with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in developing standards for search and rescue or such a dog awaiting training, and...
E. A dog certified by the State and used for law enforcement purposes.
---What does this mean to me? The above means that my service dog does not qualify as a recognized service dog by the State of Maine. It is saying that I must pay to get my dog licensed and that she will not be licensed as a service animal. It also means that Service dogs for disabled individuals are bunched together in Maine law with public service animals (police dogs and SAR dogs) who do not serve the disabled and are not bound by ADA law. This only happens because it is obvious that who ever created this LD was not at all familiar with the ADA and how it applies to Service animals for the disabled individual.
Sec. 7.7 MRSA 3923-A, sub.sec. 3-A is enacted to read:
3-A. Exemption from fees... a municipal clerk or veterinary licensing agent shall issue a license upon application and without payment of a license fee required under this section for:
A. A service dog when the dog's owner or keeper presents documentation that the dog is certified in accordance with title 26, section 1412-I or is enrolled for training as a service dog with an organization accredited under Title 26, section 1412-I;
B. A trained search and rescue dog when the dog's owner or keeper presents documentation that the dog is certified in accordance with Title 12, section 10054, subsection 4-A, and...
C. A law enforcement dog when a law enforcement officer presents documentation that the dog is certified in accordance with Title 25, section 2803-A, subsection 8-D.
After initial licensing as a service dog, documentation is not required under this subsection for license renewals unless the owner of keeper of the dog changes.
---What does this mean to me? It means that my dog must be certified as a service animal through one of the State of Maine's special nonprofit accredited organizations in order to be licensed as a service animal. Otherwise, I must pay the fee and have her listed as a pet.
However, it also means that public service dogs (police and SAR dogs) do not have to take a yearly refresher course, which means that the dog may not keep up to the minimum standard that will be required of them. Training never stops.
Sec. 8.7 MRSA 3961-A, last as enacted by PL 2001, c.220, sec. 2 is repealed.
For the purposes of this section, "service dog" means a guide dog for the visually impaired, or a hearing dog trained to alert a person with impaired hearing, or a personal care dog as defined in Title 17, section 1312, subsection 7.
Sec. 9.12 MRSA 10054, sub.sec. 4-A is enacted to read:
4-A. Search and rescue dogs. Development of minimum training standards for dogs certified as search and rescue dogs. the bureau shall develop a certificate to be issued to the owner or keeper of a dog that successfully completes a search and rescue training program recognized by the bureau as meeting or exceeding the standards developed under this subsection. The certificate must identify the dog by breed and the owner or keeper of the dog who participated in the training.
---What does this mean to me? I have no problem with this. I hope that they raise the standards so that these public service dogs are expected to behave in public like the service dogs for individuals with disabilities are expected to do.
Sec. 10.17 MRSA 1011, sub.sec. 13 as enacted by PL 1987, c. 383, sec. 4 is repealed.
13. Guide dog or hearing dog kept for breeding purposes... this means a male or a female dog owned by a nonprofit organization for the purpose of producing puppies to be trained as guide dogs or hearing dogs and living with a resident of the State.
---What does this mean to me? I am having a problem with the fact that Maine recognizes "special" breeding dogs as being more important than my service dog that has been custom trained for my specific disabilities and needs.
Sec. 11.17 MRSA 1011, sub.sec. 14 as enacted by PL 1987, c. 383, sec. 4 is repealed.
14. Guide dog or hearing dog kept prior to training... means a dog under 18 months of age, owned by a nonprofit organization for the purpose of training as a guide dog or hearing dog and living temporarily with a resident of the State prior to training.
Sec. 12.25 MRSA 2803-A, sub.sec. 8-D is enacted to read:
8-D. Training of law enforcement dogs. to establish training standards for dogs used for law enforcement purposes, the board shall develop a certificate to be issued to the owner or keeper of a dog that successfully completes a training program recognized by the board as meeting or exceeding the standards developed under this subsection.
---What does this mean to me? It means that I hope that this minimum standard will include the handler of this dog must trust the dog with the public it will be working for. If these dogs are not trained well or not trained on an ongoing basis, they can become too aggressive to handle. A dog that is too aggressive and cannot be trusted by its own handler should be retired and sent to Cesar Milan at the Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, California.
Sec. 13.26 MRSA 1412-I is enacted to read:
1412-I. Certification of service dogs.
No later than July 1, 2008, the commissioner shall adopt rules to establish minimum training standards for service dogs and an accreditation process for persons or organizations that provide training that meets or exceeds the standards developed under this section.
---What does this mean to me? It means that I will have no choice about the training of my service dog and will not be allowed to train my own dog.
For the purposes of this section, "service dog" has the same meaning as in Title 7, section 3907, subsection 24-A. The rules must include training standards for guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired, hearing dogs for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and personal care dogs for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing. rules adopted under this section are routine technical rules defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
The commissioner shall develop and maintain a list of accredited trainers and furnish certificates to those trainers to be issued to the owner or keeper of a dog that successfully completes a training program. The certificate must identify the dog by breed and type of service training received and the owner or keeper whom the dog has been trained to assist or who is keeping the dog pending assignment of that dog to a person needing the dog's services.
---What does this mean to me? My dog will need to be "certified" in order to maintain her "Service dog" status. The money they will waste on implementing this whole thing could be saved by letting individuals who are able raise and train their own service dog. Not all disabilities can fit the "cookie cutter" service dog training program. There are plenty of small training facilities who won't charge a person and arm and a leg to assist in the training of a service dog... some who will even raise and train them from puppyhood. Waiting lists for service dogs at many nonprofit facilities are very long, and won't train for all disabilities... but since the State of Maine will not be recognizing all disabilities that presently are helped by service dogs, I guess it won't matter. Prices for these dogs is way beyond the ability of a person with a disability. Training my own dog for serving me has cost far less than if I had gotten her from a facility and the bond we have from going through everything together is priceless.
_______________ _________________ ____________________
What does this Mean?
Who does this affect?
-Disabled individuals* with non-certified service animals
-Disabled individuals* with disabilities that are not perceived as "physical" such as psychiatric service dogs and autism dogs
-Disabled individuals who have trained or are training their own service animal.
-Training facilities that are not a nonprofit organization that train service dogs and assist handlers to train their own service dog.
Why should this bother me?
This bill will violate the rights of people with disabilities. The list of rights I am talking about is the ADA, which is a Federal act that was designed to help protect individuals with disabilities and help protect them from certain types of discrimination. It is apparent to me that the individuals that support this LD have not familiarized themselves with the ADA and its definition of "service dog" or "service animal. There are a few links down at the lower left side of this screen for you to view some information put out by the ADA and also of some of the Maine laws already in place for service animals. The ADA does not require certification or training at a special training facility. The ADA also does not say that the service animal must be a dog. Training for a disability as varied as psychiatric illnesses requires a more custom training program, not a regular "cookie- cutter" training program as with seeing-eye dogs or hearing dogs who are all trained the same list of tasks. Thus handler training with assistance or even alone is usually the best approach.
*Also known as "PWD or people with disabilities which is the more socially acceptable way of wording it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Rowena's Task List:

Here is a copy of Rosie's list of tasks she presently preforms for me. Double- click to see this list in a larger size. Other places to find tasks are the PSDS site (link provided on the lower left part of the screen) and the IAADP site.

"A Day at Reid State Park in Georgetown, Maine"

I was told that you could bring your dog to Reid State Park which is down the road from our new place in Georgetown, Maine during off-season hours. When we got to the park, we found that dogs must be leashed. After seeing the size of the waves, I knew we had to go home and get a longer leash. We came back with Rosie happily chasing waves with her 50- foot lead on as a leash, bouncing in the sand on an unusually warm January day, bounding towards the huge waves and chasing them back into the sea. I didn't have to get dragged in with her. That day in early January was truly a rarity here in Maine reaching temps of probably 65 degrees. My husband laughed at the people who came to visit the beach who were bundled up like it was an average winter day. Rosie still found the water was very cold and eventually stopped chasing the ocean in order to warm up, but she thoroughly enjoyed her romp on the beach and not only made us laugh, but also other fellow beach combers. It is interesting that the shells that one is able to find washed up on beaches differ so much from one Maine beach to the next. Here I was happy to see Razor clams and tiny sand dollars that would be a rare find from the beaches near where we used to live (North or "downeast"). It also seemed that one is more apt to find a sand beach down in the Southern part of the state, but I don't know. Rowena could care less. She walked along and occasionally tried to dig up a monster piece of driftwood from it's sandy bed, throwing sand everywhere. I know she will look forward to her next trip here.

"The Service Dog Training Journal"

Click on the picture to view at a larger size.

Front and Back pages of Rosie's Training loggeth

er. If ever challenged about your dog in a court of law, this log ww the work you have done and help in your

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Oscar Will Get His Day in Court!

During this whole thing with Oscar and the rescue of Crash, I kept the picture in my mind of my Border Collie, Rosie when she was a healthy, happy 8-week old. Here she is picture above as we visited her at the breeders when she was 8-weeks old. The pic was taken on a Monday and she came home with me on that Friday.

Oscar, the puppy found in a Dumpster in mid December in the Butte, Montana area will get his day in court when his breeder appears for her (maybe) April court hearing regarding the abuse and abandonment of the puppy. Through investigation, (blood test DNA) it was shown that Loretta Brooks, 46, of Butte,

Oscar (left) and Crash (right), both pictured post-rescue. Oscar is still being fostered and cared for by the Chelsea Bailey Animal Shelter, and Crash now has a loving and caring home in the Chicago area.

Montana (allegedly) bred Oscar (Crash's brother). Maximum penalty for the abuse and abandonment of Oscar is only considered a misdemeanor cruelty to animals charge even though Oscar was nearly dead when the Animal Control Officer found him buried with trash in the dumpster. Maximum penalty is a $1000 fine and/or a year in jail.

Here is my worry... will this person be allowed to have pets again? It is obvious that she is incapable of keeping and caring for dogs and paying for regular medical treatment. Crash's condition at 5 months was simply appalling. A five-month old Border Collie who was still the size and weight of my Border Collie when she was 9 weeks old! Crash should have weight around 20 pounds by that time. She needed to be wormed. She had health problems that the average dog breeder would have automatically taken care of a long time ago. Worming, vaccinations...

Here is my warning to those individuals who are looking for a puppy to purchase on the Internet: I found Crash on Crash, Oscar and their siblings had their photos on the site and one would have to pay close to $6 a month to see the breeder's contact information. I welcome you all to check out PuppyFind just so you can see what I am talking about. On the site for each puppy, there are areas the breeder can check off such as "this puppy comes with a Health Certificate/Health Guarantee" and others. Crash and her siblings all had this checked off, but to tell you the truth, I don't think these pups had ever seen a vet. Based on the condition of Crash when she was rescued, I highly doubt she had been seen by a doctor. I know now that had I been able to adopt Crash myself, I probably would have been unable to have her sent via air because she would not have cleared medically. The breeder had on the sites that she did not deliver (not available). Most breeders I noticed would include delivery for a price. Perhaps this should have been a red flag. If you adopt a dog over the Internet, please talk to the breeder first. Ask questions and save the replies in your emails. Does this person sound like they have a clue as to what they are doing? Do you have any reservations about this breeder at all from your contact? Educate yourself before searching for a pup. Research the breed and research any medical problems that can be related to the breed, or genetic problems that should be screened for before hand. Know what to ask, know what to look for, and know what you want to hear back from the breeder. Ask to see the health guarantee for the puppy. Ask about hip scores, eye scores, elbows, knees, temperament of parents... I knew I didn't trust Crash's and Oscar's breeder when she began to email me back saying she was going to put a "Free Puppy" ad in her local paper and that the pup would not be there long. That is when I began to move fast and tried to find Crash a home by using Rosie's and my buddies. We put a message on 2 different Dogster groups that are for deaf dogs and sure enough, someone was willing to help! I am so Thankful for Avi the Australian Shepherd and her family for finding a home for little Crash. Avi and her family live in Montana and were able to find Crash a home with some friends of theirs in Chicago. Avi's family picked Crash up from the breeder (and they saw Oscar) and took her to the vet. Crash came home from the vet a few days later and spent a day with Avi's family before heading out to Chicago. Crash didn't leave her Montana rescuers with out leaving little paw prints on Avi's and her family's hearts. She is very well loved. I hope that Crash was able to provide a blood sample to help catch this breeder, and we hope that Oscar will find his loving and forever home very soon!

To see The Montana Standard's 1/27/07 article entitled "Woman Charged in Dog Abuse" Check this site:

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Oscar Meets the Governor!"

Oscar continues to do well! He recently met the Governor of Montana, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a noted Border Collie lover. Accompanying Gov. Schweitzer is "Jag", his own Border Collie (pictured behind him, shyly greeting a brown and white BC). In the picture, the Governor is holding out a red and yellow tennis ball for Oscar. Oscar looks as if he may have approached the governor with a big huge butt wag!

I am unsure if Oscar ever had epilepsy as I have heard different things from 2 places while trying to assist animal control and shelter workers in the Butte area catch who did this thing to Oscar. (Check out the previous post about Crash and her brother.)

Crash gained 10 pounds in the first month in her new home and also continues to be doing very well and reportedly learning a lot!

I know Rosie and I hope that the investigators in the Butte area, Montana can pin down who beat and threw Oscar into the dumpster, and when we find out for sure what happened and whodunit, I will post it HERE!

In the meantime, our fingers are crossed to win the House and Garden Network Dream home in Montana. (Hey, there is a reason it is called a "dream" home you know... so let us!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Service Dogs Defined"

The definition of a service dog is a dog that has been individually trained to assist the needs of a person with a disability. These animals are prescribed by a doctor. There are many different kinds of service animals. (For the sake of simplifying this a bit, let us refer to service dogs for this article although service animals can come in many different species.) There are mobility dogs, seizure alert dogs, seeing-eye dogs, hearing dogs, autism dogs, psychiatric service dogs... and that is just a sample. Service dogs are allowed full public access. This means the dog is allowed wherever the general public is allowed unless the presence of the dog would "fundamentally alter the nature of the service (goods or what-have-you) provided". For example: Service dogs are allowed into Emergency Rooms with their handler, but not where complete sterile conditions are necessary (like surgery). Service dogs may be handler trained or trained by a dog trainer OR a service dog training facility. A service dog may be certified or may not be. Service dogs must be very well behaved in public places and may be trained to perform tasks for its handler. A service dog is considered to be "adaptive equipment" like a wheelchair would be to someone.
A service dog is NOT the same as an emotional support dog (or pet). An emotional support pet is prescribed simply for emotional support for the individual with a disability. They are allowed access under housing accommodations, but are not allowed the same full public access as a service animal. You cannot take an emotional support animal (ESA) to the grocery store with you, but if you rent, you should be allowed to keep an ESA in your apartment with you. ESAs do not need any special training and do not need to know or perform any special tasks.
A service dog is NOT the same as a therapy dog. A therapy dog is a dog whose primary job is to be a pet for someone who has chosen to train the dog to visit people in hospitals and nursing homes and to assist with some types of therapies. Some therapy dogs assist with physical therapy by performing tricks that the patient must participate in such as throwing a ball for a dog, and then taking the ball from the dog to increase the recovery of eye-hand coordination or an injury to the arm or other illness or injury. Therapy dogs also visit people in medical hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and in nursing homes and provide a friendly, furry face to visit while a patient is spending a lot of time in one of these hospital settings. Most of the places around here require a therapy dog to have special training such as public access certification and obedience training. Therapy dogs are not allowed full public access like service dogs are. Their owners do not necessarily have a disability, just have to be willing to share their pet with others who could benefit from the animal's presence in some way.
All this being said, I was sent a link for Maine Human Rights Commission: Service Animals in Housing and Public Accommodations. What I discovered, much to my dismay, was that the Maine Human Rights Commission has blurred the definitions of these three different jobs: the Service Dog, the Emotional Support Dog, and the Therapy Dog. Service Animal groups from all over the country are constantly trying to clarify the definitions between the job of a service animal from the other two jobs, because people abuse the service animal title, sometimes putting this right for individuals with disabilities to use service animals in jeopardy. The Maine Human Rights Commission has crammed all of these job titles together to mean the same thing, which they do not. Yes there are other terms that may be used to mean the same as "Service Animal" like Assistive animal. I don't know where the Maine Human Rights Commission got their definitions from, but as a well-informed service dog handler, the definitions have been crammed into my brain over and over again from many different service animal resources.
On the other hand, according to the Maine Human Rights Commission, I should not have had to pay extra to keep my two emotional support cats in my new apartment and the landlords should not have the right to even question or deny my cats.
So for those who need to know about service dog laws and definitions, do lots of research, for your state and for your country. Each state is very different. In Canada, each Province is different. Learn the truth about laws and question anything that is not congruent with what you know. I do my best to inform correctly in my blog, but I am no expert. (Sometimes I wonder if the experts are indeed experts though.)

Monday, January 15, 2007 Padded Vest Arrives...

In the previous year, Activedogs working vests have been too large for me to bother with the expense of buying one for her. However, I loved the look and function of them so when they went on sale this past month, I went for it. The only place it is maybe a bit too large is in the front strap, the sternum strap over her front. If I took it in maybe an inch on either side, it would be perfect. At this point, it does what it needs to do, just with a little more space than is necessary. Border Collies are not known for their large sizes and huge shoulder and neck width, but they make such great work dogs, it is a shame to have the dog not fit in a work vest that is just as worthy of the job. Border Collies are worth acknowledging in the work dog sector and one owning such a work dog should not have to pay extra for less material to be used to make this awesome vest fit. Is there size discrimination going on at I love the place and all their gear so much, but my dog is a medium sized dog standing at 20" tall and she is deserving of having a REAL work vest. She will never be a mobility dog, but the more expensive vests on the site should be an easier option for us in the future. I am crazy about this padded vest and it looks great on Rosie. The handle is awesome as I am short (though just as mighty) and I can easily reach down and grab the handle and pick her right up like a "pocket dog"... All thirty-three powerful pounds of her. Look at her up there in the photo with her bright red vest sitting there wondering why in **** I am making her pose when there is a blizzard going on and snow to snort. Notice her handsome metal tag hanging from her vest as well. The "Tiny Dog Vests" are just too tight and look kind of like a tiny too-too on the long muscular body of a Border Collie like Rosie, though it will work great this summer at the beach.
Activedogs is a site quite worthy of checking out for some awesome service dog products. The larger your dog, the better the products available. Please check them out! Their link is listed below and to the right of the screen.
Since this post, I have purchased another "Padded Harness Vest" for Rowena. It is purple to match the Psychiatric Service Dog Society patches. Scroll up to see a photo of Rosie in her purple vest!)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Worrying About Our Future Move"

Rosie waits at the top of the stairs at our new place to see if she can go out and play frisbee.

Rosie and I pose on the front steps of our old place for a team picture.

As Rowena and I get ready to move south to be with my husband in our new apartment, some new concerns have surfaced. First of all, not all people understand psychiatric illnesses and disabilities, let alone adding a service dog to all that. In order for me to continue to use Rosie, I need to continue to get renewals of my doctor's letters. That means that who ever my doc is at that time must believe in and support my use of a service dog. My fear is that I really don't know WHO I am going to get for providers down there and I am not familiar with the area providers of mental health services enough to know who to stay away from. The only thing I can do is hope and pray, and if I get a negative provider (that by now in my recovery I am quite good at picking those people out), I will have to discontinue seeking care from that person. The backlash from that would be that my leaving providers left and right could be perceived as something pathological and could be harmful for me in the future... staying in my permanent record. The mental health system is not a friendly system. That may be why so many people just don't get better in the system. Misdiagnosis, being treated with shame and guilt, power trips, dysfunctional mental health providers (not really healthy enough to be working in the system), and a basic misunderstanding about psychiatric illnesses and disabilities make the healing process slow, if not impossible. Some are lucky to make it out alive!

Another concern I have is that I will not have easy access to a town where Rosie will continue to learn how to deal appropriately with stuff going on around her, different people, traffic etc. I wonder if she may become under socialized even though as a young pup she was probably over-socialized. I worry that I won't find a trainer nearby that I like and that understands my particular type of service dog... not just her breed but her tasks as well.

I also worry about the fact that I will not be near a town and that I may become more of a hermit, withdrawing more. I have begun to think of perhaps enrolling in an outpatient program at the local psychiatric unit. Maybe I could make a link there. I am just praying that I can get a team of good providers to help me ease more into this big transition.
(May 22nd, 2008: Rowena and I never completed our move as things just didn't happen and resources for us fell through. My husband lives in the little apartment on the marsh. Rowena and I still live in Bangor. We miss Chris very much and miss our after work activities.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

"Outfitting Your Handler-Trained Service Dog"

Please click on the picture to view it larger.

Please click on picture to view it larger.

Please click on picture to view it larger.

First of all, I want to wish everyone a 2007 filled with quality of life, health and may you all have enough peace in your lives to keep you going!

On the PSDS listserv, we recently discussed dog packs and vests. Each person needs something different from his/her service dog and the vest or pack a dog wears will reflect this need. Some handlers like their dog to be able to carry water and also their meds. This requires a pack as a vest merely has enough space for some information cards and some change and that is it. There are many places on the internet to find service dog gear, but you may also find that you can make regular civilian dogware work for you as well. I recently tortured my dog by having her model a few of my favorite service dog outfits she has so that I could take photos and share these ideas with you. The results of that photo session are shown above. To view the information, click on the image to make it large enough to read. Remember that if you use a pack, do not overload your dog. Consult your vet on how much weight your dog can carry safely. Overloading and overworking a dog is not good on their joint health. Some dogs were bred for load-bearing work, some weren't. Also keep in mind that the minimum size of a mobility dog is about 50-55 pounds, and that is for bracing as well. This weight should not include the extra weight of an overweight dog. The reason is because the extra pounds the overweight dog carries are already putting strain on the dog's body, they don't need any more strain added to their joints. If your dogs "ideal" weight is supposed to be under 50 pounds, you should not use the dog for even the light mobility.