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.