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What does your service dog do for you?

Discussion in 'Employment, Education & Disability' started by Zoogal, Feb 7, 2018.

  1. Zoogal

    Zoogal I'm a VIP

    For those that have one what do they do for you? Does it help you? Do people judge you?
    EveHarrington likes this.
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  3. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

    Long answer to short question! :)

    SD's jobs include providing a physical barrier between me and others so they don't touch me. Two reasons - PTSD (don't want to punch them in the head) and fibro --(hurts when people bump up against me), and being my early warning system. He knows about 15 minutes before I do that I'm going to have either a panic attack or a need for pain meds. He also will back me up into a chair before I know I'm dizzy and will intervene if he hears/sees/feels me getting wound up. He also goes in all doors first to let me know if there is anyone inside waiting to shoot me. (long story)

    I can't say enough about how he has changed my life. I didn't know how bad I was before I got him. And the longer we are together the more i rely on him

    I'm lucky in one way. He is big and fluffy and looks like a walking teddy bear and I'm an older gal, so I don't get a lot of judgement about him. I've only once been challenged at a restaurant. What I do fight CONSTANTLY is people noticing him, wanting to pet him, stopping me to ask what his breed is, blah blah. My trainer insisted that I try to be nice and answer when possible because any time you have a service dog you are the poster child for the service dog community. On days I can't take people talking to me I must put out some kind of get away from me vibe - LOL not many people ask. or they will ask hubby

    I had to come up with a quick term to explain his duties, so I settled on "alert dog". Usually that term ends any questions people have. I think its because they can relate. If you say PTSD dog it opens all sorts of questions.
  4. Zoogal

    Zoogal I'm a VIP


    In this area we have an overabundance of people that slap a vest on their dog and call it a service animal to take it places. It really. Really. Ticks me off.

    My husband called a place and holy cow 4500 to train? I think? I don't have that
    Freida likes this.
  5. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

    4500 is on the low end from all I’ve seen. It’s why many people train their own dogs. Some on here do that. I’m sure they’ll respond soon.
    Zoogal likes this.
  6. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

    Yea...mine cost about 4500 all told and that was hiring a private trainer to train me. they usually start about 14k and go up to about 35 depending on what all you need them to do. You can train on your own - but that can be controversial if you don't know how to train. good news is there are some really good resource out there to help

    and yea - that fake service dog thing is a huge problem. I've had a couple come after SD --- and I told the owner I was going to kick it if it came back. If its on a retractable leash its not a service dog!!! grrrrr
    littleoc and Zoogal like this.
  7. Zoogal

    Zoogal I'm a VIP

    Yeah it's cheap. But not cheap enough for me.

    I work at the zoo. Every summer and during major conventions we get a slew of "service dogs". And allll kinds of people with handicapped tags in their car. Ignorant.
    littleoc likes this.
  8. Still Standing

    Still Standing I'm a VIP

    My little buddy is an EMS pooch. He is almost 7 months old. I plan to put him into basic dog training soon, after taxes are all finished. I would love to have him trained at the next level up, as a bona-fide service dog, to stand between me and strangers etc. But I find the cost prohibitive on a Social Security budget. So he will get only the basics in good dog behavior. He is "lettered" from the Dr. so he is for real in his use. He wears a sturdy EMS vest, when needed, in public. But, like Freida mentioned, people want to stop and talk and pet him. Children want to pet him and hold him because he is so small. So far it is a small annoyance but it is forcing me to be social, which is probably good, but pushes my boundaries. In this experience, I met one mom whose daughter lost her legs in the 911 attack and she uses two service dogs. But the gal competes in the Para Olympics and has lived beyond her disability and trauma. I have also met other people who own a service animal. These I have met at the pet stores and the dog park. The people, thus far, have been considerate of my pup and do ask before touching him. I see the children's excitement to touch the dog as a means in which to give to them an opportunity to enjoy the wonderment of animals. But no one has asked me about the kind of disability I have. As for how he helps me, he calms me. He makes me laugh. He gives me something to care for. And he gives me opportunity to cuddle and hold a warm, small life-form, in my arms, as he burrows into my arms and sleeps. He certainly is a companion who helps to keep my loneliness and depression at bay. And he forces me to be more active. He is a huge blessing in his little body. He is my fusion pup: my Sauerkraut Taco dog (Dachshund-Chihauha: otherwise known as a Chiweenie). He is also the object of my loving insults. He looks at me adoringly as I call him, "My Little Four-legged Black Fruit Bat." Considering his overly large, sky-reaching ears, he is also labeled the "Dumbo of All Dogs." "Hey, Pooper!" is another favorite. No matter what I call him, he thinks he is being lovingly adored and looks at me like he is going to melt at my feet. Have to say, the adoration is sorta fun! I will take it!
    Freida and Zoogal like this.
  9. littleoc

    littleoc Making everywhere I go a better place Premium Member Donated

    I've been judged a couple times, yes, but I laughed and moved on.

    She absolutely helps -- I can go back to being almost as social as I want to be :)

    My favorite task she does currently (I have new favorites semi-often) is memorize where exists are. She can help me escape quickly if needed. Very nice for me
    LuckiLee likes this.
  10. lostforgottensoul

    lostforgottensoul I'm a VIP Premium Member Sponsor $100+

    I can't believe I never answered this question.

    Chopper's tasks (for PTSD only) currently include being that barrier between me and others. That is his most done task while out and I never knew how much that could help until I was seeing the benefits. I went from basiclly freaking out in a store disossiating and moving around without memory to being able to hold conversations with people on a good day and at least being able to get groceries on a bad day. When he is in cover (sitting sideways behind me) he is leaning against my legs which helps anxiety A TON and his head is right there where I rub my knuckles really quickly back and forth on the top of his head and it's a grounding tool I've learned it helps me stay present and ease the anxiety a bit.

    He alerts me to panic, a bad bout of anxiety, and disossiation as well as panic behaviors. It took a while to train this and I think I did so very well. He picks up on irregular breathing patterns. Whether it is quicker breathing, holding my breath, and just that panic like breathing. I recently did a refresher training on this and he can pick up on the slightest change. It's pretty awesome. I also have trained behaviors that I do in the beginning or during a panic attack. Shaking, hand ringing, he intrupts self injury behaviors like skin picking and skin scratching. He alerts to change in heart rate and heart palpitations. And with these alerts I can become aware that a panic attack is on it's way and step off to the side, put Chopper in front of me and deep breath or do grounding techniques or find a place I can sit down in the floor in a place and will have him do deep pressure pressure therapy which calms down the anxiety or panic and if I disocciate I can't go anywhere with a 75 lb dog on top of me.

    He also does presistant alerts if I ignore him up to jumping up tapping his paws on my shoulder and what's called intellgent disobdience to alert. Breaking a command I'm telling him to do to alert. All trained.

    He does deep pressure therapy to help calm anxiety and panic. We do this several ways as well. Coming up onto my lap from the floor when I'm sitting in a chair. Coming across a couch. Coming across on the floor. And coming across from the bed onto the recliner that's at the foot of my bed where I sleep. The pressure on your tighs and chest really help calm anxiety and panic pretty quickly.

    He wakes me from nightmares and then will do auto deep pressure therapy until I'm back to sleep. This is where I learned that he sniffs my ear to pick up on heart beat changes. Something he taught himself after a large amount of time training and doing the task.

    He leads me to exits when I need some help finding my way out of a place. This one is a bit new so he's not perfect at it but it's been very helpful when I am starting to disoccoate and start to space out and cannot find my way out. This is being trained along with learning foward mometum and counter balance and how to pull on the vest as I need that leading pressure so all still a bit new.

    Also, this one was my therapist's idea. Its not really a task but something I didn't train out of him on purpose. One thing he has always done that has helped greatly is enviromental scanning. I watch him rather then relying on my head to make a million exit plans that change as I and others move around a place. His body language tells me if someone is around a corner or behind me. It has really been of tremdous help to me.

    Another simi new task is alerting me to someone coming up behind me. He isn't perfect on that either but along with enviormental scanning, I am normally looking at him if my anxiety is really high anyway and so him looking at someone when they walk up behind me also alerts me to them. But we are working on him alerting rather then just looking. This one is hard to train alone so that's why it's still new.

    There are many other tasks that he is being trained to do. Clearing a house is one I really want to do and another handler talks about a trained "take down" but I can't find a way to do that saftely. He also does A LOT of needed mobility tasks but these are specificlly for PTSD. Before a service dog I couldn't go get groceries. My dad would have to grocery shop and the last time I was in Walmart before a service dog I disossiated and ended up in the bathroom and I had no idea how I got there and walked out onto the train tracks by my house after a nightmare. All without memory. I couldn't function even half way normal. There was no way I could go to any sort of support group (which is why my therapist found this site) and couldn't do some of the most basic things for myself without help nor could I live alone. Now I can saftely navigate this world and do things I never thought possible as well as live alone. A service dog has given back a big chunk of my life. Of course it doesn't stop there. A service dog is simply a tool and it's used while you are using other tools. I hope to one day not need a service dog but I am very glad I have one today.

    Program dogs can go for $25,000. I spent about 2 grand so far on fully owner training. I've stopped spending a few months back but either route is expensive. Especially if you buy a puppy. Trainers that I got quotes from were a few grand for a 4 week board and train. $900 for every additional week. No trainer would work with me to do the training with me. They all wanted to board and train and I didn't want that. I was told by a few that they help veterans with PTSD but of course I'm not a veteran so I was quoted their full rate. So I became a service dog trainer. I've watched about 5 thousand youtube videos at this point. Took a handful of Leerburg Univeristy classes (at $40 or so a pop). Followered other owner trainers and asked a ton of questions. Bought 5 books and 3 video on demands. There are a few service dog trainers (program trainers) that I've learned from as well. One is local to me. There is one trainer that has facebook messaged me with help a few times but I became a dog trainer. There is so much information out there that if you dig enough you will learn how to train. Listen to your dog and be willing to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into it and if you do that you will be rewarded 10 fold. I know I am!
    littleoc and Zoogal like this.
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