My Service Dog, Jade

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jade's First Out-of-Town Trip

     Well, tomorrow morning, first thing, we are off on an 8-hour road trip, out of state, and Jade's going along.  This will be the first time she's ever left the state, and the first time she'll be in the car for such a long trip.  The longest car ride she's ever been on was the first day I had her; the day I brought her home.  That was a 3-hour car ride, and she slept with her head on my arm the whole way.  We were meant for each other.
     So tomorrow, we're off for a mini-vacation in New Mexico, and of course we'll be stopping for gas, to eat and to take breaks.  I'm excited to see how Jade does in the car for so long, and in the hotel.  I already know she's gonna be great everywhere else we go.  She goes everywhere I go now and she is just wonderful! It didn't take that much training either; I swear, she was just born for this job.  She wears and uses that new mobility harness like a champ now! It really does help me too! She helps me with balance, and bracing while we walk places together.  What a champ! I absolutely LOVE this harness too, which is custom made.  I ordered it from Katrina at Bold Lead Designs; check out her website on the homepage of my blog, on "useful links." This is the BEST mobility harness I've been able to find.

     I digress....The one thing I have done to prepare for our trip together is print out the Service Dogs laws for both Arizona and New Mexico, just in case.  I will carry those with me, in case we have any trouble by people who are not knowledgeable at hotels, restaurants, and the like.  As I stated, Jade now comes everywhere with me here in AZ, but we have not yet been to New Mexico together, and although I did research the laws about service dogs there, there may still be a time when we run into someone that we may have to educate. (About service dogs, and the law). It certainly doesn't hurt to carry those written laws along, although I doubt we'll have any issues.
     Jade has her own travel bag and we'll also be taking her bed and one of her toys, to make her feel at home.  We're also taking her vest, harness, a couple of bones (for chewy/break time), treats, her toothbrush/toothpaste, food/water dishes, and of course her food.  It's so weird to have her coming with us, but so exciting! It's a little bit like traveling with a child, I think, which I have never done before.  We'll be getting a visit with my boyfriend's children, and they will SO excited to see Jade again.  I'm sure the feeling will be mutual! OOOH I'm so excited! If I don't get a chance to blog while we're there, I'll definitely do so upon returning home.  Wish us luck!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pit Bull Next Door

     Ok, it's not that I hate pit bulls.  I don't think of myself as a hater of any animal (humans included); nevertheless, I do hate what I know pit bulls do, and what they're capable of.  I hate that people use them for dog fighting, and I hate that people abuse them like no other dog.  What I do hate most, is that pit bull owners REFUSE to admit that these dogs are dangerous, and are capable of such destruction, and therefore refuse to take the appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the neighborhoods and communities.  I HATE that there have been numerous service dogs attacked by pit bulls and put out of work, and have had to retire due to their severe physical and psychological injury, perpetrated by these dogs.  I can't bring myself to hate a dog for what it is....I realize the dog had no say in how it was bred, or how it's been used for centuries, but the owners of these dogs need to come down to reality, and look at the facts.  They need to take precautions; their neighbors want to feel and BE safe.  I now have a big, blue-nosed pit living right next door to me.  I'm not happy about it, to say the least, but as of now there is no regulation on these dogs in this city, therefore nothing I can do about it.  However, I do plan on having a conversation with the owner.  I know my neighbor and I'm pretty sure we can have a civil and adult conversation about animal, and people, safety.  We both have a 7 foot block wall between us, however, this didn't stop his former pit bull from ending up in MY back yard a few years back. I have a good feeling that he's got things stacked up against that wall...that's the only way I can see a pit bull jumping that wall.  The wall is 7 feet high on his side, and about 8 on my side.  I'm hoping that he will be understanding and willing to take appropriate measures to keep me, my boyfriend, and my very precious-to-me service dog safe. I really don't care what his opinions are on pit bulls, and he doesn't need to know mine....he just needs to keep us safe by being extra responsible. It's no mistake that he has another pit bull; he's obviously a lover of the breed.  He had one before and now has another, so I don't plan to tell him how I feel about pits.  I think it's more important that I get along with my neighbor; opinions don't need to be shared.  He's owned pit bulls for years, so he must know the facts about them.

     Meanwhile, I don't plan on being another statistic.  I don't plan on being on the list of people that have had their service dogs mauled to death or forced into retirement because someone chooses to own the most dangerous and vicious breed of dog out there.  I refuse to walk onto my back porch, or front yard without being armed.  I refuse to let my dog go pee outside, without me being present, and armed. Maybe that sounds silly to you...if it does, go to the page entitled "My Pit Bull Story," and you will understand.  When my neighbor had his former pit bull, it was outside unleashed many a time.  It actually sniffed my dog up, when she was a puppy, and she ran whimpering into the house, pit bull following.  THAT WON'T HAPPEN EVER AGAIN! I WILL make sure that my neighbor understands that.  Granted, my dog has run around the front yard unleashed as well, and has visited my neighbor in his yard, and THAT will never happen again either. I will also let my neighbor know that.  Well, here's to hoping for civil, adult, neighbor-to-neighbor, heart to heart conversations.  Wish me luck! I'll keep you posted.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

BSL and Service Dogs

I have a really bad feeling that any city, county, state or country that has enacted, or will enact BSL  (Breed Specific Legislation) in the future, will start seeing a huge increase in "service dogs," and they're gonna be pit bulls! Besides being morally corrupt, and completely disgraceful, it's also against the law and a HUGE federal violation to impersonate a disabled person for the purpose of having a service dog; nevertheless, I think I can speak for many, many people in saying that there are A LOT of people in this country, and others, that fit this description.  Many more cities, and counties are learning more and more about pit bulls.  Not to mention the fact that they continue to maul, maim and kill more people and other animals than all other dog breeds combined.  Legislators are learning, and the people are getting tired of it.   More and more places are starting to discuss and enact BSL, which is leading those morally corrupt and disgraceful people to look for new ways to get around the law.  Yup, the perfect way to keep your pit bull, is to impersonate a disabled person and try to get your dog certified as a "service dog." C'mon pit bull owners, we know what you're doing. We may be disabled, but we're NOT stupid!!!  Be advised, you morally corrupt and disgraceful people, the ADA and the Federal Government are also not stupid and are well aware of it....and there will SOON come a time when you all will be outed.  There will soon be a Federal Law enacted that will prohibit you from doing what you're doing! As it stands, the ADA is there for the purpose of protecting the disabled, and you, who try to FAKE your dog's certification as a "service dog" will soon pay the price.  Make no mistake!

Here's a quote I found online in regards to this topic. Frightening, isn't it?!

"As far as I'm concerned, this is a loophole! I'm planning on having all the BSL breeds in our rescue CGC and TDI certified. By federal law, no one is allowed to ask you for proof that the dog you have it a therapy dog. If they do you can sue them under ADA law. And all you need is a doctor willing to say you get stressed in public and need your dog to help you relax. That makes your dog a therapy dog. Done.

And now according to federal law, no city or state is allowed to ban your dog, regardless of breed, if it's a therapy dog!!   Take that you brainless BSL supporting morons!!"

I won't go into why this person is a complete idiot, and totally ignorant of the law....we'll keep that between us.  If you know the law, you know why this will NOT work for this person.  She eventually decides to actually read the ADA regs and figures out why this won't work, but rest assured, there are many morally corrupt, disgraceful scumbags out there impersonating the disabled for this very reason. Watch out for them, and when you see them, REPORT THEM!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fake Certification Websites

Please check out this link above in regards to Service Dogs.  It's called Service Dog Central, and discusses issues around internet sites selling fake, and illegal, certifications and registrations for just any dog. This site talks about the various fake i.d.s and registries for fake service dogs, which is becoming more and more of an issue now days.  More and more people are starting to use these fake websites to call their own pets "service dogs" for the purpose of taking their dogs wherever they go, getting into apartments and various housing that they wouldn't otherwise be allowed in, taking their pets on airlines to fly with them, etc.  I think this is completely disgraceful! Anyone who would FAKE being disabled, and FAKE their dog into a "service dog" is simply a disgraceful person with a complete lack of morals.  This link also exposes the names of several websites that are currently selling these FAKE certifications. Please take note of them.

Hopefully soon, the Federal Government will start investigating these fake and illegal sites, and start shutting them down, and prosecuting.

Be advised; there are a lot of Pit Bull owners doing this FAKE certification online now days in order to get around the laws that prohibit dangerous and aggressive breeds of dogs in various cities, counties, and even countries that have enacted BSL (Breed Specific Legislation).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When Your Service Dog Is Sick:

     An issue that I haven't seen addressed is how a disabled person is affected by their service dog being sick.  I have some say on this topic, first hand, as my service dog has been sick for the past few days.  It seems she's come down with an upper respiratory virus, which I wonder if she contracted from me.  I too have been sick with a cold as of late, and it makes me wonder what our dogs can contract from us.  Regardless of that fact, she is sick; those of us with service dogs tend to utilize our vet clinics much more than the average dog owner, as we have to keep our dogs in tip top shape...for exactly this reason.  When our dog is sick and can't go out, guess what, it's difficult for us to go out as well, for some us, impossible.  It seems it's  only us, with service dogs, that think of these things.  I took my girl to the vet yesterday, who told me she has a an upper respiratory virus and needs to stay home and rest.  That means, I stay home as well.  She's now on antibiotics and eye drops to help her get better, and I feel so bad for her.  I hate to see my girl suffer.  She's been a constant ball of sneezing and snorting, and her eyes are watering non stop.  If I were the average dog owner, I'd probably not have taken her to the vet and let the virus just run it's course, saving the $147 it costed me to take her in.  But us service dog people have to be sure there's nothing seriously wrong that could put our dogs out of commission.
     I wanted to blog this because I think it's important for people to understand how much the health and well-being of our dogs affects us.  I need my girl to be healthy so she can help me in and out of the house.  I also am very affected by it, because my best buddy isn't feeling well, and it breaks my heart to see her so down and out, lethargic and sneezy.  Poor girl. However, it affects me more than the average dog owner, who might also feel sad that their dog isn't well, but they can still leave the house and go on about their daily lives.  My dog is not a guide dog, or hearing dog, or seizure dog, but she's just as important to me, as she assists me with daily tasks.  If she was a guide dog though, for example, and she's ordered on bed rest, then I'm ordered to stay in the house as well, because I don't have my eyes until she feels better, because my dog is my eyes, or my ears, etc.  That is why it is important that those of us with service dogs keep our dogs in great condition, very healthy, and the reason that we utilize our vet clinics more than the regular dog owner.  I wish I could've kept her from getting sick, but the truth is, that because she is a service dog and is still in training classes and goes everywhere with me, she is way more vulnerable to germs exposed by other dogs, and people.
     I also wanted to mention that I had her microchipped while at the Vet yesterday.  If you don't have your service dog microchipped, it's just silly.  I don't foresee any way that my girl would ever get separated from me; however, I feel more comfortable now knowing she's chipped than before.  You never know what could happen.
     Keep your service dog safe, healthy, and happy, as they are not just our buddies, they mean so much more to us!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Service Dog Training Class with a Pit Bull??

As I've said before, Jade and I are still attending service dog training classes every week, although we're almost done with the classes. Soon it will be field training only for some weeks before we achieve final certification. We are currently doing field work between classes, with a great field trainer, who really appreciates how quickly Jade is moving along.  
The last class we attended brought up a major issue for me.  Our trainer (no names will be used here) is currently fostering a pit bull, which she sometimes brings to class.  I don't like it, but I deal with it, because I trust that a professional trainer is going to be responsible as a dog owner.  She usually just has her pit bull tethered on the other side of the warehouse-looking training room, and it lays quietly under a table, while she conducts our class on the other side of the room.  I don't like it, as I said, being in the same room, but since it's such a big room, the pit is on the other side of the room away from us, is just lying down and usually sleeping, and because it's securely tethered, I deal with it.  However, during our last class session, the trainer was helping us to maintain our dog's attention completely while there are distractions going on all around us.  This might sound easy, but it's a very difficult task for dog and handler.  It needs to be practiced over and over again until both handler and dog achieve it.  It's something that is extremely necessary for service dog teams to achieve, as there will almost always be distractions when you and your dog are out in public. Your service dog NEEDS to learn NOT to be distracted and to keep its attention focused on the handler.  You can see why, no doubt.  So to practice it, the trainer and volunteers in the class provide a lot of distractions while me and Jade try to maintain total attention on one another.  Being a human, I do this MUCH better than my dog, but she's getting much better at it.  We've learned, through our training, that Jade keeps her attention on me much better when the distraction is human.  When there's another dog distraction, such as a dog walking by,  an off-leash dog, etc, she has difficulty maintaining her attention on me.  This makes a lot of sense for a dog.  Although, to be honest, it's rare that when we are out, we see many other dogs, as we are usually in a place where pet dogs are not allowed, and we really don't run into many other service dog teams.  It does happen though. Jade, having been attacked by a pit bull in the past, tends to become defensive if another dog gets too close to her, which in the service dog world can be troublesome.  So the trainer wanted to practice this exercise.  This, I understand completely and am very willing to participate. However, the trainer used her pit bull for this exercise.  She put it on a leash and attempted to walk it, which was impossible.  This pit bull, as many others, acted as though it had never been on a leash before.  It was pulling toward Jade, and staring her down, and the trainer seemed to have some serious difficulty holding that leash.  She's not a big woman.  Needless to say, had that leash broken, or had she slipped and fell letting go of that leash, the consequences would've been catastrophic! I couldn't really focus on the exercise, although Jade did great! She looked at the dog when I told her to, and then right back to me.  She focused on me and my cues and accepted her commands.  Impressive!!! I, on the other hand, was a sweaty mess! I should've said something immediately about how uncomfortable and frankly, how afraid, I was, but when I get that anxious and afraid, I tend to say nothing because if I do, it doesn't come out right.  I don't know if anybody can relate to that.  The exercise was soon over and I tried to relax again and finished out the class.  
As the days went by and I thought more and more about this experience and what COULD HAVE happened to me and/or my priceless service dog (and pet), I became more and more upset about this.  I asked some cherished friends advice on how to proceed and decided to talk to the trainer about how I feel. Being the chicken I am, I sent her an email instead of calling her, as I was not looking forward to her response. I pretty much associate any pit bull owner as a zealot nutter who will defend the breed at any cost.  As most of them will do.  I wrote the email, and waited.  About 30-45 minutes later, my phone rang.  It was her.  She said that she wanted to call and talk to me.  She wanted me to understand that this program is for me and my dog and that I should NEVER, EVER worry about offending her.  I have to say that I was very surprised at her response.  Pleasantly surprised.  She said, "Pit bulls are bully breed dogs and they're not like other dogs...their body language is very difficult for people and other dogs to read....a lot of people don't feel comfortable with pit bulls, you're not the only one." She said that she totally understood how I feel and would not ask me to be in that position if I am uncomfortable with it.  I am! She said that if I ever feel uncomfortable, I could tell her at any time and should never worry about offending her; even if I say it in an angry voice, she would understand and comply.  I was pleasantly surprised at her stating that pit bulls are NOT like any other dog, which is what almost EVERY single pit bull owner is trying to pass off as truth.  You can see that for yourself on some of the comments on the pit bull attacks I've posted on the "Service Dog Dangers" page.  See for yourself what the pit bull owners say about those dogs. I urge you to look into it.  I'm very pleased that my trainer, although she likes pit bulls, is a professional trainer, who understands that the program is for me and my dog, and not for the purpose of pushing her own agenda.  Thank you, trainer! 


Thursday, February 16, 2012

All Things Service Dog

Well, here it blog.  I've seen some blogs about service dogs, but wanted my own to discuss any and everything related to service dogs.  I am a disabled Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, Navy that is, and have my own service dog.  You can see her photo here.  She's still in training, but has almost completed all classes, and I have to brag; she flew threw the program.  She's been trained to assist me with many tasks, which include retrieving, opening and closing doors, and bracing as far as the mobility assistance goes. She's also been trained to alert me when people get too close, and when I'm getting too anxious, nervous, or worked up.  (We're still working on that part). She'll be moving on to pre-certification in a few weeks, and has skipped a few classes along the way; she's smart as a whip, and tends to learn a little quicker than other dogs.  We've been in training for about 25 weeks now, and normally, it takes a couple of years for dogs to get through the program, to certification level.  I'm very proud of her, as you can probably see, but I believe I have good reason to be. Although some people choose to train their own dog/s for service on their own, we chose to go through an accredited program, and it's not cheap. I have my reasons for choosing an accredited program, and I'll get to those later. I acquired JJ from a breeder, and registered with the AKC.  I raised her from a pup of 11 weeks, and didn't imagine then that she'd be doing what she's doing now. What a great dog! I'm sure there are people out there who'd like to brag about their service dogs as well, and I welcome you here to do it.  I'd love to hear your stories, and I'm sure others would too.  I will be using this blog to discuss all things service dog, and there's a lot to discuss! So if you have something to bring to the table, bring it! Welcome to Dogs In Service!