My Service Dog, Jade

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jade Goes To The Fair

We took Jade, loaded up my mobility scooter and headed off to the County Fair last night.  What a great time!

I wondered how Jade would do with all of those people around her, screaming, whistling, eating, walking, running past her, petting her when they're not supposed to, and her being in the middle of it all.  I wonder no more.  Jade was amazing! She did such a wonderful job that I rewarded her with her own super-long, County Fair hot dog, which she LOVED, and washed down with the bottle of water I snuck in her for.

Jade used to have a thing with loud noises, and my trainer said, "We need her to be bomb-proof." Boy is she ever!  My trainer always had those "loud noise sessions" in training class and I would get so frustrated, because Jade would
get so anxious and worked up, sometimes tucking her tail so far under her belly that I couldn't even find it.  She'd start shaking and press in up against me, and I'd have to take her outside to calm her down.  She would get so anxious that she would fail to perform her tasks.  I would get frustrated and discouraged, thinking, "she's never going to get over this." My trainer was great! We continued to have loud noise sessions, and my trainer would be so supportive and say, "Be patient, give her time, she'll come out of it." Finally Jade started showing immense improvement, and now, she is becoming the bomb-proof dog that I want and need so badly. I wondered how she'd do at the County Fair, but she amazed me once again. 

Jade was a bit stressed as we walked through the entry gate into the fair, and she looked around excitedly at all the people, the carnival rides, and games, with her eyes wide.  Soon after, I could see her face relax, and just because there were so many people, I was afraid she'd be stepped on, and children were walking by patting her,  I put her on the scooter to ride with me. She loves that. 

We rode over to the concert area where Ted Nugent was playing, and found a good spot amidst the huge crowd, and Jade got off the scooter and lied down between me and my boyfriend. The music was loud, to say the least, and whenever the band would stop, people would yell and scream and whistle so loudly....Jade wasn't phased. I was pleased. At one point I dropped my phone and Jade got down to pick it up and handed it to me. She was still performing her tasks in the middle of this huge, loud, whistling and screaming crowd! I can't tell you how relieved and thankful that makes me feel! 

We walked around the fair, I rode and Jade rode with me....we stopped and played a couple of games, winning a couple stuffed toys, thanks to my boyfriend's dart playing, balloon popping skills, and Jade watched him intently, never afraid.  As much as I hated those "loud noise sessions" in training, I can't thank my trainer enough for turning Jade into the best dog EVER! 

We've also managed to tackle the defensiveness issue that Jade was having with other dogs.  My trainer invited myself and my field trainer to her class session last week.  We used about 5-6 other dogs to help Jade.  She had been getting over this defensiveness anyway, and last week I do believe we had the huge breakthrough we'd been wanting. 

The trainer placed me and Jade inside a fenced pen, she was unleashed and we did some basic check-ins for review.  The other dogs then walked around us, with their handlers, again and again.  They were allowed to sniff Jade through the fence, and Jade sniffed them.  Then she would come back to me, check in and get a tasty treat.  She did great! No snarling, no teeth showing, no growling, no nothing! Jade was just her friendly old Lab self! What a great feeling! 

Then we put her back on lead and walked her around the other dogs, finally putting them all in a down/stay next to each other, while one dog would run past them all (including Jade) chasing a bone.  Jade didn't move a muscle, but just looked at me, with that beautiful smiling face, waiting for her next command.  Everyone cheered for Jade.  I was almost in tears with happiness. 

Then the trainer brought her own dog out, a little Aussie, and we place Jade in a down/stay between the Aussie and the huge Rottie that belongs to my field trainer.  The trainer made her Aussie bark, and get up, bark and growl.  Jade didn't move.  She looked at the dog then back at me, awaiting a command.  I was so happy!!!! The trainer was impressed. 

Afterward, we continued to walk Jade passed and around the Rottie for practice. Jade was so relaxed, and I could hardly believe it! They even bumped hips while passing a few times, and Jade would just keep walking or look up at me for a tasty treat. My field trainer was almost as happy as I was! She really wants Jade to excel, and that is exactly what she's doing.  These trainers are great people! 

I wish I had thought to get some photos. I will next time. 

After we were finished, the trainer pulled me aside and we talked a bit.  She talked to me about the fact that Jade's defensiveness with other dogs is really about my fear of her being approached by other dogs.  She explained that the leash is not just a way of keeping your dog close to you, it's a way of communicating with your dog.  Everything that I feel is transmitted down to Jade through that leash, as if it were some kind of vein that connects us. I know she's right because the only time I have seen Jade react to other dogs approaching is when I react. When I see another dog approaching her, I usually pull up on the leash, and making it tight, try to pull her away.  I am usually thinking, "Oh my god, not again!"while doing so. This is what causes Jade to react, as the trainer explained.  The trainer said, "This training isn't so much about Jade, it's about's about getting YOU to relax when another dog is around, or  another dog approaches her....when you tense up, Jade reacts."  The trainer told me to keep practicing, as this will get easier and easier for me as time goes by.  She asked me to come up with a word I can use that will "take me to my happy place and help me relax" when in such a situation.  Sort of an "anchor" word.  I'm still working on coming up with something I think might work.

If anyone has a suggestion for a good "anchor word," I'm all ears. 

The reason that I tense up when Jade is approached by another dog is quite obvious if you've read my page on our attack story.  Jade was viciously attacked by a pit bull some time back, and I thought it was Jade that hadn't gotten over that, but apparently it has been me. It seems that Jade has let it go, and I'm the one who hasn't.  Quite an interesting epiphany.  I will keep working on that, but it's hard. If your dog has ever been attacked by another dog, especially a pit bull, you know what I mean.  I want to protect her, and never let her get hurt again, but my paranoia of her being approached by other dogs isn't doing her any favors, although I will NEVER let another pit bull anywhere near her if I can help it.  

Jade is an amazing dog, and never ceases to show me that. I was so proud of her at the fair this weekend, and she knew it.  I continued to praise her and give her a lot of love. I was also amazed at her friendliness with other dogs at training last week.  It appears we are moving past both the loud noise problem and the approaching dog issue, thanks to the wonderful trainers at Handi-dogs, Inc.! 

Jade is becoming a wonderful bomb-proof service dog! 

Jade in her sweater and booties made by me. 

I never imagined you'd amaze me the way you do, sweet girl! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Good News For Pit Bull Victims

Finally some GREAT news for victims of pit bull attacks!

For the first time, a state's highest court has ruled that a landlord can be held civily liable for damages caused by their tenant's pit bull, regardless of whether the pit bull had a known prior history of attacks or aggressive behaviors. With this landmark decision from the Maryland Court of Appeals, attorneys can now legitimately pursue similiar lawsuits against landlords in other states urging their states to adopt the reasoning in the Maryland decision.

Please pass this along to all civil attorneys, state's bar association's trial attorney sections, so they can pursue the same ruling in their courts! 

Also send to:
1) Anyone in the homeowner's/landlord insurance industry;
2) Animal Control Agencies
3) Government Officials
4) Medical professionals who treat victims - plastic suregeons, etc.
5) Local, regional & National media.


Upon a plaintiff’s sufficient proof that a dog involved in an attack is a pit bull or a pit bull cross, and that the owner, or other person(s) who has the right to control the pit bull’s presence on the subject premises (including a landlord who has a right to prohibit such dogs on leased premises) knows, or has reason to know, that the dog is a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull, that person is liable for the damages caused to a plaintiff who is attacked by the dog on or from the owner’s or lessor’s premises. In that case a plaintiff has established a prima facie case of negligence. When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous.

This court decision is already starting to have a significant impact in the community. Soon, as hoped by victims everywhere, the trickle down effect will begin. Victims everywhere will be able to hire attorneys to take their cases to hold landlords, Home Owners Associations and the like, liable for these attacks. This is wonderful news for victims, who have been, in the past, forced to shut up and take their maulings, without any compensation for their medical bills.

The most recent victim in Tucson, has now hired an attorney and is filing a civil suit. This 89 year old woman was viciously mauled by two pit bulls (that were chained together) while simply attempting to check her mail a little ways away from her house.  Hopefully, Miriam Seymour's diligence and determination will set a standard for victims in Tucson, and will alert the city council that it is time for change.  Thankfully, the owners of these beasts will finally be held accountable for allowing their vicious dogs to get out and cause serious harm to others.  Miriam Seymour is still recovering, and we wish a speedy recover for her, as she is in our thoughts and prayers. (see the latest update on Miriam Seymour's case here)

I applaud the Maryland court for finally stating the truth about these pit bull type dogs.  They are more dangerous and more vicious than other types of dogs, and it's about time that everyone involved in the housing and keeping of these vicious dogs, are held accountable when they attack. 

Now we need a case just like this one that also 

applies to dogs attacked by pit bulls, as this 

happens to dogs MUCH too often.

(See my page on Service Dog Dangers)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blind Woman's Guide Dog Calls Police, Intruder Flees

I thought I'd post this recent story, as it shows the importance of service dogs.

An intruder broke into this blind woman's home, assaulted her by choking her and subsequently throwing her down the stairs, but her guide dog saved her life by using a special device to call 911.  When the dog did so, the intruder fled. It is uncertain whether the intruder knew the woman, or not, but her dog is definitely a hero.

 This is a great example of a hero dog.

I thought I'd add some other amazing stories of hero/rescue dogs here.  One of my recent commenters inspired this post, in discussing what it means for a dog to be a real hero/rescue dog.  Here are real hero dogs that have heroically rescued their owners.


When Michael Hingson found himself on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, it took some unexpected heroics from his yellow labrador to save his life. When the building started to sway and the air filled with choking smoke, Roselle lead Michael to safety, guiding him through the crumbling office toward a stairwell. It wasn't easy for Michael or Roselle, who was panting and extremely thirsty, but the two managed to reach safety just moments before Tower 1 collapsed.


All dogs are known for their super-sharp hearing, but most of them don't win awards for it. But when Nellie, a 4 year old black lab, used her high powered ears to detect an intruder in time to save her severely deaf owner, it would've been a crime to give the Heroic Hearing Dog of the Year award to anyone else! The charity that trained Nellie couldn't have been more proud.


MSNBC tells the story of Toby, a golden retriever who heroically saved owner Debbie Parkhurst from choking to death on an apple in her Maryland home. When it became apparent that she was choking, the dog leapt hard onto her chest and forced the lodged morsel to come loose from her throat. For his efforts, Toby took home a share of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' "Dog of the Year" award in 2007.


In a truly heartwarming story, a four year old Golden Retriever was credited with saving a paralyzed man who got his wheelchair stuck in the middle of a muddy field. When Gareth Jones found himself unable to move, the former soldier's service dog was ready to answer the call, dutifully pulling the rope Jones threw to him until the wheelchair was pulled free.
Said Jones, "He didn't let go until I was clear. He knew exactly what he was doing."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fit For The Pit

First, I want to say that the reason I discuss pit bulls at all on this blog is because of things like this....

If you see the page entitled "Service Dog Dangers" on this blog, you will see many, many more of these types of pit bull attacks on service dogs.  Disgusting and devastating, isn't it?!

The ASPCA says....

pit bull
In recent years, Pit Bulls have gained more than just a foothold in public awareness. Unscrupulous breeding and negative media attention have resulted in many apartment complexes, neighborhoods and even counties imposing bans on Pits and Pit mixes, citing them as "inherently dangerous" to the public.
Pit Bulls often attract the worst kind of dog owners—people who are only interested in these dogs for fighting or protection. While Pit Bulls were once considered especially non-aggressive to people, their reputation has changed, thanks to unscrupulous breeders and irresponsible owners. And because the Pit Bull population has increased so rapidly, shelters now struggle to deal with an overflow of image-plagued, hard-to-place dogs.

History of the Breed

Pit Bulls are descendants of the original English bull-baiting dog—a dog that was bred to bite and hold bulls, bears and other large animals around the face and head. "Bulldogs" were bred to hang on without releasing their grip, until the animal was exhausted from fighting and from loss of blood. When baiting large animals was banned in the 1800s, people then started to fight their dogs against each other instead.
As the "sport" of dog fighting developed, enthusiasts bred a lighter, more athletic canine. These dogs made their way to North America, the ancestors of today's Pit Bulls. Pit Bulls that were not used for fighting were considered ideal family pets—affectionate, loyal and gentle with children. Serious problems started when these dogs gained the attention of people looking for a macho dog—and to meet their demands, unscrupulous and uncaring breeders are producing puppies that were not only aggressive to other dogs, but also to people.

In the Fighting Ring

Although a felony offense in all 50 states, organized dog fights still take place in many parts of the country. In some urban areas especially, dogfighters have formed a strong subculture. Dogs that fight are bred and conditioned to never give up when they are fighting, even if it means that they will be badly hurt or killed. Other animals are victims of dog fights, too—it's not uncommon for trainers to encourage their dogs' aggression by using other dogs and smaller animals such as cats, rabbits and rodents as bait.
While some might typify dog fighting as a symptom of urban decay, not every dogfighter is economically disadvantaged. Participants and promoters come from every community and all backgrounds, with audiences including lawyers, judges and teachers and other upstanding community leaders.
Unfortunately, a new element has been introduced to the world of dog fighting over the past two decades. Fights have become informal street corner and playground activities. Stripped of the rules and formality of the traditional pit fight, these spontaneous events are triggered by insults and turf invasions—or even the simple taunt, "My dog can kill your dog." 
So here's my question, if the ASPCA states that pit bulls are descendants of the bull-baiting dogs that were bred to "hang on without releasing their grip, until the animal was exhausted from fighting and from loss of blood," then what's wrong the pit bull owners? Yes, the owners who continue to insist that this is NOT the case! Even the ASPCA clearly states that pit bulls were bred for the sport of dog fighting and as they continue to be bred by irresponsible, "unscrupulous and uncaring" breeders they became more aggressive toward other dogs and even people.  So why is it that pit bull owners continue to deny this truth and violently attack anyone who repeats it? 
It seems that everyone knows this is the truth about pit bulls, except for the pit bull owners.  
I do realize that the pit bull owners are attempting to improve the reputation of the breed and to diminish or eradicate the stigma attached to it, but I really don't believe that telling outright lies and viciously attacking those who discuss the origin of the breed, is the way to accomplish their mission. In fact, it makes them appear even less than substandard.  
If you haven't any experience in "debating" with or dealing with pit bull owners on any level, let me enlighten you.  Here are just a few comments by pit bull owners in defense of their dog and man killers...
1) "Let's be honest.  Your a fucking complete and utter moron, you obvisuly have had no experience with a larger bread of dog.  you have no love, no care for living things, why don't I abuse you, perhaps provoke u, force you too fight for the amusement of other people.  It's people like YOU!  that give the breed a bad name, fuckheads like YOU!  who make people THINK they are aggressive.  people like you! need to be taken out of family homes.  not these magnificient creatures.  I hope you fucking rott in hell, your filth." 
2) "I'd luv to have one my friends pitbulls crap on your face and then piss in ur mouth - rot in hell!  u have no damn clue about the breed so STFU..."

3) "How about canine safety with all breeds --so ignorant children don't become part of an ignorant statistic by a group of humans who are blatantly ignorant" (yes, "ignorant children.")

4) "Go fuck yourself.  I hope your children have their assholes pounded out by your neighbor & his faggot ass friends.  If u as a parent can't protect your children and feel the need to have the gov step in & do it for you, then u shouldn't be parenting in the 1st place.  Control your kids worry about u and others.  Stay out of my business.  I have the same rights as you.  Want a lot of the same things in life as u.  Don't try dictate how anyone else achieves their happiness.
5) "Now fuck off who the hell are u??  A worthless fucking scank whore!!  U have no facts and no logic all ur doing is bashing people and stating ur dumb ass opinions!!  U have no validity to ur argument ur just a mean, nasty, ugly, hate spreading cunt!!  U are very stupid and not very well spoken and I sure hope u don't have kids!!  Jesus I can't imagine what those little bastards will grow up to act like, prolly stupid mouthy cuntface bitches like their worthless bottom feeding whore of a mother!!
Now, if it's true that pit bull owners are attempting to improve the reputation of the breed and eradicate the stigma attached to it, do you think this is the way to go about it? Thankfully, these comments were not directed at me, but even if they were, they would be ignored.  In fact, I do receive some comments from pit lovers, and have "debated" with some on the internet, and their comments, I should say their attacks, were very similar to these.  
Pit bull owners continue to argue that their dogs are not dangerous, and were not bred for the specific purpose of fighting. They say that they are not fighting breed dogs.  Hmmmm...well, it seems that everyone knows the truth except for them.  If they are really interested in improving the reputation of the breed, and eradicating the stigma attached to the breed, then maybe they should start by admitting the truth and working from there.  Their lies are definitely NOT helping them accomplish their mission.  
Is this what you want barreling down the street after your service dog?

Also, it would certainly help to start containing their fighting breed dogs appropriately so these vicious, brutal and devastating attacks on children, people's pets and guide/service dogs would STOP. But then....when you think of that happening, you have to consider the type of people we're talking about here. We're talking about pit bull owners that first of all, won't even admit what their dogs were bred for, and these are the same people who respond with comments such as the ones above (see 1-5). 
I really DO NOT see these people becoming more mature, accepting what their dogs were bred for (i.e. the truth), and doing a better job at breeding, raising, and becoming more responsible in terms of appropriate containment for their fighting breed dogs. 
This is what a pit bull should like.

This is why I, and most intelligent, caring, compassionate people, would like to see pit bull type dogs go extinct, through bans on breeding, and mandatory spay/neuter laws.  In the meantime, since these pit bull owners can't handle the truth and be responsible owners, I would encourage all city councils to enact laws that include, mandatory muzzles for pit bull type dogs, no more legal adoptions of pit bull type dogs through shelters, rescues, etc., mandatory microchip, and mandatory containment regulations.  
The fact is, that pit bulls were bred to fight in a pit.  Dog fighting is now illegal, so why are these dogs still around? 
The work of a pit bull.

There are so many other breeds of dog to choose from, that need homes.  Pit bulls are only fit for the pit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jade's Day In Court

Early this morning, I had a court hearing for personal reasons, and as always, my trusty co-pilot, Jade, accompanied me, and boy am I glad she did! It was one of the toughest days I've had so far, since I've become too disabled to work.  Jade was, as she always is, there for me.

I was about as nervous as I could be getting up and getting ready this morning to head off to court, which I have to admit, isn't an easy task in itself when you're disabled. Thankfully I have help...I have my boyfriend, who is the best man I've ever known, and my loyal 4-legged friend; both of them help me immensely.

After I got my first set of pills in me, and a little something to go down with them, I move about a bit easier, and strapped Jade into her service dog vest and collar, which lets her know it's time to get ready to work.  My nerves started to settle some just looking at her loving face looking at me, while I strapped her into her seatbelt in the back seat of the truck and slowly climbed into the passenger seat.  I thought about how court would go on the ride, and when I started to feel very nervous again, I'd look into the backseat, and see that face again.....deep breath...we can do this.

We got through it, and although I'd wished we would never have had to, we did, and today I realized that Jade helps me in so many other ways than just doing the physical things she does to help me.  Yes, she picks up everything I drop, she opens doors, she puts clothes in the dryer and pulls them out, she pulls the laundry basket into the laundry room,  she holds things for me, she carries bags into the house for me after shopping, she lets the cat in and out so I don't have to get up, she helps set the table for dinner, and she fetches the phone for me, but today I realized how much she helps me emotionally.

Sometimes, it's just about her being there with me, through the hard things, through the physical pain, and the emotional pain.  Just her being there, laying next to me, or looking at me with that silly smile, and wagging tail, with those pretty eyes of hers, that seem to say, "Smile, I'm here for you!" seems to keep me going from day to day.  But then there's that look of hers that I get every evening after dinner, that says, "Well, are we going to the park now or what?" and I know, I have to get out.  I have to get out, see the sun, see the park, see other people, and think about other things...or not think at all; it's unbelievable how much just getting out of the house, and going to the park helps with depression and stress. She makes me do that.

Today was difficult.  I sat in the courtroom, nervous, and wondering what would happen, but I could look down at my feet, under the table, and there's that face again, looking up at me, smiling, and making me feel like "yes, I can do it....and everything is going to be okay."  After it was over, and I was crying so much I couldn't stop, we left the courtroom, and I stopped right there in the hallway, squatted down slowly, and hugged Jade. She sat with me, just letting me, because she knew I needed to, then we shared a cup of water and regrouped.  I often wonder what I'd do without her, but today I realized it's for so many more reasons.

When I wake up in the morning, I find her right there, on the bed, laying next to me, after my boyfriend has left for work (or is sometimes getting ready for work).  I wake up and I pet her, and she rolls over for the belly rub.  She happily fetches my slippers and my cane, as if to say, "C'mon, let's get moving," and I do.

So, what I realized is that my service dog, is so much more than just my physical helper, and my partner.  She also helps me so much emotionally.  She's my therapy, and my friend.

Thank you, Jade, for always being there.

 Dogs just have a way of making it better.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Difference Between A REAL Service Dog And A Fraud

I've written several blogs recently on "Fake Service Dogs" and why people are attempting to pass their pets off as service dogs. I've also discussed the negative impacts of doing such a thing (impersonating a disabled person and attempting to pass your pet off as a service dog) on the real service dog team community. I also read many other articles dedicated to the same topic, as this has become a very real problem.  It is also a problem for business owners and managers, as they are often too afraid of being sued to oust a "service dog" from their establishment, even when the dog becomes a nuisance or even aggressive toward other patrons/customers.  I've read stories where customers have legitimately complained about a "service dog" in the establishment that was lunging at customers, barking incessantly, and being an all out nuisance, and the business manager refused to ask the "service dog" team to take the dog out for fear of confrontation and being sued.  It's become very clear to me that business owners/managers need to be properly educated about what a REAL service dog looks like, and how it should behave, so that they can more easily spot a fake "service dog" and deal with it appropriately.

Disabled people have rights, true.  They have the right to have a service dog and to bring their legitimate service dog into most any establishment, as long as the dog behaves as it should.  However, business owners and managers have rights too, and so do the other customers who use those establishments.

I think it's pretty clear that a lot of people are on to the fact that there are some people out there who are stooping to new lows, and will stop at nothing to take their pets wherever they want to go.  However, in order to do this, they have to break the law; and make no mistake....impersonating a disabled person, and slapping a vest on your dog to call it a "service dog" without the proper training, is a crime. It is Felony fraud and will be treated as such, when, not if, but WHEN you are caught.

BUT...the big question out there is "how do you know if a person's service dog is a legitimately trained service dog, or a fraud?" Some people say there's no way to tell, since by law the ADA only allows two questions asked to the disabled/service dog team...1) Is that a service dog? and 2) What tasks does the service dog perform to assist you with your disability?


That's why I'm posting this....This is GREAT information that will help anyone see the difference.....

IAADP Minimum Training Standards for Public Access
1. Amount of Schooling: an assistance dog should be given a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) hours of schooling over a period of Six Months or more.* At least thirty (30) hours should be devoted to outings that will prepare the dog to work obediently and unobtrusively in public places.**
2. Obedience Training: a dog must master the basic obedience skills: "Sit, Stay, Come, Down, Heel" and a dropped leash recall in a store in response to verbal commands and/or hand signals.
3. Manners: a dog must acquire proper social behavior skills. It includes at a minimum:
  • No aggressive behavior toward people or other animals - no biting, snapping, snarling, growling or lunging and barking at them when working off your property.
  • No soliciting food or petting from other people while on duty.
  • No sniffing merchandise or people or intruding into another dog’s space while on duty.
  • Socialize to tolerate strange sights, sounds, odors etc. in a wide variety of public settings.
  • Ignores food on the floor or dropped in the dog’s vicinity while working outside the home.
  • Works calmly on leash. No unruly behavior or unnecessary vocalizations in public settings.
  • No urinating or defecating in public unless given a specific command or signal to toilet in an appropriate place.
4. Disability Related Tasks: the dog must be individually trained to perform identifiable tasks on command or cue for the benefit of the disabled human partner. This includes alerting to sounds, medical problems, certain scents like peanuts or situations if training is involved.

For a definition of a "task" and "individually trained,” and “what is not a task” and many examples of tasks performed by different kinds of assistance dogs, Click Here.
5. Prohibited Training: Any training that arouses a dog’s prey drive or fear to elicit a display of aggression for guard or defense purposes is strictly prohibited. Non aggressive barking as a trained behavior is permitted in appropriate situations. (See IAADP’s ban on the enrollment of protection trained, attack trained or aggressive dogs as an assistance dog with our organization. Click Here)
6. A Trainer’s Responsibilities: Trainers function as ambassadors for the assistance dog movement. This includes a disabled owner trainer, a provider’s staff or a volunteer with a puppy or adult dog “in training.” It also includes an assistance dog partner or able bodied facilitator helping a disabled loved one to keep up an assistance dog’s training. At a minimum, you should:

* The 120 hours of schooling includes the time invested in homework training sessions between obedience classes or lessons from an experienced dog trainer. ** Eligibility for Certification from a provider who supports IAADP’s Minimum Training Standards for Public Access may require you turn in a weekly training log to document your dog received a minimum of 120 hours of schooling over a period of six months or more.

How will you know when your dog is ready to graduate from an "in training" status to the status of a full fledged assistance dog with whom you are entitled to have public access rights?
An excellent tool for evaluating a team's readiness to graduate [e.g. finish up formal training] is the Public Access Certification Test (PACT) which can be found on the website of Assistance Dogs International at The ADI Public Access Certification Test was developed over 15 years ago as a consumer protection measure by the ADI Team Testing Committee, which included input from both providers and IAADP Partner members. Overall, the goal of the test is to discover whether or not a particular team is ready to go places out in public without trainer supervision. The safety of the dog, the handler and the public were the main considerations in developing the specific exercises for testing the team.
This test creates a level playing field, since it does not matter whether it is a guide, hearing or service dog team being tested or who trained the dog. What matters is the team’s performance. Every ADI program is required to administer this test before graduating and credentialing a team.
Disability mitigating tasks or work are not critiqued during the test. However, to establish a dog’s eligibility to take this test to become an assistance dog, ADI programs would ask for a demo in advance of at least three service dog tasks, three hearing dog sound alerts or a series of tasks known as “guide dog work.” To document the dog performs tasks in the home such as seizure response work, alerting to an attack of hypoglycemia late at night or fetching a portable phone or beverage, a program may ask the client to submit a video tape of the task(s).
The Public Access Test evaluates the dog's obedience and manners and the handler's skills in a variety of situations which include:
A. The handler's abilities to: ( 1 ) safely load and unload the dog from a vehicle; ( 2 ) enter a public place without losing control of the dog; ( 3 ) to recover the leash if accidently dropped, and ( 4 ) to cope calmly with an access problem if an employee or customer questions the individual’s right to bring a dog into that establishment.
B. The dog's ability to: ( 1 ) safely cross a parking lot, halt for traffic, and ignore distractions; ( 2 ) heel through narrow aisles; ( 3 ) hold a Sit-Stay when a shopping cart passes by or when a person stops to chat and pets the dog; (4 ) hold a Down Stay when a child approaches and briefly pets the dog; ( 5 ) hold a Sit Stay when someone drops food on the floor; hold a Down Stay when someone sets a plate of food on the floor within 18" of the dog, then removes it a minute later. [the handler may say “Leave It” to help the dog resist the temptation.] ( 6 ) remain calm if someone else holds the leash while the handler moves 20 ft. away; ( 7 ) remain calm while another dog passes within 6 ft. of the team during the test. This can occur in a parking lot or store. Alternatively, you could arrange for a neighbor with a pet dog to stroll past your residence while you load your dog into a vehicle at the beginning of the test.

IAADP agrees with ADI's ethical position that the amount of training given to an assistance dog should NEVER fall below the minimum level needed to pass this Public Access Test.

**CERTIFICATION is not required in the USA. Many states lack programs willing to certify dogs that did not go through that program’s training course. The DOJ decided to foster “an honor system,” by making the tasks the dog is trained to perform on command or cue to assist a disabled person, rather than certification ID from specific programs, the primary way to differentiate between a service animal and a pet. It opened the door for people to train their own assistance dog, usually with the help of an experienced trainer, if a program dog is unavailable.

Testers: If you are not enrolled in a program or taking lessons from a trainer willing to administer the Public Access Test and provide ID on successful completion of the test, it is worthwhile to find a trainer who would administer The Public Access Test. You could recruit a local trainer certified through The National Association of Obedience Dog Instructors ( or the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. ( ) ,or an obedience class instructor, or a Canine Good Citizen test evaluator. Trainers usually will charge a fee for their time. You might ask a colleague, in a pinch, to video tape the test and score it, for scoring is self explanatory. Have the tester sign and date it, then keep the test with your training logs in case of an access dispute someday.

Hopefully, this will help someone to determine the difference between a REAL Service Dog and a fraud.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Neela, The Guide Dog, Savagely Attacked By Pit Bull

I wanted to blog this one, and give it some special attention for a few reasons.

When I originally saw the video of this brutal and vicious pit bull attack on a beautiful, noble guide dog, it made my blood boil! I found it hard to sleep the night I saw this.  The insensitivity and lack of caring on the part of pit bull owners never ceases to amaze me! No matter how many times these vicious dogs attack, maul, maim and kill, their owners STILL refuse to admit the dangerousness of this breed and its threat to public safety.  They STILL DON'T CARE!!!  

There are SO many pit bull attacks in which the owners of the mutant pit bull/s just grab their dogs and flee the scene, which is worse than despicable, but this one just takes the cake for me! The woman was walking along, feeling a great sense of independence and freedom, that she now had this noble, and wonderful guide dog to be her eyes for her and give her a new lease on life.  This noble dog, Neela, was doing the work she was so very well trained to do for her blind handler, when a disgusting mutant pit bull, dove out and brutally savaged her, ripping her neck open, and leaving her handler terrified and powerless.  Then, to top it off, the loser, piece- of- shit mutant owner, does the most despicable and unimaginable thing possible....he grabs his ugly, mutant, vicious mauling machine, and flees, leaving the blind woman there, with her injured and bleeding guide dog with no help!    

What kind of person does such a thing???!!! The answer...A PIT BULL OWNER!!! Sorry, but here it is, the proof, in writing.  This is how these people behave! I could go on and on about that, but I won't...because all you have to do is google pit bull attacks, and see for yourself how many times the owners of these beasts just flee the scene after their mutant dogs rip someone's innocent pet, or God forbid, someone's innocent child, to pieces.....leaving them lying there in a pool of their own blood, with no help in sight.  Read the stories, then scroll down to the comments sections and read the comments that blame the innocent pet, or child for somehow provoking their sweet, gentle, wiggly butt pit bull into mauling them bloody, or dead. Yes, they're there...all you have to do is look.  You can go to a small, innocent, lovely little child's memorial page....that their parents have tearfully written through the worst grief of their lives, and see the comments by the pit bull cultists that blame that poor child for provoking the dog somehow, as if they somehow deserved to die this early, horrible, and brutal death....RIGHT THERE ON THE CHILD'S MEMORIAL PAGE!!!  What kind of people are these for the love of God!??? The answer, PIT BULL OWNERS!

Now, I am disabled. If you follow my blog you know this, you also know that my dog Jade is currently in training to be a service dog. But.....The one disability I can't imagine having, is to be blind.  When I even just try to imagine it, I feel an immense and overwhelming sense of powerlessness, and that is an extremely difficult emotion to endure for even a short time.  I can't imagine feeling that way for longer than a few moments. Don't get me wrong here, I don't want to pity anyone....I'm just trying to empathize, or put myself if someone else's shoes (for any pit bull owners that might be reading this).  I'm trying to understand what it might be like to be blind, and have to have help to go just about anywhere.  Then, at some point in your life, to acquire, through blood, sweat, tears, patience and a whole lot of money, a new set of eyes, in the form of a beautiful and noble guide dog.  Suddenly, there's new found independence, a new best friend, and a freedom you might NEVER have thought you'd have.  What an amazing gift! A true blessing! 


This is Neela
There you are, walking along, feeling independent and free, guided by your beautiful and noble friend...your guide dog, headed through the train station, going somewhere you've couldn't have gone before without your noble friend. When suddenly a vile, mutant-like creature, with an unquenchable thirst for blood, blasts out and away from it's just-as-vile and despicable owner, who thinks it's okay to drop the leash, while he has a smoke and a beer, and grabs your noble friend, your set of eyes, around her neck in a sincere effort to kill her dead.  Your whole, entire life has changed in an instant....and there you stand, blind, and confused, feeling such powerlessness as to drop your heart from your chest, as you listen to the scrambling noises, the frightful and gut-wrenching screams of your noble friend, as it tries to escape the death-grip of this vile mutant-like pit bull.  All you can do is feel your way to some semblance of what you hope is safety, and cry out for help, hoping your friend, your eyes, will somehow live through this nightmare.  When it's finally over, you hear the gut-wrenching screams of your noble friend stop, and you feel her come to you, finding you in your darkness, even in her own blinding pain, to see if you're okay. You reach down to feel her, tears streaming down your face, your hands shaking, and you know that it's blood you feel on her soft, wet fur, and your heart is broken.  Your life is broken.  Luckily, a caring passer-by, a witness, has called for help, and talks to you, helps you.  They tell you what happened, and tell you that the owner of the vile mutant that has broken your dog, your heart, and your life, has taken his dog and fled the scene, without even so much as an apology to you. 

Now you tell does that feel?! 
This is only me, writing about this story, and what I've read, trying to imagine it happening.  But it didn't happen to me, so I can't really, truly feel what that poor woman felt when this happened to her. I can try to empathize though, something pit bull owners do not have the ability to do, obviously. Make no mistake, this is VERY traumatic, and it doesn't just go away.  Something like this has lasting consequences for the person and the dog, but I wanted to blog this because after all, it has a somewhat happy ending.  The woman and the dog are doing well, not to say that this has not completely changed their lives, but they are okay.  The guide dog, Neela, somehow miraculously survived and even more miraculously is still able to work! This is rare.  There are a lot of service dogs that experience something like this, unfortunately, and can no longer perform their job anymore, if they're lucky enough to survive, and have to be retired, and the handler has to move on and through the search, training, blood, sweat, tears, patience and money it takes to acquire a new service dog once again. 

The public is NOT educated about service dogs/guide dogs. This is painfully obvious to me when I go out with my service dog. I've blogged about that previously. THESE ATTACKS NEED TO STOP! People have NO idea what it takes to acquire and/or train a service dog/guide dog, and learn to work together as a team. 

So when you see a service dog team or guide dog team, please have a little respect. Try to understand how it might feel to have someone ask you questions like, "What's wrong with you?" or "What do you need that dog for?" Please refrain from just reaching out and petting someone's service or guide dog, and remember that when you do that, or let your children do that, you are distracting a working dog from doing its job, a very important job. These are not just pets, they are providing a service to their handler and for a good reason.



Now, I do have to say, to be fair, that not ALL pit bull owners are this way. But that's a given, I think.  There are some pit bull owners that would actually apologize for their mutant's behavior, and that might even stick around to lend a hand.  Those type of owners, however, are few and far between.  At least that is certainly how it appears when you read about all of these brutal attacks.