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Vote Now! Vote Often! 15 June 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Bond, Going Places, Partnership, Service Dogs.
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Suzan, of A Service Dog’s Journey. wants to take Logan for a Doggie Spa adventure!!

Vote HERE for Logan to win the contest!!

And maybe, just maybe, when my Woof comes, I can take him for a doggie spa adventure, too!

Preparing for Your Woof – Recapitulation 29 April 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Equipment, Exercise, Feeding, Going Places, Supplies.
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I’m using my time fruitfully, I think. First, thinking through exactly how the Woof will “fit” in the household we already have – The Ol’ Curmudgeon, Magnus the Magnifi-Cat, and me. Where will he sleep? What will he do while I’m working? Where will he eat? Where in the yard will he poop?

  • Poop – How will we handle the poop? Yellow Labs poop BIG! We’ve had one before, we KNOW! Can’t let it just accumulate – soon there’d be a MOUNTAIN of it! Here’s one of the neater devices known to man – the Doggie Dooley Toilet. It’s a septic system for dog poop! It works if you have your own house and yard. Doesn’t work for apartment or condo dwellers. We are in a house with a large, fenced yard. It will work for us.
    • Doggie Dooley
    • You bury it in the yard with only the top showing. Open the top, dump in the poop. Put in the enzymes, fill it with water. The system has to be near a water source. That’s a drawback, unless your handi-dandi son who was once a plumber’s assistant 🙂 lives next door. Think he can plumb us a little line over to the dooley??
    • We have adolescent grandsons next door who love to earn money – they would be glad to scoop poop into the Doogie Dooley for a slightly less than extortionate fee which we grandparents are more than willing to pay!
    • For those who live in an area in which they cannot do this, there may be a local pooper-scooper service available (research on Google is a big help!) For those in apartments, you will have to rely on the old walking the dog routine. There are jokes about following your dog with a plastic bag, and there are even doggie diapers that can be used! Disposal of the waste will depend on local regulations. Each individual should research their local dog poop regulations!
  • Exercise – How will we handle exercise? Labrador Retrievers are what the Ol’ Curmudgeon calls “enthusiastic, bullet-proof dogs made of mostly plastic materials.” They leap upon you, tongue lolling, huge tail wagging frantically, their whole body saying, “I love you – love me back!” If someone breaks into the house, the labrador retriever says, “Hi! I’m Woof! Here’s my bowl, and here’s my favorite toy, and here’s the entertainment center, and here’s the wall safe, and here’s the computer, now let’s play!” No guard dog, these! (Of course, a good service dog is VERY well behaved, and doesn’t jump on you!!) They need JOBZ to do – constantly. If they don’t have jobz to do, they will make up jobz to do – that you don’t want them to do! And they need exercise!! Lots and lots of exercise! That can present a problem for the energy-deficient, mobility limited partner. Exercise often falls to another team member. OR exercise can fall to technology!
    • GoDogGo (mentioned in another post here) is a marvelous invention!!
    • Have a treadmill? You can teach your dog to use your own treadmill safely by starting very slowly and moving very slowly to higher speeds over time. Cesar Millan of the Dog Psychology Center of Los Angeles often uses this technique, but recommends high caution because of harm to the dog if it falls or gets caught up on the leash. Never leave the dog alone on your treadmill! OR you can get a specially-made doggie treadmill HERE! Just be sure the local police don’t think you are training a fighting dog! LOL! Again, NEVER leave your dog alone on a treadmill – not even one that is designed specifically for dogs!
    • 3 Jog a Dog Treadmills
    • Check out your area for fenced in dog parks for off-leash romping. Be sure you understand the regulations related to innoculations and poop control issues before you set your canine partner loose in a dog park!
  • Feeding your Woof. One of the things about most assistance dogs is that they are, well, among the larger breeds. Now, the Ol’ Curmudgeon and I happen to consider Labrador Retrievers to be medium-sized dogs, but most folk consider them to be kinda big! At any rate, they are among the size of canine that needs to be fed with an elevated feeding station. Why? you ask, Why? Because when they lean over to eat, it puts some kind of strain on their GI system, and they can develop a twisted gut or volvulus. This is an emergency, and an expensive emergency – which many doggies don’t survive. So you’ll need an elevated feeding station. Luckily the Ol’ Curmudgon will come to my rescue and make a really nice one for me. But many are available for purchase. Check out a Google search for dog feeding station.
    • Just a couple of the possibilities:
    • Slatted Feeder with Splash Guard Wrought-Iron Mission-Style Feeder
  • Going Places with your Woof. OK, you have your Woof, and your have the poop and exercise and feeding taken care of. Remember, you’ll need to deal with poop when you Go Places! Take lots of plastic bags. And those little diaper things that make “sausages” don’t work worth squat, believe me! You’ll need a pooper-scooper. If you are in a wheelchair, it will depend on whether you are a para or a quad and whether you have another team member with you to help as to what kind to take. But take one, you must, for doggies don’t know about, “Wait until you get home, dear.”
    • Transportable doggie dish for food and another for water.
    • Bottles of water – how many? depends on how long you will be gone and how large a dog and the weather. Labrador Retriever? About 1-2 pints for every hour.
    • Food – only if you will be gone through a feeding time. And if so, then take the usual amount that you feed your Woof.
    • Slobber Scarf – All dogs do drool. Not as badly as Newfoundlands, or Mastiffs, or St. Bernards, but they do drool and slobber. A bandana around the neck when going out is really important. Some doggie towels are, also. If you will be gone very long, you may wish to take some additional bandanas so your Woof always looks fresh. Now you know why so many service dogs are photographed with bandanas!
    • Even in hot weather, you will want a doggie shirt – or one of your tee-shirts – to put on your “Woof” to reduce shedding of dander. This is a courtesy for those who might be allergic to woofs. Especially if you are going into an office building, library, classroom building, etc.
    • So you might want to put together a little doggie suitcase with the travel necessities. There are even lightweight foldable feeding dishes for travel!

That takes care of many of the initial considerations. You may want to add more to the list as you think about them. Comments are, as usual, more than welcome! Donations to PAALS are more than welcome, too! (Please be sure to note that the donation is for me!)

Letter to an Editor – – 1 April 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Behavior, Going Places, Law, PAALS, Partnership, Responsibility, Service Dogs, Support PAALS.
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I saw an interesting letter to the editor in the Pottsville PA newspaper, the Republican & Herald yesterday. (I have a Google search widget set to scan for service dog news and this came up.) A 4th grade class invited a blind man to come to school and show how his guide dog helps him. In response to a very positive experience, the man wrote a glowing  letter to the editor.

This gave me another great idea to add to my list of orientations. When my Woof gets here, I’ll write a letter to the various teachers in the Elementary and Middle Schools in our County, offering to come to their class and talk about service dogs and show how my Woof helps me. Of especial importance will be to explain that one must always ask before talking to or petting a working service dog. I will show the difference in my service dog’s personality with and without his vest. When he is working, he must not be played with, or he could become confused and not help me when I need to be helped.

People who have a service dog have responsibilities to their community – to educate people in their community about service dogs, and to help raise awareness and money for the organization that provided their dogs.

Oh, I will be a busy beaver!! But it will be well worth it! I will have a great purpose in life again! How wonderful! I can support PAALS and still be working with Woof!

Assistance Dogs Get Travel Boost 29 March 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Airplane, Bus, Going Places, Handicap-Accessible, Public Transportation, Train, Travel, Wheelchair.
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It would seem that in Great Britain there is an ongoing upgrading of the train system to make the carriages and stations more accessible to the handicapped! Good for them!

Endal gets on a train

Endal gets on a newly-designed
British train carriage!

Now wouldn’t it be nice if all our transportation systems were this accessible to the handicapped and to service dogs?! The British are using the model of a wheelchair user with a service dog to improve their system nation wide. This is very encouraging.

Any person requiring a service dog, whether seeing-eye, hearing-ear, mobility, or psychotherapeutic, deserves accessibility of travel systems. All travel systems: auto, bus, train, airlines, and, eventually, space travel, should be handicap-accessible in all ways.

Lest I be accused of omitting the handicapped who do not have or do not require a service dog, I want to iterate that this blog is about service dogs. But handicap-accessible should mean handicap-accessible with or without a service dog.

I do not require accessibility on most public transportation – I don’t use public transportation. The bus-train system is much too fatiguing for me to use. I very rarely have to fly anywhere. But when I do, I have found it to be quite awkward and difficult. I can’t imagine trying to manage it with my Woof.

Autos can be made more accessible by retrofitting them with more accessible doors, specialized steering and control devices. I’m not suggesting that service dogs drive! The doors could be made so that the dogs could open and close them, though, just as the British train carriage cars are being made so that service dogs can open and close them. Will it require some thinking and re-engineering? Yup! Can it be done? Of course!

As my grandchildren say – “Let’s gopher it!”

And please don’t forget to support PAALS!!

A win/win/win idea 18 March 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Behavior, Cats, Disability, Going Places, Mobility, PAALS, Partnership, Puppy, Raising, Service Dogs, Sponsorship, Support PAALS, Team, Training.
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Therapist’s network uses inmates and dogs to help people with disabilities

By Abe Aamidor

After earning her Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy from Purdue University in 1990, Sally Irvin took a job at an in-patient youth psychiatric facility in Memphis, Tenn.
That lasted a year.

Later, she trained physicians at Community Health Network in the art of grief counseling.

In the back of her mind, though, were always the dogs. Irvin, 48, had loved dogs, and had always owned dogs, since her childhood in Albany, N.Y.

That led Irvin to start ICAN, the Indiana Canine Assistant Network, in 2001. The nonprofit organization teaches prison inmates to train service dogs, which in turn are provided to people with disabilities.

Irvin is a baby boomer making a difference, even though she resists that title.

“I’ve always thought of baby boomers as someone who’s 10 years older than me,” she said.

ICAN is a pee-wee among giants in the animal welfare as well as disability communities. The group employs three full-time staffers, including Irvin, and operates on a shoestring budget of $267,000. Offices are in donated space on the second floor of the Little Red Door Cancer Agency on North Meridian Street.

But its impact is real. To date, ICAN has trained 18 offenders at three Indiana facilities who have since been released from prison. Six of them have gone on to work with dogs or other animals. The group also has placed 46 service dogs with people who have disabilities. [–MORE–]

This is a fabulous article about service dogs. I was familiar with ICAN from watching Animal Planet. They broadcast a program about it fairly regularly. ICAN is almost as small as PAALS.

At PAALS February was a great month. New volunteers, new events scheduled. And some of the dogs had some wonderful experiences.

Saying Hello -

These Two PAALS pups are
learning to say “hello” properly.

Gypsy at a Valentine Store

“Gypsy” visits a store for the Valentines
Day sale

You see, service dogs need to learn how to behave in as many different situations as possible. They will be exposed to hundreds of different places, situations, and people. Traffic, stores, offices, homes, bars, shops, malls, even, perhaps, jails and morgues and police stations. Hospitals, doctors offices, disasters, parks, funerals, weddings – you name it, service dogs will be exposed to them. Of course, each dog cannot be exposed to each possibility before being paired with their working partner, but they can learn “good manners” in as many new situations as possible so they will know to exhibit “good manners” no matter what.

My Woof will go to Red Hat Society functions where there is loud talking and lots of laughter. And will also have lots of time at home in my office being very quiet. There there is grocery day – when I do all the shopping for the week. There are family gatherings with an aunt with Parkinson’s and an uncle with mild dementia, and a sister-in-law who also has rheumatoid arthritis (only more severe than I have). Visits with grandsons from far away, one of whom is bi-polar/ADHD and another who is Autistic. Then there is the twice monthly Woodturning Club Meeting in our workshop – 30+ people devoted to woodturning. Visits to attorney offices, other professional offices.

Although I am mostly restricted to my home, Woof and I will go to a number of places together. Some places will not have had any experiences with service dogs before. It will be our responsibility to be “ambassadors” for service dogs in those locations. We will show that service dogs are very well behaved, have “good manners,” and we will demonstrate how helpful they can be – how helpful my Woof is for me. I will give out little “packets” with PAALS cards, brouchures, a copy of the ADA law and the GA ADA regulations. These will go a long way to help educate people. I hope we can help people accept service dogs and their partners.

Speaking of Assistance Animals, Magnus the Magnifi-Cat has entered the service animal arena. I’m having some mild incontinence problems (as do about 68% of the older female population “out there”). I had gone to the usual “Serenity” solution. But in the last couple of months Magnus has started pestering me – a lot. After a few days I figured I needed to pay attention to him. So I bestirred myself out of my chair and followed him – down the hall to the bathroom, where he rubbed against the toilet. OK, I used it. He shut up and left me along for another 5 hours! I started paying more attention. he would lead me to the bathroom. I’d use it. He’d shut up. I haven’t had incontinence in over a month. So I now have a service cat! It may not be a “spectacular” thing, but he knows and he lets me know when I don’t know. Mine not to reason why . . .

Please remember to tell your about PAALS and ask them to sponsor a dog or otherwise support us! Think of the specific good PAALS is doing for specific individuals. Do you know someone with mobility problems? Hearing problems? Vision problems? Communication problems? Autism? Cerebral Palsy? Did you know that service dogs help people with all of these problems and more? Please support PAALS!