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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!


My Bodacious Babes Approve! 27 January 08

Posted by mtriggs in Service Dogs, Sponsorship, Support PAALS.
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Went to my Red Hat chapter meeting yesterday! We had a blast, as usual. Several potential new members were there – really neat people! I’m looking forward to the new year. We’ll be having a great time doing some really fun things!

But I was even more encouraged by the responses of the members to my overtures about my Woof. They were 100% supportive! Several had great ideas for how to make some money for the Woof. They are all looking forward to meeting my Woof.

Before I went to the meeting, I stopped off at a fast food place (which will remain nameless for now). After I finished my favorite fast-food meal (yummm) I spoke to the very, very nice manager, who assured me that he would be delighted to send the corporate package forward and see if the local owner would be willing to support my efforts!!

I feel like I’m really on my way!

Woof, come home!

= = = = =

The following is from:


Maggie - Pic #1 Maggie - Pic #1

Maggie - Pic #3

Maggie - Pic #4 Maggie - Pic #5

This seven-year old Labrador Retriever Service Animal serves as a Mobility Assistant Canine for a man who is attending a university. Without Maggie, her Handler would not be able to function independently in society due to his disabilities, but the university is insisting his Service Canine is a “pet”, and is threatening to dismiss the student from school, if he returns with Maggie because they were not presented with written documentation proving Maggie was indeed a Service Animal. (While school authorities consistently referred to Maggie as a “pet”).

“Despite the fact that Maggie’s Handler presented the school authorities with a prescription from his physician, the officials at the university decided that was not sufficient information. In truth, Maggie’s Handler did not need to provide ANY certification, prescription, or other documentation to prove his requirement for a Service Animal and in fact, this university is breaking the Federal Law by insisting for documentation. The only information the school system may request is knowledge of the task Maggie provides her Handler.

“This is a rather appalling situation Wheel Me On… learned about regarding a member of our organization who must have his Service Canine with him at all times. The fact of the matter is educators or persons who work in an environment of “teaching” should certainly be aware of the Federal Law. How much more obvious does Maggie need to be as a Service Animal?

“Maggie is registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and weighs 56-pounds. She was already trained with public access and obedience when her present Handler/Owner received her, who complimented her earlier training with mobility needs for himself, and used Top Dog Training books, Team Work and Team Work 2, to help with her training. Her tasks include helping her Handler get off the floor and raising him from the floor. Additionally, Maggie provides her Handler with mobility assistance and relieves related anxiety pain by providing a stable platform for her Handler to lean on, for balance difficulties.

“Maggie wears a harness and her Vest has been ordered for replacement, because her old one was shredded to pieces, by eight Beagle and four Coon Hound puppies. Maggie’s Handler is presently training four Beagle canines as Therapy Service Animals that will soon be ready to go to a good home for healing assistance.

A. Michleski, Handler/Owner

“Editors Note: All schools, whether universities, colleges, public or private schools should be aware of the Federal Law under the ADA and the United States Department of Justice, especially with as many other government facilitators and ADA mediators who are available to assist. There is NO excuse for any school to discriminate against a person who requires a Service Animal for his or her health or safety.”

How to Become a Service Dog – Part II 24 January 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Bond, Partnership, Puppy, Raising, Sponsorship, Support PAALS, Tasks, Training.
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Once a Puppy has been Sponsored and Raised, trained in basic obedience, it must learn all the special things it will need to do as a Service Dog. By this time, the Pup-o-lescent’s personality is pretty well formed, and the dog can be matched with a potential partner. The needs of that partner are determined, and the training of the dog begins in earnest.

Opening and closing drawers, doors, and cabinets. Pushing big buttons on command or in certain situations (emergency 911 button). Bracing to help someone get up out of or down into a chair. Retrieving objects from the floor, or another room. Picking up dropped objects. Going and getting someone. These tasks and more may be needed by the partner. Once the basic tasks are learned, it’s time to meet the partner!!

What a day! I look forward to that day with greatly suppressed excitement!! The day I actually meet my Woof!! When we begin to train together! When we begin bonding together! When I actually feel him or her lick my face and hands and nudge my arms and sides! When we walk together and I drop my cane and he picks it up for me for the first time! Oh what a joyful day that will be!! The first time he helps me get up from a chair. The first time he opens a heavy door for me, or retrieves a dropped can at the grocery store, or carries files in a little saddle bag into an attorney’s office for me! What a day!

Becoming a Service Dog is a series of joys – the joy of puppyhood, the joy of learning new things, the joy of meeting new people and the joy of bonding with a lifetime partner the joy of having jobs to do and playtimes with the partner.

Working dog breeds MUST have jobs to do in order to be happy. So Service Dogs, being working dogs, are happiest when doing jobs and playing. We are going to have a wonderful time. We will have the jobs that have been identified ahead of time, and then we will identify jobs for the dog to do that we didn’t realize I needed done. I’m also looking forward to playing get the ball and get the frisbee with the dog. Since PAALS uses Labrador Retrievers, they are obsessive about chasing balls and frisbees and truly enjoy playing chase and retrieve – after all, they are “Retrievers!” I can sit on the back porch and toss the frisbee or the ball. If I get to the point I can’t throw anymore, we can get a ball thrower machine, or the grandchildren can throw balls for me.

Another fun thing for Service Dogs is to go to the Dog Park and play with other dogs! I will have to be sure that the Woof’s immunizations for EVERYTHING are up-to-date, though. Don’t want him to catch anything that’s preventable!

And that’s how to become a Service Dog! Only very fortunate puppies can become Service Dogs. It takes a lot of people and a lot of money. It takes vet visits, behavioral assessments, x-rays, genetic testing, blood tests, the right diet, loving puppy raisers, talented trainers and a willing partner. It also takes people who are willing to contribute to the program. Either a lot of money from a few people, or a little money from a lot of people. PAALS subsists on tax-deductible contributions from individuals and businesses. Please help bring a lucky puppy and a lucky partner together by your contribution! No contribution too large or too small! If you wish to support my getting together with my “Woof,” please put my name on the check or on the credit card invoice. I’m shameless when it comes to getting my “Woof!” I need him and he needs me!

Lancelot picks up a fork!

This is a beautiful Service Dog from the Lancelot Foundation – she is not going to be my dog, and does not come from PAALS. She just picked up the fork her partner dropped! Look at her eyes – she is waiting for that “thank you” response from her partner. When she gets it, she will immediately have “happy eyes” and “happy ears” and her tail will wag all over the place! It takes little to make a Service Dog happy – just a “Good girl!” and a pat on the head. Love is what it’s all about – the love of the Service Dog for his partner, and the love of the partner for his Service Dog.

How to Become a Service Dog – Part I 22 January 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Puppy, Raising, Service Dogs, Sponsorship.
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First, be a very exceptional puppy! Be loving and eager to please. Be happy. Enjoy playing with people and other puppies. Like cats. Like children. Enjoy retrieving things.

Next, be lucky enough to be Sponsored to be a service dog puppy. Someone has to Sponsor a puppy – donate enough to get a puppy into the program. Thanks be to GOD for the Sponsors! Without them, there would be no service dogs!! Do the Sponsors actually know what a difference they are making in the lives not only of the puppies but of the eventual partners? The Sponsor provides the wherewithal for the vet care, the training sessions, the food and the equipment for the first year of the puppy’s life. All the costs.

Then there must be a Puppy Raiser. The Puppy Raiser donates a year – a full year – to raise the puppy to be loving, trusting and happy. They take the puppy to vet appointments (provided by the Sponsor), to classes (provided by the Sponsor). They give the puppy love and attention and house training. They play with the puppy and take the puppy places to socialize it. They teach the puppy basic obedience. Then, after a year of being invested in loving and playing with this puppy, they give up the puppy!! They turn the puppy over to the trainers and the new partner!!

They do this, not because they don’t love the puppy – they do! They do it because they love the puppy and the things that puppy will mean to the new partner. They do it because they love people. They do it because they care about helping other people become as functional as possible.

They do it for love.

The Wait Begins! 13 December 07

Posted by turtlemom3 in Ability, Disability, Service Dogs, Sponsorship.

I’ll be waiting for a looooooong time! What am I waiting for? A Service Dog!

I’ve been accepted as a client by PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Living Services)!!!

What, you ask, can a Service dog do for a half-crippled old woman who isn’t blind? Well, that will be an ongoing story. With fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, I don’t get around as well as I used to. Don’t do “normal” things as well as I used to.

The Woof could pick things up off the floor for me — especially my cane, which I must drop 4 or 5 times a day. I have fallen several times just trying to bend over to pick it up. This is obviously a BIGGIE.

The next thing is to “brace and hold” when I am trying to get up from my chair – or off the smaller “chair” in the “little room down the hall,” – or out of bed. I’ve “hit the floor” a couple of times getting up in the mornings.

Since the Ol’ Curmudgeon frequently leaves me alone during the day when he must go to a job site, we both worry about me being here alone. We will get a “Big-Button” phone for the dog to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency. We will have to register our phone with the 9-1-1 utility noting that the dog may be the one making the call.

We have a long, two story house. When the Ol’ Curmudgeon is downstairs or at the other end of the house, I could send the dog to go get him. Or send the dog with a note pad!!

So, we are Waiting for the Woof! In the meantime, there are many things to do.

Raising money for the organization is now one of my prime activities in life. It costs over $22,000.00 to breed, raise, give vet care, socialize, do preliminary training, and get the various “hardware” needed (collars, leashes, toys, harnesses, capes, etc). Vet care includes the expensive X-rays needed to verify that the dog does NOT have hip dysplasia. There are other problems that Labrador Retrievers can carry genetically that must be tested for and the dog certified free from. There are shots to be given and dental treatments, and growth to be followed – just like a baby’s! There is spay/neutering to be performed, and flea/tick/heartworm preventatives along with annual innoculations to be given. All this costs dollar$$$$.

As a “token” of our commitment, we agreed to raise 1/3 of that amount. Now, that doesn’t all come out of our own pockets – what we really need to do is find sponsors who will make a long-term commitment to support the organization over time. This is so important – not just for me, for us as a family, but for all of the other people with ability problems who need service dogs.

So I will, from time to time, write entries here detailing our progress in our wait for my Woof!

A student service dog - yellow labrador retriever

This is A service dog in training – not MY service dog. But mine will be much like this – a Labrador Retriever (either yellow or black).

Wish for me that God’s Will will be done.