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Getting Ready to Go!! 4 September 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in ADI, PAALS, Service Dogs, Training.

I received several documents from PAALS yesterday. Instructions about getting ready to go and our schedule there!  I will need to “bring any poop scoopers, ADL devices, and items that dog will regularly retrieve, educational tools (ADA cards), and anything else that will regularly be used with dogs (ball throwers, etc).” OOPS! Didn’t know about the ADA cards!! Will have to print out and laminate ASAP!!) On top of everything else, I have lost my camera, and will have to borrow my oldest son’s camera to take pictures of the process! And that schedule! Talk about grueling!

Planned schedule (which will change as needed with added sessions if required – YIKES!)

Sat 9/13 and 9/14 start at 2 and end at 5pm at (training location)

Mon-Fri (15th – 19th) 9:30-4:30

*9/15 Lunch provided at (training location) by PAALS

*9/16 Dinner together at (training location) provided by PAALS from 5-6pm

* 9/18 Meet the Clients Event 5-7pm at (another location)

9/20 Sat Meet out in town – Publix (large grocery store) in downtown Columbia Time TBD

Individual sessions as needed 2-5pm (training location)

9/21 Sun Meet at (training location) at 2pm and travel to (another location) by 2:45-5pm . . . across bridge from Publix.

Mon-Fri (22nd – 26th) 9:30-4:30

*9/25 Lunch with Advisory Board member and PAALS at (another location) in Columbia

*9/27 Lunch with PAALS after ADI test


We will be scrutinized at each session. I feel like I used to going to new clinical locations when I was a “basic” student nurse!

Please keep us in your prayers! We leave on Friday, 9/12, and return on Monday 9/29. We are taking a day to recover before driving back.

Looking at that schedule, you can see that even if I have wi-fi, I probably won’t have the time (or energy!) to post blogs. So look for a 2-week gap in there. In addition, I will be letting this blog lapse and have already started a NEW blog here on WordPress about Living With the Woof. I’ll probably blog one or two last posts here after returning, and give the link to the new blog site again.

I know I will need to let Woof become acclimated to us at home for about a week before introducing her to other people – a FEW at a time. I had hoped to have her with me when I go to the Greek Festival on Oct 4th with my Red Hat buddies, but this will not be possible this year. I’ll have to leave her with the Ol’ Curmudgeon and go. I’ve been looking forward to going to the annual Greek Festival at the Cathedral of the Annunciation for 2 years, and don’t want to miss it – again!

[NOTE: Waiting for the Woof ended 10/2/08. Living with the Woof picks up with the addition of Emmy to our lives! Please join us at: Living With the Woof for the ongoing saga of the Woof! Our adventures and our foibles will be chronicled there.]


The Time Has Come!!! 27 August 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in PAALS, Service Dogs, Support PAALS, Training.

I received an e-mail from PAALS. My Training Camp will be Sept 13 – 28!! Obviously I probably won’t be posting to this blog – or any of the other blogs – during that time. But I’ll be taking notes and will post after I get back. We will leave the afternoon of Sept 12, and return on Monday Sept 29. Our son and daughter-in-law and their kids will be house-sitting for us so Magnus the Magnifi-cat won’t be too lonely. The Ol’ Curmudgeon will be going with me to help me as necessary. Fortunately he has wi-fi on his work laptop, so he’ll be able to work throughout. Also, his work cellphone will go with us, so he’ll be working as usual, only from SC and not from home.

Am I excited? Excited isn’t the word! There are NO descriptors in the English language to express this mixture of anticipation, elation, ecstasy, anxiety, and, yes, terror I am feeling.

We have the book that we must read before getting there: Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. When I saw the author’s name, I said, I KNOW that name! Turns out she authored one of the primary books about breastfeeding and I used it as a textbook for my nursing students as well as using it as my major reference when teaching Public Health Nurses how to counsel nursing women in their local clinics in GA! So she already has a good recommendation to me. As I’m getting into it, I would say this should become the primary training manual for anyone who wants to train an animal. It’s simple without being simplistic.

I’ve ordered my GoDogGo so I can take it to practice with my Woof. Fun exercise is absolutely necessary, and I’m too immobile to do decent walking. I hope that will change somewhat with the assistance of my Woof, but as I sit here with my knees red and swollen and barely able to weight bear, I’m a little discouraged about that aspect. However, I have a wheelchair, and Woof will learn to pull it for me. On level ground only. That will certainly give him exercise, but not the “off-duty” play he will need. I just regret that Woof won’t get the running and rougher playing with me that Labs and Lab mixes enjoy so much. But I have grandsons who will be delighted to do that in my place. I’m also going to train him to walk on our treadmill. In seriously hot and humid weather (which we have here in GA!) and in seriously cold weather (infrequent) and in rainy weather (frequent), he’ll be able to exercise there without either of us getting overheated, overly chilled or soaked!

Hmmmm – I wonder if I can train the Woof to retrieve Magnus when he gets out of the house, as he does infrequently, but which scares the pants off me. Labs are not herding dogs, but maybe I can train him to herd Magnus… BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Also – I need people and organizations to contribute to PAALS for me! {When you go to this page, scroll down to “Windy” – that’s my nickname, and that’s my picture!} I still don’t have my full amount in hand. And that will be due over the next 3 – 4 months. Please mention PAALS to your friends and acquaintances. Fund-raising ideas also will be gratefully accepted!

If you know of any charitable or religious organizations that might help, please let me know. I’m approaching all the organizations in my county that are listed on the Chamber of Commerce website. They include organizations like Lions, Kiwanas, and VFW as well as many of the larger businesses, including the one for which the Ol’ Curmudgeon works. But I need ideas for other businesses or charitable organizations. Thanks for your help.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during those last 2 weeks in September!! Only 2 weeks and 2 days to go!!

[NOTE: Waiting for the Woof ended 10/2/08. Living with the Woof picks up with the addition of Emmy to our lives! Please join me at: Living With the Woof for the ongoing saga of the Woof! Our adventures and our foibles will be chronicled there.]

New breed of assistance dogs hone skills, including ‘scent-abilities’ 29 July 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Disability, Mobility, Partnership, Seizure-alert, Service Dogs, Tasks, Training.

Posted by Kathleen Longcore | The Grand Rapids Press July 29, 2008 05:51AM

GRAND RAPIDS – Eight-year-old Cieran Boyle is about to get his first friend, a sturdy pointer assistance dog named Denver.

But Denver won’t be helping him cross streets, open doors or turn the lights off, as do many service dogs. He’ll be detecting subtle changes in Cieran’s body odor that predict he is about to have a seizure.

Denver’s training is an example of how today’s service dogs are being prepared in new ways to assist people.

Some organizations train dogs to help children who have autism. The dog can be tethered to a child, preventing the child from wandering or getting into harm’s way.

Other organizations train seizure response dogs, who get help when someone has had a seizure.

Some dogs, including some hounds and pointers, have very heightened “scent ability,” said Liz North, a master instructor at Pawsabilities Unleashed.

[– MORE –]

Actually, seizure-alert dogs are not new, but this method of training them is relatively new. There are also dogs (and cats!) which can detect when a diabetic is going into either INSULIN shock or diabetic coma (the two opposites that are so dangerous for diabetics).

It looks to me as if some of the assistance dog organizations are beginning to “specialize” in certain types of dogs – mobility, seizure-alert, hearing, seeing, autism, etc. Some lean more toward children, others toward adults. Most are still very general, however, and may offer several different kinds of assistance animals. They may offer both therapy and assistance animals, and may offer both in-home assistance animals and therapy sessions on their site with, perhaps, larger animals, such as horses or even dolphins.

There are also cancer-detection dogs which are offering a different kind of service. They are not “personal” assistance dogs, however. I perceive them eventually being in many oncologist’s (cancer specialist’s) offices, working in conjunction with them to detect cancer in it’s earliest stages.

My “Woof” will be a mobility assistance dog, and will assist me with getting up and down from chairs and the toilet, as well as helping me with balance. He will help me by picking up things (especially my cane, which I seem to drop frequently), and to carry some of the things I need to carry to my client’s offices (a few files). He will help drag the laundry basket to the laundry room, help remove laundry from the washer and then from the dryer, and then drag eht laundry basket back to the bedroom. He will be able to pick up bits of paper from the floor and put them in the trash. He will be able to use a “tug” to open doors at the store for me. This will be more and more important as I will need to move to a wheelchair more in the future. He will be able to bring me my cellphone which I am constantly leaving all over the house, and go get my beloved Ol’ Curmudgeon. Most importantly, should I fall getting in or out of the tub or fall in the house, the dog will be able to go to a special 911 phone and push a big button which will alert the 911 service in our county. They will know that I have a service dog and that he is trained to do this, so they will know where to come and how to access the house. They will know my daughter’s phone number and my son’s phone number and my husband’s phone number at work so the closest one can come over to let them in and take care of “Woof.”

So I’m looking forward to my “Woof,” and I’m very happy that Cieran Boyle is going to get his friend. Sounds like he’s a little boy who really needs one – and his family could use the relief, too! A win-win situation all the way around.

= = = = =

[NOTE: Waiting for the Woof ended 10/2/08. Living with the Woof picks up with the addition of Emmy to our lives! Please join me at: Living With the Woof for the ongoing saga of the Woof! Our adventures and our foibles will be chronicled there.]

Some Firms “Get It” 26 June 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Disability, Funding, Independence, Need Funds, PAALS, Raising, Service Dogs, Support PAALS, Training.
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Volpe and Koenig Lets the Dogs Out

— Einstein may be the cutest dog on the planet, but don’t let his good looks fool you. This two-month-old Yellow Lab is putting his namesake to the test, channeling his intellect to become a certified service dog. Today, he visited the intellectual property law firm, Volpe and Koenig, to receive a $10,000 check, the second of two grants which will be used by the non-profit organization — Canine Partners for Life — training the dog to perform a multitude of tasks such as answering the phone, opening and closing doors, and putting clothes in the wash. After nearly a year of training, dogs like Einstein will be placed in permanent homes of people with physical disabilities.

“We are so grateful for the $20,000, because it takes so many resources to train 25 service dogs a year like Einstein,” said Jennifer Kriesel, director of development for Canine Partners for Life. “These dogs really do provide our clients with specialized tasks that they cannot do because of their physical limitations. And, they also provide comfort and love to people who often find themselves isolated and alone.”

[– MORE –]

Raising and training service dogs is a lengthy and expensive process. Those of us waiting for one are well aware of that! and are deeply grateful to the people who help us and others by contributing to the organizations that raise and train. People like those at Volpe and Koenig.

On a smaller level there are other organizations and places of business that will allow a collection jar, or will pledge the profits of one day or evening of business to a service dog organization. And there are the individuals who will donate small amounts – and those small amounts will combine to become a much larger amount.

Somehow, teeteringly, with workers donating much of their time, and with the salaries much less than they should be, the organizations which raise and train these dogs continue to provide the canine partners for disabled people all over the country. We who wait, and those who live with their canine partners are everlastingly grateful to the people who work so hard to provide us with the means for us be more independent. For many, it is the opportunity to become completely independent. For others, it means our caregivers can take some time to rest.

For me and my family, it will mean I will be able to be more independent longer and my darlin’ Ol’ Curmudgeon will not wear himself out trying to take care of me so much. The adult children will not have to worry about “what do we do about Mother” if something happens to the Ol’ Curmudgeon.

Palmetto Animal Assisted Living Services

All of this brings me to the main point of this post – supporting PAALS, the service dog organization that we are working with. It is very important!! Not just for me, but for all of the people who are waiting for service dogs through PAALS.

Life with a service dog to be: Hello, goodbye 22 June 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Puppy-Raisers, Service Dogs, Training.
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Life with a service dog to be: Hello, goodbye


From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

June 17, 2008 at 8:28 AM EDT

Imagine adopting a sweet puppy, all floppy ears and pink belly. You survive the tribulations of puppyhood, the chewed-up shoes and housetraining accidents, and manage to teach basic concepts such as “sit,” “stay” and “the postman is not a mortal enemy.”

Then after a year, at a time when most dog owners can relax and enjoy the fruits of their training labours, you have to give your puppy back.

It sounds heartbreaking, but Kari-Lynn Ferreira has done it – 10 times.

She’s one of 200 foster parents who care for puppies in training to become service dogs for the Lions Foundation of Canada. Their mission: Turn eight-week-old puppies into good canine citizens. In addition to running regular obedience classes, foster parents take their puppies everywhere a service dog might need to go: crowded shopping malls, mass transit, restaurants, offices, public washrooms and so on.

Ms. Ferreira’s current charge is Jay, a Labrador-golden retriever cross who behaves, for now, like a typical five-month-old. Tail whipping back and forth, tongue lolling out of his mouth, he alternates between gnawing loudly on a bone and trying to wriggle into my lap and lick my face when I visit his Oakville foster home.

“He’s just like any other puppy,” Ms. Ferreira says. Except, of course, that Jay has a grander destiny in store. In about seven months, he’ll return to the Lions Foundation facility in Oakville for six to eight months of training to become a seeing-eye, hearing-ear, seizure-response or “special skills” dog guide for a disabled person.

Even after 10 dogs, saying goodbye doesn’t get any easier. [–MORE–]

And we who have or who WILL have service dogs cannot express our gratitude enough!


Pell City Resident Training Her Own Service Dog 24 April 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Disability, Service Dogs, Training.
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There is a great article in the Daily Home Online about a women with mobility problems who is training her own service dog. I personally would not attempt it – I’m not of the right temperament and don’t have the right background. But this gal has both. She has worked with dogs – training police dogs in the past – and other animals in the past. She has the knowledge and the temperament needed.

This is a great story. And I recommend it to all of you. If you are interested in training your own service dog, I urge you to go slowly!! Study, read up on it, learn about dog training in general. Be honest with yourself. Are you patient enough? Do you understand the ways dogs learn? Can you train without becoming angry and physically retaliating against the dog? Are there good resources reasonably near you to help you with the training if you hit a snag?

These are just a few of the many questions you should investigate and answer before you get started training your own service dog. We thought about this very seriously before deciding that it was beyond us at this point  in our lives.

Resources? I knew you’d ask! And you just knew I’d have some, didn’t you?

  1. Train Your Own Dog
  2. International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)
  3. Stuff You Might Need to Train a Handler-Trained Service Dog
  4. Assistance Dogs International, Inc

Those 4 references, plus all the links you can reach from them should be more than enough to get started!!

Lending a Helping Paw 15 April 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Behavior, Mobility, PAALS, Retrieving, Service Dogs, Support PAALS, Tasks, Team, Training, Wheelchair, Working Dogs.
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This is the kind of article I like to see. An article that emphasizes the kinds of things service dogs DO for their partners!!

The Milford Daily News published a lovely story, Lending a helping paw, by Paul Crocetti of the daily news staff.

When a dog goes to fetch something, it’s usually a toy or newspaper.

Michelle Romiglio-Mathieu’s service dog, though, is all business when she gets something for her owner.

Amanda can grab anything from a phone to a cane for Romiglio-Mathieu, who has multiple sclerosis. The dog, a 2-year-old standard poodle, also stands by Romiglio-Mathieu’s side when she needs it – helping her to walk, stand up and climb stairs.

“That’s when she’s happy – when she’s working,” Romiglio-Mathieu said. |–MORE–|

And that’s when all working dogs are happy – when they are working. But they think they are playing! To them, work is play. That’s something too many people don’t understand. Helping a dog to understand his “position” in his pack (the household) is not cruel, it is generous and makes the dog happy. He knows his limits, he knows his place. Giving him things to do makes him happy – he loves to do things. A working breed (especially like retrievers or herders) will “make up” things to do, jobs to have, if we don’t give them things to do. They can get into trouble, even become trouble-makers if we don’t give them the “right” things to do.

Service dogs are among the happiest dogs around. They know their “place in the pack,” and they have jobs to do. They can play, they can retrieve objects, the herders can herd and lead. They love their “work.” The breeds are chosen for their work type. Great Danes are frequently used for Parkinson’s patients. They can help them walk, can brace them, and will place their foot on the right place on their partner’s foot when they “freeze” when they are trying to walk. German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are used as guidedogs for the blind. Labradors are used as mobility service dogs, as are standard poodles and some other medium and medium-large breeds. Mixed breeds are frequently used, also, but they don’t have the “pure” instincts for retrieving or herding or leading you find in the pure breds. They can be trained to it, but it frequently takes more time.

Beagles are great for smelling out drugs, explosives and other contraband. And German Shepherds, Rottweilers and other large breeds have been bred for and used as guard dogs.

Usually, a medium-large breed is used for autism service dogs because they must have the strength and mass to stop the autistic person from going places or running away.

So this article is a really great example of the kinds of things service dogs can do and the process the dogs go through before being placed.

OK – it’s begging time! Happy Dollar Eyes!Please don’t forget to support the organization supplying my service dog: PAALS is working to find the puppy that will “match” me, and will grow up to become my “Woof.” This is time-consuming and expensive. We are working to get our share together, and need some help. Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated! And PAALS will appreciate it tremendously. PAALS needs all the help they can get because they are a new and struggling organization. They have experienced people organizing, administering and working there, but the organization itself is new. New organizations need extra support, so I’m asking you, within your ability, of course, to give PAALS that extra support. Thanks!!

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!

Happy Note on Disability and Service Dogs! 14 March 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Ability, Equipment, Harness-Based, Mobility, Support PAALS, Tasks, Training, Tugging, Wheelchair.
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Check this out!

Ms. Wheelchair uses Title to Invite Conversation

Now, isn’t that refreshing! And isn’t her service dog gorgeous?! Notice in the pictures how she TUGS to open a door, and uses SPECIAL HARNESS-BASED TALENTS to pull her partner’s wheelchair! What a smart girl!!

My Woof will be just as smart when she gets here. Please remember to support PAALS!!

Special Harness-Based Tasks for Mobility Assistance – – 11 March 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Behavior, Harness-Based, Tasks, Training.
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(These are only appropriate for large, sturdy, adult dogs with sound joints, and proper training)

  •  Assist moving wheelchair on flat [partner holds onto harness pull strap] avoiding obstacles – fortunately, I will not need this one! I’m not in a wheelchair!
  • Work cooperatively with partner to get the wheelchair up a curb cut or mild incline; handler does as much of the work as possible, never asking the dog to attempt an incline unaided – again, I’m not in a wheelchair, so I won’t need this one.
  • Haul open heavy door, holding it ajar using six foot lead attached to back of harness, other end of lead attached to door handle or to a suction cup device on a glass door – this one I probably will need either now or at least eventually. My hands are getting weaker and more sore.
  • Tow ambulatory partner up inclines [harness with rigid handle or pull strap may be used] – I don’t think this will be necessary anytime soon, but it will be needed at some point in the future.
  • Brace on command to prevent ambulatory partner from stumbling [rigid handle] – this may be needed sooner rather than later, although I was hoping to avoid a rigid handle for a while!
  • Help ambulatory partner to climb stairs, pulling then bracing on each step [rigid handle or harness with pull strap may be used to assist partner to mount a step or catch balance] – Yup – this is a yepper. I need help with this already.
  • Pull partner out of aisle seat on plane, then brace until partner catches balance [harness with a rigid handle and a pull strap, or pull strap only] – not on a plane, so much, but in restaurants and from my chair here at the house, too.
  • Brace, counter balance work too, assisting ambulatory partner to walk; the partner pushes down on the rigid handle as if it were a cane, after giving warning command, when needed – I don’t know about this one. I think my cane is sufficient, and a walker, when the time come.
  • Help ambulatory partner to walk short distance, brace between each step [rigid handle] – again, my cane and a walker when the time comes. But it’s good to know that the Woof can help me with this.
  • Transport textbooks, business supplies or other items up to 50 lbs in a wagon or collapsible cart, weight limit depends on dog’s size, physical fitness, type of cart, kind of terrain – This may be important. I don’t usually carry large amounts of materials with me, but there are rare occasions when I do carry up to 30 lbs of materials for presentations – my computer for Powerpoint presentations, handouts, etc. – not great for someone with RA and fibromyalgia! I usually go into flares of both diseases the day after one of those. The Woof pulling a cart with my materials in it would make a B-I-G difference!
  • Backpacking – customary weight limit is 15% of the dog’s total body weight;10% if a dog performing another task, such as wheelchair pulling in addition to backpacking; total weight includes harness (average 3 – 4 lbs.). Load must be evenly distributed to prevent chafing. This would be perfect for an average visit to a client’s office.

So, while I won’t need many harness-based assistance tasks, there are some that will be very important to me.  I’ll have to be careful to not exhaust the Woof! My needs could overpower the Woof’s ability to fulfill them!!

Brace Me, Baby 8 March 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Brace, Support PAALS, Tasks, Training.
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Some tasks don’t require tugging, nudging, pawing or retrieving! They just require bracing. The dog stands and “braces” while the partner uses the weight of the dog to pull against or to balance against. These are tasks that do not require a harness. Harness-based tasks will be considered separately later.


  • Transfer assistance from wheelchair to bed, toilet, bathtub or van seat – Hold, Stand, Stay, position, then brace on command, enabling partner to keep their balance during transfer. This is mostly for partners who are paras or quads.
  • Position self and brace to help partner catch balance after partner rises from a couch or other seats in a home or public setting. This is very much a “biggie” for me.
  • Prevent fall by bracing on command if the partner needs help recovering balance. Again, this is a biggie for me. I am not real steady on my feet on some days.
  • Steady partner getting in or out of the bathtub – yep, this is something I need, too!
  • Assist partner to turn over in bed; have appropriate backup plan. I do not need this, but many paras or quads need this.
  • Pull up partner with a strap [tug of war style] from floor to feet on command, then brace till partner catches balance. Again, this is not a service I need, but it is something needed by many paras and quads.

Bracing is the first task I identified that a service dog could do to change my life. My husband or one of my sons was constantly having to help me get out of chairs. If no one was around, either I was stuck, or I had to struggle and struggle to get up with my cane and the arms of chairs. Since my hands hurt much of the time, it is hard to put much pressure on them, to lean on them, to pull or push with them. So I rely on my forearms – except when my elbows and shoulders are painful. And my hips and knees are stiff and painful, too. My sons, daughter and husband know how to brace and offer an arm for me to hook my arm around to pull up without putting too much strain on them or on me. And this is what Woof will learn to do. Brace for me to hook my arm on to a lead and pull up without putting too much strain on Woof or on me!

So, Brace me, Baby! Help me up! Help me into and out of the tub! Help me out of bed! Keep me from falling! What a bright world it will be with my Woof Bracing me!

Please support PAALS!

Give Me Paw! 7 March 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Pawing, Training.
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For some tasks, some dogs may prefer to use their paw rather than their nose. Obviously, for many nudging tasks, only the nose or muzzle will do. And for some tasks, only the paw will do. Where the dog has a choice, the dog’s preference is taken into account.

  • Shut a cupboard door with one paw
  • Shut one of the drawers (on easy slides) with one paw; if the drawer is a higher drawer, lift up to use both forepaws
  • Shut the dryer door with one paw – once we get a side-closing dryer! With a drop-down door, he’ll have to use his muzzle to lift it, then a paw to close it tightly
  • Close refrigerator & freezer door with one forepaw or with both
  • Call 911 on K-9 rescue phone by hitting the button with one paw
  • Operate a light switch on wall by jumping up and pawing the switch
  • Depress a floor pedal device to turn on appliance(s) or lamp
  • Jump up to paw elevator button [need to steady dog if he tries it on slippery tile floor]
  • Operate push plate on electric commercial doors
  • Close a heavy front door or other doors by jumping up and using both forepaws

Each of these tasks will be a major help for me! My hands and wrists are more and more sore and less able to do any of these things comfortably. With RA, pain on doing a task usually means joint destruction is occurring, so that task must be changed to reduce the pain. Pain is actually my friend – it lets me know about my joint destruction, and helps me find new ways to do things that don’t hurt and aren’t going to increase joint destruction. One of the ways will be using the Woof.

Now, if I could just teach the Woof to type for me . . .

He’s a Nudger! 4 March 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Nudging, Support PAALS, Training.

Nudging is a nose task. Aubrey, one of PAALS’ pups-in-training, is learning to nudge to turn on a light switch:

Aubrey Learns to Nudge
Aubry is NOT going to be my Woof, but is one
of the puppies-in-training at PAALS

This is an important task. Not only is it important to turning light switches on and off but think about all the other things nudging can be involved with:

  • Nudging cupboard door or drawers shut
  • A hard nudge to shut the dryer door
  • A hard nudge to push shut a stove drawer closed
  • Put muzzle under the open dishwasher door and flip it shut; hard nudge to close it
  • Close the refrigerator & freezer doors with a nudge
  • Call 911 on K-9 rescue phone by pushing the button with a nudge
A K-9 Emergency Phone
  • Operate the button or push plate on electric commercial doors
  • Turn on light switches – as Aubrey is learning to do in the photo at the top of the page!
  • Push floor pedal device to turn on lamp
  • Turn on metal based lamps with touch-lamp device installed – nudge base of lamp
  • Assist wheelchair user to regain sitting position if slumped over by putting muzzle under the partner’s shoulder or chest and pressing upward
  • Help put paralyzed arm back onto the armrest of wheelchair by putting muzzle under the partner’s arm and moving it back onto the armrest
  • Return paralyzed foot to the foot board of a wheelchair if it is dislodged

These are only a few of the many tasks that may involve nudging. Obviously, I won’t require all of these! The ones I’m interested in are in bold blue.

For me, when that alarm goes off in the mornings, I don’t need a nudge to get up, but after I’ve made coffee and taken Himself’s first cup back to him, it would be good for Woof to learn to go back and nudge him on command for me to help me get him up! That sleep disorder of his has been simply a fact of life for us for 30+ years, but a bit of help in the mornings would be wonderful!! Send the Woof back to nudge him, then wait about 10 minutes, then send Woof back to nudge him again!! Boy! think of all the trips that would save me! And my back and my knees and my voice from yelling across the house when my back and knees don’t work!

How about nudging the track of the stair lift? The stair lift is a piece of equipment without which I cannot live in this house! This is an “upside-down ranch.” The garage is below, we live above. To enter the house, people climb a beautiful curved brick stair with a wrought-iron railing. I don’t. I have to go in through the garage and the basement and up the stairlift. Now, in order to get all the way to the floor, the track has to fold down. It takes up space on the floor, so it folds back up. But if I’m on the chair, trying to go up, I can’t lift the dratted track up, can I? There isn’t a method for doing that. Himself and I have had many conversations about ropes and chains and other B&S equipment {wicked, wicked grin} for making it possible for me to raise the track on my way back up the stairs. Nothing has come of these discussions, so far, except a bunch of muttered imprecations as Himself trips over the track. Perhaps Woof nudging the track up will provide The Answer to this problem which is becoming more and more Major.

Chair comes down and touches track
Stairlift has come down the track and now
rests against the bottom part of the
track which is in the “up” position.
I can push it down with my cane with
no problem at this point in time.
The track is down
The track is in the “down” position.
From sitting in the chair, however,
I cannot raise it back up.
As you can see, it is a tripping
hazard for the Ol’ Curmudgeon!
From the other side
From this side, you can see the
Woof could put his muzzle under
the track and nudge it upward.
There is a “spring load” in it that
makes it very easy to raise –
it just doesn’t spring up

Then there is the medicine chest. Not the little mirrored cabinet over the sink in the bathroom. A 4-drawer plastic wheeled Iris chest I bought from Office Depot that barely contains all the medications we have to take now that we have to get them 3 months at a time from “Don’t-Caremark” (plus all the vitamins and supplements). I keep it in the living room. Himself wheels it to my chair twice a day, and I push it back with my cane when I’m through dispensing our 18 pills apiece. It would nice if Woof learns to nudge that little wheeled chest back into place!Lots of nudging will be going on here at Haus von Riggs! Please support PAALS so my Woof can come soon!!

Where Were You? 16 February 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in Aids, Disability, Here Fido!, Illness, Partnership, Tasks, Team, Training.
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I’ve been pretty sick for the last week – had to have emergency oral surgery after several days of major pain from a spreading abscess.

As I was on pain pills, I was even more teetery on my feet than usual, so I mainly stayed my chair except to visit “the little house behind the house to meditate.”

While Magnus the Magnifi-cat was a wonderful Purr-motor for me, but I felt really loopy from the pain meds. Wasn’t up to getting up to the kitchen to making meals for myself. I fed the cat, but couldn’t figure out much of anything I wanted to eat.

“What,” you might ask, “could an assistance dog do for you when you have an acute illness? An assistance dog is for mobility, or for psychological or therapeutic purposes.” Well, that defines what I needed last week! Mobility! Help walking from room to room, from house to daughter’s car, to dental office, to car, to house.

Help with my functioning even if I didn’t feel good. Help with making me move – there is something really therapeutic to knowing you HAVE to take the Woof out to poop and either work to exercise the doggie or get the grandkids over to exercise him and what not.

I’ve researched ways to exercise my Woof without my having to be very active – for those days I’m crashing. Found THIS

It’s called a Go Dog Go, and it’s an automatic (or as we say around here, an “automagic”) ball-thrower! Wonderful for the obsessive ball chasing/retrieving breeds (the retrievers! – go figure).

Go Dog Go

You fill up the bucket with tennis balls, set the electronic control for the frequency (7 or 15 seconds) you want it to throw a ball and how far (15 feet to 30 feet) and sit back and watch your dog have a “ball” chasing balls! You can even train your dog to refill the bucket for continuous, obsessive fun!

Go Dog Go   Go Dog Go Control

For those of us with energy and mobility problems, exercising the dog is no problem! And we can train the dog to refill the bucket. Do I want one when the Woof comes? O yeah! But I want neon pink tennis balls!

Back to my acute illness – This is the reason there is a “team” approach to assistance dogs. There must be a team at home. We have a team – my ol’ curmudgeon and me are the primary team members. But we have extended team members, too. Son #1 lives next door and his wife and sons are part of our extended team. They help with everything already, and are more than willing to help with the Woof. Daughter lives a few miles away, and she and her husband and son are involved and will help. Son #2 lives a bit too far away to be be involved on a daily basis, but will be involved in crises as needed. So that’s my “team.” And a great team it is!

How did it work for my acute problems with the tooth? Well, daughter (DD – dear daughter) took me to the dental surgeon for my surgery and stayed with me the rest of the day, bringing me little comfort things, and ensuring I did not fall when going to the bathroom and back. DIL (daughter-in-law) was in and out several times.

Woof would have helped. First, DD would not have had to stay with me. Second, DIL would not have had to come in and out. If “something had happened,” Woof could either have gone next door to get DIL, OR pressed the 911 button on the K-9 Rescue Phone we will have installed when Woof gets here.

K-9 Rescue Phone

It may not be cute or pretty – but it’s utilitarian! It’s also kinda expensive, so knowing the Ol’ Curmudgeon, we’ll probably have a home-made variety!! We are also in an area with weird 911 service. It’s available for medical but not for police services. We’ll have to work with the various services on how this will work in reality!

Where were you, Woof? I was sick and I needed you! Pass time, grow and develop Woof, learn Woof! Soon we’ll be together!

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.