For a canine to become a service animal it does not just magically happen with a mail order vest. Training for our Amber Service-Dog-in-Training will take an estimated two full years of consistant work..This post will share a few of the pre-trip things on our To-Do-Lists to prepare to take Amber Sevice-dog-in-Training in her major public debut.
Amber Service-Dog-in-Training models her new Service-Dog-In-Training vest we ordered from Chewy.com. ( Not and endorsement nor advertisement.)
- The thought behind this post is to give you, the general public, an idea of how much effort it takes our family to prepare to go shopping; have lunch with friends and even a hair cut for a grown man in a wheelchair. Now, we will add a ENERGETIC PUPPY, a service-dog-in-training to hub-bub of a major production. You are invited to read a few of the details.
- We all have seen too many FAKE ‘service animal’ owners abuse the Service Animal Laws. Click HERE to read Service & Assistance Animals. My son and I want Amber’s Service-Dog-in Training, big public debut to go smoothly for every one involved. While the laws in the US support service animal work in public, we as trainer, owners and handlers must take on a great deal of responcibility as well. So, we are making a great deal of effort ahead to make the event a success.
Our greatest challenge is teaching our neighbors to act appropriately and helping businesses feel comforatable with our entourage.
Next week our family and trainer are preparing for a big trip to the mall; lunch with a good friend and a haircut with A 13 WEEK OLD PUPPY, AMBER-SERVICE-DOG-IN-TRAINING. First she will need a lot of practice starting with demonstrating she a good canine citizen.
We don’t know exactly what other service-dogs-in-training handlers do, but, we will need to do what works in our situation, taking in to account specific disabilities my son needs help with that a canine of her size can do.
Eventually this attentive female lab/ German Shepherd will help David to live a better quality of life with her side by side assistance.
We will skip over the daily routine of getting a 6′ 2″ paralegic man dressed then out of bed into a mortorizied wheelchair to go out of the house for a simple appointment or to go to the store. Having Amber prepared to do her job will eventually be more than a ‘big help’. Amber will play as crucial role to enhancing independance for the 43 year old man, thus improving his quality of life. BUT, Amber must be trained with lots and lots of practice and community support. At 12 weeks. Ambers still has puppy behavior to go through.
We have alot of work ahead of us.
Amber is medical equipment for a person with real disabilities, not a pet.
The Service Dog will take big load off of me, a full time caregiver.
- When David drops his cell phone Amber can pick up the delicate phone then hand it over to David without breaking the screen.
- Amber will be able to pull our apartment door closed with a rope.
- When David comes into our home, Amber will able to push the dooor closed behind the wheelchair instead of David wasting precious energy to manuever his wheelchair in order accomplish a simple task most of us take for granted.
- Amber is learning to open a door with her nose.
- Later Amber Amber will be expected to find and push the push button that opens the disability auto doors.
- When I am sleeping and David needs me, he can tell Amber to “Go get Nanna!”
My son and I want our landlord and business owners to feel comfortable with us as we are beginning to introduce Amber to our apartment home and our favorte public places of business.. We think of this debut as a good mannners partnership with those around us.
When Amber is fully trained, she will know how to assist her owner, David, my adult son, in public as well as the tasks she does at home. David, has severe progressive multiple sclerosis. He has limited mobility and depends on a motorized wheelchair as well as visual assistance.
As an aging grandmother, I can not be with David every minute of the day just in case he drops something or needs help getting out the door. Now, really..what grown man wants his mommy with him every minute of the day?
Not mine! And the feeling is mutal.This where Amber comes in.
Realistically, Amber can not, yet, do the things she will be trained to do in the future. First she needs time to grow while learning good canine manners.
This last week,David really needed to get out of our tiny apartment for some socialization with other grow-up human beings. We felt Amber was ready to go with us to the bowling alley for the best burgers in our neighborhood. Or, Amber would have to stay home in her kennel missing a learning opportunity.
Amber still has 2 years of training to do. We are making our on TO-Do check lists in Baby-Steps BEFORE we take Amber out of the imeediate neighborhood in public the first time.
(Amber is replacing a Service Dog Attacks with Love who passed away after 9 years of faithful service.We are re-strating from scratch with the right puppy who has the characteristics needed to be a working dog for my son’s needs.)
To start, we asked ourselves:
- Potty Training: Can puppy ‘hold it?”
- Can puppy walk on th lease fairly well?
- Can puppy sit when told to do so?
- How are her manners so far? Will she jump up on people?
- We called the manager of the bowling alley to ask if he was OK with us taking Amber inside to go directly to the outside patio. “Amber will be able to practice to sit or lie down and wait with strangers near by.. No puppy jumping is allowed. She will be learning to ingore everything except my commands in preparation to work for David.”
The manager of our neighborhood bowling alley appreciated our phone call. We were welcomed.The entire staff is alerted that we are going to prepared to do our best, with their support, when we bring Amber in for the first time.
- I walked Amber really fast on a tight leash to the patio while David ordered our burgers. No piddleing around to sniff. Let me tell you the staff at Harmony Bowl bends over backwards to help David read the menu and carry our food through the door that leads to the patio. We love going out to eat there.
On our first outing, Amber did what a full fledged service dog should do. She laid down by our feet while we ate and chatted with neighbors. Everyone was so impressed! Of course Amber was one pooped pup after walking a few blocks. But, that worked in our favor, this time.
We want to be able to take Amber out in public and not have business owner in a panic to follow the laws for service animals.
We are acutely aware that too many people take FAKE “service animals” into businesses. These scammers threaten to sue or call the news. As a former business owner my self, I understand how business owners want to accomodate all customers, but, not be terrorized by jerks who let their FAKE service Dogs /out of control animals mess up their interior. * I am on the side of the business owner as well as on the side of legitmate service animals.
Let’s learn to communicate first before raising our dander or going to court. Know the laws then help educate your community in a respectful manner.
Because I am still in training my self as a handler of a puppy who is in training. I won’t be perfect as handler, yet. I want to communicate to business owners ahead of time that we need their help to make the visit a success. This includes that we will be sure puppy has been pottied before coming inside. We are always prepeared for “mistakes” We had a’diaper bag” with paper towels; garbage bags etc.
- Next week we will go to a large Shopping Mall in a wheelchair taxi. Amber has riden in the taxi before, to her puppy classes. But, it is time for her to learn about her space.
- She will have to learn to wait for the wheelchair to be loaded and unloaded. Then she will learn when and where she is to stay by David’s side and not get run over or jump on the steering. Amber will be seat belted in via her harness.
Amber can’t sit under my feet any more in the front seat. OMG! She is geting too BIG already! I expect Amber to be around 80 to 100 pounds when full grown.
- Talked to the wheelchair taxi drivers about their lowest traffic time. Getting transportaion for David to go any where is his large wheechair takes a reat deal of plannig anyway.. Niether my son nor I drive any more. We depend on public transportation.
- Arranged with our certified trainer to help us to train Amber properly on how to in and out and where to be in the cab. This is big deal for Amber to be able to pass her tests in 2 years.
- Called the mall store David wants to shop at that we are coming with Amber. Davd’s potential purchases will be set aside to make his selection easier.
- Called the Mall Manager who will alert the head of security to assist in escorting the best way to his store of choice. The best way is through the Food Court. That ought to be challenge with little kids eating lunch with mommies in the food court! David is legally blind driving a motorized wheelchair. One Nanna with a puppy in training is too much to do alone to give him back seat diections as where to drive. Amber’s certified trainer will be with us this time to be sure it is done the best as possible the first time.
- We will get back into the shedueled taxi ride and have yet another time to practice getting in and out of the taxi properly as we ride to our next destination for lunch at our favorite deli with an old friend and a hair cut at a wheelchair friendly barber. (There is a strict protocol for service dogs to get in an out of vehicles. Amber will need to preform when she takes her official tests we want her to take in the future.)
- Let me tell you, these managers appreciate my head-up calls. They really want to help their customers who have special needs. Unfortunatley, too many people try to take FAKE animals into businesses leading to disasters, undue tension and hard feelings, to say the least. We take training our puppy properly very seriously. If we don’t she is only a beautiful pet.
- As an example: I was told about a someone who took their parrot to the bowling alley claiming it was a ‘service animal’. I was told that the bird ‘shit’ all over the lanes. By the law business owners have been sort of stuck between a rock an a hard place in questioning what service the animal performs for the person with medical conditions. What happens when the person iwth the animal gets in a snit?
- It is the opinion of this No Non-cents Nanna that we owners or handlers of ‘service animals’ or ‘service-animals-in-training’ need to work with the business owners “we” want to frequent with our animals in a reasonable and civil manner. There is no need to try to pull the “boo-hoo let me have what I want because I’m disabled card.” Business owner can not ask what their disability is. A real service animal must perform a task to help with those specific disabiliy.
- Impersonating a service animal is against the law. Check out these posts for starts.:
Disclaimer: This post is to share about a few theings we are training our Amber. The laws recently changed and this post is not mean to intrepret those laws.. Many businesses including apartment management have recently taken classes on how to work with residents/ customers who depend on service animals for independance. Good for these people and thank you!
FYI on Rental Pet Fees:
Personally, my son and I live in in
afforadable cheap apartments. It is extremely difficult to find an home that you can get a wheelchair in that folks on SSDI can afford. This means we live around lots of kinds of people who abide by rules while others break rules..a lot! For those many neighbors who have lower income, as well, and have pets they must pay pet deposits and extra monthly pets fees. These fees are deemed necessary because too many people do not clean up after pets or they fail to control the damage a pet might do. Some attempt to AVOID paying those pet fees by claiming FAKE Service-Dogs.
Personally I find this dishonesty horrific. We all can spot FAKES by the way they behave. But they create problems for land lords. I’m holding back on awful sotries about neighbors and fake service dogs.
- People who have legitimate ‘service animals” are not charged “pet fees”. A service animal have rights and are considered “necesary pieces of medical equipment.” A sevice animal is considered to e “an extention fo the person with a disabilty.”
- A legitimate service animal is expected to be sufficantly trained with good manners before they are trained to perform tasks.
- The majority of service dogs begin training soon after birth. Many future service animals are bred for certain characteristics the parent dogs have. Our Amber was hand-picked for my son’s needs. She still needs extensive training. Strapping on a vest will not make her magically a ‘service-dog”.