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Monday, May 5, 2014

Hi from Ann - and YES, Getting a Service Dog!

Hi from Ann – and YES, Getting a Service Dog!

Missy and Chief (Mischief)
kitties 2(After 15 years, Chief died March 7, 2014 – Missy, Rich my significant other and us are by ourselves)
The next part of our life …  Guest Posting about our service dog experience  :)
Good morning.  I wanted to introduce ourselves to readers of Katherine’s Blog through the Animal Psychology Center (as an aside – I/we are a Multiple).   We hope to use this blog for documenting some of the ongoing thoughts of Katherine, us and others who also have an interest in the Animal Psychology Center and its services.
I found Katherine online when looking into the possibility of getting a psychiatric service dog.  I had looked at many sites, and placed many calls, but it was Katherine who responded which already set her over and above others I’d left messages with.  She was immediately friendly, amiable and very helpful.  Katherine is our REAL introduction to the world of service dogs  - and in our case in particular – psychiatric service dogs.  We have found information since then on general expectations of service dogs such as basic commands and specialty tasks, legal aspects, the fact that service dogs services are not yet accredited, and that there are social groups out there for their owners – especially on Facebook.
The first time we heard from Katherine, we were so excited that the plans for the rest of the day were dashed.  She helped us in starting a new life from Day #1.  We took in a lot of information from our conversation and we listened as intently as she was.  We trusted her immediately and she was very good at answering questions as well as not doubting our sincerity or authenticity.  She seemed to know her trade very well and was genuinely interested in helping us achieve this dream.  I’d like to consider ourselves as being different than being disabled, but the fact of the matter is that we have difficulties doing some things that others do much more easily.  We have Major Depression, PTSD/Anxiety, and Dissociative Identity Disorder.  We also are diabetic and have severe arthritis in our back which allows us to only walk/stand 7-8 minutes before we need to sit down.
After hanging up the phone we realized how “abuzz” we were and the next step was to talk with our psychiatrist, Dr. Marvin.  We’d been seeing him for 15 years and we certainly wanted him to support the idea of a service dog.  One of the few requirements set by Katherine is that we needed a letter from a therapist claiming our need for a service dog.  This was not a problem.  Dr. Marvin and we later put together an outline of questions we had and ideas we had toward the dogs training to our particular needs.  I’m not saying, you need a psychiatrist, but that we do have one, and important matters like this – we tend to do together.  Most of the ideas were ours, but he was able to state things in a more organized fashion.
I’m going to share two lists that were part of the first document Dr. Marvin and we made.  The first list is a Summary List of Minimum Basic Behaviors (Primarily 2002 Delta Society – Service Dog Education with some changes).
o   Static Positions, Postures, or Behaviors
  • Sitting
  • Lying Down
  • Standing
  • Staying
o   Basic Movements
  • Walk/Run/Halt/Stop
o   Movements Relative to Handler
  • Focus on Handler
  • Moving with Handler
  • Going to Specific Position
  • Moving Backward
  • Coming to the Handler
o   General Positioning
  • Behind
  • In
  • On
  • Off
  • To
o   Manipulation Movements
  • Touch
  • Picking up the Object (including water and phone– Ann’s Diabetic)
  • Retrieving the Object/or bring note to object (including Rich)
  • Dropping the Object
o   Social Behaviors
  • Being handled by or retrieving others (i.e. significant other or emergency)
  • Interrupt Current Behavior
  • Eliminate on Command
  • Accept Greeting by People/Shake Paw
  • Allow Body Examination
o   Being at Home
  • Inside
  • Outside
o   Being in Public
  • Inside
  • Outside
The second list is our specialty tasks that we are asking Katherine about.  These are things that we have problems with and believe that our dog might be able to help us with, but we’re still at the beginning stage where we’re not sure how easily this all is.
Dog-specific skills:
o   Are there any Illinois-specific rules regarding service dogs?
o   Can the dog be taught to know when medicine has been missed (change of behavior) or  Retrieve back-up medicine
o   Reminder from the dog that Ann needs to take the walk/exercise, i.e. bring the leash or toys.
o   Depression
  • Can the dog read sad, angry, upset moods and provide tactile stimulation? Does it need to be behaviors?
  • Over-sleeping – assist to wake-up and follow routines
  • Nightmares – reality checks
o   PTSD/Anxiety
  • Feeling panic in outside situations, then could the dog lead me to the closest chair/door?
  • Help with managing sitting (calming/resting) on the walker when needing a break. Convey it is OK to be wherever we are
  • Feeling overwhelmed or stuttering – i.e. confused, panicked, obsessed, scared, unsure, dizzy, hyper-vigilance,  looking for perceived safety  – space/environment, or responsible other (internal selves or external people) – bracing
  • Provide a nose nudge or bark as an excuse to leave an upsetting situation
  • Stay close and barrier Ann from others in tight crowds
o   Dissociation
  • Spending a lot of time on one activity – may not be able to recognize specific behaviors, but if the dog can interrupt every XX hours.
  • Regressions/rocking/foot tapping – dog could help ground, stay connected to older parts
  • When parts switch and they don’t know what’s going on could it help ground?
  • Deep Pressure?
  • Nudge Ann during fear provoked “freezing” or paralysis-type behavior
o   Frustration/Anger
  • Usually happens with Rich (significant other)
  • Can the dog help me recognize it and calm down?
We were also interested in the question of our own training, knowing which kinds of equipment we would need, obviously we were concerned with costs, and there were over two dozen questions on the specific dog or type of dog we might get.
I’m not sure if you’re reading this how much information you already have on service dogs.  Maybe you have one already, or like me/us are at the VERY beginning stage.  Our minds are very inquisitive so questions were coming in at all age levels of our internal parts.  In general, we are usually very detail-minded.  You might get that from the length of our blog posts.  As a process, though these are some of the things we’ve thought of since the start.
Katherine has been extremely helpful in finding the answers and in accepting that I/we define questions for her that will help guide our process.  The answers don’t come all at once, but over time I have no doubt everything will be covered as it should be.  Many questions can’t be answered until a specific dog is chosen, and that seems to be one of Katherine’s specialties – choosing the right dog for each owner.  For example, she told me the first day that I would need a dog with a lower amount of energy.  The exciting thing now is that she has found a dog she believes will work for us, but it has to go through its phases too.
The dog I think we are going to get is a collie that has had the name Jake.  We would like to rename him Dakota because Katherine’s from South Dakota and we want to have that in our thoughts forever.  It’s such a huge plus in our life.  This collie is about 1 -1 ½ years old and is coming from a household who figured later that the dog was too large for their grandchildren.  Fine with me!  Katherine and I had already discussed that we wanted a big dog about 50-80 pounds.  I’d figured that we’re a big person (280 pounds) so we thought a larger weighted dog would be a better fit, plus we have a real fond memory of an earlier dog we’d owned named Cooper who was a German Shepard Dog and Lab mix.  LOVE big dogs!  They make us feel very secure.  We’ve been told also of some of the responsibilities we are going to have as a dog owner.  Like we’ve learned from Katherine AND the Dog Whisperer it’s all about exercise, discipline, and THEN affection.  :)
Last week the collie was neutered and he’s getting all of his check-ups and vaccinations.  The fee we are paying includes the costs of the dog and vet and I’m feeling we are getting the perfect dog.  I know that if it were me we’d just go to the shelter and get the first friendly face we saw, but we TRUST that Katherine knows a lot more of choosing a trainable dog than we do.  It took a lot of pressure off of us.  Hopefully, the process will go through and by this next week the dog will be ours, or if this dog isn’t the right one, then another will be chosen, but man-o-man do we want this one.  I mean a COLLIE!  I would have never dreamt it, but my-oh- my – which childhood Lassie fanatic wouldn’t want one!  And, that he is going to help me/us with so many difficulties we’re having?  OMG! We spend most of the time home and alone especially at our computer.  We go to the Dr.’s office and to our piano lesson.  We can fill our own gas tank and walk into a little grocery/gas station.  BUT, things like Walmart, Walgreen’s or walking around the block by ourselves – can’t do that!  YET … But, maybe soon! One of Katherine’s first rules is the dog needs to get his exercise – ok, to be truthful we’re working also on getting a scooter too, but we’ll use our walker for stores and he will train for that, but between then LONG walks just him and us – What a team we’ll be!!!
Ann et al.

AFTER you read the rest of this blog post, and AFTER you have bookmarked Animal Psychology Center Website  - feel free to check some of these other resources too.
Posted in By AnnIntroductionsIt's all about communicationResourcesWorking with Katherine at the Animal Psychology Center

1 comment:

  1. NSAR is not the only fast-and-easy. actually provides a mobile-based certificate click-through.

    This service dog thing is getting out of hand.