The Beginnings

Learning about Psychiatric Service Dogs

(to learn more about service dogs, and more specifically the tasks psychiatric service dogs can do, please go to the service dog page and it will have a more detailed explanation)

I first started learning about service dogs as a teen.  I babysat for a mother who was blind, and then slowly through out my teens I started hearing about stories of all kinds of different dogs doing amazing things for their owners and I really wanted one of these “special” dogs.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I came across a magazine article in the Open magazine that I realized that dogs can be trained to help people with mental health issues.  The article was about K9-Helpers, a unique non-profit organization that trains dog specifically for each individual needing a service dog.  That’s when the spark happened.  But I didn’t do much about it, although I did keep the magazine to remind me what I was after.

It wasn’t until I was walking through the mall that I saw a display and Sue Alexander, (the head trainer) with her service dog and the deminstration of how a dog can aid someone with anxiety issues.  I signed up to be a volunteer, and now I help them out when I am able.  I was very eager, and still am eager to learn as much as I can about service dogs.

And now here I am about a year or so later, working towards my own service dog! WOOHOO!  I am very excited about this opportunity to help myself out! :)

Under Construction!!!

Right now I am going about this site trying to figure out how to best make if flow, and to put a lot of the resources down, one to help myself, but also so others have information to go through.  I am still doing things on my own like reading books, and dog walking and doing a few other things to prepare myself.

Please let me know if there is anything you’d like to see here, as I am always open for feedback, and I am learning as I go!!


Posted by on June 16, 2009 in K9 Helpers


Dog Names

I’m starting from scratch again with dog names and getting a service dog.  I’m pondering dog names.  I’m really big into the meaning of words and names, and I want a fun name that is easy to say and very deep.  I’m playing around with the Freedom.  Now that word in english is kinda boring for a dog name, however, it gets more interesting when you go to google translate and look it up in other languages!  Here are some of the names that go with freedom:

askatasuna – I’d call him or her “Aska” for short (Basque)

sloboda – I’d call him or her “Boda” for short (Croatian)

vabadus – (Estonian)

kalayaan – I’d probably change the spelling a bit, Kalaya, Laya, Kalayan (Filipino)

libète – or Libby, Ebby, (Haitian Creole)

I also just came up with Rainbow Dash, which is from my little pony, and means Loyalty.  She’s much more than that, but Dash, or Dasher could be a cool name :)  I’ll keep thinking of things that help me to be free, and I’ll add more later :)

Chow for now

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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in Uncategorized


2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


When is Widget Moving In?

I have had many people over the last year ask me when Widget will be moving in permanently with me.  I have been waiting for inspiration and motivation to post the right words to say.  Ever since I started working with Widget there was always  the chance that he and I wouldn’t be suited for whatever reason.  K9 Helpers, has always included the clients in the beginning stages of the training and started off slowly, and slowly integrating the dog with the hander.  This is one of the many reasons I love this organization.

I have always considered myself a volunteer with the chance of Widget becoming my service dog.  There are so many variables which disqualifies a dog, or even the handler for that matter.  I always said, that if things went according to plan that Widget will move in with me in April.

I FINALLY have an update regarding Widget and I.  As much as I adored that dog, and worked with him, he was a lot of dog, meaning he had a very high prey drive.  He took a great deal of concentration for me to work with.  He has taught me so much, however, he is not the dog for me.  He is not going to be my service dog.

He is now living an amazing life for a dog, back with his breeder in Ohio.

I am sure you are all wondering how I am doing with this sudden change.  And to be honest, I am doing ok, and to my surprise I am relieved that I am not going to be partnered with him.  If I was, I would do my best to make it work out, but it would’ve been extremely difficult.

I will be working with another dog or puppy in the next year (I am estimating).  And now I have more skills to put toward another dog, and one that might not be so hard for me to work with.  As I said, Widget has helped me a great deal.  I have been able to learn so much with working and playing with him.  I am sorry that so much time and money has gone into him but at this point, I cannot focus on that.

So where do I go from here?  i take some breathing room from dog training, and I focus myself on other areas.  I am jumping into a few hobbies of mine, and just waiting patiently until I hear what is going to happen.  A few friends that have service dogs have offered me to help work their dogs. Just basic stuff, like working on a few of their hand signals, and basic obedience brush ups.  I am more than willing to help with that :)  So, that’s what I’m doing.

So just a recap.  Widget is not moving in, but I am relieved because we weren’t the best match and I will be getting another dog to be my service dog in training in the future.

Chow for now


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Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety.

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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Anxiety


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Another Journey Begins

I stood next to the post lost in concentration. I  unconsciously tightened my grip on the leash.  Darby you can do this, just  remember  the  steps and you will do fine.   I reassured myself.  Feeling something rubbing on my leg took me away from my thoughts for a moment.  I smiled to myself as i looked down to this animal that was helping me with my anxiety issues.  But this isn’t just any animal or any dog for that matter.  This is a fully trained service dog!  I smiled to myself as i realized the amazing situation unfolding before me.  Soon i will have my own service dog.  Deefer gazed across the street and whimpered a little for his owner.  I gently massaged his ear and mentioned aloud that the both of us are on an adventure and he will be reunited with his owners.

My thoughts were full of the steps   i learned the previous week to prepare me for the first bus ride handling a service dog.  As the joy of this thought rushed through my veins I  tried to remind myself to stay present and focus on the tasks ahead of me.

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when i saw D’fer rolling on the grass.  As funny and cute as it looked I reminded myself that Deef is vested and shouldn’t  be rolling around in the grass.  “Deef stand” he stood to his feet and waited for the next command.

I continued with my mental check list.  Swing arm back when entering the bus. Check. Tell dog back. Check.  Swipe bus pass….CRAP! I yelled at myself.   How could i be so stupid not to get my pass for this month?  I settled myself down quickly as I scrounged through my coins.   I had enough money.

My mind continued to shift between the dog and my responsibilities that were just ahead of me.    I Remember to stay focused on the dog I reminded myself.

To be Continued . . .


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Steps for Bus Rides

(this is a photo I am allowed to use from online)

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the opportunity to take a bus ride with a fully trained a service dog. For the most part it was a very uneventful experience, which is a good thing. The bus was not very busy and my cognitive levels were at peak performance; meaning, I was able to concentrate on what I needed to.

I don’t want to go completely off topic however, I do believe it is important to let you guys know that with my Asperger’s syndrome I am not always able to focus. But today happened to be one of those days that I was able to fully focus.

I’m writing some of this for my own benefit as well as a benefit of others who are curious about the effort that is involved in the using the service dog. One of the biggest differences that I noticed is the fact that I need to sit in an area of the bus that I am not totally comfortable with. The buses in my town have raised seating in the back of the bus, which I am most comfortable with. The reason being is that its seats forward and I can see who’s coming on and off the bus more easily than I would be sitting in other areas.

(I have to adapt my ways for the safety of the dog as well as my own. It is very much of a dance we both lead each other and I’m sure I will speak about that in another post if I don’t feel free to send me a message and I will write one up.)

I will begin explaining he exact steps in which I need to do to ride the bus safely for both the dog myself and other passengers. (Please note for this ride I was accompanied by Sue Alexander who is the head trainer of K9 Helpers and Dogs in the Park. And that she was walking me through everything I needed to do in order ride to be a success.)

  • Step 01 – connect with the dog
  • Step 02 – say “let’s go”
  • Step 03 – walk to the bus stop while remaining connected with the dog
  • Step 04 – wait at the desired bus stop with the dog
  • Step 05 – make sure that you have the proper fare ready for when the bus comes
  • Step 06 – if the bus is running late, the dog may sit or lay down as long as it stays on task
  • Step 07 – you see the bus coming in the distance
  • Step 08 – ask the dog to stand
  • Step 09 – let the dog know what is going on
  • Step 10 – if there are other people boarding the bus let them go on first
  • Step 11 – keep all feet and toes away from the edge of the bus prior to boarding
  • Step 12 – wait and see if the boss is going to kneel
  • Step 13 – back
  • Step 14 – swing arm holding leash behind you
  • Step 15 – step onto the bus with the dog behind you
  • Step 16 – insert money, bus ticket, or swipe pass or show transfer
  • Step 17 – proceed to find an appropriate seat
  • Step 18 – face the seat you want to sit in
  • Step 19 – ask your dog to sit and stay (so his back is against the seat)
  • Step 20 – finally sit in your designated seat
  • Step 21 – place 1 foot on either side of the dog
  • Step 22 – remember to brace the dog around corners and sudden movements
  • Step 23 – make sure your dog’s nose isn’t in anything it shouldn’t be
  • Step 24 – make sure no one steps on your dog
  • Step 25 – if your dog lays down make sure he doesn’t take up the whole aisle
  • Step 26 – pull the cord when your designated destination point comes close
  • Step 27 – get your dog ready
  • Step 28 – the bus comes to a stop
  • Step 29 – stand up and tell the dog “go, go, go” until you’re off the bus

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First Bus Ride

Well, today is an exciting day for me!  I am back doing some of my own public access training and I will be going on the bus!! I can’t wait.  I am nervous as to what will happen.  The bus isn’t my favorite place to be, and one of the places that I dissociate the most.  I tend to go into my own world, listening to my own music, or listening to an audio book – but I can’t do that when I have a service dog.  I will also be sitting in a different spot than what I prefer.  I like sitting just behind the back door because the seats are on the back wheel and I can see who is going on and off and I can easily get off if I need to.

With a service dog things will be different.  We will see what happens.  I will try to post later if I have time or remember.

Chow for now


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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


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