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! :)
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!!
It has been a while since I posted something about puppies and service dogs. I have come to realize that although I want the whole world to understand more about service dogs and the experiences we go through before we get the dog, and while the dog is in training and a life with a service dog, I have found that I am far too busy preparing my life to be healthier to write a lot. So please forgive me if I do not post as much as you’d like.
River is now 18 weeks old, He has such an awesome personality. I have named him after River Song from Dr.Who. River, from what I can tell is very similar to Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic. He LOVES to show off, and he is very loyal. He also is a bit clumsy and very confident. He has a bit of a mischievous side to him, but he is my dog.
He is extremely well trained and socialized and I have my friend Erika Eden from Eden Dog Academy to thank. Erika is also a vet tech at Speedvale Pet Hospital and this is where River spends his week days.
So far River knows the following commands:
- Stay (stand stay, sit stay and down stay)
- Let’s Go
- This Way
- Switch Side
- That’s Enough
- Too bad
- Get it
He probably already knows more than what I am aware of because Erika is teaching him so much! He LOVES to work and he LOVES outings.
We have done a few formal public access outings with him and he LOVES it! He will do ANYTHING for a treat.
If you are interested in looking at more pictures of River and following us on Facebook click here.
I will also be putting up a FAQ for people that ask me about service dogs and my journey with River.
Chow for Now
I have recently have come to a great fascination with hawks. They are such an amazing inspiring bird! So I have been thinking about names for my soon to be service pup candidate! And I am choosing the name Hawk. Now, as those of you who know me, I can’t simply just use the word Hawk as it’s not deep enough and I want to have a few names selected for when I meet the right pup I’ll have a variety to choose from. so here are a list of different translations of the word Hawk
haukka – pronounced HO-KAH
shaho – pronounced Sha-hoe
egbe – pronounced egg-be
Achempah – (no idea how it’s actually spelled, this is the pronounciation of the word in Hindi)
Fhionnuisce – no idea how to pronounce it
fēnikss – (I like this one… i’d change the pronounciation to Fenikiss)
I actually decided on a name. Lol. Since its been weeks since i create this post I’m just going to leave it at River for now.
I just wanted to show you guys the process of my name choosing.
His full name is Applemeadow Bennu’s River Song.
(The benu bird is ancient Egypt’s Phoenix.)
So I went puppy shopping last night at Applemeadow Labradors! The puppies are very cute! I found out that the pedigree I will be choosing from in a few weeks are full siblings to Shania Twains dog! I’m not a huge fan, but it is an interesting fact!
OK, I am sure you are dying to see pictures of puppies… here they are:
I don’t have much time at the moment to share with you, but I thought this video about all the lost puppies would give you a laugh!
Chow for Now
As I have been thinking about my puppy shopping in the next two weeks I have been wondering to myself, “What EXACTLY makes the PERFECT puppy for me?” So I did what any information junkie does – I searched the world wide web of information. And to my delight I found some advice that made me giggle. Veggie Tales and of course the great cucumber named Larry!
Now obviously, the video is a very silly song about choosing a puppy and doesn’t get into the complexities of choosing the right puppy. In this case, I cannot just go with my gut feeling, or let the dog choose me because there are many criteria which would make a great service dog candidate! I have already narrowed down what breed I am interested in having, and I have already chosen to look at two breeders. I’m not going to get into why I chose these breeders or what to look for in a breeder as there are so many sites out there that explain that. I am however, going to explain part of the process of what to look for in a puppy that would be perfect for my needs.
There are a variety of tests in which we are going to put the puppies through to see what their traits are. It is important that I don’t just blindly choose a puppy and hope that it will turn out to be a service dog because not all dogs are suited as service dogs, and not all potential service dogs are meant for the same kind of work!
So, as usual, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what I want and need in a service dog. My needs have changed since I was working with Widget so I think it’s important for me to explain what EXACTLY I’m looking for in a dog.
- must be able to keep up with my energy some days i’m like the energizer bunny and other days I have no energy at all. Having a dog that is happy and able to do both would be great!
- must love to be rewarded by both food and touch. I prefer having a dog that will sit next to me on the ground touching me or leaning into me.
- I need a dog that is ok with crowds as the buses are extremely busy
- a dog that is persistent
- i’d like the dog to alert to my anxiety attacks before they happen
- in the event that i do have an anxiety attack or a ptsd attack i’d like the dog to be able to ground me andalso lick me until i’m able to respond
- a dog that is good with cats
- a dog that enjoys their work
- a dog that doesn’t mind loud noises
- a dog that can alert me to migraines
- a dog that is good with routine, but doesn’t mind if it’s changed
- a dog that can alert me to my dissociating
- a dog that isn’t overly friendly with new people, but not protective either
- a dog that loves learning new things
I have run out of steam at the moment, so this is the list that I have at the moment. It will more than likely change as I add stuff to the list.
Chow for Now
I’ve been very quiet for many years as Widget the dog who was to be placed with me went back to his breeder and K9 Helpers has folded. I was looking into fundraising for my own dog for many years and then went to National Service Dogs to see if I’d be accepted into their program. After about 9 months of initial contact with them I have found out that I am NOT accepted into their program. So what does a person do when they have over 600 hours of dog training/handing experience and a dog training friend that understands the need of a service dog? You go to them of course!
So my friend is helping me pick out a puppy THIS coming Friday, as Well as March 1st. So we’re puppy shopping. I’m going to leave out her name for now, until I get her permission to post her business and her name here.
So now I am back looking at puppy names – the names I looked up previous aren’t really relevant to me anymore and I’m looking into new names. I’m stuck on Phoenix, however, my partners spiritual name is Phoenix and it would be weird having a dog with the same name – although I am looking to other translations and thinking of using that! :) I just love the mythology of the phoenix and how it can grow out of fire and destruction!
So for now I will leave you with that for now.
Chow For Now
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