Monday, February 29, 2016

Apparently He Gets Off Work at 9 PM

Yesterday I had to do laundry in preparation for my road trip.  I planned to leave early today and I wanted to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

There are two washing machines and two dryers in the laundry room of my building.  One of the washing machines I don't use.  It's a front loading machine and it's hard on my back to bend over to put the clothes in it.  Isaac can get them out for me, but it's at a slightly awkward height for him to reach.  I just use the top loading machine.

Well, someone was using both washing machines when I carried my first load downstairs.  So I waited a bit, then went back downstairs when I thought the machine should be free. It was done washing, but whoever was using it had not transferred their laundry to the dryer yet.  I went back upstairs for a few minutes, then went back down to check again.  Wet laundry was still sitting in the washing machine.

Finally they moved their clothes to the dryers.  The dryers in my building take an hour to dry.  The washing machine doesn't take that long, but I knew it was going to be an hour before a dryer was available.  So I waited and an hour later, went down to transfer my clothes to the dryer.

The other person's clean, dry laundry was still in the dryer, which was done drying.  I went back upstairs, waited a bit, then went back downstairs.  The clothes were still sitting in the dryer.  So I went back upstairs and waiting a little longer.

Thirty minutes after the dryer had stopped, I finally get fed up and took the clean laundry out of the dryer, placed it on top of the dryer, and put my clothes in the dryer.  Then I finally got my second load of laundry started.

It was taking forever to get my laundry done.  Forever.

I was tired.  Apparently Isaac was, too.  It was 9 PM before it was time to get the second load out of the dryer and I had to coax Isaac out of bed to come help me.  After he'd removed about half the laundry from the dryer, he apparently decided it was time for him to be off work.

He lay down.

On the floor there in front of the dryer.  Just lay down.  And showed no interest in getting back up to finish unloading the dryer. I could not convince him to get any more laundry out for me.

I was surprised.  He's never done that before.  I was upset.  I was tired, too, and my back was sore.  But he was just done.  I was confused.  I wasn't sure what to do.

I finished unloading the dryer myself.  I took Isaac, and my laundry, back upstairs.  I went back downstairs later to get the third, and final, load out of the dryer myself.

He's never done that before.  But we'd had a long day.  A busy day.  And Isaac does not normally stay up later.  I mean, 9 PM is kind of late for him.  I guess I'll see what happens next time I do laundry - and I will do it early in the day. With high value treats.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Road Trip!

Isaac and I are planning another road trip. We are going to Michigan to visit a good friend. We are only staying for two days, but we're looking forward to it. Well, OK, I'm looking forward to it. Isaac is clueless, but he will enjoy himself when we go. He loves road trips and he loves our friend Traci (OK, he loves everyone, but still...), and he is probably going to get to play at a nice dog park near her house and he will have a good time.

I am hoping the weather will be good while we are up north.

I am also hoping I feel better by Monday, when we leave. Yesterday and today I have not felt so great. Yesterday I really thought I was getting sick. I was feeling short of breath and it reminded me of when I had a horrible case of pneumonia years ago. But I had no fever and I also have one of those pulse oximeters that measures the oxygen in your blood and my oxygen level was 99 to 100%, so apparently I was getting plenty of oxygen.

I slept about 14 hours last night, getting up a couple times to take Isaac out and feed him. I felt better when I woke up.

But then today I am feeling kind of nauseous and not hungry, which is unusual for me. Not the nauseous part, I am nauseous kind of a lot, I think.  But the lack of appetite is very unusual for me. And I'm still kind of tired. But hopefully I will feel better by Monday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Wild Goose Chase

I think he wanted to chase them but either decided the water was too cold or they were too far out in the pond.  Or both. 

He can swim that far out, though.  He's done it before.  In fact, he usually only swims a long way if he's swimming after geese or swimming with another dog.  When he's by himself, he typically just takes quick dips and doesn't swim too far.

It was chilly today, though.  I think he decided it wasn't worth swimming all that way to get to the geese.  He decided it was better just to run very fast.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Recall with a Whistle

I've been wanting to get a video of Isaac coming when I blow the whistle.  Sometimes it is ridiculously hard to get things on video.  Seems like he never does it then way I want him to when I have the camera available. 

Usually he comes running at full tilt.  This time, he came right away but not running.  Of course, when I didn't have the camera ready, then he ran so fast he practically skidded past me.

Still, we worked hard on his recall with the whistle.  So here it is.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Heard a new one tonight. A friend of mine asked if I could give her a ride to this presentation at her kids' school about internet safety for kids, so Isaac and I did.

When we entered the school, an employee asked me what my dog's name was and I told her. A few minutes later, as we were heading into the auditorium, the employee looked at me and Isaac and said, "Isaac, you control yourself in there."

I was taken aback and I said, "He's a service dog, he always controls himself." Which isn't exactly right, but it's close enough.

After we'd taken our seats, my friend said, "What did she think, you were just bringing your pet dog in here?"

I have no idea what she thought.  I think she was trying to find a nice way to tell me to control my dog.

But every time I think I've heard it all...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Banana Peppers

Tonight I had dinner with a friend and we had pizza. I had tomato and banana pepper on my half and he had pepperoni and banana pepper on his half. When we were done, he had one piece of the pepperoni pizza left, a small one (they cut the pizza in squares some some of the edge pieces were really tiny). There was one slice of pepperoni and a couple banana pepper rings on that piece.

He asked me, "Can I give that last piece of pepperoni to Isaac?"

I said, "If you wait 'til we get outside," because Isaac is not allowed to get food in restaurants.

So we got outside and my friend gave Isaac the whole slice of pizza! I had thought he meant could he give him that one little circle of pepperoni, not the whole piece of pizza!

Isaac ate the whole thing in about three bites without dropping it or putting it on the ground. I wasn't that surprised that he ate the banana pepper on it, since it had cheese on it.

But one of the banana pepper rings fell to the ground. Isaac sniffed it thoughtfully, then delicately plucked it out of the snow and swallowed it. He usually tells me vegetables are not food, but apparently he is making an exception for banana peppers.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Business Owner’s Guide to Service Dogs

Service dogs are trained to perform tasks that help people with disabilities. Service dogs don’t just help people that can’t see anymore; they also assist people that can’t hear, people that have trouble walking, people that have seizure disorders, people with mental illnesses, people with autism, and more. Any breed or size of dog can be a service dog. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that allows people with disabilities to take their service dogs into most public places even if pets aren’t normally permitted. Violating the Americans with Disabilities Act can get business owners into trouble with the U.S. Department of Justice.
What questions are you allowed to ask people with service dogs?
Business owners are only allowed to ask two questions if a customer comes in with a dog. You can ask, “Is that a service dog required due to a disability?” and “What task is the dog trained to perform?” If the dog’s owner refuses to answer those two questions, you are not required by law to allow them to bring their dog into your business.
What can’t you ask?
You can’t ask any other questions about the dog. You can’t ask what the owner’s disability is, you can’t ask to see identification for the dog, you can’t ask to see a letter from the owner’s doctor or a letter from the dog’s trainer, and you can’t ask if the dog is a certified service dog (there’s no such thing as official certification for service dogs). You can’t ask to see the dog demonstrate the tasks the owner says the dog is trained to perform.
You also cannot require the dog to have on a special vest that designates it as a service dog. Most service dogs do wear a service dog vest but it is not required by law.
How do you know it’s a real service dog?
You may not know for sure. If the dog’s owner answers the two questions you are allowed to ask and if the dog is behaving appropriately in public, then it’s probably a real service dog.
When can you ask someone to remove their dog?
You can ask someone to remove their dog, regardless of whether or not it is a legitimate service dog, if the dog is not housebroken or if it is behaving in a disruptive manner. If the dog barks more than once or twice, if the dog sniffs or licks or jumps on other customers, if the dog sniffs or licks merchandise, you can ask the owner to remove the dog.
What about service dogs in training?
In some states, people that are training service dogs are allowed by state law to bring those dogs into public places for training. In some states, they aren’t. In some states, only professional dog trainers are allowed to take service dogs in training into public places. In some states, only dogs being trained for specific purposes are allowed in public, like only dogs being trained to guide people that are blind. Find out what the laws are in your state. Nothing in federal law allows people training service dogs to take those dogs into public places where pets aren’t normally allowed.
What if other customers complain about a service dog?
Explain to them that federal law gives people with disabilities the right to bring service dogs into public places where pets are usually not allowed. Federal law does not allow you to refuse to allow service dogs into your business, even if another customer is afraid of dogs or is allergic to dogs. If a customer is afraid of dogs or allergic to dogs, though, or just strongly dislikes them, they can be seated in a different part of a restaurant away from the service dog or you can open up another checkout lane so they don’t have to stand in line with the dog, or you can in some other way separate them from the dog. If a customer complains because a dog is barking or jumping up on them or doing something else inappropriate, though, you should ask the dog’s owner to remove the dog.

Cat in a Tunnel

Her crinkly tunnel is one of her favorite toys.  Second only to water bottle lids, I think.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

He Loves Me

Me (wrinkling my nose): Isaac, you smell vaguely skunkish. I think maybe you rolled where a skunk sprayed or something.

Isaac (flopping down on top of me and wriggling happily): I know! Isn't it great? Here, I'll share it with you.

Me: Gee, thanks.

Isaac: Anytime. I love you.

Friday, February 12, 2016

I Didn't Know There Was a Dog There!

Today was food pantry day at a local church and Isaac and I are regulars there. At this food pantry, you go through a line sort of like a cafeteria line. On the other side of the line are volunteers who hand you items. It's very much like a school cafeteria set up.

Well, Isaac and I are regulars there and most of the workers know us. They all like Isaac and say hello to him. I don't put his vest on him there because we started going there in the summer when it was hot and we'd have to wait in line outside in the hot sun for a while and I didn't want him to be too hot. So they all got used to him working naked there but they know he is a service dog. Because he is not in his vest, though, and just because it's a kind of relaxed environment, I let people pet him and talk to him a lot more than I normally would other places.

Today one woman leaned over the line to see if Isaac was with me and when she say him, said something like "Oh there's the baby! Hi baby!"

The woman in line in front of me looked confused, then looked down and realized there was a dog right behind her. She said "I didn't know there was a dog there!"

I told her "That means he's being good." I really like it when someone is surprised to realize there has been a dog right by them all along.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Best Hike Ever

Isaac says we had one of the best hikes ever today. He got to snack on some rabbit poop, roll in some deer poop, chase a deer, chase some geese, and jump in a lake.

It was 27 degrees out and snowing a little, but yes, he jumped in a lake. He says well, the geese were in there.

What Does a Psychiatric Service Dog Do?

Service dogs are dogs that are trained to perform tasks that mitigate disabilities for people with serious disabilities. Psychiatric service dogs perform tasks to assist people with psychiatric disabilities, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. I have post-traumatic stress disorder and my service dog Isaac does a number of tasks to help me. The specific tasks a psychiatric service dogs does depend on the needs of the person the dog assists.
Medication Reminders
Psychiatric service dogs often remind people to take their medications. One person I know tends to forget to take his daily medications and so his service reminds him to take his pills every day at sunrise and sunset. I usually remember my own medication, but sometimes when I am having an anxiety attack, I am unable to think clearly and then I forget to take the medicine that will relieve my anxiety. Isaac brings my medicine to me when I begin to have an anxiety attack, which reminds me to take it.
Interrupting Compulsive Behaviors
Psychiatric service dogs can be trained to interrupt compulsive behaviors, like hair pulling (trichotillomania) or picking at the skin (dermatillomania). When I’m feeling very anxious, I tend to pick at my skin, especially picking at scabs. My service dog is trained to nudge my hand away when I start to pick at my skin. He will continue nudging my hand, more and more insistently, until I stop.
Determining if Something is a Hallucination or Real
People with conditions like schizophrenia may have hallucinations. Psychiatric service dogs can be trained to help people determine if something is a hallucination or if it’s real. For instance, dogs can be trained to greet people on command. If someone thinks he sees someone come into the room, he can give his service dog the command to greet the person. If it’s really a hallucination, the dog won’t greet that. Instead, the dog will look a bit confused, and the dog’s owner will know he was hallucinating.
Other Tasks
Psychiatric service dogs can perform many other tasks, depending on the needs of the person with a disability. For instance, my service dog turns on lights for me, because my PTSD causes me to be afraid to walk into a dark room. My service dog is also trained to move in a circle around me to create a bit of a boundary around me if I’m in a crowded place and people are too close to me. I know someone that sometimes has anxiety attacks in public places, like stores, and when that happens, her service dog leads her to the exit so she can calm down outside where it’s not so crowded. These are just a few of the other tasks psychiatric service dogs might be trained to perform.
Emotional Support
Dogs provide emotional support to many people with conditions like depression and anxiety disorders. Simply petting a dog or spending time with a dog can be relaxing and take someone’s mind off his troubles. However, this is not a task that a dog must be trained to do, so psychiatric service dogs must do other things to help people with disabilities. Simply providing emotional support isn’t enough.
Encourage Physical Activity
Dogs also encourage their owners to get more physical activity because dogs need to go for regular walks. For years my doctors and therapists had been encouraging me to get more exercise but I didn’t actually do that until I got my service dog. Isaac loves to go for long walks and now I take him for two or three 20 to 30 minute walks every day. However, taking walks isn’t a task dogs have to be trained to do, so psychiatric service dogs have to do other things to help people with disabilities.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Can You Take a Service Dog to the Hospital with You?

I have a service dog, a yellow lab named Isaac, who is trained to help me with my post-traumatic stress disorder and the herniated disk in my back. Due to my disabilities, I’ve had to spend a fair amount of time in hospitals, both as an inpatient and as an outpatient. When I was preparing to get my service dog, I started researching whether or not I would be able to take him to the hospital with me.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, people that rely on service dogs are allowed to take their dogs to most health care facilities, including doctors’ offices and hospitals, as long as the presence of the dog doesn’t cause a “fundamental alteration in the provision of goods or services.” What that means in practice, and in plain English, is that you cannot take a service dog into an area where the presence of the dog would compromise the quality of care given to you or to other patients.

One easy way to think about it with regards to a hospital is to consider in which areas of the hospital people have to wear special clothing. In an operating room or a burn care unit, for instance, staff members all have to wear gowns and gloves and masks and shoe covers and hair covers. However, you cannot dress up a dog like that. The presence of a service dog could cause serious problems and there is really no way around it, no “reasonable accommodation” that could be made in order to allow the dog’s presence.

Plus, if you are having surgery, you are not going to be able to manage your dog and your dog is not likely to be able to do any tasks that help you with anything. Most likely, you’ll be unconscious but even if you are having surgery under local or regional anesthesia and are awake, you’re not going to need your dog to pick up things for you or open doors for you or alert you to sounds or whatever it is your dog usually does for you.

You should, however, be able to take your service dog to the emergency room, to the lab, to the cafeteria, to the gift shop, and to visit patients on most units of the hospital. If you are going to the emergency room because you are sick, though, you might want to bring along a friend that can help with your dog. If you end up being there a long time, your dog may need to go outside and you might not be able to take it for a walk right then. If you have to get x-rays or certain other tests, it may not be safe for your dog to be in the room with you, and hospital staff is not responsible for caring for your dog.

If you need to be admitted to the hospital for some reason, in most cases you should be able to take your service dog with you if you want to, but you should think about it carefully. If you are sick enough to require hospitalization, you are probably too sick to take your dog for walks and to take care of your dog in other ways. You could arrange for a friend or family member to come in several times a day to take your dog for walks, or you could hire a dog walker to do that. Still, your dog is probably going to get bored and unhappy doing nothing but sitting beside your hospital bed for several days. Most people that rely on service dogs choose to leave their dog with a friend or family member when they need to be hospitalized. A family member or friend could bring your dog to visit you while you are in the hospital, however.
Since receiving my service dog, I’ve only been hospitalized once. I elected to have a friend care for my dog during that time because I felt it would be too difficult for me to care for the dog while I was in the hospital. I felt it was important to consider what was best for my dog and spending five days cooped up in a hospital room wouldn’t have been best for him.

And if you're wondering if your service dog is allowed in an ambulance with you, in most cases the answer is yes.  You can read more about that here.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hiking at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

It was a lovely day, sunny and about 40 degrees.  I decided Isaac and I needed a good long hike.  I had plenty to do at home, cleaning and some fascinating articles about mold that I'm working on, but it was a nice day and we needed a good hike.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is about 90 minutes from my house, maybe just a little bit more.  We don't go there very often but it offers a lot of nice hiking paths.  There is a nice paved path that runs along the old canal path and I thought that would be good since it's really muddy around here.  Somehow the paved path still managed to be kind of muddy, but it was still a lovely walk.

Isaac found lots of interesting things to sniff.
He was a bit disappointed that he was not allowed to play in the creek but he had fun nonetheless.
The staples come out of his tail Monday and then he will be free to play in creeks all he wants, provided of course it is warm enough.  Of course, they are predicting snow next week.  But at least he will be able to run and play and roll in it.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Saddle Up

I have an elderly neighbor who absolutely adores Isaac. She thinks he is the smartest dog that ever lived and takes every opportunity to tell anyone who will listen about how wonderful he is.

There is a new tenant in our building and yesterday they were both in the lobby as Isaac and I were on our way out. The neighbor that loves Isaac explained to the new neighbor, "You can pet him now but when she puts his saddle on him, you aren't allowed to touch him or talk to him or pet him or nothing."

For some reason, I was moved to sing the theme song from that old television show Mr. Ed to Isaac as we headed to the car.

What Kinds of Animals Can Be Service Animals?

Service animals are animals that assist people with disabilities. The animals are trained to perform tasks that their handlers cannot do for themselves. A service animal allows a person with a serious disability to be more independent and to live a fuller life.
It should be noted that, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, animals that provide comfort or companionship for their owners but that are not trained to perform any specific tasks are not considered service animals under federal law. For instance, a person with depression or an anxiety disorder may have a pet and that pet may help the person relax, but that does not mean the pet is a service animal.
The most popular service animal is a dog. Everyone is familiar with the image of a blind person walking down the street with a guide dog, but dogs are used as service animals for people with many other disabilities, as well. Dogs let deaf people know when doorbells ring, when alarms go off and when babies cry. Dogs pick up items for people with physical disabilities, open doors for them and turn on lights. Dogs can be trained to perform services for people with mental disabilities, too.
With the exception of miniature horses in certain cases, dogs are the only service animals recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which gives disabled people that rely on service animals the right to take their dogs with them into most public places, even if pets are typically not allowed there. The reason dogs are preferred as service animals is because it has been proven that they can be trained well enough to do their jobs consistently and safely.
Miniature Horses
Some people advocate the use of miniature horses as an alternative to guide dogs for the blind. Miniature horses live longer than dogs, about 25 to 35 years, according to the Guide Horse Foundation. Since it takes quite a bit of training to prepare a service animal for duty, a longer lifespan is a significant benefit. Miniature horses may also be good service animals for visually impaired people that need help with balance, since the horses are able to bear more weight than dogs.
The National Federation of the Blind discourages the use of guide horses for the blind, however. Horses are more easily startled by loud noises or other unexpected things than dogs, despite extensive training. Miniature horses are too large to travel with their handlers by car or taxi, and they cannot curl up discretely under a chair or table as a service dog does in a restaurant.
Monkeys are sometimes placed in the home as service animals for those with severe physical disabilities, such as people with quadriplegia (paralysis from the neck down). Capuchin monkeys are commonly used, though other types of monkeys are sometimes used, as well. The ADA does not require businesses to allow disabled people with service monkeys to bring their monkeys into public places because monkeys are not domesticated the way dogs are and it is possible for a service monkey to injure someone. It may be more difficult to train monkeys to cope with the noise and commotion in public places, as well.
In the home, however, monkeys can provide many services other animals, including dogs, could not provide. They can open drinks, hold drinks for their handlers to sip, put CD’s on the stereo or DVD’s in the DVD player, scratch itchy noses, adjust blankets and pillows, and perform other tasks requiring manual dexterity. Of course, they provide companionship, as well.
Other Animals
While federal law does not allow people with disabilities to take other types of animals into public places that typically ban pets, people have claimed that they use numerous other species of animals as service animals and expressed outrage when told they could not bring their animals into public places like restaurants. Unusual animals claimed to be service animals have included snakes, parrots, goats, pigs, cats, hedgehogs, ferrets and rats. These animals cannot be adequately trained to behave appropriately in a public setting and in some cases pose risks to the public. Of course, they are also very limited in the tasks they can perform.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

That's So Cool!

Today I was at Panera and the young woman behind the counter asked me if my dog was in training.

I said, "No, he's fully trained," which is my standard answer.

She says, with great enthusiasm, "Wow! That is so cool!"

I had no idea what was so cool. Was it cool that my dog was fully trained? I mean, service dogs are supposed to be fully trained.

Was it cool that I had a service dog?

I didn't ask, but I walked away wondering.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

He's a Genius!

Isaac got a new toy today.  Well, two new toys, actually, but they go together.

I went to Petco looking for some sort of puzzle toy.  I didn't find what I wanted. 

So then I just looked at all the dog toys and I ended up looking at some of the Kong Genius toys.  These resemble the regular Kongs in that they are durable rubber and brightly colored and you can put treats in them.  However, they come in a couple different shapes and can be connected to make various configurations, to make it more challenging to get the treats out.

So I ended up buying two in different shapes, which ended up costing more than I really planned to spend.  But it turns out to be worth it because Isaac finds them fascinating.

I filled one of of the pieces with kibble for his dinner, then connected it to the other piece and gave it to him.  Only about half his dinner fit in it at a time, so when he finally got all of the kibble out, he was delighted to discover he got a refill.  I should have timed how long it took him to eat his dinner but I didn't think of it.  Maybe I will tomorrow.  But it took quite a while and he was very engaged.

Do You Qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Service dogs helps people with all kinds of disabilities, including psychiatric disabilities like post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I have post-traumatic stress disorder and received a service dog, a yellow lab named Isaac, a little over a year ago. Not everyone with a psychiatric condition qualifies for a service dog, however. To qualify for a psychiatric service dog, you must be disabled by your condition and there must be tasks a dog can be trained to do to mitigate your disability.
Are You Disabled?
To qualify for a service dog, you must be disabled according to the definition given in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which says a disability is a condition that significantly limits your ability to perform basic life activities, like seeing, hearing, walking, thinking and communicating. PTSD causes me to have significant difficulty thinking and communicating at times. Note that you might qualify for Society Security disability and still not be disabled according to the ADA. On the other hand, you might be able to work and therefore not qualify for Social Security disability but still be disabled under the ADA definition and therefore still qualify for a psychiatric service dog. Talk to your doctor or therapist if you aren’t sure if you are disabled according to the ADA definition.
Can a Dog Be Trained to Do Tasks to Mitigate Your Disability?
Think about what things you are unable to do for yourself because of your psychiatric condition. Some of the things I was unable to do because of my PTSD included remembering to take my anxiety medication when I have an anxiety attack (normally I am able to take my medication on my own but during an anxiety attack, I can’t think clearly and just forget to take it unless someone reminds me) and walking into a dark room. Your doctor or therapist can help you make a list of things you can’t do on your own.
Once you have a list of things you cannot do for yourself, think about how someone else (human, dog, robot, whatever) could do them for you or help you do them. For instance, my service dog is trained to bring my medication to me when I start to have an anxiety attack (he knows to do that when he sees signs that I am getting increasingly anxious, like crying, rocking back and forth, clenching my fists, and breathing harder than normal) and to turn on lights. If you’re not sure if a dog could be trained to do the things you need done, talk to a dog trainer about that.
Keep in mind the fact that a service dog must be trained to do specific tasks to mitigate your disability. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, providing emotional support or comfort isn’t considered a trained task. For instance, when I feel anxious, petting Isaac makes me feel calmer. That’s not a trained task, though. If he wasn’t trained to do specific tasks to mitigate my disability, like bringing me medication and turning on lights, he would not be a service dog.
Other Things to Consider
In order to qualify for a psychiatric service dog, you need to be able to care for a dog, of course. Can you afford the cost of dog food, toys, veterinary care and other supplies? Does your psychiatric condition make it difficult to handle daily tasks like feeding, walking and grooming a dog? If you need to be hospitalized for a short time, who would take care of your service dog?
If anxiety is part of your condition, how will you feel going out in public with a service dog? People often stare at people with service dogs and sometimes ask personal questions or make rude comments. How will you handle any access disputes? If an employee tells you that you can’t bring your dog into a restaurant or store, will you be able to remain calm? You can discuss these issues with your therapist.

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's a Benign Hemangioma

Got the lab report back today on the mole removed from Isaac's tail.  It was a benign growth called a hemangioma, nothing to worry about.

The incision still looks great.  He can't wait until the staples come out so he can roll in stinky stuff on hikes again.

Would You Benefit from a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Most people are familiar with the concept of a service dog, or guide dog, for the blind. Service dogs can help people with many other types of disabilities, too, including those with psychiatric disabilities.
People with psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety often find that having a pet like a dog makes them feel better, but relying on a dog for comfort or affection doesn’t make it a service dog. That’s usually referred to as an emotional support animal, and emotional support animals can be very beneficial to people with psychiatric disabilities, but they are essentially pets. Service dogs are actually trained to perform tasks to help people with psychiatric disabilities, and the Americans with Disabilities Act grants disabled people the right to take their service dogs into public places where pets are normally not permitted, like stores and restaurants. You cannot take an emotional support animal into most public places, however.
So would you benefit from a psychiatric service dog?
Are You Disabled?
To qualify for a psychiatric service dog, you must be disabled in accordance with the definition of disability given under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That means you must be substantially limited with regard to at least one major life activity; major life activities include things like seeing, hearing, communicating, walking, breathing and thinking. Many people are diagnosed with things like depression or anxiety but are not disabled according to this definition. Even if you receive disability benefits, you may not meet the ADA definition of disability. Talk to your mental health care provider if you aren’t sure if you are considered disabled or not.
Are There Tasks a Dog Could Be Trained to Do that Would Mitigate Your Disability?
A service dog must be trained to do specific tasks that mitigate your disability. Essentially, the dog must be trained to do things for you that you cannot do for yourself because of your disability. For instance, if you take medication for your condition that sedates you so much that you sleep through an alarm clock, a service dog could be trained to wake you up and make sure you get up when the alarm clock goes off. However, if you are able to get up by yourself when the alarm goes off, you do not need a service dog for that task.
To figure out if there are a tasks a service dog could be trained to do to mitigate your disability, make a list of the things you cannot do for yourself because of your disability. Think about how a dog might be able to do those things for you. Talk to your mental health care provider if you aren’t sure if there are tasks a service dog could do for you.
Are You Able to Care for a Dog?
There are some programs that provide service dogs free of charge to people with disabilities. Other programs charge fees for their services. Even if you work with a program that charges no fees, though, caring for a dog can be costly. You’ll be responsible for food, toys and accessories, veterinary care and other services for your service dog. Insurance companies usually won’t cover the cost of caring for a service dog. If you cannot afford to care for a dog, then a service dog is not a good option for you.
Your service dog will need to be fed and walked daily. He will require regular exercise. It’s important that service dogs be groomed regularly since they will accompany their handlers into various public places. Handlers also need to keep up with their dogs’ training or the dogs’ skills may begin to decline. If you don’t have the time or ability to care for a dog, then a service dog is not a good option for you.