Lots of us have mental or physical challenges. I struggle with growing deafness. Our family pet recently qualified as a Hearing-aid Service Dog.
Getting Punky certified means he can go with us anywhere the public goes including on our laps on an airplane or any other source of public transportation. Moreover, no one can charge us extra because he is with us. He flies free, he sleeps in hotels free, I no longer pay extra rent because he lives with me.
EMOTIONAL FITNESS TRAINING THOUGHTS
How and why I became interested in this topic. As my hearing worsened, I began thinking about getting Punky trained as a Hearing-Aid Service Dog, Such dogs can be trained to alert you to someone knocking at the door; a ringing telephone; a beeping timer, or a child’s crying.
Punky did those things for me without needing any extra training: nevertheless, I looked into hiring a Service Dog trainer thinking there was something more needed. Also, when traveling I wanted him to stay with me in a hotel without having to pay extra.
Was I in for a shock about costs! One trainer claimed it takes 600 hours of training and that meant many thousands of dollars.
Reality Check: The amount of training needed varies. Seeing Eye or Guide Dogs need lots and lots of training; so do dogs trained to alert an owner to allergens, fluctuating sugar levels, the possible onset of an epileptic attack. A Hearing-Aid dog might or might need lots of hours of training. Punky needed about twenty extra hours. Comfort dogs, those used for people suffering from anxiety, need training mainly what is called socialization training. That means the ability to be in public without creating a nuisance or other problem.
Finally, most of the training has to be reinforced by the owner. Actually, all dog trainers are really in the business of training owners not dogs. If the owners don’t reinforce the training, the dog will behave with his trainer but not with his owner.
As I was looking for a trainer, I also found a number of places selling “Service Dog” certificates, ID tags, bandanas and capes to anyone wanting to claim their dog was a service dog. There was no checking or verification of proper training required, you just sent in your money.
The various “Service Dog Trainers” want to tighten the regulations and out law the selling of certificates to the public. I would not object to that if all were honest and charged a reasonable fee. Many are ethical, but some are not.
Actually, according to federal law, the most you need to declare your dog a service dog is a doctor’s certificate saying you need a service dog. Some doctors will write such a note out of the goodness of their heart not knowing what makes such a note legally protective.
Just declaring your dog a Service Dog without understanding what that acutally means is not illegal. However, potentially it means you can be charged with fraud or sued if your dog while acting as a Service Dog bites someone. Not unheard of.
Anyway, once I had a doctor’s note, and had done enough research to know what is actually required of the various service dogs. We then trained Punky according to the legal requirements, Once we felt Punky was properly trained, I made his Service Dog ID and some Service Dog bandanas for him to wear. Part of what made this possible, besides knowing the law, was that for years, David had trained dogs professionally.
We recently traveled across country and merely by showing Punky’s Service Dog ID tag took him everywhere we went. The trip was fantastic and partly because we had no trouble finding hotels to let Punky sleep with us. Taking him with us also meant not worrying about having him locked up in a kennel.
EMOTIONAL FITNESS TIPS
As those of you who read my posts know I suggest pets provide additional support. There is research evidence that pets strengthen what the experts call resilience or #emotionalintelligence.
When a person has an additional challenge, using a Service Dog is a good strategy to pursue. But as I suggest above, when it comes to training, “Buyer Beware” is a major concern.
I feel so strongly about the need for people to understand exactly what a Service Dog is and how one should be trained and certified, I have started a Service Dog Information consulting business as part of Emotional FItness Training. The link will take you to the my facebook page of the same name.
While I hope to make a little bit of money, my main mission is to spread the word about the proper certification and use of service dogs. EFTI’s business motto is “Make Money Doing Good” and this newest venture of mine is in keeping with that motto and mission.
I hope you find my posts of value. If you do, practice internet kindness by liking, rating, commenting, or sharing.
Thank you for all you do and as always work to stay strong, while not easy, more possible than you might think.
P.S. If you are a disabled veteran, you might be able to get a service dog and pay for his or her upkeep as part of your benefit package. “ VHA Prosthetics and Sensory Aides consider a Service Dog a prosthetic device. Veterans using approved Service Dogs are entitled to financial benefits for the upkeep of the prosthetic device (i.e. Service Dog).”
word pRess DAILY PROMPT
This post relates to this Word Press Daily Prompt: Fearless Fantasies. How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?
How this post relates? My mothers favorite motto was “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” That combined with practicing the Emotional Fitness Exercise “Being Good Enough” means I try lots of new things.
Some people think trying this new venture as I approach my 80s is crazy, I think it is fearless and just might do some good and make me a bit of money.
LINKS AND ARTICLES OF INTEREST
- Service Dog (en.wikipedia.org)
- The Daily Prompt (wordpress.com)
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
- Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (emotionalfitnesstraining.com)
- The EFTI Store (eftistore.com)