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For perspective: I was denied from about 30 programs before I found the perfect one. Depending on your disability, finding a program may take some time, effort,and flexibilty.
Would I personally choose to owner train or go with a program?  I have chosen to owner train.  But I'm also an experienced trainer, very much enjoy training, and have particular opinions about how I'd like my dog to work as well as particular opinions about my favorite breed. 

Which choice do I think is likely better for you?  Well, for your first service dog I always advise people to go with a good program.  The first service dog is a steep learning curve and there are a lot of things a good program does to make that more manageable, above and beyond the actual training of the dog.  There's team training and ongoing support after placement.  That first year is typically going to be rough at least in patches.  Having a program who knows your dog inside and out because they chose him (or bred him) and trained him, ready to answer questions and advise and even help with additional training if needed, that's priceless and a significant advantage program clients have over owner-trainers.
The main issues with owner training aren't about it being tiring or hard work but that the success rate is much higher going with a program.  The speed of getting an actual working dog is also typically higher with a program than with owner training once you factor in not just training time, but also the amount of time to find an appropriate candidate and dealing with the high probability of having to start over one or two times on average with a new candidate when the first washes out.
I wouldn't lose a Dalmatian for temperament issues, or a Bernese Mountain dog mix for size issues.  I'm not suggesting Dals have bad temperaments but that they are temperamentally not ideally suited for service work.  They're designed as carriage dogs.

I'd go for a golden or poodle.  I think I'd go for the poodle over the golden because though goldens are very good in obedience they favor pattern training which I'm not fond of and I might get away with more of the style of training I'm used to with a poodle.  Other than this personal preference I think either could be suitable.  Just because I have a training style bias doesn't mean others should or that either breed couldn't produce an equally good service dog.

While this is my first post I would like to thank everyone on the boards, all of the information I have read has helped my understanding of SD's and their handlers/Partners.

I am just starting my journey of acquiring and training my service dog. So far I have read ADA laws, looked into service dog programs, studied breeders, and made a list of tasks that would help mitigate my disability.

Background Information: I have Fibromyalgia, I was over 10 years ago and have learned to live with my disease. Over the last few years my mobility and cognitive capabilities have steadily declined. I have reached a point where I am not declining further, but am no longer able to do everyday tasks that I used to.

I have bad dizzy spells, very little to no feeling in my fingers, light and sound sensitivity, and terrible all over pain and fatigue.

I am looking into a mobility service dog trained to help me balance, retriever items, help with dizziness by bracing me, help keep people from bumping into me, as well as a few other tasks that are similar.

I am looking for some advise from the community.

I am looking into larger breeds and have narrowed the choice down to a few candidates: Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle, Dalmatian, or a Golden Retriever/Bernese Mountain Dog Mix.

I know that getting a dog from a program would be ideal, as training is tiring and time consuming, but I have tried to get into a program and have had terrible luck as they have very long wait lists and are very picky about who they let on their wait lists.

My questions are two fold:

1) Which breed would you go with? You may also suggest other breeds not listed.

2) Would you start owner training with a trainer who has trained SD's before or would you keep trying to get into a program? FYI I have tried to get into 5 different programs with no success.

Thanks! :paw:
Civil engineers work with architects to make buildings stand safely and reliably.  Civil engineers also design roadways and bridges.  They specialize in certain materials, especially concrete and steel.  They are closely related to mechanical engineers, like me, but mechanical engineers have less in depth knowledge and experience with concrete and steel and tend to play with any material they can lay hands on.

For example, a friend of mine worked on a project at our research reactor.  Some enterprising technicians realized they could dip a certain naturally clear stone into the reactor stream and it would turn blue.  The exact stone escapes me at the moment, but it's one of the birth stones, ie it is a popular one.  So they had this side business going for a while until the University caught on and put a stop to it.  They they decided to do it as a revenue stream for the University.  But they needed to do it safely, reliably and predictably.  It was my friend's job to design the system for irradiating the stones, determining when they were "cool" enough (had reached safe levels of radiation to not harm humans), sort, measure and prepare the stones for transport.  The whole process was very interesting and intricate but the part I found most interesting was when he had these stones dropping individually through a sensor and needed to slow their motion after the sensor to prevent damage when they colided with one another.  And he used corn syrup!  I was a perfect material because it had the right viscosity to slow the stones and yet was easily removed without harm to the stones with a simple spray of water.  Ordinarily when we want viscosity, we think "oil," but oil would be messy to clean off, and so he thought "syrup!"  Genius!

We mechanicals shared a lot of classes with the civils, more with them than with anyone else.

In my college civil engineers proved their engineering prowese each year with a concrete canoe contest.  It's actually more complicated than you might expect to build a concrete canoe because concrete is very strong in some characteristics and very weak in others.  Many designs will crack and sink even if you've managed to get the thing bouyant enough to actually float if it remained together.

Each year mechanical engineers proved their engineering prowese with an egg catepault contest.  The objective was to hit the center of a frying pan at 25 feet.  There were prizes for accuracy and distance.  My team's catepault won for both, but we did not win for cool looks.  The electricals got that one because theirs had a fake radar antenna that looked cool but actually did nothing.  Wankers.
What is an engineer?

An engineer is that connector piece between pure science and the ordinary citizen.  A good engineer can speak both languages, can understand both view points.  He harnesses the knowledge of science and parlays it into devices that improve the quality of human life.

An engineer, in its symplest form, is an inventor.  They invent cool stuff like smart phones, tablets, computers, airplanes, cars, ships, trains, hot air baloons fidget spinners, etc. or at a minimum they bring an inventor's ideas to life.  An engineer applies the sciences to make things real.

An engineer's strengths are in math and physics and also in interdiscipinary specialties.  For example, a chemical engineer is good at math and physics but also at chemistry (which is closely related anyway).  A biological or biomechanical engineer such as myself, is good at math and physics, but also biology.

Think of us as something akin to applied scientists.  We apply science rather than glory in science for the sake of knowledge alone.  An engineer might think, "that's cool, but what can I DO with it or how can I USE it?"

Engineers are masters of design, precision, and analysis.

Sadly, the typical engineer tends to not excel in social graces or to have a widely recognized sense of humor.  We tend to be, um, rather dry and serious types, very focused.  We tend to be arrogant (because we know "it all").  So I cannot recommend dating or marrying an engineer (on average) but you can definitely rely on a good one to make high quality products that improve your quality of life. 

We worry a lot about safety.  Have you noticed that in me?  Because of my background in failure analysis I'm always looking for where an idea, mechanism, or procedure could potentially fail, and then making modifications to it to make failure less likely.  Failure is not forgivable when it can harm a life.  Our starting safety factor is 2.  Design everything twice as strong as you think it needs to be and then test it.  The more potential the thing has to cause death or injury if it fails, the higher your safety factor goes.  Ever wonder how Scotty, the engineer on Star Trek always seemed to pull a little bit more out of the engines in an emergency?  It was because he was violating safety factors to do it and if you think about it, he was only doing that when the alternative was even worse (and he seriously didn't like doing it evenso).

Everything manufactured was designed at least in part by an engineer.  The optimum surface on the sole of your shoe to give traction while using a minimum of materials to get the job done and at the same time make it pop out of the mold without cracking.  Your nail clippers.  The texture of your chewing gum.  The shininess result of a certain shampoo.  Flea preventive.
My great uncle was an engineer that designed the o hare airport. Some design large buildings. Not the architecture per say but things like making sure the building won't crumble under pressure. Kirsten???
Those are exactly the results you should have gotten and that's a great way to test the formulas, which every good engineer should do with known data.  So are you interested in engineering?  Lots of algebra involved..... :wink:

I've never actually thought about it. What do engineers do?
Ah, it won't be able to predict variations within a litter.  It's going to predict the average or typical male of a given breeding and the average or typical female of a typical breeding.

Now your breeder might be able to add a little magic from observing them at birth and their early development, but I'm not so sure.  Ruby was the runt of her litter, which had more to do with when she was conceived than with her genetics.  She was born at about 3/4 of normal weight and wound up oversized as an adult.  I only bred one litter, of course, so I don't have the experience or data of a seasoned long time breeder.  Just a single data point.
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