Author Topic: When did you know you needed a service dog?  (Read 1385 times)

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Offline missythewriter

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When did you know you needed a service dog?
« on: December 11, 2016, 07:52:19 PM »
Hello!  :biggrin:

I've been looking into SDs for a little while now, and am just wondering: when did you guys (if you don't mind sharing, of course!) know you needed a service dog? Or, at least, knew having a SD would be the best treatment option for you? I'm just curious. If it's personal, that's totally fine! You don't need to answer, obviously. Just for those who are okay with sharing. :smile:

Offline Kirsten

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2016, 09:13:54 PM »
An ESA is a treatment option.  A service dog is not treatment but management of that which cannot be fixed with treatment.  A guide dog doesn't help a person to see, but takes the place of the person's eyes.  A hearing dog doesn't help a person to hear, but takes the place of their ears.  Service dogs do what their partners cannot do on their own.  Whatever it is that your disability prevents you from doing for yourself, the dog doesn't help you to recover that ability but instead does it for you.  Because of this, because the dog removes the necessity of doing or trying to do that thing(no matter how hard it is), he makes it easier to not do that thing and to stop trying to recover as much function as possible.  If it hurts to bend over and pick something up are you more likely to continue working on recovering the ability to bend if there is no good substitute or if there is an easier way to do it that doesn't hurt?  Trying to use a service dog for treatment leads to dependence rather than recovery.  So the decision to get a service dog shouldn't come until you've reached the point where it doesn't look like you're going to get much more out of recovery or treatment.
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Offline Arrowcom

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2016, 10:14:47 PM »
I knew I needed my guide dog when I realized how much I was missing out on because of my limited vision. Like Kirsten said, I always knew that I couldn't recover any of my vision, but I knew that a guide dog could do things that I currently could not, or in my case, could never do because I was born legally blind. So in short, once I realized and accepted that I had a disability that was keeping me from living life to it's fullest, I decided it was time to try and counteract some of those negatives that the loss of vision brought.

Also, there are some negatives to owning a service dog too. Everyone staring and talking about you wherever you go, Not being welcomed into certain places and having to deal with the anger and embarrassment that comes with that, the extra coast that comes with maintaining a healthy ready to work dog, and all of the extra work that goes into the upkeep of a SD. When you are able to look at all the negatives realistically, and still feel like a Service Dog would do more good then harm for you, that's another clue that it's the time to get one.
Accept the things you can not change, have the courage to change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

Offline Cocoajensen

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2016, 10:15:22 PM »
For me, it was when I realized I've been using my husband as a "service human" for years.  When I'm having a bad day, I have to wait for him to get home to run errands, or just take a freaking walk.  He gets home from work at a reasonable time, but he doesn't always want to have to go out again to deal with everyday stuff like mailing a package or picking up a few groceries. 

Offline missythewriter

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2016, 10:52:39 PM »
@Kirsten: Of course! I realize that. I've done heaps of research regarding this, and my family's still trying out all kinds of medication for me. I don't even know if the service dog track is one I'll take, simply because I'm still a teen and haven't gone through all the possible treatments. I guess that wasn't really the right word to use in this case either. A SD is not a treatment or a replacement for medication, after all! It's a . . . coping mechanism, I guess, would be better phrasing. That was just a misuse of wording on my part. I was more asking out of curiosity's sake.

@Arrowcom: Right, that makes sense. And I've definitely heard about the negatives. There are plenty of those!

@Cocoajensen: Yeah, I relate to that. My mom is my "service human" for sure. Haha!

Thank you guys for sharing! :smile:

Online Ariel

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2016, 12:41:22 AM »
I originally began looking into service dogs for my psychiatric condition as I was fairly stable on medication and had been in therapy for a decade. I'm in a much better place now than when I had my first failed owner training attempts, and a very poorly matched program SD that I returned but I'm still on medication and in therapy. Neither of those will make my psychiatric condition better or more stable, though I'd be less holistically helped if I did not have one or both in place. Though I do still have periods when my psychiatric condition is very much forefront and disabling, those periods are pretty few and far between.

I have a physical health condition that was not disabling when I wad diagnosed but I've had a steady deterioration since. I take medicines, use alternate assistive aids like a wheelchair, immobilizing sling and braces when necessary, and am in Physical Therapy long term to manage my condition as a whole, so my use of a service dog is in place of carrying around one of those reacher tools to pick things up without bending or stretching, or having to find other ways to pull my jackets off without twisting arms and whatnot. A service dog for me is just doing the job of what another piece of equipment could, but is not a substitution for any of the types of things I do to keep myself as healthy as I can.

I'm lucky my dog is naturally skilled at assisting with my psychiatric condition and when it rears up, though much of that is natural response. Not task work because I like her response and I've done nothing to adapt it through training, but definitely helpful. I don't need her psych response to be a task though, she is more than skilled enough to help with my physical condition, and will only get better from here as she's still got another 6-9 months before she will likely "graduate" the requirements I consider for service work.
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Offline labrynthlegond

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2016, 10:15:16 AM »
I had a very clear moment when I knew this was the path I would take, but it was just the last thing in a chain of events. First, about a year and a half before I knew, I got a pet dog. We already knew the combination of severe social anxiety and agoraphobia mixed with fibro made me unable to work. The dog was because I love animals, had always wanted a dog and had a lot of time. I was 20 at the time and had been in treatment for about 7 years and nothing really got better.

 Shortly after getting Molly, she started to help around the house on her own. She would tell me when my anxiety was building before I could notice it and I was able to use coping strategies to stop severe attacks. She would get my mom when a panic attack hit and bring her back to me. I faint sometimes and stop being able to start using grounding techniques on my own once a full attack hits so I need to be told to do them and guided through. I knew about service dogs and had the thought to get one in the back of my head, but it was always a "later" idea because I had service humans.

  Then I had a toxic relationship sort of implode. I had a mental break down and clawed my way back up to stable but I lost one of my main service humans and became pretty homebound. During this time Molly became even more in tune with me and was a huge part of how I got through the day.

 Then my mom had a medical emergency and had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance and ended up staying to have emergency surgery. My dad had taken medication that made him unable to go so I had to go alone with my mom in the ambulance. At the hospital I was separated from her for a couple of hours and I couldn't cope. I bawled the whole time and had multiple panic attacks. I had a couple friends alternating calling me to help me stay grounded so I didn't faint, but they risked being in trouble at work to do that. I was treated horribly by volunteers even though I was silent crying and just listening to my friends on the phone. I saw first hand again how people who are supposed to support and help can make things worse. The difference this time was that I didn't have anyone to help shelter me. I was alone. When I finally got to my mom I felt ok, but I knew we would be separated again since she needed surgery. My mom ended up calling relatives until she finally found someone to come wait with me.
 
 I knew that if Molly had been there I could have done better. I also knew there was plenty more I could teach her to be able to cope in even more situations. It was a slap in the face that made me look at what my life was really like. I was an adult. I was smart and able to think for myself, but only when I could manage my mental illness. I couldn't do that alone. I realized how limited my life really was. How many things I couldn't do for myself that I wanted to. As soon as my mom healed we spoke to my doctor and went from there. It's not always easy and I still need help from people, but I've been able to have a more normal life.
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Offline swimmergirl247

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2016, 05:08:24 AM »
I know this sounds weird but I always knew. I have been severely legally blind my whole life. I first saw a guide dog working witha man when i was three and knew that was for me. I alwasy told people "instead of a car I'd be getting a guide dog"

then my health took a serious turn for the worse after a brain surgery. it really sucked at the time I had applied and was waiting on three schools lists. but as soon as other health issues reared there heads they all truned me down.

I was heart broken but something in me still knew this is what i "needed" So I researched and OTed my first and now second cross trained service dog.

I found out I had mad the right call in 2011 when my seizures returned. my first dog naturally adapted and would jump up on my powerchair and tunr it off and tilt it back. I can honestly say she saved my life about 10 times in that 4 1/2 years she was "working at some level. now Teddy is 2 and he's been credited by doctors 3 times already for saving my life for different reasons.

so yes, having a service dog in my case is 100% the right call. I knwo its not so cut and dry to others for very vaild reasons, but my vision will eventually go, my health has only gotten worse, but i "function better now" do to trying and continuing to improve my medications, and other therapies, but I'll never seen normally I'll never live without the fear of siezing even though its gooten muchbetter, I'll never recover from my TBI, and I'll never be pscyholgoically normal. so on any of those fronts I'd fit a service dog,
Theodore(Teddy)SD you truly gods gift to me.
Abigail(retired SD you may not physically be with me but your wings and protection will always be in my heart.
"I may not have sight, but I'll always have vision- Alex S

Offline Azariah

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2016, 01:14:55 PM »
For me - I've trained obedience dogs for over a decade so have a lot of experience training dogs. I'm at maximum therapy for my disabilities (unless there is a medical advancement) and there are still some things that I can't do that I knew I could train a dog to do.

An easy example is around pain. If I lean over and pick something up from the ground or open a lower cupboard my body starts going into muscle spasms and it causes terrible pain. If I do that repetitively I end up in a flare up mode. Having trained dogs in open level obedience I knew that picking up objects was something that I could train and could easily benefit from.
 
Another example is around anxiety. I started noticing that both of my dogs would pick up on my anxiety way earlier than I knew it was happening and give me a signal. If I paid attention to that signal and used my tools from therapy I could sometimes avoid going into a full fledged panic attack/meltdown.

There are other tasks that I'll be having my service dog do once she is trained but those are pretty easy examples.

Both of my existing dogs could do the tasks I wanted at home. However Rio is 11 so didn't make sense to do a lot of training on. And Cosmo does not have a good personality for work in public - he is very high drive and gets higher drive the more anxious that I am. So I started the research process for what I'd need for a service dog I could use in public and how I'd screen puppy prospects. I think from when I decided I wanted a service dog to when I actually got a puppy it was about a year process. And of course I still have a year or more of training to do on Serenity.
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Offline BillBRNC

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2016, 09:43:26 AM »
The day I was diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy Bodies, early onset Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's I knew I was going to need a lot of help, and that I had little time to get ready.
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Offline RedSonia29

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2017, 02:08:25 PM »
As an insulin dependent diabetic, I was always cautious about relying on anything other than myself to deliver insulin and check my blood sugars. For most of my life, I've been unaware of hypoglycemic events (I can't tell when my blood sugars are low). About 12 years ago, I took a leap of faith and started using an insulin pump. It's been AWESOME and gave me a lot of freedom that I'd never had before. After a few bad lows, my doctor recommended a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which should have helped warned me of low blood sugars. When I found out that I was allergic to the adhesives and the metal in the subcutaneous sensors, I was devastated. My low blood sugars were becoming more serious and life-threatening and I had no way of knowing when they were coming.

After a few years, we adopted pitbull/boxer mix who started using his huge head to roll me out of bed in the middle of the night. He would, literally, take my hand, escort me down the stairs, and pull me into the kitchen. He was alerting to night lows. We started getting him some more training and I discovered the world of Diabetic Alert Dogs (seriously, it 27 years of insulin-dependent diabetes before I found out about DADs). After I nearly died from a low blood sugar last year on my 40th birthday, I decided that I wanted to train Clive to be a DAD and, after he passed away suddenly (congenital kidney disease), I was a wreck. Shortly after he passed away, I had another dangerous low blood sugar in a strange airport and I made a decision. My next dog would be an a formally trained DAD, with special effort made to train him for full public access.

It's been three months since that decision. Clive's successor, Bowie, has started formal training with a DAD trainer. We take 1-2 group classes every week with about 8 other diabetics and their DADs. I train with him several hours per day, including obedience, socialization, on low and high blood sugar scent, and I am in constant communication with our trainer.
In loving memory of Clive (CLASS, CGC, Diabetic Alert Dog). You saved my life countless times just by using your heart, nose, and your fat pit bull head. Our time together was too short and I miss you every day. 12/21/11 - 11/19/2016

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Offline Ollie

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Re: When did you know you needed a service dog?
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2017, 01:17:07 PM »
It would probably be when I realized how much help I need from my friend and find it very difficult to go about without her.

I enjoy training and working with dogs and even I have noticed that I am a lot more willing to go out, socialize, push myself, and better myself when working with a dog. Even with a dog I still have struggles but it helps.

I have trained my pet dog to do "at home tasks" just to test out how I would teach certain tasks if it was ever needed and I wanted to see if it actually helps. I was floored by my pet dog to see how consistent she was and how much she has helped.

It's so helpful when I do have her around because many times my friend misses something, my dog doesn't and she's running up to alert or prevent whatever it may be.

I knew I needed a service dog when I noticed that I'd rather be at home or in pet areas just so I can have my dog to help me, and when I did go out I felt better knowing I had a little helper.

My health is slowly going down and even my friend has suggested I get a more assistive device such as a wheelchair. I have used one before and because of my back pain I can't/won't always be able to push myself.

My friend jokes, but is serious, that she would always be there to push and assist me and although that's very sweet of her, I don't like having to depend on people. I know how stressful and hard it is for her and I've noticed the relief she feels when I'm with my pet dog.


If that wasn't enough, my therapist brought it up because she has seen my pet dog "in action." In a therapy session while I was talking about a difficult event, my dog was asleep then looked up at me for a couple seconds before resting her paw on one of my knees. I didn't even notice my leg was starting to shake and neither did my therapist.

Although I'm still trying to find ways to prevent my panic attacks, my dog has helped me calm down from them a lot faster than I ever could. And she knows when it's over too which I did not teach. Once I've calmed down she will get off my lap and then go back to sleep.