Author Topic: When Is a Limitation Considered a Significant Limitation?  (Read 795 times)

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Offline Alynxis

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When Is a Limitation Considered a Significant Limitation?
« on: March 18, 2017, 02:43:57 PM »
When is a limitation considered a substantial limitation?

Alternatively...

When did you know your limitations were getting to the point where you knew you would need a service dog?

I've come to understand that my psychiatric issues have been interfering with my ability to lead a normal life. However, with psych issues, it's not as easy to tell when an inconvenience turns into a substantial limitation. At what point does a quirk become a disability?

While I can leave the house, I have to force myself to do it and am constantly on edge unless I have my boyfriend with me, essentially turning him into a "service human." Even then, I still get overwhelmed and have to find somewhere quiet to calm down before I have an anxiety attack. Then there's the unpredictable panic attacks, which have happened in stores, while driving, at restaurants, at the movies, in the middle of conversations...

While I am physically able to get out of bed and run off and do things, it's not that easy. I bounce between insomnia and hypersomnia. I don't always take the best care of myself. I either eat everything all day or eat nothing all day. I have little interest in doing the things that should be enjoyable to me. I don't always remember to take my meds. There are days where I just can't will myself to do anything unless my boyfriend is actively encouraging me or doing them with me (bless his patient heart).

I have a herniated disc, and the sciatica is usually manageable throughout the day as long as I don't stay in one position for too long (sitting, standing, etc), but sometimes it's intolerable and I spend days unable to move much beyond bed, the couch in the living room, and the bathroom. I can't bend over without the risk of my leg going numb and causing me to lose balance and fall. I can't lift more than 15 pounds from the ground, but I can carry more weight for a short distance if it is handed to me or pulled onto my shoulder from an elevated surface. I can't lift it myself, and I can't carry it far.

Everything changed about six months ago when I came into ownership of a young drahthaar, and while he's still in that goofy teenage puppy stage at 18 months old and has some things to learn, I've already been able to teach him ways to help me. He picked up on my anxiety naturally and I am focusing on refining that into putting his paw on my leg when I start bouncing it (one of my early indicators that anxiety is starting to set in). He helps me pick things up, braces for support while standing and sitting, reminds me to take my meds, and does an excellent job at being a barrier between me and other people in public places. He grounds me and refocuses my attention so I can think clearly and find and exit if I'm starting to get overwhelmed. I feel safe in my own skin when he's with me. I feel excited to go out with him. I feel comfortable and more confident with him. I can talk to cashiers. I can handle people. I can handle stimulation.

I'm considering him as a service dog, but I'm not sure if my limitations would qualify as substantial in limiting any major life activities for me. It's a topic my doctor and I are still discussing.

I would love to hear any opinions, stories, or experiences you may have regarding this topic!

Thank you!
My boy Jaeger - http://m.imgur.com/c6sVkOs
Das mah boof!

Offline Ariel

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Re: When Is a Limitation Considered a Significant Limitation?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 12:37:38 AM »
Hi, welcome!

My main psychiatric condition has been undeniably disabling since my early teen years, but I did not start looking into service dogs until I was in my late teens and did not actually have a successful partnership until I was 21. My psych conditions are well managed at this point with medication and therapy, though I can't imagine any time in the future in which they will not still be sporadically disabling. Usually I'm fine until I'm not, I end up in the hospital or in closely monitored crisis and then once stabilized am fine again.

My SDIT is about 3/4 through training and at this point does have tasks trained to help me. Her psych tasks mostly revolve around things helpful to memory loss and staying focused on getting to my intended location since I heavily struggle in that area. My memory has been very damaged over the years by psychiatric medications and when my head isn't in a fantastic place getting from A to B is much harder. So those tasks involve leading me while trailing someone I ask her to follow, as well as finding my car in a parking lot and leading me to it.

She has other behaviors she does that are helpful to me, but they are not tasks. This doesn't negate their usefulness though. These include her natural response to wake me up from nightmares by licking me furiously in the face and then laying down with her head across my shoulder. I've found I have less nightmares now than in the months and year or so previous to when they really started, though I have no idea if she's rousing me slightly before I fully wake up or if the subconscious knowledge that she's very reliable in interrupting nightmares eases me away from them. Either way, I'm grateful for less.

She has a similar in the face furious licking response with panic attacks, though I don't have a ton of panic attacks. She'll lay across my legs or chest dependent on my position for DPT, which I do sometimes find that weight comforting. That isn't a task, at least not for that. It is a useful task for me for interrupting tic attacks, but I very seldom have those attacks or even more than a few tics a day now, so the true application as a task and not a comfort is quite dusty. I also have a chronic physical health condition for which her tasks and training are primarily centered around, but the psych tasks are certainly not without profound usefulness.

My SDIT's named Jubilee. She's the cute creature in my avatar. She's a German Wirehaired Pointer and 18 months old like your boy. You don't hear a ton about GWPs and even less about DDs. Is he a registered Drahthaar with the ear tattoo? I've met two Drahts and they're cool dogs, much harder temperament than all the GWPs I've known, most of which which are far from soft dogs. Definitely a split beyond just the German name and then the German translation. Super lovely intense dogs the two I met, both had pretty severe same sex aggression though and it wasn't a situation where I could talk to the owner easily. I'd definitely love to hear more about your boy from a curiosity standpoint.

Once again, welcome to SDC! :smile:
Jubilee - Service Dog - German Wirehaired Pointer
Jubi's FB page!
In Loving Memory of Service Dog Saxon (6/5/13-12/2/15)

Offline Alynxis

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Re: When Is a Limitation Considered a Significant Limitation?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2017, 06:39:38 AM »
Jaeger's from a DD breeder with papered/tattooed parents imported from Germany, but his first owners never followed up with the training/testing, and since I'm not going to use him as a hunting dog or for breeding, I'm not going to, either. He does enjoy looking for shed deer antlers in the woods after deer season, though! He gets something new to chew on and I get neat horns for arts n crafts :smile: and he never forgets what he is. He'll point at our pet mallards and squirrels, but he listens when I tell him to leave it.

I met Jaeger when he was a puppy because I was living with his owners at that time. We bonded immediately as his owners were rarely around due to work, so his care fell into my hands. I moved out to live with my boyfriend, and things got crazy at the owners' place, so long story short I assumed ownership over him and had to spend two months and several hundred dollars getting him healthy and happy from the suddenly timid, skin and bones pupper with bald patches, overgrown fur and dandruff from h*ck.

The first things I did was discourage any food aggression and dog aggression. He had been locked up in a pen away from other dogs and missed out on some critical socialization in those early formative months, but we have worked hard to get him to understand that no one is taking his food and those dogs aren't gonna be a problem. Now I can put my hand in his mouth while he's eating and take the kibble off his tongue, and other dogs aren't an issue anymore, even in tact males.

He's always wanting to carry something. He's a goofball, and all he wants is affection and maybe treats (okay, definitely treats). He's been a dream to train, picks up on new things quickly, and is eager to work for me. I can watch the lightbulb go off in his head when he figures something out, and then he gets excited to do it over and over again because he's learned how to make the human give him treats.

Temperament-wise? When he's focused, he's focused. When he's distracted, he's easy to refocus. He's very sweet and loving and playful and goofy and sometimes pays so much attention to me that he walks into walls/furniture/trees. I think that's because he was starved of affection in his early life. He can be very intense at times, but I attribute that to his age and know he'll mellow out in another year or two. He spends most of his days running around our three acres of fenced yard, or in the house playing with me and his toys, or he'll sleep within five feet of me and be "on call" for me. I definitely wouldn't recommend a young draht for older or mobility/balance impaired individuals, or folks without the extensive dog training history I have, mostly because he's 65lbs of muscle and obstinance.

But, he's a good dog, and we're working hard to make him the best dog he can be. He's enjoying the mental and physical exercise and I'm finally excited to leave the house again. We've both been given a new purpose and life's finally starting to have a little more color to it.

I've linked a picture of him in my forum signature :smile:

Thank you for the warm welcome! Jubilee looks like such a sweetheart! I browsed some of the pictures on her Facebook. Such a cutie!
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 06:56:44 AM by Alynxis »
My boy Jaeger - http://m.imgur.com/c6sVkOs
Das mah boof!

Offline Ariel

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Re: When Is a Limitation Considered a Significant Limitation?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 12:37:05 PM »
Jaeger is handsome! The lighting makes it hard to tell, he looks black, but he could be a very dark liver? I'm always envious of Draht coats. The harsh but shorter jacket with still full furnishings makes me envious. I Have to put quite a bit of work into Jubi's coat to make and keep her presentable. I suppose the scruffy look isn't bad, but I strongly prefer a proper groom to the scraggly muppet look. Do you ever have to strip him or is his coat tight enough that it's pretty unnecessary? Can you tell I'm a coat fiend?  :tongue2: Anyway, sounds like he's already of help to you. I hope you both keep progressing as a team.
Jubilee - Service Dog - German Wirehaired Pointer
Jubi's FB page!
In Loving Memory of Service Dog Saxon (6/5/13-12/2/15)

Offline Alynxis

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Re: When Is a Limitation Considered a Significant Limitation?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2017, 04:11:49 PM »
He's black :smile: I take great pride in his coat. It's wiry, but soft. Hard to explain, but amazing to feel, and perfect for my stimulation issues.

He was an absolute mess when I got him. Lack of proper nutrition and grooming caused bald patches in some spots and 4" fur patches in others. It's finally where it needs to be, and it feels amazing <3

I strip his coat about once a month to once every other month. It's a tight coat, but the climate here can be pretty hot and humid, and he always seems to feel better after a good strip. He gets daily (gentle) brushing with a deshedder and a soft brush. Once or twice a week he gets dry baths with the foaming massage-in shampoo, and he gets real baths as needed (I try for at least once a month, but won't push it if he hasn't been super active/dirty; he's got that natural waterproof coat for a reason :tongue2:). I brush his teeth daily after his dinner time and trim and file sharp edges on his claws weekly. And through all this fussing and clipping and tugging and pulling, he just stands there and takes it. He's fallen asleep on my lap while hand stripping his hocks. I take bettter care of him than I do myself most days. But, since I've started taking care of him, it's easier to take care of myself.

Thank you so much! And I hope Ms. Jubilee keeps making excellent progress with you as well!
My boy Jaeger - http://m.imgur.com/c6sVkOs
Das mah boof!

Offline meeshymoosh

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Re: When Is a Limitation Considered a Significant Limitation?
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2017, 12:33:36 PM »
Hey! I wanted to share a little bit my personal journey because I, too, have psychiatric conditions that have brought me to some hard decisions as of late.

When is a limitation considered a substantial limitation?
Textbook wise, when it is severely limiting or interfering with major life tasks.The ADA has a ton of information on this, specifically what is a major life task or not, and I suggest that you read as much as you can :smile:

When did you know your limitations were getting to the point where you knew you would need a service dog?

I'll try to keep it pithy, but I'm going to first address why I knew I was limited by my disabilities, and how I came to that:

1) I began to recognize that I might be limited when I realized that I need help - a whole lot of it - and there is no other option.The people who have lived life with me and knew my struggles were concerned for me. Nothing was more infuriating than being truly happy and experiencing for the first time ever a taste of small remission and then having it come back even worse than before. It was like this tease of being given the correct glasses prescription just long enough to feel comfortable and used to  seeing clearly, and then having them stepped on with no way of knowing how to obtain another pair. I am getting to the point where I could easily see myself losing my job, stopping grad school, and becoming 100% dependent upon my husband and best friend's presence. I've been there with my mother when I was a child, then my college sweetheart-turned-ex-husband. History was repeating itself, even though I'd drastically changed my life and situation, gotten help, etc. When I realized that those historical issues were not increasing in frequency, strength, and developing new symptoms altogether, and when it finally began actually impacting my work to the point of calling or asking to come in late 2-3 times a week, I knew I might be limited. Being limited in personal areas of my life were acceptable, but once it intruded on work and school in frequent, real ways, I was done.

2) I 100% knew I was disabled by my psychiatric conditions when I read the ADA codes and spoke to my qualified mental health therapist and asked for her honest assessment of my diagnoses. Then, my boss offered me the ADA work accommodation papers without prompt after a particularly bad week. This is where I am on the timeline: having an MD verify my need for accommodations based on my disability in order to save my job and "prescribe" a service dog to help mitigate disability. I will be starting some new treatment plans and a long journey ahead with a new "label", but I'm not alone.

3) I knew I was ready to begin the service dog journey when I came here, to SDC, and began to get educated. I ask questions, get corrected, and read a lot. I learned very quickly that I was looking at a PSD to "fix" me, instead of my fixing myself and having the PSD be a medical tool. In my heart, I wanted so bad for this to be the magic pill: that once I was a team, panic attacks would cease and all of my problems be solved because of my four-legged companion. My head knew better, but it wasn't until I humbled myself to my ignorance that I became comfortable with what a PSD means: stripping away as much emotion as you can. I grappled with the ripples that having a PSD would make when it came to my current job (they are 100% supportive), my grad school (same), and then my future career (unclear, but working on it).  My therapist is supportive, my family and husband is supportive, and my workplace is supportive. These were all very important to me in order to feel validated in such a major life decision. This has taken several months.

I hope that you can find some introspection and the objective confirmation that you need.



Samson - GSD - 3 years old SDiT
Gideon - Alaskan Husky - 2.5 years old