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Offline Mike

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Hello
« on: June 15, 2017, 01:07:41 AM »
I''ve made strides in my therapy sessions, I now realize suicide is SO not the answer, that stemmed from being up for 9 days in a row with a migraine condition known as hemi carnia continua, I now take 400mgs of topamax twice a day and 40mgs of fieoracet 3 times a day plus 800mgs of  neurontin 4 times a day. I can moderately be in public some of the times with assistance. I am totally convinced that a psych dog would greatly reduce the fear of being in public more than I can now. I guess I'm just reaching out for further assistance here. I do very much love my wife, but a human can only provide so much support, there is no other love than what a dog can supply, I had a shar-pei for 16 years an lost her back on April the 8th of 2014. I just need guidance as to where to locate psych dog now. Is there a chat room for this forum? Thank you..mike

Offline PaperVoice24

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Re: Hello
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2017, 05:21:51 PM »
Psychiatric Service Dogs are not Emotional Support Animals. Their job is not to love you. They must be actively doing something, like watching for physical manifestations of a psychiatric issue, interrupting a compulsive behaviour, checking a room for intruders, or providing Deep Pressure Therapy. There are other possible tasks, but the idea is that the dog must perform a task. Being a dog with an inherently comforting presence is not a task. If emotional comfort is what you are seeking, a service dog is not what you need.

It should also be said that when it comes to psychiatric service dogs, one must be absolutely certain that they can make no more progress through therapy and medications. Not to do so would be to hinder one's well being and halt all progress by using the dog as a crutch. What you have to understand is that a service dog is not a treatment. A service dog is not a treatment. A service dog is used to mitigate disabling symptoms which cannot be treated to the point of not being disabling.

If you find that there are tasks a dog can perform to mitigate a symptom which is disabling and cannot be treated to the point of no longer being disabling, then there are resources on the main webpage which can help you find programs, breeders, and trainers.

I'm not trying to condescend, chastise, or offend you. I just want to make sure you're making a well-informed decision.
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Offline Moonsong

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Re: Hello
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2017, 06:42:42 PM »
I want to reinforce what Papervoice said: what you described is an emotional support animal and you are NOT allowed to take them into public. You can request an accommodation for them in no pets housing (generally) and can (generally) bring them into the cabin of an airplane without a pet fee. You may or may not be capable of bringing an ESA to work depending on where you work/what you do and if your boss (if you have one) allows the accommodation.

There are two requirements for a dog to be considered a service dog:

1. It must be individually task trained to mitigate a disability. The tasks it is trained to do must directly relate to the disability the dog is meant to mitigate (for example, for a person with mobility issues retrieving would be a task, but not for a person with psychiatric issues who has no trouble bending down and picking up objects). The dog must be individually trained, as in a natural behavior isn't likely to fly. Also, the ADA (which is the law that allows service dogs in public) CLEARLY states that providing comfort/emotional support is not a task. This means that any dog who is not individually task-trained and only provides comfort/emotional support is NOT a service dog and does NOT have public access rights.

2. The dog must be partnered with a disabled person. Said person MUST be disabled according to the ADA's definition, which is: "substantially limited by one or more major life activities."


So I think there are some steps you need to take before going forward. First, you need to speak with your doctor and determine whether or not you are disabled according to the ADA. Next, you need to figure out if a service dog really is the right option for you; it is a bad idea to resort to a service dog when you could get better, since dogs are the ultimate enablers. Ideally, it's better to not be disabled at all than to have to bring a dog around with you everywhere that you go. Not only do you need to decide on that, but you need to decide on whether to get a service dog or an ESA.

An ESA, as I said before, does NOT go into public. Their only job is to comfort their partners. An ESA can be any animal, so long as it can provide you with comfort. In order to make an animal an ESA, you'll need a letter (there are two letters, actually) from a mental health physician who is currently treating you, and the letter must be renewed every year. An ESA can be used as part of a treatment plan.

A service dog, which does go into public, must be task trained in order to be considered such. Training is very intensive and difficult, as the dog must be taught to behave properly in public. A service dog can be quite expensive; I am owner-training, and for classes alone I have already paid $705 in the last five months, and plan to spend at LEAST another $200 before the year is over, probably even more though for the task training classes. Those are just the training classes. Add in $45 booties, $35 dollar vest, ~$30-50 worth of patches, increased vet expenses, an upcoming ~$60 leash, treats, food, new collar, and on and on and on it is not cheap. Not to mention a LOT of effort that goes into the training.

Going through a program may be more or less expensive depending on the program, takes a lot of waiting, and may have a very long waiting list.

Even once you get the dog; you have to deal with rude (intentionally or not) MOPs. You'll get people asking what's wrong with you, staring at you, yelling at you (especially little kids), asking to pet your dog, telling you about their dead dog, trying to get you kicked out of a place, following you around the store (possibly with a camera to upload you on YouTube), taking pictures without permission, trying to deny you access to a place, trying to distract your dog, and more. You may even get people with fake/undertrained SDs distracting your dog, or worse; attacking it and possibly injuring or killing it.

If you still decide that you want a SD, and you are disabled and it is the next best step, then you still need to figure out what tasks the dog should do. This next bit is important: DO NOT TASK SHOP! Don't go on the internet and look up tasks for your disability (called task shopping). This can be harmful in ways that you may end up picking a task that isn't actually directly related to your disability, or misusing a task, etc.

I would suggest making a list of all of your disabling symptoms (again, disabling according to the ADA). You can also list out symptoms that may not be disabling, but are still upsetting, but keep in mind that any tasks made for these will be bonuses and not legitimate according to the law. Next, make a list of tasks that a dog could do (WITHOUT PROVIDING EMOTIONAL SUPPORT/COMFORT IN ANY FORM) to mitigate those tasks. It's useful to take "dog" out of the equation and replace it with "robot". What could a cold, unfeeling, emotionless robot do to mitigate your disability? These are the tasks that you would write down. The only reason I said dog earlier is that it should be something a dog is physically capable of doing. For example, you could say that a robot could help by flying you to the nearest hospital when an emergency happens, but obviously a service dog cannot do that. Once you make that task list, I would suggest running it by your doctor. They may have some ideas that you've overlooked.

After all of that, you need to decide HOW you want to get a service dog. Do you want to go through a program, or owner train? What type of dog do you need; do you need a big dog or would you prefer a small dog or does it not matter? You'll need to decide your path from there in order to figure out where and how to get a dog, since the processes for each are very different.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 06:44:28 PM by Moonsong »
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Offline ZombieFodder

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Re: Hello
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2017, 08:29:13 PM »
Hey Mike, welcome.

I used to have dogs, for about 20 years. I no longer use them and am not hugely familiar with psych dogs, but if you really want to pursue this I'd suggest checking out Assistance Dogs International as a resource to locate programs in your area or around the country. Do not be afraid to travel in order to attend a good program. For my first couple dogs I traveled half way across the country. Just beware of limiting yourself, especially as psych dogs are a more recent thing so do not have a lot of long standing programs offering them. Before applying to any program you'll want the support of your doctors in regards to a working dog or ESA. Every program I've used requires a lot of medical documentation and forms filled out by your doctors.

That being said, do be aware of the extreme increase in attention you will experience when towing a dog around with you if you choose to use one in public. But if you still feel this is something you want to explore, the above resource might be able to help you out.

Quote
A service dog, which does go into public, must be task trained in order to be considered such

I agree they must be trained to do things for the owner, but service dogs are not only used in public. There is such a thing as home only service dogs. Hearing dogs are one group that tends to be used exclusively in the home, although plenty do use them in public. Many programs place "Home Helpmates" which are working dogs for home use only. They are still legit working dogs even if they never go in public.

Quote
This next bit is important: DO NOT TASK SHOP! Don't go on the internet and look up tasks for your disability (called task shopping). This can be harmful in ways that you may end up picking a task that isn't actually directly related to your disability, or misusing a task, etc.

I think it is true that you want to be careful making sure you are in the ballpark, but I tend to disagree task shopping is universally harmful. Maybe it matters more for owner trainers, not sure. I task shopped back in 1993 as I had a limited idea what a dog could do. A neighbor of my aunt had a CCI dog, but she was significantly more disabled than I was and I didn't really care about light switches. This was pretty much before the internet, so I didn't know a dog could pull a wheelchair until I actually got the application. I didn't even know if it would be useful, but I picked it as my number one desired task. So it isn't really a big deal if someone is unsure what a dog could do for them and is looking for examples. Most people will weed out the fluff or only use it occasionally, like my dogs were trained in lights which I very rarely used. This could be different for owner trainers who are inexperienced and not sure what will work for them or what is appropriate, so I guess I can see where that would be a problem. Anyway, I totally understand what you are saying though.

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Offline ccunnin3

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Re: Hello
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2017, 08:44:26 PM »
Zombie, I think task shopping is a bigger problem with psych dogs. What happens is all people know is they want to bring their ESA in public then they find "tasks" to justify that. It isn't that they don't know what a dog can  do, but rather that they haven't taken any time to determine what they need.
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Offline ZombieFodder

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Re: Hello
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2017, 08:50:14 PM »
I hadn't really considered that. Yes, I can see what you mean. Sorry, I'm so used to doing it one way I don't really understand the issues revolving around other types of working dogs. I was the ultimate task shopper back in '93. My aunt's neighbor's mom told me to apply to CCI, but I thought I didn't qualify because I was still using a walker, lol. I had zero idea what a dog could do for me until I actually applied. But for psych I can see how that may be a problem, more with an owner trainer than with someone using a program though. I still think it is fine to explore what a dog can do for a particular situation, but it falls on the person to make sure they aren't completely out in left field.
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Offline Azariah

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Re: Hello
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2017, 10:34:08 PM »
I tend to think once you know the core tasks your dog can help with and already arectraining a dog then task shopping is just maximizing what they can do for you.
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Offline Moonsong

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Re: Hello
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2017, 10:31:47 AM »
Zombie - it had seemed to me that the OP was looking specifically to bring a dog in public, so I was emphasizing that ESAs do not have PA rights and SDs do. But it's good that you thought to mention at-home service dogs as well.

Also, I was thinking along the lines of what Caitlin said - for psych issues it's pretty easy to accidentally pick a task that isn't actually a task for you and it just ends up as emotional support. Also, there are a lot of people who just pick out some tasks in order to justify bringing an ESA into public, like Caitlin said.

Personally, I agree with Azariah that it's best to figure it out on your own first, and then afterwards maybe you can look around a little and task shop to maximize the effort because, hopefully, by that point you'll have a clearer understanding of what you actually need and won't misuse tasks.
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Re: Hello
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2017, 10:58:36 AM »
I agree OP did mention public places, although I think it's a good idea to mention a working dog can be both varieties of in home or public use or both. Most people are unaware at home working dogs are a thing, but it may be a more realistic goal of owner training or it may actually be preferable to them once they know it's a thing. So I figured I'd mention it. I don't think I'd ever want another working dog, but have considered briefly home working dogs because they are just less intrusive attention getters...still don't want them though.

I agree with your points about psych dogs specifically on task shopping. Specifically owner training though. If using a program it's unlikely to turn out to be much of a problem as long as the program is decent. OT though, I can see the problem. For other types of working dogs I disagree it's always beneficial to figure it out on your own first seeing as I didn't do it and it ended up working out fine. It took me using a dog for a number of years to really drive home what I consider super important and what was not. By the successor dog I didn't have to guess anymore what I thought I wanted. For most people this is fine although I'm coming from a program using  standpoint where there is a lot of help when applying and interviewing. I never pulled anything out of thin air and I did no training on my own. So a bit different now a days.   :smile:

When I got my first dog application I literally saw a list of tasks and was asked to rate them in order of importance. I saw wheelchair pulling and thought "huh" and picked it as #1. I did not initially choose bracing at all and that ended up being incredibly useful. Retrieving I thought would be awesome and ended up not using it all that much. Thankfully I fall into a cookie cutter task scenario and do not need to train incredibly complex tasks that may end up being a complete waste of time. So that may be a risk for others that it wasn't for me.
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Offline ccunnin3

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Re: Hello
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2017, 11:33:17 AM »
I see the task-shopping issue most frequently with DPT. I have seen so many people tell me they need their service dog to do DPT even though they have never even tried any sort of compression intervention before. How can they possibly know a dog doing DPT will help? Especially considering there is very little research about how DPT affects anxiety.

Another one is medication retrieval. A lot of owner trainers train their PSDs to retrieve their meds as a"strong task" that is demonstrable and solid. However they don't actually need it. While med retrieval can be a task, the vast majority of people with psychiatric disabilities are perfectly capable of getting their own medications (or they require human assistance), especially if they are given a reminder.

Another "task" people find when they go shopping is panic attack alerting. It sounds great and useful, but the reality is more complicated. Panic attacks are not like seizures. There is no "prepanic" activity to alert to and dogs are not psychic. At best, a panic attack alert is an alert to something you just haven't seen yet. At worst, it can actually trigger panic attacks (because you believe you are about to have one, so you panic).

Knowing what you need is critical before making any sort of task list when it comes to PSDs or you will end up with a highly trained ESA that you are illegally dragging in public.
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Offline polarmouse

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Re: Hello
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2017, 11:47:34 AM »
When I first started looking into training Zoee to be a SD, I had no idea what she could do for me having little information about SD's in general. Like some of you mentioned here, I knew about what SD's could do for physical disabilities, and even a bit about Autistic SD's. I knew about ESA's, and considered Zoee that already.

My first experiences came from my daughter and her PTSD dog. She owner/trained with the help of another veteran. Although her symptoms were a bit different, a couple were the same and she explained what she was able to do with her dog to head them off. One of which is my obsessive compulsive traits including self harm. These are the things that had been accelerating for a couple years and even with new meds and more therapy my medical team was unable to get a handle on. So although I didn't task shop, I was able to learn from her that I really could get much needed help from shaping behaviors into tasks I needed.

I think that since the area of PSD is so new, even to the programs that train SD's, some careful task shopping may be needed simply for educating those who are new to this area.

Offline PaperVoice24

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Re: Hello
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2017, 12:13:09 PM »
Perhaps we should split the topic, just to keep the purpose of discussion clear.
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Offline Mike

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Re: Hello
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2017, 09:03:02 PM »
Thanks folks for the responses, I got a letter from a congressmans office that is helping me out with my disability case, I've. been assigned a judge, but haven't set a hearing date yet. I talked to my insurance co and all my pcd an both counselor and  psychiatrist are gonna send in letters of need of the dog. I didn't find anyone's advice to be bad or disheartening. In my mind the dog would calm me in public, help with balance, and give me a general well feeling. When I have thoughts of hurting myself or someone else. I struggle most days with that. My psychiatrist is the one who even ask if I would consider a  therapy dog. If that's not the answer, then I'll settle for that. That's why I looked and found this site. I wanted to hear from folks that had real time experience with their dogs. If you folks don't feel that's the answer, then I can take it. Thanks guys, and happy Father's Day!!

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Hello
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2017, 09:53:56 PM »
A therapy dog is one that is trained, evaluated, registered and insured so that it can visit facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, and schools to provide emotional support to the people being visited (people other than the owner).

An emotional support dog (or other animal) is one that provides emotional support to his own disabled owner.

A service dog's function is not emotional support (emotional support is specifically excluded under the ADA as a recognized function of a service dog).  His function is to perform tasks that his disabled owner cannot do for himself because of his disability.

Because people with disabilities that involve things like severe anxiety, things that would perhaps benefit from having emotional support, and because people want to be able to take that with them out in public, there is a tendency to conflate emotional support animals and service animals and assume that a public access service dog can serve the function of an emotional support animal but in public.  I understand the desire for this to be true, but it is not the case.

So first you need to decide whether you would be best served by an emotional support animal or service animal.  Which is better is going to be largely dependent on where you are in recovery.  If you are earlier in your recovery and your mental health care providers still feel there are many treatment options still available to try, then you're probably best served by an ESA.  If you are further along in recovery and remaining treatment options are very limited, limited to the point where there is no longer a belief that you are likely to recover fully, then perhaps a service dog would be a better option (depending on several additional factors, like your ability to handle conflicts with strangers, to steward your dog, and need for tasks rather than emotional support).

Are there tasks for psychiatric service dogs?  Sure.  The same as any other sort of service dog.  But in order to escape the trap of getting sucked into try to justify what is essentially an emotional support animal as a service dog, what you need to do is start out with a list of the physical things you cannot do because of your disability, usually these are the things that friends and family do for you now because you cannot do them for yourself.  Prioritize your list with the ones that most mess with your ability to function and get on with life at the top, and the less restrictive ones at the bottom.  Next, ask yourself what a robot might be programmed to do to assist you with overcoming these challenges.  Why use a robot as a model?  Because robots cannot give emotional support.  So using the robot model will help you avoid the trap of trying to justify emotional support with faux tasks that won't hold up if you ever are in a position where you need to prove your dog is a legitimate service dog.  It's not that we think of the dogs as robots because they aren't.  They are living beings with needs and feelings of their own.  However, items on your task list that pass the robot test will very likely hold up as tasks legally.
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Offline Azariah

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Re: Hello
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2017, 02:04:35 PM »
At my current experience level with anxiety/panic/PTSD signaling I disagree with this statement. I have had two PTSD attacks overnight that I am aware of since Serenity started sleeping with me and her waking me up and standing over me helped significantly to ground me. I didn't train that - it just happened and I didn't try to extinguish it. My other dogs do an early alert when I am in the early stages of anxiety/panic attacks with a simple chin rest on my leg and I plan on training that for Serenity as well. It is extremely helpful for me because I can use my own skills from therapy to keep from progressing further into a full blown panic attack. Once I reach a certain point I'm too far along to be rational enough to use those tools. My husband can also signal me when he is home but he isn't always with me. I have NEVER had my dog signal me where it triggered panic attacks. Again I'm only 1.5 years or so into training/using a service dog so my experience is limited. But I don't think the statement below is fair to say. It is one of the  main tasks I need from my service dog. The other is around pain mitigation by retrieving, opening doors, etc...

quote]Another "task" people find when they go shopping is panic attack alerting. It sounds great and useful, but the reality is more complicated. Panic attacks are not like seizures. There is no "prepanic" activity to alert to and dogs are not psychic. At best, a panic attack alert is an alert to something you just haven't seen yet. At worst, it can actually trigger panic attacks (because you believe you are about to have one, so you panic).[/quote]
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