Training my Dog to be a Service Dog - Post Transplant

Posted by transplant4traci @transplant4traci, Sun, Aug 18 7:26pm

Hey everyone! I am 24 years old and new to this website! I was wondering if anyone here had any experience in starting the process of making your dog a service dog. I’m a 5 year post double lung transplant recipient and just recently got sick again. I adopted my girl (7 year old dachshund) in June in hopes of making her a service dog as I go through the process of being re-evaluated for transplant. This last bout of sickness has brought on lots of anxiety and PTSD. I’d really like to be able to start getting her certified so I can bring her up here with me so I’m not so alone.

Traci
(CF Warrior)(Double lung transplant recipient)

I wanted to make my English bulldog my service dog. I realized that , in most cases, service dogs are specially trained from early puppy hood. So Weezer can't be an OFFICIAL service dog but I have to tell you that in the true sense of the word he has provided all the love and hugs and emotional therapy I could ever want. Just look at that face. Might have to change the picture but I forgot how!

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@transplant4traci Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. We are fellow patients, family members, and caregivers who share our wealth of experiences, what has worked for us [or not]. As far as your question regarding making your dachshund a service dog, the legal definition of a service animal is one who assists an owner to perform an action that the owner cannot due to disability or impairment. An animal that provides comfort as a therapeutic benefit is considered an ESA [Emotional Support Animal], not the same thing. It is illegal to portray an animal as a service animal when they are in reality, an ESA. The training for an animal to become a certified service animal is long, can be costly. Have you contacted your social worker in preparation for your appointment, and expressed your concerns of anxiety?
Ginger

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@georgette12

I wanted to make my English bulldog my service dog. I realized that , in most cases, service dogs are specially trained from early puppy hood. So Weezer can't be an OFFICIAL service dog but I have to tell you that in the true sense of the word he has provided all the love and hugs and emotional therapy I could ever want. Just look at that face. Might have to change the picture but I forgot how!

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@georgette12, Take a look at this if you want to change your profile photo –
How to Add and Edit My Profile
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/get-started-on-connect/
Smile for the camera!

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@transplant4traci, I'd like to add my welcome to Connect. What a great question you ask about training a dog to become a service animal or an emotional support animal. There are a few members who can share their experiences both as trainers and getting training for their dogs. I hope @joancampy @jimhd and @gailfaith will share their experiences here with you. You can also read some of the their advice in these discussions:
– What Pets Can Do: Health and Healing https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/what-pets-can-do-health-and-healing/
– The value of an animal https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/the-value-of-an-animal

Traci, have you already inquired or started the process of training your dog? What's her name?

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Transplantfortraci, I send you wishes and hopes for a speedy transplant process. I can't imagine how difficult the circumstances would be with a successful lung transplant. You know what to expect so the second time around should be a piece of cake. Not! I had the chance to talk to lung transplant recipients at clinic and they all agreed that it was worth it. As for pets. After my liver transplant.I was advised to stay away from cats for awhile. I did stay a arms length away for a week or two. My cats bring me joy and have a calming effect. I'm sure a service dog would do the same for you. Take Care. Tim

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We spent over $7000 to train our dog so she was officially a service dog. She also was gone from us for 6 months for intensive training. We keep her credentials in her service vest so we are assured access at all times.

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@transplant4traci

You can find good information online about what service animals are, the different kinds of service animals, as well as suggestions of what services they might provide. The ADA website might be a good place to start.

A service dog can be trained by a professional, which is quite expensive, or you can train your own dog. There are professionals who suggest that handler training can be a valid approach.

Psychiatric service dogs are recognized as legitimate service animals, but as with any other service dog, it has to provide at least two services that assist you in some way.

You'll find that you need to have your doctor's recommendation in writing, but the only time you have to show it to anyone is in court. A business owner can't ask to see it, though I've read that some airlines have successfully received legal permission to ask you to show them your paperwork from your doctor.

You'll find, as well, what specific questions a business owner may ask, one of them being what service your dog provides. When I'm asked that, I say she's a psychiatric service dog, and most of the time that's all that needs to be said (I think that most people are uncomfortable talking about mental health issues, so they don't ask you to be more specific).

The first answer I give is that she's a psychiatric service dog. If I'm asked more, I say that the psychiatric reasons are depression, anxiety and PTSD. I've only been asked more specifically what service she provides – because of PTSD, she maintains space around me, and because of depression and anxiety and suicidal ideation she sits in my lap, which is called deep tissue stimulation therapy. Both of those things are listed as legitimate, recognized services on the ADA website.

Some online searches are service animals, psychiatric service dogs and, as I said, the ADA website.

Usually when people ask questions, they're just curious, or they know someone who has a service dog or a son or daughter who needs one or has one.

I was in a restaurant one time when the manager came to my table and asked the approved questions, but it wasn't because he wanted to know, but a customer was unhappy about seeing my dog and asked the manager to talk with me. I learned from that experience that I would ask who wanted to know. If it was just a customer, I would decline to answer unless the management really wanted to know.

As Ginger pointed out, there are other categories of working animals. Because there are so many people who love their dog and decide to buy a service dog vest so he can go everywhere with them, people are suspicious of every vested dog. I see a number of physicians, and they are pleased with my dog's behavior, and tell me the horror stories about misbehaved dogs who are obviously not trained service animals.

You'll find on those websites that there are reasons a dog may be denied access. The only public place who can legally deny access is a church. I'm fortunate to be going to a church where Sadie is welcome. Of course, dogs can't go into sterile areas in a hospital. I was a Hospice volunteer for several years, and I always asked the patient if it was ok for me to bring my dog in. There were some obvious places I didn't even ask because they had a cat or a dog who was territorial.

Sorry for writing so much. I hope you'll find in your research where your dog can fit to help you.

Jim

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@gingerw

@transplant4traci Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. We are fellow patients, family members, and caregivers who share our wealth of experiences, what has worked for us [or not]. As far as your question regarding making your dachshund a service dog, the legal definition of a service animal is one who assists an owner to perform an action that the owner cannot due to disability or impairment. An animal that provides comfort as a therapeutic benefit is considered an ESA [Emotional Support Animal], not the same thing. It is illegal to portray an animal as a service animal when they are in reality, an ESA. The training for an animal to become a certified service animal is long, can be costly. Have you contacted your social worker in preparation for your appointment, and expressed your concerns of anxiety?
Ginger

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@gingerw Is an animal that is an ESA allowed the same access as a regular service dog?

@jimhd Was your dog considered to be a service dog, or ESA? Do ESA dogs need certain training also?

I ask because a friend had considered this for his dog but never followed through completely but the dog was truly an ESA in every way, certified or not.
JK

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@contentandwell In my experience, from a legal standpoint, an ESA animal is not given the same access. I really appreciate the detail that @jimhd went in to in his post! We had a person in the county I used to live in, who had a Great Dane that he claimed was a service dog, but was not. He was known for suing businesses in the civil courts when challenged regarding the status of his dog. He put a black eye on the issue of accessibility for service animals, but I learned a lot!
Ginger

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@contentandwell

@gingerw Is an animal that is an ESA allowed the same access as a regular service dog?

@jimhd Was your dog considered to be a service dog, or ESA? Do ESA dogs need certain training also?

I ask because a friend had considered this for his dog but never followed through completely but the dog was truly an ESA in every way, certified or not.
JK

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A service dog/animal is a specific category. Companion dogs, emotional care dogs, etc., do not have the right of access to all places that a person can go. In some states, there are access regulations for housing, companion dogs must be allowed even though the property has a no pet rule. I think that the dog owner has to provide proof of actual need from a doctor.

There are quite a few different kinds of service animals – guide dogs, seizure dogs, dogs that serve a hearing impaired handler, dogs that pull a wheelchair, and many other services that they might provide.

There is no mandatory certification for service animals, so that makes it very easy for anyone to claim that their animal is a legitimate service animal. It's an unfortunate situation because it makes people suspicious of the validity of true service animals.

Some types of service dogs are appropriately handler trained, while others need professional training. It's a situation with too many gray areas, for sure.

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@transplant4traci, I want to let you know that I'm thinking about you. I am sending 2 hugs – one for you, and one for your little buddy.

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