Thursday, September 22, 2011
First of all, there are a lot of Chihuahua service dogs out there! It was fantastic to see all the pictures of handlers with their Chihuahua assistants. Second, I was surprised to find out how beneficial agility training is for service animals. I think Eli would love doing agility work and would probably be pretty good at it. When he and his big sister, Mei-li, run around, Mei-li hardly keeps up with him. And when Eli plays with his Aunt Delmi, my mother's German Shepherd, he keeps right up with her. The benefit of agility training with a service dog is that it strengthens the dog's compliance to command and improves their courage and stability. My concern is that I do not know how I would keep up with Eli in an agility course and, obviously, as a service dog he is supposed to listen to my command, not someone else's. I will have to investigate this avenue further.
I am trying to figure out if and/or who I should register Eli with as a service dog. It is not a legal requirement to have registration and other than the schools trained service dogs are placed from, it is difficult to find an agency that seems reputable. I am definitely ordering some photo tags, though.
I am having an asthma exacerbation. I went to the emergency room at Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, Connecticut yesterday and brought Eli with me. He was behaving perfectly! The nurses loved him, as did the patient next to me. Eli was being pleasant with everyone and was not being a threat in any way whatsoever. He was fine with people touching me. Fine with all the commotion and noises. The hospital security guard came in and requested identification and paperwork for Eli. The guard was pretty gruff about it, but I showed him Eli's badge and also provided the documentation I carry in my bag, even though it is illegal to request documentation. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability. Regardless, I complied because I was not in the mood for an argument at that point, considering I could barely breathe. The security guard disgusted my respiratory therapist when he stated that infection control people may come in to talk to me about a dog being in the hospital. The therapist stated that the patients in the emergency room are more infectious than my little dog. That is very true!
Anyway, after a few minutes the Emergency Room Director came in and asked if I needed to have Eli with me. He stated that patients expressed concern about having a dog in the hospital. First of all, therapy dogs are in the hospital all the time. I explained that Eli just passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test, that he is clean, up to date on all of his vaccinations, and had been behaving perfectly. The Director continued to insist that Eli be brought out to the car. This was disturbing. What if I had been brought by ambulance or my husband had not been with me? What would he have requested I do with Eli then? Eli is trained not to leave me and does not like to be without me, especially knowing that I am in need of medical attention. The patient's daughter next to me spoke up and said that her father was happy to have Eli around and had no problem with him accompanying me. The respiratory therapist could not believe the Director had my husband leave with my service dog. Yes, my husband finally conceited and left me alone in the emergency room and took my dog home. I guarantee that I will be filling out the questionnaire the hospital sends out following treatment.
Upon the advice of the respiratory therapist, the emergency room doctor consulted with my primary care physician and decided to admit me for further care. I discharged myself against medical advice.
There is a NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services) dog walk in Putnam, Connecticut this Saturday, September 24th. This walk benefits Canines for Combat Veterans. Lisa, from My Dog Training Center, LLC, will be conducting AKC Canine Good Citizen tests and may do demonstrations with her Cocker, Kach. (Eli loves playing with Kach!) The event will also feature the "Big Dog Show." They are expecting to have a number of pet education, animal rescue and other related groups in attendance for the event. The promoted idea of the event is the role service dogs have in a disabled person's life and how having a canine companion instills a sence of confidence and independence in the handler. Also, that a service dog is a cost effective alternative to physical and psychological therapies. I think Eli would be a wonderful addition to the event. I would love for him to show off his "here." Most likely he will have stage fright, as I have learned from class. But it would be awesome to show how Eli uses my cane as a focal point for staying by my side. I know Lisa would be very proud of him if he would demonstrate that skill, as would I. 8)