Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Good Things Come to Those Who Wait"

So good news all around. It would appear that all of my worrying about Kyo's results was unnecessary. His joints/hips/elbows all check out and he will be joining the ranks of puppies in training. His training will start Tuesday and then he'll be in training for six weeks. After the six weeks, they will re-evaluate him and see if he should continue on. If he's doing well, then he will finish out the year and then hopefully be placed with a person. If he has too many issues they can't work through, then they will place him as a "companion" dog with a good family.
Of course I want him to make it all the way through and be some sort of service dog, but if he doesn't make it and is placed with a family I will still be quite happy. The organisation he is going to trains a variety of service dogs: mobility assistance dogs, Autism assistance dogs, seizure alert...Etc. I'm thinking that since he is so big, that he might do well as a Mobility assistance dog. Plus, I've already taught him to pick things up that I have dropped and bring them to me. He can even bring me a telephone.
I am so excited and a little sad all at the same time. I am ecstatic that he is going to a great place and will get the attention he needs. I am sad that he is leaving us, but that little bit of sadness is erased by the possibility of him becoming a working dog.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Still Waiting

Yesterday we saw a glimmer of hope-for a few short sweet minutes. One of Kyo's hip/elbow evaluations came back. He is listed as "fair" according to OFA, which means he shouldn't breed or be used as an agility dog or a police dog; basically nothing that requires a lot of jumping. That is fine because as a service dog, Kyo would not be leaping through hoops or launching himself at bad guys. The only roblem is that the woman who runs the service dog organisation wants to see the PEN Hip evaluation before making a decision. She said that "fair" is on the cusp and the PEN Hip should let her know if he will be ok or not.
I understand her hesitation and I appreciate her thoroughness. I would hope that guide dog shcools would be as meticulous, but it sucks when you are the one waiting holding your breath. She said that the other evaluation should arrive in the next fews days and we will know then.
All I can do is hope and pray that Kyo's hips check out and that he will be abe to move on to bigger and greater things.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

As I stirred my coffee this morning, I contemplated today's post. There were a few thoughts floating around in my brain, but the one I decided on is one that I've been meaning to write about for a while. I'm sure it's something that will make some uncomfortable, but I figure, what the hell? I don't think anyone reads this blog anyway. :) Not to mention, when I was in university, my filter that kept me from offending people was much thinner. So, if there is someone reading this, consider yourself warned.
This month, as I am sure you are aware, is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Originally, I was going to write about breast health and alternative ways to take care of your breast tissue-which I still may write about later-but instead, I have decided to enlighten you on the wonderful experience of PMS as a blind woman. "How is it different from any other woman?" you ask. Allow me to fill you in.
First of all, PMS is different for every woman. Each body is different and therefore, each experience is very different. There are many varying factors that make up the premenstrual experience. Body composition, such as weight, fat to muscle ratio, level of physical activities...the list could go on and on. That said, I have yet to find a study that examines PMS and its variations with relation to disabled women. Maybe it's just me it impacts so greatly; perhaps all other disabled women experience PMS the "normal" way. Regardless, PMS is a pain in the ass-at least for me it is.
Some women are very lucky and do not experience any symptoms. Menstruation doesn't phase them either. To those fantastic women, I say count your blessings. For others, it is painful, exhausting and a myriad of other things. Think of all of the symptoms that some women present with: exhaustion, clumsiness, forgetfulness, apply those to someone who can't see and you have a very interesting seven days.
For an entire week before menstruation, I am a train wreck. I don't really get moody. I guess I'm just lucky that way, but I am the most clumsy and forgetful person you would ever meet. Sometimes it gets annoying because I am expected to function as per normal, but I just can't. For example, I make important phone calls about viewing houses or to the vet to check on Kyo's hip check and I get confused and flustered for the simplest reasons. I phoned the vet today to ask if Kyo's hip evaluation had come in and he approached the conversation as if I were looking at the evaluation in front of me. Instead of explaining that I am blind and cannot see the evaluation, I just blundered through the conversation and didn't learn anything of any use. I almost need to call the man back and try the entire conversation again. Since I am blind, I rely heavily on memory for everything. I memorise phone numbers, where I put every day items like shoes/dog leashes, but when I'm PMSing you can forget it. I hardly even remember my own phone number. It's frustrating, and sometimes, humorous. I will forget where my shoes are and spend fifteen minutes racing around the house trying to find them so we can get to where we are going.
Memory dysfunction is not my only problem. I am so clumsy you would think my feet were three sizes too big and made out of bricks. I bang my toes off of chair/table/couch legs, graze my shoulders off of door frames, trip over sand granules and drop things right out of my hands. As a blind person, I rely on spacial awareness, which basically means, my body remembers how far away something is or how wide a hallway or door frame is. It also means that I "listen" for objects like walls, door openings, pretty much that is face level and that keeps me from banging into them. A lot of this has become second nature and I don't even realise I'm doing it anymore. That is, until I stop doing it. For about five to seven days I am a walking disaster. Today, for instance, I tried to put the sugar bole up on the shelf that I put it on every day and I completely missed; whacking the bole on the side of the shelf instead and nearly knocking the lid to the floor where it would have most certainly shattered. What do I do about this crazy annoying phenomenon? I laugh-well, at least most of the time.
Some days, I get frustrated and annoyed, but most of the time, it's just another part of my crazy life. I mean, really, what else can you do when you try to pick up your puppy and carry her to the back door to potty and you walk into a wall? You laugh because your puppy promptly looks up at you as if to say, "what is your deal?" No matter how you spin it, PMS is a pain for most women, but there are a select few that it makes life even more interesting and whacky for: me being one of them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not Glacier or Roscoe Approved

It seems like in the last two years of having Glacier and Roscoe we have switched their food countless times. Sometimes it was because the food din't agree with the dogs' digestive systems, others because we could no longer access that particular food. Most recently they have been filling up on Fromme's Salmon based food and doing quite well with it. Well, at least Glacier was-Roscoe's ears have been absolutely stinky and gross. They smell yeasty and like they are on the verge of ear infection more often than not. I emailed a dog nutritionist to ask what we could do and she suggested we put him on a grain free diet. The food she recommended was crazy expensive, but we decided to give it a shot. Our philosophy is treat your dogs well and put a bit of money into them now, so they will be healthier guys for longer; hopefully with less vet visits.
The food we switched them to was "Evo." Everything I have read online says it's a good food, but its high protein content and lack of anything else made me a bit nervous. I have been told that dogs don't need carbohydrates to function-I'm not saying they do or they don't, but our boys did horribly on this food. It was 72 dollars for 28 pounds of food and they were going through it in about two weeks.
Not only were they consuming more food with the Evo, but they had other bad side effects. I was feeding them 3 cups a day and whenever I got the food out they acted like they had never eaten. Now, I realise I am saying this about two labs, but this was bad. Glacier started salivating so bad that if I stepped in it, it would drip off the bottom of my foot when I lifted my foot back up. At first we weren't sure if they just liked it or if they were hungry, but the longer we fed them the food, the worse they got. I had to up their food intake because they were both losing weight, which in turn made them go through the very expensive food even faster.
Their coats were disgusting. Roscoe started blowing his entire coat. It was thin and brittle and if you touched him, clumps of fur came flying off in your hand. Glacier was losing fur too. Peeople said that when he shook, you could see fur flying everywhere. Glacier's never been a big shedder. Their coats were no longer glossy and soft, but more coarse and dull. I thought they were dirty so I washed them and it diodn't make a difference.
Not only were their coats undesirably dry, but their breath was horrible. I know dog's breath stinks, but this smelled like their stomachs were rotting. I'm not sure if it was because their stomachs were empty, or if the food just wasn't agreeing with them. When they gave us kisses their salva was particularly thick and gloppy. There was a definite difference.
The worst part about it was that Roscoe's ears continued to be waxy and smell horribly of yeast. So, needless to say, we switched them. The food was supposed to get rid of the the yeast, not make it worse.
There was one nice sie effect though, both boys were becoming incredibly muscular, but we can keep that nice physique up by exercising them.
I'm not saying that Evo is a bad food-each dog is different with varying biological systems-but it definitely was not a good choice for our crazy labradors. We've switched the boys over to Blue Buffalo's Wilderness Salmon and they are both doing much better. It's not the most premium dog food out there, but you look for what works for them. Within three days of the food switch, Roscoe's coat started growing back in and Glacier's glossiness returned. A week and a half later, Glacier's coat is back to its usual thickness and Roscoe is fluffy again. Of course they still have bad dog breath, but it's better than before.
I'm not sure why the yeast infections are happening. I know the food we had them on originally is a pretty decent food-Froome Salmon-but for some reason Roscoe's ears were not happy. I find myself still cleaning out his ears, but they aren't too bad. Hopefully this our last food switch, or else we may create some very spoiled, picky eaters. :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Never A Dull Moment

I'm sure I've used this title before, at least something similar, because quite frankly, there really is never a dull moment. Especially not when you have four dogs mucking about. This morning was no exception.
Today being Sunday, I decided that I would try to sleep in. As usual, it didn't quite work. The dogs always wake me up around 7, but Kyo decided that 5:30 suited him just fine this morning. I put everyone out to "park" and then ushered them all back to bed. They let me sleep into about ten, but then started snorting, snuffling, licking my face and whining from their respective crates. (Kyo and Aria are crated at night and when we are not home). So, I finally gave in and got up. I fed everybody and gave them water and then put them all out as per our normal schedule. Since Aria is so small and still is a puppy-4 and a half months old-I try to make sure that all of the dogs have frequent bathroom breaks to reduce the house accidents she may have. Her pottie training is coming very well-I don't think she's had an accident in about two weeks. (Knock on wood).
I was feeling rather lazy, so I went back into the living room and curled up on the couch witha pillow and a fluffy blanket. I didn't dose or anything, just laid there and enjoyed the peace and quiet. About thirty minutes later, Roscoe barked at the back door to be let back in. (Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't let the working dogs off leash unsupervised, but ever since I moved here, I have been letting them out to play in the backyard because they don't get neough work. I'm worried they will get over weight and out of shape if I don't let them out. I can't wait ntil I find a better location to live, but that is another story).
I went to the door and let the dogs back in, but there were only three. Roscoe came in first, followed by Glacier and then Aria. I thought that maybe Kyo wasn't ready to come in yet, but I called him anyway. There was no response. I pulled the treats out of the cupboard by the door and shook them calling him-a definite way to get him back, but still no Kyo. I began to panic. Kyo has escaped our backyard before. We originally thought he jumped the fence, but today's experience shed some new light on that.
I immediately went to the front door and called him and he still didn't show. I grabbed my phone and started texting everyone I knew with working eyeballs to come and help me track him down. It's really scary when you're blind and your dog takes off. I mean, it's terrifying for anyone, but when you can't see to go look for him, you feel helpless and panicked. You are wasting precous time waiting for other people to show up to help look for him. In that time, he could be getting further away, or worse, eh could be hit by a car. I was still in my pajamas as it was supposed to be my lazy day, so I ran to the bathroom to have a shower, but for some reason something distracted me-I think it may have been a text from someone-and at that moment I thought I heard Kyo knock on the door. He raises one paw and whacks the door with his paw. It has a very distinctive sound.
Trying not to get my hopes up, I ran to the front door and opened it and called him softly, but no big Moose dog. I ran to the back door and opened the door and shouted his name. To my great relief I heard thundering paws running toward me and a big panting face came through the door. I wanted to hug and throttle him all at once. He was so thirsty eh ran straight to the toilet and began drinking out of until I put water down in a bole for him. I started to think that I was going crazy and that I had over reacted. Had he been in the backyard the whole time? Maybe he just ignored me when I called. But, why was he panting so hard and so thirsty? Did he jump back over the fence?
Some of my questions when a neighbour friend called me. She explained that he busted through the fence at the back of the yard and had gone down the street to play with a Yorky. Kyo and his love of little dogs. She explained that the woman of whose yard Kyo broke into, saw him and went to get him. She said he was very friendly and happy to see her and let her stick him back through the hole into his yard. The only reason she knew who he was and was comfortable approaching him was because our neighbour friend's husband ha filled in on who we were and who each dog was. She thought he might be a guide dog or something. Regardless, I'm so greatful for her and that Kyo is safely back at home again.
Now, we have to get someone to check out that fence and see how big the hole is. The first time Kyo escaped we had bought a run lead for him from Pet Smart and had used it until this week. I had been letting him free to play with his brothers and sister to burn off some energy. Well, I've learned my lesson. No more lazy dog owning for me. Kyo is not to be off leash unless I'm back there and he's got his collar with the bear bell on it. That may go for the other guys too, depending on this hole.
What is odd to me though, is that all of them were back there. Why didn't they follow him? I mean, I'm really glad they didn't, but what made them stay? Maybe it's because Glacier and Roscoe are trained that certain sizes of spaces are obstacles and they shouldn't go through them-like if a doorway is too narrow or something. Maybe Aria thought it was too far to follow him, since she is so tiny. Either way, I'm just so thankful and glad everyone is home where they belong, snoring away curled up together on their blankets.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Waiting Game

So, the word around here is that we must find a new home for Kyo. It makes me sad because I did adopt him from the Humane Society and I was supposed to be his forever home, but unfortunately, he is interfering with the guide dogs. He is a great dog, but extremely needy. He is incredibly trainable-I've trained him to pick up objects and bring them to me. For example, he can bring me shoes, leashes, telephones Etc. We think he is part lab and part Great Dane and it is the Dane in him that brings out this needy/separation anxiety behaviour. The good news is, I think I've found a good alternative to him living with us. I contacted an organisation called PAALS that trains service dogs for varying cognitive/physical disabilities. One of their dogs was recently placed with a soldier that returned from the Middle East with physical disabilities. They have only been in operation for about six years, but they are growing and doing some really cool things.
I had Kyo temperament tested almost four weeks ago ad he passed. He has a few issues-like he doesn't like people touching his paws-but these problems can be fixed. He also is a huge counter surfer. He is so tall already it doesn't take much more for him to lift his front paws up off the floor and place them on the counter. Again, this is an issue that can be fixed. It's something that I have been working on with him, but being blind, it's hard to catch him every time. I've started keeping him on leash in the kitchen, or locking him out of the kitchen with a baby gate. I figure prevention is the best method right now.
Anyway, after the temperament test, Kyo was sent to the vet a week later and had his hips/elbows/joints checked out for any potential weakness. When all was said and done, the vet thought that the joints looked good and that he could not see anything that would stop Kyo from becoming a service dog. The only thing now is that we're waiting for the official evaluation to come back. The vet-who specialises in this sort of thing-does the tests, which consists of a bunch of X-Rays and knocking him out. Then the results are sent off to two different organisations, OFA is one of them, and then we wait for their evaluation.
I hate waiting! Kyo had the procedure done three weeks ago and the results were sent in about two and a half weeks ago. I would just like to know. If everything is okay, then it will be one of the happiest days of my life. It will mean that Kyo will go to a great home and may even graduate and serve a great purpose. Even if he doesn't make it, they will find him a fantastic home that will love him and make him the centre of their world-and that is just what he needs. If the tests come back positive, then I'm back to the drawing board, trying to figure out where Kyo can go to live. I want him to be somewhere he is the centre of attention. He needs to be doted on and with having the guide dogs, we just can't give that to him. He can't thrive in an environment like this, but if he were the service dog, getting to go everywhere and being a person's number one guy, then he would grow and probably be one of the best dogs out there. I don't even want to think of what will happen if the tests are positive-I guess I've kind of thought I'll cross that bridge when I get there because it's quite sad for me.
So, now all I can do is pray that Kyo's hips and elbows check out and that we find out soon. This waiting is driving me nuts. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm not Broken; Just different

Another post that has been inspired from that Facebook group I was telling you about. This post is a bit of a mess, but it's written more from an emotional place than a thinking place. I thought about deleting the page and not reading it anymore, but it seems to be good material for my blog. :)
The forum question was something along the lines of "if you could tell the public anything, what would you tell them about being disabled and a dog user?" It wasn't worded exactly that way, but that was the gist. Again I was appalled at the answers and then realised it shed some light as to why the able-bodied public thinks that disabled people are useless/rude/whiners. (Not all of the able-bodied public).
A lot of the answers were along the lines of "I'm in pain, my life sucks, but I do the best I can." Great freaking attitude if you ask me. One person wrote "I'm broken." Those were her exact words. Really? That is what you want the general public to know about being a service dog user?
Yes, it gets annoying people pointing, shouting, petting, commenting Etc., but if it's such a big deal, then don't use a stinking dog. A lot of the people commenting have invisible disabilities and so could get away with being in public without people knowing they are disabled. So, if it's such a big deal, get rid of the dog and quit bitching. My disability is visible all of the time. The only time someone doesn't know is if I'm out in public without the dog sitting down-then I just look like a space cadette eating my lunch. My gaze doesn't focus on anything as my eyes are both prosthetic. Plus, my right eye is shaped strangely due to radiation treatment I under went to try to eradicate the cancer that was in my retina. So, basically, I always look disabled. And do you know what I say to that? Who the F*** cares. I am who I am and if the general public is uncomfortable with that, that is their problem. I'm not broken, I'm just different. I do things differently and sometimes certain things are a greater pain in the ass for me than sighted people, but oh well. It's the cards I've been dealt and it has helped shape who I am.
Sure, I've had some horrible experiences because of it, and I'm sure I'll have more. Yes, I get annoyed at the pointing, shouting, staring, petting Etc., but everyone has bad days. How is the able-bodied community going to be able to respect disabled bodies if we ourselves do not respect our differences? We're not broken. I'm not usually all in your face with my disability-if people ask questions, I will answer if I have time. I don't only talk about being blind to my friends, nor do I get all up in arms about someone who looked at me the wrong way. But, what I do get worked up about is when people with disabilities think we're "broken." Things will never change with that kind of attitude, especially coming from people who are experiencing it.
There is this British artist-I can't remember her name-but she is disabled and she sculpted herself nude and pregnant. She depicted her disability and just put it out there. She was, of course, ridiculed by some. They said it was ugly and horrific, but others saw it as beautiful. We need to be like her and embrace our bodies and see the beauty in them, regardless of your abilities, shape, size...whatever people may discriminate for. It's something I struggled with as a teenager. I never thought I was broken, but I was uncomfortable with my difference. It wasn't until I went through university and grew up a bit that I realised that difference is beautiful and definitely not broken.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can I have Your Attention Please! Would All Potential Landlords Please Stand Up!

My latest endeavour is to find a new living space. Since my parameters are quite particular, I am finding the task a bit difficult. I need a house that is within my budget; that has access to bus lines and other important things like grocery stores; and a house that isn't about to fall down around me or stink of old cat urine. It seems I can find one or two of my criteria, but not all of them. There was one house that was in a great location, but smelled so badly of cat piss that the ten minutes it took me to wander around it, cost me 25 minutes of cat pee smell in my nose. Today I looked at a house that is actually in really good condition, with enough room and within my price range. I'm not entirely sure that it's completely accessible, so that is one thing I will have to look into further, but I'm not sure I will get the house even if I put my application in.
I always take Glacier with me when viewing houses. I really like to be upfront with people and let them know I have a guide dog. I don't know why, but not bringing him kind of feels like lying. So, as usual today, Glacier came along with me. Now, Glacier is a big guy, but he is well groomed and usually quite well behaved for a three-year-old labrador. He was especially good today when we were wandering from empty room to empty room feeling walls; checking electrical outlets; flushing toilets and all of the other things you do when investigating a potential living space.
When I first viewed the advertisement, it was stated that pets were conditional. That was fine with me, since Aria weighs no more than four pounds and is a very good little girl. I didn't think much of having Glacier or Roscoe for that matter, and the guy showing the place didn't mention anything about pets until we were nearing the end of the viewing. He mentioned something in passing about pets being conditional, but that Glacier seemed like a very well behaved guy. I barely noticed what he was saying as I had my head stuck in an empty closet examining its depth and width. When we made it back to the kitchen, he said that there was a pet deposit that was non-refundable and that he wasn't sure how much it was. I thought he was talking about Aria because I had just mentioned her, but it turned out he was discussing Glacier. At that moment, while I was processing what he had said, he stooped down and picked up Glacier's paw to inspect his claws to see if they were trimmed or not. I was so horrified that I didn't know what to say. Ironically enough, I just had Glacier's claws trimmed on Monday, so they were looking their best. He said that the "deposit" was non-refundable because dogs do damage and that he would have to check with his father about the exact cost.
I was still in "Jess is polite" mode and hardly registered what he had said, but as we got back in the car, I began to realise that he was intending to charge us a pet "deposit" for my guide dog. This is an issue for two reasons.
1. First and foremost, Glacier is not a pet. He is a "guide dog." The laws that apply to pets do not apply to service dogs. Landlords or other places of accommodation who try to charge a patron for a service dog, is committing a crime. The problem is, I can't prove that the pet "deposit" was being applied because of Glacier. He knew about Aria and he could state that it was because of the four pound miniature weiner dog that he was charging.
2. It's also a problem that he is calling a non-refundable charge a "deposit." Does e not know the meaning of the word "deposit?" I would say that the word "fee" is much more appropriate. Deposits you get back, fees you do not.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that we won't get the house because of the dogs and we have no way of proving it. Discrimination is a funny thing. You have a feeling it's happening, but you usually can't prove it. I understand he wants to keep his property nice: it is an investment for him. That doesn't mean he shouldn't rent it to us because we have service dogs. Our dogs do not destroy things and they are both very quiet. We keep their claws trimmed down and just from the walking we do, they get worn down. I can't prove it, but I have a feeling that that house will go to someone else and it will have nothing to do with me being a good or bad tenant. It is because I have a service dog. The comments he made when I was leaving were vague, but they would suggest to me that the house was being rented to someone without a guide dog. From this, I guess I have learned that, Glacier just has to stay home. I don't want to do things this way, but in order to get a fair chance at renting a house, I will have to omit certain details. What he is doing is illegal and I have no recourse. It is frustrating and infuriating! So, no more Mrs. Nice Guy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Little Fired Up

So, again I've been slacking on the writing end of things. A lot has been going on I suppose, but nothing has really fired me up, at least until now.
Today's post is about an issue that has always bothered me. It probably won't appear too sensitive to non-service dog users, but I may offend other service dog users: so I apologise in advanced for that-but this is how I feel.
It all started with a Facebook group I signed up to be a part of. I normally don't do that, but it seemed like a good cause. The page was designed to inform non-service dog users about service dogs and the rules surrounding them; a pretty solid endeavour if you ask me. I haven't really been paying attention to the page lately, but today a status popped up and I read it and then read older posts. The posts themselves were completely harmless. It was something about one woman's dog having an allergic reaction and her asking the group how to cope with an "out of commission" dog. I've been there, so I started reading the responses to see if I could be of any help. Jetta used to sprain her toes every two years or so and wouldn't be able to guide me because she would be hopping along on three paws. It was annoying, but I managed. Almost all of the responses were the same and they horrified me. Maybe I'm uneducated or ignorant to the ways of service dogs, but I felt very differently than the rest of the respondants.
By the sounds of things, most of the people had self trained dogs. None of the dogs were guide dogs, but rather performed some other valuable service. That I don't have an issue with. In fact, I''ve joined a group who train service dogs and Kyo has under gone an examination to see whether or not his hips are stable enough for him to become a working dog. So, that is absolutely not what bugged me. What did bother me, was that out of twelve responses ten of them told the woman that they took a dog out of retirement and used him/her. There are many reasons why I feel this is irresponsible dog handling.
First of all, the dog was retired for a reason in the first place. Whether the dog was too old, or maybe suffered an injury, or perhaps the dog just didn't want to do their job anymore. Regardless of the reasoning, a retired dog is just that, RETIRED. There are exceptions to the rules and I understand that, but what if that exception to the rule messes up and hurts their handler or the public? One of the women commenting said that she takes her retired dog out of retirement, but only for one day because otherwise he gets aggressive if he gets stressed out. How is that fair to the general public, the dog or other dog handlers? Service dogs and their handlers still deal with ignorance and people telling them to leave public property. What happens if a dog who should have been retired is out working and does something horrible? It is not just tht handler who suffers the consequences of that dog's actions, but the rest of the service dog community does well. It's just the way society works-the lump alikeness together. Perhaps working a service dog who assists someone with doors and carries things isn't as unsafe as someone working a guide dog who is retired-I don't know. But I do know that if I had continued to try to work Jetta after she was officially retired-especially if she had been out of practice for a few months-it would have been dangerous. Part of the reason she was retired was because she wasn't working properly because she didn't want to. She would sit down in the middle of the sidewalk or cross a street and take me up on to the grassy bullivard. Again, I realise that my situation is not exactly like other people's and there will be exceptions, but it's not fair to anyone if something does accidentally happen.
Secondly, working a retired dog would be confusing not only to the retired dog, but to the new dog, if there is one present. Dogs are social creatures and they sort out social roles the same way people do. I am not suggesting they have governments and/or monarchs, but giving them a job and then retiring them gives them a specific purpose and role to fill. I remember the first couple of times I put Glacier's harness on in front of Jetta, she tried to get between me and the big yellow guy. Even when I started putting the harness on him without her seeing, she would try to be in front of him and by my left side when we went out for walks. Now of course not all working/retired dogs react this way, but is it really fair to put that kind of stress on a new working relationship or that kind of stress on a retired dog who is supposed to finally able to be a dog?
My last point may be a bit more touchy, so again I apologise, but this is just how I feel. I have never been comfortable with the concept of "self trained" service dogs. There are a few things that I find problematic with this concept. These dogs' training is not regulated. Some people may be fantastic dog trainers and may produce great working dogs, but there is no system in place to weed out the self trained dogs that should not be out on the streets. Having access to the public with a service dog is a privelege, not a right and if there are misbehaving dogs, then all service dog users will suffer for it. (This does apply to misbehaving dogs that are certified froma school too, but most schools are heavily regulated and dogs are triple checked before they leave the facility and even when they are out in a working team). Who holds the self trained dog trainers accountible?
I'm also not comfortable with this because of some people abusing the service dog title. There have been quite a few cases documented where dogs were self trained and the owner/handler believed that the dog had the right to have public access. The problem is, people use such things for their pets just to be able to take them with them. There was a woman at my university who said that her dog was a service dog, when really it was a pet. She told me that she just wanted to bring her to work. She even had a special coat made for the dog. That makes me very angry. Her dog tinkled in the hallway and people started taking issue with Jetta being on campus. There was also another woman who got on toa train with a dog who supposedly self trained as a guide dog. Now I am the first one to say that you can never know just ow much someone sees, but this woman definitely was not blind. If she was low vision, she was barely. She never once gave her dog a command and lead it around by the leash all of the time-even on the busy train platform . The dog was horribly behaved and the conductor was concerned, but didn't know how to approach the situation.
So, I guess really, I had two issues burning up my brain tonight. Self trained dogs make me uncomfortable and re-using retired service dogs makes me particularly annoyed. It wasn't easy for me to retire Jetta and I know many other dog handlers who had to go through the difficult process of career changing or retiring a dog. It's not easy, but it is done for a reason. As for self trained dogs-I know there are plenty of great self trained dogs working out there, but where is the accountability? Who keeps misbehaving dogs in line? If your dog comes from a certified school, then that is the job of the school-and if they are not doing that, then perhaps that school needs to be re-evaluated.