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“Main Line Deputy Dog offers hope for local disabled”

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This August

A service dog putting keys into his owner's hand.

A service dog putting keys into his owner’s hand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

19, 2014 MainLine article talks about Main Line Deputy Dog where owners can learn to train their own service dog to meet their individual physical or mental health needs.

“Pet Tales: Dogs help autistic children”

English: Suzi Q, a certified service dog, work...

English: Suzi Q, a certified service dog, working in snow in Finland. She wears a colorful vest and an insulating underjacket with reflective markers, useful in winter when it’s dark up to 22 hours a day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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This February 23, 2013 article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website talks about Service Dogs trained to aid kids with Autism.

“Corbett Signs Law to Protect Service Dogs”


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This August 9, 2012 article found on the Gant daily website, talks about the new law that Gov. Corbett signed to help protect Service Dogs.  and includes a link to the bill itself.


“Pet Tales: Therapy dogs a hit at Pitt”

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This article found on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette site on April 21, 2012 talks about one of the many ways dogs are trained to help others.  The dogs in this article are Therapy Dogs not to be confused with a Psychiatric Service Dog.  A therapy dog is typically trained to act sort of like Wal-mart greeters in a wide variety of places such as waiting rooms, hospitals, nursing homes, or as this article indicates even on college campuses like Pitt.   A Psychiatric Service dog, like mine is trained to work with a specific disabled individual meeting that individual’s needs.  the big difference though is that a therapy dog is not allowed the same level of public access as a Psychiatric service dog,  the Therapy dog needs to get permission to be in places in many cases, where a psychiatric service dog is covered by the ADA the same way as a guide dog for a visually impaired person would be.  Therapy dogs still have an important job, and I’ve heard of situations where service dogs sometimes go into a partial retirement and will work as therapy dogs, therapy dogs are awesome, and do help many people, their training just isn’t as specialized as a service dog’s training, though there are similarities in what they do.  Therapy dogs typically are there to bring hope and smiles to the faces of many while a service dog’s purpose is to help an individual.   If you aren’t sure if a dog is a Therapy dog or a service dog, ask the handler they will be able to tell you if it is a service dog, therapy dog or a pet.


The last Night of the PMHCA Conference

  This is the last night of the PMHCA Conference, and while I’m exhausted, I’m also excited about the many things I’ve learned and experienced.  I won’t be posting anything after this until I get home tomorrow at the earliest … then again, I may need to crash for awhile after I get home and recouperrate.  I can tell by looking at my Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD), Tippy, that she’s as exhausted if not more so then I am.  So, I think she’s looking forward to returning home to our normal day to day schedule of sorts.

  Tonight is a formal dance where folks are encouraged o dress up and dance the night away on the final night of the Conference.  I didn’t dress up, but Tippy did, and once I get home, I’ll post the picture of her in her formalwear.  I can’t remember if the outfit I put on her is a bride’s dress, or if it’s an angel costume, but Tippy was dressed for the occassion until she walked out of her dress as we went down the hall, so I ended up taking it off her until we got to the lobby where I redressed her so that a couple folks who I have begun to develope a friendship with could see Tippy dressed up, but then I took it off her again so she wouldn’t walk out of it again.  A couple people took pictures of her, and I told a couple folks that didn’t get to see her, that I was going to be posting the picture of Tippy dressed up here on the blog, but I need to wait until I get home to edit the picture so it might be a day or so before it shows up here.

  Earlier, I attended a workshop on Communicating through the media.  It was a fascinating workshop, and I plan on working on some of the new skills I learned in the workshop in future posts.  My brain is too fried to remember what I learned right now so I decided it wasn’t a good post to use my readers as guinea pigs for my newly learned skills and ideas.  With any luck you may see some improvement in my blogging, but it’s hard to say for sure since as the old addage goes, you can’t teach old dogs new tricks …. it’s not an entirely true addage …. just one that in my tired mind seemed fitting somehow.

  This afternoon, we had the chance to hear the caucas reports from the various caucuses that met yesterday.  After the various reports were given, Joan Earny, the Deputy Secretary of Mental Health in Pennsylvania, spoke to the group that was there and told us someone asked her if she would be speaking today, and her response was, “No, I’m here to listen.”  She did speak in response to some of the comments, concerns, and thoughts that were brought up in the reports, she also opend the floor up for questions and allowed folks to ask anything we wanted to.  Of course she reserved the right to not answer them, but I felt that was a reasonable thing for her to do.  Many questions were asked about topics such as funding, Certified Peer Specialists and their role in both the present and future.  Other topics that were hit on included the bill that Joan Erney thought had passed today, but wasn’t sure, that would ban smoking in public places, and hospitals.  She was under the impression that bars that sold very little or no food might be exempt, but that restraunts with full menues would not be exempt.  Many other topics were covered, but I don’t recall all of them.

  For now, I’m signing off and ill post again sometime after I get home.


“Psychiatric Service Dogs”

  I found this article at the following website address …. http://www.pmhca.org/?page=news_detail&id=138  … it offers basic information about Psychiatric Service Dogs in terms of what they do, who they help, and what makes them different from a pet.  tey also have a link at the end of the article that takes you to a more descriptive site that discusses more in depth the difference between therapy, service and emotional support animals.  For granted this isn’t Pennsylvania specific, but it is something that folks in Pennsylvania and other places coud benefit from.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Date:  October 31, 2007

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Many years ago, the first dogs were trained for service use by the blind. Since then dogs have been trained to help the deaf and the otherwise physically disabled to become and stay independent. Currently, service dogs are also trained to help epileptic patients by detecting impending seizures and by knowing what to do when a seizure occurs.

But more recently, demand for Psychiatric Service Dogs grew, and they have been accepted as another category of Service Animal. However, another category of animal that is governed by federal laws of access and accommodation has been designated — the Emotional Support Animal.

This first article is about the Psychiatric Service Dog.

What is a Psychiatric service dog?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A Psychiatric Service Dog is a dog that helps its handler, who has a mental (psychiatric) disability. Examples of mental disabilities that may sometimes qualify a person for a Service Dog include, but are not limited to: Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism, Anxiety Disorder, and Schizophrenia.

Like all other types of service dogs, a Psychiatric Service Dog helps its handler mitigate his disability through trained work and tasks, including, but not limited to:
picking up/retrieving objects or aiding with mobility when the handler is dizzy from medication or has psychosomatic (physical) symptoms (i.e. pain, leaden paralysis, severe lethargy, etc.)
waking the handler if the handler sleeps through alarms or cannot get himself out of bed
alerting to and/or responding to episodes (i.e. mood changes, panic attacks, oncoming anxiety, etc.)
reminding the handler to take medication if the handler cannot remember on his own or with the use of an alarm
alerting to and/or distracting the handler from repetitive and obsessive thoughts or behaviors (such as those brought on by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
as well as many other tasks directly related to the specific handler’s disability.
A Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs) may be of any size and of any breed suited for public work. Many are owner-trained (trained by the person who will become the dog’s handler, with or without the help of a professional trainer), but, increasingly, service dog training programs are recognizing the need for dogs to help individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Some Psychiatric Service Dog handlers may choose to refer to their dogs as Alert or Medical Response Dogs, depending on what the dog does for them.

In the USA, handlers of PSDs are entitled to the same rights and protections afforded to handlers of other types of service dogs, such as Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, and Mobility Dogs, under federal laws. Like all other types of Service Dogs (SDs), Psychiatric Service Dogs are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the disabled person. They have also been trained to act discretely in public places, such as laying quietly under the table in a restaurant, keeping tightly to the handler’s side and not sniffing anything on the shelves of grocery stores, and ignoring other people and animals.

When you come across an Service Dog, please do not pet, call/talk to it, or otherwise distract it, as doing so could put the handler’s life in danger. Remember that these are working animals, not pets, and they are out with their handlers to help them, not to be a spectacle for the public. Also, it is rude to ask the disabled person what their disability is, as that is personal and confidential medical information. While it is understandable that you are curious about the Service Dog, try to remember that the handler just wants to live life and utilize public places like everybody else, so please do your best to ignore the Service Dog.


Do SDs get time to “just be dogs”?

Certainly! SDs get time to rest, relax, play, run around, and otherwise be free in homes, yards, dog parks, etc. They know the difference between when it is time to work and when it is time to play. When not working, they might act just like the average housepet would.

Is it cruel to make dogs work for us?

Absolutely not! Dogs have a natural inclination to work, so they prosper when they have a job. They would much rather be doing something than just laying around an empty house all day long. Service Dogs enjoy helping their handlers.

Can any dog be an SD?

No, it takes a special kind of dog to become a fully-trained and public access-acceptable SD. Service Dogs need to have the right kind of temperament, smarts, and, in some cases, features (i.e. you wouldn’t use a ten pound dog for mobility or guide work, but you could use a ten pound dog for hearing alerts).

Many dogs that begin SD training do not finish. These are called “career-changed” dogs. – look for one.. They can become an excellent emotional support animal.

Who qualifies for an SD?

In the USA, that would be a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as, but not limited to, breathing, walking, thinking, seeing, hearing, etc.

Where are SDs legally allowed to go?

In the USA, well-behaved SDs can go into almost any public place, including, but not limited to, stores (including grocery stores), restaurants, hotels, schools, theatres, taxis, airports, airplanes, parks, bars, hospitals, zoos, etc. Where the general public is allowed to go, so is a disabled handler’s SD.

These same laws do NOT apply to Emotional Support Animals. And ESA is not a Psychiatric Service Dog. It is not federally protected right of guaranteed access to all public places otherwise off-limits to Service Dogs.

There ARE exceptions to the near universal access for SDs. Churches, some bed & breakfasts, operating rooms, and a very few other places are exempt from this law and, therefore, can choose to bar an SD from entering.

What if somebody is allergic to or fearful of dogs?

In the USA, allergies and fears of dogs are generally not excuses to bar an SD from entering a public area. Most allergies do not fit the requirements of a disability (substantially limiting of one or more major life activities), but if someone’s allergy does, both the SD handler with their SD and the allergic person must be accommodated (the SD cannot be barred because of the allergic person).

If you have allergies and come across an SD in public, you can help yourself by staying away from the dog, taking medication, using an air purifier, etc. Remember that SDs are well-groomed and very clean, usually carrying less dander on themselves than the average pet owner does on their clothes.

Can a business ever legally ask for removal of a particular SD?

If the dog is out of control, i.e. growling or barking at people or otherwise being a direct threat to others’ safety or health, yes, the dog may be legally excluded. A business cannot exclude a dog just because they think the dog might be a threat, however.

How is it fair and equal access that a disabled person can bring their SD places and a non-disabled person cannot bring their pet places?

A disabled person needs their SD in order to use a public place, leave their home, and/or, in some cases, live. Just like walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and oxygen tanks, SDs are vital medical equipment for their handlers. They are not pets. If people were not allowed to bring their SDs places, they would not be able to use those places, which is discriminatory. Pet owners, on the other hand, do not have a need for their pet to be with them in public places, even though it is great to have pets.

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A Request

I’ve been working to help New Hope Assistance Dogs, Inc to raise funds towards their efforts in training and placing a variety of types of Service Dogs.

My service Dog, Tippy, came from New Hope Assistance Dogs, Inc, and has made a world of difference for me in ways I never dreamed would be possible, so I was hoping that at least a portion of my readers might consider helping New Hope Assistance Dogs, Inc, to help others who are disabled. They specialize in placing Service Dogs with kids some as young as 2 years of age, but also help adults as well.

A simple and free way you could help if you felt inclined to, would be to utilize the following service which costs you nothing, and all you need to do is use it to searh the web like you normally would. You may need to signup for an account with iGive.com, but this is also free and offers other ways for you to help the cause of your choice raise funds by doing your online shopping, or if you use iSearchiGive, you would be raising funds by simply searching the web for whatever you want to as often or as little as you would like to.


On behalf of Tippy and her hard working fellow Service Dogs, thank you for considering supporting New Hope Assistance Dogs, Inc.

On a side note, I don’t benefit in any way by making this request, other then getting a warm fuzzy sort of feeling knowing I helped others gain freedom and independance through having a Service Dog of their own.

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