Multiple Sclerosis Community
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572651 tn?1530999357

Service dog discussion

I found this over on Facebook - and thought it worth sharing.  

Join me tomorrow, Jan 21st when my guest will be MS service dog expert Jodi Lee Ryan. Listen from noon to 1pm central time live or listen to it on podcast a few hours later on the voiceamerica.com Empowerment channel. Podcast will be available a few hours after the live broadcast and can be found at


I have not heard this broadcast, before, so guarantees on the quality.  There are enough of you here who are working with service dogs that it might be useful.
18 Responses
695104 tn?1442193588
Thanks for the info!

667078 tn?1316000935
Thanks. The best compliment any service dog can get is people being shocked when you get up to leave a building and saying "I did not know there was a dog in here or is that a real dog". A good service dog is invisible. Polly and Grady become a part of me. I think of them as an extension of me when we are walking.

The only draw back in training your own service dog is it takes years and when you have relapses or get sick and the training still has to go on.WE found this out when I got Cancer. My husband took over Grady's training when I was too sick. He even walks Grady when I am too sick.

Polly was easy to train. It took two years. Grady is harder to train. He is super smart and confident but sometimes he wants to do what he wants to do not what I want him to do.

So I have had the easy dog who took two years to train and the harder dog who I have been training for three years and I do not know if in the end he will be good enough for Service work. If he is not he will be a great pet and I will have no assistance walking.

Avatar universal
just pray they don't force us to certify and re-certify our dogs.  It is a very expensive process and Top Dog in AZ wants it done every 3 years, people on limited incomes can't afford to go there and spend a week plus the cost.  My dog will only need about 5-6 commands, but these people want them to know more.

One company in MN wants $14,000 to train your dog.  I, like Alex, will train my own and have started her "bonding" now.  She already picks up on the different sounds of my voice and if I cry, she just about jumps over the kitchen gate to get to me, she knows something is wrong and she wants to be there.

Alex is right, not all dogs work out and many of those go on to be therapy dogs.  I actually found someone in Florida who feels that NO ONE can train their own dog and feels she is an expert on service dog training.  Having rehab worked with chows for years, its a good thing there are many miles between she and I LOL.

It's like the age old argument of our handicap spots and our "invisible" disease.  There will always be people who frown at us and make snide remarks, feeling handicapped means someone pushing your wheelchair for you.  

Just my take…….
803451 tn?1390083422
I agree completely.  It is ALWAYS nice to hear positive comments about service dogs.  They are life savers!
803451 tn?1390083422
Under the 1990 American with Disabilities Act, a service dog does not need certification to be legally considered a service dog.  Certification is to assure you and the team that trained the dog that the dog's skills for public work and work that helps you with independence are the best they can be.  It is NOT legally necessary.  If the service dog has a history of working with you and has been trained specifically for you then that dog is your service dog.  
Keeping the skills of a service dog in good order is the responsibility of all service dog owners.  That a business has seen fit to charge the earth and paternalistically authorize you use of the dog is bogus.  A good trainer now and again for an objective assessment is all that is needed.  Of course all is my opinion excepting the information about the ADA.
803451 tn?1390083422
Sorry for my typos and grammar goofs at the end of my statement.  MS fatigue is the reason but not the excuse.  

There is a person in Tuftonboro, NH named Dot Hyde-Williams.  She trains Assistance Dogs.  Many years ago she was a puppy raiser for NEADS in Massachusetts.  I am on her list for a dog - my third assistance dog.  I lost my beautiful golden retriever to cancer when he was only seven.  We were a team for 5 years.  She runs Assistance Canine Training Services in NH.  You can Google it and find out more information.  
Dot is good people and I highly recommend her.
803451 tn?1390083422
Just one more thing.  Dot at ACTS is very reasonable.  Check it out.
667078 tn?1316000935
You do not need to certify a Service Dog but it does help. A news reporter here thinks our state certification should be done away with and all Service Dogs should come from Companion Dogs international or Dogs for the blind and no where else. The only law that counts is the ADA. It does nothing to protect the rights of dogs especially those in training. It protects a disabled person's right to have a service dog if the dog is well behaved and does active things to help the disabled person. Emotional support is not in the ADA. Because of Veteran's with PTSD I think it should be. Service dogs can go where the public is allowed so they can be denied access in ambulances or certain medical areas.

There is a two year wait for a Service Dog and if I had not trained Polly I would have taken a dog someone else could use. Polly can go into a restaurant with another service dog at the next table and not bother it. She also walks past other service dogs in the grocery store with no interaction. A kid stood in front of her with an ice cream cone and she did not react. Like I said the comment we get is "I did not know there was a dog in here". At a MS event people debated whether she was stuffed. She sits in meeting at the legislature and is at the hospital for 8 hours at a time.

In NC we tried to make it so the registration was not oppressive to disabled people.We debated having people prove their disability but they purger themselves and it is a felony to lie on the application so we felt that was good enough.  I had to work with another dog trainer to get mine certified so it is not just my word my dogs are trained to do what I say they are trained to do.You only have to register them once. You return their tags and ID when you retire them.

Avatar universal
I am aware that certification requirement is a myth but know there are people working to try and make it a law.  I intend to write the legislature in AR and ask that this not happen.  I like Alex's registration idea.  I do have a letter from my doctor which I carry with, although, ADA does not require me to have to show it to anyone unless I want to.

Diesel already will just look at new people who come in the house and just sits there.  She watches but does not move unless I tell her its ok.  I wil probably have to do this many times, because she is young, but not too young to start.

There is a 2 yr wait on most lists and about $10,000 for the dog, although some places require less.  It's like adopting a human baby, there are video requirements, paperwork, home visits, fencing requirements, etc., etc.  Which is why I worked to find a breeder and vet who picked out my dog for me and the breeder graciously gave her to me, but should I be unable to use her or die or something, the dog is returned to her to become a therapy dog, so we sorta jointly own the dog.
You can also deduct from your income tax forms, ALL expenses for the service dog, but many of us are in the "zero in, zero out" group.  I have no taxes taken out so can't claim for anything………so I have to bear all of her expenses.  I found this out by digging into IRS forms.  Medicare will not pay for any of it.  You can just deduct it on your tax expense form.  Perhaps this will help someone.
Avatar universal
I will contact her but I am many states away from her.  I do have both of Top Dog's books and their training video plus some other training videos plus several people who are helping me out.  One is an animal psychologist and one is one our forum and my breeder has much experience in training and rehab.  

I am glad that everyone chimed in here, there is much ADA information for US and for service dogs, we should all google ADA to find out what is out there for us.  I printed out a great deal of information.  I also talked to people in TN who run a "day shelter" for women only and there are people who bring their dogs in and claim they are service dogs.  Because they are a church supported group,one bite could put them in serious trouble and they have had to do research as to how to handle this without breaking ADA rules and I made some suggestions and they have worked out a plan.  

Thanks Laura for opening this topic!
7381337 tn?1390438977
Well said....I agree with you. I was told that I needed to get my dog certified... I said what law says that....silence/crickets
7381337 tn?1390438977
Thanks for the info
803451 tn?1390083422
I believe it is Assistance Dogs International.  Another good group is the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners.  They both have extensive information on their websites.  

Companion Dogs are not Service Dogs.  They are not Assistance (Mobility), Guide, (legal blindness), Hearing (self explanatory), or Alert Dogs for  many different kinds of Alert tasks be it seizure response or alert, response for PTSD symptoms, or alert for low sugar for diabetics or hypoglycemia.  They are working on more alerts and detections.  There are Assistance Dogs that alert Parkinson's Disease patients to move forward when they freeze in place, by tapping their foot with their paws.  Susquehanna Service Dogs were the first to do this.  There are org. that train dogs for free if you income, because of the MS, does not allow you to pay $10,000 or more for a well-trained service dog.  There are two good ones that I know of.  It is best to call the national orgs and query their client services person about what they will and will not provide.  I hope I have helped in some small way.  I love service dogs and hope to have my third soon.  My lovely second service guy was taken from my life and his way too soon.  It is less of a heartbreak but still grips me from time to time - he has been gone for 18 mos.  Good Luck!
572651 tn?1530999357
From all the conversation, does that mean many of you were able to listen in to this talk?  I love the discussion because I believe there will be changes to the service dog registration due to the abuses by people. There are places on line that for $200 you can get a vest and card and call your dog a service dog, and that scam is growing. Hotels, airlines, shops, etc can't deny entrance to a service dog and from what I have researched, these fake documents allow owners to travel with their pets and not have to leave them behind.Sad, but true.

On a nice note, there is a group in Ohio that will provide a service dog for basically no charge - you have to travel there at your own expense and attend their training camp, so you do have those costs.  But you don't pay for the trained dog, which can often run to $10,000 or more.  There is a $50 application fee and a few incidentals for equipment once you get your dog-

If you are interested and live in the tri-state area, their address is

They even have a group of dog drop-outs, they call flunkies, available for adoption, if they don't make the cut for service work.

667078 tn?1316000935
I have run into few people who try to pass off their dog. Of course when I tell them I am on the service dog committee for NC they get as far away from me as possible.

Most states do not have a certification. Unless you get your dog from an organization people have to take your word for it. It is a felony to pass off a service animal.

We are doing away with the registration in NC. We are making pamphlets for those with service dogs, for businesses, and for the public explaining the ADA which is the only law that pertains to service dogs and miniature horses.

Avatar universal
that is a great idea, Alex, I am going to also check and see if AR has any groups that oversee service dogs.  Any suggestions as to who I should start with?
667078 tn?1316000935
I do not know. They asked me to be involved because I am an owner trainer and because Polly and I were honored by the legislature. Everyone else works for the state or service dog organizations.

803451 tn?1390083422
I wasn't.  I could not access the webinar without a lot of confusion.  The site is dedicated to folks looking to make a fast buck or so It appears to me.
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