some help with finding assistance dogs

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Adl123, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    Hello All,
    I thought I would share my experience looking for a mobility assistance dog.

    First,I have CFIFD/FMS, rheumatiod arthritis, cocngestive heart failure and diabetes,and right now I need a dog who will brace itself if I start to lose my balance, and upon whom I can rest my elbows to get up, if I fall.

    At first I investigated Canine Companions for Independence and other such groups. CCI doesn't do balance dogs, and the only group in my area I could find that did, was really expensive. It would have ended up costing about $3500.00, at the end.(Not to imply that the dogs and training aren't worth it, but if the money isn't there, it isn't there). Also, traveling a long distance and then staying there for a couple of weeks is out of the question for me.

    And, something I didn't know, is that when a person has a service dog that comes from an organization, he/she doesn't own the dog. I can be taken away at the discretion of the group. I like to own my dogs,and I provide for them in will.

    So, I started looking at different breeds, and settled on Golden Retrievers.I contacted every Golden Retriever rescue group in Northern California and several breeders, too. I filled out application forms for these groups, as well as all the SPCA's and Humane Societies in a 2 hour radius. Then I waited. I finally heard from several groups, but by far the most organized was Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary, based in Elverta, California.

    They have a wonderful facility consisting of the home the director lives in and a huge barn that is divided into dog runs and ofice, sittiing room, etc... the complex is surrounded by small, grassy pastures,where one can also view dogs. There are lots of volunteers.

    They interiew the person several times, and then, when one get to the complex, they have already matched you with a couple of dogs, which you can see and play with. If you choose one, you are allowed to foster the dog for two weeks to make sure it is the right one. If it isn't, you can try again. If it is, they then cash your check. I was sent home with a great dog, a training collar, food, snacks and a medical report.

    I named my giant Golden/Lab mix "Elsa" after the lion in Born Free. She is almost perfect, and gets along with my old Corgi and my old cat, too. It is amazing.

    This has been a wonderful thing in my life. I feel, somehow, more grounded and safer. We have a lot of training* to do, and I have already ordered her patches, identifying her as a Service Dog in Training (This can be done through the Delta Society). And if you are worried about rules and regulations and certifications, look up the Delta Society on the Internet and they will explain it all -- so simple and easy- !!!

    I hope this has helped anyone who has been considering taking a similar step.

    Hugs,
    Terry
    * I am an experienced dog trainer, but if you aren't, there are people who give classes on how to train your own assistance dog.
    Some are one-to-one and others are in a class settng. There are also books and infomation on the Internet as to how to do this. T.

  2. Sachmo

    Sachmo New Member

    That is a great idea.

    I have a labradoodle puppy, (he be 2 soon so I guess he is not a puppy anymore)

    I have found that there are times that I get stuck and have a hard time getting up. He comes up to me and I can pull myself up if I grab his collar. He kind of waits and starts going forward and I can get up from the floor or out of the chair.

    I never trained him specifically to do this and did not even realize that we where doing this until I was at work and got stuck and found myself calling the dog before realizing he wasn't there.

    I think it is interesting that some of things that help us we do without realizing.

  3. smiffy79

    smiffy79 New Member

    firstly terry well done on finding your new friend,elsa is a lovely name.

    in the uk a charity named DOG AID will come to your home and show you how to train your own dog to be your assistance dog and all they ask is you contribute towards your trainers travel costs as it all comes from their own pocket with no pay, a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie wouldnt go amiss either :)

    i trained two of my dogs to help in differnt ways,a shih tzu and my big dalmatian.

    smiffy.

    p.s anyone the uk looking for a dog now or in the future please say so as i know of some fantastic rescues and organisations.