I started this blog several months ago with good intentions of talking about invisible disabilities (specifically fibromylagia) and service dogs. As often happens I start projects when I am feeling well never anticipating any sort of health crisis. When my fibro flares up for any long length of time it messes with my thyroid and my thyroid in turn makes the fibro worse. It’s a viscous cycle and I end up sleeping 14+ hours a day and many things get put on the back burner until I am well again.
That is what happened with this blog. I am hoping to get it back on track here quickly. Or whatever is quickly for me.
Since the start of this blog Pickles has grown…a lot. He’s almost 5 months old. Sometimes I think he’s going to be a larger dog than I anticipated. I am okay about this. It’s just fascinating to me in a weird way because I have never owned a large dog, let alone something considered a giant breed. Yes, I know he’s not full Great Pyrenees, but he’s still going to be a moose of a dog. I recently learned that Bloodhounds are also giant breed dogs. There is nothing in his genetics that is going to keep him on the smaller side of large.
Pickles has been enrolled in puppy obedience class at PetSmart for socialization. I can’t say enough wonderful things about our instructor, Olivia. She’s great. Pickles has come a long way in the 3 weeks he’s been in class. The goal is currently getting him to pass the Canine Good Citizen test.
He learns quickly and knows sit, down, watch me, touch, paw, paws up, up, leave it (under protest), and off. I have started scent training and I am working on teaching him not to eat the lures. Weirdo. He also likes drinking koi pond water so I am pretty sure he will eat anything. Fish water breath is horrible. Trust me. Pickles is learning to socialize properly in puppy obedience class. So far everything is going well. He seems to know when I don’t belong on stairs and will not let me on them. This is kind of annoying because all the food is upstairs, but I suppose it’s better than having a dizzy spell or my hip give out and taking a tumble down half a flight of stairs. He also seems to know when I am in extra pain and have a hard time walking and stays with me at a perfect heal going through the house. The problem with this so far is that when I fall and get hurt he sits on me. So helpful there. It’s a start though, right?
During my sick time away from this blog I read a number of dog training books and I’ve discovered that a lot of the “tricks” in books like 51 Puppy Tricks are things that we want to train our service dogs. I personally really like this book because it tells you how to “troubleshoot” if your dog just isn’t getting it.
Tricks in this books include things like spinning (often taught as an alert), ringing a bell to go outside, touch, paws up, and watch me (service dog staples), hide in a box (often a laundry basket is used to teach a dog to compact him/herself into a small area), turn on a light, open and close doors, retrieving a drink from the fridge, and fetching specific items. What some people consider cute dog tricks are actually very useful to the disabled. Do not exclude trick books from your dog training library.
Lastly, I want to talk about the Service Dog Community on Facebook (apparently what I am about to say also applies to YouTube). I always think that learning from people who have been there and done that is a good thing. They usually have a lot of wisdom to impart. The Service Dog Community is a different animal. No pun intended.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of helpful people, but for every helpful person there are two or three who are just rude and nasty. They nitpick everything and have the attitude of “if you aren’t doing things the way I am/did, you are doing it wrong.” I recently had someone tell me that my dog would never listen to me because I wasn’t a man and therefore not “the alpha” based on nothing but my dogs breed. Seriously. The Service Dog Community is like a holiday dinner where you are the black sheep of the family and everyone is questioning your life choices, criticizing you, and telling you the “right” way to do things. In the short time I have been in the Service Dog Community I have seen a number of people leave because of the rudeness and nastiness.
We are all in the same boat so I don’t understand why these people need to be so nasty and judgmental. This isn’t some elite club. Having a service dog doesn’t make us special. At least not in the way some of these people think they do. Every day someone new enters the Service Dog Community after being told by their doctor that a dog should be part of their health care plan. They are looking for advice, guidance, and support. For me, the decision of getting a service dog (and it is something my doctor has written a letter of medical need for) meant that my health issues were progressing, and not for the better. That was really hard to come to terms with. There is really no reason that people need to be nasty to each other.