It’s a personal choice if you want to do the training for a service dog yourself or wait and have one trained, just look into each carefully. Doing it yourself has many, many rewards though and for us the only way to go. When you get them as a puppy you can start to lay the groundwork for training and developing a close bond for life.
First though get the right breed for the task at hand and research a good breeder who knows what you want the dog for and no health problems. They have to be smart, willing to learn and have an excellent temperament and absolutely NO aggressive tendencies. Not all dogs by any means should or can become Service dogs. Golden Retrievers and Golden Labs are good choices for example.
Second, research your area to find the best dog school to take your dog to and take ALL the classes they offer that will head you in the direction of your dog becoming a Service dog. When your dog can pass the Canine Good Citizen test your dog then is really ready to learn all the personal things you want your dog to learn to help you. Ideally if you can find a Service dog trainer to help you train is MOST helpful.
Some things to keep in mind 1. Where ever you take your dog for schooling or training it should always be done with Love, Praise and Rewards like some small dog treats and never be taken out of your sight. Your dog should be treated with utmost kindness at all times! 2. Whatever your disability is does not make your dog a Service dog until it is trained and you have the certificates to prove it. Plus if you say your dog is a service dog and it’s not you are breaking the law and you can be charged with a Felony. 3. Gather all the American Disability Acts information you can so you know what your rights and obligations are and the general public’s rights regarding Service dogs.
OK now for some of what Candi does for me:
1. She picks up dropped things from the floor and gives them to me.
2. She takes the dried clothes out of the dryer and gives them to me.
3. She opens the refrigerator door and every door in the house, yes the front door too unless locked, opens all cabinets and drawers that she can reach.
4. She can bring me my cell phone to whatever room I am in VERY IMPORTANT.
5. Helps me up off the floor if I fall or just get stuck getting back up from doing something else.
6. Alerts me to sounds to check out (due to MS my hearing is very poor).
7. Knows how to walk next to a wheelchair, scooter and a cane if needed.
8. When not at home walks right next to me (on a short lead) to help with my balance. If I start to waver I just pull up on the leash and that motion steadies me.
9. Helps me in public bathrooms.
10. Opens doors to get inside or outside of buildings if they are the electronic type, even if they are not she goes for it. All the above is done by commands that she is taught so she knows what I want.
Well you get the idea and there is much more she can do plus the normal dog tricks. What you need to do is just train your dog where you need the help and what they can do for you. Is mine perfect of course not but she sure tries and we work on her two weaker things. If a dog is just not getting something you want done it usually means you are at fault with the training somehow and that needs to be figured out. Don’t get mad at them though, just walk away and try another time. Dogs can be trained to do the most incredible things and they are the most amazing creatures. All they want in return is to be loved and taken care of :)
PS I have had or been around dogs all my life and I have dearly loved them all and all the fabulous memories are such wonderful treasures to keep forever!
As I do research each month to try and find new ideas and discoveries in the news about Multiple Sclerosis, I'm finding new ideas difficult to find this month.
A white paper published in March by the National MS Society titled Wellness for People with MS outlines the findings from a group of professionals.
This excerpt from the paper summarizes their findings.
People living with MS identify wellness as a high priority in their lives. They want to know what they can do today – particularly related to diet, exercise and emotional wellness – to feel and function at their best. In addition, they want the support of knowledgeable healthcare professionals who are armed with accurate information about wellness interventions, as they pursue their wellness goals. At a recent meeting convened by the National MS Society, people with MS, healthcare professionals, researchers and society staff summarized what is currently known about diet, exercise and emotional issues in MS; identified key questions to be answered in each of these areas, along with the research gaps and challenges to be addressed in order to arrive at the answers; made specific program recommendations to ensure that people living with MS are getting the personalized support and information they need to achieve wellness; and outlined next steps to move this important priority forward.
After reading this paper, I reflect back on my history and on moving forward. I have so many unanswered questions. Obesity has been a major issue in my life both as a child and as an adult with MS. Approximately ten years ago, I underwent a gastric bypass and had extreme success. I was able to lose 200 pounds. The following year, I was diagnoses with MS. However, doctors felt that I probably had been living with the disease for many years. I have been obese my entire life and probably my heaviest between 20 and 30 years of age. Was MS caused by dietary intake? The answers to this question has not been researched enough. Does dietary intake increase relapses? What role does exercise play in MS? Hopefully with new research we will finally get some answers to these questions. Over the past ten years, I maintained the weight loss up until year eight, when I gradually started gaining again. I immediately returned to the weight loss experts, who didn't have enough data past eight years post op to give me any direct answers, and continue to struggle with definitive answers about obesity.
So where does that leave us as patients? Here is what I know and what my research seems to make me believe.
Eating healthy,nutritious food is essential in managing life with MS. There is no miracle diet in MS. Some believe in a low saturated fat diet, gluten free diets, fruit instead of refined sugar, no diet sodas, low fat dairy products, Paleo Diet and the list goes on. All of this is just very confusing to me. What I've learned is no one diet works for everyone. Keep saturated fats below 15 gms a day. That's a basic fact for anyone. It's really OK to have a piece of birthday cake. Don't do it every day, choose fruits more often. Eat vegetables (easier said than done for some of us). Asparatane, caffeine and alcohol can increase bladder issues if you have those health problems related to MS. However, you aren't going to get MS by drinking diet soda. As for the caffeine, it might reak havoc with your sleep. There have been studies that suggest a higher incidence of gluten intolerance in MS patients and their family members. This doesn't mean every MS patient should be gluten free. Hopefully, my thoughts are are depicting my true thoughts. There are no definite answers. What works or doesn't work for me may or may not work for you. Try things, be open to new ideas. Maybe one thing will work.
That leads me to exercise. Move it or lose it seems like a good place to start. That said, for those of us with MS this is not always easy. I know it sure isn't for me. My balance fatigue and general health make exercise very difficult. It also doesn't help with decreasing or maintaining weight loss. Here's my advice. Take one day at a time. Every little bit or step helps. Use friends to help motivate you. Even sedentary movement helps. There may not be a cure for our disease, but it's not fatal. We all have different issues to deal with. Heart disease and cancer are the two highest causes of death in MS and yes in the general public. See we are just like everyone else. Whether it's fatigue, numbness, depression, bladder issues, or obesity, my biggest mantras are: one day at a time, one step at a time, and everything in moderation.
I may not have given you five things in the news this month but hopefully this note has helped someone in some little way. Try and take what's hopefully going to be good weather coming soon and get outside and move, even if it's just one step at a time.
A BIT ABOUT SUSAN...Susan is a registered nurse who worked in high risk obstetrics at Brigham and Women's for twenty years. She is also a certified nurse paralegal. She is currently not practicing as she is disabled because of MS. She was diagnosed 8 years ago with RRMS and has a daughter who also has MS.
What I mean by hidden leaning is that most of the time it is not obvious as to what I am doing. When I DO stairs it is tough. I have to take one step at a time mainly that is due to a trice operated on right knee. Also my knees tend to ‘give’ on me so I have to hold on tight to a railing. Makes me feel a hundred years old for sure BUT can’t take the chance of falling on stairs. Did that once and I know what that is like.
I learned a long time ago to ‘hook’ my foot under furniture; cabinets or anything that I could get my foot under if felt a ‘lean’ going too far. Works quite well too.
When being seated or getting up like in a restaurant I hold on to my husbands arm and it makes him look so chivalrous too J Same thing in holding those heavy doors open in public. When in a clothing store those nice clothes racks are great to ‘lean’ into and help with balance when I get tired.
In the food store those shopping carts are great to push and no one knows WHY I really am pushing it. There again my husband does the shopping I just push the cart J One time he grabbed the cart and said” I will be right back need to get some heavy things we forgot, stay there!” OOPS so I just moved real close to the shelves and put one hand on it like I was reading something all the while steadying myself.
In both our bathrooms we have grab bars in the shower and in mine a place to sit down, very helpful! Mine has glass doors and I prefer it that way because I can’t fall through that. Where as a shower curtian will let you fall right out of the tub. Also the sink counter is close to the potty and I use that as a ‘leaner’.
When out in public I always go for the handicapped stalls for they are much easier to use and safer. When in a waiting room I pick a firm chair to sit on. So much easier to get off of and to ‘lean ‘ into those arms.
In the kitchen I stand right next to the counter so I am leaning into it not hard but just enough to keep me steady. I pretty much lean on everything but it dosen’t look like I am doing it for any reason in paticular. Yes I do the “wall walking” on bad days.
Even my dog gets leaned on my me but she takes it as affection kind of a two for one thing there J
I also use what motivates me to lean on mentally. But my friends are the best ‘leanees’ of all. When I have really had it with something all I have to do is mention it and I get all kinds of support back, no better LEAN than that J
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