This picture is of Candi my Service Dog and the usual service dog vest she wears with the appropriate information on it, her Gentle Leader over her nose and her leash attached to it. That is my husband sitting next to her in a cable car as we take a ride up the mountain to the ski area. You can read the blog before this one (Service Dogs/Part 1) to read the first part of this two part blog.
For me having a Service Dog is heaven on earth but, is it right for you? There are many things to consider. First off do you really like dogs and have you ever had a dog as a pet? If yes then you have an idea of what it takes to be a pet owner. However it is considerably more to be a Service Dog owner. Especially if you plan to train the dog yourself which many do. There are the costs of all dog training classes and courses, all medical bills and shots to keep them current on everything. They must have the best dog food you can afford, a dog bed, vests and leashes, ID tags and current dog license and yes dog toys. Mine also has a doggy rain coat and doggy coat if very cold outside for walks. In other words you need to be able to afford one and take excellent care of your dog.
You have a big responsibility in keeping your dog properly managed, well groomed and well behaved especially in public. Only a real Service Dog is allowed in most the places you go to. IF they make a mistake on the floor let’s say, YOU have to clean it up right away. If you keep track of their potty times you should never have a problem. Depending on what they are trained to do for you they should be on a leash right next to you, no wandering around. Never hand their leash to someone else unless they are a trusted person you know well.
Remember a Service dog is a still a dog first and they need a lot of love and respect and need to be around you all the time. Besides what they do for you they need their play time, exercise, walks and rest. They like you can have an ‘off ‘day now and then but still need to be treated with love. Develop a strong bond with your dog too and gain their absolute trust in you. Show them that being a Service Dog is a wonderful happy thing. I have seen Service dogs that look so down trodden that it breaks my heart for that is NOT necessary!
Here is another big thing to consider, can you by yourself take care of ALL their needs? My husband walks Candi, bathes her, gives her good play time and walked her thru all her dog training classes and does potty detail. Oh I do a lot too but if he passes before me could I still do his part? Yes I could, it would not be easy BUT I never would give her up!!! If I went first she would have him. A family situation is the best for all concerned for many reasons. However if you are alone you better have help available if you need it.
If you have never had a dog this might not be a good option for you. We don’t mind the dog hair, the work involved, the expense and all of that. Forget having a totally neat house or worrying what their tail is going to knock on the floor, don’t mind the dog smudges on your vehicle windows or patio doors, the dust or what gets spilled on the floor. I like a clean house but love my dog and her help way more!!!!!!
Both my husband and I have loved and had dogs all our lives so having a Service Dog was just the natural next step after I came down with MS, it has been a huge blessing!
Next time Part 3 Tips, Tricks and What Candi does for me.
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