Midnight Musings on the Service Dog
Monday, November 24, 2014
Okay, so it is way past midnight. I know your probably tired of hearing about the dog by now, but I'm so depressed. I got a quote from the guy I've been talking to and he's pushing the board training which will be a minimum of $8,600. I've got so many questions but now he is saying that he's answered enough of my questions via email, now it is time to come in for the initial visit, once I have enough money! On the long email about board training there is a tiny paragraph at the bottom that says that training yourself can be 1/6th to 1/3rd the cost of board training. Hooray for that but he won't tell me what it entails unless I go pay $100 an hour for his time!
I think I can do the training myself (with their help of course). I'm willing to give it a try. I need to save up enough money to do the initial costs, but I don't think it is necessary to board train the dog. Especially if I get one of those 'in-training' vests so that I can take the dog with me wherever I go. I know it will be difficult, I'm having a hard time training the dog we adopted from the humane society. He's stubborn, I've never worked with a small dog or a male dog for that matter. All of my dogs have been female. And for some reason hubby has decided that I should be the one to train the dog, he's not helping. For the service dog he will have to help some because there will be days when I'm unable to train the dog. Most days I'm fine enough that I can at least go through the motions. And part of me thinks that since I'll know that this is going to be my service dog I will try harder.
I've been doing a lot of research on service dogs for PTSD/Anxiety and I'm amazed. I wish I had the money it took to board train the dog because they can do such amazing jobs. I'm going to save as much as I can so that if I come to a trouble spot in our training I'll be able to board the dog for maybe a week to get past it. But other that that, I'll do the work myself. I've trained dogs before ( a long time ago and never as thorough as this), I'll have a trainer helping me.... I just wish there was another company other than the one that I'm going to have to go through here. Or maybe there was a way to do a fund raiser that would help me actually get the amount of money I need to board train the dog.
But first we have to:
~replace the carpet where the dog has been peeing. Even if we can't smell it, the dog may be able to and might decide that is where to go pee
~crate train my older dog (and buy the crate). She's going to hate it, but I can't have her peeing on everything in her old age. We'll probably have to put diapers on her too.
~buy the supplies. I'll need to train the dog to sleep by me at night so that I can train it to wake me when I have an anxiety attack in my sleep, plus I need to buy the 'in training' gear and get some new walking shoes and... I have a whole list of things I need to buy before I get the dog
~plan ahead for places to go walking and get into the habit of going walking every day. I have to, especially the first months, get the dog used to walking on all kinds of ground/floor and meeting everything I can possibly subject it to. So lots of parks and if I have the 'in training' vest lots of stores
~train my small dog, Pickles. He is a puppy and loves to wrestle/bite my older dog. That won't fly for my service dog, so I have to start training it now that using the other dog's leg as a chew toy is not acceptable behavior.
~be prepared to reschedule my day and expect interruptions. I'm going to have to train the dog off and on throughout the day, because once trained the dog should be constantly on alert, I have to get the dog used to that. I homeschool, so school is going to be interrupted, so I'll have to work out a schedule to plan for those times that I need to be working with the dog.
~be prepared for the potty training stage and sleep deprived nights. With Pickles (our little dog) potty training is an ongoing fight. He's so stubborn! But stubbornness is a trait we are going to try to avoid in the service dog, plus I've always found that when you train them young they don't take as long to train. I've never had this problem house training a dog before.
~Get with my church, the kids school group and other places I go regularly and let them know in advance that one day in the next year I'm going to show up with a dog. I don't want drama, and if they won't accept my dog with me, I'll find another place to go or learn to go to these places without my dog.
~Decide what to do with the dog when I'm not able to take it with me. Nowhere that the public is allowed can turn away a service dog, but I'm sure there are some places where it will be uncomfortable to take the dog with me. Do I buy a crate just for that time? Will the dog be okay with the separation? I'm mean the dog is going to go with me everywhere, will she be okay? Do I need to find a dog sitter for those times?
My husband says he is now on board, but is he really? I think he is, but does he really know what it will mean to have a service dog. I've been doing tons of research and I'm kinda prepared, but is he okay with going out with me having a service dog in tow? I know he says he's all for it. He's been researching anxiety and found an article saying that if anxiety gets too bad it can lead to psychosis or schizophrenia (sp?) and is worried what will happen to me if my anxiety gets too bad. I couldn't find the research he read, but he's worried and says that if the dog alleviates my anxiety, he's all for it.
My in-laws are being supportive (which was a huge surprise) and so is my niece and so are my few friends. My daughter's think it will be super neat to have a dog go everywhere with us. I'm afraid that my daughter's will get jealous of how much time I'm going to have to spend with the dog, so we are going to start doing more crafts and games and I'll include them in the training when I can. The few people that I told at CC were surprisingly supportive too. I talked to the director and she was very supportive and totally cool with the dog coming to our meetings with us.
Now the question is, can I survive the scrutiny and attention that you get when you have a service dog? I've only seen one service dog since I moved here. Make that two, the other one I saw at my therapists office. I think I can, because I'll have the dog there as a buffer, but can I really? This is at least a 10-12 year commitment I'll be making (I'll still have the dog after that, but they retire after that long and I'll have to train a new one)
I've read so many positive, uplifting stories about PTSD/Anxiety dogs that I've gotten myself very excited about it. I need to calm down and look at it more logically and logistically. Can I afford regular vet appointments, because my dog will need to be in top shape? Can I remember to groom the dog every night, because I frequently forget with my current dogs? Can I accept that some people are just not going to be okay with it? Can I put the commitment and dedication that this will require into it? Can we afford to feed yet another dog and do we have room in the house? The dog will sleep beside me on the floor, how am I going to train the dog to stay there?
I feel like I can do this, but after that email, I'm still feeling deflated. I know the service dog is not a cure-all or a miracle worker and that it is going to be a lot of work to have one. I think back to my favorite dog, Tara. She was a half lab half Rottweiler. Best dog I ever owned. I worked with her on agility and obedience for the longest. She was so protective she actually chased off someone who broke into my house at the time. Not that service dogs can be trained to do protection work. I didn't train Tara to do that, she just did it.
I guess what I'm saying is that I really think I can do it, but the I'm scared it won't work out the way I want it to because I will be doing the training and I'm afraid I'm going to muck it up.
Sorry for the long post.