Does anybody have a service dog or thinking about getting one? I was just wondering what everyone's thoughts are on that.

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We are in Georgia and Jack is thrilled. The people from Canine Assistants are amazing. Jack has only met "spokes dogs", but you can tell from this picture that the experience has been priceless so far. Tomorrow he gets to meet all the dogs for the training class and the one that will eventually pick him. What an amazing thing!!!
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How Very Exciting. Roland and his dad will be in Georgia in November. We are so excited. Would love to see more pics and hear all about your 2 weeks at training.
Jack is having a great time! He got to work with two dogs yesterday and probably will try one or two more today. The first Benert had a wonderful personality, they worked nicely together, but when Jack got on the ground with him he got very excited and played a little too rough. So, then we tried Amber (pictured) and she was much calmer and the are doing great together. I think Jack really wants Amber now, but we will have to see how today goes. They will know today what dogs work with what people and then we will start working with only that dog.

On a side note, it's a little hard for mom. They need the dogs to bond with the kids, so we are not suppose to love them and pet them. Wow, try that one in a room full of beautiful, friendly dogs!
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Very exciting!! He looks soo sweet with Amber! Keep us posted!
Kristi
Angela said:
Jack is having a great time! He got to work with two dogs yesterday and probably will try one or two more today. The first Benert had a wonderful personality, they worked nicely together, but when Jack got on the ground with him he got very excited and played a little too rough. So, then we tried Amber (pictured) and she was much calmer and the are doing great together. I think Jack really wants Amber now, but we will have to see how today goes. They will know today what dogs work with what people and then we will start working with only that dog.

On a side note, it's a little hard for mom. They need the dogs to bond with the kids, so we are not suppose to love them and pet them. Wow, try that one in a room full of beautiful, friendly dogs!
Hi,
My son had a service dog for 10 years. He is currently 22yrs. old. Service dogs are great but they are also alot of work and responsibility. They are not pets but working animals and need to be treated as such. When Conrad's service dog passed away it took awhile for all of us to come to terms with it because she was such a large part of his life, she basically went everywhere he went. Which can be good and bad. Sometimes issues arose at school or other places we went, so be prepared. He decided to wait a bit before getting another dog, because it was such a huge responsiblity for him. Looking back on our situation I think I would wait longer to get a service dog for a child. We got Yahtzee when Conrad was in 5th grade, which in looking back now is too young.
If anyone has specific questions either my son or I would be more than happy to answer them. :-)
Katherine
Gary & I have been having a conversation about Amber and thought others who are considering a service dog might have similar questions. You can read the conversation here (you might want to start at the bottom and work your way up):

At 12:34pm on October 13th, 2008, Angela said…
Amber walks Jack to school and "picks him up" after school, but at this point we feel Jack (& the other kids) are too young to handle her in the classroom. The school & Canine Assistants would allow it, if we chose. When I work in the classroom, I take Amber with me and Jack practices for short periods. It isn't bad, but I think if I wasn't there it would just be more for the teacher to deal with. As we practice and everyone learns we will decide when is a good time. Also, Jack does not "need" her in the school right now.
That said, it leaves me with a big firball under my desk right now. . . .
Ang :)

Delete Comment At 9:32am on October 13th, 2008, Gary Stepp said…
I thought of another question... Last night I was talking to Garin about the possibility of him getting a "help dog" - as he calls it... He said something about his dog going to school with him every day. I was curious, is Jack in public school and does Amber go to school with him. Your site has inspired me, I spent time yesterday reviewing the Canine Assistants web site. The founder of the organization has an amazing story herself.

Delete Comment At 12:13pm on October 11th, 2008, Angela said…
Amber is 19 months old! Honestly her lifespan or even working lifespan never crossed my mind, until we were in training. They said the dogs typically work for about 9 years and then "retire" with their receipent and are replaced. That didn't even click until Jack started talking about taking amber to college with him. He is 8 and in second grade, I was shocked that he was even thinking about college. Then I realized that was about when she would "retire". But, it goes back to knowing anything and would you give up the good, knowing there would be bad some day? We lost a "family member"/Australian Shepard two years ago and it was crushing, but we only dreamed of our boys having a pet like that! Lots to think about!!!!
Ang

Delete Comment At 12:04pm on October 11th, 2008, Gary Stepp said…
Thanks for your reply. I have always admired any type of assistance dogs. As a dog lover myself I have such respect for these dogs as they learn to provide such a valuable service to their owners. Honestly, here is my worst fear: I have lost many dogs over the years and it is painful, they are such a part of the family. I know that the bond between owner and assistant dog must be stronger than any bond between man and pet. Knowing the lifespan of these dogs and knowing that it is very likely that these boys will lose these dogs at a time when they need them most is surely a horrible emotional experience for them. Just to be blunt, it seems that this would be a vivid reminder of the pending death sentence that our boys face with this disease, seeing their best friend pass away. I know that we all face death and death is as much a part of life as anything else, however it is a concern of mine with the assist dogs. Was this a consideration with Jacks pal? How old was Amber when you got her?
Apparently it does not all fit in one message!

Delete Comment At 9:37pm on October 10th, 2008, Angela said…
Hi Gary,

Amber is from Canine Assistants in Georgia. www.canineassistants.org

At this point, much of Amber's duties are social and emotional. Jack is currently going through a lot medically and we thought this a good time to give him unconditional love and acceptance. Also, she never wants to race him or see who can jump the highest, etc. She just plays with him and loves him. If we are traveling to another state to see a doctor, she goes with him and he always has a friend to play with.

Physically she helps him get up off the grownd. He doesn't gower, but climbs up her. She "get's help" if he needs me he just asks her and she comes and gets me. She picks up things he drops them, if he is tired and he isn't up to it. In the future she is trained to do more and more for him.

A bit about the experience!!! It is wonderful, trying, loving, demanding, amusing, tiring and loads of fun!!!! We have always had dogs, so we thought we understood the commitment and the joys. Both have been so much more than we expected. The only real change I would make is to free up more of our schedule to get Amber & Jack settled and into a routine. If I did it again, I would plan a whole month of just focusing on their bond, training (she is fully trained, but an 8 year old is a little more difficult), adjusting, etc.

If you would like more details, please feel free ask specific questions.

Ang :) Delete Comment At 8:01pm on October 10th, 2008, Gary Stepp said…
Hello. You may this information in here somewhere, however I am interested in learning more about Jacks beautiful golden retriever. I saw the photo of him working with the trainer. Garin loves dogs and had a Golden (Colby)earlier this year although he was just a pet and not a trained service dog. Sadly, we lost Colby after only 7 months due to a very serious intestinal infection. I would like to know more about where you got Amber and a little about the training process and what she is able to do for Jack. I am certain that the companionship is enough, but tell me more.
Thanks.
Gary


p.s. There are lots of pictures of Jack & Amber on my page, if you would like to see her in action!
Well, we had our last face to face interview with CCI, southeast ( Florida). Hopefully if we are accepted, I had requested to be in the May class of this year. We are keeping our fingers crossed. Anyone else headed that way from TN, AL area in May?? I am a bit nervous about the 12 hour drive from TN to FL just me and my son...not exactly my cup of tea. Also I noticed that the Feb class gets to have their graduation at Sea World..how cool is that?? Maybe they will do that for us in May?? Anyway, just wondering if other's had applied for the Southeast region...
That's great!!! Congratulations!!!

Karen
YEAH!! That is Great news! Now we are waiting for our call, but we will be in the Southeast chapter which is Florida. I am hoping we get to go in May as well... just waiting and waiting and waiting.......please phone, RING !!
We have been officially accepted into the May class for Canine Companions in Florida!!!

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