Pawsitive Mentoring was conceived to work with Veterans who are facing the challenges of PTSD and/or depression, and who feel that a service dog would enhance their life but don’t know what to do next.
I know that lost feeling. I’ve been there. My name is Ken. I am a Vet who suffered a traumatic brain injury that led to post traumatic stress, and I have a home schooled service dog to help with the challenges.
I socialize Sandy heavily. It’s part of my treatment. And because I do, almost every time I’m at a VA facility I have a Vet ask about her and about her job. The questions I commonly hear are; “Where would I get a service dog?”, “I already have a dog, can I use him?”, “How much will it cost?”, “How will having a service dog in my life, change my life?”, “Will the VA help me?
The object of this site is to act as a guide. I am willing to help as a mentor, available in person or by email to discuss the choosing, raising, and home training a dog to help with the challenges you face.
It makes no difference if you were a company commander or a grunt, when you were in the service you were involved in the training of new solders on their first deployment. They depended on you. Your knowledge of working and training as a team will make this new assignment easy.
With a little reading and planing, you will end up with a service dog that will help you heal faster than you ever thought possible, and in ways you never imagined.
The waiting list for professionally trained service dogs through organizations such as Pet Partners®,(orginally founded as The Delta Society) www.petpartners.org, Or Assistance Dogs International, www.assistancedogsinternational.org, can range from two to ten years, depending upon the disability the dog is trained for.
Because of this, there is a movement in America for the home schooling of service dogs. Home schooling does not mean training without any professional assistance, it means just the opposite. A service dog is a highly trained animal; skilled well beyond just the basic Come, Sit, Stay. The task of training your own service dog is big, but the rewards of home schooling are immense.
You will need to work with professional trainers. But, there are many small organizations across the country, many run by ex-military trainers like Mary Cortani of Operation Freedom Paws, in Gilroy, California www.operationfreedompaws.org or Vets Adopt Pets. www.vetsadoptpets.org
As these pages grow, I will try to provide the answers to not only the questions I get asked by other Vets, but questions asked by you the reader. The object is to compile the most accurate information available and to mentor by sharing lessons I have learned by having walked the home schooling road before you.
There is a great deal of service dog "information" available on the web. Much of it is wrong and some of it is dangerously misleading. Unfortunately, information that is both accurate and important is often in the form of scholarly writings in journals such as The United States Army Medical Department Journal which dedicated the entire April-June 2012 issue to the subject of service dogs, or other government sources and are difficult to find.
Over the past three years I have spent countless hours burrowing through a mountian if misinformation in an attempt to bring into one place a Working Library of accurate, unambiguous, peer reviewed information to help educate anyone interested in training their own service dog.
As such, Pawsitive Mentoring is a work in progress. If you, the reader, know of a resource, a trainer that works with Vets, a website, an organization, or anything that should be shared to make the process of recovery easier; please make me aware. Please keep in mind that we are a community united by our dogs and the better informed we are the easier our combined lives become.
To make sure that any information I share on these pages is trustworthy, I have included links to the orginal source so the information can be seen in its orginal context.
I borrow heavily from two non government sources. The writings of Joan Froling, and the International Association of Assistance Animal Partners, IAADP. www.iaadp.org
Ms. Froling is a service dog trainer at Sterling Service Dogs in Sterling Heights Michigan. She has done extensive and creative research on the tasks that service dogs could be trained to do to help individuals suffering from psychiatric disabilities such as PTSD. If after reading her work you discover as I did, that a service dog task she discusses will help you recover, please take time to visit her website, www.sterlingservicedogs.org , and tell her "Thank You". I'm sure that hearing from someone she has helped will make her smile. It feels nice to be appreciated.
Her ground breaking paper Service Dog Tasks For Panic Disorder, PTSD and Depression is as close to a field manual as you will ever find. You can find it, as well as the link to the orginal context on the Service Dogs and PTSD page. I modeled Sandy's task training on this paper and her work ethic and behaviour was modeled on the IAADP Minimum Training Standards For Public Access.
The IAADP is dedicated to the home schooling of service dogs and the Rights of service dog handlers. The IAADP has set high training standards for our dogs public behavior. Anyone who has met Sandy and has seen how she does her job, and how she behaves when she is wearing her vest, will testify that that the time and effort spent home schooling a service dog to those standards is well worth it.
Because of the immense risk involved I never suggest that that anyone show any interest in, let alone join any party, association, club, etc., but I am going to violate that rule.
Privileges are granted at pleasure. Historically, Rights..., especially civil rights have had to be forced. Fortunately, these days the forcing is done by lobbying and legislation. The IAADP has been in the trenches fighting for the service dog community for more than twenty years. It would not be an exaggeration to say that most, if not all of the Civil Rights granted by the Federal Government to the service dog community are do to the pioneering efforts of Ms. Froling, the IAADP, the Delta Society, and Assistance Dogs International.
Except for being a paid up member, I have no association with the IAADP. I have not asked for, or been given anything by anyone at the IAADP except for permission to share information that might be helpful. But, if you are serious about pursuing the task of training your own service dog, or if you already have a service dog and aren't aware of the IAADP and how they have made your life easier, please spend time exploring their website. www.iaadp.org
While it is not necessary to belong to, or join any group to have a service dog, it can have serious financial benefits to do so. One of the common denominators of having a disability is having to live on an income far less than we'd like. Every penny counts, but this is one of those times when it is possible to spend a penny to save a dime. When you visit the IAADP, take time to find the area that talks about the benefits of membership. Hint: on the IAADP home page there is a box full of links, the next to last link inside the box is labeled Membership Information & Application. Click it. On the Application page, down near the bottom, is a section titled Benefits and a link. Follow it and see if access to all this veterinary help is worth the small membership fee. From the very begining the IAADP has been there for us. If it weren't for their efforts, we wouldn't be able to enjoy the access we have. Consider supporting their efforts.
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