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Old 02-11-2011, 06:37 PM   #1
Emagine
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Service Dogs

With out going into a whole lot of information about our personal life I am looking for the following information. I know there are great souls on this site who have Service Dogs. We have had this brought up to us at the drs this week and I am honestly in debate. For those that have them, can you msg me please. I have the following concerns:

Grants/help/resources you may know of or used for yours when insurance was not a paying partner.

How Disney helps with the dog as far as DVC rooms, transportation etc. There are no other medical devices such as a chair or tanks. We do use GAC.

Anything I may not know in or out of the process or something you wish someone had told you.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:44 PM   #2
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I'm sure you'll get quite a few replies on this board!

What kind of service dog are we talking about, first of all? I'm assuming it'd be relating to autism as it's mentioned in your little name bio thingie that pops up when you post.

<--- this thing.

I don't know much about dogs specifically related to autism so if that's the case I can't really help you there.

The other questions are more my speed.

Disney is very service dog friendly. There is a list of specific rest (aka potty) areas in the parks, most of which are backstage. You'll just have to find a CM to take you back there and some of these spots even have a little sign stating that they're SD rest areas. Dogs must be on a leash/in harness at all times while in the park. You'd be able to get water at any counter service place, and I'm sure you could ask at a table service restaurant as well. Cast members have often asked if a dog needed anything like water. You'll have to bring anything the dog may need with you, like food, bowls, collars, leashes, treats, poop bags etc, and should be prepared to carry it all with you. Most of these items aren't heavy, but you'll need a bag big enough to house them. You can get collapsible bowls and just have a ziplock baggie of food with you. Other dog specific things to consider are related to the Florida sunshine. Dogs can get overheated and sunburned, and the pavement can get hot. You may want to plan vacations in cooler seasons should you end up getting an SD because of these things. Disney also has a published list of what rides a dog cannot go on (any of the roller coasters, Soarin', Tower of Terror, etc) but most things are pretty dog friendly. For the rides the dog is not allowed on, you can do a rider swap. CM's are not allowed to watch the dog for you. As far as rooms, a SD is allowed in any hotel room since they are not a pet. You could request a first floor room or a handicap accessible room if you need it, first floor is handy for bedtime potty breaks. I always suggest getting a GAC, even though having a SD should signal an obvious issue/disability to a CM, I've been asked for it more than once. A GAC may have other information on it too, such as needing to be out of the sun or needing a ride vehicle to slow down to board, so they're a good idea to have anyway. The dog will need to be able to sit or lay quietly in a ride vehicle, and be able to tolerate loud noises. If you get a dog, you'll eventually learn any triggers the dog has, things that may scare it or make it uncomfortable. Any good, legitimate service dog should go through all sorts of training that would get it used to crowds, loud noises, unusual situations and whatnot. Sometimes there are things a dog just won't like. The last SD I was around hated the JAMMinators and gave a good deep warning bark when one got too close. That is all dependant on the dog though. A SD needs to be able to wait to potty until in the right spot and with a command, must be quiet and well behaved, and must not be destructive. A business or public place has the right to ask you to leave if the animal is being destructive or is acting aggressively (at least the last I knew). Going to Disney with a SD is basically like going with an additional child. They get tired, sore, hungry and thirsty just like a kid, and I think sometimes people can forget that. Breaks are a neccessity, and a SD will appreciate being able to sit and relax during a meal just like you would.

That's all I can think of for now, but like I said people will be along with other info soon enough.
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Old 02-12-2011, 05:22 AM   #3
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GAC isa tool to allow CMs to quickly provide appropriate accomidations for individual with disabilities at rides and attractions at the parks. While other CMs at WDW might be somewhat familiar with the concept and it might on occasion provide helpful information outside the specific inteded use it can not be relied upon for that.

ADA covers all other areas of WDW, DVC particularly a 1 or 2br villa is an ideal place if you have a SD, so SDs are permitted under most circumstance, expect where the nature of the event would be unsafe (for the dog or owner) or would inhernetly change the nature of the attraction or event. I have seen lots of SDs during our stay at DVC and CMs and other guests are very supportive (although at times excessivly interested). I have seen some comfort dogs which were clearly not trained service dogs under ADA raise a few eyebrows, but even in those circomstances it was not that big of an issue.

ASD service dogs are becomming quite common, so everyone is becoming farimiliar with them so that is helping, as is how effectively they provide services and suppoort to the individual.

If you are considering ot you need to do a lot of research and find an organization which can provide a dog at a budget you can afford and who has significant experiance with training dogs for ASD.

The anxiety and behavior manefestaion regulation that they can provide can ge life changing, and now are even intergreated into social skills development at an important tool and support. This is especially true now that schools are required to accept them.

Lockshockbarrel

Great explenation of may of the practical aspects of a SD at WDW. I do have one question about

"Dogs must be on a leash/in harness at all times while in the park"

While this is very wise, I do not see how WDW could "require" this under ADA. It is even possible that is might interfere with the SD funtion in a limited number of circumstances.

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Old 02-12-2011, 08:38 AM   #4
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I think the others have covered a lot of good information on WDW and general service dog stuff.

As far as grants and other financial help, I've never heard of insurance covering service dog training. That said, if you start researching service dog schools, you'll discover they have a range of fees. Some are free (but have long wait lists) while some cost large amounts of money. I also know of a couple that don't ask for money upfront, but ask for you to fund raise for them after you're partnered with the dog. I don't know if there's anything out there as far as grants for training your own.

You might want to check out http://www.iaadp.org/ which has some good information on service dogs.

Also, please note, that you want to look at training a service dog, not a companion dog. Companion animals do not have the same rights as service animals to go out in public.
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Old 02-12-2011, 10:39 AM   #5
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As far as the grant/funding assistance issue, I have know of some getting help. Most of the time it is from the dog traing school itself. If there is a program that you are interested in, ask them if they have an assistance program.

Or you can go with a 501c program as they sometimes have sliding fee scales or train your own dog programs.
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Old 02-12-2011, 11:55 AM   #6
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Yes it is for Autism. Both my boys are on the spectrum, in addition to dual diagnosis of other things. My oldest is the major one the dr is concerned about. While he is verbal he was retested and still severe due to the Anxiety, ticks, behaviors, danger to himself and others, flight risk etc..

As a 'human' I have always lived in the moment, just making it day to day. Now at 8 he is nearly my size. They saw me this week trying to restrain him from running out, picking him up when needed for a melt etc.. I was asked 'what about in a year from now' so the worry set in.

Now to add my 5 year old the list with his ASD and other dx. It makes day to day life difficult. We do use GAC at Disney, we are thankful Disney allows us to have a vacation from the world. W/o their understanding we would not be DVC members and there a couple of times a year, luckily when it is cooler and before Christmas breaks. We miss most huge crowds.

If I go this direction I will have to do the SD trained, have someone do it for me. I do not need a companion, I need long term help and I think a SD over a companion would help in that area. I do not want a babysitter just another set of eyes and of course a friend for him. Make sense? I never knew you could do this.

So thus begins this very exhausting new mission to add to the list. I am very over whelmed to say the least.
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:18 PM   #7
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I think that it is easy to discount the amount of work a service dog is. Depending on the level of functioning of your children, a lot of that work will be yours. My experience is with guide dogs and for guide dog users the extra work and responsibility is by design the users. However, with a dog for child the parent will indeed be doing a lions share of the work. How you will travel one week a year is honestly should be a very small factor in your decision making process.

Traditional guide dog schools spend a huge amount of time training users on the responsibilites of service dog care. I excercised my dogs on a strict schedule 10 minutes, 5 times a day, every day regardless of weather or other factors. They were brushed every day, like a soldier cleans his gun.

It also appears that you have 2 children with ASD's and figuring out how to ensure the dog bonds with the "right" kid is a bit of a challenge. In houses with 2 guides, again it is handled with limiting contact with the "other" blind person in the house. So that is an issue I would think about and ask prospective training organizations about.

I would be leary of organizations that are operating for a profit. That would make me uncomfortable but again I am coming from the world of very structured and in some states regulated guide dogs.

There are some issues that are associated with travel to WDW. Yes, you have the right to bring the dog, but that doesn't mean that bring the dog to the park is always a practical solution. Some dogs are better in crowds than other. The Heat is a HUGE factor. Often I used my guide in the AM and then we left her in the park side kennel in the afternoon because of the heat. You are responsible for the dogs comfort at all times and that is a lot of work. As mentioned above, you have the right to access places of public accomodation with your service dog, however you have the responsibilty to make sure the dog is out of the way and not making others uncomfortable. If the dog is behaving badly you can be asked to leave.

I would ask potential "providers" how the dogs are trained and screened. What are disqualifing factors medically. How are dogs matched and what type of training can you expect for you and your child.

Best wishes.
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:32 PM   #8
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To answer the leash or harnes question. ALL dogs, even great service dogs, can become distracted!!! A distracted dog can not be trusted, if an unleashed distracted dog got startled, by say a car backfiring, or a firework feature of a show at disney, they could bolt and in a parking lot or crowd is not a good thing. The leash allows the handler to keep the dog safe.
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Old 02-12-2011, 01:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momto2js View Post
To answer the leash or harnes question. ALL dogs, even great service dogs, can become distracted!!! A distracted dog can not be trusted, if an unleashed distracted dog got startled, by say a car backfiring, or a firework feature of a show at disney, they could bolt and in a parking lot or crowd is not a good thing. The leash allows the handler to keep the dog safe.
Good to know, in addition the number of times I read and hear about kids who are runners on so called leashes or too big in strollers (mine have been known to do both lol) If only we could say something simular about being distracted and bolting and not be given a look

Actually, the time at Disney is not my only worry. It is about the only public place we attend and it is about 2-4 times a year off season. Would I use the dog in the park, I do not know. I am just learning how a SD and the public would actually work for the places we do attend on habit. Because we homeschool that would be one less public place of habit to not deal with. Just looking at how this choice would fit our current lifestyle and day to day well being on every aspect.

Heck, not sure if I am even going to afford one. Some places I have talked to this morning to train for a ASD family of two is capable but wow. Just a lot to swallow in one week for me with both boys and all the apts. No what I mean?! My plate is beyond full and crazy.

Anyways, ty for the responses... new path, new info~
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Old 02-12-2011, 10:41 PM   #10
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Paws with a Cause- www.pawswithacause.org. provides trained autism service dogs. I have a trained mobility assistance dog from this organization and they are wonderful, providing ongoing support. You want to talk with any organization about your expectations-what you want the dog to do, and to find out if your expectations are realistic. It is not realistic to think, for instance, that a dog can prevent someone from running if the child weighs quite a bit or has superior strength to the dog. It's not fair to a dog to be kicked, punched, or abused in any way, yet this is a symptom of autism and sometimes cannot be controlled. So....just thinking with you, but definitely worth pursuing!---Kathy
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Old 02-12-2011, 11:17 PM   #11
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Very good points being brought up by the other posters. 1 dog for 2 children is not a viable option, and while you may find the work of one dog doable, two may be too much for you. I don't know how functioning your kids are, but it's true that you may well find yourself doing virtually all care aspects for the dog(s). In my opinion, and only my opinion, if you're not going out in public a lot and calming and preventing flight would be the main reasons for having a dog, it may be kind of like treating a headache with morphine, you know? A little bit too much. But that's very much dependant on your situation and something only you can figure out. If you think one of your kids being frustrated or angry could result in them harming a dog, even unintentionally, I'm very seriously advise you against a dog, but again, it's something only you can figure out.

It's something you're really going to have to do a lot of homework on, and I'm sure you did that when you got the first diagnosis. SD's can seem like a luxury, and they can be a wonderful help, so long as you have the time and resources and love and patience to provide it in exchange. It can be very comparable to bringing another child into your home, as a dog will need almost all the same things, love and attention, food and water, potty type things and hygiene.
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:11 AM   #12
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Your right, it is a lot. Which is why I am just talking and researching at this stage. I have spent the past couple of days talking to different groups who train for Autism and they all have great selling points. But I want others not on the other side (possibly seeing $ as a motivation) but who can also think out of the box.

As for one dog and two ASD kids, the places I have spoken too have been fast to say while the dog would be trained for one child as a main they would and have been trained to also respond if it is something they know of to another child in the home. Evidently some of these places have placed SD in multi ASD homes.

My oldest is the danger to himself and others. But not in a violent way. He wanders, he will try to leave an area, melts etc. He is not a hitter or anything like that but oh my goodness is he ever LOUD! We have a furbaby (cat) now that was my other concern with an SD dog. Evidently I was silly to think that but it is his cat and last thing I need is a dog that will eat the cat. But he has a calm and a love for animals. He cried for weeks when the neighbor moved and left theirs outside to fend for itself. People, strangers and so on are an issue. He does not grasp what a car will do to him or a hot stove. Even at 8. Math and Science wise he is well above his age. It is almost like those common skills we take for granted, kwim?

I do not worry about him hurting a dog or even the youngest. If anything it would be the opposite. But it is an avenue I want to dive deep into before shelling out this money.

In talking to these places about dual kiddos they explained that the dog would be like ones they trained. For example, they said they would get the dog to respond to behaviors that he has. If the youngest has the same then the dog may very well nudge him along the way as well to get his attention.

In addition, my oldest does not bond or make friendships past someone in passing. His social skills are poor, he still plays parallel to peers if even near them depending on his mood. I am told this is a saving grace so to speak in that area.

I worry from the going out and safety. Mostly it is my own fault. I have lived in the Autism world well before he could walk. My focus was day to day and therapy after therapy and resources to gain. I was not going to fail him. But at the same time I only focused on that box and the current time frame and did not think of the future, and now there are two. Lucky ducky me

So this is where I was presented with the issue of a SD. While I do Homeschool I also refuse to just stay shut in all the time. I do not want Autism to define who they are but them to define it. I can be seen with Homeschoolers or Schoolers at the park and so on. I will once in a while attempt a grocery store run, only he is well too big for those silly carts. Watching him socially around others is heart breaking to know he does not know what it feels like to bond, have a friend, sleep over, clubs kids do or ride bikes in a pack and sing silly songs. But on the other hand, it is comforting to know he is not affected by the sting of the cruel ones we do encounter. Each agency touched on this and how a SD helps and how you place them into a low social skills life for this. I was quite stunned. But yet, I have not committed yet. Someone to grow with him that can see his issues and such evidently at this age is great, medically backed up thus far. One thing I was asked about a personal lifestyle change for DH and I and I said I would like to go just once a month out to eat. This they can do. Plus the sleeping with the child and so on. Paints a rainbow huh?

Of course I have my own reservations. Only because I am thinking of adding something unknown to the mix. I am one that puts a whole lot of soul into anything. Sort of like a car, I will research and test drive it like mad before I ever pay a dime. I just have to be confident.

It would be nice to go places like Walmart, Target, even the local Wendys once in a while and not feel rushed and like I am unfocused because of all the tasks on hand. I watched videos yday how they train SD dogs to shop with Autistic kids and families. How silly is it to think I might actually get to take him into a Toys R Us before he is 18

Just the things most take for granted I would like to do but I also want to make sure it is not made harder. Homeschooling chose me for these boys, but I do not want to be a shut in either. However, leaving is not always nice.

Tonight when they crash I plan on researching more. One agency is suppose to call me this week and send me some info. I would also like to find people who have been with a SD for their ASD kiddos for a while and see how the child and dog does, is it recommended and so on.... do not know how this could happen but I will ask around for sure.

Just doing my research and talking to anyone who has experience and in sight. TY so much for responding!

Off to look at the link above, ty kindly for sharing.
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Old 02-28-2011, 04:24 PM   #13
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my family will be going in Aug. to DW. we also have a daughter who is 4 and has ARND and ASD.

Our daughter has a service dog who is a god send. This will be our first trip taking him with us and we can't wait.

we live in Ontario canada and work with autismdogservices.ca

Do you have a dog for your children yet or are you thinking of it.
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Old 02-28-2011, 09:51 PM   #14
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Keep talking with SD agencies.Even if you and your family are not ready yet. We mostly homeschool so we can get that locked in feeling sometimes.Our kids homeschool but the foster kids do go to brick and morter schools.DS has more freedom having his SD(mobility).We have cats not an issue with SD.SD has helped keep other kids in our family safe even though he is DS's.

We went with the trianing program where we as a family trained DS's SD with help from trainers. For us the extra time and work became a point of pride for DS.
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Old 02-28-2011, 10:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momto2js View Post
To answer the leash or harnes question. ALL dogs, even great service dogs, can become distracted!!! A distracted dog can not be trusted, if an unleashed distracted dog got startled, by say a car backfiring, or a firework feature of a show at disney, they could bolt and in a parking lot or crowd is not a good thing. The leash allows the handler to keep the dog safe.

A leash or harness is necessary!
The handler/user is required to keep the dog under control and really needs a harness or leash to do that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emagine View Post
My oldest is the danger to himself and others. But not in a violent way. He wanders, he will try to leave an area, melts etc. He is not a hitter or anything like that but oh my goodness is he ever LOUD! We have a furbaby (cat) now that was my other concern with an SD dog. Evidently I was silly to think that but it is his cat and last thing I need is a dog that will eat the cat.
We had a cat way before we had a Service Dog. The dog and cat came to an agreement pretty quickly - the cat is in charge!
Quote:
In talking to these places about dual kiddos they explained that the dog would be like ones they trained. For example, they said they would get the dog to respond to behaviors that he has. If the youngest has the same then the dog may very well nudge him along the way as well to get his attention.
My thought would be that the dog would bond to one child and would really be too busy with that child to be observing anything about the other child.

There are agencies that train and place dogs at no charge to the person the dog will be placed with. They are non-profit agencies and support their services with donations of money and services.
Obviously, not all are at no charge, but I would look at some of those sites for information because they are not in it to ‘sell’ anything. From what I have read, many of the non-profit places will not place an autism service dog with older children because one of the main services to start with is acting as a ‘tether’ for the child.
Here’s a link to Can-Do-Canines, which is a training agency in Minnesota. I have seen some good stories on their Autism Service Dogs.
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