Service Dog-Trip with New Handler

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by ladyjubilee, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. ladyjubilee

    ladyjubilee Mouseketeer

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    We are currently working with a trainer for our new dog to be my son's service dog. I know that's backwards. His medical doctor had recommended a service dog a few years back, but my son wouldn't have anything to do with dogs. Until this dog-they just clicked. Then she just naturally alerted to a neurological issue (he has epilepsy, but the events we're seeing may or not be seizures)...and several times since before we could see the signs. So anyway, we have the doctors orders, the professional trainer and a dog who is so far exceeding expectations.

    Here is my question, though. Do we take her or not? Our trip is scheduled for mid November, which will be about a year into her training (and his learning curve.) We've done Disney enough that we have a lot of tricks we use for him to be able to handle Disney. I am a torn. We can make it without the dog at Disney, we've been before and on the autism front can succeed.

    My quandary is that many of the tasks she will provide are handled by use of stroller as wheelchair (it addresses a lot of the transitioning and sensory issues), plus physically he could never walk Disney, and since he's in the stroller I would literally be right there. Not exactly allowing him to be independent.

    But at the same time, I'd hate for him to have to be in pain (again the doctors aren't quite sure what it is) because humans can't see the problem until it is really bad. And if I'm teaching him to depend on her, I don't know if not taking her right at the time he's learning that lesson either.

    I'll be honest I'm a little intimidated by the thought of a dog, no matter how well trained and dedicated, at Disney. Just the physical demands of 7 days in the parks is a lot....and since we can make it, I'm torn.
     
  2. mamabunny

    mamabunny DIS Veteran

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    First of all, take a breath - because you have some time to work this through. You sound like me :) I'm a planner, because I want to smooth out all the "bumps" that I can! :)

    I would turn to your "experts" - your son's doctor, and the trainer. Talk openly and honestly with both of them about how *your family* "average" WDW trip works, and get their opinion of what would be best. Tell them that you want to keep this dialogue open from now until (let's just say for planning purposes) Mid-October, when you will want to have a final decision.

    During the interim, you could try short trips with the dog, to see how everyone handles it. That may inform your decision more than anything else! :)

    When I think of WDW from a service animal's perspective, it seems *very* overwhelming, and *very* exhausting to me. If you do take your son's companion, perhaps consider building in a "down day" every other day or so?

    Good luck with your decision - and I hope that you all have another wonderful, Magical trip :)
     
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  4. ladyjubilee

    ladyjubilee Mouseketeer

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    You are exactly right, I am a planner down to trying to plan when we'll be where. But I did talk to the trainer today, and he assured me that she'll be more than ready. He also said don't panic and over think it. That it is okay for her to go to the kennel a day if having her with us is going to create more stress than not. I feel much better now ;)
     
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  5. cmwade77

    cmwade77 DIS Veteran

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    Do you have a local theme/amusement park that you could try out with the dog?

    Just a thought to see how the dog and your son handles it in a similar environment.
     
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  6. Betty Rohrer

    Betty Rohrer DIS Veteran

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    i second the idea of trying at a local park if possible before your trip. maybe a few times if possible
     
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  7. ladyjubilee

    ladyjubilee Mouseketeer

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    We do. In fact we are season passholders at a couple of different parks. I'm hoping I can convince the trainer to come with us on a low attendance day for our first time....then build up to more crowded days.

    We've already tried a couple of outings to get her used to her vest (our state allows service dog in training access and I asked for permission first). I expected children to pet or ask to pet....but, wow, adults don't ask either. I had no clue that would be an issue, and our girl loves attention. We're definitely going to have to work hard on distraction training cause now I understand all those Do Not Pet patches I thought were kind of rude.
     
  8. Betty Rohrer

    Betty Rohrer DIS Veteran

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    if you are in Pa know a coupe of parks that will work with you
     
  9. Cloudy

    Cloudy Mouseketeer

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    Just wanted to chime in that I have empathy for your situation. I have a 23 year old autistic son who has seizure disorder and does not like animals. His second tonic clonic seizure ever was at DisneyWorld at the International Gateway exit of Epcot. He fell backwards directly on his head on concrete. It would have been nice to have advanced notice to avoid the fall and perhaps make it back to the resort or first aid rather than right in the middle of the walkway. That being said Disney EMTs, security, and CMs were all wonderful.

    That being said, I understand having a training service dog is also a lot to handle. I like the idea of a kennel day if needed. Whatever decision you make will be the right one.
     
  10. Malcon10t

    Malcon10t DIS Veteran

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    Hi,

    We raise service pups. First thing, if the dog has not had extensive training in theme parks already, I would not take them. When we start training the dogs, we take them to the parks in small doses. For example, their first visit, we simply enter the park, and go to a quiet area in the front of the park, hang out people watching for 15-20 mins, maybe let them see the horses from a distance, then we exit. We make sure we aren't over stimulating them. We build up over a period of a year til they are able to handle a whole day in the park. We are always ready to walk out of the park when the dog is "done". There are too many things that can "wreck" a service dog. An example, we had a GREAT pup, who was in her last few months of training, when, as we were walking thru Downtown Disney, a little boy about 18 mos to 2 yo, grabbed the dog by her fur on the back end and would not let go. It took his dad grabbing him by the hair to get him to release his grip on the dog. The dog was yelping. We grabbed the dog and ran. The dog was suddenly afraid of small children. And it ruined the dog for service work. The dog would dart away if she saw a small child. We worked for a year trying to recover, but the fear was there.

    Unless your dog is already "bomb proof", I would wait on taking him/her. It will be a LOT more work and stress on YOU. You will not only have to deal with your child's health issues, but also work with the dog. I joke that a service dog is like having a constant 3yo with you. They can help tremendously, but they are also work.
     
  11. tinkerjo

    tinkerjo Crazy Disney nut

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    You could always kennel the dog during the day while in the parks but get her in the evenings so he could have her at night.(the kennels down there look like a dream) Just a thought so he wouldn’t have to be without her totally and you wouldn’t have to expose her to Disney. I am definitely no expert but there is so much going on in the parks. Good luck with whatever you decide.
     
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  12. ladyjubilee

    ladyjubilee Mouseketeer

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    Malcom,

    That is exactly my concern. I worry she'll be more work in a pretty stressful situation. Like I said, we've done Disney often enough to have other 'tools' to make it work. I'm just not sure the impact on their relationship, from my son's side, with a break in between.

    I am looking at boarding her though, so that we have options and can see where we are closer to time.
     
  13. Malcon10t

    Malcon10t DIS Veteran

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    There is plenty of bonding time for them. Dogs bond pretty easily. If you are worried about your son, kennel him during the day (the dog, not your son) then let them hang out in the room in the evenings.
     
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