This past year The Dog Knowledge located in Charlotte, NC has received more and more phone calls to train service dogs and therapy dogs and much of our energy has gone toward helping out families that desperately need a service dog but can’t afford the high price or the lengthy wait to obtain one of these amazing dogs.
We have a waiting list for individuals needing a service dog due to the fact that we first must find the right kind of dog with the right kind of temperament before we even begin training. Once we find a young dog with potential, it can take months for training obedience as well as the skills that are needed to work with the disabled.
Lately, we have been contacted by the commanding officers for several soldiers and veterans who are in need of service dogs. We feel these brave young men deserve to be put at the top of The Dog Knowledge waiting list for all they have done and sacrificed to keep our country safe. Shown here is Russell who is being introduced to Truman, his active service dog. Russell’s deployment in Afghanistan was not a pleasant job. Russell was in charge of dealing with mortuary remains and over time this gruesome job took its toll on Russell. Russell is suffering from PTSD and periodically goes into states of depression over all that he experienced and saw while in Afghanistan.
The Dog Knowledge was contacted by Russell’s Recovery Care Coordinator who asked us if we could help out. “Gladly!” we told him. The dog trainers at The Dog Knowledge volunteered their service dog training skills and donated their time and energy to train one year old Truman to be a wonderful service dog with excellent obedience. Truman was also trained to “interrupt” Russell with a nudge of his nose anytime Russell exhibited moodiness, etc. Also in the event that Russell had a panic attack, Truman has been trained to press a life alert button to call 911.
Word spreads quickly and we received several additional calls from Fort Bragg. Last week, The Dog Knowledge trainers met with another soldier, Billy who was one of the brave Green Berets stationed in Afghanistan who came home as an amputee. Billy has requested a service dog to assist him in a variety of mobility functions when Billy is not wearing his prosthesis.
Good news travels fast. NBC’s America Now visited The Dog Knowledge, Charlotte’s premier dog training center last week. America Now sent a crew to The Dog Knowledge to interview the dog trainers regarding service and therapy dog training. All of The Dog Knowledge dog trainers were present as NBC filmed and interviewed our certified service dog training specialists for over 5 hours. One of the issues that NBC was addressing was the problem with phony service dogs that don’t have proper service dog training and certification.
The Dog Knowledge, located off Wendover Road is one of the few service dog training facilities in the Southeast that trains service and/or assistance dogs, for everything from mobility training for people who are in wheel chairs or have difficulty walking to scent detection for children with nut allergies. Mobility service dogs are taught to stand and brace in the event their “person” takes a tumble. Mobility service dogs are also taught specific service dog tasks such as turning lights on and off, picking up dropped items, activate a 911 alert button in the event of an emergency and customized tasks based on their “person’s” disability. In addition to mobility service dogs, The Dog Knowledge is proud to cover all of service dog classifications except seeing eye dogs.
WHAT CAN A DOG KNOWLEDGE TRAINER TEACH A SERVICE DOG TO DO?
- Service Dogs: For a physical disability, debilitating chronic illness or neurological disorder.
- Psychiatric Service Dogs: For diagnosed PTSD.
- Hearing Dogs: For people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Seizure Response Dogs
- Scent Detection Service Dogs: For people with peanut allergies, other allergens and diabetic detection through saliva.
- Service Dogs for Children with Autism: For children 14 and younger with Autism.
- Combination Dogs: Service & Hearing, Service & Seizure, Hearing & Seizure
As we currently had several service dogs in training, we were able to demonstrate service dogs for people with physical disabilities and introduce the reporter for NBC to a couple of service dog owners who dropped by with their service dog. The dogs picked up dropped items as well as opened cabinets, retrieved the item requested, delivered the items to the client and closed the cabinet. We also showed America Now how service dogs can be trained to detect allergens such as peanuts, shellfish and even a diabetic alert dog being trained to alert the family when their 11 year old daughter has either high or low blood sugar.
And while much of the interview dealt with people ordering service dog gear on-line and passing their dog off as service dog to gain access to restaurants, movie theaters, etc. The Dog Knowledge feels that the issue goes far deeper than pet owners that are abusing the system. What, in our opinion, is far more heinous are the number of dog trainers that prey on the disabled and especially when children are involved by promising to train and certify a family pet or an acquired puppy for an outrageous fee.
Service dog training is difficult and completely different from training pet obedience. Anytime someone advertises that they will sell a puppy or obtain a puppy and train the puppy for service, these claims should send up a red flag. Only a small percentage of dogs have the nerve structure and temperament to become a certified service dog for any type of disability.
There is also a lot of confusion regarding the difference between a therapy dog and a service dog. Simply put, a therapy dog is a well trained dog with an excellent temperament that is comfortable around strangers and comfortable in institutional settings such as hospitals, retirement centers, schools, etc. For more information regarding the difference in a service dog and a therapy dog please visit our website: http://thedogknowledge.com/web/therapy/
For more information on service dogs, please visit The Dog Knowledge’s sister website in development, Dogs Doing Good: http://www.dogsdoinggood.com.