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Old 07-27-2012, 07:38 PM
Location: Mountains of middle TN
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So after today's doctor's appointment, we found out that hubby may actually have the early stages of MS. It was a bit of a shock. He has a lot of back / spine problems and has had three surgeries so far. His neurosurgeon told him long ago he'd eventually be in a wheel chair. Camden came home from work with me after he had a nasty fall in the backyard one day. He didn't have enough strength or stability to stand up and hobble back inside. Thankfully one of our daughters was home to help. Camden has been in training to stay right beside him while he's outside and if he falls to stand very still so he can use her for stability. The thought was eventually she would also carry a backpack with his meds and other items as well so his hands would be free for his cane or walker.

Anyway, after the visit today it sounds like it's very possible that Camden's duties may not only be increased but her training may need to speed up. We've been very slow about it. I work way too much. His other health issues keep him from working with her as much as he should. The trainer has started a new job and can only come out occasionally. She had donated her services so I certainly can't complain.

So, now we really need to look into serious training. I can do basic obedience. I've done some fun stuff - agility and such. But I've never trained a real, true working dog and have no clue where to start. Not to mention that with my tiny pay check and his disability and us trying to support a household of eight..........saying money is tight is a gross understatement. Does anyone know of any places that train dogs for people with disabilities? Are there any programs to help off set the cost? Anyone has any direction I can be led in? His health issues have been going downhill really fast but this was a pretty serious shock. My brain just isn't working.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:43 PM
Location: Southeast Idaho
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Not exactly certain of the ins and outs, but you might want to start here Improving human health through Therapy, Service & Companion animals - Pet Partners

As for the MS, I can relate, both my mother had it, as well does her baby sister and a dear lifelong friend's mother has it.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:53 PM
Location: Montreal -> CT -> MA -> Montreal -> Ottawa
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Ronni, I sent you a DM.

I have no knowledge about dog training (obviously... duh!) but I have plenty of knowledge about MS... because I have MS. You email me, call me, Facebook me, cry to me, lean on me... anytime. Hugs to you. Hugs to John. Hugs to Camden.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:53 PM
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I'm so sorry your family has all this on its plate.
I would contact the MS Society for possible leads.

Good luck.
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:28 PM
Location: West Virginia
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Since you already have a back ground in training dogs your 1/2 way there! Sit down Calm Down Write Donw what you want the dog to do to assit him. For Brace dog the dog Must be in Excelent health Hips elbows eyes etc check x-rayed all that. Also dog must be the proper size & bone dinsity. Since I no clue what a Camdon is just giving you the what to look fo in a dog for starts. & since you are working with a trainer hopefully s/he knew what to look for & all before you started. How about an idea what the dog already knows & what else he needs to know to Help your SO.
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Old 07-28-2012, 09:15 AM
Location: North Western NJ
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unfortunatly as far as ive been able to find, most SD organizations can put you incontact with local dog trainers but ive found none that asist with costs of traiing a dog (even if you go through an organziation to get a pre-trained service dog theres no assistance with cost ect...so)
i wish there was because i realy need some assistance with some aspects of dozers training (behaviour in piblic) that i just cant do alone)

it does sound like your well under way though, training a service dog is no different than training a none service dog...its jus the "tricks" youll be training are different.

sit down and make a list of things youKNOW he'll need help with in the neer future, you said she already baces well so id definatly (assuming shes at least 2 yrs old) get her OFA'd just for peace of mind, dont want to go through trainign a dog whos going to need a double hip replacment in 2 years and wont be able to do the main "support" task.
Backpack training is an exclent acessory use and VERY easy...start out by putting it on her empty and work up to adding a little weight.
beyond that your going to need a list. whats he having trouble with NOW, whats he going to start having trouble with soon and whats looming in the future...since there is NOTHING in the rule books that says a service dog ever stops learing theres NO reason to try and rush training all the tasks shes EVER going to need RIGHT now...just focus on the important ones for now and introduce new ones later as you have the time.

for example right now bracing is a big one, he can get up on his own if he has a barace im assuming...is it likely that this is going to change quickly, is it likely that hes NOT going to be able to get up on his own very soon (even withthe brace) in which case training a "go find help" command is going to be an important one...training her to find the nearest person and literally bother them and try and lead them back to him... (its a fun "game" kind of like hide and seek that most dogs take to REALY quickly)
If hes home alone alot right now it seems retreiving a phone woudl be more important that flipping light switches so teach a phoen retreival first ect...

make a list, then lable it and just wor at whatever pace you can manage. youve got basic obedience underyour belt and have trained agility you dont realy NEED much beyond that if you can figure out what youll need form her youll easily shape that behaviour. if you can give her 10-20 mis every day just liek wiht any other dog...and then just have him reinforcing it during the day (even if he doesnt NEED her to do a task...have her do it anyway ect) youll be amazed at how quickly shell progress...

Since its going to bean official in training at this point too, get her a vest with an SD patch and an IN TRAINING patch and make sure she goes EVERYWHERE with you guys, even if your not going to "need" her right now, the more places she goes in this stage of her training the easier it will be when she "graduates" to full SD status (when you remove the in training patch)
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:02 AM
Location: Mountains of middle TN
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Thanks Foxy! I was hoping you'd help out!

Well, Camden had her first test and passed with flying colors. I was sleeping yesterday and John was in the kitchen. Camden was glued to his side, as usual. He said all the sudden he got tunnel vision and the room started spinning. Our kitchen is a big wide open room and he was in the middle. He tried to get to a wall to sturdy himself but started falling over. Before he even realized it, Camden was against the side he was leaning to and wedged herself up under his hand! She's never been trained to do that, just did it automatically. With her help he was able to get back to the room to lay down and put his oxygen back on. Good girl Camden!!

Seems like training will be a breeze. She seems to have a natural ability and is very bonded to him. The two biggest things we need to work on right now are the stabilizing and backpack carrying. He carries his cell phone with him everyplace in a pocket so I'm not too worried about the go get help. Once we get her done with the first two chores, I would like to do the go get help in case he passes out. I think getting her trained is really going to be a breeze though. I'm hopeful!
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:10 AM
Location: North Western NJ
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sounds like shes going to partially train herslef, backpack is EASY, just start out with an empty pack and take her for a alk, the biggest challege with the pack is getting them used to having something on them...so keeping them distracted untill they "forget" is the key...once there used to the feel small bottles of water are a great way to start training to carry a little bt of weight...you might be suprised at how focused she becomes once that backpack is on. ive seen dogs that are a big ball of mess suddenly turn into calm focused working animals the moment a pack is put on them. kinda zens them out.

and the brace work, well, seems shes doing that one all by herself, i would put a verbal cue to it so he can ask her to brace even if hes not overly dizy but just cata an off feeling...this way shes going by cue and then its a "trained" behaviour lol.

she definatly sounds like she has the aptitude for it
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:28 AM
Location: zone 5
7,330 posts, read 13,162,790 times
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I just saw this thread. I'm so sorry you and John are going through all this. You of all people don't need to have such a heavy burden, with the amazing work you're doing at the shelter. You really need to try to give yourself a break somewhere, somehow.
I teared up a little at your second post. What a good girl Camden is! I know she'll be a blessing to you and John. I don't have any advice, just lots of good wishes to all of you.
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:31 PM
Location: Santa Barbara CA
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I am sorry to hear that your husband is having troubles.Getting older is a B---h! I wish I had some advice about training companion dogs but I don't. It does sound like Camden may be one of those rare naturals so training might come easy. I think having the two of them so bonded is a big plus which will move the training along fast. will send lots of positve thoughts and prayers your way. Hang in there!
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