Updated: 18th August 2017

6 Things You Learn Training, And Owning, Service Dogs

If you’re old, sick, or disabled, we have the perfect solution for you: Get a dog! Of course, that’s our solution for every problem, but an educated service dog might work especially well in your case. Humans have been breeding dogs for thousands of years for every dumbshit task we no longer feel like doing ourselves, but it wasn’t until the past century that we began training them to help people with physical or mental disabilities who can’t manage their daily lives alone.

We sat down with a few people who train service dogs, as well as a few who own service dogs and rely on them every day. As usual, what we discovered is more interesting — and more ridiculous — than we would have guessed …

#6. You Can Bring Your Pet Anywhere — If You Call It A Service Animal

Service dogs are allowed to go places that normally do not allow animals, such as planes, restaurants, the movie theater, and Discovery Zone. They’re allowed this special privilege because they’ve been trained and certified as official helper animals. But, let’s say you want to bring your bulldog or condor or whatever into the movie theater with you — how do you go about getting them certified as helper animals? Well, here’s how to do it: 1) Get a sheet of paper; 2) write “THIS IS A SERVICE DOG” on it in crayon. Your new document means exactly as much as any service dog certificate.

Yeah, “certifications” can be purchased online for a fee, even if your dog has no training whatsoever. As a result, when you see someone with a supposed service animal, it might be specially trained to help them with a legitimate disorder. It might be an “emotional support animal” for a bullshit problem they made up. Or, it might be any random pet because the owner may be an asshole. And that majorly pisses off people such as Colin Wong, who genuinely needs his guide dog every time he leaves the house.

Colin recalls going to a department store one time with his dog, Wednesday, whom he got from Guide Dogs for the Blind, and getting attacked by another dog patrolling the aisles. Stories of guide dogs getting mauled by other dogs are disturbingly common, because of people like the owner of the dog who attacked Wednesday. That owner insisted it was normal for his “service dog” to attack other dogs all the time. “It’s clearly not your service dog!” countered Colin. “Service dogs are conditioned not to attack other dogs. That’s like day one of service dog school!”

Day two is conditioning them not to set up illegal cock-fighting rings.

Unfortunately, thanks to fraud service dogs, there is some mistrust of all people with service animals, even legitimate ones. Wednesday escapes scrutiny because Colin is clearly blind, as is obvious to anyone who doesn’t share his disability. But let’s next introduce you to Raven Richard-Bordeau, who gets harassed all the time about Dyson, his Mexican hairless dog who accompanies him wherever he goes. Raven has clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety, and doctors recognize his need for a companion animal such as Dyson, but that doesn’t stop store clerks and restaurant hostesses from constantly calling shenanigans on him. They routinely ask him to produce Dyson’s certification papers. Dyson does have a certificate, but Raven doesn’t carry it around on his person everywhere he goes, and you’re legally not allowed to demand to see it.

Although, if you get caught with a fake service animal in the state of Florida, you can be thrown in jail for your dickitry, so maybe bring along the certificate just in case.

“I’m sorry, but that dog looks Kenyan, ma’am.”

#5. Some Service Dogs Can Smell Medical Conditions

Not all service dogs lead people safely through traffic or keep them from having a panic attack in a public place. Dogs have a sense of smell that borders on magic, and various law enforcement agencies have been using them for years to sniff out illegal drugs, bomb-making materials, and unregistered mutants. Sherry Mers, a dog trainer from Colorado, recognized the potential for service dogs to be used to sniff out common fatal allergens such as peanuts. Pretty soon, her dogs were licensed as medical service animals and were accompanying kids to school to sniff out and steer them from any toxic allergens. Except, well, some families claim their service dogs they got can’t spot peanuts at all, so, um, maybe test your pooch out before shelling out the 20 grand to bring one home.

And once they’re out of the packaging, they lose all value.

Other medical service dogs are trained to sniff out things that we didn’t even know had a scent. For example, hypo alert dogs are trained to detect when a diabetic’s blood glucose goes too high or low. “The running theory,” says Raven, “is they can smell or otherwise sense the changes in their person’s sugar levels,” but no one exactly understands what’s going on here. Scientists have tried their own means of measuring blood sugar noninvasively using a breathalyzer, but we haven’t quite hammered out the kinks yet, forcing diabetics to constantly stab themselves with needles in order to test themselves. Yet, medical service dogs can detect blood sugar quicker and more accurately than even our best machines with just their noses. And they alert you to danger by licking you awake, which is a function that most medical devices will not perform.

And then we have dogs such as Patra, a rottweiler/German shepherd mix from Missouri who could sense when her owner is about to have a seizure. She would warn her owner with an urgent nudge behind the knee 15 minutes before an impending seizure (some other seizure dogs are able to sense it hours beforehand). Nobody trains dogs to do this — some of them are just born with the ability.

Seizures suck, but getting a heads up and
licks/nuzzles to help recovery sucks less.

As for the others, well …

#4. Some Dogs Are Too Stupid To Be Service Animals

As with any program that requires hundreds of hours of demanding training, there are some washouts who can’t make the cut. Take Virgil the chocolate poodle, who spent much of 2012 training as an assistance dog for autistic kids. Virgil seemed to do fine in preliminary classes, but then the final exam rolled around, overseen by an administrator flown in from another city and held in a million-square-foot suburban mall on a Saturday afternoon. This is a less-than-ideal set of circumstances for all but the most obedient of dogs — a fact that Virgil emphatically proved by thunderously failing his exam.

The first part of the test, recalls his trainer Francey, consisted of basic commands, and a bunch of kids running around the mall proved much too distracting for Virgil’s concentration. Next came “behavioral obedience,” which consisted of the examiner dropping a scoop of ice cream next to the dog’s tail to see if he could resist eating it, which Virgil could not. Then came the part of the test wherein Virgil had to walk without Francey to see how he handled the separation, while Francey observed from a distance. Virgil responded by taking a shuddering dump on the shiny linoleum floor, which is an immediate disqualification (the vest that service animals wear is supposed to impart on them that it’s not pooping time, and that’s a big reason they’re allowed places other animals aren’t).

He’s still a good boy — just not at that job.

And so the career of Virgil the service dog came to a sudden, irrevocable end. Nowadays, he attacks hair clips and barks at toothbrushes as a D-list YouTube celebrity, which honestly is a better career trajectory than any human being who has shit themselves in public could expect.

Keep in mind, their standards for behavior have to be high because some of these dogs are in charge of saving their owners’ lives. For instance …

If you’re old, sick, or disabled, we have the perfect solution for you: Get a dog! Of course, that’s our solution for every problem, but an educated service dog might work especially well in your case. Humans have been breeding dogs for thousands of years for every dumbshit task we no longer feel like doing ourselves, but it wasn’t until the past century that we began training them to help people with physical or mental disabilities who can’t manage their daily lives alone.

We sat down with a few people who train service dogs, as well as a few who own service dogs and rely on them every day. As usual, what we discovered is more interesting — and more ridiculous — than we would have guessed …

#6. You Can Bring Your Pet Anywhere — If You Call It A Service Animal

Service dogs are allowed to go places that normally do not allow animals, such as planes, restaurants, the movie theater, and Discovery Zone. They’re allowed this special privilege because they’ve been trained and certified as official helper animals. But, let’s say you want to bring your bulldog or condor or whatever into the movie theater with you — how do you go about getting them certified as helper animals? Well, here’s how to do it: 1) Get a sheet of paper; 2) write “THIS IS A SERVICE DOG” on it in crayon. Your new document means exactly as much as any service dog certificate.

Yeah, “certifications” can be purchased online for a fee, even if your dog has no training whatsoever. As a result, when you see someone with a supposed service animal, it might be specially trained to help them with a legitimate disorder. It might be an “emotional support animal” for a bullshit problem they made up. Or, it might be any random pet because the owner may be an asshole. And that majorly pisses off people such as Colin Wong, who genuinely needs his guide dog every time he leaves the house.

Colin recalls going to a department store one time with his dog, Wednesday, whom he got from Guide Dogs for the Blind, and getting attacked by another dog patrolling the aisles. Stories of guide dogs getting mauled by other dogs are disturbingly common, because of people like the owner of the dog who attacked Wednesday. That owner insisted it was normal for his “service dog” to attack other dogs all the time. “It’s clearly not your service dog!” countered Colin. “Service dogs are conditioned not to attack other dogs. That’s like day one of service dog school!”

Day two is conditioning them not to set up illegal cock-fighting rings.

Unfortunately, thanks to fraud service dogs, there is some mistrust of all people with service animals, even legitimate ones. Wednesday escapes scrutiny because Colin is clearly blind, as is obvious to anyone who doesn’t share his disability. But let’s next introduce you to Raven Richard-Bordeau, who gets harassed all the time about Dyson, his Mexican hairless dog who accompanies him wherever he goes. Raven has clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety, and doctors recognize his need for a companion animal such as Dyson, but that doesn’t stop store clerks and restaurant hostesses from constantly calling shenanigans on him. They routinely ask him to produce Dyson’s certification papers. Dyson does have a certificate, but Raven doesn’t carry it around on his person everywhere he goes, and you’re legally not allowed to demand to see it.

Although, if you get caught with a fake service animal in the state of Florida, you can be thrown in jail for your dickitry, so maybe bring along the certificate just in case.

“I’m sorry, but that dog looks Kenyan, ma’am.”

#5. Some Service Dogs Can Smell Medical Conditions

Not all service dogs lead people safely through traffic or keep them from having a panic attack in a public place. Dogs have a sense of smell that borders on magic, and various law enforcement agencies have been using them for years to sniff out illegal drugs, bomb-making materials, and unregistered mutants. Sherry Mers, a dog trainer from Colorado, recognized the potential for service dogs to be used to sniff out common fatal allergens such as peanuts. Pretty soon, her dogs were licensed as medical service animals and were accompanying kids to school to sniff out and steer them from any toxic allergens. Except, well, some families claim their service dogs they got can’t spot peanuts at all, so, um, maybe test your pooch out before shelling out the 20 grand to bring one home.

And once they’re out of the packaging, they lose all value.

Other medical service dogs are trained to sniff out things that we didn’t even know had a scent. For example, hypo alert dogs are trained to detect when a diabetic’s blood glucose goes too high or low. “The running theory,” says Raven, “is they can smell or otherwise sense the changes in their person’s sugar levels,” but no one exactly understands what’s going on here. Scientists have tried their own means of measuring blood sugar noninvasively using a breathalyzer, but we haven’t quite hammered out the kinks yet, forcing diabetics to constantly stab themselves with needles in order to test themselves. Yet, medical service dogs can detect blood sugar quicker and more accurately than even our best machines with just their noses. And they alert you to danger by licking you awake, which is a function that most medical devices will not perform.

And then we have dogs such as Patra, a rottweiler/German shepherd mix from Missouri who could sense when her owner is about to have a seizure. She would warn her owner with an urgent nudge behind the knee 15 minutes before an impending seizure (some other seizure dogs are able to sense it hours beforehand). Nobody trains dogs to do this — some of them are just born with the ability.

Seizures suck, but getting a heads up and
licks/nuzzles to help recovery sucks less.

As for the others, well …

#4. Some Dogs Are Too Stupid To Be Service Animals

As with any program that requires hundreds of hours of demanding training, there are some washouts who can’t make the cut. Take Virgil the chocolate poodle, who spent much of 2012 training as an assistance dog for autistic kids. Virgil seemed to do fine in preliminary classes, but then the final exam rolled around, overseen by an administrator flown in from another city and held in a million-square-foot suburban mall on a Saturday afternoon. This is a less-than-ideal set of circumstances for all but the most obedient of dogs — a fact that Virgil emphatically proved by thunderously failing his exam.

The first part of the test, recalls his trainer Francey, consisted of basic commands, and a bunch of kids running around the mall proved much too distracting for Virgil’s concentration. Next came “behavioral obedience,” which consisted of the examiner dropping a scoop of ice cream next to the dog’s tail to see if he could resist eating it, which Virgil could not. Then came the part of the test wherein Virgil had to walk without Francey to see how he handled the separation, while Francey observed from a distance. Virgil responded by taking a shuddering dump on the shiny linoleum floor, which is an immediate disqualification (the vest that service animals wear is supposed to impart on them that it’s not pooping time, and that’s a big reason they’re allowed places other animals aren’t).

He’s still a good boy — just not at that job.

And so the career of Virgil the service dog came to a sudden, irrevocable end. Nowadays, he attacks hair clips and barks at toothbrushes as a D-list YouTube celebrity, which honestly is a better career trajectory than any human being who has shit themselves in public could expect.

Keep in mind, their standards for behavior have to be high because some of these dogs are in charge of saving their owners’ lives. For instance …

Read more: <a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrackedRSS/~3/bJUmyplEvaA/personal-experiences-1986-theres-no-regulation-6-realities-service-animals.html">http://www.cracked.com/</a>

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