my quest for 4-legged independence

Tag Archives: Service dog

I’m like an expectant mother right now. Neurotically planning and preparing for the arrival of my new “baby”. I’ve taken a tape measure to nearly every corner of my room trying to see where a crate will fit. I also have an Amazon list of puppy stuff that is growing- my current list has been approved by the director of the service dog program, so I’m doing something right.

Financially, with the LORD’s hand, I should just about break even with the initial puppy costs and the most minimal gear. God will provide. I hope His provision is in the form of a job, I would prefer to not rely on others at this point. There are some costs that I didn’t expect, mainly the gas costs between my town and the training program, that may push me to consider fundraising later on. (We’re talking $720 per year in gas alone just to go to training. That is the cost of a puppy, but it’s being used on gas.) Currently, I have a secured a short-term paid position for one month but will need to secure a new job by August.

I’m trying to balance quality with thriftiness when it comes to these puppy supplies. Amazon Prime helps a lot, but there are also some reasonable pet products at the dollar store that I can utilize. Basic things like leashes and collars are of a good quality and for only a dollar it won’t matter how fast this puppy wants to grow. More serious products, like chew toys, will be name brand because I won’t risk an accident or toxicity. Products that I should hold some pride in, like a 30 ft training lead, will be Lupine brand because they are replaced for free if a dog can manage to destroy it- and the quality should last me an entire lifetime of dog training.

It’s so hard not to allow myself to become carried away with buying frivolous items for a puppy. The reality is that these dogs grow and these dogs like to chew things, so gear will be thrown away due to damage or for simply not fitting anymore. The puppy can’t tell the difference between an old tennis ball or a new Kong brand tennis ball. The puppy won’t know that the blankets it sleeps on are secondhand. The puppy won’t know that the baby gate blocking the door was actually made for human babies and not for puppies. The puppy won’t care that their fur is being washed with diluted dollar store baby shampoo- because the fact is: most dogs don’t even want the bath in the first place.

What will matter is the food going into their belly, the medicine on their skin to protect from insect borne diseases, the training, the love, and companionship. What will matter is that, when the time comes, I purchase service dog gear that is comfortable to wear and not going to damage their body.

And I pray to God that this vulnerability I’m going to experience- on top of my physical and mental vulnerability- will draw me closer to understanding a trusting relationship with Him. A spiritual maturity. Yes, that is what I’m nesting for… not for a puppy, but for a maturity of myself and my willingness to trust God. It just looks as though a puppy is coming!


Just received word that all paperwork is in order 🙂

I may be missing the 6-week puppy visit because it coincides with another major personal commitment I’ve made, but we’ll work it out.

There may be other opportunities to visit, but I’m content enough in knowing that one day the pup will be my everyday companion- regardless of how much time we get to spend with each other before that can happen.

This is really happening, we’re talking about me meeting the pups at 6 weeks and also about finding a volunteer puppy-starter.
(Someone to housebreak the puppy until I’m ready to bring them home and take him or her to training classes twice a month on my own).

This year has been a rough year on Instagram in the #servicedog community. This has been due to the “faker phenomenon” where someone either has faked having a service dog OR they have been accused of faking. This phenomena is largely due to online companies selling identification and online registries that exist primarily to let people take their dogs “everywhere” with them for “free”. (Not every registry exists for this reason, but many people will abuse the registries in this way anyway.)

Unfortunately, this has turned into a paranoia within the community- with the automatic assumption that every dog with either an ID or a registry tag is a “fake” service dog. This is not true! Legitimate teams register or order these products because they feel that it is a good thing to do. When they post a picture of their legitimately working dog wearing one of these IDs or logos, they receive an onslaught of hate mail from the #servicedog community. They are asked questions that directly violate their privilege to medical privacy (“How are you disabled?” “What is he a service dog for?” “What is your diagnosis?”). They are talked and gossiped about over group DMs where lies and hate are perpetuated. Then they are reported, blocked, their private posts are screenshot and reposted with horribly unedifying remarks about them and their service dog commented below or pasted across the photo. It’s horrible.

And this happens to legitimate teams, someone with a legitimate disability and a legitimate working dog (or a dog in training for service). By the very people who are supposed to be supporting them. This should never happen.

It really is nobody’s business.

But what should we do when someone on Instagram deliberately posts that they are faking their dog as a service dog? (Yes, this really does happen. People are really that low.) Should we attack them and hate them? Ask prying questions publicly to make them feel like fools of themselves? No.

What about the frequent occurrence when a Therapy Dog or an ESA (emotional support animal) is portrayed as going into public venues? (Emotional support dogs and Therapy Dogs are NOT service dogs, they must abide by different laws and rules.) Should we publicly humiliate these people who may just be confused about the ADA law? No.

These are real people with real feelings. Any confrontation should happen privately and respectfully. Why? Because this approach encourages change. It gives you the chance to connect with that person and to make a lasting impact in their lives in a positive way.

So, don’t comment publicly. Take it to DM and keep it private. Something I do is I leave a comment on their photo letting them know “I’m sending you a DM”. I’ll be sure to DM any commenters who asked “Cool! How can I do this for my dog?” or a similar question.

And this is the what I’ll privately send them:

“I wanted to privately inform you that registering a dog online, purchasing an ID, or buying a vest for a dog does not automatically give them service dog privileges. Many of these online stores exist primarily to take your money. A dog can only be considered a service dog when it is successfully trained to mitigate a disability by performing at least one trained task.

No item you purchase can do this for you. A dog is legally protected by ADA law in America to go into public places so long as it is trained specifically to mitigate your disability and can maintain the ADA standards for service dog behavior. (A common misconception is that “emotional support” makes a dog a service dog- but legally it does not count as a task and is specifically excluded from ADA law.)

My hope is that this message will reach you and prevent you from being tricked into the lies that some retail companies are promoting by selling you service dog ID’s or registrations. I sincerely thank you for your time in reading this!”

(it’s not perfect, but it’s at least a stark contrast against the abusive comments that have occurred all year long)

Just to be clear:
I am guilty. I am guilty for ever being a part of this, I am guilty of every public comment I may have made about someone’s legitimacy or in support of someone else’s accusation- but I am changing this now.

I ask for the forgiveness of any person who has ever had to block me for invading their privacy in this way. I truly am sorry, what I did was wrong and you should have never endured the embarrassment or humiliation I may have caused you.

When I said “within the next week” in my last post I didn’t realize that it could be as early as today…. Dewey, Padre, Avalon, Nantucket, Coney, Myrtle, Acadia, and Laguna were born today!

I stare at their pictures in wonder, thanking God for their health and their mom, Irish, for staying healthy throughout, and in amazement that one of these tiny little precious puppies could one day be my helper to give me a more normal life.

I have received word that my future little helper may be born within the next week. This news is incredibly uplifting as it hints that I may actually have been accepted into PAD’s program.

Please pray for the health of the litter and the well-being of the mother whom is preparing to whelp soon. It’s never a guarantee that any puppy will become a service dog, even with the best of breeding. Please, pray. Every successful SD is truly a miracle of God and a product of His will.

I have had this leash and collar hanging in my room since around the age of 18. It has been a constant presence and reminder for me that I will one day have my “heart dog”, the one that I have waited for so long, wished for, and prayed over. It is almost as though s/he already lives with me, I am reminded of him or her everyday.

Encouraging news: Today PAD emailed saying that all of my paperwork has been received and will be reviewed today! It is much easier now to be patient knowing that I haven’t been forgotten, I was getting nervous that either they didn’t approve of me or that something had happened to my paperwork. But, so far, all is well!

Additionally, I received a call from a second Doberman rescue today and we spoke for over an hour discussing my situation, asking questions, and learning more about the breed and the rescue organization. They are very willing to help find a good candidate for me whether I am able to adopt from them or not, they are also very willing to educate me on what to look for on my own regarding breed specific health issues and behavioral characteristics.

I’m so grateful that I had contacted that first Dobie rescue, it is because of them that this second rescue was able to contact me. My information has been sent out across the state because of how helpful they’ve been. I trust and know that God will handle things in His perfect way, but I also know it doesn’t hurt to take some initiative and put myself and my story out there. I have no control over what happens next or who my “heart dog” will end up being, or even the breed and health of that dog. The dog could develop cancer a year after he’s finally been trained, I have no control over that. This process is really going to test and grow every fiber of my being, I can only hope that my “heart dog” and I will find victory- to God be all the glory if we can.