The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Realities of a Service Dog


October 26, 2019

Photo provided

Shilo Osborn and her ten month-old service dog, Harlow, concentrating on their training.

Oftentimes when we consider service dogs we think of emotional support animals or therapy dogs. The reality is a service dog is a serious lifestyle change and they aren't for everyone. While they are seen as family, they are also partners and essential in daily living for those with disabilities. Disabilities can range from physical to psychiatric, including disabilities that can't be seen with the naked eye. There are many types of working dogs with different laws and training that help and protect both them and their handlers.

The difference between emotional support animals (ESA), therapy dogs and service dogs is that service dogs have public access rights and have been extensively trained. While ESAs don't have public access rights, there may be an exception in non-pet-friendly living situations depending on health. As for therapy dogs they have very limited public access and only with permission prior to entry, typically to hospitals, schools, nursing homes, etc. Another key factor between them is that ESAs don't require any training and therapy dogs require less training than service dogs. Depending on the type of service dog, training can take anywhere from a year and a half to two years, or longer. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the only animals recognized to be trained for service animal work are dogs and miniature horses.

Acquiring a service dog isn't as simple as slapping a vest on a dog and taking it out. As for documentation of a service dog, there isn't any that a handler can provide or needs to provide to show proof that the dog is a working dog. If the dog is being disruptive or causing a scene then the staff has every right to ask the SD team to leave whether they are legitimate or not. A service dog must be task trained to help mitigate the handler's disability, but they also must have basic obedience under their belt and be potty trained. I started the process with my service-dog-in-training earlier this year. The reading, training, money, time and frustration that goes into it is consuming but so rewarding. An owner training a service dog can pose many problems along the way as there is a higher washout rate, but owner training can also be beneficial in forming a bond and connection during the training process.

At Canine Creek Pet Wash and Boutique we have many resources for owners and handlers alike, whether it's for training or supplies. We have recommendations for wonderful trainers and even groups to help locate lost or found pets. For any handler or pet owner, gear is important, especially when it's too hot or too cold. For hot weather we have cooling vests, heat resistant boots and cooling toys to help escape and manage the heat. While for cold weather we offer snooties (ear/neck warmers), coats, boots and thermal pads. As for outdoor gear for hiking or service dog work, we carry disposable waste bags and containers, portable/collapsible bowls, sunscreen, snout sticks (chap stick for the nose), paw balm, vitamins, martingales, gentle leaders, training treats and more.

At Canine Creek we love to work with our customers and can place special orders when possible. For more information, call (661) 822-0307, and come check us out at Canine Creek, 798 Tucker Rd., Ste. 5 in Tehachapi.


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