A.D.H.D., ALL neurological Disorders and Disabilities, Alzheimer’s Service Dogs, Anxiety Service Dogs, ASPERGER’S SYNDROME, Autism, Autism Service Dog, BI-POLAR, Bi-Polar Service Dogs, Dementia Service Dogs, Depression Service Dogs, dog psychology, Dog Training, Dog Wish Service Dogs, EPILEPSY Service Dogs, Family Defense K9, Home Defense K9, Impulse control, MEDICALLY FRAGILE, neurological disability, O.C.D., Obedience Training, P.T.S.D., P.T.S.D. SERVICE DOGS, PDD.NOS Service Dogs, PSYCHIATRIC SERVICE DOGs, Service Dogs, SERVICE DOGS FOR CEREBRAL PALSY, Service Dogs for meltdowns, sleep Apnea, Tethering, Tethering Service Dogs
I would like to start this blog off with a letter I recently received from a client:
Amelia wears a five strapped harness on her rides to and from school. Once she got out of the harness, climbed a fence, ran across the freeway, over a second fence, over rocks, and started swimming out into Lake Michigan. A “good Samaritan” stopped his car, went after, and saved her life.
Two of the main characteristics that Amelia profoundly suffers from is absent speech, and no safety awareness. As Amelia got older and bigger, it continued to be harder to keep her strapped into strollers, and next to impossible to lift her into shopping carts. Without these safety measures, she would run away not being aware of dangers surrounding her. Speeding cars in parking lots and on roads, or lakes and ponds posed the greatest threats.
We started looking into the possibility of a service dog for Amelia when she was about 7 years old. Her escaping became epidemic, and we had near fatal results. However, ever since the first phone call with Bob from Dog Wish, I knew we were in good hands. We were involved in the training process the best that we could be from Wisconsin. Bob took the time to have conference calls with Amelia’s school to make sure they had all the information that they needed to ready the students and staff of Cora’s arrival. Bob also took multiple calls from Amelia’s in-home therapists so they were all prepared as well. Not to mention all the phone calls, texts and emails from me!
The trip to California to get Cora was emotional. Cora and Bob were waiting for us at the airport. Once Cora sniffed Amelia and realized that it was “her girl” that was it… They have been best friends ever since. Cora is tether trained. This means that Amelia wears a special belt and a short tether connects her to Cora. At first it was not easy and there was a lot or resistance. Bob never gave up, and now, it has just become routine. She’s not allowed out of the house without being tethered, and she is safe.
If Amelia feels the need to try to run while tethered, Cora lays down and it is quite a struggle for Amelia to go anywhere. If we are at home, and Amelia runs out the door or gets too close to the road when they are not tethered together, we tell Cora to “Go Get Amelia” and she runs to her and gets in front of her to slow her down or distract her until we can get there.
Cora and Amelia have been together for just over 2 years now. Every morning they ride the school bus together. They attend 6th grade together at Kiel Middle School where Amelia is treated just like any regular student, even though she isn’t. They both attend an after school program for special needs kids 4 days a week. They have attended week-long camps together in Sheboygan and Wisconsin Dells. We have traveled to the International PMSF Foundation Conference in Florida this past summer. But most of all, Amelia and Cora love to play together when Cora is “off-duty”. They are truly best friends.
I can honestly say I don’t know where my family would be today without the addition of Cora. Not only is she amazing for Amelia, but Cora loves her “boy” Wyatt also. They snuggle and go on adventures outside in the woods when Cora isn’t working. Cora also enjoys chasing all the bunny rabbits out of the yard! But, is always on “alert” and is there for Amelia in a moment’s notice!
This opportunity to have Cora has been truly lifesaving for Amelia. I do not have the constant worry if she is safe anymore. That is something that is absolute priceless. And that would not have been possible without Bob Taylor, and Dog Wish!
He was 9 years old, and the family was on vacation and walking down through the shops in the State Capitol. Dad had been delegated as the dog’s (a Dog Wish certified Service Dog) handler for that day. This was because he had intentionally ignored the Dog, not willing to recognize how much of a help the dog had been for his son. This Autism thing had been a tremendous disappointment for him, and the dog was just another part of it, so just like he had his son, he rejected the pain he felt and couldn’t bear, because he had Autism. He didn’t want to handle the dog, or have to tell the dog what to do, which was ruining his day. Now the dog wouldn’t do a thing he wanted, and was acting like a jerk. The dog had been pulling, jerking away, and now started to bark at him in protest. “What’s wrong with this stupid dog?” he yelled at his wife? Suddenly his wife grabbed his arm, wide eyed, and hysterical, and shouted, “Where is he? You were supposed to be watching him?” “What are you screaming about”, he questioned? “Our son, he was supposed to be with you. Where is he?” I don’t know,” he responded, “I’m just trying to handle this stupid dog”, he said. “He’s trying to tell you your son has eloped, and his life is endangered”, she explained in a loud voice. Finally she grabbed and unhooked the leash from the dog’s collar. “Oh great, now we REALLY have a problem”, the father said.
The dog took off at a full run down the street, while the family ran after him. “That stupid dog,” the father was yelling, “I’m calling Dog Wish and sending him back, the moment we get him.” They turned the corner, out of breath, in time to see the dog running full speed after their son, who was 30 feet from the city’s biggest highway. The cars were moving at 65 miles-per-hour, and no one expected a 9-year-old little boy to come running right across the traffic. The family watched in horror, out of breath, and helpless as the boy headed for the traffic. Lucky for them their dog was faster, caught up to and hit him first, before he reached the road. The boy fell forwards, and skidded on the ground. The dog jumped on him, and sat on top of him, holding him down until they could get there. That night the mother called, put dad on the phone, and listened while he choked out the words, “we wanted to call and say thank you, for training our dog to save…our son’s…life”. Everyone was crying. It was very emotional. He then thanked me for all the work I had tried to do with them, and apologized for not being more responsive. Since then, a year ago, they’ve been fine. The dog goes, tethered, to their son, everywhere he now goes.
Forty nine to sixty percent of individuals disabled by either Autism, or Alzheimer’s habitually elope, or escape, and with the current growth trends (of 12 to 17% a year) for both of these disabilities, the need for trained search and rescue dogs is “off-the-chart”.
For over a decade Dog Wish has been producing the World’s top Special Needs Psychiatric Search Dogs, combatting elopements, “run-aways”, and escapees. For the past 5 years there isn’t a month that has gone by without a Dog Wish Service Dog saving the life of at least one special needs client in the act of a dangerous elopement, bolt, escape, or whatever else you want to call it. So how has Dog Wish achieved this ability?
Search Dog History
Since 1978 the Dog Wish Administrative staff has been directly involved in training for Master Tracking Dog, Search & Rescue Disaster Tracking Dogs, and the training of dogs for Narcotics and Accelerants (Bomb Dog) Detection.
In doing so, in 1986 we started competing in dog sports, where we put over 25 tracking titles on dogs and placed 18 times in National Competition, placing first 6 years in a row. We also qualified to compete at the World Championships 12 times in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Belgium, & France, on the American Team, (qualifying in the Nation’s top 5 scoring dog teams for Tracking Dogs), where we scored excellent, almost every time. In order to do this we had to go early each year, and work with top trainers from Europe in different locations, to prepare our dogs to compete. We humbled ourselves, and spent time working hard to learn how to produce top quality working Tracking, Search & Rescue, and Police K9s. Very few Americans succeed in this endeavor, so we became successful where hundreds of America’s best had failed before, and after us.
Dog Wish filled the National Void
On 9-11-1991, one of the first calls Major Julianni’s secretary made, was to my home, asking for help in the form of Disaster Search Dogs. We were still in bed when the phone rang. I was shocked. When FEMA cancelled the funding for the Nation’s Disaster Dog Program in 2002, Dr. David Kelso, PHD, the Northwest Director for FEMA Disaster Dogs called us, asking for help. The late Doctor David Kelso, was a National leading Medical Administrator, as Director of several Mental Hospitals and Facilities and Hospital Departments of Neuro-Surgery, and the Vice President of the American Red Cross in Wyoming. Dave had already trained and worked with 6 other Disaster Dogs, and he needed a new dog he had purchased, to be trained for Search and Rescue. It was at that time that we had decided to include search training in our Autism Service Dog Program, and his desires coincided with ours. We saw this as a chance to further our goals, and his, together.
No one had ever trained an Akita for Master Tracking or Search & Rescue before, and once Casper came we found out why. His instinctive drives were not what we wanted to use as a foundation for the work. His drive to find food was not real high. To Casper, food came prepared, and in a bowl, which he would pick at, and meal time for his lasted 2 to 3 hours. He was very spoiled. We took our time, and restarted his tracking training 4 times, because he just couldn’t handle the stress of the track, which was not his favorite place.
Finally, I got an idea. We had been working on a program where we were teaching dogs to detect the energies produced by someone’s brain as it worked. The brain would project out these energies, and I was teaching dogs to pick up on them and respond to them, much like a dog learned to detect scent work in AKC Obedience trials, where they could smell the difference between their handler’s glove, and someone else’s glove. If a dog could detect that, they should also be able to discriminate between energies from their electro-magnetic field. Since everyone has a different combination of energies, each person’s electro-magnetic energies are different, and therefore distinguishable. I was right.
We trained Casper to detect someone’s energy hiding in the high desert terrain, go to and find him, and then get to eat his food, the way he wanted. In fact, Casper loved it! He progressed consistently and quickly I was able to call and tell Dave that his dog was able to find someone 1 ½ miles away in less than 5 minutes. Dave drove down, trained with us, took Casper home, and certified him for S & R work the next week. Casper became the world’s first Certified Akita for Search and Rescue work. Instead of just tracking ground scent or air sent, Casper could also locate people by their distinct electro-magnetic energies. This gave Casper and advantage that no other dog had. Casper quickly gained a reputation for doing searches that no other search dog was capable of doing.
Two months after Dave took him home Wyoming experienced the greatest snow storm of the century. Dave got a call in the middle of the night. Eight men in a hunting party of were stranded and lost, ten miles north of Casper Wyoming, and were freezing to death in the snow. No Police or tracking dog could find their trail, and they were wondering if Dave’s dog might, just by chance, be capable of doing, what no other dog could. Dave and Casper not only could, Casper went right to them. It was 30 % below 0 temperature, at 3 am in the morning, in over 6 foot of snow, and not one man lost one appendage, got frost bite, or suffered a single problem, because Casper was trained by Dog Wish! Dave then became very excited about our new training methods.
After explaining how we able to train our dogs to tune into electro-magnetic energies from the people the dogs were trained to find, Dr. Kelso flew out and spent another week training dogs with us. Dave then had us train three other certified K9s for him, which he then used for 2 years, doing Search and Rescue and Police Dog work. Based on the performance of the dogs we had trained, he confirmed our findings, and coined the phrase, “brainwave sensitive”, to describe Dog Wish Service Dogs.
The Service Dogs Dr. Kelso received from Dog Wish did what he considered amazing things that other search dogs could not do. Along with many other things, while walking down the street one night, they stopped and indicated an unknown home, in a neighborhood in Roswell New Mexico. Dave went to the local Court and convinced a Judge to give him a warrant to search the home. Inside they found 4 children who were kidnapped from different States, and were holding them for sale. Dave believed that what we did through our training gave them the incredible edge they needed to do these things. It is Dr. Kelso who documented and proved that “Dog Wish Search Dogs are Brainwave Sensitive”. It is our special combination of Master Tracking Dog Training, and our Dog Wish Energy Detection Dog Training, that made Casper the Nation’s top Search and Rescue Dog and Top Therapy Dog. Dave’s Dog Wish K9 Dogs were certified as Police K9s in 4 different States where they were “on call” for special needs. They therefore became known as the first “Special Needs” Police K9 Dogs.
Since then, every dog we place with someone goes through the Dog Wish Tracking and Scent Detection School, and is trained, every day, to detect and focus on their handler’s scent. We have found that this training is essential for every type of disability we train a dog for. We now use this training to create an “emotional bond” between each dog and their future handler, before they ever meet. When the handler comes for the dog, the dog already knows them intimately!
Even more than that, we have found that teaching our dogs to detect, understand, and alert when their handler is going through the mental process where their brain is developing the intention to produce an unwanted or abnormal behavior, is essential, to safe guard their handler’s life. The following link is to a video made about a Dog Wish Service Search K9 dog that is doing it all: http://youtu.be/BzUak3dECi8
Dog Wish Service Dogs perform up to 6 times the number of functions, or tasks, that the ADA requires for Service Dog Certification. Although S & R training is a very important, our main emphasis is on detecting and stopping the individual, before they even have a chance to place themselves in danger.