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Service Dog
Old 11-12-2012, 07:34 PM   #1
Lori Raines
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Service Dog

Hi, I am new here!
I have a neuromuscular disorder called Dystonia. It's the third largest disorder of its kind behind Parkinson's. in fact, Michael J. Fox has it, but never mentions it. A form most people can relate to would be writers cramp. That is actually a form of Focal Dystonia!
Anyway, that being said, my neurologist has prescribed a service dog for me, not for balance walking, but for companionship but mostly to detect situations involving a lot of sensory input or places, people, etc., that can cause unnecessary nervous system overload.
I have owned two Shih tzus in the past nd although love able, found them to be very stubborn to train. I have heard that Havanese are very trainable and respond quickly to commands taught to them.
Is there anyone in this forum that uses their Havanese as a service dog and if so, in what way?
Thanks so much! Lori
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:13 PM   #2
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I don't use my dog as a service dog but I can say I also had a shih-tzu before my Havanese. I agree they are very sweet. But Riley(my Havanese) learns SOOO much more quickly and easily than my shih-tzu did. I don't think my shih-tzu was stubborn, I just think Riley is so much smarter
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Old 11-12-2012, 09:00 PM   #3
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One of our owners has one that she has trained as a service dog. She was VERY experienced in training dogs though. Some individual (far from all) Havanese would be capable of doing what you want, but my big question is who will do the training.
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Old 11-12-2012, 09:05 PM   #4
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Welcome Lori,
I've never had a service dog, but have worked with a few, professionally as I am in the public schools.

You don't have to train them yourself, there are organizations that do that, but with your specific neurological disease, I'd assume, that there haven't been that many service dogs trained for that. I know in the U.K. they train yorkies for type I diabetes. they train them to smell a particular blood sugar level, to give the person a 45 minute window to eat or inject some insulin.

what city, state are you in? I'm out in CA.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:24 AM   #5
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Hi everyone,
I'm in NC. My dad breeds labs, has them trained for companion dogs. A friend of mine with the same disorder has a Newfie . It's huge. It's counter balances her, nudges her to sit and when I saw her, she got between my legs like a horse! She knew I needed to be in a wheelchair. (I'm 95 lbs so the dog was ready for a ride!). My friend has self trained her from 8 weeks, teaching her one word commands for picking up things she drops, I would have to do that too...I have been researching self training service dogs for anxiety. I only began this idea after meeting my friend, my neuro suggested it and I started looking at small breeds. I clicked on a pic that looked like a Shih tzu puppy but was a Havanese and was instantly fascinated and knew this was the breed I wanted (gut instinct kind of thing) so, to answer...I don't know if I can learn to self teach, send it away to be taught or have a trainer come to me. There are several breeders in NC near me, couple of hours...I want to talk to them and at the same time research all my saved links on dogs for anxiety (google didn't understand "dogs for nervous system overload" , lol...


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Old 11-13-2012, 09:31 AM   #6
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Havanese are wildly smart so I'm sure they could be trained by a professional and yourself together. Im sure you would have to find someone that specializes in service dog training though. Look up CJ and Jasmine on You tube to see what a Havanese can do. She may even know of the proper trainers to seek. CJ is on Facebook and Twitter also
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:19 PM   #7
Lori Raines
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Thank you all for your questions and suggestions. I've been reading more on dogs specifically trained for helping with owners anxiety / nervous system issues. It's quite expensive from what I've seen so far but I've also talked with a few people that have dogs for this purpose and they ALL self trained them! I haven't gotten specifics on how they begin this kind of training. I am on a very tight income, awaiting my disability hearing on December 3. I've been trying to save up, my son and I have a puppy money jar...I have prescription from my neuro, where to get vests and patches, but I'm stumped on the training part. By the time I have money saved up (I still have no idea how much a Havenese puppy is...I'm set on the breed though) I will hopefully know how to best train my best friend. If anyone has any more input, I'd appreciate it...btw, I'm in NC, near Asheville and I saw Tom is in NC...I'd love to visit and see one in person...I have puppy fever but I'm going to be very diligent and dedicated to this process. Happy Thanksgiving!


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Old 11-21-2012, 10:18 PM   #8
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Hi Lori, and welcome
I do have one of my Havanese as a service dog. She detects my migraines before I even know they are coming on. It has been a god send for me. She was a self taught (meaning she had the natural instincts) and I had to learn that from a friend of mine who has a Aussie as her service dog. So when we learned that is what she was doing I had her certified. She is now almost 8 years old and I worry about being able to get another dog that can do the same as her when that time comes. It is horrible when I would get my migraines as they would put me in a dark room for nearly 3 days at a time and when you get them between 2 to 3 times a month, that is a lot of time away. now she tells me and I am able to take my medication and i will either have no pain or a very minor headache. I feel these guys are very intelligent and quick to learn, but I also feel it does take a special kind of dog to do services. For the kind you are talking it may not be as hard as those that have to detect certain things like seizers or migraines etc.
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:36 PM   #9
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I have migraines too, I'm forty and I've had them since I was 16. With my disorder I get the worse and more frequently. I have episodal attacks where my muscles freeze and I can't move, or sometimes just a random body part. Weather, hormones and stress sets it off, but sometimes it's out of the blue. Thank you for replying...I found out with a prescription they don't have to be certified. I'm stuck on knowing whether I could self train...that would be ideal!


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Old 11-21-2012, 10:40 PM   #10
Lori Raines
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My muscle attacks are similar maybe to a dog as seizures...migraines and too much nervous system activity are what I need it to help me with. Depression from being housebound is a plus, too. I'm a single mom of a 13 year old and he really wants to see me have a " helper" ...



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