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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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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Jacqueline
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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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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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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Gucci's mom
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Hi Lori,
Welcome to the forum! I sort of use my dog as a service dog, unofficially, I'm chronically ill with lupus, Myofascial syndrome, interstitial cystitis are my 3 main auto immune problems, but I am just an auto-immune mess. A few people started talking to me about dogs and the way they can help heal, so I talked myself into it and researched it til' I found havanese. I have to say, she's been an incredible healing force for me, and a great companion on those days where I can't get out of bed or look at light, she is such a trooper, won't even bother me for food or going out to sniff the yard, she is very intuitive and has that female care-taker instinct. i had read that females make better service animals for those who are ill, I guess its the doggy version of women's intuition .

When I first got her, I was 5'8 and 98 lbs, I looked like death and was frequently told so, lol, but I am now at a much healthier 120. Its hard to put on weight when you are sick with certain ailments. I do think she can sense flares coming on, I have noticed some behavior cues before flares over the last year or so. Getting her was the best decision I have made, better than any prescription from the pharmacy.. I still take those though, lol..unfortunately. But I am very grateful for her and I can't imagine a flare without her snuggling with me. She reads my mind, people that I don't like, she doesn't like..

I'm not familiar with Dystonia, but I do believe dogs can help chronically ill humans, no doubt about it.

Keep us posted, we'd love to hear about your journey training your havanese as a service animal

:welcome:

Kara
 

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This is just in reference to the migraine people. Just a shot in the dark but my daughter suffered daily from headaches and migraines, then married a man who had to be on a gluten free diet. As soon as she changed her household to gluten free and followed the diet herself......no more headaches. This was after MRI's, a neurologist, a chiropractor.....it was gluten
 

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Metrowest, MA
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This is just in reference to the migraine people. Just a shot in the dark but my daughter suffered daily from headaches and migraines, then married a man who had to be on a gluten free diet. As soon as she changed her household to gluten free and followed the diet herself......no more headaches. This was after MRI's, a neurologist, a chiropractor.....it was gluten
Funny you should mention that, because I also have suffered from severe migraines most of my adult life.

For general health reasons, we recently switched our family to a completely organic, non-GMO diet. Because virtually ALL wheat was genetically modified long enough ago that there IS no more "natural" wheat left in cultivation, even "organic" wheat contains a protein, gliadin, which is not natural, and is processed as a "foreign invader" by most people. (this is different than celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and affects MANY more people without their knowledge, and causes chronic inflammation in MANY people) For this reason, although I have not cut organic wheat completely out of the diet for the whole family, I've stopped eating it for the most part, and eat wheat/gluten free breads now. (unlike a few years ago, there are MANY really tasty options now!)

Whether it is switching to a fully organic diet, taking wheat OUT of my diet, or a combination, my migraines have gone to at least 2-3 per week (even though I am on a preventative med) to only a handful per month, and MUCH less severe. I've only had one that couldn't be stopped by my "rescue" medicine since we switched to organic. I have also experienced less chronic joint pain from my RA. In my case, I really think it is the wheat that is the culprit, rather than gluten, because I have never had any gastro symptoms, and I continue to eat other (organic) sources of gluten without any noticeable problems.

Quite honestly, I'm a little concerned about how I'm going to do after Thanksgiving dinner with family that doesn't cook organic. At least I'm going to take my wheat free, organic, "Prairie Bread" along!!!:)
 

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This is just in reference to the migraine people. Just a shot in the dark but my daughter suffered daily from headaches and migraines, then married a man who had to be on a gluten free diet. As soon as she changed her household to gluten free and followed the diet herself......no more headaches. This was after MRI's, a neurologist, a chiropractor.....it was gluten
Thanks Lise for the info. Unfortunately for me my migraines are from a bad car accident I was in and I had fractured my neck, the worst of it was the hospital that I was taken to never caught it. A few years later a different doctor that I started going to had caught it in both the original and a new x-ray and saw that it did not heal properly (probably do to the fact they did not put me in a neck brace) so this is now some thing that i will continue to live with for the remainder of my life :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hey again, this thread has gotten interesting! I am an artist, licensed massage therapist, certified yoga instructor, 3rd degree Reiki practitioner/ teacher and am certified in a couple other things too...I have dedicated my life to helping people with suffering, physical and emotional. I'm vegetarian, a distributor of organic, non GMO supplements..etc., etc....then 3 years ago I was hit so hard with the onset of Dystonia (third largest neuromuscular disorder) and my life "ended"...I lost 55ibs at 5'5", spent months calling in favors to chiropractors, craniosacral, acupuncturists, etc., then went Western medicine. After 60 doctors, procedures, Parkinson's drugs I ended up being allergic to causing me to lose my memory for a year. I have finally gotten the right combo of pain killer, muscle relaxer and anti spasm Meds then I have recently found out my mom has had her whole life too, but she always said it was arthritis or something in explainable, being tested for MS, lupus , polio when little...I'm sorry I'm spewing, but this little dog issue is the most exciting thing that's happened in 3 years. I have been told I will spend my lifetime in a wheelchair, although I fight that everyday, walk, move, use crutches...after this ramble, what I'm wondering for those that have replied, how does your dog alert you to onset of migraine, seizure, muscle attack, high anxiety? How do they respond or let you know? I've never had a girl dog, always boys...it makes sense that they would be natural caretakers. Please forgive my history ramble, I'm just trying to give an idea of how active and independent I was helping others and now I am desperate for the same thing myself as well as a "detector" and snuggle partner. Happy thanksgiving...I appreciate your patience and replies more than you know! I also need to know how much to money to save, I know you can't sell on here, I will look at the NC breeder list and inquire. Thanks again!!

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what I'm wondering for those that have replied, how does your dog alert you to onset of migraine, seizure, muscle attack, high anxiety? How do they respond or let you know? I've never had a girl dog, always boys...it makes sense that they would be natural caretakers. Please forgive my history ramble, I'm just trying to give an idea of how active and independent I was helping others and now I am desperate for the same thing myself as well as a "detector" and snuggle partner. Happy thanksgiving...I appreciate your patience and replies more than you know! I also need to know how much to money to save, I know you can't sell on here, I will look at the NC breeder list and inquire. Thanks again!!
Lori I can not speak for all, when it comes to dogs alerting. My Girl will constantly smell me (more in my face) and when the chemicals in my body change I guess is how she tells. but she will kind of back away quickly like some one with bad breath and then comes back like to double check, if I am starting a migraine she will start to paw at me and let out a little whimper, if I am not then she just goes back to lying down next to me.

When she first started doing this it drove me nuts, because I don't like the dogs to be right in my face, and I could never figure out why she would do this to me all the time, until my friend that has her seizure alert Aussie asked me if I noticed anything different when she would do this, of course I never put two and two together, but she continued to tell me to watch her and when she does it again to check my time and see if something in me or else wise seems to change and low and behold sure enough when she did it again with in 30-45 minutes later I was down with a major migraine. so the following time when she did it again I took my meds and I had no pain. A part of me felt that I just took meds that were not needed so the next time I ignored it, but when she alerted me sure enough I ended up with another migraine. So needlessly to say, I have learned :D

I know my friend with her Aussie she alerts her by making her sit down and she gets her medication. I remember one time at a show she even saved a man that was going into cardiac arrest. It is not typical for an alert dog to do that for someone else, but is was amazing none the less. The guy n ever even knew he had a heart condition until that day.

Hi Lori,
i had read that females make better service animals for those who are ill, I guess its the doggy version of women's intuition .

Kara
This I have to disagree with - sorry Kara- but my service girl had in her first litter a boy that I believe has her same sense, as he went to work with severely handicap children everyday, and I am told how he always goes to the harder kids and one kid in particular that does have seizures. I truly do believe that if it is the right kind of mind set in a dog it does not matter if is a boy or a girl.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
How can you tell when choosing from a litter if they are going to be inclined to be sensitive to these issues? My dad and his girlfriend breed labs for companion dogs and they said they can tell within 3 weeks the personality of each dog in the litter and a good breeder would know which puppy would be good for my needs. They have a friend named Alice who breeds Havanese somewhere close to here. I'm hoping I can get more info...

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey all, there is so much info on this forum, I'm really happy I found it! I've connected with quite a few people now that have service dogs with my disorder and migraines both, and all of them self trained or their dog just naturally knows. If the dog is used for counterbalancing for walking etc., they are professionally or self trained, but from what I see, if I get a puppy with a good connection, it occurs on its own. This is just one link I found about migraines since that topic was brought up:
http://http://www.fitasfido.com/2011/09/26/migraine-alert-dogs-2/

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Hey all, there is so much info on this forum, I'm really happy I found it! I've connected with quite a few people now that have service dogs with my disorder and migraines both, and all of them self trained or their dog just naturally knows. If the dog is used for counterbalancing for walking etc., they are professionally or self trained, but from what I see, if I get a puppy with a good connection, it occurs on its own. This is just one link I found about migraines since that topic was brought up:
http://http://www.fitasfido.com/2011/09/26/migraine-alert-dogs-2/

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Yay Lori, it really is a great forum!
 
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