Monday, February 24, 2014

Skruffy is Going to do WHAT???

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Service Dogs come in all shapes and sizes…..there are the medium sized Service Dogs

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….the small Service Dogs, some of whom will grow up into another level

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and of course, there are the BIG Service Dogs.

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The thing about Service Dogs is that they can perform a wide range of functions.  

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I think we have all been exposed to dog which assist those who are blind, and unfortunately the need to assist our War Veterans/Heroes who came home missing limbs is becoming to familiar these days.

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Many of you know that I am a retired Public Library Director.  Although this service was not found in the area around the city I was located in, many Public Libraries do have  Reading Therapy Dog programs.  Friends of mine in other cities found this to be a very positive program to get kids to read by reading to the dogs.

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And of course, we are familiar with the Poker Playing Dogs….but they are just a joke.  What is not a joke is that our little Skruffy is now going to be considered a Service Dog.  Skruffy the Rescue Dog, turned Library Dog (she really went to work in the Library with me every day from when I got her until I retired), will now turn into a Service Dog.  Obviously this will allow Skruffy to live in the Condo.  But there is a very valuable need that Skruffy is going to fulfill for Marcia, who if you did not know by now, has MS.  For the past ten days or so we have done much research on this subject.  We have also consulted our Attorney, who just happens to specialize in Real Estate Law….and is the owner of a Title Company.

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I found this very neat document put out by the DOJ.  Here are some excerpts….
    Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained
    to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

    When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

    Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
So, the fair question is, what is it that Skruffy is trained to do?
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Marcia’s biggest fear is falling, injuring her hip replacement of two years ago, and not having anyone around to help her.  When I leave Marcia in the Condo, Skruffy will be there with her wearing this “Hot Pink” Mesh Harness.

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In the pocket will be a cell phone.  Skruffy comes to Marcia whenever she calls for her.  So in this case, she is already trained for the service she will be providing.  We are going to purchase a secondary, emergency cell phone which will allow her to call me, or call 911, or even just to call her normal cell phone if she mislaid it somewhere.

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A secondary task she will be performing deals with our doorbell.  Marcia is very sensitive to unexpected loud noises…the sound of sudden loud bell or buzzer over stimulates her nerves and can bring on an exacerbation of MS (also known as a relapse, attack, or flare-up).  So the doorbell will be tailored way down….so low that if she is napping she would not be able to hear it.  But Skruffy will hear it, and those who know Skruffy know how she reacts to someone at the door. 
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As for the emergency cell phone, the best plan I have found so far is from PagePlus.  They seem to use the Verizon network, which for us is good.  A phone will cost $20, and for $10 we can have 100 minutes for 120 days.  So for a $20 investment, and then $30 per year, we have us an emergency phone.  Well worth it in our book.

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When we first told Bubba, he just started laughing and rolling on the ground.  “Skruffy is going to do what?”, he seemed to be saying.

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Then he turned his back on us, like he was thinking, “Why does that little girl get all the lucky jobs?”  Well Bubba, we do love you too.  But let’s face it…..who is the first one to bark when there is a knock at the door or the doorbell rings?  When we call Skruffy, she comes….when we call you, many times you start pretending that you’re a cat.  If we could have two service dogs, believe us…you would be one of them.  However, we can only have one service dog…and remember, we still plan on being together in the motorhome most of the time anyway.

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So, what does the Condo Association think of this???  Well, that juicy story will just have to wait for a couple of days as our lawyer talks to their lawyer.  Believe me, what I have to say about the initial comments from the Association representative we talked to will be something you won’t want to miss….

9 comments:

  1. That is terrific for Marcia to know that she will have help near by. How nice that Skruffy will be the helper:)

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  2. Great idea! It looks like Skruffy will be a wonderful helper for Marcia and alleviate worries that both of you may have when she's in the house alone.

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  3. The first time we talked about it was many months ago while on the road. We were thinking that it would take so much to get her trained...we never looked into...thought dropped out of our minds. Then about 10 days ago I was driving through Tarpon Springs on my way to visit our dogs and I see this bus stop bench advertisement which says, "We can train any dog to be a service dog..." I told Marcia about it, and this time did the research. Could not believe that there is NO SPECIAL CERTIFICATE needed. We thought about different things that she could be trained to do, and with the lawyer's help, we narrowed it down to the two items. We still might have her trained for more stuff....but it is hard to do when she is only going to be around for another 60 days or so.

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  4. You know, I've seen people fake service dogs - and that's wrong and selfish. But in a situation like yours and Marcias, I couldn't be happier. And how lucky that Skruffy is already trained and a member of the family. I can't wait for your next post. I've lived in two different condos with absolutely HORRID condo associations, and I sure feel your pain on that score. No pets? That's just not human in my opinion. Loud dogs? No. Barking-all-the-time dogs? No. Owners not picking up after their dogs? No. But a nice quiet, clean pet? Hell Yeah. Everyone who wants one should be able to have one. Good luck to your lawyer, I hope he comes out miles ahead! :)

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    1. Believe me, the discussion as to if this is a "fake thing" or not, as we first discussed it, definitely crossed our minds. But the more I researched it, the more I saw that Skruffy could actually perform an important service. And when we hit on the idea of her assisting Marcia if she fell while I was away...well that conversation went from teaching Skruffy to bring a phone to her, to us just buying a service pack for her to wear while I am away with a phone in it...and that's when we knew we were onto something. And then when the Secretary of the Association rang our doorbell (which was the first time we had heard it) and we realized how that does have an adverse effect on Marcia...well that opened up the second reason (you only need one reason). We also discussed having Skruffy professionally trained, but with us being gone for 7-8 months each year that just was not practical.

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  5. Great work if she can get it . . .! I agree with the above comments; I have bad feelings about people who fake disabilities, etc. to be able to stick the handicap sticker inside their car, etc. But, having seen the results when a disabled person had fallen and was unable to call for help, I think this Scruffy-helper-dog activity is fantastic. And, she may gradually learn more service activities as she goes along.
    I met a young lady at a week-long computer course in San Francisco several years ago. I became enthralled with her service dog, a Golden Retriever. The lady was a paraplegic with limited use of her hands and arms. That dog opened doors, pulled the TP off the roll, turned water on and off, picked up credit cards and / or coins that had fallen on the floor. Absolutely amazing. And, probably the most amazing was that they lived in Oakland and they took BART to the financial district of SF in the morning and the dog assisted her all day long - with no breaks (water, potty, food, etc.). She had been trained to go from the time they left home until they returned home without needing the dog facilities. I lived in San Rafael for many years and am very familiar with Guide Dogs; the dogs are very visible during their training to become a guide dog - it's incredible. But, no more than that Golden Retriever I met in San Francisco.
    Bravo for Scruffy and I'm sure Bubba with think something up to get in the club!

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    1. A full service dog is very well trained, takes years and a lot of money and the right dog. That was our thought at the very beginning which is why we gave up on the thought...but then when I looked into, well there was no doubt that as long as a dog can offer a service which is really needed, no matter how great or small, than if it can do it, it can be classified as a service dog. I was very blown away with the fact that there does not have to be any professional training...just as long as they are trained to do something which is a need by the person who is disabled. And as you know, because you have met us, there is no doubt that Marcia can not move around very well. And ever since her "hip" doctor told her that she needed to be careful because if that new hip ever came out of socket, she will feel the worse pain of her life. It has scared her to death ever since.

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  6. I pray that things will work out well, with the condo, regarding having Skruffy as a service animal. It would truly be a blessing. I'll pray...

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    1. Thank you Lynnie...it has been a bit stressful for Marcia, that's for sure.

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