Friday, July 19, 2013

The Good and the Bad

                   The Children with Diabetes Friend for Life Conference has had a great deal of positives and some I was not expecting. I knew when I was there I would feel more energized and have an even better outlook on my diabetes which was true. I know I knew Duchess would handle the whole event in stride even with being surrounded by people who were interested in diabetic alert dogs. I know I could not of been more proud of Duchess and how well she did at the conference. She made it look easy which is what I am aiming for. I know all the constant work keeping up with her training did show through her good behavior at the conference. I felt like a very proud parent at these moments. I know I was not expecting to have Duchess alerting be even more sharp after alerting to all my new friends at the conference. I thought she might be slightly off for the first day or two back home but she was on top of it and has not missed one yet. I think she was also refreshed by our vacation even though we we up late every night and going non stop the whole time she seems to be even more passionate about her job now. I know all my new friends were worried they would wear her out but she is sharp as ever. I think she enjoyed the conference more than I realized. Always a bonus when my service dog can get something out of an event as well.

                   The conference also made me realize that I have seen some new service dogs that displayed bad behavior at the conference as well. I know a family had a SDIT (service dog in training) and the dog I think was over a  year old and popped all over the floor at the conference registration desk. This kind of behavior is not acceptable for a service dog or SDIT. A SDIT should be potty trained before going into public places. I was startled by this. These kind of situations hurt all of the well trained service dogs out there who work hard to have a well trained and well behaved service animal.There also was another service dog that was owned by another little girl and this dog was pulling the little girl around and she was not in control. I have seen service dogs owned by children who do not pull and drag the child around but it is a great deal of work and I have a feeling that the family is not doing regular training with the dog. I also noticed that the dog seemed overwhelmed in many ways. I also noticed they were using a chock chain which I try not to use. If I have to start using a chock chain I will usually increase my training to get things back in order. There is times that I have had to use it but it is not a regular thing for me. I know having a service dog is great deal of work but when you own one everything you do is a reflection on all service dogs good and bad. So I always try my best to be a good example of a service dog team. The little girl was also letting everyone pet her service dog and that also creates issues for teams like me who do not want our service dogs pet because it can cause issues with focus and overall bond of the team.


  1. I have been involved in service dogs longer than many, and have come to the conclusion that service dogs and children teams usually don't work. For reasons you state and sooo many other reasons. I know many will be angered by my statement but I hear of more failures than successes regarding service dogs accompanying kids.

    My own opinion is that many organizations that offer service dogs to children oversell the idea and make a lot of promises that appeal to the parent who wants only the best for their child. Blunt truth, some of these programs almost seem predatory in the way they work on a parent's emotions with their sunshine and rainbows promises.

  2. I have seen a large amount of failures for service dog teams with children as well. I know I have struggled at times keeping things up as an adult and I'm sure for a family is it difficult.

    I know I have heard so many lies that many of the families believe such as alerting from 9 miles away which is not true. I know they seem to prey on people emotions which is terrible. I try to educate people to how much work it is. I see too many families on social media who make it out to be easy which is not helpful. I appreciate the blunt truth in your response.

  3. Thanks for the post, Tarra. I agree with you: those non-trained or poorly-trained alert dogs give ALL alert dogs a bad name... and go against all the science and anecdotal benefits showing they work well. As the science on all this evolves, and more people and trainers become aware of these issues, hope they take that more into account.

  4. Thanks Mike. I am really frustrated by how this makes great team looks but also the long term impact this can have. I know you saw first hand the benefits of having an alert dog but I have a feeling that most families truly have no idea how much work that entails. I know most families are probably so overwhelmed so it makes sense but will be interesting in the future to see how they handle these issues. Children service dog teams have a much higher failure rate.