IamA foster parent / trainer at 4 Paws for Ability (service dogs) AMA!
THANK YOU! You guys asked some great questions! I have homework I need to work on but I'll try to come back to tie up the loose ends. I am done answering questions for now.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the intelligent discussions and support!
Donate, volunteer, or just smile at the next service dog you see! :)
I work with http://4pawsforability.org/ and we train service dogs for children and veterans. I personally help with the little rugrats, 4 - 12 week old puppies.
Service Dog v. Therapy Dog
I'd like to point out the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs. Service dogs, like the ones we raise, are trained to complete specific tasks for a specific individual. They go through YEARS of training and have a "ruff" job. Therapy dogs are usually calm dogs who are not trained to do specific tasks. These are the dogs you can see at hospitals, schools, and nursing homes.They also go through strict training but are not helpers to people defined as disabled by the ADA.
It is NOT OKAY to buy a vest online and pass your dog off as a service or therapy dog.
What do they help with?
- Hearing Ear
- Autism Assistance
- Mobility Assistance
- Seizure Assistance
- Diabetic Alert
- FASD Assistance
- Veteran Support
Should I get a Service Dog? Hey, they cost $15,000. Plus, we only work with children and veterans. You still in? Awesome! We're glad to have you! Please visit this link to be directed to our website and to learn more about the process.
A Service Dog's Life
Birth: They hang out with their brothers, sisters, and mom in our Puppy House. At the Puppy House they will constantly be monitored by yours truly. I watch for signs of mental problems, aggression, and health issues.
4 Weeks Old: Training begins! They are introduced to daily play time with their brothers, sisters, and human volunteers. This will continue until they are 12 weeks old.
5 Weeks Old: They go outside! They begin to take daily adventures outside to get used to cars, nature, other animals, and general dog outside stuff. Don't worry, they aren't placed on the ground until they're 100% vaccinated
6 Weeks Old: VEST! This is when the puppy gets their job tools. They are fitted for a service vest and begin to take daily trips (with human volunteers) to the community. They go to the mall, Target, Home Depot, the library, and local schools. This is so they can get used to being in public.
12 Weeks Old: The puppy goes to jail! No, seriously. We are partners with local prisons. An inmate gets a puppy and begins basic training and housebreaking.
4 Months Old: The puppy is released from prison and is placed in a foster home (I take part in this as well!). Here, they live with a family and continue basic training / housebreaking. We are one of the few organizations that do NOT require families to give up their existing pets. So during fostering, we encourage foster homes to have other animals in the house.
10 Months Old: The puppy leaves his foster family and heads back to headquarters. Here, he is assigned a child and begins advanced service training. This is when he starts working on the jobs his human will need him to do. He and the child usually communicate via Facebook. It's adorable.
12 Months - 24 Months: GRADUATION! The foster family takes the puppy to the graduation ceremony. They pass him along to his child. Everyone cries. Everyone hugs. It's awesome. For the next two weeks, the child, dog, parents, and trainer will work side-by-side to learn how to work together. At the end of two weeks, the dog goes home with the child and neither are the same.
My Proof: Here is an album I made that has pictures from my job. At the end is proof that links me to this Reddit account.