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Service Dogs
Questions: The Choice: Organization, Trainer, or Self-Train
Service Dogs
What Service Dogs Do
Is a Service Dog for You
How to Get a Service Dog
The Right Dog
The Right Source
The Right Trainer
The Right Training
Your Goals
Your Resources
Getting Ready for a Service Dog
Equipment
Health Care
When You Get a Service Dog
Working in Public
This exercise is critical for you to actively participate in if you want to get a service dog.  This is the moment of the branching path, where your decision will determine how you will proceed from this point.  
 
Any one choice will require a tremendous investment on your part of time, energy, concentration, faith, resources and comittment to getting a service dog.  No one except yourself will know which choice is right for you. 
 
Your determination to reach your goal, at times, will be the only visible sign that you are making progress.  You may have to stop at certain points and start over completely.  In fact, the odds are good this will happen at least once.  That seems to be a normal part of this process.
 
Every person who has ever gotten a service dog has gone through exactly this same process, in their own individual way.  A person's life is transformed by getting a service dog.  The transformation comes not only with the dog, which happens towards the end, but with the process of investing extreme amounts of concentration, determination, and work towards the goal.  But ask any one with a service dog: "Is it worth it?"  The answers will be unanimously: "Yes, completely!"
 
Let the Journey begin!

Homework
Copy this page onto a blank document.  Write in your answers to each question.  These are not easy questions, and you may need some time to think about the answers and write them.  These answers require more than a simple yes or no.  Carefully answer the questions in each section, considering your abilities, resources, and preferences. 
 
Participating in this exercise will help prepare you in the journey of getting a service dog.  These questions, in this section, will determine which path you will take in progressing towards your goal.  Some of these questions will be asked by the source of your dog.  Having the answers ready will make the process go more smoothly.  In doing this exercise, you are begining the process of getting a service dog.
 
Section One:  Provider Organizations
 
First, do your research. 
  1. Look at five websites containing stories by people who have gotten service dogs.  Which websites did you explore?  List the addresses.
  2. Carefully read stories which discuss experiences people have had with provider organizations.
  3. Locate at least three people in your area with service dogs.  (Watch for them in the mall, on the street, at the grocery store).  Approach each person and ask her or him about how s/he got a service dog.  Listen carefully to what they tell you.  They are the people most likely to have information that will help you in getting your own service dog.  List the people you talked with, and summarize what each of them said to you.
  4. Look at websites of provider organizations.  Find five provider organizations that could be a match for you, considering their specific criteria, geographic range, and type of dog placed.  List these organizations and their criteria and information about their placement process that influences your decision. 
  5. Join at least two on-line discussion groups specifically about service dogs.  What are the addresses of the discussions groups you joined?  What have you learned from them?
  6. Ask questions about the experiences people in the discussion groups have had with the various ways of obtaining service dogs.   What are three questions you asked, and what answers did you receive?

Then, answer these questions:

1.  What do you think would  be the advantages for you of going to a provider organization to get a service dog?
 
2.  What do you think the disadvantages would be for you in going to a provider organization to get a service dog?
 
3.  How do you feel about your physical, psychological and financial ability to travel and stay at the organization's location for two to three weeks during the placement process?
 
4.  Discuss how your feel about your ability to attend daily classes for two to three weeks for the placement process?
 
5.  Discuss how you feel about your ability to deal with the stress of having to learn everything about how to work with a service dog in a very short period of time?
 
6.  List three examples of experiences people you have read about online have had with provider organizations.
 
7.  How would you feel if your application to a provider organization is rejected?
 
8.  How would you feel if you went to the location of the provider organization for placement, but there was not a dog there that matched with you.
 
9.  How would you feel if your application to a provider organization was accepted, but you had to wait three years for the placement process to begin?
 
10.   How will you determine if a provider organization is reputable and has experience in successfully training and matching service dogs
 
11.  What other questions have occured to you about working with a provider organization to get a service dog?

Section Two:  A Private Trainer
 
First, do your research. 
  1. Look at three websites containing stories by people who have gotten service dogs without going to a provider organization.    What are the addresses of the websites you explored?
  2. Carefully read stories which discuss experiences people have had working with private trainers to get service dogs.  What are three conclusions you have about what you read about working with a private trainer?
  3. Look at websites of private trainers who train service dogs. 
  4. Join at least two on-line discussion groups related to service dogs.  What are the addresses of the discussion groups you joined?  What have you learned from them? 
  5. Ask questions about the experiences people have had with private trainers as a way of obtaining service dogs.  What are three questions you asked, and what answers did you receive?
Then, answer these questions:
 
1.  What do you think would  be the advantages for you of going to a private trainer to get a service dog?
 
2.  What do you think the disadvantages would be for you in going to a private trainer to get a service dog?
 
3.  How do you feel about your ability to integrate on-going training into your current lifestyle during the placement process?
 
4.  Discuss how your feel about your ability to attend weekly classes over a period of several months for the placement process?
 
5.  Discuss how you feel about your ability to deal with the stress of having to learn everything about how to work with a service dog within the context of your current lifestyle?
 
6.  List three examples of experiences people you have read about online have had with private trainers.
 
7.  How would you feel if you could not locate a private trainer who is experienced in training service dogs in your area?  How far from home are you willing to travel to meet with a trainer?
 
8.  How would you feel if you began working with a private trainer but it took several months to locate a dog that could be trained as a service dog and that matched with you.
 
9.  How would you feel if you began working with a private trainer, but the first few dogs you worked with disqualified as service dogs?
 
10.  How will you determine if a private trainer is reputable and has experience in successfully training and matching service dogs?  What questions will you ask her or him?
 
11.  What other questions have occured to you about working with a private trainer to get a service dog? Edit

Section Three:  Training Your Own Service Dog
 
First, do your research. 
  1. Look at three websites containing stories by people who have trained their own service dogs.  List the addresses of these websites. 
  2. Carefully read stories which discuss experiences people have had training their own service dogs.  What did you learn from these stories?
  3. Look at three websites of groups and organizations who help people train their own service dogs.  List the addresses of these websites.
  4. Join at least two on-line discussion groups related to people training their own service dogs.  List the addresses of these groups. 
  5. Ask questions about the experiences people have had in training their own service dogs.  What are three questions you asked, and what answers did you receive? 

Then, answer these questions:

1.  What do you think would  be the advantages for you of training your own service dog?
 
2.  What do you think the disadvantages would be for you in training your own service dog?
 
3.  How do you feel about your ability to integrate on-going training into your current lifestyle?
 
4.  Discuss how your feel about your ability to continue training sessions with a dog for as long as a year or more?
 
5.  Discuss how you feel about your ability to deal with the stress of having complete responsibility for learning everything about how to work with a service dog?
 
6.  List three examples of experiences people you have read about online have had with training their own service dogs.
 
7.  How would you feel if you had been training a dog for several months to be your service dog, and s/he developed some factor that caused disqualification?
 
8.  How would you feel if you began looking for a potential dog to train, but it took several months to locate a dog with the correct characteristics to be trained as a service dog and that matched with you.
 
9.  How would you feel if the first few dogs you worked with disqualified as service dogs?
 
10.  How will you determine if you are making progress towards training a dog to be successful as a service dogs?
 
11.  What other questions have occured to you about training your own service dog?

Section Four:  Making the Choice
  1. Discuss the pros and cons of each option. 
  2. Discuss what the most advantageous path seems to be for you in beginning the journey of getting a service dog. 
  3. Explain why you believe your choice is the best one for you at this time. 
  4. Discuss how you will proceed with your choice. 
  5. Discuss your expectations are about getting a service dog in this way.
  6. How has this exercise been helpful for you?
  7. What would you suggest needs to be changed for this exercise to be more helpful?
Copy all of the questions with your answers and email the entire document to:
NOW, MAKE YOUR CHOICE:
The path branches here!

May the Force Be With You!

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Education and Support for People and Service Dogs