A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting this beautiful lady named “Mushka” who was a Parkinson’s Service dog. As I continue my quest to find the answer to my question from my last post “Could Crash be a Parkinson’s service dog-Part 1”, I had arranged an interview with Mushka’s trainer, David Utter. We sat down for a cup of coffee and probed his brain… trust me, it’s not as painful as it sounds.
What are some of the things a service dog can help a Parkie with?
-Dogs can be used for a bunch of activities that can include:
-Pick up the candy bar you just dropped (very important task in my opinion)
Here is a video of Mushka working with her owner who has Parkinson’s disease.
When should a Parkie get a service dog?
-6-12 months before you need them. Now, I know what you’re saying, “how will I know when I need one?” If you have read my blog about anticipating your needs, it’s when you notice tasks become difficult for you to complete safely. You want to get help before you need help… now that should be on a t-shirt.
What is the difference between an emotional/therapy dog and a service dog?
-An emotional support dog as an animal that brings you affection and companionship… no training needed. They can help with mental health issues but have fewer rights with housing and transportation.
A therapy dog is trained to go to hospitals, disaster areas or schools to provide a therapeutic experience to those in need.
-A service dog is an aid or a nurse, trained specifically to your individual needs. They work for you. These dogs are also protected under the American with disabilities act (ADA).
How much does a service dog cost?
-This will depend on the trainer and the dog. David adopted Mushka from a local shelter, then begun training her based on the needs of her new owner. But typically training can take up to a year and cost on average around $5,000-$9,000. There are some programs that offer service dogs at no cost, but it’s based on applicants who have a high need and finding the perfect dog to fit those needs.
What advice do you have for Parkies thinking of getting a service dog?
-Separate your emotions from logic. Don’t get a service dog because you’re looking for a companion or your lonely. Think of a service dog as a nurse or aid. They are there to work. To do the things that you can’t do safely.
Can any dog be trained as a service dog?
-Sorry to poop on your party, but the answer is no. Although there are no licenses or certifications required to own a service dog, (so yes that means you can go online a buy a “service dog in training” vest and start referring to your dog as one) but there are rules that must be considered. These include:
-No aggressive behavior (biting, barking, growling, etc.)
-Only urinating or defecating in designated areas.
-No solicitations for food or affection
-Curbed excitement and hyperactivity
Well I had gotten a ton of information by talking to David, but what will he say when he meets my dog Crash for the first time? Be sure to check back next week when I post Part 3 “Crash gets a lesson in becoming a Service dog”.
See below for more information about David Utter and other service dog resources. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog… come on, you know you want to.
David Utter: Dog Evolution (949) 257-8761