I sent Simba out to the country 2 days ago so he could get some exercise with his sire, khan and sister, Athena. This morning, the family called to say Simba had cut his paw, slicing his radial artery. A few stitches later and he was okay, though if the lady had not been forced home to change her clothes, he could’ve easily bled out. Every time I have that thought I cringe and die a bit inside. He is too closely tied to Sean and we only lost him 3 weeks ago. Sean’s sons that were here with me when we heard of Simba’s injury were panicking too. Makai told me he couldn’t lose Simba after losing daddy. Exactly how I feel about it!
Puppy Nala was sent to friends when Simba returned. She is relentless about playing and far too rough for a hurt Simba. Simba has been able to make it outside to potty and kept his food down. We will have to make sure he takes it easy for a few days before the dressing comes off.
All of this brought me back to yesterday’s post about expenses and reminded me how vital his health is to me now. And how expensive it will be. Time to do pet insurance before anything else happens! I was also very pleased with his treatment of the veterinarian and the vet tech. He was sweet and compliant and never showed a tooth or growled. That is wonderful information for me. Further proof of his sweet nature and excellent temperament. The further down this road I go, the more anxious I’m getting about the huge responsibility. That said, I’ve always felt that Simba was worth something special and if I can do this, both our lives will be richer.
Part 3 in this journey (there’s going to be a lot more in this story) is about expense. I said in my last post that I’d be looking for Simba to do his AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification. This is basically a series of easy tests to prove the dog is well behaved in public with both animals and people they don’t know. The only Oklahoma AKC club link on the AKC site doesn’t work, so of course, I Googled the evaluators in okc and ended up at my favorite training center, K9 University, home of Angel “the dog whisperer”. No surprise here! Angel’s training facility is first rate (they do police, military, drug, etc) and they can do the test $150.00 for a successful test. Ok. That’s like 15% of my disability income. But I can get it together. I am also going to want a vest for him. It’s not legally necessary but because he’s a Rottweiler and will be seen as a threat I might get him a pink one with fluffy bunnies on it! Then again, my son might haunt me for that! Hehehe… yeah the first issue was not to use one of these scam sites that sells service dog tags and fake registrations with vests. I found 2 I liked. One actually quotes ADA law instead of promising you can take your dog with you “everywhere”. Their vests were all handmade to order in the USA which is a bonus. (I am not against imports but I am against us not owning our own country so yeah, I’ll happily buy American) All their vests start about $60.00 US plus another maybe $30.00 for the appropriate patches another $15.00 for the extra large size not to mention the various accoutrements required to make it work. I will also need to buy some sort of mobility harness which I also found a US Company that hand makes leather harnesses for Mobility dogs starting at about $400.00. Now I’m well on my way to a grand in expenses and I haven’t started to figure out his food budget and I won’t skimp. He will also need hip and joint tests to prove his health. Now, I could breed him but that goes against everything in my shelter volunteering ass. I cannot do that for money. Growth I’ll wait for but not this.
Other financial considerations, pet insurance, joint supplements vaccinations, heartworm, flea, tick and mosquito treatments, cutting and I’m just getting started. Some of these financial obligations are the same no matter where I get the dog, some are going to be on me if I choose Simba.
This is a huge decision that will require work, research and money aplenty to make it a reality. And keeping with a reality based approach, reality is we have to teach him stay before I need to worry about all this! Stay tuned for the next episode of SIMBA, MOBILITY DOG!
Accepting the responsibility for training a service dog is even more intense than I thought. Once I had decided to train Simba as my Mobility dog. I began to look into what certifications were required for my state and the United States. I wanted to know what types of trainings were required to be certified as a service animal. To my shock and dismay, I found there are absolutely no regulations or laws regarding what a service dog must be trained to do in order to be called a service or assistance dog. Apparently, there are many sites out there that pretend or fraudulently sell service dog kits, service dog certifications, service dog collars, tags, registry or vests. When I looked into it, I found that none of these things are technically illegal but they give a false impression that the dog has been evaluated by some government agency, or have met some sort of criteria. The criteria is money! Under The Americans with Disabilities Act a service animal must perform some task or job that assists the disabled person. This is the only requirement necessary to call an animal a service animal. Any business may sell these items but it means nothing (except you’re out some cash.). They’ve absolutely no authority in the registration or certification of service animals as there is no such authority. The best you can do is to check and see if the agency you are using for a service animal is registered with Assistance Dogs International. If it isn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the training that your assistance dog will receive there is no good. Having one registered with ADI (Assistance Dogs International) is no promise of good training. And since I know many of you out there are thinking, my Fido can learn something then I can take him everywhere! Let me be clear, you must have a legitimate disability and needing emotional support alone from your dog isn’t considered service. The dog must DO something.
Next I want to address another concern. What about breed bans for Rottweilers, Pitbulls or other negatively stereotyped breeds. These bans do NOT affect service animals. A city or municipality can’t ban a service dog based solely on breed. That said, the dog must be under the handlers’ control at all times. So, I can decide how best to train Simba, but it’s also my responsibility to control his behavior. Hmmmm.I’ve got to get some good advice now on how best to proceed. My biggest fear is doing something that will negatively impact the legitimate service dog community. I’m starting to realize the breadth of this undertaking. I’m going to get Simba’s AKC Good Citizen Certification first so any breed issues with behavior are addressed up front. I’ve gotten some great advice from several blogs. One is Al Brittain, the Dog Chief. Another is called Actually Service Dogs. This blog is going to be an on going story of my journey with Simba. Come back and see what’s next for us!
This is Simba, he is a German Rottweiler, here at 5 weeks. He came from a litter of 10 and being the only male he was given a small dot on the head to differentiate him from the girls.
At six weeks this boy never looked back. Just look at those paws! I knew he’d be a beast!
I spent the first month with him with my hands and fingers in his mouth. I prefer to get the nibbling out of the way before they can swallow you whole! Simba learned quickly and now at one year he is so gentle you can barely feel him take your arm. Simba was Sean’s puppy and he had to take him while he was renovating the house he would live in. That meant I got to keep Simba with me and begin basic training for the first 4 months. I knew he was exceptional from the start. Even then, I secretly wished for a dog like him for my mobility dog.
At 4 months Sean’s family moved to the house in the country and Simba lived in dog heaven for awhile. Strong, caring owner and 4 boys to play with, Simba reveled in the freedom to run down the block to where his dad lives and play. His sire, Khan, is just 2 years older than Simba and has plenty of go left in him.
Simba brings his toys up on the bed so I can play tug of war with him. Front paws on bed, back paws on the floor. Love this dog!
When Sean died on July 4th, 2016, Simba was nearly killed by police for protecting his body. He was so fierce that friends who knew him were afraid. Since Sean’s death, Simba has been back with me. He’s not the same and it took me about 2 weeks to figure out he’s been waiting for Sean to come and take him home. He’s been visiting his dad for the kind of rough play only big dogs can handle. But I was still faced with how to help him.
I was told a story about a Rottweiler who was ex-military. When his handler died he was adopted by an older man who wasn’t active. The dog steadily declined until the man took him to a handler/ trainer and was told he could easily adapt but needed a job to be happy. The man trained the dog to retrieve his paper in the morning then sat waiting as the man read each page. When finished he would place each page on the floor and the dog would take it and throw it away. The dog then returned and waited for the next page. Apparently this was enough of a job for the Rottweiler who settled in happily thereafter.
This story just clicked in my head and I realized I had the perfect solution. Since I have still not had an initial interview with the service dog agency, I started asking questions and after the funeral one of Sean’s friends in Colorado, who is a handler, offered to do Simba’s initial service dog training. He has a pure pitbull at home who will love Simba. I believe sending Simba to Colorado will change his scenery and routine enough that he’ll adjust and be much happier.
I haven’t yet spoken to the service dog agency but all involved feel they will accept him more easily if he has already finished his basic training. This may be a “hand of God” outcome I never could have expected. I am hoping there will be shared healing all around.
(After spending a lot of time researching, I realized how much I don’t know. Stay tuned for part 2, which will focus on the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES Act and laws regarding service animals)