Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Therapy animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Service Dogs: Who can be what?

Napoleon: therapy alpaca, Lake Oswego Review

Today we're going to attempt to understand the difference among service and non-service animals in the U.S.; while other countries have similar distinctions laws vary by country. It's all I can do to track the U.S. laws on this topic.
Sorry everyone else.
But the general rules are similar.

Therapy Animal (often a dog but could be a rabbit, llama, min. horse etc.).

A therapy animal or therapy dog is either:
a) specially trained to interact with people who are elderly, disabled, young, or distressed
b) is an animal that happens to be naturally calm, quiet, and petable,
e.g. a rabbit  might not be particularly 'trained' to visit senior citizens but they are pleasant to hold and pet. The individual animal should not bite, kick, spit etc..

Therapy dogs:source, WorldLifestyle

A dog, on the other hand, which has the capacity to prey on other animals, and well developed canine-teeth for crunching bones, should have specialized training to ensure that they will not bite if startled. Golden retrievers are very popular for therapy work as they are genetically more likely to be tolerant of people and other dogs.

A therapy animal:

  • visits people where they are: therapy centers, hospitals, airports, disaster zones
  • can be any animal that is well behaved and doesn't mind being petted
  • therapy animal status is not breed or species specific.
A therapy animal's owner is typically an able-bodied person who volunteers to use their animal to help others.

Feather wear: bird ESA vest

Emotional Support Animals (could be virtually any animal)
An ESA is an animal that is basically prescribed for someone with a mental health concern such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder - or - for someone with a neurodevelopmental condition such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.   

An ESA is not trained to performs functions that alleviate their person's condition; rather, their very presence helps the person to function - whether that means not having a panic attack or a melt down, or allows their person to just feel a little less distressed.

Dog fashion spa

What makes this category so easily confused with the Service Dog category are the facts that many people have an ESA that happens to be a dog, and when a disabled person says they "need" their dog to manage, we tend to think of that as a service dog. The law in the U.S. however, has different ideas.

The central points are:
  • any animal that a person can care about and find comfort in, can be an ESA
  • even when an ESA is a dog it doesn't require special training to fulfill it's purpose 
  • an ESA cannot be kept out of housing that normally doesn't allow 'pets' - they are an element of their person's treatment for a medical condition, not a 'pet'
  • even when an ESA is a dog that calms their person down, they are not automatically a service dog and can be denied access to places that are only open to service dogs, like restaurants.

Image: Sovereign Health

Service Dogs - (can only be dogs...unless they are a  miniature horse)

A service dog is a dog (I know that is redundant but that is the law) which has been specifically trained to perform tasks which assist a person with a disability; the dog's skills help mitigate the effects of the disability. 

  • Seeing eye dogs
  • Mobility dogs that brace people, retrieve items, carry packages etc.
  • Hearing dogs - alert person to household sounds including phone, door, fire alarm
  • Alert dogs for those with PTSD - dog can sweep a room, block others from making physical contact, jump up to be a live-weight in the case of a panic attack
  • Alert dogs for seizures - warn person of impending seizure, can get help, can find and bring medicine, can find and bring a phone.

Getty images:Upworthy

Now, for an oddity of American law. Due to the limited life span of dogs; to the fact some religions take a dim view of living with dogs; to the fact that some people are allergic to dogs - the law allows for one exception. A person may have a Service Miniature Horse. The use for miniature horses was pretty much limited to people who required an animal for balance/mobility reasons. However, some horses are now being trained to be guide horses for the blind.


 I think the reason these categories so often get confused is that a dog can fill any of these roles; only a Service Dog [or service horse]- with specialized training to mitigate the impact of a disability - is legally allowed access to public spaces like restaurants, parks, shopping centers. 

Private spaces are different. A private space can invite in therapy animals to visit people. But no one (private/public) has to allow access to a therapy animal.

Daily Treat: rover.com
Housing on the other hand, is the private space  where a person lives;under the law a person with a disability is to be allowed to live with their ESA, despite no pet policies. The caveat is, the person has to have the type of disability that requires an ESA (something that should be discussed with a therapist or other qualified professional.) 

Landlords are allowed to ask for documentation of a person's disability and they are allowed to ask questions about the disability that cannot be asked about people with service dogs in public spaces...but let's not wade off into those murky waters right now.

On another day I will tackle the fraught world of registrations, certifications, tags, vests, and maybe even airline travel. And by the way, airlines work under a different set of laws in the U.S., and people can have their ESA on planes. Which can be problematic. 

Future service dogs being served: Carlene white

Monday, March 12, 2018

Akita: Ancient breed from Japan


Akita are a handsome, large breed dog, well suited to families that like an independent personality.

If however, you're primarily interested in a dog that follows orders without question, this will not be the breed for you.

Getty Image

Akita begin life as adorable, chunky puppies who could potentially charm their way into anyone's home. They're fuzzy, sweet, and cuddly. They're smart. They house train fairly easily. Of course, these are all bonuses.

Getty Image 

They also come in a fairly large selection of colors including brindle, fawn, silver, red, and white, and various color overlays, i.e. brown with black overlay etc. (recognized colors vary depending on the country one is in.) 

They are a double coated breed which developed in mountainous regions in Japan, meaning this is a breed well suited to living in the north. They will 'blow' their coat about twice a year, otherwise their shedding isn't too bad.

Akita Inu

Akita Dog (American)

Akitas are typically a quiet dog; it's said if an Akita is barking, there's a reason for it. They are naturally protective of their family and naturally suspicious of people who are not part of their family. As a breed that was also developed with the capacity to hunt wild boars, they can be expected to have a high prey drive

As a breed they are also more prone to hyperthyroidism. And as a very deep chested breed they are  more prone to bloat.

At the same time, this typically healthy dog can live up to 13-14 years, which given their size, is longer than would be expected. 

Akita aficionados will be the first to state that this is not a breed for the first time dog owner. They are also not, due to size, generally suggested for families with very young children. Of course, some families with young children do have Akitas - it's a rule of thumb, not a law.

Pets 4Homes

One of the trademarks of this breed is their loyalty and it is an iconic story of Akita loyalty that got me thinking about the breed this week.

Hachikō - Wiki commons

Hachikō is the best known Akita, having spawned articles, books, and movies. Born in 1923 or 1924 in rural Japan, he ended up with Professor Hidesaburō Ueno of the agriculture department of the University of Tokyo. Every day Hachikō would wait at the train station for Professor Ueno to return from work and they would walk home together. After a year of this routine, the professor died of a brain hemorrhage while working. He never came home but Hachikō continued to  meet the train for over 9 years, until his own death. Eventually a statue was erected at the station to commemorate his loyalty.

He also inspired Helen Keller to import the first Akitas to America. Wanting a dog as loyal as Hachikō,she obtained her first puppy during a visit to Japan. Unfortunately, that pup developed distemper; the Japanese government ensured she was sent a second dog (actually a brother of her first dog.) 

AKC Akita History

It is said that seeing the big, strong dog in pictures with Helen Keller is what inspired others to begin importing Akitas to the United States.

Akita East U.S. rescue

As beautiful, smart, and loyal as this breed is, their independent nature and misgivings about strangers means they are decidedly not suited to everyone.

As a result, if one contacts a breed specialty rescue there is usually an Akita waiting to find a new home.

If you do want to adopt an adult Akita, please work with a rescue that understand not just dog  personalities, but also breed tendencies, and can ensure that the dog you are drawn to will be the right fit for your family.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Dogs In Pants

Well, it took me no time at all to rethink my goal of blogging once a week. It seems that lately things in general -  in the world, in day to day life - everything seems to include a lot of stress and anxiety.

But then I realized, a stressful atmosphere seemed like the sort of atmosphere that would benefit from everyone stopping to take a minute to look at dogs in pants. Suddenly, I had a mission. And with this post - mission accomplished.

Muddy Mutts

I was impressed to find a Canadian company that has built their entire identity around putting pants on dogs: Muddy Mutts.

Muddy Mutts

Truth is, however, that Muddy Mutts was taking the dogs in pants thing a little more seriously than I was. 

King - Album on Imgur
Which is why I was so relieved to find King on Imgur.  

Not only does he have the attitude and look of 'dog in pants' that I had in mind, I think he and I would enjoy hanging out together if we ever got the chance.

Maybe I'm just projecting my own friendship goals, but King looks like the kind of guy who once offered a hotdog would become your friend for life.

Then there was this little number....
Original post

Technically, this dog is in a leotard.

I'm going to allow this in our pants post though, because it isn't every day you get to admire a chihuahua in a leotard. 

If I'm allowing chihuahuas in leotards, then, I can hardly disallow a golden in lounge wear.

And if we're going to allow a golden in his lounge wear, then why not a collie in her jogging suite? 

Original post

It was at this point in my internet exploring that I discovered Rain Dog! Custom Canine Gear.
Rain Dog!
Rain Dog

Practical yes.
Is it just me though, or does at least one of these dogs look like he'd rather be getting wet? 

Hopefully, taking a moment to consider dogs in pants (and other pants related wear) has given you a short break from whatever might be stressful in your life. Please be sure to share examples of what you like to do - aside from looking at pictures of dogs in pants - to relieve stress.
Just remember: this is a family-friendly blog.


P.S. How cool is it that we live in a world where there are free stock photos of chihuahuas rocking a sweater and pants? And just when I was beginning to wonder if anything was going right in the world! 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

What Happened During The Quiet Year

Also Not a Dog

One of the greatest dogs ever
Once upon a time there was a midwesterner with a love of dogs and a savant knowledge of breeds who decided to start a dog-blog. In the process of blogging she met other animal people and other bloggers - sometimes there were overlaps between those communities sometimes not - and she made some online friends that she is the richer for knowing.

Gracie, the early years:
Her face is now nearly white

A pup when we started and now a senior

In following other bloggers she noted that with time their blogs tended to change, or end, as their artistic natures and interests took them in new directions. A few, who had very focused themes for their blogs, did continue blogging but just as many blogs had writers who moved on for a variety of reasons.

Emotional Support Animal extraordinaire

The dog blogger herself posted less and less often, until the nearly year long season of silence. In reflection, perhaps some of that quiet grew out of the loss of two very good dogs, in particular the sweet-souled collie Jenny.

Jenny, who's face remains the writer's avatar, helped inspire the beginning of the blog and perhaps took some of the motivation and inspiration for the blog with her when she passed.

Other things, though were also happening in the writer's life.

Writers write, and when they spend less time writing blogs they have more time for writing other things. A books series was begun and continues to grow. (And as with most writing, the more stories that are written, the better they get.)

             Amazon: Stagecoach                                Daughters   

                Preacher                                        Draft cover, book 4

Of course there was work (the kind that pays the bills.)
When the blogger began she worked with fewer than 200 students with disabilities, facilitating their education by ensuring they received necessary services. Now she works with over 400. It's become such a heavy caseload that some welcome part-time help is being hired to pitch in. Working with this many young people meant working outside of office hours, which could also impact the availability of time for blogging.

And then there are the places that an abiding love of animals takes a person who loves more than dogs. 

What began with one rabbit grew to three.
One of the rabbits was a boy and a Houdini: the inevitable happened.

Percy Sr.at 4 months and Percy Jr. at 4 weeks

The sometimes-blogger did not want to take her site down because people continued to use it as a reference point (which it was meant to be.) The personality of a breed of dog is slow to change and thus the information contained in many of the posts remains useful.

And honestly, can there ever be too many pictures of dogs in hats available on the internet?


Inspired by a friend who has faithfully blogged for years, usually everyday - every day!- this blogger decided that perhaps she could have a more modest goal of blogging once a week. Because there are still breeds to write about and there are always newly hatted dogs to share pictures of.

So that will become our fairly modest goal for the next year. We'll see how it goes. 

Hopefully, some old connections will be re-established and some new connections will be made.
And in honor of the old being new again, some adoptables who though older, require fresh homes.

      Greta : Houghton, MI

                                                                        Bennett:  Ashland, WI 

Tommy:Oconto, WI  

  Alvin:Sparta, WI

Linus: Blaine, MN

Lady Bird: Minneapolis, MN

Maggie: Muskegon, MI

Billy: Huntley, IL

Sunny: Chicago, IL

As of this writing there are about 10,000 dogs listed on Petfinder looking for new homes. The above are a small, Midwestern sampling of the seniors looking for a soft landing after, for whatever reason, losing their original home(s). Some of these sweet faces have been waiting a long time and some have had more than one person give up on them. Let's see if we can assist them in finding permanent placements.