I want my daughter to have a service dog. She wants a service dog. Leon's okay with it and Quinn says he wouldn't be jealous and it's okay. So, I started the research a while back on how to get Anna hooked up with a service dog.
For a person to have a service dog, they need a disability and the dog needs to be trained to do some tasks that help that person. I didn't think so six months ago, but I now think she can easily qualify under the law as "having a disability." The years of meds and shrinks should have been enough, but the recent hospital stays kind of clear up any doubts.
The first requirement is there: the disability. The second requirement is a trained dog. I think most people go to an organization that trains dogs, beg, raise money, wait for a long time, and hope to get a dog. That path is not for me. (Seriously, can anyone imagine me trying to raise money and waiting? Neither of these are great skills of mine.)
So, my plan is to find a dog and train the dog myself. I can do it, right? I've raised lots of Guide Dog puppies. This just requires some different tasks. I made the decision to train a dog for Anna a while ago. This sounds much easier than getting a dog from an organization.
I also made the decision to find the dog in my puppy group, not at the Humane Society. I know I kind of sound like a schmuck with that, but honestly, most dogs are not cut out for the service dog life. Guide Dog pups have been bred for generations and they get career changed for lots of reasons that aren't relevant to psychiatric issues. (Cataracts, squirrel obsessions, pooping on walks, ..., the list is endless. Pooping on a walk is a big deal for a blind person. With a sighted person, it's not so much.) I don't want to set myself up for failure. So, a Guide Dog it is.
I put out feelers in my puppy group. I told the leaders of the local club and the leader of the raisers in Colorado/Utah that we're on the lookout for a career change for Anna. The biggest requirement is that the dog be able to bond well to Anna. We've been waiting.
One person in the group recently got back a dog back, Conchita. Conchita is now 8 years old and worked as a Guide for about six years. Her puppy family is over dogged (three pets, 2 puppies in training, and Conchita). This would be a good solution. They could still see Conchita, and Anna could start with a trained dog.
We're going to babysit Conchita starting Tuesday. Anna is excited and hopes they bond.
My biggest fear, as the mommy, is that Conchita is older and doesn't have as long a life span as a young pup. The death of a bonded service dog will inevitably be a big trigger.