Anyone have a service dog?

Anyone have a service dog?

I was wondering if anyone here has or has had a service dog to help them with getting around and doing things in the home. If you have, how did you obtain the dog?

Was your dog from an agency?

Did you train them yourself?

Hire a trainer?

How much did it end up costing?

If you used an agency how long was the wait?

I have a dog that I am currently training to bemy service dog. We are almost ready for our public access test.

Thanks for the help!

14 Replies

  • I had this idea too but help dogs are provided only for blind people in italy.

  • My husband just completed the application process at our local Ability Center/Assistance Dogs. We just wait apps. 18-24 months for a dog :) We are excited!

  • Oh also the cost is $2,000 to cover the training, which we can save for and raise funds for, however, they did say they would never deny a dog if one was unable to cover the cost.

  • Hi Bygonelines l have a black lab that l have had since he was a pup and he seems to sense when l have bad vertigo attacks. He will put his nose under my hand to give me a sense of balance again. Then he gets a treat haha. Sometimes he tries to pretend that lm having one just to get the treat.

  • I was diagnosed on Aug 26, 2014 and on Jan 9, 2015 a few months later I call my husband on my way for my follow up MRI and he tells me he has found this Shepard mix puppy under a co-workers truck crying. They get her to come out and she comes straight to him. He precedes to tell me he's bring her home.

    I'm thinking during my MRI what am I going to do with a BIG, LONG, HAIRED, DOG in my house we already have two Boston terriers ones 14, the other we rescued just 8 months ago and he had been on the streets for who knows how long, he was skin and bones when he came to use.

    God knew what he was doing having Bella's previous owners abandon her where they did. Because she has been my saving grace. From the beginning we have had a bond. She seemed to know that I felt bad and would try to keep everyone but my husband away from me. She would lay right beside me and let me run my finger through her fur. To this day some time thats the only thing that can help settle me and help me get the pain under control, and yes I take pain med the highest dose I can. She is my pain management and I thank God for her. I wish I knew where I could take her to get her formally trained. She is so sweet and caring to me.

  • Depending on where you are, community groups usually have sessions for therapy dogs, you attend with your dog for the training, and they test at the skills at the end. Many groups that provide service animals, animal rescues, or groups that have any animal training in your area should know of where you can have your dog trained as a therapy dog.

    Being a service dog is a more intense training, and they usually start from puppies, but that does not mean an older dog can't learn, because some of the best dogs for service, be it police or medical have been rescue animals & not necessarily puppies.

    My cats serve the same sensory purpose for me, and can sense when I am having a bad-MS day.

    Animals are heavenly!

  • Good luck with your service dog training, Bygonelines - if that is a picture of the dog, what a great looking creature!

    For anyone else interested in service animals, there are a number of nonprofits throughout the country that provide visiting pet services. PAWS for People is one example. They are committed to providing therapeutic visits to individuals within their service community who would benefit from interaction with a well-trained, loving pet. To find programs in your area, search “therapy animal” and your city at or call 302-351-5622.

    Our Helpline at MSAA also has additional info on other service animal orgs like NSAR, Paws With A Cause, and Service Dogs For America. Contact MSAA's Helpline at (800) 532-7667, extension 154 or email

  • Thanks everyone! Yes, that is a picture of my girl "Willow" She is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Swissy). The problem I ran into with the groups that do service dogs is I weigh more than 250 lbs and since I wanted a dog for balance work most would not even consider me. The ones that would wanted a lot of money. There were several that would consider me if I was a vet but I am not a vet. The wait times for a dog were also a draw back. At the time I was looking the wait time was 3-10 yrs depending on the agency and most of them you don't own the dog and they can take from you at any time. I know a local guy who was at a local off leash dog park with his SD and there was a tv crew there. They interviewed him because he was wheelchair bound. Someone from the agency that he used saw him and the dog off leash there and within 2 days they had come and taken his dog from him. I didn't want to go through that.

    I really enjoy training Willow most of the time. I will be glad when she is not quite so much of a puppy though. Swissys are very slow to mature so that gets frustrating at times.

    She has learned to pull me on my walker when I get too tired and she can turn on the lights. We are working on doors and picking things up for me. She is a great girl!

  • It sounds like willow has met most of the requirements to be a service dog.

    There is a federal definition and "rights and code of conduct " to who and what a service animal is. And what your responsibilities are as the dogs handler.

    My dog is registered with " The United States Service Dog Registry".

    It has all the information you need and is free. When completed you can print out Willow's Service Dog I.d. Form. And U.S.S.D. Registry member #.

    Also, she wears a "Service Dog " vest when we go out. I have done this with her since 8 weeks old and she behaves "at work" from the time the vest goes on until we take it off. I bought mine on Amazon . Your dog is large enough to have a Service Dog " backpack vest". To carry his things and yours! Sweet! ;)

    My vet also wrote a letter( when Lulu turned 1) "certifying my dogs health,and her role as a service canine to aid me with my MS accompanying me at all times. " Since LuLu has been found to be healthy, and meets necessary social expectations,it is safe for her to travel with the owner into facilities that would not normally accept canines."

    I also carry all of her current immunization records.

    Public places can not refuse a service dog admittance who is with someone with an obvious disability. Or ask you your dogs specific jobs. In other words you don't need to defend your right to have your dog with you. As long as your dog is well behaved and is controlled and cleaned up after by you.

    They also come in all sizes. Mine is "medical", she is a shi-tzu. Others are Great Danes. If having a service dog makes life with MS easier for you than go for it!

    I would be lost without mine.. Literally!😉

    I hope this helps and good luck!

  • Forgot something.. Make sure you pursue a Service Dog title. This is covered by federal ADA laws, and must be respected.

    A "therapy dog", " companion dog" is NOT protected by law and can be used by just about anybody . These animals are not permitted in restraunts,planes etc.. ONLY Service animals are.

    Important distinction between the terms.

  • A service dog subject is near, and dear to me. I have gotten one as an "alert" dog. A small (5 lb. Chihuha. Love him to death.

    I used to train the Big ones.. Dobermans, pre-MS.. Now the little ones.

    He's 16 now, and if/when we lose him; I'm going for larger.

    I trained him for the most part; got a trainer for blood sugar training; but pricey!!

    I had a major heart attack 3 yrs ago; he was successful to get my husband, and the emts, thru him. The cardio said 1o more minutes or so, I would have been dead.

    So, he really saved my life. He sits at my feet, as I type this now..

    Good luck with your guy! They're a comfort in our isolation, as well.. but so much more than an emotional support dog.

  • I agree our Service Dogs are a comfort and a big help. I haven't trained Willow to alert for blood sugars but she has started doing that on her own. This has been a huge blessing to me. Now I just need to get her to NOT be so friendly to everyone. I know part of that is the puppy in her but until that happens she won't be able to pass her public access test.

    I always have Willow vested when I go out and for the most part it has not been a problem. I had 1 Walmart employee try to tell me she couldn't come in the store even vested but the manager quickly cleared that up. I always carry a copy of the ADA rules with me and so far that has taken care of issues. I have actually had more issues with customers at stores and restraunts not wanting her in and making rude comments. I give them a copy of the rules and move on. I don't respond normally.

    I wish Willow could sit at my feet but she is as big as my computer desk! So she lays down beside me.

  • I have 2 rescued pit bulls but neither is a trained service dog. I have severe problems with mobility, so I need a service dog who will help me balance and get started walking. I inquired about getting a service dog with MSAA and they sent me a list of agencies which provide them free, but there is usually up to a 2-year wait and most of them breed their own dogs (usually labs or golden retrievers or mixes of both) and I really want to train a rescue. Also, most agencies won't place dogs in a home where there are already pet dogs. In order to be a certified service animal, the dog has to be specifically trained to do certain tasks. I have a friend who has a service dog that can dial 911, turn the lights on and off, and do the laundry, among other things. They come to you at about the age of 2 and are generally fostered during their initial training, then they come to you with papers certifying their training. The problem is that not all puppies can hack the training and therefore don't become service dogs. I love your little beagle buddy there (mixed breed with some hound?), but service dog agencies seem to work only with the breeds I mentioned. Or are you training your little guy as a therapy dog? There is a big difference, and any breed can be a certified therapy dog.

  • Willow is a pure bred Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. She is being trained to be an actual service dog. She already alerts me to high and low blood sugars, she can turn on the lights, and she can carry things for me. We are still working on retrieving. Her breed does not retrieve naturally so it is a process to teach the retrieving. The reason most agencies use labs and goldens is because they are super easy to train, a medium size, and naturally have the ability to retrieve so they will learn those tasks faster. Their brains also mature quicker. My Willow is 2 years old but her brain only has the maturity of a 14 month lab. She will be 3 before she has a fully mature brain. I am amazed at the changes I have seen in her just the last 2 weeks. She was able to open my bedroom door for the first time today. That was exciting! We have lever handles on all doors, it's easier for my husband because of his arthritis and its easier for me too.

    She is a definite blessing!

    When she was little everyone would tell me that I had a beautiful Beagle. I would then have to explain that she is not a Beagle. Made for several fun conversations. Now at 2 yrs old she is about 24" at the shoulder and 26" long and she is still growing. She won't grow much more than another inch taller and another inch longer. At least my husabnd hopes! LOL!

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