The making of a service dog, from scratch, using all natural ingredients
The making of a Service Dog—from scratch using all natural ingredients.
Remus (Born “Remy” Nov 16th, 2010 from ZorroxWoo) has been Mo’s lifeline for around 6 years now. He’s her constant companion and a diligent care taker of his person. Remus will be 9 years old this year—and although in good health and his spirits are bright, every dog has his retirement day. Mo suffers from Lupus and possibly resulting epilepsy. Seizures can strike at any time, and Mo can be incapacitated for more than five minutes at a time. She will need her service dog for mobility as well, helping her regain balance and seizure response. In a nutshell, Mo requires these three services or TASKS: Seizure alert and/or response Mobility—Balance and steady Hearing asisstance Anxiety alert and response. The recipe: 1 cup solid bones and sturdy body—The first thing we looked at was the future SD’s size. Mo will need a minimum of 90 lbs and a maximum of 150 lb animal for her mobility needs. 1 cup Companion Dog Temperament—Secondly, was the dog’s DRIVE—we need a little bit. Not as much as a top scoring Border Collie or GSD—but not as little as a top scoring American Alsatian. A nice balance somewhere in between. 1 cup 30 years of knowing the dogs—Third what we need is “IT”. That special intuition flowing through most American Alsatians today, plus a particular kind of preferred communication by the dog; almost human-like in it’s development. When Mo came to Dire Wolf Guardians explaining that she felt Remus was coming close to needing to retire, and she would like to obtain another Direwolf Guardian as her Service Dog. Fennario was just in the infancy of planning it’s first litter, but I realized the timing was impeccable. God was showing up everywhere, moving things around as He does. After initial training, Mo’s SD would be ready on Remus’ 10th birthday. So far, to my knowledge, no one has been able to “breed” a line of dogs that will be consistently able to alert to seizures. There has been evidence of certain lines of hunting and tracking types of dogs that can alert to blood sugar spikes or drops. (1) This can be attributed to the dog’s olfactory ability and the human being’s chemical odor when blood sugar changes. These two factors are reliably predictable, as all humans and dogs have this particular combination of physiology that makes the dog able to read changes in blood sugar content. Seizures, however are different. There are plenty of chemical changes going on in the human body minutes, sometimes hours before the onset of a seizure, but they are different in each person, every time. To further complicate things certain areas of the brain will become active or correspond with the hormone release of other organs before, during and after the seizure. Seizure alert dogs either have “IT” or they don’t. Most dogs with this talent or stumbled upon by chance, or dogs originally obtained as pets suddenly start alerting their owners, and that is when the talent is found, long after spay and neuter has taken place There have been no known studies that can correlate a higher incidence of seizure alert talents in either purebred or of mixed heritage lines. Developing research (2) has shown that most dogs trained in Alert Service can be trained to alert to seizures, as long as early development, bonding and training protocols are followed. So far in my own research, these development, bonding and training protocols are designed to take a dog with a working temperament, and mold it into something very close to the American Alsatian’s Companion Temperament. For all intents and purposes, using a dog born with the desired temperament will produce a reliable Seizure Alert Service Dog in half the time and expenditure. The finished product: The litter Mo’s SD will be chosen from brings us the three factors we are looking for: Solid, heavy and tall. Auggie has shown all the necessary behaviors that indicate he has a natural intuition for reading the human body’s response to emotional stimuli. He has been present and unwavering during anxiety attacks of my own. He has shown physical blocking behaviors for myself others who display “freezing” responses to anxiety attacks. He has shown a profound ability to use his nose for interpreting his world. Toodles will add the Ability to “do nothing” ; the operative word there being ability. Not many dogs are naturally able to respond to stimuli by “doing nothing”. Most Service Dogs have such a high drive that they will respond to stimuli by trying to solve a problem. They will try to fix it, or run through their repertoire to see what it is that will please you and garner a reward. They must be taught and conditioned to stop in place and not respond with routine behaviors. Toodles has “do nothing” as a natural coping mechanism. Seizure response is physically and emotionally draining on a dog. Many seizure alert dogs for patients with Grand Mal seizures are in need of retirement between 6 and 8 years old. Mo’s seizures are not (to date) Grand Mal, but they do vary from Anxiety induced fugue to epileptic whole body tremors. The seizure response she requires will have to be taught both for assistance at home, and in public. Fennario will be looking for a pup high in Velcro scores with a “hard” touch sensitivity and numbers indicating no sensitivity to loud noises. The pup we are looking for will have a good nose, and a inherent awareness of human energies, both physical and mental. The dog will have an easy nature, with the ability to respond to stimuli by “doing nothing”. He will have a hunger for learning human things, and will not insist on learning dog things. He will be an X-Large dog, but not Giant, and will possess a desire to use it’s whole body to engage affection. It is my privledge and humble honor to possess these two dogs, that will produce another lifeline for a very deserving person.
(1) Warren Retrievers, Inc. (2) Stephen Brown of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in Cornwall, England,