MS Mondays: Service Dog Resources

Assistance Animals, more specifically service dogs, are used to help those with disabilities lead normal lives. Service dogs are most famously known as seeing eye dogs for the blind, but did you know that more and more MS sufferers are turning to service dogs to help them with everything from balance support to pulling wheelchairs? If you have been thinking about getting a service dog, here are some resources that might help you.

What dogs make good service dogs? 

According to ArkAnimals.com, “The normal breeds selected for balance dogs are generally larger breeds such as Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and sometimes great danes.”

You don’t have to go with a purebred dog, however.

Photo source: servicedoghouse.com

Photo source: servicedoghouse.com

“Many Hearing and Service Dog programs use shelter dogs. The number of dogs that are viable as Hearing and Service Dogs is exaggerated by some organizations. Selection of a dog is critical. A Service Dog candidate should be between 18 months to 2 years old. A younger dog will not show its adult temperament and will not have adult bone structure for hip/shoulder/elbow x-rays. Older than two reduces the amount of time the dog will be able to work with their disabled person. This will eliminate 60 to 80 percent of the dogs in the shelter. Dog size and inappropriate breeds will eliminate another 10 to 20 percent. Temperament tests will eliminate many more. In general, during a visit to the shelter only 1 to 5 percent of the dogs might qualify. Sometimes none will qualify. Service Dog organizations have to make regular visits to the shelters to occasionally find a good candidate. Fifty percent of the dogs selected will have hip dysplasia or other health problems that will then disqualify them. A poor selection process may find a nice or cute dog but you should never shortchange your disabled client with a somewhat satisfactory dog.”

(Source: http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/FAQ.php)

What tasks can a service dog perform? 

  • guiding
  • alerting to sounds
  • opening and closing doors
  • retrieval
  • pulling wheelchairs
  • providing balance support
  • turning lights on and off
  • responding to changes in the physiological, mental, or emotional state of their human partners.

What is required of me? 

photo credit: MS Beyond Meds www.msbeyondmeds.com

photo credit: MS Beyond Meds http://www.msbeyondmeds.com

You service dog will require the same love and care that any household pet requires. This includes food and water, shelter, exercise, veterinary care, walking, and training.

How do I get a service dog?

The National MS Society has a great “Getting Started Guide” if you are thinking about getting a service dog. Take time to research the process of acquiring a service dog — the responsibilities, requirements and benefits. Be realistic about your expectations and limitations.

Assistance Dogs International, a coalition of not-for-profit organizations that train and place assistance dogs, is a good place to start.

Make sure that you understand and agree with the policies and procedures of any agency, organization, or professional trainer you decide to work with. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What is the application process?
  • Is there an application fee?
  • Will I be the animal’s legal owner?
  • Do you follow up after placement? How and at what cost?
  • What will the training process be? How long will it take? How much am I involved in the process?
  • Do you offer custom training for my specific needs?
  • Have you worked with people with MS before?
  • Do you provide references from people who are using your assistance dogs?
Leila walks her owner, Danny. It is an activity they both love.

Leila walks her owner, Danny. It is an activity they both love.

In turn, you will be asked many questions about your needs, preferences, and living conditions. Organizations may request medical or financial records—make sure you ask how they will be used and who will be reviewing them. You might be required to provide a prescription.

There are no uniform standards or credentialing processes for service animal trainers, so it’s important to do your homework before you sign any papers.”

(source: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/assistance-animals/index.aspx)

And now it’s time for….

The MS Monday Motivational Moment 

So keep fighting! 

 

Multiple Sclerosis Resources

UroMed provides links to the following educational resources for patients, caregivers and medical professionals to help increase awareness, support and assistance for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis.

We are also strong advocates. Almost 20% of UroMed’s Customer Care Associates or one of their family members has some form of disability, enabling us to share our understanding and expertise when working with you.

20% of UroMed employees either have a disability or a family member with a disability.

20% of UroMed employees either have a disability or a family member with a disability.

Just Diagnosed

You may have a wide range of questions and concerns if you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has created a special page to help you with the information and support you need to live comfortably and confidently with this change in your life. Please visit http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/newly-diagnosed/index.aspx

Advanced MS

Although MS is a progressive disease, the rate of progression differs from one person to another. The key message to anyone living with advanced MS is that there is always more that can be done to improve the situation. For people whose MS has become more disabling—and their family members and friends—the NMSS has provided information about how to manage the challenges they face at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/living-with-advanced-ms/index.aspx

Multiple Sclerosis & Urology Questions

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society also has produced an excellent brochure to assist people with urological information, Living with an MS Bladder.


About the Author:
 Lindsey Beacham, from Atlanta, serves as Marketing Coordinator for UroMed. She graduated from Auburn University with a B.A. in Criminology and from Georgia State University with a B.B.A in Marketing. When she’s not busy with marketing or studying for additional degrees, she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

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