1) "Is He from Ipswich, MA?” – No. He is not from “there.” He is mine, and is owner taught & trained.
2) "Are you a Professional trainer?, Can You train my dog?" - No. I am disability-retired. Simply for health & liability reasons I cannot train your Service Dog. There are many wonderful organizations out there available to assist you in your search or help you apply for one.
3) "What’s He FOR?" – Medical Alert & Mobility Assistance.
4) "How LONG does it take to train a Service Dog?" - About 1.5 - 2 years depending on their skill set or level of training needed to perform their individual or specialized tasks.
5) "Where did you GET him? " - For privacy reasons, I don’t typically share this information. It is up to the breeder, organization or shelter whom qualifies for an animal and there are usually forms, intake questions to be sure you can care for the animal. I leave this up to the individual to do their own informed research or make their own personal decisions based on their own physical needs, finances or disability requirements. Keep in mind that, No matter the breeding or pedigree, not all dogs will make it as Service Dogs, some wash-out.
6) "Where CAN I get a Service Dog?" – Simply for liability reasons, I cannot suggest, recommend or endorse one organization over another. This would greatly depend on your type of qualifying disability, finances and personal situation. There are many charitable organizations that train and donate service dogs to qualifying individuals, or under the ADA law, you can find & train your own dog. I would suggest you start by doing an online search for more information and assistance, and/or talk with your doctor.
7) "What does he COST?" – Naturally, bigger dogs mean higher vet bills and higher costs; for food, preventative medications, routine visits, shots, licensing, working gear, Pet Insurance, Liability Ins., etc. Certain breeds have more requirements than others, health issues, allergies, etc. Again there are no real guarantees. And it’s always far, far more than you think or have planned for.
8) "Where does he SLEEP?" - In his own bed which consists of an orthopedic mattress specifically designed for large breed dogs of his size and weight. If he slept in my bed and rolled over on me, a dog that size would snuff me out.
9) "How does he know when he's WORKING?" - When his harness, vest or gear is on, He's working. He has several seasonal vests, rain gear, boots and at home soft cloth harness that doesn't chafe.
10) "That must be so AWFUL for him working his whole life!" – Truth be told, they do need time off for rolling in the grass playing, sniffing around and relaxing and just being a dog. Every responsible handler knows and allows for this. Service Dogs love to work and train, they are chosen because they demonstrate they can maintain a high level of energy, alertness and enthusiasm for working and have a great sense of adventure. Unlike household pets, Service Dogs get to everywhere their handler does, (with a few exceptions) they get to see people, go many places, get sunlight, socialization etc. They’re not stuck at home in a crate while you’re at work all day and then sleeping all night. They’re loved, appreciated daily and treated so well some would say they’re spoiled! Trust me, they have great lives!
11) "He FITS in your car?" – Thankfully, Yes. While we could always use a larger vehicle with more rear space for gear, food and accessories like coolers, walkers and luggage, He fits in the car just fine. No he does not ride in the way-back/trunk/hatchback area, if we were to be rear ended he'd be seriously hurt, smashed or killed. He rides in the back seat with a body harness tethered to a seatbelt.
12) "What do you FEED that Thing?"… - I get this a lot. He’s not a “thing,” He’s a Service Dog who’s worked hard for and earned the rights and dignity of such as a working dog, so we call him just that, Service Dog Sven.
He’s fed high quality organic brand dog food that fits for his age, size, nutritional needs and active lifestyle. While a Raw Diet might be more optimal, personally, I don’t feed mine the trendy Raw Diet. Mainly because He’s a service dog that goes everywhere with me, you can’t always refrigerate or prepare raw diet in certain places or situations. If I were to be hospitalized again, it’s even more difficult to transport, refrigerate and procure a raw diet for him, the chance of spoiled me could make him very sick. If he should need to stay with a relative during a medical emergency, the consistency in product can be challenging because not all meat is organically raised and fed, some have hormones or GMO's. Not having access to it or sourcing it in certain areas or due to limitations of the person designated to look after him in my absence is also a problem. Also noteworthy to mention is that overfeeding or giving your Great Dane with too many calories, protein or particular in nutrients found in certain brands of dog foods can result in rapid or unnecessary weight gain leading to orthopedic issues and or result in growth-related diseases affecting their joints. Great Danes are also prone to Bloat, DCM, allergies and food sensitivities. Therefore it is always best practice to consult with your Vet Dr. & do what is best for your dog's individual needs and age group.
13) "You put SHOES on a Dog? Are you Crazy Lady?" - Perfectly sane thanks. Yes, He wears shoes, booties & galoshes. No, they are NOT too tight or cruel, he’s trained to wear them and they’re made for dogs. Ever try to get gum out of fur? Or gasoline, tar, diesel off your dog’s paws? What if he licks it or ingests something? Slip or skid on waxed floors, break a hip? Burns his paw on hot pavement, skin irritations from Winter Salt De-Icer. There’s glass, gravel, screws, nails, tacks, cigarette lighters, etc. are on the ground all the time and now we have Corona Virus to deal with too. Want your dog bringing that home or in your car? Yuck. Booties are a safe, comfortable, washable first line barrier of protection.
14) "Oh My Gods is that a MUZZLE?, I don’t like Muzzles!" – If I had a half-a-cent for every time I’ve heard this one. Personally, it's not my job to care what you like or don’t like, or have to defend or testify to what we use when out, it’s not about you or your likes and dislikes, it’s what works best for us. But for the record no, it is NOT a muzzle; it is a Halti Head Collar. Danes pull, and because he needs to differentiate from walking and pulling a wheelchair someday, it is far better and safer than pulling on his neck and throat with a collar. And Yes, he can eat, drink, breath with it on just fine.
15) "Danes are so DeESTRUCTIVE!" – Again if I had half-a-cent for every time I’ve heard this. It’s a matter of perspective, most of these Great Danes are Danes that have been left home alone and are bored, anxious, lonely, hungry or in pain. Danes are extremely emotional and sensitive dogs. This can greatly be fixed with far more supervision, training, exercise and higher quality food that satiates and nourishes them.
16) “Too bad they don’t LIVE very long” … - This is inappropriate, hurtful and mean-spirited to say to anyone, even more so to someone interdependent on having a long bond their service dog. While all dogs of each breed have their particular health issues. The fact is that on average Great Danes can live 8-10 years, some have been known to live longer.
17) "He seems CONFUSED!"... - When you shriek “OMGs! Look that that big dog…” and take a hard forward charge directly towards him to pet him or greet us, and the dog moves, well then yes, it just might appear that way to you.
Not ALL service dogs are trained for the same sorts of things or disabilities, so they will not always do the same things you're used to seeing or have seen. But ALL service dogs are highly trained and go through months of training and testing to gain public access. They all have their own set of verbal commands, hand signals, alert responses and body queues. Often for safety reasons they’re not always even in the same spoken language. My dog presently has a combined working vocabulary of over 150+ words, commands, nuances and hand signals. He is trained to body-block, counterbalance and medical alert, so yes, he’s going to circle around or find the best position to do that in a crowd of people so we don’t get hurt, run over or have a medical emergency. He’s NOT confused, he IS doing his job. We know you’re excited and understand your glee, but please ask rather than shriek from afar. You can always reach us by email or social media as well.
18) “HORSE Comments” – These are just like calling a challenged child the R-word, or an adult the N-word or S-word and so on. This is not necessary and completely inappropriate. Further not only are interfering, you are bullying, harassing and shaming a disabled person and can be considered Verbal Assault and/or as a Hate crime in certain states.
19) "DO NOT PET?" - As a whole, it’s seldom acceptable to pet a Service Dog. But occasionally, for various reasons and in certain limited circumstances, some handlers will let you pet the dog if you ask first or there are no patches stating otherwise. It is always up to the handler. Please never assume you’re exempt from the rules or that because you have pet the same dog before that it is ok again, every situation, encounter and environment is unique and different and the person-handler has the dog due to medical needs, not social ones. Do not assume because a dog doesn’t have a vest on that he is off duty, on a break or not working, under the Federal ADA Law, vests & patches are NOT required. The same can be said for taking photos, it is always best to ask first, as it can also distract the Service Dog from doing his job or endanger the handler.
BONUS ROUND: Many Service Dog Teams are friendly and often willing to answer a few common questions. However, just like you, we are trying to get through our day the best we can and do not always have time. We have additional limitations due to our health, disability, the weather, and now COVID-19 to contend with. For many reasons we may need to get to safety very quickly to avoid a medical emergency or have an appointment, job or other engagement to get to. However some have PTSD, Autism, Anxiety or other disabling triggers that prevent these sorts of social encounters.
*** Please be respectful and understanding, if we cannot stop to talk to you on any particular day. ***
We may need to leave due to a medical issue, appointment, busy store, pandemic or another reason.