Autism Service Dog for Ruby

Meet Ruby, our amazing girl! Ruby is eleven years old and is currently in the sixth grade. She is creative, compassionate, extremely bright and loving, and has a strong and passionate interest in animal research and care. Ruby dreams of one day becoming a veterinarian, a marine biologist, a singer, an artist, an astrophysicist, a college student, a teacher, and a parent.

Ruby also has high-functioning autism. At age 4 1/2, our beautiful little girl was diagnosed by a team of specialists with a whole new vocabulary of terms for us to learn as parents: Asperger's Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder, anxiety, and OCD. Quite a lot for such a little girl.

Life on the autism spectrum, for Ruby, can feel loud, overwhelming, and filled with unknowns. Anxiety, OCD, sensory disregulation, and changes in routine are exhausting and scary. Ruby struggles daily with managing her emotions, her expectations, her constant anxiety, PTSD, and the constant barrage of everyday stimuli. She is an extremely gifted child, but the discrepancy between her intellect and her social/emotional disregulation and anxiety can still send her into daily tears and loud meltdowns of frustration, and on her hardest days, even running away. Ruby is a loving and friendly child, but this can often get lost amidst her daily struggles in this big, bright, and overwhelming world.

And so, after many years of traditional therapies and treatment plans, we are looking into something a bit more radical and a lot more personal- an ADA certified Service Dog for our special girl. It is our hope that this dog will help Ruby walk in the world with confidence, companionship, and joy, and that she will then be able to achieve any one of her many dreams.

As it turns out- it is a long process to get a Service Dog, including a multi-step application, letters of reference from doctors and teachers and therapists, and lots of fundraising. We have been researching and dreaming of a Service Dog for Ruby for about five years now! We are so excited to have found a wonderful organization, close to our home, that trains these amazing dogs.

So what does a Service Dog actually do? Here is a quick snapshot, from the organization that we are working with, Doggie Does Good :  "According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) a dog is considered a 'Service Dog' if it has been 'individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.' These dogs are more than just pets; they are companions, and often life-lines. A Service Dog will provide safety, confidence, independence, and companionship to their owner."

This Service Dog will be specifically trained to provide support for Ruby's special needs, including deep pressure for calming and sensory regulation, safety, companionship, a conversation starter for continued socialization, and will even be trained to give her a hug when told the command "happy". ❤️ The dog will be certified to go anywhere that Ruby goes, including airports, restaurants, doctor's offices, public transportation, classes in a school setting, zoos and museums, and even Disneyland (yes, this is on our list of places to finally visit as a family!). We are truly hopeful that this Service Dog will help Ruby regain her confidence and sense of independence and calm, so that she is not limited by her autism, but instead that the many super strengths and unique perspectives that her autism allows her can have space to shine through.

And now- we are ready to begin the process to pair Ruby with a specific dog! The application and the letters and references are in, and Ruby has qualified for the Service Dog program! The Service Dog pack is already in training- now we just need to raise the funds to match Ruby with her dog, and finalize the specific tasks that the dog will be trained to do. At the end of the training process, Ruby and her mom will travel to the dog training facility for five days, where the trainers will carefully train Ruby with the commands needed to work with her new companion, and will help the dog and our daughter make a strong working bond together.

What will your donations support? All donations go directly to Doggie Does Good, the Service Dog organization, for Ruby's specific Service Animal. The money raised from this campaign will help pay for the specialized and intensive training of the Service Dog, the actual purchase of the dog, veterinary care, food, and boarding. Any amount is helpful, no matter how small- we are so grateful for your support!

And- your donation is tax deductible! Doggie Does Good is a not-for-profit Service Dog training organization that has been developed to help people all across the U.S. with hearing, seizure, psychiatric/emotional, diabetic, and/or mobility/balance disabilities gain independence and companionship by coupling them with highly trained service dogs. Doggie Does Good relies on help from people like all of us to be able to make a drastic improvement in the quality of life for a person with a disability, such as our young daughter.

Thank you for making a difference in the life of our daughter, and that of our whole family! We are so looking forward to the much needed safety, help, and comfort that this dog will provide for our daughter, and we are so excited to embark on this adventure with our community of family and friends. Thank you for loving and supporting our girl! 

And in the words of Ruby, who perhaps sums it up best of all: "I am so excited to have a companion to go everywhere with me and help me, and to be my friend. I hope that this dog will help me stay calm when I have a hard time, and that the dog will be there for me no matter what. Thank you for helping support me get my new best friend!" 

Thank you! Infinite gratitude from our sweet girl, and our entire family.

With love,
The Gloger Family

To learn more about the wonderful organization that is specially training Ruby's canine companion, and about Service Dogs in general, please visit the Doggie Does Good website at: http://doggiedoesgood.org/service-dogs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

I’ve had a few questions coming in about Ruby’s Service Dog, so I thought I’d answer them:

1. Why did you choose this organization? 
We did a lot of research, and actually applied to several Service Dog organizations! Several things that we love about Doggie Do Good- first, that the waitlist isn’t 2-3 years, because we are hoping for this dog *sooner than later* to help our daughter. Let’s just say that the wait isn’t helping Ruby (if you know our family well, you probably know what that looks like, and it isn’t fun)! And, we also love that the organization is local! At the end of the training, we have to travel to Arroyo Grande for five days to train Ruby how to work with the dog. A trip to San Diego or the Bay Area or Colorado or the East Coast to finalize dog training, or even visit initially, felt even more costly and disruptive to our family, and harder for me to manage given my brain surgery recovery. I am so grateful that we stumbled upon this relatively local organization. 

Our family went to Doggie Do Good about a month ago, just after we finalized the 30-page application, turned in the five letters of reference, including a doctor’s letter and therapist’s letter with diagnostic codes and recommended treatment plan. What did we love about this org? How communicative and responsive they are with our family, and the kindness that they showed to our daughter during our visit. We met with the Service Pack for about 2 hours, one dog after another, one at a time, and some dogs came out for multiple hugs and visits. The patience and kindness that the trainers showed to our daughter was extraordinary- and yes, they saw a few meltdowns. We also got to observe some of their general dog training in action, and it was wonderful! 

2.  Is this an Emotional Support Animal? Why can’t you just train the dog yourselves?

Good question! This is a little more complicated question, that has to do with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) federal law. Here is a brief explanation, from the ADA National Network:

“A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, or pressing an elevator button.

Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals either. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support. A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.”

There are several set categories that service animals serve, based on the type of disability. These include: Guide Dog (Seeing Eye Dog), Hearing or Signal Dog, Psychiatric Service Dog, Sensory Signal Dog, and Seizure Response Dog. 

Ruby has qualified for a Psychiatric Assist Dog. Here’s a brief explanation of this type of service animal:

“Psychiatric Service Dog is a dog that has been trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and lessen their effects. Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take medicine, providing safety checks or room searches, or turning on lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, interrupting self-harming by persons with dissociative identity disorders, and keeping disoriented individuals from danger.”

These types of service animals require months or even years of specialized training with animal behaviorists. And, once the service animal is matched with a client, the dog receives additional specific training to match the disabled person’s specific needs. These dogs are pretty amazing! 

3. Why are service animals so expensive?

Service animals generally range in price from $15,000-$50,000, based on the needs of the individual client and how much specialized training the dog will require. Fees go toward training, veterinary care, food and board, and the purchase of the dog from a reputable breeder. Many organizations, including Doggie Do Good, are now willing to train family dogs as service animals, as long as the dog passes the initial training based on temperament, responsiveness to training, etc. The specialized training fees would still apply, however. 

We considered having our family dog go through the training, but eventually decided against it, based on his nature and reactivity to other people and the environment. However, we are going to have our dog go through the initial training process so that he doesn’t teach the service animal bad habits! It will be quite a process for our family dog as well- he won’t be able to play, eat, or sleep with the service dog for six months....again, all to insure that the working dog doesn’t acquire any bad habits such as excessive barking or not following commands. 

4. This all sounds wonderful, but I’m not a fan of donating online. Is there another way to donate?

Yes! I think the easiest thing at this point would be to send us a check (or, we also have a Venmo account) and we will add it to our deposit for the organization. It also might go toward travel/hotel fees once Ruby and I go to Arroyo Grande for the last five days of intensive training for her and the dog together. Any little bit counts- we appreciate any help, no matter the size! Send me a private message, and I can send you our address. 

Thanks everyone! Also- stay tuned for an online art store (fingers crossed) and a few other local fundraising ideas this spring! We are so excited to finally get Ruby this dog, to help her navigate her world with more confidence, calm, and ease. Thank you for your love and support. xoxoxoxoxoxo


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Organizer and beneficiary

Rachel Gloger 
Organizer
Carpinteria, CA
Sandy Sandberg 
Beneficiary
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