Several of my providers have highlighted the benefits of a service dog over the years. However, the training process has always seemed cumbersome and too expensive. I have considered adopting a service canine several times over the years but have always decided against it because of the cost of acquiring a dog and the cost of certified training services. I am familiar with the philanthropic foundations. However, I have always been scared off by the rigorous matching process. The training model utilized by these foundations requires that the dog be boarded at one of the national training centers and conditioned according to a regimented formula with very little ability to customize the training to the specific needs of the individual with the disability. Client involvement in the training process is minimal if not forbidden until the last two weeks of the training process. This training almost always requires the individual with a disability to travel to one of a few training facilities out of state. To maximize the effectiveness of service dogs for clients with high physical support needs, training must go beyond the standard model and become highly individualized and specific to the functional capacity of the individual with a disability. Consequently, I have always been afraid that I would not qualify for a service dog through one of the foundations because of the complexity of my disability. The corresponding training needs would go beyond the services that the foundations would be willing to provide at no charge. However, several times this semester I have had the opportunity to interact with several service dogs in training. At each instance, these guys have taken to me immediately and can follow basic commands at my direction.
After some additional research, I found that there is a company that specializes in assistance dog training within rolling distance of my house, Rekalibrated K9 .
Rekalibrated K9's Lead Trainer, Cat Clutton, CPDT-KA, specializes in producing service dogs for a wide variety of needs following standards similar to those used by Assistance Dogs International (ADI)
While touring the facility and meeting with Cat, I learned that through a hybrid of immersion training and client bonding, a well matched assistance dog can be trained to complete such individualized tasks as body positioning and assistance with accessing hydration and food. These are two barriers that have gone unresolved for me since moving out of my mother’s house nearly 20 years ago. The inability to access liquid without support has been a major contributor to my chronic problems with kidney stones, which have necessitated over 25 inpatient surgeries for removal since August 2001. The ability to have continuous access to body positioning help while alone overnight will allow for pressure relief that is currently impossible. The dog will also be trained to react to smoke detectors by activating a switch that is connected to cellular service and a set of preprogrammed numbers.
This level of individualized training will cost $2000 per month for up to a year or more. As you can see, through several anonymous donations we have been able to raise enough funds to purchase a beautiful female chocolate lab (Layla), whose individualized training began on May 30. I respectfully request donations to help with the recurring monthly training expense. Individual contributions can be given online by clicking the link at the right.
Layla and I greatly appreciate your generosity.
With respect and gratitude,
- Amanda Graham
- Susan Kaniut
- Tracy Peters
- Lisa Channer
- Susan Kaniut
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