Service Dog - Marshall Sitting on Target Ball

Marshall Sitting on the Target Ball

Service Dogs cost from $20, 000 to over $50,000 depending on their skill set needed for their handler. Probably one of the most famous service dogs (SD) is Sully, the two-year-old Labrador Retriever that dutifully laid by the casket of President George H.W. Bush. Sully went on to assist wounded veterans during recovery at Walter Reed National Military Center. Sully’s training was extensive and expensive. He will continue to help those that need assistance.

Tolleson Fire Department Work Shop

With the advent of what has been termed as Fake Service Dogs (I prefer fake handlers) education is paramount for the general civilian population and our 1st responders. The U.S. Service Animal organization is making an effort to make that happen. As part of that task, we held a workshop at the Tolleson Fire Department (TFD) here in Arizona. The SD was introduced to the vehicles and the TFD crews. The Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and Paramedics that simulated emergency situations on the handlers. Two important factors resulted in the EMT working with an SD, and the handler recognizing how the SD reacts to the EMT identifying if additional training is required for their SD.

The greater reaction came from the SD when the handler simulated unconsciousness. Several EMT worked on the handler and the SD had the need to be by, close, or even nudging their handler. The EMT learned how to handle the SD while respecting the need to not separate the SD from the handler.

TFD Service Dog Work Shop

When completed, the Tolleson Fire Department and the handlers both expressed that we learned a lot from the exercise. The workshop will assist us in building a comprehensive set of operating guidelines that will help us produce a syllabus to educate the population in general, our K-12 education seminars, and our 1st responders.

This was the second workshop we held with fire departments by mutual request.

Reactions From People On K9 SD

Mothers and Fathers are much better at recognizing the SD and advising their children that the K9 is working and they can not pet the SD. There are others that respectfully ask if they can pet the SD, and personally, it saddens me to say, “Not right now because Marshall is working”. They are not being nefarious, they just love dogs and want to interact with the K9. Then there is the ninnyhammer that will whistle or make other distractions to see if the SD will react. The is a wide array of various reactions, some good and some ugly.

Sully Service Dog President Bush

Sully SD President Bush

How others interact with the SD is so important that States have created laws to protect the handler and/or the Service Dog. In Arizona, if an SD handler is confronted by a bellicose person that disrupted the symbiosis of the team, that person could be convicted of a Class Six Felony.

The Veteran Administration will help veterans with their SD if the K9 qualifies. There is a lot that can be said on the Service Dog subject but I’ll leave it to another article if there is an interest in this topic.

ADA requirements for Service Dogs

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