Yes and no to the above.
Technically (legally) a doctor does not need to sign off on any condition. CGC is also not a requirement.
Legally, there are very few requirements to service dogs, for very good reasons, although this is hotly contested in our world. The reason most SD advocates do not want stricter regulations for the most part is that it becomes highly cost and time prohibitive to those who are ADA disabled and have legitimate need. Others worry about those who abuse it, but there is actually little data out there on the actual incidence and harm of this.
To qualify for a service dog to have access rights under ADA, you need to have an ADA disability (the nature of the disability, ie the diagnosis, does NOT need to be disclosed). Your dog needs to be trained to do task oriented work that is required for your disability. For example, your dog may retrieve medication or detect a seizure. However, the task cannot be something that can be done by using a purse or a fanny/hip pack, so this is part of the "trickiness" of the determination.
Also, you dog does not need to know hand signals necessarily. Voice commands alone are fine. Just as hand signals alone are fine. Hand signals can be helpful to some, but again, this is based on the specific type of work your SD needs to do. For me personally, Rylee needs to know both hand signals and voice signals (not together). For example, she needs to be able to alert during a time where I cannot physically speak, so she has a command where she knows you go get help that is a simple hand signal. For the most part, I prefer voice command (very quiet) but that is up to the handler, honestly.
I'll private message you a post of mine from earlier that contains information and sources that are up to date and accurate.
Very best from Rylee and me!Attachment 293449 Sent from Petguide.com Free App
This is another post I wrote that could be helpful. Happy to speak via private message too if you need the help. I'm so grateful to all those here who have helped me!!!!!
AKC/pet partners has a listing by state of reputable service dog trainers. Rylee is 17 weeks and we have two trainers: one for obedience, agility, etc. and the other to build on that training for specific service/task oriented work that will qualify her as a service dog virus therapy or emotional support dog.
Technically it is from Pet Partners, which is one of the primary therapy dog organizations and on of the offs AKC used when setting up its TD program http://petpartners.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=452
Our SD trainer has us focusing on obedience and manners, although Rylee has been so quick to learn, she can sit, lay down, back, shake, heel, up, fetch and recall without treats, and stay, watch me, roll over, with treats. Obviously some of these are just for fun and not service/task oriented.
She recommends really honing in on the manners and to build foundation to task oriented training without actually introducing task training until they are developmentally ready, between 1-2 years depending on breed and dog (goldens can be earlier). Based on Rylee's evaluations, she will start at 6 months. She'll start her scent classes at 5 months as foundation.
The reason that reputable SD trainers, including ours, are reluctant to do too much before 1-2 years is because research has shown that pushing/training too early can result in the dog refusing to work altogether when they ARE old enough, which is why our trainers focus on the foundational training that, with a few tweaks when she is developmentally ready (mental, emotional and physical maturity), can be task-oriented, "officially" qualifying her as a service dog.
I have my MPH in health policy from Yale (studied joint degree law and public health) and have been a policy researcher (legislative advocacy) for years, so when recently diagnosed with an illness and ADA designated disabilities, I've opened up my research focus to include policies for those with "invisible disabilities" although my primary research area is health disparities and food security.
here are some other resources I found helpful: http://www.iaadp.org/conference.html http://www.iaadp.org/psd_tasks.html
Let me know if you'd like to know the service tasks we've identified for Rylee. It is such a joint effort between different health providers, SD trainers, etc to figure out how to do it and we all need each other to make it work well and with enough support!
As far as whether or not your pup would be suited as a therapy or service dog, only you and your doctor can determine your need for a service dog versus therapy dog, and your dog will tell you whether or not she is suited for either/both. It sounds like Sunni is already therapeutic for you, and even without titles and designations and certificate, and this is important! Quality of life is so critical and helps during those "gloom" moments and can make them lesser in duration and frequency, which will likely help the other physical symptoms as well (it does for me, and for most!)
I've done quit a bit of research on what types of work SD can do, and Goldens can do all of the tasks I've been able to research thus far. This is of curse contingent upon setting up circumstances for success. For example, if trained to retrieve a type of medication, the access place needs to be easy enough for a large dog to navigate :-). Of course, having a large breed dog as a SD has its advantages, which is why we selected a golden to begin with. For those prone to anxiety or pain mitigated by heat, a large breed can be trained to "hug" which essentially is to lay on top of large muscle groups which provides pressure and heat that allows the autonomic system to trigger to relax, which can reduce the duration and/or severity of the attack. SAs can be trained to recognize onset and preventatively carry out this task, reducing the need for medication, therefore reducing side effects, etc.
What might be helpful for you would be to work with your physician to determine the disabilities you have that require assistance, and then make a list of those. I prioritized mine, so that we could focus training on first things first. You can always message me privately if you want to discuss some of your needs (current and what you anticipate) and I can probably point you to some really good, specific resources. My company HR and ADA office has also been great at identifying some good modifications for me (although I am still on medical leave currently), but these resources (from ICAN) have been really helpful for my providers and me to figure out what my needs really are to help determine Rylee's course of training.
As far as being in the hospital, you may find it valuable to get Sunni certified as a therapy or emotional support dog (which most won't do until 1 year of age) which will allow her to go into hospitals (now this is a little fuzzy in interpretation and i can explain further) and I would recommend that you expose Sunni to hospital equipment if you can, including the beeping, loud noises, etc. what you can also do is ask the hospital administration for a waiver to allow Sunni to go with you. Since Sunni is not officially an SD she will not have the access rights that an SD has, but the hospital may be willing to work with you, especially if you can show that she is CGC. Hospitals care about liability and risk when it comes down to it, so trying to work with them to mitigate that risk will only help you.
Also, few states have regulations specific to the in training versus full sd designation (California is one such state with substantial regulations), so this may be a non issue for you depending on your state in addition to registrations (which FYI, there is no federal regulation or statute requiring SD registration, so states and local governments cannot really "require" this, although some people find it helpful to comply just to prevent the hassle from business owners or others).
I know this sounds overwhelming and confusing, but it gets easier the more you read and of course, the more puppy kisses you get. Rylee was bred and selected specifically to be a service dog, so if you find that Sunni is not fit to be a service dog, it is already clear that she is helping you tremendously. Obviously it would be great for her to be able to help you get out of the house if your are physically able to, and Sunni helps you with that,but I think people get very caught up in the designations and certifications and forget that at the end of the day, the most important thing is getting us all to be able to live our lives and thrive in spite of disability and illness. She is already there and so are you. Please don't feel pressure on you or on her to achieve any sort of status yet and continue to do as you have--focus on your bond!
Obviously even though Rylee was bred for this and currently shows the signs for it, you never know because animals are as unpredictable as people and we can only do and hope for the best.
As far as working on training when you are physically unable to do so, if you have a training partner, they should come to all of the training classes with you so Sunni knows how to listen to both on voice command. If your hospital denies Sunni access, can you try face time or Skype so you can still see and hear each other? Sunni should also continue her training 2-3 times a day in short increments according to her age (10-15 minutes is all you may get out of her at this stage, but once she masters the "watch me" command, you will see her mental attention spa increase exponentially!!! So I totally recommend this!!!) so even on days when you cannot do this yourself, hopefully your partner can. Rylee knows how to listen to my husband, but is much quicker to hop to with me :-)
Best of luck from Rylee and me!
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