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Bernie and Oliver's Mom
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi All!

I was looking into the possibility of training my youngest golden, Oliver, to be my service dog. I have addison's disease and therefore run the risk of going into adrenal crisis at any time. The severity of the condition varies greatly, from feeling unwell all the way to needing to go to the ER. I knew there were service dogs for individuals with diabetes who could detect low blood sugar. I didn't know there were dogs that could do this for my condition (detect drops in cortisol levels). I saw this video though:

BBC - Life saving dog is a world first

and it would be absolutely amazing if I could somehow train Oliver to do this for me. I know this isn't something I could train him to do myself, I'd need to work with someone who has experience with this kind of detection training. So to my questions...

How do I go about finding a trainer to assist me in this feat?
Is Oliver too old to be trained to do this (he is 18 months)?
What are the steps I need to take to have him be my service dog?
(I've read about Public Access Tests, needing approval from a doctor, CGC's etc). Oliver has his CGC (at 8 months) and we are pursuing competition obedience and hunt/field work.

This would be unbelievably amazing, but I have no idea how to accomplish it. Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

ETA: Another Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u7RJ8kCu4s
 

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Hello, I am training my pup to be a service dog for my epileptic daughter. Her seizure are brought on by stress which I know is the same with Addisons disease, if he cannot detect your cortisone levels he could still be of service be keeping you calm. I have not had any issues bringing my 6 month old pup into stores, he actually was just down at the Mayo clinic with my daughter and was a rock star. It sound like his obedience is in check having his CGC etc. Maybe you can get him approved as am emotional support dog. Best of luck to you.
 

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Bernie and Oliver's Mom
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Discussion Starter #3
Hello, I am training my pup to be a service dog for my epileptic daughter. Her seizure are brought on by stress which I know is the same with Addisons disease, if he cannot detect your cortisone levels he could still be of service be keeping you calm. I have not had any issues bringing my 6 month old pup into stores, he actually was just down at the Mayo clinic with my daughter and was a rock star. It sound like his obedience is in check having his CGC etc. Maybe you can get him approved as am emotional support dog. Best of luck to you.
Thank you for your response! Are you working with a special trainer to train your pup? How are you going about training him to detect drops in cortisol levels?
 

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I work with a pro trainer but do all the work myself. I can ask her if she know if dogs can detect cortisone levels. She trains seizure alert, diabetic alert, autism etc. I will let you know when I hear back from her.
 

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Dog Lover
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Best of luck to both of you!
 
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Bernie and Oliver's Mom
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Discussion Starter #6
I work with a pro trainer but do all the work myself. I can ask her if she know if dogs can detect cortisone levels. She trains seizure alert, diabetic alert, autism etc. I will let you know when I hear back from her.
Thank you I really appreciate it, im going to meet with my obedience trainer and see if she can point me in the right direction. Would a good first step be to take him out to more public places? I was thinking of asking my professors if I can brimg him to class. Campus is always bustling so I think itd be great exposure for him. Im just nervous about what to do if he acts up (like barks or somethimg)

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Bernie and Oliver's Mom
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Discussion Starter #7
Just a quick update, I found this training center in MA - only 1.5 hours from my current apartment. Could be a possibility. Emailed them today, Fingers crossed.

Diggity Dogs | In Dogs We Trust |
 

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Dog Lover
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Coaraujo

Coaraujo

Please keep us posted on Oliver's training.
 

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Bernie and Oliver's Mom
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Discussion Starter #10
I got an email back from the training facility "In Dogs We Trust"

They said they haven't ever trained dogs for Addison's disease, but they would like to still work with us and see if we can just use a modified version of what they do for diabetic alert dogs. I'm sending in an official application and will have a conference call with them soon. I'm really excited for the process to start. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, but I'm thinking this could really help my condition!

I'll get more information from the training center (I have so many questions), but when can I start working on Oliver's public service dog training - like when can we start going in buildings? Do I need a vest for him? I walked him around my campus today, I'm going to start doing that a lot more often so he can get used to being around people and the hustle and bustle of daily life. I also did some practice walking in and out of a building. He needs to learn to calmly walk through and not dart through. He picked up on it very quickly, so that's good. He tends to be a bit aprehensive in new environments so I'm wondering how he'll do when I start taking him into buildings with new strange sounds and sights.
 

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Bernie and Oliver's Mom
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Discussion Starter #11
I had my phone consultation with the service dog trainer today. I can't believe this is all actually happening. Its all somewhat experiemental since they've never trained a medic alert dog for someone with my condition before. We have our first training session in a few weeks (for 4 hours!). We're ordering Oliver a vest. I feel more comfortable with him wearing a vest. I kind of have a bit of anxiety about people approaching him and me. I kind of prefer to be just left alone, but with fluffy golden retrievers that tends not to happen. He has most of the obedience behaviors down, so during our initial training sessions we'll fine tune his public behavior. She said he'll begin to understand that wearing his vest means he's working and he'll know the difference between a walk to the park and a walk with the vest on. For now I have to keep a close eye on Oliver and his behavior towards me when my condition acts up and see if he has any sort of natural triggers. I guess there are different ways of training medic alert dogs depending on if they naturally respond to the scents your body gives off or if you have to train them to recognize the scent. I'm thinking keeping a journal might be a good idea. This makes me feel so much safer already, knowing that Oliver will be trained to help me in emergencies. These dogs, they're miracles with paws.
 

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Addison's Disease and your dog

Hi there,
I am so interested to hear how the training went with Oliver. I am also an Addison's sufferer and have been thinking along the lines of trying to find any information regarding obtaining or training a medical service dog.
I would appreciate it if you could let me know how this process went for you.

Regards.
 

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I would like an update as well! I have been searching for a few years for resources to train my dog, or get another dog from an agency, that is trained to warn me before I go into crisis. I was wondering if diabetic alert dogs would be just as effective since hypoglycemia usually accompanies an adrenal crisis. I actually had a cat who was an adrenal crisis alert cat about 6 or 7 years ago. I never trained her, but we began noticing after awhile that she was detecting it. Usually she would be very passive and not bother me, but when I began to have a crisis she would meow nonstop, smack me on the leg repeatedly and/or even try to climb on my chest if I was lying. Unfortunately, she had to go live on my dad's farm when I got my dog because they did not get along. I have a degree in animal science (so just a bit of knowledge about behavior and training) and have trained my dog to do many things around the house for me because of my many medical issues. I have had a number of back surgeries and sometimes have trouble reaching my feet. I trained him to pull off my socks, and tug on the bottom of my pants to help get them past my feet. He is just a service dog at home though because he is so cute no one will leave him alone so he gets very distracted in public. I have no idea how to go about training to detect hormones or chemicals though, so I am a bit stuck on that front. I have thought about getting a dog from an agency already trained, since most of the agencies I have found do it this way. Again, I would love an update about whether or not you were able to get your dog trained to help you with your Addison's disease!
 

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Hi coaraujo, I'm glad that everything seems to be working out so far! I would love to see updates from you about Oliver's training. I have service dog myself who is retiring and will be getting my golden girl as his successor.

I also wanted to point out that a vest is not legally required in the US but it is recommended that your dog is marked to avoid any issues with public access and it somewhat deters people from petting.

Wishing you the best of luck and hope to hear from you soon!
 

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Adrenal Crisis Alert Dog

I found that it is possible to train a service dog to detect the chemical changes on your breath and skin that are related to an adrenal crisis: BBC - Life saving dog is a world first.
However, despite this "first adrenal crisis alert dog" being utilized back in 2009, I am still having a hard time finding a facility in the U.S. that knows how to do it. I was able to find one, but they are not located near me. If you are located in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania, or Virginia, this may be the place for you. They do have adrenal disorders listed as a condition they can train an alert dog to detect. The facility is called "Service Dog Express" and you can even use your own dog as long as they understand certain basic commands and have the right temperament. Take a look here: Service Dog Express-Training for Wounded Warriors/Civilians
 

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Therapy dog for Cushing's/Addison's

Hi,

I am not sure if you ever found a trainer for your dog to help you w/ your Addison's (Low cortisol). I have just had pituitary surgery for Cushing's. As you know, many of Cushing's patients end up adrenal insufficient and so end up swapping Cushing's for Addison's. A prominent Cushie (10 year veteran - and had to have her adrenals out so now 2ndary A.I.) started a rescue organization that helps people find therapy dogs and to help alert them when their cortisol is low. Here is the link to her page on FB. Hope this helps!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/121659931780658/


Best,
Jeanne Harris
 
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