New project?

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Miakoda, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. Miakoda

    Miakoda New Member

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    So I've been thinking...... (ruh-roh).......

    I haven't updated anything here on chaz (just my facebook), but a few of y'all kind of know what's going on. For those that don't, here's the brief Cliff's Notes version:

    3 years ago, Cole had viral encephalitis which was determined to be the type transmitted via mosquito, but wasn't West Nile (I just told a view that so they would understand what viral encephalitis was). They are now thinking that he possibly had one of the equine strains, but they didn't test for those two. He was extremely ill.

    Fast forward....Cole was never the same child after the infection. Yes, he's a sweet, loving child, but he retained some changes in behavior which have increased in intensity and occurrence as he's aged (impulsivity, hyperactivity, decreased ability to properly handle feelings such as frustration, anger, etc....I could go on).

    1 1/2 years ago, I noticed the first episod which I subconsciously thought could have been a seizure. I noted it in a journal, but because of what happened, it very well could have been him just extremely tired and it was past his bedtime. Well, he had more of these episodes, but I'm talking about months apart.

    Fast forward to the end of August, and Cole had an "episode" on a Friday night which was much more involved and then he had another on the following Tuesday in the late morning (I had to check him out because they called and said he wasn't himself). That one was more odd and more severe.

    Fast forward to now. We've met with Cole's pediatrician and neurologist. Neurologist said "most definitely seizures" and she's of 99.9% certain these have been brought as an after-effect of the encephalitis. She said it's common in those who had such severe cases. An EEG showed abnormal rhythmic activity in the frontal lobe. For those that don't know, the frontal lobe controls behavior, which has really explained a lot. He's set to have an MRI as well to check for changes in the brain and/or scar tissue in the brain. Right now we can positively say he has suffered brain damage, but what exactly and to what extent is still to be determined.

    Ok, so thanks for reading all that. Now here's my new thought:

    I would love love love to train, or at least attempt to train, a dog to be a seizure alert dog. I know all about certain dogs, certain temperaments, etc., but I also know that much of seizure alert training is teaching the dog to recognize and then act.

    But I would really like for such dog to be either an APBT or a Fila. But my question is, would a Fila be apprpriate for the job? Would it mesh with it's breed traits? I wonder because I know Fila's have super smellers and that is much of the dog being able to recognize the onset of a seizure.

    I'm just in the "let's throw ideas out on the table" stage, but this is something that just struck me the other day. Cole and Carson have both been asking for dogs of their own, and I think that after the new year (after our Disney trip in late January and early February) we will finally be settled in and down enough to take on the job of puppy raising and training.

    So....opinions?

    And just for what it's worth, please don't tell me to get a Lab. No offense to Labs as a breed, but I don't like them and won't own one. Been there, done that, through with that (we had 2 duck dogs).
     
  2. MafiaPrincess

    MafiaPrincess Obvious trollsare Obvious

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    To answer this as an almost paramedic.. If something happens to him, when there is no higher authority that dog recognizes.. you may have a delay in care to him if it was a true to the breed fila personality. It would potentially protect him from anyone incoming especially if the dog saw him as injured or hurt.

    A fila sounds like a bad idea for a service animal. And sadly if it protected and wouldn't let medics get close without potential further harm to them.. and AC doesn't respond fast enough an overzealous cop may take it down if they thought you child needed imminent medical attention.
     
  3. JessLough

    JessLough Love My Mutt

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    I have to agree with Maf. I'd be worried about the APBT as well... just because if he needed paramedic attention, paramedics may see an APBT and refuse to go up to him... or call the cops first, who may "deal with it" by shooting first and asking questions later.

    I'd be weary about going with a breed that has a negative public outlook, just incase he did need help at one time and you were not around.
     
  4. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I don't know a lot about APBTs or Filas, but I do know a bit about seizure dogs.

    The most important thing to know is that not all dogs have the ability to sense that a seizure is about to happen and alert to it. There is not much we can do to train a dog to alert to an oncomming seizure, the dog either does it or he doesn't. I've heard estimates of around 30% of dogs having the ability to alert to seizures.

    That said, you can increase the possiblity of the dog alerting if you select a dog with the right temperament. Sense of smell is not as important as temperament; in fact, we still don't really know how dogs sense seizures, it may not be by smelling at all. What you need is a dog that's extremely handler-oriented and extremely attentive to small changes in the environment. It would also be good for the dog to be "honest": he will do what he's supposed to do even when nobody's watching or when his handler is unconscious. This is actually a very difficult trait to find in a dog; while more important for a seizure dog for an adult, this trait is less important for a child, since being alone is less of an issue.

    Organizations that train seizure dogs train seizure response dogs, not seizure alert dogs. Seizure response dogs are trained to respond to the person's seizure, by doing tasks like calling for help, retrieving medications after a seizure, etc. Seizure response dogs fit the service dog criteria outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, as they perform trained tasks to help mitigate a person's disability. Seizure alert dogs which aren't trained to perform tasks (since alerting to a seizure isn't something one can train, the dog does it naturally) aren't technically allowed public access rights.

    Again, I don't know much about APBTs or filas, but I do agree that it's extremely important for the dog to be friendly with all strangers, even those who appear to be hurting their owner (paramedics). In places where there are breed bans, usually service dogs are exempt, but there are loopholes that sometimes allow service dogs to be banned as well.

    What about public access? Will you want the dog to go everywhere with Cole or just work inside the home? IMO it sounds like an in-home only seizure dog would be perfectly fine for Cole at this time, but if you want a dog with public access, I'd think a breed smaller than a fila would be more appropriate; it really is much easier if the dog is small enough to fit in a crowded classroom. Since seizure dogs don't have to be large, it might be a better idea to get a medium-size dog.
     
  5. ~Tucker&Me~

    ~Tucker&Me~ and Spy.

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    I agree with this.

    And this lol. Sadly, the pittie's bad reputation could scare off potential helpers that would be too afraid to get close. And in an emergency situation time is of the essence...
     
  6. Teal

    Teal ...ice road...

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    lizzybeth did a great job at outlining the difference between a Seizure ALERT dog and Seizure RESPONSE dog.

    A Fila would not be appropriate, if you wanted the dog to go into public with him at all. Filas require a VERY strong owner, and a Fila whose owner was having a seizure in public and being approached by strangers would most certainly bite someone. They are loving and devoted to the point of recklessness!

    Of course, being an APBT person and using an APBT service dog myself, I definitely support this option. APBTs make wonderful service dogs, as they are handler oriented enough to perform the job, but friendly enough with everyone to let them do THEIR job when the time is right.

    If you are looking for a Seizure Response Dog, you can certainly train an APBT to get a phone, or an adult, or medication, etc. If you are looking for a Seizure Alert Dog... I've never known anyone who purposefully sought and trained one. All the ones I know were already established dogs in the household.
     
  7. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    One of my clients at work is a woman with seizures and a legitimate service dog. The dog naturally developed an alert system and is now being trained to respond via my facility.

    [​IMG]
    Picture included cause, um duh, she's adorable.

    Now, the nitty gritty, the dog has been grandly accepted by all medical professionals, friends, and even her new landlord. She is however in a lawsuit with her place of employment over the breed of the dog. They've gone as far as to accuse the dog of growling and nipping someone and they're trying everything they can to fire her. At a certain point you have to ask yourself what you want to set yourself up for, if you're willing to lose your job (in theory) and fight your way into places of business, etc, then by all means an apbt is an amazing option. If not pick the mentally calmer, safer route and go with a classic breed.
     
  8. -bogart-

    -bogart- Member of WHODAT Nation.

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    OMG Calebs Seizure are caused by the.exact.same.thing. except he had a slight fever and that is it. he was 3 then. his are well controled thru meds though and we decided against an alert dog for various reasons.
    Out of the 2 choices , go for the pit. at least for the first go around. fila seem to much for a child and to big a libality.

    when i was researching , there did not seem to be any rhyme nor reason any dog alerted.

    Hope the little guy is okay. i freaking hate seizures.
     
  9. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    I am the process of going through picking a service dog for seizure response as well. my seizures are not like Calebs, they are much more minor but much more frequent (similar to fainting spells)

    I found a trainer/program willing to work with me on training my own dog. but the basics BEFORE the SR stuff gets in is something most trainers can help you with (but honestly, it's the hardest part. the building blocks)

    If you would like a look at the curriculum,here it is: http://www.chazhound.com/forums/t133074/#post1798864


    Dobermans were my first choice but I ran into the same problem as it seems that you are. First of all, the obvious breed issues (finding an apartment, etc..etc..)
    but then came the deeper stuff. When I seize, I NEED help/people to feel comfortable coming up to me/helping me.
    A dog with natural protective instinct WILL oppose to this. The person they love is vulnerable, on the ground, hurt.. and the idea of strangers rushing up screaming "OMG!! SOMEBODY CALL 911!! IS SHE HURT?!?!" plus the paramedics lifting you up and dragging you around.. for any dog, is a problem.
    but more than that, as much as I hate to say it, I CANNOT have people scared of the dog. and this is common with SDs that are certain breeds. Paramedics, people etc.. will be less likely to act/help and in my case, I need people to be ok with approaching and I DO NOT want my dog to get in trouble for doing something as natural as protecting me.

    Now, my seizures are very short, but I remain unconcious until I get some kind of tactile stimulation (licking hands, nudging etc..) this is fairly easy to train.
    If I don't wake up, the dog will be trained to stay with me but attract attention/get a person.

    the FREQUENCY of my seizures (multiple a week) also make it easy to train, because we have actual time to work with them so the dog knows what to expect/how to react.

    Figure out HOW you want the dog to react and go from there. Some dogs lick/nudge, some simply provide support, some get meds, a phone, another person..
    Anyway, I find myself looking more at individual dogs/breeders now and less at breeds (although of course breeds are in consideration)
    I found a border collie breeder with SD experience.. and I'm going from there

    I started with goldens, but at the recommendation of my trainer, I started looking at more handler-oriented breeds (herding dogs), I also met a girl with a SR border collie and simply fell in love with their bond and style of training/learning, so I took the plunge.

    I can't say this enough but it's the building blocks that matter. More than the end result of a SR dog, the puppy raising and early training, that's where most SDs pass/fail.. I would find somebody willing to help you out there (or just do lots of research)

    A great book: Amazon.com: Teamwork II: A Dog Training Manual for People with Disabilities (9780965621618): Stewart Nordensson, Lydia Kelley: Books

    A GREAT site/forum: http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/


    It's a long road, trust me.
    and lots of ((HUGS))
    but the idea of me having independence and going places ALONE make it so much more satisfying, I'm sorry this post is such a beast though lol

    I have been going through this ever since I was Calebs age. and it wasn't figured out to be seizures until pretty recently, it's a lot to deal with for any kid and please keep us updated along the way!
     
  10. RedHotDobe

    RedHotDobe aka RedHotBabe

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    Sorry I don't have any experience or advice to offer you Mia, but Fran, if you want a Doberman, I've noticed that natural ears are accepted much more than cropped. The neighbors hated (and still do hate) Rumor and will not interact with her or allow their dog to interact with her, but absolutely loved the natural-eared boy and treated him completely differently than they do Rumor. He was always welcomed over and doted upon.

    I remember you talking about BCs, so maybe you've already given up on Dobermans. :p
     
  11. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    I thought about that but it also stemmed from the issue of me finding an apartment that would allow dobes. Natural ear or no, the whole dog breed issue is BIG in Miami (pitbulls are banned totally as it is) and I'm a student who rents... so I needed to find a breed that was more ok size/breed wise
     
  12. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    Agree with everyone else about the fila. When I was talking to some kuvasz breeders, one suggested that a kuvasz would be an excellent working dog to replace Strider some day. Yeah, they'd be great at the working part. At letting paramedics get close to help? Not so much. Same thing with filas. :rofl1:

    An APBT would be really good at the job. Other people will be the problem. You can fight most things and win, but is that something you want Caleb to have to deal with?

    The biggest things are to decide exactly what tasks you want the dog to learn, then pick a breed with the ability that is also the type of dog you want to live with. It doesn't sound like he needs any help with mobility, so something sturdy and small is an option. I've seen a lot of small/toy breeds being used as seizure alert and response dogs, as they are extremely portable, tend to be long lived, tend to accept strangers, look non threatening, and are economical to feed.

    Maybe something like a patterdale? A smaller hound like a beagle might work well too. At the working dog expo I met a family whose little boy had epilepsy. Their basset was being trained for seizure response. The mom said that when he was going to have a seizure the dog put both paws on the boy's chest and would start baying in his face about an hour beforehand.

    It's interesting that we don't know exactly what they're alerting to, but hearing that the basset alerted a full hour beforehand makes me lean toward smell. The handful of other seizure alert dogs I've met were a poodle and some german shepherds, they usually alerted 20 mins or so ahead.
     
  13. joce

    joce Active Member

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    The times chaz has had a seizure at home I think the cats picked up on it:rolleyes: Dogs did not notice a thing and I think we had five at that time. You can not train them for it-they have it or they don't.

    If you want one for him contact an organization and go with what they have. Good luck!
     
  14. -bogart-

    -bogart- Member of WHODAT Nation.

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    Cliff Notes Time ~
    Cole = Mia kid The one in OP.
    Caleb = My kid. decided alert dog not for him.

    lol

    Anyway , what about any of your current pack? do they act weird before an episode? I think it is really trial and error on which dog will alert , but the response to the actual seizure should be easily trainable to any dog. like fran licking her to wake up and so forth.
     
  15. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    Dur. Okay, too many C names and too little sleep. Thanks for the clarification. :)
     
  16. -bogart-

    -bogart- Member of WHODAT Nation.

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    LOL i was thinking , wow another Caleb! :rofl1: lol Get some good rest !
     
  17. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    My bad I said Caleb too!! lol
     
  18. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    I'll admit I haven't read all the replies here, so I'm probably repeating some stuff. but here's what I have to say:

    You do not train a seizure alert dog. You train a seizure response dog. If the dog alerts to a seizure, GREAT! But it is a nautral behavior, not a trained behavior. And as such, it is not a task that will make a dog a service dog. The response work is what makes it a service dog.

    How old is Cole? That's something to consider if you plan to have the dog with him at school or whatever. It's absolutely fine to have a dog at home that helps, but unless he's old enough and capable enough to handle a dog on his own, then the dog should not be a public access dog. That age is different for everyone.

    I don't know a lot abotu Filas, but from what I gathered around here, they do not seem to be a breed that is good for service work. A service dog has to accept people hurting you when neccessary - going to the doctor, dentist, paramedics, etc - and that just seems to me like something a Fila owuld NOT be okay with (and I may be wrong - like I said I really don't know much about Filas). APBTs and other bully breeds can make fantastic SDs, but if you plan on traveling, it can be complicated - espiecally if you travel to a place where there is a breed ban. In March the laws changed and I think one changes was that SDs are not affected by breed bans, but that doesn't matter much when authorities take the dog first and ask questions later - possibly after it's too late and the dog is dead. A lot of people make it work just fine, but it's something to keep in mind.

    The other thing is that training a service dog is not like training other dogs. There are similarities of course, it's still dog training. But I strongly suggest you work with someone that is familiar with SDs. Even if you're perfectly capable of the trianing yourself, the nuanced of how the dog is supposed to behave, how the handler is supposed to behave, etiquette, etc take a while to figure out, and if you can work with someone that has all that experience already, it will definitely help with the learning curve.

    Another thing abotu alerting, only about 1 in 100 dogs are SD material to begin with. Dogs that alert are also rare. But in dogs that are suited to SD work, about 1 in 10 will learn to alert within 6 months. If after 6 months the dog doesn't alert, it probably never will. It takes a special kind of dog to learn to alert. Nobody really knows what it is they sence, but whatever it is, they have to learn that that signal - be it a smell, a slight twitch, or whatever - predicts something that happens 20-30 minutes later. That is SO beyond most dogs. That's like telling your dog to sit and giving it a treat half an hour later.
     
  19. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    Agree with this. It's really helpful for even the most experienced owner/trainer to have an outside trainer that is overseeing, or at least evaluating the dog throughout its training. I know there are things with Strider I would have been blinded to that were manageable, but not really okay behaviors for a SD. Having a very strict and experienced mentor who put us through the ringer helped me test him and see where we needed more work as a team, and allowed us to achieve that really high level of discipline needed for public access.
     

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