You could check out rescues for older dogs, and also check out breeders. It's not true that programs don't train for seizure response, but the challenge as you know is that the dog has to naturally respond and respond well to seizures. I also know there's an assistance dog training club in Washington.
Are you also familiar with Fair Housing Act and your rights to have a SDIt or an emotional support animal, trained or not trained, as long as you can provide a doctor's note. This gives you more options than having an already 90?rained SD in training. The rest is your personal preference. While a rescue dog might be great, also be aware that they are at higher risk of separation anxiety issues.
I would suggest using "Lend me an Ear" by Martha Hoffman to look at what would make a good dog for you in personality. I think breed matters very little, compared to the personality and balanced temperament you need, as well as your needs (cost of feeding, grooming, maintenance). I know that smaller dogs do well for seizure alert, but if you have panic attacks due to PTSD, a larger, more macho-looking dog might be more appropriate.
Chihuahuas, Poodles, labs, chow-chows, etc all can work well as seizure alert dogs.
Proper handling and selection of a dog is very important. Dogs that respond to panic attacks and seizures are owner-oriented and velcro dogs, and they are very high-risk for separation anxiety issues if they are at all fearful or insecure. You can't just get a dog trained and not set up a daily training routine to help reduce separation anxiety issues and bolster confidence. Meet with more than one trainer-- get on an on-line support list to talk to other users about living with service dogs.
You can contact an animal behaviorist to help you find a good match for you-- preferably an outgoing, happy-go-lucky dog with low aggression, great resilence.
I'd actually suggest a medium to larger dog, maybe a retriever or retriever mix, even a well-tempered rottweiler. Herding breeds are diverse, but they can be more fearful as puppies and young dogs, or become protective, and they need a steady handler, so I couldn't recommend a herding breed that would be right for you. You also need to keep learning more about dogs and dog psychology.
Because of your disability, it is easy for you to inadvertantly behave in such a way that can foster separation anxiety in a dog over time, unless you have received specific training on how to behave as you handle separations from your dog and do that consistently and help build up confidence in your dog that separations are OK.
Our service dogs must be nearly perfect, but we have to really help our dogs achieve that, everyday.
Ideas on preventing separation anxiety:
* Send the dog to a good doggie day care once a week so they can get used to separations and also de-stress from working with you (this is hard-- seizure alert dogs really are 24/7).
* Have the dog dogsat once a month or so, to develop a good relationship with your "emergency care" support network.
*To reduce the stress of an 911 call-- have your dog visit fire stations and 911 departments, meet police-- all uniformed and nonuniformed, feed your dog biscuits and teach the dog those people are "special friends."
* Do your homework and educate your advocate (somebody who can handle people well and supports you) on how to bring your SD into the hospital.
* Work on greeting and separating from your dog. Pig ears, kongs, etc. all help take the sting out of an initial separation.
* Train good stays and use them, until your dog will stay offleash even if you're out of eye contact.
Any SD MUST be able to pass the ADI public access test or CGC standard of separation. Work on this hard so your dog can do even better than the test tests for.
This is even more important if you know your dog is prone to that from temperament testing or past history (shelter and rescue dogs are prone to this). My dog aces this easily-- in real life, not just tests-- I just tell him he's to be with that person, and he obliges.
I worked hard on this issue because my old dog had separation anxiety and panic disorder so severe we had to put her on prozac or euthansize her, she was that miserable. It was probably triggered by the next-door dog breaking into our yard and scaring her.
She was a well behaved dog, but she was never SD material because she had fear issues which you wouldn't see in public, but give her a threatening situation and she'd backpedal, she'd be head-shy, she had noise-shyness-- couldn't handle fireworks, and T-storms would find her under the bed.
I've faced really scary situations with my present dog that would have caused my old dog to break down and develop permanent fears of going out in public, so I guarantee you, you MUST not accept just a "well behaved" dog-- you need solid nerves. Once we walked into an elevator and the man screamed and brought his hands above his heads like he was trying to scare us. My heart jumped, and my dog startled slightly, but I saw he was startled himself and we calmed down, and it was only a pause before we both entered the elevator and had him sat in corner opposite this 6 foot stranger (who I could see was "safe" in body language).
Now, that experience with my old dog-- she'd have backpedaled, bolted, opened the door to the stairs and kept on going all 8 flights down! And she'd never want to enter an elevator again if there was a big bad man in there.
Yes, you can probably empathize big-time with my old dog... but that's the point-- your dog needs the socialization, the training, and the calm nerves, to have the confidence when you don't :D.
Good luck finding a new dog!
Answered By: doglover - 8/4/2007