Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Family with the Service Dog

Tom Coleman of Pawsitivity Service Dogs recently contacted me about his organization.  With a name like “Pawsitivity Service Dogs” how could I not pay attention?   
Photo credit: Pawsivity Service Dog website

Although I don’t use a service dog for Robert, we all love animals.  Through the years, our family has had cats, dogs, hamsters and an aquatic turtle (all “plural” except the turtle).  Robert loves the animals in our household as much as we do.  He helps by letting me know when our big, goofy lab, Oz, needs to go outside (or come back in).  And then back out.  

Robert even told me one time, “The cat wants out.”  Um, no, the cat doesn’t go outside.  Our cats are inside cats and Milky Way just happened to be sitting by the door where Oz goes outside.  (It was an easy mistake to make.)

Even though our Oz gives us lots of love and cuddles, I still miss our beautiful toy Pomeranian, Sassy, and our sweet boy, Wizard, a Lhasa Apso/Terrier mix.  (Yes, “Wizard of Oz” is my favorite movie).   

Our pets contribute so much to a family and service dogs are no different.  My friend, Cindy Mitchell, knows this because her beautiful Boomer Zoomer is a service dog who works hard to keep Cindy’s son safe during his seizures and comforted afterwards.  Boomer even has his own Facebook page!  (Boomer came from the Paws with a Cause organization).  

Pawsitivity Service Dogs is run by a husband and wife team based in Minnesota with a clear love for dogs. 

Tom Coleman shares more of the benefits of a service dog:

“Whether an Autism Service Dog is used to prevent wandering off, teaching empathy, helping with socialization, soothing melt-downs, as an educational tool, or helping with seizures, there's an extra, added benefit, that's not often talked about. The benefit is to the families. Whether parents of a child with autism or siblings, family members of a child with autism have to deal with an incredible amount of stress.

“We all deal with stress differently, whether through talking with friends, meditation, exercise, or some other method, yet we're all affected by it - our cortisol goes up, along with our heart rate and blood pressure, and it takes a long, long time to come down. For some family members, even sleep isn't that helpful, because the child requires attention even during the night. But an Autism Service Dog is not just for the child who is along the spectrum - a Service Dog has a loving gentle nature that isn't just limited to one person.

“At any point, the dog is available for petting, playing, or exercising with, and just stroking the dog immediately raises oxytocin levels (oxytocin is often called the "cuddle chemical"). These therapeutic benefits are significant - families who have an autistic child have been shown to have better Quality of Life (QOL) scores when the child has a Service Dog, and families report that it's not just because the child behaves better, it's also because the dog has them each personally to deal with the stressors in their life. A Service Dog is still a dog, and always wants to become a family dog when not working with the child they're assigned to - and a family dog always has enough love to go around!”

Thanks, Tom, for sharing your organization with us and for raising such helpful pups. 

If you have an experience with service pups, please share in the comment section.  Do you use a service dog or do you know someone who does?  Do you agree the benefits are not only to the person the dog is assigned to, but to the whole family? 

Be sure to also stop by Boomer’s Facebook page as well as the website of Pawsitivity Service Dogs! 


Kathy Lowrey said...

Service dogs are so interesting and spectacular.
I always believed that there was a type of healing quality in a loved animal.
Organizations that train and provide service animals are very special indeed!

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Kathy, I completely agree. Service dogs are so special. Even the non-trained animals bring us such love and comfort and are special. You're right about the healing quality in a loving/loved animal. Hugs!

Unknown said...

Do services dogs receive professional dog grooming supplies? I don’t have an experience with service pups yet but I am planning to get one if I’m sick.

Gerard Mark said...

Dogs are truly a man's best friend. They do services for us, accompany us everywhere, and even guard our homes. I'm surprised that they can even be our assistants in times we're sick. Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

I loved these pictures! I especially loved all the animals - the dogs, the horses with bells, and yes the pig! I didn't realize it was a pig until I enlarged the photo. What a fun family event! The parade Corps looked very elegant in their uniforms! Thanks for sharing, Muffy!
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