Meeting number 2 for my MS Support / Social Group happened today and it was amazing! I contacted a local dog trainer, Clark Inghram of Inghram’s Sit ‘N Stay Dog Academy about doing a presentation on service dogs. Clark Inghram is the owner/founder and provided a wonderful presentation.
He brought with him two volunteer trainers and 5 dogs, including a 9 month old Australian Shephard. He showed us the basic commands that he teaches all the dogs and explained some of the different things service dogs have been trained on to assist their owners. One dog acts as a brace for the owner who has MS. If the owner needs assistance in getting up the dog is able to provide that and wears a special harness to be able to do so. Another dog assists a person with Cerebal Palsy who walks leaning forward and quickly. This places his weight off center and the person was prone to falling. He was matched with a dog that walks slower so the dog walks slightly behind and is able to slow the person down a bit. This dog is also trained as a brace so if his master does fall down the dog can assist him in getting back up.
Inghram’s first does basic training, making sure the dogs are able to sit, stay, back up, leave it, etc. Once that foundation has been laid, they then move on to any additional specialty training based on the needs of the owner. Currently they have 5 puppies (one of which was the Australian Shepard) that are being fostered and going through their basic training. Once the pups reach a year Inghram’s is going to locate service personnel in the area in need of a service dog and determine what that particular person needs. Once that has been determined than additional training for both the dog and its new owner will take place. The same procedure is carried out for all of their service dogs, the additional training occurs once they have identified what services the dog is needed to provide.
Everyone really enjoyed the presentation and I was really happy to see people learning about an alternative assistive device, something other than wheelchairs or canes, etc.