Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Find a Diabetic Alert Dog

There have been lots of questions about how to get a diabetic alert dog.  The most frequent questions seem to be: “Do I purchase one or do I self train?”  Personally, I believe self training is the best way to go!  By self training you get to learn how your dog learns, how your dog thinks, and in general, WITH PROPER TRAINING, the bond happens much earlier!

Is it is easy?  ABSOLUTLY NOT!  It is not for the faint of heart!  It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources. The scent portion is probably the easiest part. It is the public access stuff that is very difficult!  Not just because of the hours and hours of obedience, but because YOU ARE ALWAYS IN THE PUBLIC EYE and YOU and YOUR DOG will be paving the way for other teams behind you. It is a daunting task!  Get help if you need it, but by doing the training yourself, you will create the trust and bonding that you need in order for your DAD to work with utmost joy and dedication to you.

What should you look for in acquiring a pup to train for this purpose?  First off, you want to ASK LOT OF QUESTIONS of the breeder.  Be cautious, when the breeder is hesitant to provide the answers you need!  You want to know the temperament of the parents.  You want to know the health history of the parents.  You want to know if they have met basic health clearances specific to the breed. For example, in Labrador retrievers, you want to ask about hip clearances (OFA or Penn Hip), eye clearances (CERF), EIC, and CNM.  Each breed has heath issues that are specific to that breed.  You want to ask if there are contracts and/or guarantees in writing.  Here is a copy of the contract I use:

 Puppy Health Guarantee

Fetch Express Kennels breeds their dogs in an effort to significantly reduce the possibility of genetic hip and eye problems; however, due to reasons beyond our control, these problems still occur.  If these health problems arise in a dog purchased from Fetch Express Kennels, the following puppy replacement agreement applies:



Hip Guarantee:

1.      The dog must be X-rayed for Hip Dysplasia after 24 months of age and before 26 months of age.  The X-rays must be submitted to the OFA for examination at that time.

2.      If the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, INC) finds the dog to be dysplastic, in order to qualify for a replacement the following must be fulfilled:

A.    KC Owens is to receive a copy of the hip x-ray and a copy of the OFA written report.

B     The dogs AKC registration number and the microchip or tattoo number must be reported  to OFA at the time test results are submitted for evaluation.  It is also recommended that these identification numbers be noted on the x-rays when they are submitted to OFA.

C.    If the dog is found to be dysplastic, the dog will be replaced after the return of the dog to KC Owens and the dogs registration papers are to be signed over to KC Owens.

D.    All freight charges are to be paid for by the owner, for both the replacement puppy as well as the dog that is returned.

     E.    The OFA shall be the sole judge regarding hip dysplasia.

F.    Purchaser agrees to provide proof that the dog has been spayed/neutered prior to replacing dog with another dog from like breeding.

3.       The replacement puppy will be from a breeding with a comparable pedigree and will be the same breed and sex.  The puppy will be replaced when one becomes available. The replacement puppy will be chosen by KC Owens.



This guarantee is void if the dog has an traumatic accident such as being hit by a vehicle, a large fall, or any injury resulting in a broken leg.



Eye Guarantee:

1.      The dog must be checked by a certified Canine Opthamologist.

2.       If the CERF(Canine Eye Registration Foundation) finds the dog to have bad eyes, in order to qualify for a replacement the following must be fulfilled:

A.    KC Owens is to receive a copy of the examination from the Opthamologist and a copy of the CERF report.

B.    If the dog is found to have a congentital defect before 26 months, the dog will be replaced after the return of the dog to KC Owens and the dogs registration papers are to be signed over to KC Owens.

C.    All freight charges are to be paid for by the owner, for both the replacement puppy as well as the dog that is returned.

     D.    The CERF shall be the sole judge regarding congential

       eye problems.

F.    Purchaser agrees to provide proof that the dog has been spayed/neutered prior to replacing dog with another dog from like breeding.

3.      The replacement puppy will be from a breeding with a comparable pedigree and will be the same breed and sex.  The puppy will be replaced when one becomes available. The replacement puppy will be chosen by KC Owens.

AKC Registration Number  ______________Date of Birth__________

Sire

Dam

Breed ____Labrador Retriever________________ Color ____ Sex  _____

Then both parties sign and receive copies!



You will want to ask questions about how the pups were raised.  Were the pups exposed to the Army Biosensor program?  Were the pups exposed to diabetic scent from a young age?  There is a big bonus if the pups were raised by a diabetic!  Can the breeder tell you the weight of the pups when they were born?  Can they give you more information than you really want to know about the parents and the health history of the entire litter?  Does the breeder quiz you about your life and your needs from this dog? 



Are the pups registered or can they be registered with a well known dog registry system like AKC or UKC?  Are they sold on a limited basis meaning you do not have breeding rights unless you meet certain requirements?  Can you live with those requirements?  Does the breeder make it well known that IF FOR ANY REASON you need to give the dog up that the dog comes back to them? Are the pups temperament tested and if so can you see the results?



I would recommend being very cautious if they say they are retaining the right to make you train in a certain way or if for any reason they can repossess the dog that you have paid for in full.  Dog training knowledge is not something that is owned by any one person.  It is attained through very hard work, but anyone that has common sense and is willing to try hard can attain it!  There are many ways to achieve success, but you have to buckle down and want it!  IF IT SOUNDS LIKE A MARKETING SCAM it probably is!  A good breeder is going to try to match the pups to the people!



Sounds daunting doesn’t it?  I warned you it is hard work!

If puppyhood just isn’t for you and your family, find a REPUTABLE group to work with.  They are out there but you have to WORK HARD to find them.  Honestly, the demand is great and the resources to fill that demand are limited.  Many of the same questions and cautions apply!  A good group is going to have a very stringent application process.  They are not going to move you up because you have more money or greater need.  If they do, trust me you are soon going to be parted of some hard earned cash!  Do they bend over backwards to PROBLEM SOLVE ISSUES?  Do they think outside of the box?  What about health guarantees?  What about contracts?  Are they willing to try different things to help get you and the dog on the same page?  Can you train a dog like they do?  If they use a physical correction can you or your child use the same amount of correction?  Are you physically up to the task?  Do they work to come up with solutions that will work for you and your family? Do they teach in a style that you can learn?  Do they explain all the various training modalities that are out there?  Do they tell you that one style or another WONT WORK?  Trust me, there are successful dogs out there from EVERY modality there is!  There is NO RIGHT or WRONG way to train a dog.  You do what you have to do to explain it. Learn how your dog LEARNS BEST and the methods that work BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! Fairness is of utmost importance to a dog learning to be a DAD so that the bonding between dog and human is created and trust and respect is the underlying component. It is FAIR to tell a dog when he is wrong and it is FAIR to reward when a dog is right. 

 Once again if they say they can take the dog back without good reason and without your consent RUN TO THE NEAREST DOOR!  DO NOT BE IN A HURRY!  Just because your child is going off to college and you want the peace of mind a DAD may bring, it is not a good reason to accept the first available dog.  Any good group is going to have a very long waiting list.  Remember, very often GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT.  Also, if they try to tell you what they are doing is a SECRET and that you shouldn’t talk about it, if they try to strip you of your right to free speech or if they make you afraid, RUN! Be careful of organizations that want to withhold the ownership on the dog they send out with someone.  When you buy a dog IT SHOULD BE YOURS WITH ALL THE RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES, PRIVELDGES, and PROBLEMS that come with owning a dog.  Remember these dogs while a wonderful asset are ALWAYS and FOREVER going to be a dog first and foremost!

And, do not be afraid to ask for referrals from prior customers.  A good organization should be proud to offer referrals from happy customers.  Match what the referrals are saying to your own situation!

ABOVE ALL ELSE, trust that small voice inside of you that says SOMETHING IS OFF!   Do not try to over ride it!  This is WAY TOO IMPORTANT to get derailed for any reason!  Keep your nose to the grind stone and it will happen. The right doors will open and you will find yourself exactly where you are meant to be! 

I know this seems like a lot, just to get a dog.  While these dogs another wonder tool in the battle against the disease of diabetes….they are not a cure all.  They are not going to take away the disease…they are just going to be a good friend to go through it with you.  But all friendships require hard work!

Written by KC OWENS fetchexpress@gmail.com on July 25, 2011

Please feel free to copy and cross post this as necessary!

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