Animal Radio® Show #534 February 27, 2010

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Add Another Abbreviation To Your Doggy Dictionary: PSD (Psychiatric Service Dog)

Jane Miller, Healing Companions 

There are many different types of assistance dogs, with everything from therapy dogs to guide dogs, and now even psychiatric service dogs.

Therapy dogs traditionally visit nursing homes, schools and do reading programs in libraries.  These dogs area not specifically working for you, they are working for the people that they visit. 

Guide dogs are assistance dogs trained to lead blind and vision-impaired people around obstacles.

Now there are psychiatric service dogs.  A psychiatric service dog assists people who have mental illnesses.  Based on the Americans Disabilities Act, someone with a mental illness is someone who is severely limited in their ability to function.  This includes everything from people who are bi-polar; people who have post-traumatic stress disorders (for example soldiers coming back from war); people with major depression or agoraphobia; and even eating disorders.

It seems strange that someone with an eating disorder would require an assistance dog.  People with over-eating disorders usually eat when they are stressed or angry and don’t sit at the table when they eat.  They will usually move around while they are eating, sometimes even pacing around a room.   These service dogs are very attuned to emotions and recognize a problem. The dogs will lead the person to a different room and have them sit down and nudge them to stop eating.   Amazingly, some of these dogs have even been trained to stop a person from opening the refrigerator!

For people with the opposite eating disorder, anorexia, having a service dog means that they have to care for and feed their dog.  Hopefully this leads them to see that they also have to take care of and feed themselves.

Someone with severe post-stress traumatic syndrome, frequently has hyper-vigilance.  This means that they feel overwhelmed when people come to close to them and feel suffocated.  The service dog will place itself between his person and actually block other people from getting too close to them. 

Some dogs are also trained with regard to nightmares.  The dogs are trained to wake the person up, lead them out of the bedroom into the living and hand them the remote control to turn on the TV.  The dog then sits there watching them until the nightmare is no longer affecting them, and then will lead them back to bed. 

All types of service dogs are allowed to go into restaurants, grocery stores and also to a person’s place of work; everywhere the person goes. 

The next time you see a service dog but the handler doesn’t appear to be blind, it doesn’t mean that they should not have the dog.  It is important to show some compassion.   When you come across an assistance dog, do not pet, make noises or call to the assistance dog, remember he is working.   Also, do not feed him.  And never talk to the dog, talk directly to the handler.    This could be a psychiatric service dog and should be treated with the same respect as any service dog.   Remember,  “Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

You can learn more about these service dogs in Jane Miller's new book, Healing Companions.



Life’s Gone To The Dogs

Wendy Diamond – It’s A Dog’s World 

Animal Fair Magazine founder Wendy Diamond is the perfect expert to discuss just how much life’s gone to the dogs.  Since launching the magazine ten years ago with Renee Zellweger and her rescued dog Dylan on the cover, she’s been crowned the “Canine Queen” (Forbes) and the “Martha Stewart or the Milk and Bone Dish” (New Yorker). Together with her Maltese, Lucky, Diamond has also brought animal rescue efforts to the forefront and been a tireless animal advocate successfully raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for pet rescue programs and shelters across the country.

Wendy’s new book, “It’s A Dog’s World,” is a fun and useful guide for anyone who thinks of Man’s Best Friend as a member of the family.   It chronicles what Wendy has brought into the lifestyle of the world of pets in the last 10 years, starting with the adoption of her dog Lucky and her creation of the first ever doggy-fashion show!  While Wendy doesn’t take credit for all of the people who dress their dogs everyday, she does take credit for the people who actually understand that it is important for certain breeds to have jackets in the cold and to also protect hairless dogs from the sun with clothing.  However, even she doesn’t promote dressing up your dog everyday in a tutu!

Ten years ago, dogs were named spot and lived in the backyard.  Today, they live in our homes and sometimes have nicer beds than we do and are named “people” names.  “It’s A Dog’s World” contains tips for humans from the doggie perspective, along with tips on grooming, training, food, travel and exercise.   This fun and entertaining guide is for anyone whose life has blissfully gone to the dogs!




Animal Radio® News with Bobbie Hill

Which States Have The Best Animal Protection Laws?

The Humane Society of the United States has released an analysis of animal protection laws in all 50 states and found California leading the nation in animal welfare laws. The HSUS found the Golden State had the strongest animal protection laws covering animals on farms, at racetracks, in the wild and in the home.  Also scoring high were Colorado, New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts.   At the opposite end of the list - South Dakota and Idaho scored the lowest for their complete failure to make blatant animal cruelty a felony or even outlaw cockfighting.  The report also noted the Humane Society’s success at passing 121 laws strengthening animal protection in 2009.

Woman Gives Up Mansion for Cat

The woman who literally knocked off Simon Cowell’s socks with her performance on Britain’s Got Talent says she will be keeping her feet firmly planted on Scottish soil for the sake of her cat.  Susan Boyle was offered a multi-million dollar California mansion but that would mean uprooting her beloved cat Pebbles.   According to record label Sony, Boyle, “Seemed terribly sad but said she feared her pet might not survive the flight and, even if it did, might not settle by the ocean.”

“Tweeting” For Dogs

Now your canine companion can Tweet along with you thanks to a new toy from Mattel.

The company plans on releasing “Puppy Tweets” a plastic tag for your dog’s collar.  The tag is programmed to randomly generate one of 500 Tweets from your dog whenever it senses barking or movement.  When it hits store shelves, Puppy Tweets will retail for 29.99.

No More Animals For Hoarder

A Michigan man with a history of hoarding dogs has been sentenced to five years probation in a mental health program.  The judge also ordered Kenneth Lang Jr.  not to own animals.  Kenny told the judge he knew he had too many animals but loved them like they were his children.  The sentence was part of a guilty plea entered by Lang to a single count of cruelty to 10 or more animals.  Investigators found hundreds of Chihuahua’s in Lang’s home, some of them dead in freezers.

Lynx Joins Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics downhill ski course in Whistler, British Columbia had to issue a “Beware of Lynx” announcement at the start of competition.  The large lynx was spotted wandering across the course during afternoon training sessions on at least two occasions.  Organizers had already issued a delay on the downhill run due to fog but issued the lynx warning over the race radio.  The lynx was seen hopping over the barriers of the course heading back into the forest.

The Swiss Provide Legal Counsel to Animals

Leave it to the Swiss to bring up an initiative that would provide legal counsel to animals.  Swiss voters will go to the polls next month to decide if human lawyers should be appointed to represent pets or farm animals in cases of alleged abuse.  Switzerland’s animal rights activists collected 144-thousand signatures to put the measure on the country’s March ballot.

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