What Would YOU Like to Know about Assistance Dogs?

After I published this post for Blogging Against Disableism Day, I received a note from Sarah Levis inviting me to guest post on her blog, Girl with the Cane. I wasn’t sure what I should write about, other than “service dogs,” so we decided to put the question to you, dear reader.

What would you like to know from me about raising, training, or partnering with service dogs?

I’ll take any question, no matter how detailed or general, public or private. Why owner train instead of use a program? Differences between clicker training and previous methods I’ve used? If I have human helpers, why do I need a dog? What is my preference for how others behave around my dogs? Why bouviers and not Labradors? Why did I switch from adopting adults to raising a puppy? What’s the most embarrassing/exciting/shocking thing my service dog ever did? What do members of the public do that annoys me the most? How did I know I wanted a service dog? And all those questions I can’t even guess at. . . .

Barnum's head and shoulder's, very shaggy, his snout totally white with snow, his head cocked to the side in a very adorable, questioning way

So, you have a question?

Nothing is off-limits! If you have ever wanted to ask something but thought you shouldn’t because it was too personal or offensive or silly or “ignorant” or you “should” already know the answer, etc., be silent no more. This is your opportunity!

I’ll accept questions for the next two weeks. Please post them as comments to this post here (or, if you’d like your question to be anonymous, at today’s Girl with a Cane post on this topic). After Sarah and I collect all the questions from both blogs, I’ll attempt* to answer them all, and Sarah will post those answers at Girl with a Cane. (I’ll put a link up so you’ll find out when that post is up.)

I’m very curious to know what you’re curious about!

- Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SD/SDiT

*I say “attempt” because I might receive a question that I can’t answer. For example, if I’m asked what it was like for me to have a guide dog or train at a service dog school, I won’t be able to answer those questions directly because I haven’t had those experiences. But I might ask one of my friends who has such experiences if they would be willing to answer. If I can’t give a complete answer to a question, to quote Albus Dumbledore, “I shall not, of course, lie.”

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7 Responses to “What Would YOU Like to Know about Assistance Dogs?”


  1. 1 CK August 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Okay, I’ll bite: What was the funniest/most embarrassing thing that happened to you while you were out with a service dog?

  2. 2 eileenanddogs August 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    OK I thought of one. A challenge to think of something since you are already generous about sharing so much of what you do. Do you have any games you play with Barnum? Either with the idea of eventually using them for reinforcement or just for fun? (I think you actually have touched on this but I can’t remember the details.) Thanks.

  3. 3 KatGamer August 21, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Are Bouviers low-allergen dogs?

  4. 4 fridawrites August 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    That is an absolutely adorable photo!

    How do you quickly explain about not petting Barnum when you’re stopped somewhere? Any words can take energy sometimes. My dog wears 4 signs. People look so hurt when I say no but there are so many reasons for it!

    Do you run through the basic commands every day or every few days to reinforce / work on focus or do those come naturally over time?

    I’m also interested in an MCS Q&A sometime.

  5. 5 Wendy August 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I’d like to know how to self train. Is it incredibly hard? And why do you choose Bouviers over other breeds.
    Thank you for taking on these questions.

  6. 6 fridawrites August 27, 2012 at 7:20 am

    One more idea–what are the beef cubes you use as treats/rewards? Homecooked meat or something purchased? Do you use high incentive treats when you are out of the house or is that too difficult/messy?

  7. 7 Sharon Wachsler September 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    OK, y’all, I’m starting to write my answers….


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