When I initially got Bailey, I worried about what would happen when paramedics tried to take care of me. She is a really good natured dog, but if she thought I was in danger, what might happen? And would I be able to take care of it? So, I encourage most men who want to pet her to do so, when she is controlled, and in a sit. I ask them to approach her from the front and pet her head.
When I was in training, more than a year ago, my last experience with the paramedics happened in Wal-Mart. We had been together about two weeks, Bailey and I. She DID lightly growl when the men wearing dark clothing and carrying tackle boxes walked up! That was why I decided to start working on introducing her to more men. I especially try to go out of my way to ask security people and police officers to talk to her and pet her.
I want her to be comfortable in a situation that might be frightening for both myself AND her. With my anxiety problems, I need to be especially aware of my state of mind when I am becoming aware again.
I also have been working with both of my children to teach them how to control Bailey in the case of something happening to me. And that means getting her to listen to their commands and walk at heel for them. Since my 5 year old is 40 pounds soaking wet, this is challenging. Bailey is NOT the most subdued of dogs! But, the work is paying off and I see results in her listening to their commands.
Our life with Bailey has been a FAMILY effort. It has paid off. I went 13 months without a visit from the paramedics! That is incredible in my world..... Every single day I appreciate her more!
Dena has hit on an extremely important topic for all service dog teams. I have a client in rural North Carolina with a medical condition that prompted her to contact me about training her adult Lab as a medical alert dog. As we began the process, I recommended she visit the local rescue squad who would respond to her home. First, they need to be aware of her condition and that she has a service dog in training. Second, her dog needs to meet the people who may respond to the home. On that visit, asking to get into the ambulance with the dog is a great idea, as well asking them to crank up the lights and sirens, if possible. I also recommended teaching her dog what to do if she is unconscious and is being attended to by emergency services workers. A down/stay nearby is one option. All service dog handlers also need to determine what happens if an ambulance has to transport him/her to the hospital. Does your dog go with you in the ambulance?
Congratulations to Dena, her family and her beautiful German Shepherd, Bailey for all their successes in the last year. Below: That's me, Dena, and Bailey at the diabetic alert dog workshop last summer.