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My son goes to college and there is a girl at his college with a service dog. He found out today she has POTS and the dog barks when her blood pressure goes too low. Isn't that interesting. Because my son is so shy, he would never ask her about it, but I would be curious how she found a dog trained like that, and what she does when it barks etc.

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I have POTS and a service dog.

First, I'd like to add in that it is very poor etiquette to have a dog that barks as an alert, that would be quite disruptive in many circumstances.

She may have found a program that was willing to "trial and error" dogs with her, or the dog may be owner trained. Dogs can not be taught to alert (except in the case of diabetic alert). It is something that a dog either does or does not do and doesn't count as a task. In order to be legally considered a service dog, the dog must have trained tasks that mitigate the disability, and the person must be legally disabled as per the requirements of the ADA.

For me, my dog alerts to fainting - he was taught to drop into a down seconds before a faint when we are out in public, and refuse to move. I have to instantly sit down next to him to avoid a faint.

If I do faint, he tunnels under my legs (under the ankle if I'm face down, under the knee if I'm on my back) to raise my legs in the air and return blood flow more quickly. He also gets help around the house if I don't wake up quickly enough.

Other things that he does for me:

-pick up items on the ground since bending over will result in a faint.

-alert to oncoming asthma attacks (which previously had me in the hospital almost weekly due to inhalers not working)

-get my inhalers - I often can't get them quickly enough, and if I faint while having an attack, I'm in big trouble

-provide mild balance support by helping me stand up, and counter balance if I'm dizzy

I'd be curious as to what else her dog does for her.

If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer =)

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That's amazing Jan. It was on the news a few months ago how a dog detected cancer in his owner and kept barking and licking near where the cancer was. I can understand the cancer because it probably does emit an odour undetectable to the human nose, but I can't understand how the dog can sense her BP change. If you find out anymore please let us know.

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How do you even get one?? I think my doctor would be in hysterics if I brought up getting one LOL... but that would be awesome to have!

It's a matter of first deciding on whether or not you meet the ADA's definition of disabled.

The dog needs to do things to mitigate your disability - ie: things you can't really do for yourself because of the condition. The tasks it performs must be directly related to your disability - if your dog is trained to open doors, but you are capable of opening them on your own, the task doesn't count.

You can contact organizations that train service dogs and talk to them about what you need the dog to do. The downside is that many organizations have long waiting lists and a high dollar (though many of the older organizations don't charge clients for the dog).

The other option is owner training. This requires finding a dog that is rock solid in temperament and health. It takes approximately 1-2 years to fully train a service dog. The best bet would be starting with an adult dog since you do not always know how a puppy will turn out.

Your doctor does not have to prescribe one, it's a decision that you can make on your own. Although, talking with your doctor about whether or not it would be needed is always a good idea.

Having a service dog can be difficult for those with POTS and other dysautonomias - keep in mind that the dog needs daily exercise, regardless of how much energy you have that day.

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That is true about taking care of the dog.... I find it extremely difficult just taking care of my daughter, let alone another living thing. Did you have to pay for yours? How long did you have to wait to get it approved? This is really interesting!

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That is true about taking care of the dog.... I find it extremely difficult just taking care of my daughter, let alone another living thing. Did you have to pay for yours? How long did you have to wait to get it approved? This is really interesting!

I'm lucky that I actually work for the organization that he came from. It's also one that give dogs to the client for free, so no I didn't have to pay for him.

I have had him for a year, and have been having symptoms/ related health issue for almost 3. About as soon as I knew how bad I was getting, I got him and did all of his training on my own.

Songcanary, thanks. He's my best friend and lifesaver =)

Hope I didn't accidentally hijack the thread... perhaps we should start a new topic on it if anyone is interested in the subject. I know there were old posts about people looking into getting a service dog.

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I have a Standard Poodle as my Service Dog. She is 2 and I have owner trained her. She alerts me when my heart rate is up which reminds me to slow down. She reminds me when I should go to bed. A few of her trained tasks include helping me when my balance is messed up because of the dizziness, getting my husband if I need him, and picking up things I drop. One of the really helpful things she is trained to do is to lay on top of me when my body is trembling. I have spells where I shake uncontrollably and my husband would wrap me in blankets and put heating pads on me to try to stop the shakes. Now I can have my dog provide the weight and heat. Service Dogs are not for everyone, but can be very helpful. I am much more independent with her by my side.

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I've wanted a service dog for so long. But POTS is not considered a serious enough illness here in Australia, it seems, to qualify. It's so sad when you think of all the dogs that are put down each year. And then when you think that some of them would probably be suited to being service dogs it just seems like a tragic waste.

Alyssa, how do you manage to exercise her on your bad days?. Just wondering. I used to own dogs some years ago and I realize the care and exercise they need. I had a dog that died not long before I was finally diagnosed with pots. On one hand she did present a difficulty for me in looking after her but I managed. Her comforting when I was overcome by what turned out to be pots symptoms was immeasurable. I really miss her. She made long days and nights much easier to bear.

mdcountrygirl, I've only recently experienced a couple of episodes of extreme shaking and difficulty in getting warm which lasted for about 2 hours each time. Both times they were proceeded by violent vomiting. A new symptom. Much more than those feelings of weakness that would see me have to go straight to bed with the help of my husband to get there. I'd be semi asleep before I even got into bed. Actually the sleepy feeling often proceeded the weakness. I haven't had that symptom for some time, now. knock on wood. But the vomiting, extreme shaking and freezing cold feeling was a nasty surprise. Fingers crossed I won't experience them again..

blue

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mdcountrygirl - glad (bad choice of words? haha) that someone else on here has a service dog! My dog is also trained to apply pressure by laying down on me when I start getting jerks. If my arm is jerking, he lays on my arm, etc.

blue - exercise is achieved through playing fetch, learning tricks, swimming in the pool, going for walks with my boyfriend, doing scent work, and all sorts of other things that I can do while sitting.

Also, I'm not sure how Australias laws are worded, but here in the US, it's not the diagnosis that determines disability - it's how you are affected by it.

ie: this is how our definition of disability is worded

"Sec. 12102. Definition of disability

As used in this chapter:

(1) Disability

The term "disability" means, with respect to an individual

(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;

( a record of such an impairment; or

© being regarded as having such an impairment (as described in paragraph (3)).

(2) Major Life Activities

(A) In general

For purposes of paragraph (1), major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

( Major bodily functions

For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions." - Service Dog Central

There's a little more to it, but that's it in a nutshell

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Alyssa,

How do they locate dogs that have this sense. Also, we have a golden retriever/sheltie mix who has been my velcro dog since we got him at the age of 5, and though loves the rest of the family he is obviously most bonded to me. BUT, when my son has jerking and especially last winter when he had prolonged jerking episodes, he jumps on top of him! He gets a bit agitated but wants to stay by my son until he stops. He also licks his arms and face. He provides my son enormous comfort during these times. He is an old boy of almost 16 now so I am very worried about him, also.

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kcmom, it's hit or miss, mostly.

In other words, programs that do seizure dogs are training dogs to respond to seizures. It is said that about half of the dogs that are trained in response end up doing alerts (predictions) in the first 6 months with their client. Some programs use rescued dogs, and some breed their own. The ones that breed their own often breed the dogs that have a higher propensity to alert.

It was the same with my medical alert/response service dog. He started alerting to asthma about 2weeks after getting him - likely because he sensed the urgency that we had when I had attacks (several per day). I also trained him in "pots response" and after 3ish months, he began alerting.

Some dogs are just naturally more tuned in to their owners.

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I have actually given some serious thought to a service dog. Sadly my fiance is not an animal person, at all. He barely tolerates Polly! (Although he has come a long way, he will actually pet her on occasion now!) He has drawn the line at any more animals until Polly passes. As she is only 2 and a 1/2, I am hoping I have 20 years to think about it! But especially as my EDS progresses, and my mobility becomes more and more limited, I see tons of benefit. He is just really worried about caring for the dog. Which is a fair concern. The whole reason I got Polly was because there are just too many days I can't get out of bed for me to worry about walking a dog. The sort of dogs Marty actually likes are too small to be a whole lot of help to me.

I have found that having any pet is a big help, though. When I was still single, having Polly went such a long way towards combating the loneliness and isolation I often felt. She also forced me out of bed, at least once a day, to make sure she got fed. It wasn't much, but being able to accomplish something, even something that small, helped me feel a lot better about myself. And she, like the cat I had before her, seems to sense when I am doing really badly. She will curl up and cuddle with me all day. So fortunately, Marty has come to understand just how important having a pet is for my well-being. Amazing what the furballs can do for us, even without any special training at all!

Sandy

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your dog sounds amazing :D :D I have a little Cavilear king charles as a pet and she can get very affectionate towards me before I faint but she is not trained for it or anything but she is a great little companion :) :)

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I just started looking into what it would take to get a service dog here in Florida, so far I haven't heard back but I plan on talking to my cardiologist on Friday when I see him. I'll update you guys if I get any information on it that's helpful. I can definitely see where it would be a help to have a service dog, especially considering the loneliness, isolation, and really the depression that can come along with this issue. I find that kills my will some days and I often think that having a service animal would be a help even if it were just for the emotional support.

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Kate, keep in mind that service dogs are not there to give emotional support.

I think a lot of people get SDs (service dogs) and ESA (emotional support animals) mixed up.

A SD is there to help you with the physical things that you can not do for yourself, these must be things in the home and in public. If you were ever taken to court regarding a SD, you must be able to prove that the dog does tasks to mitigate your disability, that you are legally disabled, and that the dog has undergone intense training. If you said that the dog provided any kind of emotional support, the judge would likely be quick to dismiss your dog as a service animal and would not allow it to be in the public eye.

An ESA is a dog or other common domestic animal that provides theraputic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. They are however allowed in housing that does not normally allow animals (free of charge) and are allowed to accompany you on a flight.

I just wanted to clear this up as there has been a lot of press lately with people claiming to have a SD and then saying that it keeps them calm or helps their depression, anxiety, etc. (Not to be confused with psychiatric service dogs, which are a whole different thing)

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Now if only I could teach my 20 month old daughter to do all this....LOL she is there for me emotionally, just wears me out physically. I would love to just have a dog, but I too worry about the exercise. I might get a mastiff... we had one growing up and they hate exercise lol

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  • 2 years later...

An interesting topic.

Also, be aware that some people with service dogs do not have dogs that perform specific tasks.

Many people with mental issues or psychiatric issues have a 'service' dog. The dog is simply a companion that calms them or whatever. A psychiatric M.D. must 'prescribe'. These are usually small dogs that are allowed to travel anywhere with that individual.

Yes, most people with service dogs have dogs that are highly trained or at least trained. But with a letter such as I stated above people do get dogs that are simply companion animals.

I've worked with shelters training dogs and have fostered dogs that would otherwise not be adoptable for decades. My last such foster was 2 years ago, because am not able to do the amount of walking needed to work with a rescue right now.

Am all for dogs and hope anyone who chooses has an opportunity to have one, be it for pleasure or a working dog.

Best,

K

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Also, the woman who goes to school with your son who has a dog that barks to alert her?

She could also have another form of dysautonomia along with pots.

I have pots but I also have NCS, (neurocardiogenic syncope). This is a big issue and while many with NCS get pacemakers, studies show the pacemakers do not always work for NCS.

My heart went from 90 to 80 to 70 and then immediately to 30 on a cardio TTT at Mayo MN. My heart stopped for 7.5 seconds.

In this case a dog that 'barks' is not inappropriate. If she's wearing an alert bracelet and the dog BARKS it could save her life.

Normally a dog that barks to alert someone is not common, but there may be a good reason she has a dog that barks. I wouldn't want to judge her or her dogs training without knowing more.

I give your son high marks on being thoughtful and not asking her too many questions. He sounds like a nice person!

Best,

K

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