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Falon's Mom

Border Collie as service dog

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Hello all. My sons therapist has recently talked to me about getting my son a service dog. I do not want to add another dog to our family at this time since we have not had any success with this in the past. I want to train Sage to do this instead if able. My question is "Can my boy do it?" is it possible for a BC to be a Phsychiatric Service Dog?

 

Sage seems to view new dogs and strangers as friends he hasn't met yet. New objects and activites seem to be new adventures to him as well. Don't get me wrong there are alot of things he has to learn (and relearn) before I would say he is a trained companion dog. I know there is a long road ahead of us if others believe he can be a service dog. The trainer that I have been working with for his obedience feels that he could do it, that he has the right attitude for it.

 

What do you all think?

 

 

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PM Carol Lea Benjamin and see what she thinks is the best advice I can give. I hope I'm not overstepping boundaries here.

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Yes, it is possible for a BC to be a service dog. If it is your boy or not I would suppose can only be evaluated by an experienced trainer on site who sees the dog, gets to know your son, you, your expectations and your ability to work towards it.

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Thank you. We are schedualed to have out first evaluating/straining session July 23rd. Our obedience trainer also trains service dogs. I will keep you all updated as we progress with his training.

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Well it would seem that Sage will not cut it as a service dog. He has the heart to do it but he is afraid of loud sounds and wierd objects. I had been taking him to different places that do different things to get him more socialized. He could care less about such things as umbrellas, car doors opening and closing, new dogs and most people. Things that scare the crud out of him are Thunder, Gun shots, shopping carts, and heavy machinery. Lowes appears to be a nightmare for him. Home Depot is no better. He completely shuts down. Though he loves to go for car rides! He hates my dads big old truck, not sure if it is the smell or the sounds. I am going to keep working on him very slowly to get more used to these sights and sounds since it is best if he can go near these things incase of an emergency.

 

Now to find that right dog for my son. Any suggestions on where to start looking?

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A Labrador retriever from obedience lines is probably where I'd start. Very trainable, not as high energy as hunting line dogs and labs usually have pretty stable temperaments

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Thanks Maralynn. Our trainer has a few dogs that he has picked out from the local shelters that we are to go and meet tomarrow to see how they do with my son. Will let you all know.

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We told him that we would preffer to find a rescue instead of going the breeder rout this time.

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You should look into the group 4Paws. I'm not sure if they are in your area or not but they train service dogs specifically for children, and they train for all sorts of needs. I'm fairly certain that they don't rescue, but they breed their own dogs.

 

http://4pawsforability.org/

 

There's their website. It's a pretty neat organization. I know about them because my friend helped train and socialize one of the service dogs when it was a puppy.

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After searching on my own and with our trainer, and then putting out the word to all the local shelters and rescues... we finally found a candidate. We had gotten a call from our local humane society about a dog that was brought in by animal control. His 10 day stray hold was up and he was now available to be adopted if we would like to come up and meet him. So my son, Sage, and I hopped into the car to go meet the dog named Hugh. We took Sage with us just in case there was going to be any issues with dog aggression on anyone’s part. Though we had been told by the volunteers and staff there that he had not been dog aggressive with anyone they had him out with. He seems to love cats and is very mellow around all people he has so far met.

 

I will tell you, he was not exactly what I was expecting when we went into the meet and greet room. He is a 10 month old Golden Retriever and Labrador mix. Mellow like a 5 year old and on the smaller side of most labs I have ever met. He and Sage acted like old friends that had been separated for a while and got down to playing, BUT as soon as Hugh saw my son he came over very calmly, tail held at a relaxed position (i.e.: out and low) with just the very tip kind of wagging. My son stood very still and held out his hand, fingers down so that he could sniff him. Hugh sniffed, licked, then lay down at my son’s feet and refused to budge when Sage came over to play. My son looked at me and smiled, “I like him Mom.” Mind you we had already looked at several possibilities before this guy was brought to our attention. None of the dogs we had met had given my son anywhere near this much attention. Most often just ignored him. The trainer we are working with said that he had not seen this before in a lot of dogs that he has trained. He believed that this was probably going to be a really good fit for the two of them.

 

 

Harry, as my son has now named him, has been with us 5 days. He sleeps in my son’s room at night in his crate. They play fetch and run around after soccer balls together. He sits and waits patiently for my son to feed him, doesn’t pull on the leash when we are on walks. He also doesn’t do the normal nipping thing that a lot of puppies do and is very gentle when taking any kind of food thing out of a person’s hand when offered to him. He is always checking in on Tristan when they are just lounging in the house because it is too hot to be outside. Not sure how he is going to take getting a bath though. That is the next thing to do once his stitches are removed.

 

 

With yesterday being the 4th, I am very surprised that he didn’t react to the fireworks like I expected. He only barked at those that were set off close to our house, between 1 and 2 blocks away. The professional ones he just twitched his ears at. We do have an agreement with the humane society that if as time does go on and there just isn’t a good fit after all that we will be able to bring him back if we wish. I do hope that isn’t going to happen. Wish us luck! Oh and here are a few pictures of Harry.

 

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To answer your original question, yes, border collies can make excellent service dogs. My boy Link is my psych service dog who I trained myself with some consults with professionals. I love this breed for psych work especially because they are so attentive, and always mentally ready to work. Of course there are pros and cons to every breed you'd consider for service dog work, with border collies I've noticed it's their sensitivity. Link almost washed out because of this, but it turned out to be a maturity problem and he's bomb proof now, but when he was young he didn't want to alert or respond to especially my mood fluctuations I think because he was worried I was upset at him. So I kept a bag of treats with me always and when I started having symptomatology I'd toss a bunch of treats on the floor. It's worth it to me to work with this type of soft nature though because I honestly think border collies work ethic cannot be beat. Even if he's off duty when I need him he's there in half a second every time. And also I've dealt with enough labs and other sporting breeds to know they would drive me, even more, insane.

 

Sorry Sage didn't make the cut, shopping carts would definitely be a problem. I had to do some work with Link when he randomly decided carts were scary, but luckily it didn't take long and that's the only noise sensitivity he's ever shown. It sounds like this new prospect is very promising. :) If you ever want to talk about psych dogs or anything feel free to PM me!

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Thank you all. We hope that his attentiveness to Tristan stays. He begins his formal training starting the 23rd. :)

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