Posted in Pets on the Net!

Luca the Beautiful Pyrenees!

Meet Luca!  Luca is a beautiful, two-and-a-half year old Pyrenees who teaches the value of calmness and patience.  She’s a beautiful little lady who certainly knows how to steal the hearts of those she meets!

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Me and my buddy, Rory!
  • Name:  Luca
  • How I Got My Name:   Out of nearly 4,000 names, Luca is the only one my owners could agree on!  It might have helped sway them that my dad’s name was Luzenac!
  • Breed:  Great Pyrenees
  • Nickname:  Einstein
  • Age:  2.5 years young!
  • Birthdate:  August 27, 2016
  • Adoption Story:  My owners have always wanted to raise a Great Pyrenees from puppyhood, and so along came me into their lives!
  • Collar Color I Sport Best:  Black and gold!
  • My Fur Family:   I have two fur siblings, Rory and Mardi.  Rory is a Yorkie, and Mardi is a mixed breed.  Word on the street has it that they will also be featured on Pets on the Net! soon!
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Rory, Mardi, and I all sit pretty for the camera!
  • Favorite Fur Friends:  Rory, Mardi, and Finn, of course!
  •  Favorite Activities: I enjoy walking and playing ball, although I most enjoy ball-playing in the house!  It is also a favorite pastime of mine to play with Mardi!  Lucky for me, I also have two human playmates as well – my owners’ granddaughters!
  • Favorite Toys:  I hope it’s not too cliché, but I really favor my tennis ball!  Boy, I have tons of fun romping around with that in the house!
  • Favorite Treats/Food:  Tail Banger Cookies – yum!!
  • Life Lesson Learned from Luca:  The thing about Luca is that she’s known for being the calmest in the pack.  She teaches her fur friends and human family the value of patience in this ever-busy, ever-demanding world we live in!
Posted in Insightful Vlogs

Chase It or Choose It

Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers!  A new year is upon us!  Do you subscribe to the “new year, new me” mantra?  Did you set a new year’s resolution?  We’re officially one month into the new year.  Some of you are excelling beyond expectation at your new year’s goals, while others might have dismissed their resolutions altogether.  Whatever your status, you set a goal, and that’s progress in and of itself!  Be proud!

You might notice some “New year, new me” progress here at Sit, Stay, Blog in the form of a new website design as well as a new domain (www.sit-stay-blog.net)!  I’m very excited to share these changes and updates with my readers and hope that it will propel me into a successful year of blogging!


The end of 2018 marked a special time for me — I completed my master’s degree!  This monumental experience has reminded me about the importance of pausing to reflect inward on who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.  Through this self-reflection, I’ve learned something:  I’ve been chasing happiness.

Chasing happiness is a strange concept.  On one hand, you’re trying to achieve happiness (a positive).  On the other hand, you’re missing out on life as you’re trying to get there (a negative).  As I reflected on where I’ve been, I realized that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time striving to live in the future.  “I can’t wait until this semester is over.”  “I’ll be happier once I move.”  “Life will be easier when I have a 9:00 to 5:00 job.”  These statements are a reflection of my eagerness to achieve whatever goals I had set for myself; however, they also represent a grim reality of how we, as a society, operate on a day-to-day basis.  We wake up on a Monday thinking, “I can’t wait until Friday.”  When we are faced with something we don’t want to do, we can’t wait until it’s over with.  We are eager.  We chase happiness.  We push aside our ability to be mindful of the present so that we can invest all of our energy into whatever a future of happiness looks like.  I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with this sense of eagerness in striving for happiness in life.  For me, however, I’ve learned it’s important to consider the process in how I get there.

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One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure”            -Unknown

Self-reflection can teach you a lot.  More recently, it has taught me that, at any given moment, you are in control of how you feel.  You have the power to choose happiness or chase it.  You can choose to find happiness in the smile given to you by a passerby.  You can choose to be happy about the wet doggy kiss your four-legged friend just greeted you with as you walked in the door after a long, hard workday.  Perhaps you can choose to be happy about the teachers who have provided you with the education necessary to read this blog post.  In the most simplest form, you can choose to feel happy about the beat of your heart that allowed you to wake up this morning and start anew.

This sounds like a relatively simple concept.  However, it requires a change in your frame of reference, and change is difficult.  We are a society that resists change because it’s much more comfortable to stick to the status quo.  I’ve chosen to embark on this new year with the goal of finding happiness each and every day.  I am working to eliminate phrases such as “I can’t wait for…” from my vocabulary and instead am choosing to focus on more present day events that spark my happiness.  In this first month of 2019, I have actively chosen to feel happy about settling into my new home, spending time at home relaxing with Pinella and Alex, receiving three job offers, increasing my presence at my favorite service dog organization, reading a new book that broadens my political knowledge base, revamping the look and style of Sit, Stay, Blog, and the list goes on.  As this year progresses, I hope to continue to  be more conscientious and deliberate about finding a way to celebrate all positivity, big or small, while minimizing my exposure to negative energy.

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Surrounding yourself with nature is an excellent way to boost your mood!
Understanding the difference between choosing and chasing happiness is step one.  Step two includes implementing action steps into your daily routine to promote feelings of happiness.  Action steps include activities that allow you to be more mindful, present, and in touch with your everyday experiences.  While not an exhaustive list, below are some of the strategies I employ to reach a state of mindfulness to ensure happiness:

  • Reading a book
  • Exercising
  • Spending time with an animal (Animals live in the present and are wonderful models to their human counterparts about how to be mindful)
  • Meditating
  • Coloring/getting crafty
  • Unplugging from social media
  • Recognizing your five senses (paying attention to how things look, smell, sound, taste, and feel)
  • Journaling
  • Volunteering
  • And much, much more!

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“Beauty and the beach”
2019 will be a year of firsts for me.  It is the first time in 20 years that my identity will include something other than being a student.  I will embark on a new lifestyle that includes full-time employment.  I will teach and be taught many new things.  I will care for others and be cared for.  I will strive to live my life in the present.  Most importantly, I will choose happiness.


Thanks for taking time out of your day to read another Sit, Stay, Blog post!  Don’t forget to Like and Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!  If you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to see your pet featured on Pets on the Net!, leave a comment below or submit your information on Sit, Stay, Blog’s Contact page! 🙂

Until next time,

-T.

Posted in Pets on the Net!

Buster the Faithful Buddy!

Meet Buster!  Buster was a faithful, loyal, gentle companion and happens to have been my first childhood pet (well, the first I vividly remember anyway)!  Although he lives now only in our memory, he was quirky, fun, and unforgettable!  I invite you to read more about Buster and honor his memory with me below:

 

  • Name:  Buster
  • Nickname(s):  Buffer
  • Breed:  Springer Spaniel mix
  • Age:  22 years young (No, that isn’t a typo…He lived a long, healthy life of 22 years!)
  • How Buster’s Pet Life Began:  Buster was obtained from a family friend after being an outside dog.  With us, he lived a long, fulfilling life as an indoor pet!
  • Best Tricks:  Riding down the playground slide!
  • Collar Color Buster Sported Best:  Blue
  • Favorite Things/Activities:  Being a lap dog, belly rubs, napping, companionship, bones and treats!
  • Favorite Fur Friends:  His ‘wife’, Chloie, and two daughters, Mollie and Maggie!
  • Favorite Toy:  His rubber pork chop!
  • Family Favorite Memories:
    • “Watching Buster go down the slide”
    • “When he ran away, and we found him with a lady dog”
    • “How he fathered two great little pups”
    • “Watching him interact with his fur family complete with Chloie, Mollie, and Maggie”
    • “How he lived until age 22 on Kibbles and Bits (i.e. McDonald’s of the pet food industry)”
    • “His survival after being hit by a car”
    • “Seeing how happy he was when we first rescued him from the snow and freezing cold”
    • “When we came home from Florida and picked him up at Nan and Pops and saw how happy he was, butt-wiggling and all”
    • “How he was truly ‘man’s best friend'”
  • Life Lesson Learned From Buster:  Dog’s can be a child’s first best friend.  They can teach us how to love and be loved unconditionally.  For that, we are ‘furever’ in debt to our four-legged companions!

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    In Loving Memory | October 2, 2010
Posted in Uncategorized

“What It Means To: Impersonate a Service Dog”

Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers!

Impersonate a service dog?  Unfathomable!  You might not do it, but some individuals do, and this causes a plethora of problems for service dog handlers, working dogs, and puppy raisers.  As a disclaimer, much of this post is written from the perspective of a service dog raiser/trainer because that is where my experience with fake service dogs emanates from.

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Pinella on her first day in training with me!

Fake Service Dogs and the Problems They Pose:

Injuries: 
Service dogs undergo approximately 18-24 months of training through which they become highly socialized to other people, animals, sounds, etc.  Through training and socialization activities, they learn how to ignore dogs who are barking, lunging, playful, and/or misbehaving.  When fake, untrained service dogs encounter working service dogs in public, several problems can arise including, but not limited to, injuries.  In this  PBS News Hour article, Earle (a working service dog) experienced injuries after being bitten by a poodle whose owner was posing him as a service dog.

“My dog never moved, never retaliated, never barked. He did nothing. That is the way a service dog is trained”

Ollove, Michael (2017) cites Slavin, Chris, Earle’s handler.

Too Many Dogs:
Read closely as this is the only time my dog-loving self will ever type this:  There can exist such a thing as too many dogs.  As the use of legitimate service dogs becomes a more widely recognized and accepted practice in society, the number of dogs in public will undoubtedly increase.  What is problematic, however, is when the number of untrained and/or under-trained dogs in public increases.  Many of us possess a desire to take our dogs everywhere we go, but in reality, this is simply not practical.  Further, it is our duty as dog owners to reserve those public access rights for legitimate working service dogs and their handlers!

Public Access Denial:
Restaurants, stores, airport personnel, and other business establishment owners face the unnecessary challenge of figuring out how to navigate a situation in which they suspect a dog is being posed as a fake service dog.  By law and pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), only two questions are permissible to ask upon determining the legitimacy of a service dog:

1.  Is the dog required because of a disability?
2.  What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Business owners often must weigh the outcomes of two possible decisions:  1.  The costs associated with being sued for denying a legitimate service dog team their public access rights and 2.  The costs and dangers of admitting a fake service dog into their establishment.  Unfortunately, protecting the integrity of the establishment sometimes results in the denial of public access rights for deserving individuals and their working service dogs.  This undoubtedly poses unnecessary obstacles for individuals whose physical and/or mental disabilities already present with a host of accompanying challenges.

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An important job of a service dog and service dog in-training is having good attention on their handler  as Pinella demonstrates here!

Reputation Wreckers:
One negative encounter with a fake service dog is often enough justification for people to deem service dogs as “ill-behaved,” “not worthy of being in public,” “mean,” “dumb,” “aggressive,” etc.  This is harmful because the years of training these dogs undergo with their dedicated trainers is often negated and disregarded.  Although I have no concrete evidence to support this claim, it is my opinion that service dog handlers’ reputations could additionally be affected.  I speculate that others may deem them as “irresponsible,” “unable to control their animals,” “incapable,” “lazy,” etc. as a result of the actions of dog owners who pose their pets as fake service dogs.

Stress:
You log onto your computer, do a general search for service dog vest, click purchase, and within a few days a $20 service dog vest is delivered to your doorstep.  Convenience, right?  Wrong!  For your pet who has never been in a public establishment, you are about to expose them to what will likely be an overwhelming, anxiety-producing, and stressful experience.  Are you and your $20 fake service dog vest equipped to deal with that?

Dogs need practice in social environments which entails a great deal of socialization. This may first require starting off small (perhaps standing outside of a mall) before working up to more complex outings (walking in a grocery store next to a shopping cart or performing a long down stay in a good-smelling restaurant).  In essence, a non-working dog cannot be introduced to a public space and be expected to automatically respond positively to it.  Without adequate training, proper socialization, and exposure, the dog may be subject to stress and become fearful.  Your previously non-aggressive, “wouldn’t hurt a fly” dog may start to exhibit behavioral issues such as aggression toward a passerby.

Aside from experience in public settings, dogs often need exposure to wearing a vest.  Halfway through training Pinella for service dog work, she experienced harness sensitivity.  Putting on the vest was sometimes anxiety-provoking for her, and she would refuse to respond to cues.  However, through additional training and positive associations, we were able to overcome it.  This example serves as yet another testament to the nature of the work that is required to produce legitimate service dogs — it is not as simple as putting on a vest and strolling into public!

Untrained and Under-trained:
As mentioned throughout this post, fake service dogs are often untrained or under-trained.  Without the adequate training, their “service dog” life is unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory.  They are unsure of how to respond and behave.  I equate it to an accountant, for example, walking into an operating room to perform open-heart surgery.  That would be uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and rather unfair to expose that individual to that type of situation without proper training — the same goes for service dogs!

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As a service dog  in-training, Pinella accompanied me at work & classes!

Irresponsible Dog Ownership:
When I think about the act of faking one’s pet as a legitimate service dog, I often question the motive.  Is this an individual who has little respect and regard for the rights of others?  Perhaps this is someone who would be an ideal candidate for a service dog but lacks education about problems that impersonating service dogs can pose?  Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of dog owners to become better educated about the potential dangers that impersonating a service dog can pose to you, your pet, service dog handlers, working dogs, and the general public.

In addition, individuals with legitimate service dogs are required at all times to accompany and maintain control of their service dog when in public.  Otherwise, they are lawfully allowed to be asked to leave the establishment.  This emphasizes that the Americans with Disabilities Act upholds service dogs and their handlers to high standards, thereby setting the stage for responsible dog ownership.

Legal Obstacles and General Challenges:
In writing this post, I utilized numerous articles to clarify exactly what the laws are regarding misrepresentation of service dogs.  Here is where a dilemma arose:  Via an internet search using key terms such as fake service dogs and crime, many articles indicate that the ADA warrants impersonating a service dog as a federal crime.  In assessing the provisions of the ADA itself, I was unable to locate any information regarding the like.  However, the American Bar Association indicated that, while the ADA has no such provisions, individual states have associated misrepresentation of a service dog as a misdemeanor (Goren, 2014).    In addition to this conundrum, there does not exist a national registry for service dogs that is recognized by the Department of Justice.  Service dogs are also not required to be harnessed in a vest or wear an identification badge, and covered entities are not permitted to request documentation from the handler that confirms the dog has been trained, certified, or licensed (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015).

…’Ruff’ stuff, am I right?


  Conclusion:

Since becoming involved in the service dog community, I have heard various stories about the independence that service dogs provide to their partners.  For example, prior to having a service dog, some individuals are unable to leave their residences and enter public spaces (due to physical constraints, mental limitations, etc.).  Service dogs essentially assist in mitigating those types of challenges.  When fake service dogs are introduced, problems arise on many levels.

Taking Pinella into public is undoubtedly the thing I miss the most about her service dog training.  However, as her responsible pet owner, I recognize that it is my moral and civic obligation to respect the rights of working dogs, their handlers, and their former hard-working raisers/trainers.  As an alternative, we now opt for outings to pet-friendly establishments such as PetSmart and Lowe’s (while still keeping in mind that we must leave or relocate upon seeing a working or in-training service dog)!

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If you are someone who truly believes that having a dog in public would assist you in gaining independence and mitigating challenges that accompany your physical and/or mental disability, then I urge you to do your research!  Find the nearest service dog organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International and inquire!  If cost becomes an issue, get creative with fundraising, look for organizations that provide dogs for free, or inquire about possible payment plan options.  Always remember, there are thousands of individuals like myself who dedicate their time, energy, and money to reputable service dog organizations  in an effort to simplify the process for deserving individuals to obtain a highly trained service dog!  If you need help, please feel free to reach out to me via my Contact page! 🙂

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I hope you enjoyed this rather lengthy, yet informative post!  As you can tell, this is a topic that sparks a never-ending passion in me!  Don’t forget to follow and like Sit, Stay, & Blog on Twitter and Facebook, and stay tuned for next week’s post!  🙂

 


References

Goren, W.D. (2014).  Service dogs and the rights of the disabled.  In March/April 2014:  Disability law.  Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/publications/gp_solo/2014/march_april/service_dogs_and_rights_the_disabled.html

Ollove, Michael. (2017, October 16).  These 19 states are cracking down on fake service dogs.  Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/19-states-cracking-fake-service-dogs

U.S. Department of Justice.  (2015, July 20).  Frequently asked questions about service animals and the ADA.  Retrieved from https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

“What It Means To: Have a [Spoiled] Loved Dog!”

This is the story of a girl who cried and whimpered but changed my whole world…

Hey there, Sit, Stay, & Bloggers, and special shout-out to those of you who recognized my rendition of the early 2000s hit, Absolutely (Story of a Girl), by Nine Days!  😉


This is my story of how I spoil love my dog, Pinella, unconditionally.  She is the best friend I didn’t know I needed, and I never could have anticipated the positive impact she’s had on my life!

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Pinella and I just celebrated our second “Happy Gotcha Day” on December 14!

When I volunteered to raise Pinella as a service dog, I was apprehensive about how I would ever afford to house her.  As a college student with a job that paid my residence hall room and board, I worried about whether or not I could provide her with enough toys, dog bedding, or food that was probably more nutritious than my own.  Fortunately, we were heavily and courteously supported.  Family and friends took care of purchasing bedding and puppy food.  A professor of mine provided Pinella and I with training treats.  Graciously, my supervisors even donated toys galore, treats, and a brand new leash (Thank you for your support, Kathy and Sharon.)!  Worriment about material possessions aside, I was certain of one thing:   My love for animals and my passion for the service dog world reassured me that I could provide Pinella with endless, unconditional love.

 

By her first birthday, Pinella had more toys than she knew what to do with.  If you’re a pet parent like myself who cannot resist grabbing your furry friend a new dog toy every time you head to Target, you will likely relate to the following statements:  “What does your dog need another toy for?  He/she is so spoiled!”

Here is my counter-argument:  Define spoiled.  (Really, I’m curious — comment below on how you define what it means to spoil your pet!)

Instead of spoiled, I prefer to think of it as being lovedDisclaimer:  If your pet does not have a stockpile of the cutest and latest squeaky toys, does that mean they are not loved?  Of course not!  If you provide for your pet emotionally, don’t neglect their basic needs, and offer safe shelter, you are doing just fine!  In that scenario, squeaky toys or not, your dog is “spoiled” with your love and attention.

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When she can’t pick one, she picks two!

All of that aside, here are some of the reasons why I continue to “spoil” my pet with material goods:

1.  Toys keep her occupied:  A pup occupied with toys is a pup who doesn’t become occupied with chewing furniture or your favorite shoes when you come to visit.

2.  Pure joy:  Aside from the happiness Pinella displays when I join her at home after a long day at work, school, etc., nothing beats seeing her joyful, tail-wagging, playful demeanor when she is about to be presented with a new toy (which, by the way, is sometimes as simple as an old water bottle or wrapping paper tube)!

3.  Stimulation:  As a previous service dog in training, it was essential to expose Pinella to various different stimuli.   I have merely chosen to maintain that stimulation and promote mental fitness through toys such as the tricky treat ball!

4.  Health and Exercise:  Leashes and walking harnesses are necessary if you are walking your dog regularly (as you should).  Keeping a few toys on-hand is additionally useful for those rainy days when a rousing game of indoor fetch is warranted!

5.   Comfort:  I am well aware that, simply put, dogs do find comfort in sleeping on the floor.  However, if I can provide a comfortable bed and a spot to call my pet’s own, why shouldn’t I?

In quoting the famous saying, “I work so my dog can have a better life,” it has become my mission to continuously strive to provide Pinella with an enriching quality of life.  To me, pet ownership is about offering unconditional love, providing for them physically and emotionally, and “spoiling” them (as finances allow, of course).

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Thank you for reading!  Be sure to Like and Follow Sit, Stay, & Blog on Facebook and Twitter.  Feel free to leave comments below on how you “spoil” your pets!

Stay tuned for a follow-up post coming very soon entitled:  Dog Gift Buying Guide! 🙂

-T.