Tags: service dog

Stargazing Lhunie - SyMara

Ember Crossed Over

A bright new star shines in the sky tonight. Ember crossed the Rainbow Bridge this morning.  We knew she didn't have much longer, but didn't expect it to be so sudden.  She had been improving over the last week, and seemed more like her old self the past few days. She passed peacefully in her sleep at home. March 5th would have been her 14th birthday.  I feel like I didn't do enough for her, compared to all she did for me as my first assistance dog. Ember is in a better place now, no longer in pain.

She will always be with us. Energy cannot be lost. It simply changes forms. Ember dog had a metric ton of energy, the kind that doesn't just cease to exist.  She wanted nothing more than to be as close as she could and make you as happy as she could. Gentle,kind soul. Thank you for everything. We love you. Rest easy now.


" We'll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass, and a million leaves; we'll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze; we'll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon . . . "                 -  Philip Pullman


Canine Partners - Top Of Waiting List

In other good news to share. I got a call from Canine Partners. I am finally at the top of the list for being matched with a new assistance dog! They have some people who are getting successor dogs, so depending on how that goes, I will be one of the next on the list to be matched with one of their program dogs.

Need to start figuring how to afford the trip to PA and expenses, because of limitations to income/resources. Since people expressed interest in wanting to help, I will need to figure a way they can help cover costs for me when it is time. Probably by having those people pay directly toward things on my behalf, or something.

My Mind Escapes Me

Update On Tesla / Service Dog Stuff

I haven't made any updates in a while about Tesla's training progress. Nothing too ground shattering had happened, just working through his adolescent stuff. It was all going fairly well, he was doing well at doctor's appointments and in public, fine in pet stores and anywhere else we went. Bracing well, starting to retrieve objects in public, more challenging scenarios.

But then there was an incident involving a pack of nasty reactive dogs belonging to an irresponsible neighbor of family we visited. They were constantly fence fighting trying to antagonize Ember and Tesla, who ignored them.  At one point the bad dogs started fighting with each other right next to the fence, and because I was near the fence when it happened, Tesla ran toward me and them, to defend me.

I stepped in to stop him, grabbing his collar to hold him back, because the other dogs were small and I was worried he would be blamed for hurting them or of him getting hurt. I lost my balance and used my hand to steady myself on the ground. The most aggressive of those bad dogs pushed through/under the chain fence at that point and nailed my hand while trying to get at Tesla, and the whole thing got Tesla real upset.

I actually ended up having a pain induced syncope episode and passed out after I managed to stumble deliriously inside with partial tunnel vision.  I had to go to the emergency clinic and report the incident. Then went through a horrible experience of having an allergic reaction to the antibiotics they gave me as precaution for the animal bite.
Ever since that happened, Tesla has been reactive to other dogs and more protective in general.  Any time he sees dogs in public, he has outbursts.  I have been working for months trying to re-socialize him, and just when it seems like we have progress, something happens to undo it.
Like the amazing day of Tesla going with me to the hospital for doctor's appointments and radiology stuff. Got all sorts of comments on how well behaved he was, etc. Then we stopped by our local pet store to see friends and get his claws ground, since I was having bad wrist trouble.
He was fine with dogs already behind the counter, peeking over to see them curiously while we waited our turn. A man suddenly comes in despite that I was right against the door and there was clearly no space with big Tesla standing there too. The guy had some sort of Pekinese or similar, and the dog was straining at the leash panting like crazy pulling to get into the salon... right into Tesla's face.  Which triggered an outburst.
It's difficult. I now feel like I am "that person, with that kind of dog".  I have worked with dog reactivity, but none of my own personal dogs have ever been this bad off.
I am at a point now where I don't have much choice but to consider Tesla a washout. Unless I can drastically change the behavior to where it wouldn't be a liability.  I don't have the money for taking him to repeated long term reactive dog classes to try and sort the issue out, and I am not sure it would fix things enough to allow him to ever not have that liability. Unfortunately assistance dogs cannot be reactive in the way he is acting.
He'd be perfect for Schutzhund IPO work.  Which is the next thing we are going to try, to see if putting the reaction under controlled environment and command will help him understand he should not react that way unless asked to do so, and only in the IPO "game" situations. It's sort of like a kid going to karate.  They learn discipline and skills and time and place for using those skills and energy, in controlled environments or situations.
Even with the specific training, there is no guarantee it will work well enough that I can keep working Tesla as my assistance dog. Even with the right training, he probably never will be 100% again.  There might be too much liability if there is even a slight chance he might become reactive at the wrong place and time.  Granted, this could happen with ANY dog, even one who has never shown any reactivity.  They are animals, not machines. At this rate I don't have many options.

I will probably need to get another dog, if by some miracle I can't make Tesla work out. I run into the same problem as before.  As much as I want to keep Tesla and I am really attached to him, I don't really have the financial means to keep 3 large dogs ( Ember, Tesla, and whoever new dog is ) if I do need to start all over again and get another dog.  Especially since we'd be looking at a larger breed like a mastiff type dog. I'm just not sure I can try owner training again,between the financial and emotional strain. Raising these dogs from tiny pups and then them being perfect except for some random fluke reason, too much emotional hurt in it and feeling like a failure when I have been forced to rehome them.

I am still on CPL's waiting list, but have not heard anything back besides forms to update my information periodically.  I am not hopeful I will hear anything anytime soon.

I am at a point where I am ready to give up if this working dog training doesn't work.  Maybe I'll just become a hermit and not leave the house anymore.
This week starts the Schutzhund IPO training with someone I was introduced to who has experience with police K-9s and military working dogs. He is familiar with the most high drive of working dog lines, which will be a valuable asset in trying to reshape Tesla's behavior.
Fingers crossed this will all somehow work out. I will post more updates along the way.  Positive thoughts for us are greatly appreciated.

In Boxes, Crafty Things, Dogs

In Boxes
So busy.  Driving back and forth to Texas, trying to find the energies and lack of pain to sort and pack up more things.  Helped Mike get settled in to the new place. Things didn't go the way we originally planned; when do they ever?  Lack of Uhaul Northeast side meant all of our belongings and furniture that was at his grandmother's ended up having to stay there.  Which meant he only came with what he could cram and Tetris into his car, most of that room being taken up by his work computers and chair and work necessities, and a handful of other stuff he could jam in.  So once again we started with nothing and had to get new furniture and things, with the hope his family will go and take pictures of the stuff we left and sell it so we can get some money back for it, but the likelihood of that happening anytime soon is slim. Lots of stress, the move almost not happening because Mike's pay drops so drastically from the supposed "cost of living" difference. Which is horrible that companies can do it and base it however the hell they base it off local rent costs or whatever, because when you base it off a city that has reduced prices because of the nearby military base then of course that might be cheaper - only if you live on the base and have access to the reduced base prices. But the rent isn't. And milk and other things still cost as much when you are on civilian side.  It's disgusting that by relocating to get closer to work, it basically set him back to his beginning pay rate, removing 3yrs or so worth of raises and a promotion to a higher position.  But job opportunities and affordability long term is better, so it was worth doing. It just means things are going to be insanely tight for a while.

Crafty Things
I have all sorts of things going on and in the process of being completed art and creativity wise and with related efforts. The ceramic rattles are completed, but they were one of the first things I moved via car to ensure they wouldn't be damaged. I will get pictures of them next trip and get them posted online for sale, though I might ask Mike to take a few teaser shots of them I will share via Patreon for anyone interested in catching them before they are released to the general public.  Most of my art supplies are going to be packed away until they can be relocated, but I will try to keep out some basic things like a sketchbook, my Wacom for digital, and maybe a few other odds or ends. All of my corals are doing well.  I have finally grown some out enough to where I can frag them, and plan to have those frags up for sale when I do.  Moving the tank and its inhabitants is going to be all sorts of insanity, but I already have it planned out and hope to document the process and share it later.  I have been prepping plants for bonsai and doing my annual collection of flowers for drying. The Sweet Olive and Gardenia smell so wonderful.  I have a few ceramics items that are glazed but not yet fired, so I really need to run the kiln and fire them before they get packed for travel.  Making of new items is on hold for the moment.
Ember stayed with Mike so I could focus more on working with Tesla individually, similar to how I did back with Journey.  Training has been a little slow going with all of the other crazyness going around, and my body having an absolute fit. My ankle has been messed up over a month now, making it painful and hard to walk.  Poor Ember was getting to a point where I was having to give her more medicine when she was more active going places with me, and it was clearly effecting her behavior and her ability to alert accurately, to where I decided it was in her best interest not to work her anymore.  As a DDR line descendant GSD, Tesla is a very high drive dog, and far more challenging to work with.  I'm still not completely certain he has the correct behavior for assistance dog work.  He'd be excellent for Schutzhund and IPO activities without a doubt. In fact, I have been in contact with a local Schutzhund club and we went out this weekend to meet some of them and see them work their dogs.  Tesla even got to become acquainted with some nosework for tracking. Tesla is insanely strong for his size, and he has a beautiful bite and grip when engaged in play.  It's just honing in the focus and building the self control over those instincts, and helping build his "on/off" switch that might prove to be an issue. He is a puppy though, so I am hoping I can shape it and use that drive to our advantage, in a controlled fashion that will make him the best working dog he can be.

Going back to the topic of size, that is really the only other concern I have with Tesla. I am not sure if he will be big enough.  His growing rate is more closely resembling Chakotay's, which was on the smaller side for a male Shepherd.  Journey was huge by this age, but he also had obvious physical issues as a result despite my best efforts to do everything right to ensure physical soundness.  You just can't beat genetics.  Still, at 4 months old ( going on 5 ), I feel like even Chakotay was larger by this point.  But it could just be that I am so worried about if Tesla will work out or not after Journey and Chakotay washing out, that my mind is playing tricks on me.  We went in for Tesla's last round of puppy shots/ rabies vaccine. I discussed it with the vet. With his current rate of growth, unless he hits a huge growth spurt, she isn't sure he will be more than 60lbs.  He is a very strong little dog, even now.  But I need the size. He needs to be tall enough for full mobility assist and have a sound structure for the weight bearing support work and counter balancing.  Once again I am not sure how this will play out.  If he ends up being too small, I might not be able to use him, even if he is physically sound otherwise. Ideally a person my size should have a dog no less than 80lbs, preferably 100lbs+ for the mobility assist I require. With Ember, I fudged a lot and always used an additional surface/wall/furniture/whateve
r so I didn't hurt her.  Now I am to the point where I can't do that anymore, even if Ember was still young and workable, my body just can't tolerate as much as it used to. I need a larger dog.  I am really hoping Tesla will be that dog.

Meet Tesla

This is Tesla.  His registered name is Tesla Leuchtet Den Weg vom LhunThyla ( Tesla Lights The Way - from LhunThyla ; my owner/kennel tag ).

Tesla is an AKC registered German Shepherd ( Alsatian ).  He is 13 weeks old.  I have had him for about a week, but didn't want to post anything publicly till I knew for sure I was keeping him.  He is a Galliard, born Waxing Gibbous ( a day shy of Ahroun! ) . Very vocal and likes to tell you about all the things.  He has a great personality and is already more like Journey was in his confidence levels, which is a good thing. Certain personality traits about Tesla remind me of Journey and Chakotay both.

Tesla's namesake is in honor of Nikola Tesla, famous Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity system, wireless communications, experiments in wireless power transmission, and much more.  Tesla coils, anyone? :D
The symbology behind "lighting the way" is both toward that namesake, and the hope he will light the way for me as my new service dog.  So far he is doing well with basic training and everything he is exposed to in public.  His hips and body structure look great; he does the "Superman sprawl" which is an early sign hips should be okay.
When I went to meet him and was doing the initial evaluation, he was quite the character.  While talking to the breeder, I set my treat pouch down off to the side. Next thing we knew, puppy had picked the whole thing up and was happily trotting back toward the garage carrying it!  A metal trash lid dropping right behind him when he wasn't expecting it and umbrella/object testing did not phase him, he had quick recovery. He happily greets strangers and other dogs.
As long as the OFA xrays come back good, he will be clear medically.  As long as he can overcome any adolescent fear periods he might have, he should be okay behaviorally.  Fingers crossed he will be the one.  Third GSD is a charm?  Lets hope so.
I will be setting up a fundraiser to help cover his medical and xray expenses, and so we can get into some training classes for socialization as soon as possible.  Anyone interested in donating can send donations to leopardwolf@gmail.com  via PayPal.  I am offering artwork or creative things in return, based on donation amounts for anyone interested.  Thank you for your help and support!

Follow along here:  http://www.facebook.com/JourneyWithServiceDogs

My Mind Escapes Me

Femur Funny

Ember and I went to an appointment with a new doctor the other day.  When we walked into the room, we found this anatomy model, who looked like it had seen better days. The femur bone there was broken in half, taped together with duct tape to make it whole again. After the doctor comes in and we introduce ourselves, I gesture to the model and say "I hope you don't plan on fixing me like you fixed him".  The doctor grins and replies "Duct tape really *can* fix anything!"  He's a keeper.


Wash Another Prospect?

Still alive. Trying medication adjustments per doc. Still very out of it at points when meds kick in, so may be a bit scarce at times since I make little sense or write weird things when totally medicated. By time I finish, it will have taken me hours just to write and proof read this, like anything I write these days.

I think I am just destined to have bad luck with my service dogs in training and any service dog prospects.  I was feeding animals this evening. Put my hand in puppy bowl ( as I gave to her ) to encourage her to eat from hand and hands are okay by bowl, something I have always done and normally met with wiggly waggy tails because they get extra good treats in the process.  Well tonight she got a wild hair up her ass and decided to growl at me....a freeze/tense, growl warning, go to eat food again sort of way.  This is after demand bark/yowl/howling for almost an hour because I was in the other room ( eating my own dinner and getting meds ) and she was in here in her kennel ( Ember was laying to her side quietly).  So presumably she was hungry, but still.  Not like she was starving for food or ever missed a meal or had to compete with anyone or anything here for her food.

She has been doing the demand bark/yowl/shriek since I got her.  She has gotten somewhat better ( worse - before extinction? ). I think she learned it from watching the misbehaving pit bull belonging to the ladies I got her from.  Then all she had to do was throw a tantrum of her own and I am pretty sure they must have somehow reinforced it, even if unintentional.  That was at 5wks/going on 6 wks old I got her  She is 7wks now.  Not a good sign as far as the growly resource guarding behavior is concerned.  For a normal pet dog, I could work around and through it.  But it is a very undesirable trait for a potential service dog prospect to have - one older dogs would immediately be washed from training for, because it is too much of a risk and liability.  So is she treated same as they would be? Do I just cut the loss and let her go too?  There are other concerns, and again while I think I could train past them given time, time is against me and I lack resources, so I find myself falling back to what my gut instinct says, since it was right before. But then I second guess myself and everything about everything.
I didn't want to say anything before I was more certain, but Ember has been having weird quirks and also not always alerting the older she has gotten, too.  Since I was put on this new medication, it has totally screwed up her alerting. I almost faceplanted the other day getting out of bed because she didn't alert ( she has jumped into bed and woken me for similar situation alerts in the past for reference ).  She is more and more unsure on her own legs/feet. I tried trimming nails and foot fur down as much as I can. Maybe will try boots with good grip and just have her always wear those when working from now on. But otherwise it becomes dangerous because she loses her balance and drags me down with her.  I am out of time and have no options to turn to.  The idea that years of freedom she has brought me will end and I will be alone is... well, frightening.

Laugh if you want, but not being able to know if your body is going to decide to have a random heart rate/blood pressure spazz out that causes you to randomly get very sick and pass out, and the only sure thing that has kept that from happening by warning you in advance being your dog....yeah.  That's not even counting the multitude of other issues like random joint dislocations and tissue injury I can get just by walking or standing.  That's why I need a service dog. Otherwise it is tote around a cane, blood pressure cuff meter, and heart rate monitor, extra meds and smelling salt and the like, and hope that I won't actually need them. But if I do, I will have little if any warning at all, before symptoms hit. Few realize how humiliating it is to stagger suddenly and run into random objects or people ( and the glares you get ) , or how helpless you feel sinking down to the floor in a pre-syncope attack where you basically white out/black out ( no vision or hearing), lose consciousness and sense of anything going on around you, how vulnerable that leaves you if you are all by yourself.  That is my life.  Ember ( even Journey and Chakotay ) has made it a million times better over the years she has helped me, kept me safe.  But now what?

I will go back to barely leaving the house, especially since Mike isn't even here.  He'd go out with me places and get me out at least.  I can't ask or expect my aunt or anyone else to do that. Even when Mike and I are living together again. It is such a huge pressure and burden on our loved ones, that is why a service dog is not just a relief to us as handlers, but to our loved ones who worry so much about us and otherwise have to do so much for us without them to help us. Losing that freedom and security is crushing... especially when you tried so hard to have your backup plan all ready, and you knew just what to do and did it; only life had other ideas.  It always does.  Never works out the way we hoped it would.

ER Visit, Trigeminal Neuralgia

Thank you to everyone for their thoughts and concern over me having to go to the ER yesterday.

ER finally confirmed what I have suspected for a while -  I have Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). And it is probably directly caused by my Sjögren's Syndrome.
They gave me a new medication that tries to target TN nerve pain, and it was finally able to break through the agony late last night/early this morning.
I went to bed with the lower left side of my face swelling ( inflammation related ), and when I woke up today the entire left side of my face was swollen and eye watering from the puffy around it, making it hard to see out that side.  Using an ice pack on it, so will see if that helps reduce the swelling.
Otherwise I am stable, still in pain but new med is helping. Follow up with primary doc and Neurology Monday.  I am a zombie, will be while getting used to this new med.

Recap on what led to this point:
I was in so much pain, I hadn't been able to sleep for days ( worse than normal ) because the pain always gets insanely worse at night.  I have an extremely high tolerance for pain these days, and my Gaba med normally takes enough edge off that I can "ignore" it ( just suffer through it ).  On the second day it was getting to where I couldn't tolerate it anymore. Aunt tried to help by getting me all sorts of ice/heat packs and OTC stuff to dull pain.  It got so bad that night/early morning that I almost called an ambulance ( my aunt was asleep and she can't drive at night so only way I could have got to ER is that way or call cab and I was worried Medicaid would not cover ambulance ride and had no way to verify at 2am ).  It was weekend, no way to speak with Medicaid people to see what was covered, I just decided to suffer through it.

On the third day of insane pain I went through my entire daily dose of Gaba in 3.5hrs and it did nothing.  I knew it would only get worse again come evening and I didn't think I could deal with it again without wanting to destroy something from how much it hurt. For pain to hurt me bad enough to make me give in and go to the hospital or ER on a weekend, you know it is seriously bad.  So neighbor took me that evening since aunt can't drive at night ( thanks again so much! ) and dropped me off.

The EJGH staff was AMAZING. First person we were met with was security, and he stopped me when he saw Ember.... I was seriously ready to destroy someone/something at that point from the severe pain and I was having worried flashbacks of the horrible experience I had several years ago with the security douchebag at LSU hospital ER trying to deny me access if I didn't show him "proof" Ember was a real service dog ( this is against the law ).  Thank the gods, this lovely gentleman was far better trained and considerate. He noticed her vest and the patches clearly defining what she was, smiled and said nevermind and told me to go ahead. I heard other hospital staff whispering as we wandered past, all saying "its a service dog" to each other, sounding as relieved she was the real deal as I felt that they recognized what Ember was. They were tons more professional and knowledgeable.  That's why I chose to use EJGH general practice doctors for my care, and their conduct in the ER only reaffirms I made the right choice.

Compared to the LSU ER horror, getting in to the EJGH ER was quick and rather painless.  I was worried it would be crowded on a Saturday evening, and while there were enough other people, the staff had a nice system set up for intake and directing patients. They brought me to an exam room in a wheelchair to avoid me going full syncope due to the pain I was in, worried to make me walk that far down the hallways.  I was thankful for that.  Ember got to show off what a well trained dog she was and that made her happy.  She's been so worried over me the past few days.

The nurse helped me into the hospital bed and Ember took her place beside it to wait. I got to watch some HGTV while waiting for the doctor.  We don't have live cable anymore so it was a treat to watch.  The wait for the doctor was brief. She went over my history and current symptoms, I explained I had experienced this problem numerous times before but this was about the worst it had ever been. After a quick examination she agreed based on my history that
Trigeminal Neuralgia was most likely responsible, probably directly caused by my Sjögren's causing irritation/swelling/pressure against the nerve bundles somehow.  She wrote me a new prescription to try Carbamazepine, got an additional referral to Neurology for me, told me to follow up with my primary Monday, and that was that.  They discharged me with paperwork and took me to wait for a cab in the lobby, and were kind enough to make the call for me and inform them I had my service dog with me.
It was while waiting I noticed some tightness in my face on the left side, the effected side.  I was still in a ton of pain and rather out of it, but realized after poking at it gently that it felt like swelling, and not realizing it was there before I got a nurse to ask the doctor.  Unfortunately since they had already discharged me, it meant I would have had to have gone through the whole intake process again, and my cab driver showed up at that time.  Not wanting the poor gentleman to wait or have come out to get me for nothing, I decided it was probably from my
Sjögren's attacking the glands or something. I have had milder swelling where the salivary glands are before, figured that was it and decided it wasn't worth the trouble to wait around for them to likely not do anything else for me anyway.  Couldn't be medication related because I hadn't started the new medicine yet, so clearly it was inflammation.  I figured if it got worse, I could go back.

The cab driver was very nice and considerate, thought Ember was just amazing.  He called her a Rougarou ( Louisiana folklore / French for Werewolf ) when we first got in and told his dispatch he had "Miss Brittney and her Rougarou".  That made me all sorts of happy and geeky, and when I responded showing I knew what the term meant, he was just as delighted.  It was a pleasant drive home with good conversation, as much as I was limited to talk at the time.  Much thanks to Metry Cab and Mr. Jim!

My aunt was able to drive me to the 24-hour pharmacy just down the block, since it wasn't too far and well lit with street lights. Had to wait forever for the new med to be filled.  Finally got home. Took meds. Became a zombie. Finally got some rest.  Took me way too long to write this so it makes sense.  The end.

Service Dog Update Stuff

The Rottie

Unfortunately Diva ( an affectionate nickname we gave her ) the Rottweiler puppy didn't work out.  After further evaluation and working with her, it was obvious that she just didn't have the right characteristics for assistance dog work.  She's still a great little puppy full of potential. but she'd make a better family dog, which is exactly what she will be.  With the help of the woman I got her from, we contacted someone else who had responded with interest in the puppy after I had taken her. They are a family of Rottie enthusiasts who have had them all their lives, and it was clearly a perfect match.  Some things are just meant to be.

New Puppy

Afterwards I did come across another puppy. This one was admittedly younger than I am normally comfortable with taking a pup for evaluation, but the mother dog had stopped nursing the litter and they had been taken by the owner's daughter to care for and find homes for.  The daughter has experience with animal rescue and rehab, so the pups were in good hands and well adjusted for such a young age.

The new puppy is a Labrador ( Chocolate ) / Great Pyrenees mix, who is currently six weeks old.  She passed the temperament test and startle recovery test far better than I expected. She has a beautiful personality and is very willing to stay engaged.  She is a confident little puppy sponge.  She is playful and curious, and has potential. The only thing I am uncertain of is if she will be large enough as an adult.  Hoping there is a mega growth spurt coming soon.  We are playing the name game to see what fits her best.  Some names up for consideration:

Keala ( Pathfinder, the path )
Raksha ( protection, nurture, pathfinder symbology )
Aina ( Joy, Forever, Celtic/Finnish )
Rain / Rainy
Amaya ( Night rain, Japanese )

Another Dog So Soon?
Something I feel I should say for those who don't know me well enough.  Some might look at this as me playing "musical puppies" and think it callous of me.  I want it to be understood I don't make any of these decisions lightly.  My animals are my family.  In the case of these dogs I am evaluating and "trying out" for lack of better phrasing, I get just as attached to them as I am to my animals that have been lifelong companions.
The difference in the end however is that I can't let those emotions rule my judgement, if I know that animal is not a good fit for the work I need it to be able to do.  I love and respect the animals. I can't force them to be something they are not.  I need a very special type of dog, with a very special personality and abilities to adapt to things that most dogs would want to avoid. I need a special dog that will ignore all those pressures and just enjoy working with me and going places with me as my partner.

Assistance dogs are considered medical equipment, not pets.  Realistically I need to look at it that way and remind myself I can't keep them all, as attached as I get to them through this process of attempting to owner train my new service dog partner.  It makes letting them go that much harder.
Even if it doesn't work out, I always make sure the dog is going to a good, responsible home, and I keep in touch with and follow up to be sure everything works out.  The same as I have always done for any animals I have rescued and fostered over the years.

I have seen too many people who owner train use dogs that really should not be working any form of public access, for one reason or another.  It is not fair to the dog to try and force it to be something it is not.  Doing so would set a bad example on me as a trainer, and be a poor representation of the assistance dog communities as a whole.  That is why I am being as selective as I am. Because it is the right thing to do, and it is necessary to ensure my dog is not a liability in public.