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Asthma Alert Dogs?

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Member Since
07/03/2005
 
 
Barked: Wed Apr 4, '07 5:08am PST 
Hi All!

Has anyone here heard of Asthma Alert Dogs? Just curious, thanks.
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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Wed Apr 4, '07 9:55am PST 
A service dog is a dog trained to do work to mitigate the life limiting disability of their handler. So if the handler has disabling asthma, and a dog can be trained to do something like alert to attacks or warn the handler when they're getting near something that they're allergic to (like perfume or other chemical sensitivities) that could qualify as a service dog. I do know of dogs who are trained to warn their handler of chemical sensitivies and not let them go into a place where there is that chemical that will cause them to get sick... I don't know if the handler specifically has asthma or if it's something else though!

If you're interested in something like that, I'd reccomend talking with your doctor first to see if you are considered disabled by your asthma. Then think about what a service dog could be trained to do that would assist you. If your asthma attacks aren't triggered by anything, it might be difficult to train a dog to alert you to them or keep you away from triggers for example. I'd reccomend talking to others with service dogs about the service dog lifestyle (it's not for everyone, there are some major drawbacks like people asking about your medical history all the time, and you can never blend in with the crowd!), and how having a service dog has been beneficial and also how it has been difficult.

If after that you decide that a service dog is what you want and your doctor is supportive, I'd reccomend talking with a trainer about picking a dog to train. You want to make sure to start out with a dog with the right temperment, so that they will be likely to make it all the way to being a full service dog. So it's important to temperment test dogs before deciding on a SD prospect. I'd also reccomend meeting with the trainer at least every once in a while during your training to make sure that you and the dog are doing well and staying on track.

Here are a few links you can check out that will tell you more about service dogs. The PSDS link has some great FAQs and articles about the service dog lifestyle for people with invisible disabilities.

www.psychdog.org (this is the PSDS website)
www.deltasociety.org
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Byron

Small dogs can- have BIG jobs!
 
 
Barked: Wed Apr 4, '07 3:04pm PST 
I know of a SDIT for cystic fibrosis (which is a terminal lung disease). The dog is being trained to fetch a phone with a hand signal, touch an auto dial button to call EMS and bark into the phone upon hand signal command, bring emergency medication (such as a rescue inhaler) during a flare up, and remind the handler to take meds on time etc. This handler's condition is disabling and progressive, and regretfully terminal. However, if one suffers from disabling asthma, I'm sure the same tasks could be of help.
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Storm

Silent Observer
 
 
Barked: Thu Apr 5, '07 8:56pm PST 
I had disabling asthma for most of my life. Mine turned out to be due to some undiscovered food allergies but, before I figured that out a few months ago, I was taking eight medications a day to get up in the morning - and even those didn't gurantee that I'd make it through without a big attack. Bad attacks usually ended up with me in the ER to get my heavy meds and it would take me somewhere around two weeks to return to "normal".

Storm has actually alerted me when having attacks worth taking medication for (I try to put my rescue off due to massive side effects) rather than just some moderate Asthma Badness. He seems to be able to hear a difference in the cough that I cannot hear myself, and he'll get in my face and sniff me when I'm at a point where I really should be taking my rescue inhaler before slipping too far into a huge attack. For a while I was working on training him to bring my medication bag.

Despite the fact that Storm indirectly helps me with my asthma - besides alerting me, he keeps my stress level way down, and stress can be a trigger for me - as well as some of my other health issues, I never looked into having him become an actual service dog. Yes, my asthma was (is?) debilitating. Yes, I could've qualified for some disability services. I chose not to, though - I guess that I didn't want to admit to my physical limitations at such a young age. Besides, it's pretty difficult to explain to people that asthma really can be that bad - it seems that everyone knows an asthmatic that just puffs on his or her rescue inhaler once in a great while and is fine.

Edited by author Thu Apr 5, '07 9:02pm PST

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Iris Foxie,- certified SD

Mom's wish is my- command
 
 
Barked: Thu Apr 5, '07 11:46pm PST 
I'm training Iris to bring my puffer in case my asthma gets too severe for me to get it myself. I've had a couple bad attacks recently.
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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Fri Apr 6, '07 9:02am PST 
Thank you for sharing that Storm! I had no idea that Storm could tell a difference between your attacks like that, that's really interesting. I wonder if it's something he heard in your cough or if it was a different smell about you or something? I'm always trying to figure out how exactally dogs can tell these things!
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Storm

Silent Observer
 
 
Barked: Fri Apr 6, '07 10:41am PST 
I'm honestly not sure what he's responding to in my more severe bouts of asthma. I've sort of assumed that it is a quality of cough - I know that my voice changes and that I'm usually unaware of it - but it could be scent, too, which would explain the face-sniffing. Since asthma is all about inflammation, it could be that the more severe attack is caused by an increased physiological response which, in turn, produces an equal increase in whatever scent Storm is picking up on.

This would explain his reaction to some of my allergies, too - after all, hives are just another inflammatory response due to an overactive immune system releasing uneeded histamines. Because we're actually allergic to many of the same things, I've often said that the two of us sit on the couch at night and scratch each other's itches. I'm entirely serious about this! I can tell when Storm's been particularly itchy - he licks me far more when I'm scratching a good itch. Similarly, he'll pay more attention to areas on my skin that I'd had hives that day. For example: yesterday, while de-burring him after a romp with some of his buddies, one of the burrs snagged my thumb and must've juuust barely broken the very top layer of the epidermis. About a half-hour later I had raised hives in the area. They itched pretty intensely but it wasn't anything horrible, and they went away upon getting home and washing my hands. Later that evening (well after the swelling had gone down) Storm and I were sitting on the couch and he started licking that thumb - and that particular area of that thumb - constantly.

Now, I come home with papercuts from school and other dermal abrasions - but I only get this reaction from him when I come home with hives.

You must remember, though, that Storm is one of the few entities that has seen me in some pretty severe states. He's been there for a really bad asthma flare-up and for a week with no allergy meds while I waited for more allergy testing (with my undiscovered food allergies, this led to a horrible week of solid hives, no sleep, and lots of bruising). I suppose, then, that he's been sensitized to this and may just be doing what he can to help me. After all, I do the same for him and his allergies and hives.

I love my sensitive guy. smile
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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Fri Apr 6, '07 11:40am PST 
Maybe he is picking up on scents, then-- or even a combination of the two! I had no idea you two were so in tune, though I should have guessed it! I think that you are right that when a dog who is inclined to be sensitive sees their handler in a variety of states, they are likely to start picking up on and responding to their handlers more negative states to try to help them out. I bet that a lot more dogs do this type of thing than people realize-- most people probably just don't pick up on their dogs reactions to them as much! Now I'm really interested in what types of chemical changes there might be going on in your body to cause Storm to be sensitive to your hives and allergic reactions!

It's so nice to hear about you two interacting with each other, I always get really good pictures of you together when you describe it and it seems like you are a perfect match! Thanks again for sharing!
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Storm

Silent Observer
 
 
Barked: Fri Apr 6, '07 12:25pm PST 
Believe me, my doctors would be interested in the chemical changes going on in my body, too! Before discovering my food allergies I was a medical mystery for about 14 years.

You know, when I first applied for a rescue Beardie I wrote the following on the bottom of my application:

"I just want a dog that needs me as much as I need him."


I never thought that I'd actually get that, but I did. Storm's an amazing part of my life.

Edited by author Fri Apr 6, '07 12:26pm PST

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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Sat Apr 7, '07 4:12pm PST 
That's so sweet-- you need each other equally! You are the best doggy mom ever!
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