Are purse dogs ever service dogs?

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Gracie - In Loving- Memory

Service with a- Smile! : )
Barked: Thu Jan 24, '08 3:22pm PST 
I'm curious about what kind of tasks a purse dog could perform while in its purse.
Would it be able to perform 3 tasks for its partner?

Should a dog in a purse automaticaly be seen as not being a service dog?

Any ideas on this one?

Arrrr... where- be the rum?
Barked: Thu Jan 24, '08 3:37pm PST 
I think being in a purse wouldn't prevent a dog from acting as a seizure alert dog. As far as I know (seasoned SDs correct if I am wrong please!) every medical alert dog alerts its handler differently- one dog might lick while another might bark to warn of an oncoming seizure. Obviously mobility assistance would be impossible from a purse- however there might be other functions possible.
Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
Barked: Thu Jan 24, '08 3:56pm PST 
This question I've seen debated a lot. Of course the ADA does not specify if a SD should be walking or carried or anything about breeds etc. According to the ADA a service dog is a dog that has been trained to do work or tasks to mitigate their handler's disability and to behave in public. There is no requirement for not being carried, and there is no requirement for three tasks (though many service dogs do three or more things.

So what I am going to say is not based on law, it is based on my personal feelings about how service dogs should behave ideally. I think ideally it is most professional looking when a service dog is walking next to their handler, be they 5 lbs or 150 lbs. I also think that a large portion of purse-sized service dogs can do their jobs from the ground, and if they can do so, that should be where they should be spending most of their time.

However, I do understand that there are times when this is not possible. For example, if you are in a crowded airport where everyone is rushing around with their luggage or whatever you may need to pick your small breed SD up for their own safety. I also know some medical alert dogs who need to smell their handler's breath to tell if they need to alert and this can be difficult to do from the ground. I know of one service dog who assists with temperature regulation for their handler and so needs to be in a chest pouch close to their handler's skin to be able to work. I am sure I am forgetting other tasks that a service dog might need to do that might require them to be held or put into a purse.

So, my take on it is that if your service dog needs to be carried either due to a dangerous situation that prevents them from walking, or if they need to be in a purse to do their task or work to mitigate your disability, that is OK. But I feel that if this is the case, the dog shoudl still be clearly identified as a service dog as in vested. I also feel the purse should be adorned with patches or other markings that make it clear that the dog is a service dog and not a pet in a purse. And I feel that if your dog does not need to be carried either due to danger or due to the nature of their job, tat they should be walking on the ground next to their handler as that looks more professional.

Regardless of the possible situations that might require a SD to be carried, I also feel that a SD should be able to walk nicely on a leash through a restaurant or store or whatever.

Hope that helps, again, the ADA doesnt' say anything about SDs in carriers, so these are just my thoughts on the etiquette of the matter!


Work hard; Play- harder.
Barked: Thu Jan 24, '08 5:11pm PST 
I agree with Sabrina.

I will say this about working from the ground. Scooter works from the ground, though he needs to be able to get closer to my head if he starts to feel or smell something that he deems as "off". He has been taught to cue me to pick him up. He does his thing (specific booty bump to my ankle then moving to a position horizontal to me and facing towards my left side since he knows I pick him up right handed); he also gives a little lift when I say "up" and either alerts or gives me what we call the "all clear". At that point, I put him back down and we resume whatever it is that we are doing.

There is no reason that smaller diabetic alert dogs can't be taught the something similar (for public work).

I've been fortunate that I haven't run into any purse dogs (pets or possible SDs) while out and about. I think the gatekeepers around here do a good job of keeping them out.

I also want to say I think that if carrying one is someone's "thing", I'd hope they would choose not to carry it in a color coordinated fru-fru bag (even if it is labeled with patches). I think that makes the dog look more like a fashion accessory than a true working dog.

Small dogs can- have BIG jobs!
Barked: Thu Jan 24, '08 8:16pm PST 
I agree with Sabrina. If it is a matter of the dog's safety in a crowded place or if a dog needs to be carried close to the handler to do its job, then it is okay as long as it is done professionally. I too know of the body heat dog that is carried in a sling, without which the pwd would have died and/or lost some extremities long ago... a fellow iggy I might add. wink

Over the holidays, I was shopping in a card store. Byron was of course with me in a sit stay, while I looked at cards. A lady stopped next to me and put her bag on the ground. I didn't pay much attention to her. I then noticed Byron's ears twitched and he glanced momentarily at the bag with his head cocked to the side. He then returned to business as usual. It was like he was thinking "what the... oh okay." I looked down at the bag and low and behold... frou-frou purse dog! I imagine Byron was just as surprised as I was to find a purse dog in the mall. bol! I was willing to let this all pass, until the lady started gushing over Byron and went on to say that her little darling was a service dog too. Huh?!?! She went on to say that her little darling was an ESA. confused Ummmm, no. ESA's don't get public access. Upon which her dog started to misbehave... trying to get to Byron. Byron actually sighed and looked up at me as if to say, "for goodness sakes! Doesn't he know anything about being in a store?!?!" bol! Needless to say, I'm not a fan of the purse dog and I tend to be suspicious of SDs that need to be carried. I will not say that they cannot exist, but they are few and far between.

Too sexy for my- shirt.
Barked: Thu Jan 24, '08 9:25pm PST 
I don't carry Moose in a purse altho' I might when he gets older. I know someone when a hearing SD whitch is a chiuhaha and he rides in her purse and he nudges her with his head to alert her. It is acually really cool to see him work.
Maizie Moo

Yup, I'm a- fashion diva,- DEAL!
Barked: Thu Jan 31, '08 8:02pm PST 
I agree with Sabrina's mom as well.

Maizie weighs 8 lbs soak and wet and she walks beside me on leash in public places. She would fit nicely in my purse, but there have been only rare occasions when I actually put her in it. She "alerts" by nipping, licking and pawing at my chin, nose, ears, when my bloodsugar is low. But when she's walking beside me, if my sugar drops she starts hopping on her hind legs and pawing my leg with her front paws. I'll then pick her up, and if she is "alerting", she'll start her usual routine. If she was just wanting to be held (lol) I'll snuggle her a minute or two then put her back down.

Karen Ann & Kanine Krew
St Nickolas

Barked: Thu Jan 31, '08 9:54pm PST 
applauseapplauseEXCELLENT Sabrina!!!! Your answer is right on the money for me. With my seizures my dog does need to be able to be close to my head however we have been together long enough now that he has even been able to interpret my body movements as well. As my health has gone downhill he has saved me on more than three occasions when "people" would have left me to sit he kept up the barking because he knew the next for me was cardiac arrest and the more he could sense the louder he barked. Thank God for me that I have my little "purse size" Chihuahua Service Dog! I do NOT CARE any longer about FOOLISH PEOPLE and their FOOLISH ideas from days PAST!!!!!!
(people need to get over themselves and move into the future cause it is here!!!!)

Thanks to my "Purse Size" Service Dog I am still ALIVE AND

Oh and I have a second Chihuahua, Frankie, who has been in training and he is learning from watching Nickolas and at first I did not think it would work, then nature took over along of course with training. Frankie is slipping into the position just as simply as if he were born into it. Maybe one day he to will be able to tell me when a seizure or mini stroke or cardiac arrest were to happen.


Edited by author Mon Feb 11, '08 1:27pm PST

OnQ's- Althea

I can do that
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '08 11:34pm PST 
Something about a person with seizures, carrying a dog up off the ground, sounds a little dangerous to the SD... Just my 2 cents though... I guess if the dog is REALLY acurate, it wouldn't be hurt...

"Momma, can I go- too?"
Barked: Tue Feb 12, '08 12:46pm PST 
Actually it is not the people who say their purse dog is a SD that scare me. I know of several SDs who have to be close to their handler's face to be able to smell changes that they alert too.

However, I still have not figured out this one. Lady had her dog in an enclosed stroller (know way for dog to paw or nudge alert from there) and she claimed it was a service dog. To this day, I have not figured out what task the dog could do while sitting in a stroller and unable to touch the human.
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