E119: Service Dogs with Trainer Mary McNeight & POTS patient Makenzie

Episode 119 February 21, 2023 00:41:58
E119: Service Dogs with Trainer Mary McNeight & POTS patient Makenzie
The POTScast
E119: Service Dogs with Trainer Mary McNeight & POTS patient Makenzie

Feb 21 2023 | 00:41:58

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Hosted By

Cathy Pederson Jill Brook

Show Notes

Many with severe POTS consider getting a service dog. What's involved? How is the dog trained? What benefits does a service dog provide? Answers to these questions and more in this episode!

You can read the transcript for this episode here: https://tinyurl.com/potscast119

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Episode Transcript

Full Episode Jill Brook: Hello fellow POTS patients and super people who care about POTS patients. I'm Jill Brook, your horizontal host, and today we are going to learn about Medical Alert Dogs with Mary McNeight, who is a dog trainer for people with POTS and other conditions, and who owns Service Dog Academy in Illinois and with Makenzie who has both POTS and a medical alert dog. And if you hear any panting or snoring, we have a lot of dogs among us, so they are joining us too. Welcome, Mary and Makenzie. Thank you for being here today. Mary McNeight: Oh my goodness. Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this because people need to know that these dogs exist and how much they can help you. Makenzie: Yes. Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be doing this. Jill Brook: Well, for starters, I'm gonna ask you both to just introduce yourselves a little bit. And Mary, can you start by telling us a bit about you and your business? Mary McNeight: Well, I started my business because in 2005 I adopted a dog from the Humane Society and I wanted him to be my service dog. And at that point there was no one in my area in the Seattle area where I was living at the time to help me train my own dog. So I got him. I just utilized him as a quote unquote psychiatric service dog because I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and again, there's no one in my area to help me train him. There weren't any like rules about how a psychiatric service dog was to be trained. And so I just ended up using him for a couple years, and then I started to think about transitioning to a new dog because he was eight years old when I adopted him. And in 2008 I got an eight week old Labrador puppy, and his name was Liam. And at that point I decided, You know what? I'm gonna become the resource that I can't find. And so I went to six hours of puppy classes a week with him, and sometimes even more at that point, cuz I just became obsessed over dogs. I mean, I've been a dog lover my entire life, but at that point I just became obsessed about training the best service dog possible. So I went to puppy classes. I got my canine study certificate and then I went to conferences all over the United States. I've got about $30,000 in dog training education. Because I just went to all these conferences and eventually my ex-husband was diagnosed with diabetes and I was like, Oh my goodness. My dad was diabetic, my grandmother was diabetic. My ex-husband's side of the family had diabetics in his side of the family and he was diagnosed as diabetic. So, I was like, I'm gonna go learn how to train diabetic alert dogs and so when I found out that I could train them and I went to this class, I started teaching the diabetic alert dog training to other people. And then at my first medical alert dog class, my dog started alerting me to a low blood sugar. And I was like, There's something wrong with this dog. There's gotta be something wrong with this dog. Why is he telling me that there's something wrong with me and my ex-husband is not here? I don't understand what's going on. So, it turned out that my quote unquote anxiety attacks, which I called them zombie panic attacks, where I would literally just completely shut down or actually low blood sugar episodes. But it wasn't for this dog finding out, training that I did, finding out four years later that my panic attacks were actually low blood sugar episodes. So not only did this dog spontaneously start to alert to my low blood sugar episodes, but then he started to alert to my migraines as well. And he would alert to other students medical issues too. So that's where I kind of got the idea of, wait a minute, diabetes, it's working for diabetes, it's working for migraines, it's working for. I had a student with Charlie Horses, her dog would alert to her charlie horses, it the dog would alert to her AFib episodes. And I'm like, Okay, you know what? I'm just gonna start experimenting. So, I had a a friend in high school who had narcolepsy. So I like put on the web that, hey, I'd be interested in experimenting to see if a dog could alert to narcolepsy. I got a person in, they paid like $900 for my class and what did they have? They have a narcolepsy alert dog within about four weeks, and then eventually I expand to POTS and AFib and, just all these disabilities because it was like someone would randomly contact me and go, Can you train a dog for this? And I'd say, I don't know. It's theoretically possible. I can work with you. I can try it. I can't promise anything, but I can try. And then that's how I got to cranial cervical instability, to char mouth automation to AFib, to hypo kpp, to all these disabilities. It was always just like, okay, I don't know if it'll work, but I will try and work with you and see if it will. I even had a dog that will alert to urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence. So, I mean, in my professional opinion, if a, if there is a biochemical change in your body, you should be able to get a dog to alert to it. Now, I'm not talking about your trick knee or something like that. When you turn it at a certain angle and, it makes you fall. But if there's a biochemical change of the body, we ought to be able to get a dog to alert to it. So I have never had a person who said, Hey, I wanna do an experiment and has not worked. Jill Brook: Wow. Okay. So that is amazing and I have so many follow up questions, but first I wanna bring Makenzie into this conversation as well because she is living this experience, Makenzie do you mind introducing us to a little bit about you and your dog. Makenzie: Yeah, so my name is Makenzie. I have POTS. I was diagnosed a little over a year ago, a year and a half ago. I have had symptoms for a while, but it took forever to get diagnosed and find the right doctors. And after a lot of different treatments I was still passing out 13 plus times a day and was just at a point where I just couldn't function. I'm a college student, I could barely go to class. So that's when I found Mary and started looking into getting a service dog for medical alert. And that's where Odin comes in. I brought him home in February of this year and at 12 weeks old, he started alerting to my POTS episodes and migraines. So we've been working with that. Every day is a training obstacle, but he's doing amazing and at 10 months old and ready for public access and is just a phenomenal dog. Jill Brook: Oh, and very cute too. So I had all of these questions prepared, but really I cannot help myself, but just to say, what, Mary, how do dogs do this? Do you know? Does anybody know what's going on? Mary McNeight: That's a good question. So we don't actually know what the dog is picking up on because dogs have 250 million scent receptors in their nose and 40% of their brain is devoted just to their nose. We actually have 5 million cent receptors in our nose. So their equivalent of a scent capability is the size of a football field. Ours is the postage stamp on a football field that is how much more set capability they have compared to us. So dogs are basically just noses with dogs attached to the end of them. So if you were to ask me what a dog is picking up on, I can't tell you what volatile organic compound that it's picking up on. I have no clue or what combination of compounds. I just know that the dog understands the difference between your normal scent profile, what you smell like normal day to day, and then the abnormal scent profile that you have when you're going to have an episode. So, I can't tell you what that is, but I do know that the dogs are able to distinguish between normal scent and abnormal scent. Jill Brook: That is completely fascinating. And so Makenzie, does Odin act really interested in all kinds of different scents or just you? Makenzie: I mean, he's very interested in smelling everything. I will say he has a different reaction to when he smells what I like to refer to as me getting POTSie he has a completely different reaction to that, and he always has, since I brought him home. But he has actually been recently alerting them to, I have a friend who's a type one diabetic. I have other friends who have POTS and other conditions that he's actually been picking up on and not alerting in the same way that he does to me, but still alerting in a way, which has been very interesting to see cuz he's never been trained for that. Jill Brook: So what does he do to alert you that you're gonna have a POTS episode? Makenzie: So for me, he has some kind of precursor things that like he'll start sniffing specifically around my feet and my ankles. He'll start sniffing my hands if I'm sitting as to get like in my face and sniff around my face. he definitely starts sniffing me a lot. Sometimes he'll kind of like shuffle back and forth on his paws. He'll be like dead asleep in class next to me. And if he gets a tiny wiff of it, he stands right up and is like in my business. And then he's trained to, when he smells that he gives me a little nose bump. Typically on my leg is where he likes to alert and then he'll give me a paw and we've done that so that he can alert to both my POTS and to my migraines. We're still working on an alert for my migraines, but the idea is that he will do a different behavior instead of paw at me so that he can kind of differentiate between the two. Jill Brook: I'm still having a hard time getting past this whole thing where he just started doing it. Right, Because the interesting thing is like how does the dog know. So maybe this is a question for you, Mary. How does the dog know that you care about a POTS episode or a migraine and not care about something like, when you chop onions, you smell different. He doesn't alert you to that. Mary McNeight: That's a really excellent question. So do you remember science class? Do you remember Pavlov? Where he rang the bell and then fed the dogs and then rang the bell and then fed the dogs and then rang the bell and then fed the dogs, and then rang the bell and the dogs started salivating. Jill Brook: Ah-huh. Mary McNeight: That's what we utilize. It's called Pavlovian conditioning. So we basically pair the smell of the abnormal event, which is a POTS episode or AFib or cranial cervical instability. Whenever you have an event, we collect scent samples before that, actually we collect samples before you have an event, and we use those to pair with food. So we pair that with food and then we pair that with a trick. So once your dog has been classically conditioned, and once your dog has been taught the trick, then we put it all together and we, and the dog is able to smell the smell that happens when you go have an abnormal event. Your breath changes, basically the smell of your breath changes and the dog is able to alert you. It's an incredibly easy process to train this. The hard stuff is teaching the dog to not bark at other dogs, be okay at the mall. I call the floating head phenomenon when someone walks by a window and it's just a head going by, you know? People coming up and like petting your dog while they're walking by you. I call that the sneak a pet. Kids running a shopping cart into your dog. All of the things that can happen in public some kid runs by in a t-rex costume. Your dog has to be okay with anything and everything that can happen to it. So, that's the hard part. It's not the medical alerts. Okay. And now I've got an alert from my dog here right now, so give me just a second. Okay. Good job. Good boy. Jill Brook: This is so completely fascinating. Makenzie, can I ask from your point of view, how much had the dog been trained before you got him? And then what have you done with him to continue his training? Makenzie: Yeah, so I brought him home at eight weeks old and prior to that he had just been exposed to different scents. And he hadn't really started his alert training necessarily when I brought him home, but when I did bring him home, He, honestly, a lot of it was, he was just around me constantly. And we spent a lot of time bonding at first and he kind of started picking up on like, Oh, I've smelled that before. And he would just show a lot of interest in me. And this was kind of before we had even started any of the alert training he had just kind of like, Stick around me a lot more when he smelled that cuz it was a familiar scent. And then once we started the alert training where I was exposing him to scent samples and then expecting a certain behavior from him when he was smelling those scent samples, that's when he really started picking up on alerting and developing that different reaction. Mary McNeight: And I think that was probably about two weeks into your, your nine week medical alert dog class, right? Is that when he started it? Makenzie: Yeah, so he started alerting at 12 weeks of age. Jill Brook: Okay, so one more question. When you say exposing the dog to scent samples, are you like breathing in its face or putting a t-shirt next to it? What does that mean? Makenzie: That's a great question. What we would do is we would kind of collect a sample on a cotton round. And then it was usually I would start collecting them first thing in the morning. And then once I collected one that was around 30 minutes before a POTS episode, I would freeze that and save that. And then use those scent samples in training sessions. And then just continue doing that process until I've built up a huge stash of scent samples. Jill Brook: So where do you collect them? Do you like wipe your skin or put it in your mouth or what do you do with the cotton ball to get the scent sample? Makenzie: I collect it from my saliva. Jill Brook: And you just collect enough of them and you keep track of your POTS episodes, that you know which ones are POTSie samples and you know which ones are non POTSie samples, and you use those to train the dog. Makenzie: Yes. Jill Brook: Fascinating. And so based on that, is that how your dog also learned to notify your friends of some of their issues, or the dog just completely did that on its own. Makenzie: I think that has just kind of happened on his own. Mary McNeight: That's a really good point because we actually, when the diabetic alert community, we know that kind of all diabetics smell the same. But the issue with POTS and migraines and stuff is that we aren't sure that all migraines smell the same when they're having a migraine episode. We aren't sure that all POTSies smell the same when they're having a POTS episode. So, this is interesting that Mackenzie's even mentioning this, cuz this is the first time I've heard this in this podcast that her dog is actually alerting other people with POTS. So that's actually completely new to me. I've had my own dog alert to other people's POTS episodes in my house, but this is kind of the first time I've had a student report, Hey, my dog's alerting to other people with POTS, You know? That's really cool, Makenzie. I didn't know that. Jill Brook: And I would love to see some research that looks at what it is exactly biochemically that the dog is even noting, because I'm not aware of any known biochemical thing in the breath even happens in POTS. So it's like the dogs are ahead of us in figuring out the biochemistry of POTS. Mary McNeight: Again, they have 250 million scent receptors. I don't know that you're ever going to know what they're picking up on. There is not going to be a piece of scientific equipment that can be as accurate as a dog, in my professional opinion. Like it might take 200 years to get to that point because they're so developed with their noses. Jill Brook: So Mary, what types of dogs can do this now, I know you said you raise Labradoodles, I believe, for this, and so why Labradoodles and do other breeds work? Mary McNeight: So any dog with the working nose can do this. So basically any pup but we typically recommend. Labradors, golden retrievers, poodles or mixes thereof because the issue you have with POTS diabetes, migraines, seizures, a lot of those conditions are invisible. So if you were to walk in with a pit bull who can absolutely, completely do this job, but if you were to walk into public with a pit bull, Walmart, Your local movie theater, whatnot. The vast majority of the people there are not going to wanna be near you. They're not going to want to be around that dog. They're gonna be afraid of the dog. And if you walk in with a cute little Labrador or a Labradoodle or a Golden Retriever, you get so much more leeway with the public. People are so much more nicer to you than if you walk in with, a big mastiff or Even a Great Dane, you know? And that was my first narcolepsy alert student. She had a great Dane, but she still had issues with going in public with her dog, even though he was a cute, great Dane. There's something about the leeway that comes with a fluffy little doodle that makes your life 10 times easier, maybe even a hundred times easier when you have a stereotypical service dog. The other thing too is that the doodles, they are bittable, they have excellent temperaments, they are food motivated. Same thing goes with golden retrievers or Labrador retrievers. They have the temperament for this work, not necessarily case for like a German Shepherd who they're just always on. They have this like hyperactive, always on type of personality. With the Labrador they're on for their job and then they shut down , they'll just lay down and go to sleep, and then they're back up and they do their job and they lay down and go to sleep. So it's just this, ability that they have bred into them to be able to work and then be calm and then work and then be calm. Unlike a lot of other breeds, which are bred to work and work and work and work and work and work and work, and that's not the dog that you really want for service work. You want something that is able to lay down by your feet until the job gonna be done, and then able to complete the job with, excellence and and figure and, hope this is like the best thing in the entire world, and then go back to sleep when it's done. Jill Brook: That makes a lot of sense. I would love to hear from both of you what an episode looks like. So what does your dog do? How much time does your dog give you as far as a heads up? And then what can you do with that amount of time to help prevent an episode from being quite as bad. Like, do you guys mind each giving me an example of a time when you were like living your life and your dog alerted you in a way that helped you? Mary McNeight: That's a good question. I don't know that I have any events that kind of stand out cuz it's just part of everyday life. There's three or four events every single day that my dog alerts me to and it's 20 minutes before I sometimes feel the effects of it. Jill Brook: So long. I did not realize, I thought it was gonna be like 30 seconds or something. Mary McNeight: No, no, no. What would the point be? 30 seconds. You don't even have time to barely sit down sometimes. So we get sometimes students who have one hour alerts before their migraine episode. I don't know if that's the case for POTS or not, but we do get, most of our diabetic students get 20 minutes before an alert, before an actual event, and then the POTS students get anywhere from five to 25, sometimes 30 minutes before an event. But it does give you time to, for example , if you're about to have a migraine, to go to a safe location to have. Or if you have abortive medications, then you can take your abortive medication and potentially prevent the migraine from happening. So, the great thing about a medical alert dog is it gives you choice and it also makes you not look like a drug addict. The thing about diabetes is like when you go low, you're just out of it. You might be acting strange and you go about acting strange in public and people are gonna think there's something wrong with you. You're a drug addict or something, but if you have a dog with you, it's completely different. Everything changes. Everybody's perception of who you are is different when you have a medical alert dog with you. So, your dog is, it's such an amazing tool to help you manage life with these disabilities. Sorry, I'm getting like choked up thinking just talking about this because it's just Such a different lifestyle that you, you can lead with a medical alert dog. Jill Brook: Wow. Makenzie, do you mind sharing what it's like with your dog Makenzie: So I pass out a lot. Before Oden, I was fully passing out 13 plus times a day. I think my record might have been like 16 times that I fully passed out in one day. . And so like that wears on a person, it wears on their body, it wears on their mental state. When I pass out, I'm like out of it for at least 30 minutes to an hour. After coming to and since having Oden, I usually have between 15 and 20 minutes to get to a safe place where if I do pass out Usually the effects don't last as long because he's there to kind of help me as I'm coming to or I can get somewhere, sit down, lay down, put my feet up and take some salt packets and then I don't pass out fully at all, which has been the biggest blessing, especially being on a college campus. I could be walking across campus and all of a sudden my body's like, Nope. And I would just go down where I was. With him, he will alert and then I can get to a place, sit down. Sometimes I can't get to a place in time to prevent passing. But he is trained to do things like deep pressure therapy. He will lick me and kind of paw at me and just kind of keep me conscious and keep me awake. And then he'll do D P T while I'm laying there, just kind of help me. Jill Brook: Can you say that is. Makenzie: d p t, it's deep pressure therapy, so he just basical puts his body weight, distributes it around my body and just kind of gives a similar effect to having a weighted blanket. Yeah, like just last week I was taking a midterm. I got up from my midterm, felt totally fine. He said, Nope, you are not okay. He got me to a place that I could sit. and sure enough, right then is , when I felt it coming on had I not had his alert, I would've been walking to class and would've just passed out probably on the Sidewalk which has happened before and is not the most fun. Jill Brook: Wow. So Makenzie, if you were gonna tell other patients about any like commitments, cost, downside, Work associated. What would you say? Makenzie: I will say it's not for everyone. It's not easy, especially if you don't go through a program where they fully train your dog and give them to you. It is a lot of work to train a dog, especially from a puppy stage, especially if you're in college. That has been a challenge. not been easy, but it's been worth every second. It's also a very public declaration of your disability. Sometimes it's easier to just pretend like I don't have a disability and just go on with my day. But it's gotten to a point where it affects my life as much as it does, and so for me, the cost of people knowing that I have a disability is way, way less than the benefit of passing out in public and somebody calling an ambulance and then going through that whole process. Mary McNeight: Yeah. Makenzie: My safety, it's having him given me a peace of mind. I feel more independent now. I can go to the grocery store by myself, which is Jill Brook: huge. Yeah. Makenzie: I can go to class consistently enough now that like, I'm not failing classes cuz I'm missing so much class. So it's definitely, it's not for everyone. But it has truly been one of the biggest blessings in my life in this last year. Jill Brook: And I think before we started recording you mentioned that you picked up your dog from Mary and Mary had done some pre-training, but then you continued the training online and then also with some people near you, cuz you live in a different state. Right. Makenzie: Correct? Jill Brook: So that combination of training all worked. Makenzie: Yes. So he is still in training. He's at a stable place where I really just consult with a trainer if I'm having an issue. This dog has been amazing and has practically trained himself, like I have no words. He has been the easiest dog I have ever interacted with. Was potty trained in like two weeks. He naturally alerts like started picking those things up. We've done a little bit of training with it, but I have not done as much like intense training with him as I would like to. As far as like other tasking I've focused mostly on his alerting, but he's started doing some guide work. I say guide work lightly. He's definitely not a guide dog. But has started like he knows where to take me after he alerts. Just different things like that. He's picking things up and bringing them to me. He's done amazing teaching himself how to do different things and considering he's a 10 month old puppy, he behaves better than other service dogs that I've seen in public. It's crazy. He has been the biggest blessing. He's been so easy, which has been amazing. Mary McNeight: And that isn't coincidental that comes from this dog came from a line of service dogs, both on the mother's side and the father's side also. When we raise puppies here at the Service Dog Academy, we imprint the puppies, we play loud sounds while they're running around, playing with each other. So they hear the sounds of traffic, they hear the sounds of an airplane, they hear the sounds of fireworks. We make them go on obstacle courses at six weeks old. We do everything that we can to get them socialized. So we'll take them to the nursing home. We'll go to the fire station with them. I took my last litter to the elementary school to let them be around children. This is all before eight weeks of age. We do potty training with them in a potty box. I mean, there's so much that goes into a litter for service work that would never even happen if you were not getting a dog for a service dog. So it's super important if you are going to think about training a dog for medical alert that you work with someone who has experience raising service dogs. Because just if you go out and get any old dog, it's possible that it may work. But when you're training service work, this dog is going to be the equivalent of the neurosurgeon of the dog world. You want that dog to have as many ways possible to make it be successful and genetics are important epigenetics are important, and you know the type of food that we use with our dogs when they're pregnant. The stress level of the mother can affect the ways that the babies are developing. So there's thousands of variables that go into producing a dog for service work that don't go into pet dogs. So it's super important if you are going to work with a trainer and you want to utilize a dog for service work, work with somebody who has education and experience in this, because just putting two dogs together is not going to be the best solution. Jill Brook: This is great information. What else, what else should people know about if they're thinking about. Mary McNeight: I would say work with somebody who has education. And does training methods using positive reinforcement. We don't want you to use a technique on your dog that's going to scare your dog or cause fear. So make sure you're working with a positive reinforcement trainer and somebody who has consistently gone and pursued continuing education because unfortunately this industry is not regulated. I could literally grab a chipmunk out of my backyard and call it a certified service dog trainer. Like I could give it a little degree in everything, and it would be just as legitimate as calling me a service dog trainer, a certified service dog trainer, and I've had $30,000 in dog training education. So, This industry is completely unregulated and anybody in anything can be a service dog trainer. So please make sure you do due diligence by making sure that your trainer has education, has experience. In my professional opinion, if you are training a medical alert dog, you should have to do the first five for free, because at some point you're going to mess up and you do not want it on your conscience that you messed up somebody's dog. Like there's always going to be some little thing that you should have done better. And I'm at 300 dogs now and I'm still learning from each dog that I work with. Like this litter that I had today that I just took out to Six Flags. The puppy that I took out to Six Flags. This is literally the best puppy I've ever had in my entire life. And I've had five litters, now I know what I'm doing. I know exactly how to imprint. I know how to puppy raise properly. And but there's still things that I'm learning to this day, and I think it also, if you can find yourself a person who is always consistently learning. That would be good too because everything is changing in this field. it's not a static field where you know it and, and then. Like, how to build furniture, furniture, it's probably, it's not something that you need to get brand new skills for, but for dog training, there's more science that's coming out every week on how to learn and how to work with and how to observe dogs. And yeah, getting someone with education and experience is really, important. And then also Here's the deal that you don't know about necessarily in the service dog world. Just because you're working with a nonprofit, it doesn't mean that it's guaranteed to be a legitimate organization. Unfortunately, there was a trainer out in Virginia that was scamming diabetics outta millions of dollars, and it took the state of Virginia 10 years to shut him down. He scammed so many millions out of dollars outta type one diabetic children. And so please, please, please do your research on your organization. Do not work with a trainer who's basically trained no dogs or doesn't have any experience in this or maybe even has only a couple of dogs. Preferably I would not work with an organization that hasn't had at least two years of experience. Because at that point, that's when the clients start to complain on the internet. So, type in your dog trainer's name, type in the word complaints into Google, make sure you've done your research, because if not, you're going to get scammed this is your life that we're talking about. Make sure that you're working with someone who has education experience in this field because you know you can really hurt yourself if you pass out with this POTS episode and you do not wanna take that lightly. Jill Brook: Do you have any recommendations of resources or websites or anything like that that people should consult if they're looking into a medical alert? Mary McNeight: That's a good question. I think McKenzie might be a better choice for this because she's in the POTS world. Were there a lot of resources that you looked at, McKenzie? Because I know that my YouTube videos are there, but there's not a lot of my YouTube videos on POTS right now is there? Makenzie: Yeah. So there's surprisingly very little that you could find on the internet when you search for who trains alert dogs for POTS. I found a couple of places but just a surface level look at websites. There were really only two places that I even considered. One of them obviously was Mary. And I think what it came down to and why I looked into and ended up going with Mary versus the other place I was looking at was simply just because price location. She was a little closer to me than the other place was. And I could find a lot more testimonies from students. And I did find some of her training videos on YouTube as well, which really helped. I was able to kind of like put a, okay, this is legit . And I think that was the biggest thing was I was terrified going in and I told Mary this the day that I picked Odin up. Up to that day I was terrified that I was gonna get there and there wasn't actually going to be a puppy for me. Or there was gonna be a puppy for me, but something was gonna happen and it wasn't gonna be what I was promised. And that was a very real fear that I had even to the day that I got him. Mary McNeight: And my videos go back 10 years on YouTube, probably more than that at this point. And yet, she has the genuine fear that I'm not real, that I've just taken her deposit and she's not gonna get a dog. And in reality, you shouldn't feel like that, but that is the industry that we have right now and with service dogs. There's nothing that could put my name on a website that makes me officially a service dog trainer there. If I could take a test that says This person has knowledge and experience and service dogs, I would do that. But there's nothing out there right now to say who's a legitimate trainer and who isn't. Jill Brook: So that's great warning to everybody so that they don't just all run out and sign up with the first person they find. Mary, where can people find you online in all of your great videos? Mary McNeight: So my website is ServiceDogAcademy.com and my YouTube channel is youtube.com/serviceDogAcademy. So there are 50 free advice videos on the YouTube channel, and there is one called, Diabetic Alert Dogs, Prevent Yourself from Being Scammed or something like that. And that is a hour and a half class that I taught in 2009 or 2010 . And although it is directed towards people who are looking for a diabetic alert dog, all of the advice there is applicable to POTS alert dogs. So, you can watch that video and kind of get an idea as to who to choose when you're looking for a trainer or you're looking for a person who raises puppies for service work and then also, There are videos that are not necessarily pops related on that channel that you can watch as well, that will help you. Like there's an entire one and a half hour class about how to not get scammed by a breeder and you know what the red flags that you're looking for. Like don't meet them in the Walmart parking lot. Make sure that you go to their home and you're picking up a dog from a home environment. Show up unannounced, if you can make sure that you that the dogs have hip and elbow certifications, that the dogs have had genetic profiles done. Make sure that they don't have any diseases. The eyes are certified. Make sure that there's paperwork on these dogs and that they call up their vet, see if they actually take them in for their vaccinations. They actually get healthcare. All of these things that you can do to make sure that. Your person is seeing what they are supposed to be saying if they are who they are, and also make sure that you're typing in the business name, the person's name, and then also the word complaint or scam, into Google. Because it's very hard to erase negative comments like the, like you'll find a negative comment about me in that. I didn't work with somebody who had a dog that was reactive to other dogs and they, they went online and put on a complaint about me, and I'm like, It's fine. You can put that complaint there perfectly fine, because service dogs are not supposed to reactive to other dogs. So you complain all you want to. That didn't take you into my program Jill Brook: Okay. Great tips. Yeah. So for my last question, I just wanted to quick hear how you like to reward your dogs. how do you thank them for doing all this good stuff for you? Mary McNeight: Do you wanna go first? Makenzie? Makenzie: Yeah, I can go first. So I mean, Odin gets days off where he's still expected to alert. But there's days where like if I'm not going out in public, He gets the day off best, and that has been a huge reward for him is he knows he can be a regular dog in those moments. We play lots of fetch. He loves tennis balls. That is his biggest obsession right now. So we'll go out on the green at my school and I'll just throw a tennis ball for hours for him. But then as far as like, while he's working I always keep a treat pouch on me because he is very food motivated. He will do anything for the littlest piece of kibble. So I keep kibble, but then I also keep bigger treats, like I'll keep little like training treats. And then I also keep some little peanut butter cups that I steal from our cafeteria cuz he loves peanut butter. He also really loves like Nugget ice, like the little tiny pieces of Nugget Ice. And we have a coffee shop on campus that knows that he loves ice and so they'll give him a cup of ice. Usually on Thursdays we go and he gets a cup of ice. And that's a big treat for him for the week. That's like, You did a great job. Here's your treat. Yeah, just little things like that. He has been really play motivated lately as well. So if I'm doing a training session, I try to make everything a game because he really enjoys that. And then sometimes I'll use throwing a tennis ball and letting him go fetch as a treat. Jill Brook: Very nice. Okay. Mary, how do you like to treat your dogs? Mary McNeight: So my dogs are pretty people motivated and there are a number of dogs in my household, so they this kinda sounds maybe stupid, but they really enjoy sitting in my lap if I sit down, they will like crawl into my lap and they will shove their head into my hand and be like, Pet me, pet me, pet me. And so they actually really enjoy physical touch and reward. A lot of dogs don't, but these dogs do in my household. And then also we give them Kongs as their rewards. So they have food inside the Kong as a reward, and then also going outside and playing ball and fetch with each other. Like these dogs scream. They're like, Oh my God, I get to go outside and play ball. So yeah, physical touch, Kongs to eat and B A L L is their favorite things to get rewarded with. Jill Brook: Well, I love hearing about Happy Dogs helping people, and Mary and Makenzie, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and your experiences with us today. We're really grateful to hear what you've been able to accomplish to make life better with POTS, using what sounds like the miracle, the true miracle of dogs. So please give all your pups some ear scratches or belly rubs from us, and we all thank you for sharing. Mary McNeight: Thank you for having me. Makenzie: yes. Thank you. Jill Brook: Okay, listeners, That's all for today. We'll be back next week, but until then, thank you for listening. Remember, you're not alone, and please join us again soon.

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