An Intro to Service Dogs – The Hounds of Daksterville

Welcome to the Hounds of Daksterville, where I’ll be documenting my journey into the world of service dogs. I’m going to be covering everything from overall process, cost, laws, interviews with service dog trainers, myths & truths, and so much more. Today, I’m going to give you an intro to the basics and then a brief overview of what to expect next time!

Over the past few years I’ve been taking steps to deal with anxiety and depression such as medication, therapy, medication, support systems, did I mention medication? But nothing has worked 100%. In December, I had a breakdown that was severe enough to finally make me realize I couldn’t do this alone anymore. I needed a superhero that could hang out with me 24/7 and be my support.

Enter Bakster.

Bakster Sullivan \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Bakster Sullivan \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Thanks to a loving husband and son, I’ve never been alone, but neither of them can go to work with me or help me do regular adulting stuff but as a trained service dog, Bakster can.

What is a service dog?

Since I live in the United States, I have to go by the laws in place thanks to the America’s with Disability Act. The ADA has it all spelled out:

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the personís disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Translation: A service animal must provide a service and is not simply there for comfort.

In my case, Bakster could help me do any number of things from reminding me to take my medication, alerting me when my anxiety starts to kick in, and detecting an oncoming migraine. Before he can go out in public with me though, he has to be properly trained for public access and to perform the tasks I need him to do.

How much does it cost?

Normally training can cost over $25,000 depending on the service the dog provides and how the dog gets trained (I’ll wait while you pick your jaw up off the floor). That doesn’t include the cost of the pup and the time it takes to get them to trainable age (usually 6+ months).

Thankfully, there are organizations that work with people with disabilities that can help cut down the cost. I was fortunate enough to find a few of those organizations in my area.

Dakster and Bakster \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Dakster and Bakster \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Bakster is all excited to become my superhero and since it’s rather expensive, he started a GoFund Me to raise the money we need to get trained. Please consider checking it out and sharing or donating to our cause.

While we raise the funds I’m excited to learn more about the journey we are starting and I’ll be documenting all that I learn here on GeekMom from the ups to the downs to the successes and mistakes.

So stay tuned for more and learn along with me and Bakster as we take these first steps into a new life together.

Next on The Hounds of Daksterville…

I’ll be interviewing Kiba the Cosplay Corgi and his mom and handler, Nicole, about their experience as a cosplaying/service dog team.

Is there something you want to know about service dogs? Leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to include it in a future column.