Anyone out there have a SERVICE DOG for MS, I need advice...

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Diane D.
Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 103
   Posted 6/7/2012 11:43 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you for responding. First of all, I don't have MS but I love HealingWell and come for other disease forums.
BUT I am dealing with a woman who has a puppy she bought from me. She has MS and has claimed that the dog (8 months old) has Hip Dysplasia and won't qualify to be a Service Dog for her. I agreed to help her as much as I could.
But she's becoming a bit demanding and she's playing the pity card too often. I've been patient with her...very understanding. She doesn't have a lot of money but says she does lots of "Fundraising" to get what she needs. But now this formerly sweet and gentle woman is turning on me! I don't want to bore you with a lot of details so I'll just leave it at that.
OH...both she and her vet are not getting the x-rays to confirm the diagnosis which is required in my health guarantee. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm smelling a "rat" but trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and continuing to be gracious and understanding with her.
My Questions are...
1. Is it common for MS patients to have Service Dogs? She says she needs one for balance, like her life depended upon it.
2. Rather than getting fundraising help to get the x-rays, she is going on and on (in emails) about the high cost of already trained adult service dogs, ($6000) the long waiting lists, and the red tape. eyes Is it really that difficult???
Forgive me if I seem heartless, I am really a very nice person. But I am unfamilar with MS. I don't have the money she's asking for nor am I required by the "Puppy Lemon Laws" to do anything for her. But I still want to help her...

Diane D.
Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 103
   Posted 6/7/2012 3:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you for your response, I appreciate any help from the MS  acommunity. Im sad that she has to deal with this, that ANYONE has to deal with this. But she has insulted people that are praying for her complaining that their prayers haven't worked yet and compairing my "prayer chain" to another, I guess more effective ($ and food) prayer chain. But that's another subject.
As a hobbie breeder, I don't specifically sell to those in need of assistance dogs and I make no provisions in my health guarantee for them. I was "discovered" by a trainer to have Labs with EXCELLENT temperaments and physical traits for their needs. Legally, I don't have to do anything for her unless the dog has to be put down. And so far I've seen nothing but e-mails stating her woes with the dog. But morally, I still want to help her. If indeed she "needs" help, there I go smelling that rat again.
I've saved all her e-mails and have been patiently letting her go on and on without me doing anything moneywise. I've been "listening" to her ramble on.
Do you, or anyone out there, know how prevalent assistance dogs are, how effect they actually are for people with MS when, as you suggested a walking brace might be a better option for her. Certainly a CHEAPER option for sure!!
She has, so she says, trainers and breeders and a Disabled Person's Help Center and who knows who else behind her. Whereas I'm just single mom me...
And she seems to be of the "I'm disabled so I'm entitled everything" mentality as she complained that no one sent her money and God wasn't working fast enough for her. GOOD GRIEF! She has bizzar reactions like that and then explains that she has brain damage as an excuse for being a you-know-what.
In person, she is a delightful woman. Prior to all this she was pleasant and responcible in her payments to me and a lovely friend as we e-mailed back and forth...Sigh. I'm just playing it cool with her and being supportive like a good breeder would. But I tell you, Mayflower, I smell a rat.
Does anyone else??? I don't want to jump to conclusions but I also want to be wise and cover my butt.

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 48
   Posted 6/7/2012 7:19 PM (GMT -6)   
When I lived in Las Vegas a few years ago, we had a Pit Bull named Koda. He wasn't a service dog, but he would let me put my hand on his back and walk with me. He was good like that, but I never trained him or anything. In fact, I got him from "Myspace classifyed, PETS". He was real proctive and he did help me go down the stairs. When I was telling this to another lady at Starbucks, she did say that I could get a service dog because of MS, but that was a while ago. I haven't heard really that much about it.

Diane D.
Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 103
   Posted 6/7/2012 7:54 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm thinking that she's wanting (demanding via whining) a Luxury stretch Lomo (service dog) to fulfill her needs when a little Honda car (walking frame) will do. I'm sorry, that's mean...but you get my point? I'm sure that not everyone NEEDS a special dog. Heck, she doesn't even have a fenced yard for the dog. She's looking for someone to "donate" fencing....
I know not all of you are familiar with dog breeding but you are familar with the needs of MS patients. Are there MS patients out there who do just fine without the benefits of a $6000 dog? I wonder who told her that she had to have a dog...She's not a dog person to begin with. 
I sold her the dog because I trusted the judgement of the assistance dog people. The woman said she bought the dog for the same reason. Hmmmm....maybe my beef, OUR beef should be with them.  

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/16/2012 8:19 AM (GMT -6)   
Dear Diane,

I have MS and currently training my own service dog. First a little education on Multiple Sclerosis. MS is different for each person who has this disease since it depends on the location of the lesions on the brain and spine. MS may cause heat sensitivity, paralysis, weakness, vision loss, brain fog, depression and so much more. The disease is progressive with no known cure.

1. Is it common for MS patients to have Service Dogs? She says she needs one for balance, like her life depended upon it. Yes, it is common for MS patients to have Service Dogs.

2. Rather than getting fundraising help to get the x-rays, she is going on and on (in emails) about the high cost of already trained adult service dogs, ($6000) the long waiting lists, and the red tape. Is it really that difficult??? Yes, it is very difficult to get a trained Service Dog from an organization since there is at least a 2 yr waiting list especially with the high demand of Veterans in need of a Service Dogs. The cost of a trained service dog is actually about $ 20,000.

You sound like a good natured person. If she can't afford the vet bill for an x-ray how can she afford to train or provide for the dog? Training your own service animal is not an easy task to do when disabled and is expensive. Perhaps she is overwhelmed with the costs and the lack of ability to train her dog. If this is the case and she don't want the dog then she can give it back to you. Did she sign your health guarantee? If so, I would have her provide you the x-rays to confirm the diagnosis. If she gives you a hard time ask her how her diagnosis was confirmed.

I wish you well with your situation.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 3553
   Posted 6/16/2012 11:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Excellent post. This is very informative and helpful. Thank you for sharing.
Diagnosed with MS July 2006

I have no lesions on my soul and so I live with no limits.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2012
Total Posts : 44
   Posted 7/23/2012 2:26 PM (GMT -6)   
It is difficult to obtain a trained service dog. The wait lists are long, especially depending on the need (i.e. blind, deaf, etc.). I work in veterinary medicine.

Typically the average dog owner cannot properly train a service dog, and it would be very difficult for someone with a disability to have the time and energy to complete the needed steps to me a certified service dog.

There are therapy dogs--they do not get the same respect as the service dogs and aren't acceptable with the ADA laws (i.e. you can take a service dog into a restaurant, not a therapy dog).

As far as the hips go, I wasn't aware that service dogs had to have perfect hips. We have people rescue occasionally from our shelter and turn a shelter dog into a service dog...perhaps she is saying that they are required to have OFA films? The Orthopedic Foundation of America can 'grade' the hips. Animals have to be anesthetized to take OFA films because of the nature of the positioning.

Lastly, you are the don't have to sell her a puppy. They are your can sell them to who you want.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2011
Total Posts : 3393
   Posted 7/30/2012 10:59 AM (GMT -6)   
I read all this and I'm confused.
What does she want? Does she want to return the dog and you to reimburse her? If so, I would do that in your case, to ger her off your back.

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/29/2013 12:59 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Diane D
I have MS and was disheartened to read your post. I recently took on a 2 and 1/2 year old Great Dane! She is not a service dog, however gives me confidence to be out by myself in my mobility scooter. My balance is quite poor, for that I use a rollator (bit like a walking frame with wheels!) or walking stick - that's what the aids are for! I'm confused as to how hip dysplasia can be accurately diagnosed without x-ray? Take the puppy back and refund her money. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who would love a new puppy and the wonderful support you offering as a breeder. I came across your article as I was looking for ways to tackle some aspects of dog training when having a disabled owner. I find owning a large breed dog easier for me and I'm certainly not going to be tripping over her! All the best in resolving this situation.

Pianeta (based in UK)

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/12/2013 1:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Diane,
I completely understand your frustration, especially when you seemilngly have been nothing but accomodating.  In addition to the information others have provided you, it may help to explain exactly what "balance service dogs" are used for and why they are so important for people living with MS.
Although the main purpose of a balance dog is provide balance (go figure) it may not be in the way you are thinking.  People with MS often have trouble getting up out of chairs due to pain, weakness, or numbness.  This is why balance dogs are always medium - large breed dogs and also why hip dysplasia may disqualify a dog from being a balance assistance service dog.  Balance dogs often stand infront of their owners and allow them to put weight on their shoulders and rear, acting as a stabilizer while they rise from a sitting position.  Also, sometimes it is quite beneficial to have a guide.  For example, I suffer from dizzy spells that make me sometimes seem as if I'm drunk and can't walk a straight line.  However, if I have something to follow, such as a wall or a large breed dog walking against me, it allows me to lead a more normal life.  This is also true of MS patients who have optic neuritis in which visual empairments occur.   
In addition to providing assistance in standing, consider the things a service dog may help with in ways that a walker or cane cannot.  If balance is an issue, a dog can retrieve items dropped on the floor or retrieve things from a different level of the house.  Likewise, many service dogs are trained to detect the mood and alertness of their owners.  For persons with MS, this can be critical as we deal with chronic, severe fatigue.  I have read of service dogs who can detect when their owner is getting fatigued and nudge them toward a seat or alert someone for help. 
I do feel as if the woman you are dealing with is in way over her head.  Continue to pray for her, but also be firm in what you can and cannot help her with.  She should have known that she would need a dog with a 100% health guarantee, especially if she was under the advice of a trainer.  I wish you the best!  I hope I've helped give you a bit of insight into what she may be looking for and how service dogs can be helpful for people with MS. 
Is it possible to give her a new puppy from another litter in exchange for the return of the puppy she already has? 

New Member

Date Joined Dec 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 12/5/2013 10:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Just sharing my 2 cents worth - better late than never!

As already stated, the many symptoms of MS are are as varied as the individuals. So are the types, levels/amount of disability. Many are also cognitively affected, and for me, cognition is the most frustrating and disabling aspect of MS. Without going into too much details I can become lost in the most familiar surroundings and my service dog leads me home or to known friends, on command. Yes, she is trained (tested, proven and certified) to perform many important and expected tasks. She helps me to maintain an active and involved lifestyle and for me, the most valuable service is bring me home when needed.

She does brace when helping to "get up" and when climbing stairs and she need not "carry" my weight. She need only brace. While I would want a strong and steady "Mobility Dog" as a service dog, the Lab may be fine BUT (my disclaimer), I am not a Vet and I believe most reputable Vets and Service Dog training organizations would encourage (if not insist) that the potential service dog be strong and healthy.

Weather the dog is already trained or not, the owner will still need to train his/her dog to service the owners special needs. MS is a progressive disease and the training (work) is ongoing. Responsibility! You would be doing both yourself and your Lab a service by taking it back as someone previously said, there are many (and far better) homes to place it in.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 388
   Posted 12/12/2013 2:12 PM (GMT -6)   
I too am a bit late with comments, but one needs not get caught up inthe drama of this.  Or create more.  she It would appear that you sold her the dog - yes...  and now after selling the dog, hip problems have occurred or been detected...yes?  Before any actually training has taken place...yes?
give her money back, call it a day.

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/27/2014 3:59 PM (GMT -6)   
I know this is late but just saw the message. I have MS but to let you know a large dog is useful for balance issues. I use my labrador for that purpose.She is from a shelter where I volunteered. Trained her to help me plus obedience training.You are not responsible for that woman's lack of interest in the dog. Having a service dog requires a love of dogs,training
and commitment for their health and comfort. Best decision I made to
use her and she gives me the assistance I need. Uncomplaining by the way that I why I like her.
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