Do I really need a $10,000 service dog for meltdowns?

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Odetta
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28 Jul 2014, 9:31 am

I posted a while back wondering whether or not we should get a dog, and had mixed responses. Since then, after careful deliberation of the ramifications (except one), we have made the decision yes, to get a dog. We would prefer to go with an older rescue dog, from one of those organizations that fosters dogs so that I can have a better idea as to the dog's temperament.

Then I started thinking about S1's meltdowns. I got the bright idea that maybe a service dog would be better. And O-M-G, are they freaking expensive! There is no way we can afford to go that route.

So I have a newly diagnosed autistic child who is verbal and has been helped well with the IEP he's had for forever. The next two areas we are going to focus is social deficits and meltdowns. I don't think social deficits are going to negatively impact having a dog. I am concerned about his meltdowns, though. Will they freak a dog out? Are there certain breeds that are more patient than others? I don't want to turn a dog neurotic.

So my question is, if you have a kid that melts down (or you were one who melts down), and you have (had) a dog, how does (did) that work out?



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28 Jul 2014, 9:46 am

I am eighteen and I still have meltdowns but it depends because I've gotten mad at my dog and hit her when I'm upset, especially if she smells bad or barks and it bothers my sensory issues.


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bleh12345
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28 Jul 2014, 11:24 am

Odetta wrote:
I posted a while back wondering whether or not we should get a dog, and had mixed responses. Since then, after careful deliberation of the ramifications (except one), we have made the decision yes, to get a dog. We would prefer to go with an older rescue dog, from one of those organizations that fosters dogs so that I can have a better idea as to the dog's temperament.

Then I started thinking about S1's meltdowns. I got the bright idea that maybe a service dog would be better. And O-M-G, are they freaking expensive! There is no way we can afford to go that route.

So I have a newly diagnosed autistic child who is verbal and has been helped well with the IEP he's had for forever. The next two areas we are going to focus is social deficits and meltdowns. I don't think social deficits are going to negatively impact having a dog. I am concerned about his meltdowns, though. Will they freak a dog out? Are there certain breeds that are more patient than others? I don't want to turn a dog neurotic.

So my question is, if you have a kid that melts down (or you were one who melts down), and you have (had) a dog, how does (did) that work out?


Be careful that this service dog is legitimate, too. It would be best to find an independent party to go over what the dog knows while he/she is alone and have it recorded. People lie and scam the disabled.

I was not the lowest functioning when I was little, but I did have meltdowns. I sometimes hit my dog, but I would always go back and hold her. My dog was a rescue and never, EVER bit though. Getting an older rescue dog with a great temperament might be an option, as a lot of autistic people love animals and feel a connection with them. If you can find a dog that is good with toddlers and babies, this is a good sign. Babies and toddlers often pull ears, jump on them, and do all sorts of annoying things. If a dog has patience for that, it might be able to handle meltdowns.

Golden Retrievers bite more than people would think. If you could find a chihuahua with a great temperament, they tend to latch on to one person and will go through hell and back to protect and love you. With ANY dog, make absolutely sure that your son gives it more attention than the rest of you for the first few weeks. If the dog will end up loving one more than the other, it will have a greater chance of doing it to a person who give them the most attention, feeding, so on. Have the dog sleep in bed with your son if possible.

I've had four dogs who were the best EVER. The first was a German Shepard, and he was given up because my parents were stupid. These dogs need a lot of exercise or they will become destructive and rip up beds and other items.

The second was a rescue from a very bad abusive situation. She was a puppy still. She was a Lab/Australian Cattle Dog mix. She was amazing, even though she was traumatized. We loved her and she healed, but she was given up because my mother is still stupid and didn't understand what a great dog she had. She didn't like that our dog annoyed her by laying next to her. -_-

The third was a black lab, and OH MY GOD. The gentlest by far! If you can find a black lab with a great temperament, I recommend them. An older dog will still need exercise and mental stimulation, but it will need less than an active young adult or pup. My dog was abused by my step dad and STILL wouldn't hurt a fly, that poor thing. He was given up and lives on a farm and is as happy as can be the last time I heard.

The fourth is my beloved Chihuahua. He is the most loyal dog I've ever had. He really doesn't like many others aside from my husband and I (he's scared), but he is my best friend. We cuddle together all of the time, sleep together, eat together, and just hang out together. A word of caution: Small dogs are cute, but holding them 24/7 can cause severe separation anxiety.

With any dog, make sure they are well socialized. When you get your dog, it might not fully trust you at first. You need to have it around as many people as possible who know how to handle dogs. Take the dog lots of places after the first week. Introduce it to other dogs, but again, only after the first week or two. The dog needs time to adjust to his new home first.

They can be trained to be still when meltdowns happen. Make sure the dog isn't afraid of loud noises first, though. Also, please don't be like my parents and just give them up. Even if a dog has a slight behavior issue, it can often be corrected. Keep in mind some dogs develop severe anxiety and/or depression, so those issues won't necessarily mean the dog still won't be great for your son.

Make sure you get training ASAP. Always set up a schedule. This can prevent your dog from getting anxious, mean, or from developing certain issues. Make sure their needs are being met. If they do develop some issues, with the exception of dangerous behavior, please try to train the dog instead of just giving it away. Remember that your son will might get very attached and so will the dog. You don't want to separate them like a lot of other people do when they just are too lazy to train their dogs. I'm not saying you will do this, I just am thinking about all of the dogs in shelters. My own baby was from a shelter and he is doing great now aside from his anxiety.

There is another option. You could offer to foster a dog and see if you can find one that works out for your family. Sometimes, people find one and they just can never give them up and adopt.



Last edited by bleh12345 on 28 Jul 2014, 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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28 Jul 2014, 11:25 am

I think it depends more on the individual dog's temperament. My dog is very sweet, but also protective of me. She would never hurt me, but she's nervous by nature and sensitive to my moods, so whenever I am stressed out (which is quite often), she is stressed out. There are certainly dogs out there that don't give a hoot what kind of mood you are in though. It's not so much a breed question as the individual dog. This is from experience of being around literally hundreds of dogs in my lifetime--I have worked with rescue organizations in the past, and done my own share of fostering. I also worked in a vet. Some dogs have a reputation for being good with kids--golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Cocker spaniels. Most of the Cockers we had as patients at the vet were snappy and foul-tempered, and our absolute WORST patient (temperament-wise) was a purebred Lab. Pit bulls (American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, etc.) have a reputation right now for unpredictability and being dangerous, but for many years early last century, they were the preferred child's companion. They are also very sensitive, though, and may not be ideal for someone who has severe physical meltdowns.

My advice is to go through a rescue organization who fosters their dogs (not a kennel or shelter). You can also go through a reputable breeder. Either of these routes should be able to give you a solid idea of what the dog's temperament is, and their primary focus should be to place dogs in good, FOREVER, homes. This means that they will take the time and energy to get you a dog that fits your family's lifestyle and needs. Most of the "returned" animals I have seen were due to poor matches because the information gathering was not as thorough as it should have been. Be prepared to be questioned to the third degree! A good rescue organization or breeder will be extremely nosy regarding your home life, work hours, leisure activities, finances, etc. This is all necessary to make sure you are matched with a dog that is a good fit for your family. If they do not pry into your life, I would question how much they care about getting their dogs into good fits, versus just moving dogs out the door to boost numbers (or in some cases, income--sad but true). Be prepared for a home visit.

As far as rescue vs. breeder--the one big advantage is that a good breeder will not breed dogs that have inheritable diseases. If you choose a breed, do research on the kinds of diseases that breed is prone to. Some things can be checked for with the parents--things like hips (for hip dysplasia), eyes, etc. You should be asking the rescue or breeder just as many questions as they ask you. For rescues, ask how many animals they usually have at one time, how many they place in a year, how many volunteers they have working full time in crucial positions, how the dogs are socialized, what kind of return policy they have (they may become wary at this, but if the dog is not a good fit, you need to know!), if the animals come with a health guarantee, what vaccinations they have received. For breeders, ask to see both parents, if possible. Sometimes you can't meet the sire, but you should ALWAYS be able to meet the dam. Ask about the parents' health, the grandparents' health, and if any of these are no longer living, ask how old they were when they died and compare it to the breed's life expectancy. Ask about health guarantees and what kinds of genetic diseases have been ruled out. A good breeder, if they find out one of their pups has developed a genetic disease, will stop breeding all animals from that same litter as well as the dogs that pup descended from.

Far too often, I think people approach rescuing a dog like they do getting a job--they ask too few questions, and act like the rescue organization is always in the right. Rescue orgs are run by people, and people are not faultless. If at any time you feel uncomfortable about the rescue org or breeder, tell them that you don't think working with them was a good idea after all. Chances are good that you will have to be in touch with them for the rest of the animal's life, as most have a clause of first refusal, meaning that should you decide to give up the dog, they get first choice on whether or not to take it back. Ask about this, too--if they have this clause, but end up refusing animals who need to come back to them, look elsewhere. That should be a two-way street, imo.



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28 Jul 2014, 2:10 pm

No, you don't need one, and yes, meltdowns or any other display of extreme emotions will probably will freak the dog out.



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28 Jul 2014, 2:39 pm

starkid wrote:
No, you don't need one, and yes, meltdowns or any other display of extreme emotions will probably will freak the dog out.
My dog is cool, but he does get nervous. He chooses to hide under the bed and watch me until I'm done. Then he comes out and comforts me. If I can manage not to completely melt down and scream/throw things/roll on the floor or whatever, he will jump on my lap and lick me to try and help.

But then again, a dog doing that might cause more of a meltdown. :[



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28 Jul 2014, 2:53 pm

Train your own.


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28 Jul 2014, 6:31 pm

Services dogs are really expensive, but it might be worth looking into different scholarships and funding sources to see if you could go that route.

Additionally, Medicaid recipients may be eligible for assistive technology grants to cover the expense of the service dog. Medicaid also offers interest free or low interest loans to cover the purchase price of a service dog. All service dog expenses are considered health related and can be deducted from income pre-tax.

http://nationalautismassociation.org/fa ... ping-hand/

http://caninesforkids.org/change-a-life/scholarship/

http://katiestout.org/

http://www.assistancedogunitedcampaign. ... chers.html

http://www.act-today.org/act-today-grant-program.php



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28 Jul 2014, 6:51 pm

I don't anything about dogs (except what I've learned about taking care of ours), but I can tell you that our service dog is the single best purchase I've ever made in my entire life, by a long shot.

We got our dog when my boys were 6 and 8, specifically for the 6 year old. He also has epilepsy so the dog was trained to alert us if he's having a seizure, but also if he bolts (because he does quite frequently). But more so than that, the dog makes going out in public a lot easier because my son stays with him for the most part (I don't know why, he just does). He used to constantly be trying to let go of my hand and run into traffic (he's magnetically attracted to traffic, it's ridiculous), or lie on the ground... Now he walks with me. Even now, 6 years later- no dog- he won't walk. The dog is also fantastic for calming him down because he has major issues with changes in scenery or routine, and the dog is a constant thing. He knows the dog will be there so at least one thing will be the same.

I don't like dogs (I'm scared of dogs) so I couldn't handle training a dog anyway, but I also don't think getting an untrained dog would have worked as well for them. With the service dog process, we met the dog several times, prior to bringing him home, and my kids were able to bond with the dog without him "invading" their space (they're kinda territorial about their home...). I think if we'd just brought him home and he was running around breaking everything and peeing on the floor and barking... they wouldn't have liked him at all. It was important that he was always trained and calm. But I don't know if you need the dog for the same purposes that we do... I think getting a regular dog would also work for other purposes...

Anyway, we got some funding for our dog, and also did some fundraising, so we didn't end up paying it all (which we wouldn't have been able to do).


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29 Jul 2014, 8:40 am

We have 3 adopted dogs. A purebred mutt, a doxle, and a chihuahua.

Our mutt has been the most amazing dog ever! He's made a huge difference in each of my girls lives. When my little one (with aspergers) would have a meltdown he would sit patiently with her. He is over 13 now so he's got dementia (has a tendency to get lost in the yard, etc.) but is still so calm with her. He's always been there for all the girls regardless of whats going on and he was always very good at knowing when any of us where struggling/upset. Nothing like a 35lb dog coming over just to sit with you.

Our Doxle is also an amazing dog. She is younger (under 2) but is very patient with the girls. She had a good role model from the mutt. She is more hyper and sometimes when the younger two dogs play they will bark which can upset my little girl. However she will stop and she will give love when she knows my little one is upset. Meltdowns have only made her want to be close to my daughter.

The chihuahua is a chihuahua. Not my favorite breed. Think cat like. He will be with you when he wants and the rest of the day is mostly spent napping. (He was a guilt dog after my husband's many deployments... I wanted a nice big dog, kids wanted itty bitty.... I lost). I do like him but he is most definitely not my favorite. But he is good with the kids and when he's done he goes to a kennel to nap (kennels are off limits to the kids to provide the dogs with their own safe havens)

Has your child been around a lot of dogs? (especially barking ones?). Like another poster said an older dog would probably be best if you are looking to adopt. It might take alot of searching but we've always had the best luck with our rescue dogs. I honestly can not imagine going thru all the moves and deployments without our mutt.



Odetta
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29 Jul 2014, 9:14 am

Thank you for all of your replies. S1 does not like "mean" dogs, which I interpret to mean aggressive dogs. He likes, but is shy of, the neighbor's dog, because the dog is so friendly he barks and tries to jump on you when he sees you. The owner is good and pulls him back, though, and once the dog is in control, he goes right up to him.

We are definitely getting an older dog. I've been looking at rescue organizations in our area. I did find one dog that was specifically described as impervious to loud noises, which I thought would be perfect, but they want him to go to a home that has another dog to keep him company. I am actually intimidated at trying to adopt a dog - the process is similar to adopting a child.



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29 Jul 2014, 2:50 pm

Odetta wrote:
Thank you for all of your replies. S1 does not like "mean" dogs, which I interpret to mean aggressive dogs. He likes, but is shy of, the neighbor's dog, because the dog is so friendly he barks and tries to jump on you when he sees you. The owner is good and pulls him back, though, and once the dog is in control, he goes right up to him.

We are definitely getting an older dog. I've been looking at rescue organizations in our area. I did find one dog that was specifically described as impervious to loud noises, which I thought would be perfect, but they want him to go to a home that has another dog to keep him company. I am actually intimidated at trying to adopt a dog - the process is similar to adopting a child.


I am so glad that you posted this thread. We have been going back and forth on whether to get a service dog for our son, too, and this thread has really helped, especially the info on Medicaid assistance. The last time I called around, a service dog costs around $15000 here. I am trying to fund raise at least $5000 of that, and make up the rest via loans or personal gifts from family (who have promised around $2500 so far).

I have another problem / concern with getting a dog which is that our son really ignores most people / animals / things in his environment. My neighbour has a very friendly and sweet yellow lab. She is HUGE, very friendly, and really loves my boy. She is forever wagging her tail and trying to interact with him, but he is very mean to her, including pinching her nose (ouch) when she sniffs him ! When he does mistreat her, all she does is to whine and back off (for all of 2 minutes), after which she always returns, wagging her tail, and whining *at him* again, almost as if asking him why he is so mean to her when she just wants to play ? I love that dog, but he completely ignores her. He has never made eye contact with her, and never ever acknowledged her presence, even when she is right there in front of him ! When she is lying down, he even tries to walk right over / on top of her - it is as if he doesn't see her ?

So I don't know if we would get any real benefit from a service dog that we pay through our noses for, if all he is going to do is completely and totally ignore him or her ? Has anyone here had a child who ignored their service dog initially but has now bonded well with him or her ?



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29 Jul 2014, 5:53 pm

HisMom wrote:
I have another problem / concern with getting a dog which is that our son really ignores most people / animals / things in his environment. My neighbour has a very friendly and sweet yellow lab. She is HUGE, very friendly, and really loves my boy. She is forever wagging her tail and trying to interact with him, but he is very mean to her, including pinching her nose (ouch) when she sniffs him ! When he does mistreat her, all she does is to whine and back off (for all of 2 minutes), after which she always returns, wagging her tail, and whining *at him* again, almost as if asking him why he is so mean to her when she just wants to play ? I love that dog, but he completely ignores her. He has never made eye contact with her, and never ever acknowledged her presence, even when she is right there in front of him ! When she is lying down, he even tries to walk right over / on top of her - it is as if he doesn't see her ?

So I don't know if we would get any real benefit from a service dog that we pay through our noses for, if all he is going to do is completely and totally ignore him or her ? Has anyone here had a child who ignored their service dog initially but has now bonded well with him or her ?


My older son is like that. He doesn't have an interest in animals (well, except one time we went to a zoo and he was fascinated by the monkeys, but then we went back and he couldn't care less... I digress), and when we got the dog, he didn't really care. He tends to ignore everything... we didn't have high hopes for him with the dog either (like I said, we got the dog specifically for my younger son, not him). Anyway, we've had the dog for 6 years now, and he's still not super attached to the dog like my other son is... BUT... I think it was last year, he signed for the first time and the only time a spontaneous 2-word request, and that request was "More dog" when the dog was at the vet. The dog is almost always with us; it was unusual that he wasn't there, so I think my son was trying to say "Where is the dog?". I'm convinced he was, but of course nobody believes me because he hasn't signed anything that complex since, and also "More dog" doesn't actually make that much sense... :lol:

He's not super attached, but he does have a subtle relationship with him. He can sit with the dog and have company, but not be expected to interact. While in my ideal world, he would interact with the dog, I think it's nice for him to have a relationship that doesn't require strenuous interaction because all of his other ones do. ( edit ) My son doesn't really express things enthusiastically. Even if he realy does love something, his reaction will still be pretty flat. So I think it's likely that he is attached, but he just doesn't express it in a typical way.

In terms of being mean to the dog... that shows that your son DOES acknowledge the dog! It's curiosity: "if I do this, what will he do?". This is something that we had to work on a lot, especially with my younger son, but with both of them. We say "Gentle touch"! They're fine with him now, but it did take a while. We took some courses with the organisation that the dog came from that were run by people who work with autistic children and dogs in animal therapy, which helped.

-Having a difficult time getting WP to do what I want, hence multiple edits..


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29 Jul 2014, 6:06 pm

WelcomeToHolland wrote:
HisMom wrote:
I have another problem / concern with getting a dog which is that our son really ignores most people / animals / things in his environment. My neighbour has a very friendly and sweet yellow lab. She is HUGE, very friendly, and really loves my boy. She is forever wagging her tail and trying to interact with him, but he is very mean to her, including pinching her nose (ouch) when she sniffs him ! When he does mistreat her, all she does is to whine and back off (for all of 2 minutes), after which she always returns, wagging her tail, and whining *at him* again, almost as if asking him why he is so mean to her when she just wants to play ? I love that dog, but he completely ignores her. He has never made eye contact with her, and never ever acknowledged her presence, even when she is right there in front of him ! When she is lying down, he even tries to walk right over / on top of her - it is as if he doesn't see her ?

So I don't know if we would get any real benefit from a service dog that we pay through our noses for, if all he is going to do is completely and totally ignore him or her ? Has anyone here had a child who ignored their service dog initially but has now bonded well with him or her ?


My older son is like that. He doesn't have an interest in animals (well, except one time we went to a zoo and he was fascinated by the monkeys, but then we went back and he couldn't care less... I digress), and when we got the dog, he didn't really care. He tends to ignore everything... we didn't have high hopes for him with the dog either (like I said, we got the dog specifically for my younger son, not him). Anyway, we've had the dog for 6 years now, and he's still not super attached to the dog like my other son is... BUT... I think it was last year, he signed for the first time and the only time a spontaneous 2-word request, and that request was "More dog" when the dog was at the vet. The dog is almost always with us; it was unusual that he wasn't there, so I think my son was trying to say "Where is the dog?". I'm convinced he was, but of course nobody believes me because he hasn't signed anything that complex since, and also "More dog" doesn't actually make that much sense... :lol:

He's not super attached, but he does have a subtle relationship with him. He can sit with the dog and have company, but not be expected to interact. While in my ideal world, he would interact with the dog, I think it's nice for him to have a relationship that doesn't require strenuous interaction because all of his other ones do. ( edit ) My son doesn't really express things enthusiastically. Even if he realy does love something, his reaction will still be pretty flat. So I think it's likely that he is attached, but he just doesn't express it in a typical way.

In terms of being mean to the dog... that shows that your son DOES acknowledge the dog! It's curiosity: "if I do this, what will he do?". This is something that we had to work on a lot, especially with my younger son, but with both of them. We say "Gentle touch"! They're fine with him now, but it did take a while. We took some courses with the organisation that the dog came from that were run by people who work with autistic children and dogs in animal therapy, which helped.

-Having a difficult time getting WP to do what I want, hence multiple edits..


Yeah, my son is like that, too. Except for his hyperactivity, he is pretty much mellow affect.

Regarding acknowledging the dog because he is mean to her - I don't think that is it. I think he gets angry because she is in HIS space, and he probably does not like / want to be sniffed at and pinching her nose is the only way that he can "tell" her to leave him alone. When she is visiting us but not really interacting with him in an "in your face" way, he totally ignores her, even stepping on her if we aren't careful. It is almost as if he does not even see her !

Do you think that we should still get a service dog ? I am really confused because these dogs aren't cheap by any stretch of imagination, and I don't want to flush $15,000 down the drain. If he would develop a relatonship with her, it would be worth a shot, but so far, I don't see any evidence that he will want anything to do with ANY animal in the house.



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29 Jul 2014, 6:13 pm

HisMom wrote:
Do you think that we should still get a service dog ? I am really confused because these dogs aren't cheap by any stretch of imagination, and I don't want to flush $15,000 down the drain. If he would develop a relatonship with her, it would be worth a shot, but so far, I don't see any evidence that he will want anything to do with ANY animal in the house.


I don't know- it's hard to say. Has he done any animal therapy? Maybe you could start with that and see how it goes (and also ask someone there who works with your son about what they think, because they've seen many kids, not just their own, which could be good insight). I know what you mean about "in his space"; mine will respond like that too (*slap* 8O ) but not so much with the dog, mostly with humans.


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29 Jul 2014, 6:22 pm

WelcomeToHolland wrote:
HisMom wrote:
Do you think that we should still get a service dog ? I am really confused because these dogs aren't cheap by any stretch of imagination, and I don't want to flush $15,000 down the drain. If he would develop a relatonship with her, it would be worth a shot, but so far, I don't see any evidence that he will want anything to do with ANY animal in the house.


I don't know- it's hard to say. Has he done any animal therapy? Maybe you could start with that and see how it goes (and also ask someone there who works with your son about what they think, because they've seen many kids, not just their own, which could be good insight). I know what you mean about "in his space"; mine will respond like that too (*slap* 8O ) but not so much with the dog, mostly with humans.


Well, interesting you should ask about "animal therapy" ! There is a farm near where I live that allows children with special needs to come in weekly for an hour to tend to their animals. We took him there last month and he couldn't care less about the animals at all, including the friendly horses and the cattle. UGH. He just ignored them and I had to really stop myself from crying because I am an animal lover and my boy just did not seem to care at all !

We are going to try again. Maybe I will get my husband to take him this time, as I get too emotional at these "outings" (which are not helping him at all). Do you think trained service animals know how to interact with our kids than just a "regular" dog like my neighbour's lab ?