Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Taking the Fear Out of Seizure Disorder

At Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, our goal is to ensure that those living with a  disability or illness have a chance at living a full, meaningful life. We also understand that any illness, whether large or small, can get in the way of achieving this. Through our service dogs, we are able to complete our mission in providing safety and independence to those who suffer from seizure disorder. Read to learn how you can find comfort through seizure disorder.

What is Seizure Disorder?

Seizure disorder is characterized as an invisible illness, meaning it is a disability that is not apparent to the general public. It is a condition where uncontrolled electrical activity occurs in the brain. During a seizure, uncontrollable shaking can occur, as well as unconsciousness and unawareness. Seizures can be unpredictable, causing the person affected by the disorder harm in any environment, whether publicly or at home. Because they can occur at unexpected times, those who suffer from it find themselves in fear, anxiety and a sense of a loss of control. Living with seizure disorder can be a hardship not only for the person affected but for their loved ones as well. The care worry and fear for your loved one can be extensive.

How to Combat Fear in Seizure Disorder

When there is no way around an invisible illness, seizure response dogs provide hope and security for those looking to lead a normal life free from fear. They are fully trained to give those with seizure disorder protection during and after a seizure. Some benefits of seizure response dogs include:
  • Activating a life alert system and retrieving help during a seizure
  • Guarding their handler in a public setting during a seizure
  • Stimulating their handler if they fall unconscious

Those with invisible illness and their loved ones carry a fear that danger might strike in a location where help can not be found. With a service dog, you know you are protected from the damaging effects of seizure disorder. When leading a full life through public events, school, grocery shopping and more, fear of the effects of seizures lessens with a service dog.

More About SDWR Seizure Response Dogs

The benefits of seizure response dogs doesn’t end there. Yes, you will always find physical protection through your service dog. You will also be surprised that your seizure dog provides a great, satisfying sense of companionship and independence. With a friend with you by your side, loving and protecting you, feeling happiness is not hard. The isolation one may feel through living with an invisible illness can always be combated with the loving nature of a SDWR service dog. As service dog providers, SDWR would also like to note that seizure response dogs do not alert for seizure, they help in the time of need and after a seizure has occurred.  

To learn more about seizure dogs for kids and adults, contact Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers today.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Another Reason to Love SDWR Diabetic Alert Dogs

Alert dogs for Diabetics are a miracle for those affected by diabetes. Whether you’re directly affected by diabetes or are involved in diabetes care, a Diabetic Alert Dog can and will change your life. At SDWR, we stand by that statement. Day in and day out, our service dogs provide safety to the thousands of families who suffer alongside this invisible disease. And more than ever, we receive stories like these that remind us why we love our Diabetic Alert Dogs. Read on to find how much this family cherishes their beloved service dog, Blossom:
“Blossom had an AWESOME day! She did 3/4 alerts – and the one she missed was a 203 at dinnertime. As crazy as it was in the house and with me in the kitchen, I’m willing to bet it was me that missed the alert – not Blossom! : )
Tonight Kaci tested at bedtime (8:09pm) at 100. Blossom always goes to Kaci’s room at 8pm and begs to be put up on her bed – but not tonight. She was not going to bed until I fixed her girl! Of course, being the slow learner that I am (and a know-it-all!) I was sure Kaci was fine since she had dinner an hour ago and her blood sugar should be starting to rise. She was definitely on her way up, right? Wrong!
Blossom just didn’t seem tired. We played with her, took her on a walk, but she still wouldn’t settle down. Finally, Kaci was so tired that we decided to just put both of them to bed and see if Blossom would settle in. Not happening – she yipped and fidgeted all over the bed. At 8:40, I had Kaci test – 49! Kaci drank some juice and I put both of them back to bed. When I went in to retest at 9pm, Kaci was 110 and both girls were sleeping peacefully. Blossom, I love you!!”
The peace and happiness our service dogs provide is unmatched. As we know, diabetes doesn’t have to be a burden. Despite what you may have seen through diabetes care, safety and protection from dangerous highs and lows is a possibility. To begin, we choose only pups with the highest scent capabilities and best temperament. Our unique and extensive training program allows us to train service dogs to their best potential. With their countless benefits, there’s no reason not to love our Diabetic Alert Dogs.

If you want to learn more about our alert dogs for diabetics, contact SDWR today.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Don't Let an Invisible Illness Hold You Down

The daily life of an individual affected by an invisible illness such as diabetes, autism or seizure disorder is complicated. The term ‘invisible illness’ holds true to it’s name - there are so many layers of struggles that others’ don’t actually see in your disease. Invisible illnesses cause fear and isolation not only to those directly affected by it, but to family members and loved ones as well. Constant worry is always at the back of your mind.

At SDWR, our greatest concern is that individuals allow their invisible illness to hold them back from living a full life. These worries and concerns start to disappear as handlers and their families find safety, security and trust in their service dog. Keep reading to learn how service dogs provide an amazing difference.

Combating the Dangers of an Invisible Illness

Therapy dogs are trained to lessen the dangers that come with an invisible illness. Here are a few examples of how therapy dogs can keep you or your child safe:

  • Diabetic Alert Dogs alert diabetics for sharp highs and lows and retrieve medications.
  • An Autism Service Dog keeps autistic children from running away and engaging in harmful behavior.
  • Seizure Response Dogs keep their handler safe in public situations, in the case of a seizure. They are also capable of retrieving food and medication after a seizure.

These are all just examples of what a therapy dog is capable of. There are many more benefits of having a service dog. However, not all benefits are seen by the eye. Service dogs also help those with invisible illness find companionship and more chances for social interaction, helping foster a stronger upbringing for those with invisible illness.

Peace and Independence Aren’t Far Away

Our service dogs have proven to be a miracle for those with an invisible illness. Over the years, we’ve seen therapy dogs rekindle the spark that those with invisible illness and their families have lost through extensive fear, worry and care. No longer do you have to worry about your child getting into danger in public because of his or her invisible disease. With your assistant dog, you will find a peace of mind letting him or her be independent and carry out a normal life.

Through their expert training, acute senses and compassionate nature, service dogs provide an amazing difference in the lives of those with invisible illness and their families. The dangers, fears and isolation are lessened, as peace and independence are enhanced.  Living a full life is indeed an option despite invisible illness. If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about SDWR’s service dogs, please contact us today.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SDWR Celebrating Autism Awareness Month

National Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month and Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers (SDWR) is joining thousands across the nation to celebrate. NAAM has been recognized since the 1970’s and is a great opportunity to educate people about Autism and issues within the Autism community. The demands of living with a person with autism are great, and families frequently experience high levels of stress but there are some great organizations that provide support like SDWR.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1 in every 68 children are identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Awareness Month is an important opportunity for people to learn more about Autism and some of the means of support available to families dealing with Autism. SDWR is a 501(c)(3) Non Profit that provides Service Dogs for people with Autism. The idea of having a service dog for autism may be new to you, so let’s take a look at how they can be helpful.

SDWR’s Autism Assistance Dogs are unique because unlike a guide dog who help with physical tasks the autism assistance dog provides emotional support.

Children living with Autism can display some of the following behaviors:
     No Real Fear of Danger
     Little or no eye contact
     Difficulty in mixing with others

How An Autism Assistance Dog Can Help

Since many children with Autism have no real fear of danger personal safety is an important concern as a parent. SDWR’s Autism Assistance Dogs provide a special level of support and safety for Autistic children especially when out in public spaces. Our Autism Assistance dogs can wear a harness which the Autistic child can be tethered to which will prevent the child from bolting in public.

Children living with Autism will often have difficulty mixing with others and making eye contact but a trained assistance dog can be the autistic child's link to the world around. A service dog being present with the child will help to alert the public that this child has special needs.  A SDWR Assistance Dog can provide so much support through unconditional love and patience that not only help the child but also provide parents with a sense of relief and security.

Autism Awareness Month Resources

Being a parent of an Autistic child can certainly be challenging and at time stressful but thankfully SDWR and other great organizations are here to provide support for you on your journey. You have probably already considered getting a specially trained Autism Assistance Dog as they provide such tremendous support to the child living with autism as well the parents of the child so if you have any questions we would love to provide you with further support. Since April is Autism Awareness Month we want to share a few resources that will be helpful for you if you are looking for information about Autism.

Autism Resources
1.    For More Information about SDWR’s Autism Assistance Dogs Click Here.
2.    Autism Speaks
3.    Autism Society - Improving The Lives of All Affected by Autism

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Preventing the Panic of PTSD

Dogs can do miraculous things.

Over the last 15 years there has really been extensive research into Service Dogs for PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, and to what degree they can provide assistance to their handlers. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that ranges in severity and is different for each individual. It is among one of the "invisible illnesses" we are passionate about bringing light to. In persons with PTSD, emotional reactivity is distorted as a result of a traumatic event. Many people associate PTSD with members of the military who have braved life-threatening conditions and faced realities that are unimaginable.  While service members make up a large population of persons with PTSD, the condition can be triggered by a variety of other events such as:
  • Motor Vehicle Accident
  • Physical or Sexual Abuse
  • Natural Disaster
  • Home Invasion
  • Abduction and/or captivity
  • Plane crash
  • Bombings
  • Any other event in which someone experiences extreme physical or emotional trauma

This level of anxiety can be debilitating for the person experiencing it, and the Psychiatric Service Dog Society established in a study completed in 2009, that eighty two percent of dog handlers who battle with PTSD have a marked declination in symptoms that accompany the disorder. To understand how a PTSD Service Dogs work, its beneficial to first understand the condition.

What is PTSD and how does it affect someone?

We all have what they refer to as a "fight or flight" response that accompanies the threat of danger. When our brain registers a person or situation as threatening the hypothalamus activates two areas of the brain, the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system, and a detailed, complex system is activated

For our purpose here, we will skip dissecting the process and discuss the end result of this system: hormone release. A multitude of "stress hormones" (the two most commonly talked about are epinephrine [adrenaline] and norepinephrine) are released into the blood stream and the body responds to this by:
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Pupils dilate
    • To intake the maximum amount of light
  • Veins in the skin constrict
    • To allow more blood flow to the major organs
    • This is responsible for causing a "chill"
  • Blood sugar increases
  • Smooth muscle relaxes
    • Allowing more oxygen to reach the lungs
  • Muscles tense up
    • This is responsible for "goose bumps"
    • There is a tiny muscle in the skin called the arrector pili which is attached to the hair. When the muscles tense up involuntarily, the arrector pili muscle is flexed causing the hair to stand up.
  • Nonessential systems for immediate life sustenance temporarily shut down
    • As to allow more energy for emergency physical reactions
    • Some of these would be systems such as the digestive system and the immune system
  • Attention to detail is paralyzed
    • The brain is able to focus only on the "big threat" until it is identified and corrected
So as you can see, what may seem to someone on the outside as one being "a little anxious" or "kind of nervous" can have big effects on the person experiencing it. The trouble with PTSD is that the part of the brain that is stimulated during a threat has been altered by a big event, and small "triggers" can send the brain into "fight or flight" even when there is nothing to be feared.

Have you ever almost been in a car accident? Remember that moment when you tapped your brakes and realized you were on ice and you slid forward stopping centimeters from a back bumper? Or think of the time that you held your breath as you watched a semi accidentally blow through a stop sign and come deathly close to T-Boning another vehicle. Can you remember the feeling immediately after the moment passes? You can feel your heart in your throat, your body is icy, and your hands feel clammy. Imagine feeling that up to twenty times in one day. People with PTSD battle something very similar. Many, every day events may "trigger" their brain to go into fight or flight mode, and struggling with it can be exhausting. Some people with PTSD even experience "flashbacks" where their brain doesn't only mimic the feelings they had during their dangerous situation, but also visually replays the event.

How PTSD Service Dogs can help

So what does a PTSD Service Dog do to help to make life more manageable for these individuals? Well, what comes to mind immediately for most people are the fuzzy feelings that any cuddly, playful puppy will bring to your heart. There is Science behind, what I like to call, the "Aww effect". Dogs have been used for years in programs at prisons, hospitals, schools, and foster care facilities to help provide a positive atmosphere for the individuals in them. Studies have shown that petting a dog releases oxytocin in the human brain, the "feel good" hormone. This is the hormone that is associated with happiness, affection, and pleasure, but what defines a dog as a Service Dog and not an Emotional Support Animal or Therapy Dog?

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) or Therapy dogs, are used in a variety of different programs and are shown to be highly effective. However ESA, Therapy Dogs, and Service Dogs are not interchangeable terms, and classifying them is not just a matter of being politically correct. They are actually vastly different in their duties, and they are not all afforded the same legal liberties. The major, identifying difference is that a Service Dog must be individually trained to perform a specific task for it's handler to mitigate a disability.

A PTSD Service Dog can perform tasks from two different categories. Those are 1) tasks that the dog is trained to physically perform, and 2) a task that a dog is trained to perform based on a reaction that is obtained by leveraging canine natural senses - basically training them to communicate what they're naturally already able to sense.

Just a few of the tasks that the dog can be trained to physically perform:
  • Accompany the person outside the home
  • Wake the person
  • Turn on a light
  • Define personal space by not allowing others into a handler's predetermined preferred space.
  • "Take me home" command
    • Forgetfulness often accompanies PTSD and during an attack one can feel overwhelmed and become disoriented.
  • Tactile stimulation for re-orientation
    • Licking, pawing, scratching at their handler to help them "snap out" of a flashback.

Tasks performed based on a reaction obtained by leveraging canine natural senses:
  • Medication reminder
    • Dogs are known to have a remarkable "internal alarm clock" and this can be sharpened. Dogs can be trained to retrieve a pill organizer and bring it to their handler at predetermined, trained, times of the day - and be persistent until the medications are ingested.
  • Clear a room for safety
    • Search the room for human presence, both obvious and hidden, using canine sense.
  • "Watch my back" command
    • Alert handler of someone preparing to enter a room, come around the corner, or walk up to the team.
  • Alert to emotional escalation (AKA: Prevent a flashback)
    • Acknowledging the early stages of "fight of flight" through sensing the chemical changes discussed above, prior to or immediately as they happen.

Obtaining a PTSD Service Dog

SDWR has developed a proprietary and very unique, client-based program for training and placing Service Dogs. It is important to recognize that just as every other medical treatment, Service Dogs are not for everyone. While we have watched first hand how the placement of a Service Dog has vastly improved one's quality of life, it is also important to note that having a Service Dog is a significant responsibility that comes with a lifestyle. If you think that you or someone you love could possibly benefit from having a PTSD Service Dog, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your situation. We can help you determine if our program is right for you. To find out more information regarding cost and the training process, feel free to browse our blog or view what our clients have to say on our Facebook page.

To contact us please call 1-540-543-2307, or fill out a Contact Form

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I can't afford a Diabetic Alert Dog, Diabetes is expensive enough!

I cannot count the times we've heard the same thing. While out and about with our dog in her beautiful vest strutting her stuff and keeping someone I love deeply out of harm's way, it never fails to hear someone say, "Oh my gosh - a diabetes dog! That is so cool! Where can I get one?"

I use social media a lot too. I encourage you to use a hashtag to search for us. Some of the hashtags members of our our oganizaiton use are:


When pictures are posted of Diabetic Alert Dogs from our organization, one of the top comments is always, "I wish I could afford a D.A.D for my ____" insert son, daughter, husband, grandmother, ect. "My insurance won't cover it, and we can't swing it." Seeing or hearing that breaks my heart! I hate to think any T1 Diabetic who wants an additional tool is missing out on the safety and security a Diabetic Alert Dog brings to your life. I hate to hear that you can't afford it, because the truth is that no matter what your financial situation can!

Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers is nothing like many other organizations out there. Regarding "cost" what I can tell you is that we are not for profit organization that has a firm belief that no one should have to pay for a service dog on top of managing such a complex, terrifying disease, however, at the end of the day a not for profit charitable organization is still a business, and businesses incur expenses for training, travel, and day to day operations.

How do we offset this cost to achieve our goal, then? This is what our founder, Dan Warren, has dedicated his life to; developing a program that meets the needs in just the right balance. This has led to the program that Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers uses today. Most of our families become actively enrolled in our program as an Ambassador to the organization, and promise to dedicate a portion of their time and energy to raise awareness, educate, and promote advocacy for the Type 1 Diabetic community and SDWR in their own communities through our community fundraising campaigns.

We have many "Chapter Managers" through the states here in the U.S.A. Coupled with these, we have our National Director of Outreach and fundraising coordinators, who all help head campaigns, provide direction, they support and help guide these family ambassadors in the mission of raising funds under the auspice of our Organization to benefit us and help carry out our mission.

In essence, our clients make a pledge to accept an ambassadorship. This ambassadorship is a commitment to help us raise the funds that we need to sustain our organization and to defray financial obligations to those who enroll in our program. The pledge is how we budget and run day-to-day operations, cover our travel expenses, pay for the Service Dogs themselves, pay the trainers to train them, and to travel the world to meet our clients in their home settings and help them acclimate their lives to having a Diabetic Alert Dog.

Our organization allows the flexibility of a 3-year ambassadorship campaign, rather than other businesses or companies you may have encountered, which require funding upfront.  This means as soon as you fulfill the requirements and accept ambassadorship with SDWR, your Family's name enters our waiting list and your once your dog is ready to begin work, he or she is delivered to your family - even if your pledge has not yet been met. All we ask is you keep on keepin' on and spreading the word!

Many families prefer to complete their pledge prior to their delivery as to focus the remaining two years of their training program on their Diabetic Alert Dog Team, but should the pledge not be completed at the time of delivery, ambassadorship and fundraising simply continues until the pledge has been met.

Each family does this along with the support and guidance of other families who have walked the same road, our National Director of Outreach, our Chapter Managers, our Trainers, and everyone else at SDWR who want nothing more than to watch you succeed.

So, if you have been dreaming of what a Service Dog can do for you, open your eyes! Here it is! We are a family at Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, and just like a family we will do everything in our power to make sure you live a long, healthy, happy life. We're only a phone call away.

You can inquire about how to get started by calling 1-540-543-2307 or inquiring online here.

Always remember we're here for you when you're ready. Until there's a cure, there's a dog!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe

This time of year calls for gatherings of family and friends in all different settings. Whether your dog doubles as the trusty homestead guardian while your away and serving as the family mascot during get togethers, or he accompanies you to all outings (as many of our families experience having Service Dogs) one of the important things many dog owners overlook during the hustle and bust of the season is Canine Safety!

You will likely come into contact with people who don't have as strict of guidelines as you do with your dog, or even people who have never had a dog of their own. It may be co-workers at a Christmas Party, your uncles from out of state, or your obnoxious 3rd cousin's children who never seem to listen, but it stands to reason that you will have to say "Oh! Please don't do that!" at least once this Holiday Season. We don't want you to spend this Holiday in a cramped Emergency Vet Clinic with other animal owners who wish they would have had this knowledge, so we're arming you with it early on!

It is easy for people to think of dogs as "garbage disposals", but their digestive system is much different than their human counterparts! This chart shows some of the most important things to steer clear of this time of year! Print it out and strategically place it with the dinnerware. Provide your guests with some light reading material prior to the meal. Plater it on the walls if you have to, but whatever you do don't give the dog beer!