i am new here and glad to be connected to the community. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid in 2001. I have tried several meds and had bad reactions to many. I am presently on the waiting list for embrel and happy about that. The most exciting news I have to share is I have a service dog mesa. I have had her for about a year. You can see her picture there. She has made my life much easier in every way. I use dragon software because my hands are not good. With her though I don't need to use them much because she has become my hands. I would love to hear from other people out there with rheumatoid that have service dogs.
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First Helper SDMom

replied May 17th, 2009
I'm desperately seeking help to find out if I qualify for my dog to be my legal service dog. I was diagnosed several years ago with rheumatoid arthritis and have been through several research programs.
My dog has a Companion Dog title from AKC, is a certified therapy dog and is learning to help me with physical task.
If you can help me get more information to see if I qualify, I'd will thank you so very much.
Thanks again,
Denise and Golden Retriever, Cowboy
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replied February 18th, 2010
Did you ever get info on how to get dog qualified as a legal service dog?? I'm in a similar situation with RA, and a Golden helper.
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replied May 15th, 2010
Service dog requirements
There is no such thing as a legal service dog. If you say your dog is a service animal then it is. There are no tests, qualifications, etc. that are required for service animals. There are training schools or you can train your own service animal to do the tasks that you want it to perform. A minimum of three tasks is all that is required by the ADA to claim a dog is a service dog. My service dog performs many tasks and he's still in training. He picks up any object that I drop. He braces me while I pull myself up from bed with my arms around his neck. He brings my cane to me and finds it when I misplace it. He carries objects around the house for me and brings the trash bags to the back door. He takes loads of laundry to the laundry room. He can open the refrigerator door and retrieve a bottle of water. He climbs stairs with me one at a time and braces me. He will bring me my shoes, diabetic test kit, medicine bottles and the telephone. Labs have the softest mouth of all dogs and he carries everything with no damage. He's now nine months old and has been training since he was about four months old. These are tasks that help me with my degenerative arthristis. Every owner has their own set of tasks that would improve the quality of their life and teach their dogs what is best for them. Good luck with the training. But remember that a service dog must have exemplery behavior to take in a public place. My dog continues obedience classes on the outside. I do his service dog task training myself.
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replied February 8th, 2011
The poop on Service Dogs
The information posted by Dazzler is incorrect. You don't have a service dog just because you say it's a service dog. Unfortunately, that's a common misconception and it results in many, many people being denied access, because people take poorly trained, terribly behaved dogs out in public and when they're asked to leave, they start screaming about how it's a service dog and "you're not allowed to ask me that!!!!"

In order to have a service dog, you must first meet the ADA definition of a disabled individual. If you don't meet that criteria, you're not covered by ADA, therefore you have no rights under that law. From the ADA text:

"Disability means, with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment."

And, with regard to the extent of the limitations, this is the ADA definition related to that:

"The phrase major life activities means functions such as caring for oneÃspam´s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working."

IF you meet that basic criteria, then you are considered disabled under the ADA and entitled to protections, including the use of a service dog.

The next thing you have to look at is the ADA definition of a service dog. The ADA doesn't set any limits on what or how many tasks the dog has to perform, nor does it place limits ore regulations on the type/amount of training involved. This is the definition of a service dog under ADA:

"Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition."

When you go into a public area with your service dog, there are 2 questions that the owners/managers can legally ask you:

1) Is this a service dog?
2) What work or tasks does the dog perform?

You can legally be asked to remove your dog, if the "tasks" it performs are emotional support, companionship, if the dog is not housebroken, if the dog is aggressive toward other patrons/staff, or if the dog is out of control.

In addition to the ADA requirements, you also need to look at your state and local laws. Some states offer additional protections, such as allowing people who are training their own dogs to have the same public access as working service dogs, and some localities will waive licensing fees for working service dogs. Also, some states require "dressing" your dog or otherwise identifying it as a service dog, while others don't. You need to familiarize yourself with those laws, so that you can make sure you're compliant with all the requirements, at all the levels.

Whether you like it or not, when you choose to utilize a service dog in a public location, you become an ambassador for all service dog teams. You have to be prepared to have people pointing and staring and asking if they can touch your dog and asking why you have him. If you think you can't handle those situations gracefully, you should reconsider using a service dog. What you do and how you do it becomes part of the public definition of service teams.

For that reason, even though the ADA training standards are virtually non-existent, you SHOULD hold yourself to a higher standard when it comes to training your dog and making sure his/her behavior remains appropriate in public. At the very least, you should graduate your dog through formalized advanced obedience classes, with an impartial evaluation by a experienced trainer. You should also take and pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen certification and seriously consider taking/passing the Public Access Test.

This site has excellent information on the minimum training standards a dog SHOULD have, from a moral/ethical point of view:

http://www.iaadp.org/iaadp-minimum-trainin g-standards-for-public-access.html

By holding yourself to a higher standard, you help set an example that will cut down the ongoing reduction of rights to service animals under ADA. Effective March 15, the only service animals that will be recognized are dogs and a minimal provision that covers miniature horses. That is largely because people have been severely abusing the system, declaring that snakes, lizards, and hamsters were "service animals." In some cases, those animals may very well have been service animals, but the ADA reduced those rights because of the number of fakers. By taking the extra steps to insure you and your dog are high quality representatives of a service team, you will help protect all of our rights under the law.
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replied April 28th, 2012
Dog licking therapeutic ?
Iv had rh foe 30 yrs. Am 60. Methotrex + embrel + NSAIDs + etc. Just got a puppy. Hypo allergic tiny lapdog mix. Big decision...training a pup. under yr feet, house-training...

When I have a flare-up, pup can't seem to resist persistent licking of the inflamed area. I.E., hand, foot, ankle, knee, etc. Wondered if it was heat or scent or sound of circulation attracting him. seemed compulsive.

Finally let him have at it left hand center- palm...2nd day in painful 3-4 day cycle flare. 10 min. Stopped on his own. Hand felt much improved.

Anything on this kind of therapy or of the therapeutic qualities of licking/saliva/manipulation?
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replied May 5th, 2012
I had a Labrador who did the same on my inflamed legs feet, she always knew when I was in a bad flare. She lived til 15 years and she always tried her best to comfort me. She just passed recently Cocoa was my best friend and deeply missed still in mourning.I wish you well with your pup. A dog gives the best comfort and unconditional love.
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replied June 6th, 2013
How can a service animal help my child?
I have a trainer that is willing to train one of my dogs as a service dog for my daughter. My daughter is 11, and she has Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. Her muscles and joints are the worst part of her disease right now. I am trying to compile a list of ways that a service dog can help her. Can anyone give me suggestions? Obviously picking things up off of the floor, opening doors in public, and getting things down that are up high, but I am wondering how else you use your service animals? She has 5 different autoimmune diseases, and they all attack her hands. I would love whatever feedback you could give me.
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