Unusual Request - Assistance Appreciated :]
Bit different from many other threads I've seen, but I thought I would inquire anyway if there's anyone who could help. :]
I'm currently located in Canada, but I am looking to relocate to Ohio by late summer/early fall of next year. I have experience with small dogs (both solo trained for light obedience work and conformation work), and am well-acquainted with larger dogs (grew up with them, but no solo work myself). Over the years my lower spinal discs have deteriorated to a point where independent movement issues (stairs are the equivalent of dipping myself in hot magma) and staying cooped up due to fears of falling have become the norm. To top it off, two years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD, which has made trying to overcome the fears of going outside alone more of a hurdle. As you can imagine, I've grown rather weary of the situation.
After extensive discussion with my doctor, we've determined that a service dog could assist with both mobility issues as well as the psychiatric assistance. After I move I will have the live-in assistance in the form of my supportive wife to assist with the physical aspects of a rather rambunctious new puppy. After some research into the three breeds that were suggested to us by a local PTSD service dog organization (Newfoundland, German Shepherd, Great Dane were given to us as strong success candidates due to both the mobility and psychiatric service needs) we've selected the German Shepherd.
I don't have much experience with this breed in particular, but a friend who has owned one in the past informed me that the breed has a history of being suitable for PTSD work, so I'm hoping we've made the right selection (please correct me if the GSD is unsuitable for this kind of work!). I would like to find the right breeder, but I've run into a few snags. I'm hoping the forum has some knowledgeable members who can lead me in the right direction!
- I've been informed that GSDs have both a very high prey drive and an extremely strong will that makes them difficult to train. Is this true?
- Is the GSD suitable for an owner who only has experience with small dogs?
- Are there any GSD breeders in the southern Ohio area who have dogs that are on the calmer, easier side of temperament? I'm hopefully looking to find a very laid back shepherd with a friendly temperament and am not sure if the GSD is the breed for this.
- I have a preference towards the longer, plush coat German Shepherds and would prefer to find a dog with this coat. The colour doesn't matter. :]
- Most importantly, is this work truly suitable to the GSD? I have seen many PTSD GSD success stories, but I would like to know from owners/breeders if they feel the breed is suitable.
- I am aware of the importance of having hip and elbow tests, but are there any other health tests I should be looking for?
I think that's all the questions for now! Your responses are deeply appreciated. :]