I would never take service work of any kind as a joke. I suffer with my own inner demons, and my GSD is super in-tuned with me. She helps me out of crippling depression, massive anxiety attacks (and alerts me before they hit, so I can get some meds in me to lesson the episode).
Having close friends I grew up with serve, and coming back completely different people is heartbreaking, and I’ve never thought once that PTSD was something to be taken lightly. I’ve worked with a foundation that trained dogs for vets, mainly as therapy animals, and I always did the follow up in home visits. The huge amount of change in the confidence and happiness in the vet was amazing, and it was all due to a canine companion.
If you’re years away from retiring your current SD, I don’t see why starting training on a pup now would be an issue. I never had the experience of choosing dogs for the foundation, just always worked with their training after they were selected and past the first line of testing.
If you’re retired military, I would look into some of the foundations they may have in your area. They SD dogs are donated at no cost to you, but you may face a long wait list.
Good luck in all that you do! And prays out to you that you find what you are looking for!
I certainly never meant to imply that everyone on the forum was taking PTSD and other physical or mental disabilities as a joke, I do apologize if it came across that way.
There are facilities I have looked into, but as you mentioned, they do have substantial wait lists. Many told me it would be a minimum 5-10 years and then I would have to wait another year to two years for them to train to my specific needs. There are also a lot of foundations that will not place you with a SD if you currently have other dogs that are not retired service dogs or other pets. As I currently have a dog who is a "pet" though also a certified therapy dog who sometimes visits local hospitals, that doesn't really work well for me.
You also have to notify your current employer and basically, get "permission" from them for the SD to be allowed on premises. My current employer obviously doesn't have an issue with it but if I were to ever change jobs and my employer admitted they don't want the hassle, the facility won't place with you.
I LOVE working with dogs. It's one of the things that currently keeps me clear headed and the amount of training I put in keeps me on my feet. I would be terrified of how I would be if I didn't at least have one dog with me.
Thank you so much for your advice and for sharing your experiences with me. I'm probably going to ask around to some of the recommended breeders and talk to them about what I am looking for.