Virginia Breeders, help me find a dog? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-06-2013, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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Virginia Breeders, help me find a dog?

Breeders around North Carolina and Virginia, please read!

I am slowly but surely becoming disabled, and would like to find a large working breed puppy to turn into an assistance dog before it is too late. I am an experienced service dog trainer, but never thought I'd need a dog for myself, before I became injured.

About five years ago, a large pit bull I'd rescued barked at something outside and slammed her front paws against our glass patio door. Alarmed at the possibility of her breaking the glass, I turned my head too sharply, too quickly, and something in my neck snapped.

Ever since then, I have been plagued with severely debilitating migraines on almost a daily basis, and have many other issues stemming from that sudden injury. My vision blurs and sometimes whites-out completely. My dexterity becomes non-existent on some days and I struggle to pick up and hold the simplest of objects. My sense of balance is also affected by low pressure weather (rain, snow) and I cannot stand up, look to the side or walk in a straight line without falling over. On top of this, the excruciating pain in my neck and head travels downward into my upper back. This causes muscles to clench up, limiting my breathing when I'm really hurting. The more my muscles clench involuntarily, the more severely I start hurting, and it's a vicious cycle. I am forty-six years old...

I take prescription pain relievers to eliminate some of the pain, but run out three weeks into the month, so I'm out of luck for an entire week and am in constant pain doing simple daily tasks. The relief I find from pain pills doesn't fix anything, though; working a low-wage job every day, the medicine removes some of the pain but not the source of the damage. I'm still continually hurting my body even when I feel 'okay'.


My blood pressure wavers anywhere from an astounding 240/160 to a mere 60/40 on a daily basis (at least, that which has been recorded by paramedics.) At 60/40 my brain refuses to work, and doesn't realize that I am near death or coma... I don't even get a pulse unless I sit down, which points to other issues. I have almost died from this several times. This is the result of a single spinal cord injury.
Obviously, I will go on disability soon.

I have gone to doctors, specialists, neurologists, but I cannot find professional help without insurance. I have spent hundreds of dollars at hospitals, only for doctors to turn me away within thirty seconds. "I can't help you because I'm a brain doctor," said the NEUROLOGIST at MCV. "Go see a pain clinic." Their CT scans and MRIs did little to find the source of the problem; too much arthritis tissue blocked visibility.


It's been five years now and nothing has gotten better. The pain, arthritis, Sjogren's or Celiac disease, whatever it stems from... it has spread to my hips, knees and fingers. I know that soon I will not be able to bend down to pick up something I've dropped. I won't be able to get out of bed my myself and, some days, I won't even be able to see.


I have trained several assistance dogs in the past for free. One was for a young boy who had seizures that kept him out of school for safety concerns -- I trained his Chihuahua at no cost to alert him consistently minutes before he would seize, so the boy could return to school. A Rat Terrier mix, a Rottweiler and a Great Dane were all obedience and assistance trained for elderly women for help around the home. I have trained countless other dogs for obedience, including German Shepherds.


I am a very knowledgeable person when it comes to dog breeds, and I know a German Shepherd has the mentality I desire the most. A well-bred working line Shepherd would be optimal... A medium or medium-high drive, no fear and a sociable disposition would make the best assistance dog, I believe.


Dogs have been a pleasure to work with throughout my entire life, but the few rescues I care for now do not have the right mentality (or size) for assistance training, as they were not 'taught to learn' at a young age -- poor ownership, after all, is why they were rescues. This is why I would like to find a puppy of some sort with the right brain: a German Shepherd or similar working breed that would excel at assistance training, and grow to be large enough to help hoist someone out of bed or balance them as they walk.


The local shelters don't have large working-breed puppies that aren't mixes, and honestly, I'd rather not train a mixed dog for a year, only to learn it doesn't have right mindset. A well-bred working-line German Shepherd would have the potential. A German Shepherd mix could be great if crossed with, say, a Rottweiler -- but cross it with a hound or a Husky and it may not have the same brain. The problem is that don't have a spare year to risk on a guess.


I am willing to pay for purebreds but have a very limited budget, as I live below the poverty level. If anyone's willing to negotiate something with me, that would help tremendously.
I treat all of my animals like family and have never 'had' to get rid of one; rescues have been rehomed only after being completely rehabilitated from their abusive pasts, and none of those were easy fixes. I have never 'failed' to rehabilitate a severely abused dog even when some took years. I have a local vet that loves me for my rescue work and is able to help me with any potentially expensive vet costs, though I'm not too broke to afford care for my canine family. All my dogs have access inside/outside through a doggie door, and they sleep in bed with me at night... They're like children, to me. No crates or kennels here, just a fenced yard and my entire home. No small children or cats.

I really hate asking anyone for help, but would like to maintain my dignity and self-reliance by not requiring a human caretaker. I do not have resort to a wheelchair just yet -- and if that day ever comes, I would at least have a four-legged someone there to help me.


If there are any breeders in the area that may be willing to help, please let me know. I live in South Boston, VA (southern VA) and am willing to drive for many hours. If you have read this far I can tell you are a caring person. Thank you for listening, and God bless.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-06-2013, 07:37 PM
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I purchased my GS puppy from wytheville, va....she was born in October, 2012, and is just lovely. I don't really know anything about her blood lines, but I know that she is very bright and capable...here is the number where I got her *** Phone number removed by ADMIN - Please PM poster for info ****

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Last edited by Castlemaid; 04-06-2013 at 09:18 PM. Reason: Please do not post phone other people's phone numbers.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-06-2013, 07:47 PM
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I am so very sorry for your pain

I would talk to TJ who is a moderator here, she maybe able to direct you to someone.
Another member Linn as well may have some advice.

You can 'search' there 'handles' above in the search function and pm either of them

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-06-2013, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both!

I know that no one is gonna just give a purebred GSD puppy away to someone they don't know. But if necessary I can show my medical records... Show my rescue dogs, past and current... Some days I'm physically okay (aside from pain) but it gets progressively worse. I might have a couple more years before I'm completely out of commission and in a wheelchair. My 20-yr-old daughter is absolutely wonderful at training dogs too, so even if something were to happen that disables me early, the dog would still be trained for me.

Anyone who breeds around VA, I am not looking for just any free dog... I can't be picky but I just want a pup from working lines with service dog potential. It can be the last of the litter, missing a leg, doesn't matter... as long as its young enough to be trained and socialized properly, and has the right kind of brain. I think German Shepherd owners, more than anyone, know what kind of 'brain' I'm talking about. Driven, fearless, smart.

As for payment: the dog could eventually be mentioned on your website as a working service dog that came from your lines. And perhaps a contract could be made, payments over time...

Or, if one would wait for quadruple their money down the road, I could not spay the dog immediately, and train the dog in the meantime -- when the dog becomes 2 yrs old I'd get it OFA checked and everything, and breed with your choice of sire... Split the litter, you get first pick of all (3, 4 first-pick pups from a true working service dog)... I don't know. I'm thinking, who will help me? I want a working dog, not a fertile dam, but if I had to whelp one litter in return for a service dog -- No problem! ... One of my current rescues is a Boxer that had been abused, she came to me pregnant. Currently she has seven 3-week-old pups.

I have a truck up for sale, so a small payment could be made toward a dog, but probably nothing over $500. But I know good working lines go for far more than that.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-07-2013, 12:02 AM
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How did you teach the chihuahua to seizure alert?

One thing you might want to look into due to some of your mentioned symptoms is dysautonomia.


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-07-2013, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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How did you teach the chihuahua to seizure alert?

One thing you might want to look into due to some of your mentioned symptoms is dysautonomia.
It was actually already his family's pet Chihuahua, and the boy (who was nine or ten) was 'his' special person. The dog was already sensitive to the boy and panicked when he had seizures, but didn't know what to do. I taught the dog to recognize the symptoms that occur in the body before a seizure, even before the boy knew. He had petite mal seizures from the littlest of triggers, so we'd flicker a flashlight beam in the boy's face for example, then make the dog pay more attention to the warning signs and get it wound up from just that.

Then it was just a matter of teaching the Chihuahua to tug the boy's shoelaces... Boy starts acting different, tug on his shoelaces! Boy goes and lays down! Everybody praises... If the boy ignored his shoelaces than it began barking frantically. After a few weeks the Chihuahua had this method down-pat. The boy's parents were shocked it was that easy! But it was perfect because the Chihuahua had such a love for the boy, he never let the boy out of his sight. The dog was able to go to school with him.

And thanks for mentioning dysautonomia. I've tried and tried to find the specific disease or disorder wrong with me, but nothing matches perfectly. Dysautonomia lists a lot of symptoms that I do have, as does POTS. I am going to get my doctor to test me for some things next time I visit...

My body also doesn't retain potassium, magnesium, calcium and salt. That is one reason why my blood pressure drops so suddenly. I've consumed a whole salt-shaker full of salt, two gatorades, smoked vienna sausages and more salty foods within an hour before, trying to get my blood pressure to 'spike' (back to a regular 90/60, very low for me.) My salt level was once a 6 when it should have been from 18 to 27, and the paramedic said I should have at least been in a coma... All of these issues began after the neck injury. Could the jagged arthritis in my neck have created a spinal fluid leak? Or is there a disease that has made my entire body fragile? ... I can't find answers to any of this.

Dysautonomia has more symptoms than I have, but I could be in the earlier stages of it.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-07-2013, 01:18 AM
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POTS is a type of dysautonomia. There is a HUGE variety of possible symptoms, so its not something you have every one, or even most. There are so many different types of dysautonomia. And various causes of it as well. Mine is caused by my underlying genetic connective tissue disorder. Dysautonomia means dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, and it depends on what part of the autonomic nervous system is affected for what symptoms are experienced. In many people its a "temporary" disorder and the symptoms will eventually improve. In many people it will stay stable for life. In some people it is progressive, this is usually the cases with an underlying cause like myself.

If you have documented difficulty with low salt levels, you should discuss the medication florinef with your Dr. Another medication for low bp is midodrine, but since you're experiencing high bp as well it would be dangerous for you to take. Beta blockers can also be helpful for POTS. If you think POTS fits, you need a tilt table test which is pretty simple. If its negative though that does not rule out other forms of dysautonomia.

Are you flexible at all? Have you ever had hypermobility in your joints?

To be honest I'm confused at you saying you trained the dog to seizure alert, because seizure alert is something that cannot be trained... You said you trained the dog to respond to the symptoms prior to a seizure, how do you know what symptoms are prior to a seizure? In dogs that truly seizure alert we don't know what they're responding to, and as a result only approx 50% of seizure response dogs develop the ability to alert. And approx 25% of dogs overall appear to have the ability to seizure alert. Then theres more like some dogs alerting to anyone who is about to have a seizure, and some only to their handler. My dog Emma actually seizure alerts, which I discovered when fostering an epileptic dog.

So I was wondering if you were actually referring to a seizure response, and not seizure alert.


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-07-2013, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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My blood pressure is usually high, so medication for salt intake may raise it too high. I take blood pressure pills to keep it 'neutral' at 140/120 or so, but on days where I feel weak I don't take it. Chewing on a stick of cinnamon bark (the kind people cook with) lowers BP instantly if it gets too high.

No, not really flexible. Average for a forty-some year old I suppose, but I get tired easily.

Ah, what I meant by seizure alert is that the dog communicates to the boy that he will have a seizure in just a moment. We triggered the boy's petite mal seizures, which took a couple minutes before it went into effect each time, and got the dog to pay attention to the discreet changes in the boy. The dog would start fretting prior to the impending seizure, to which I directed the dog to bite his shoelaces. I taught the dog the appropriate response to these changes, so the dog believed he trained the boy to lie down. The brain is affected in certain ways before a seizure strikes, and I'm certain the boy's body changed in ways only the dog sensed -- smell, muscle tensing, whatever it was. In any case, the dog was consistant and would jump up abruptly to 'alert'. I checked up on the boy months later, and after the dog was trained, seizures didn't sneak up on him anymore when he had his dog. I think it may have been a special situation where the dog paid special attention to 'his human'.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-07-2013, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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I would call it more a seizure response dog if you want to be technically correct. I guess the exact method was this. This boy had a dog who was very attached to him and worried over him constantly. The dog was already able to sense the seizures coming, but didn't know what to do. It would just panic. First I taught the dog that by tugging the boy's shoelaces, the boy would lay down/ sit down, and praise the dog. Then I got the dog to tug the shoe laces instead of panic by a strobe light to trigger the seizure. The boy would obediently lay down everytime the dog pulled his laces, and so the dog figured out the boy was safer and he would get praised and loved on before and then again after the seizure. I guess you could say that the dog thought it was training the boy to lay down/sit down.
It worked out well, the dog wouldn't leave the boys side leash or not, and was social for a chihuahua. It took a little while to train, and I always felt bad having to trigger siezures in the kid, but the consequenses were worth it. The boy throughly enjoyed the concept of training, and though he had the smartest dog in the world. He really liked being able to go back to school.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-07-2013, 09:57 PM
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I know a breeder (member) roughly in your area who sold a puppy about 7 months ago as a SD candidate for $1,500. He is working out wonderfully and is showing much promise in his temperament, obedience training and health and will probably be moved up to Service Dog in Training status in a few months.

Many GSD breeders will from time to time sell a pup that is showing the potential for such a career - some may give a slight discount - but I would still expect for the right pup to still be in the $1,000 range. For your future mobility issues you will need a strong healthy individual that not only has had his hips and elbows tested but also the whole skeletal system evaluated which includes spine before working. It would not take long for any weak area to grow into a problem.

In many cases it will cost as much as or more to OT when you include costs of purchase, food, vet evaluations etc. for the 18-24 months of raising and training. As you probably know there is never a guarantee that a dog no matter how knowledgeable or experienced the trainer will make it as a suitable SD to be worked out in the public.

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