2004 FSSA’s Service Dog Winner

FSSA's 2004 Service Dog Award Winner

Maplesugar Aides And Abets, AKA "Kasey" with Mickey Burk. Owners Mickey and Karen Burk

Kasey has worked as Mickey’s service dog almost since she went to live with them as a 10 week old puppy in 1995.  Mickey has MS and has had some years when he depended on a wheel chair.  He has recently had some periods of remission when he can walk, so Kasey’s job involves a variety of activities to help Mickey.  Mickey and Kasey participated in some puppy raising activities with a local CCI group, but Kasey is owner trained to do what Mickey needs. Karen, his wife, took Kasey to work many times as a puppy, to provide socializing experiences. Kasey’s raising and training was a family effort.

Kasey was trained to do some “life saving” activities.  She barks on signal, if Mickey falls and can’t get up.  She has a press pad to call 911 if Mickey needs medical help. At the young age of 6 months, Kasey was retrieving coupons that Mickey dropped.  I was amazed that a pup did not tear or slobber on fragile paper.  Kasey retrieves everything from coins and meds to the other matching sock.  She has figured how to use a toe nail to tip a small object in order to pick it up with her teeth.  Because Fields are smaller than the usual service dogs, she was not expected to brace or pull because Mickey did not plan to need that help.  However, Kasey has in some situations helped pull Mickey’s manual wheel chair.  She helps him maintain balance when walking.

Mickey claims that Kasey knows more commands than he can remember, 110 by verbal and hand signal.  She often does what he needs, just anticipating for him.  He said one of her special talents was one she wasn’t taught.  “As my legs were rigid or shaking and hurt due to spasticity or restless leg syndrome while bed bound or sleeping, she would lay on the effected leg or legs to stop it. She often knew before I did which leg it was and laid on it or them with out a inkling from me. She stopped the worse thing about having MS, the leg pain.”  They have a very special relationship.  Kacey has recently retired from active duty but is still a very important part of the family.

TRAINING STANDARDS FOR FACILITY DOGS:

  • All Facility Dogs must have completed a minimum of 50 hours of training.
  • Facility Dogs have spent a minimum of 3 months with an AATA Trainer.
  • Facility Dogs have spent at least 24 hours training in high distraction public places.
  • Facility Dogs have been obedience trained to a standard that would allow their new handlers to compete in ANKC obedience trials if they wished. Some facility dogs have already competed if time has allowed.
  • Facility Dog handlers have completed a five day training course.
  • Facility Dogs are all thoroughly tested for tolerance and reliability around even the youngest children. Facility Dogs all have a very high bite inhibition level (i.e. – they are strongly programmed not to bite – even if they are under stress..)

Congratulations to Mickey, Karen and Kasey!