A couple of months ago I fell while letting the dogs outside to go potty. We’re not talking an “Im embarrassed to talk about” it type fall. We are talking, landing so hard I thought I broke my leg and my hand. I only fell down three steps but I was really banged up and bleeding and in a ton of pain.
“No problem” you’re probably thinking, “She’s a service dog trainer, her dog’s should be trained to go get help.” Unfortunately that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I built my back yard (the area I fell in) like a fortress. It’s got a 6 foot tall fence and every entrance is blocked by another fence so small puppies cannot find their way out of a crack. It might as well have been in doggie Fort Knox. Additionally my dogs would have been able to safely to find a neighbor who was home. My neighbor on the same side of the street of me, at the time, was working job that kept him out of town 7 out of 8 weeks so if my dog was able to escape he would have had to cross a 45 mph, pretty decently-busy, country road to get a different neighbor. Not a good idea unless I like my dogs in pancake form because these dogs have no fear of cars.
Now I’m sure you are thinking, “tell the dog to go get the phone”. Great idea, if I had actually taught my dogs to open doors, but I did not train them this specific task at that time because I have both an intact male and intact females in my household. If I would have taught these dogs to open doors there would be no safe place to keep them during a heat cycle, causing untold, unwanted pregnancies. So out of luck there. Not one of them could open the screen door, stand inside the screen door area and then open the inside door and then fetch the phone.
I was royally up a creek without a paddle. My dogs cannot go get help nor can they get the phone and I live so far outside of town that no one would hear me scream. I had to muster all the strength I could and crawl to the door, get inside and get my phone to call my neighbor. Thankfully I ended up with no broken bones but I did end up with a 1.5 foot long bruise on my leg, a 6 inch by 6 inch chunk of my flesh on my leg scraped and filled with rock debris and a 2 inch long chunk of flesh falling off my hand and a foot long bruise on my arm. From that day forth I decided this would not happen again. I would not lie on the ground injured when my dogs were not near a phone.
Unfortunately it’s already happened more than once. A couple months ago I had an asthma attack in the barn and almost died. The 1940s built barn is full of nails, mold, deadly chemicals used for home repair and mice poop. Its just an all around dangerous place for a dog to be so I NEVER bring my dogs in the barn. I was literally only walking outside to get one thing out of the barn so I forgot to bring my phone with me. I got distracted, lost track of time and somehow ended up in a full blown asthma attack. As I stumbled outside to the rear of my barn coughing and choking I started thinking of “I wonder who will find my body? Will they only notice when I start to decompose and smell up the place? Ooooh, the neighbor has roofers out, can I signal them somehow?” and within seconds the asthma attack stopped. I literally have no idea WHY a full blown asthma attack stopped without my rescue meds. I personally think it was divine intervention. I have no logical reason for the attack to have instantaneously stop without lasting effects. In this event I would have never have been able to have a dog to rescue me. Its times like these, where dogs should not go into dangerous environments, when we as service dog handlers need to have a back up plan. What’s my back up plan? Cue the Apple Watch.
Unlike most people, I don’t like having the newest, latest greatest devices. Mostly its because Im a cheapskate. How in the world can a watch be worth $500? But now that Im getting older and have had two emergencies where a dog was unable to help me, I had to invest in a 2nd back up plan to my 1st back up plan (my service dog). The new Apple Watch version 7 has fall detection which will immediately call the police and send out text messages with my location if I fall and do not press the button within a minute. Additionally all I have to do is press the side button a couple of times and it can send out a call to 911 and text my location to my mom and neighbors if I cannot breathe again. Service dogs are absolutely amazing pieces of medical equipment but they should NEVER be your only solution to managing your medical conditions. You need to have a back up plan to your back up plan. One day you may be in an area where a dog cannot safely navigate. I promise you, you dont want to be thinking about who will find your dead decomposing body when you don’t have access to your dog. It’s not a fun position to be in.