Meet Ripley, a Service Dog

Ripley is Shannon’s ‘miracle’ dog, since she has arrived into her arms.
“I have much more confidence, she hears what I cannot hear even with my hearing aids, when there is lots of noise or if the music is loud, Ripley hears what I can’t pick up. My stress is significantly better.

WHAT TYPE OF SERVICE DOG IS RIPLEY TRAINING TO BE?

There are three kinds of service dogs:

  1. Service dog
  2. Emotional support dog
  3. Therapy dog

Ripley is a service dog because she has two purposes:

  1. DIRECTIONAL HEARING: If I hear an alarm or an assault where I work, I can’t tell if the sound is left or right, or front or back.  Ripley will alert me as to the source. If I tell Ripley to take me to the source she will.
  2. PROTECTION (SAFETY AND SECURITY): She’s in training to be a personal protection dog because I work in a vulnerable environment.  At home she does not have her working service vest on, but she goes wherever I am 24/7.
Ripley Watching my feet as I walk around

HOW HAS RIPLEY HELPED WITH YOUR CURRENT HEALTH ISSUES?

Ripley already uses her trained skills to tell me which doorbell someone is approaching. If someone approaches me she can alert me where they are coming from. She is currently being trained for being a ‘protection and hearing dog’.

WHAT WAS THE PROCESS YOU WENT THROUGH TO QUALIFY FOR A SERVICE DOG?
I got communicated with a girl at work who has a service dog through the Lions Club, (https://www.dogguides.com/lions.html )but at the time there was a 2-year wait, and PADS (Personal Assistance Dog Service) (https://pads.ca/assistance-dogs/) which had a 4-year wait-list.
I decided to find my own private breed. I researched, studied and found a breeder:  her name is Melody Whitrow from Vista Rolls, ( https://www.facebook.com/vistarolls/ ), for Shar pei’s she is considered number one in Canada.  She is a full registered breeder.  I interviewed the breeder and in prayer I found the right breed for my needs.

The Shar pei breed has 3 attributes that I was looking for:

  1. Size
  2. Loyalty
  3. Intelligence
  4. Physical appearance, because she will grow to look muscular rough and tough
Ripley

After picking the Shar pei puppy, I had to consult how I was to get her to British Columbia from Saskatchewan.  I had to pay for her.  She is $2,000 for the price of the dog.  I didn’t have the funding but an anonymous donor provided for part of the funds. Through prayer she knew that she would be more lenient with the process.  Melody agreed to deliver the puppy to me because of my physical challenges.

The breeder knew what type of service I needed and started to work with Ripley since birth to receiving her with house training and socializing. There was an instant connection at the airport.

Shannon, Ripley, Melody Whitlow

HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT LICENSING YOUR DOG AS A SERVICE DOG?

I went through the Government:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/human-rights/guide-and-service-dog

Ripley is still in training and abides by all the rules.  I have a service dog card, the License cost may vary. The proper training and education is ongoing as needed until she is properly skilled.

This is Shannon’s Service Dog Card
at Gellatly Bay Waterfront

HOW HAS RIPLEY IMPACTED OTHERS IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

Immensely, my husband at first tried to ignore her, because he knew that she needed to be my service dog, but she melted everybody’s hearts. It is important that she has a bond with someone else other than me in the case of an emergency and I am gone she needs to not be lost.  So we have to have that plan in place. 

Shannon’s husband with Ripley

HOW HAS RIPLEY INTEGRATED WITH THE PETS AT HOME?

Ripley wants to be friends with the other pets but they are afraid of her because she is big and makes funny sounds and looks bigger than them. Ripley is very routine oriented. She goes to bed every night at 8:15 PM. I make sure I give the other pets extra when Ripley is asleep or having a nap. I take that opportunity to make sure my other pets have my attention and time.

DOES RIPLEY GO WITH YOU TO WORK?
Next year I will be able to go back to work and Ripley will be going with me but for now I am on stress leave and Ripley and I will be going back in slow increments of hours to start with.

Shannon and Ripley

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A SERVICE, COMPANION OR THERAPY DOG TO SOMEONE ELSE, IF SO, WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO KNOW?

Only if the person is fully committed 24/7, 365-day relationship with their partner, and they are very well educated on what they are in for because it is a lifestyle change. You have to be able to take the dog wherever you go, public places non public places with that dog you have to be able to trust they can behave and handle the environment. That is why she has to wear a service vest.

She knows that she is working when her work vest is on she is a working dog. When her work vest is off she is a regular puppy. 

Ripley at home without her working vest on

Dogs can be more than just a part of the family, they can be a part of a solution to those who suffer from illness or other challenges and this makes for a healthier life.

Published by Okanagan Valley View

Mother, SFO, daughter, sister, friend, volunteer, employee for Interior Health

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