"Our Service Dogs" is a children's book about 9 different kids who use service dogs to help them with their disabilities. All of the teams featured in "Our Service Dogs" are based on real kids!
Click on the pictures to learn more about each team that is featured in my book "Our Service Dogs"
You may have noticed that one team is missing. Ben and his mom, from the book, are based on a team that wanted to remain anonymous.
A few of my featured teams have amazing social media accounts! Check them out by clicking on the names below (trust me, you're going to want to see these!)
Charley and Eevee Facebook (Team pictures and updates)
Charley and Eevee Instagram (Team pictures and updates)
Abri and Oliver Instagram (All about Abri's incredible journey)
Abri and Oliver Facebook (All about Abri's incredible journey)
Kaylee and Riley Instagram (Team pictures and updates)
Lane and Thunder Facebook (Updates about Lane, his rodeo adventures and his animal friends)
Lindsay and Quigley Instagram (Mental health inspiration by Lindsay)
Sarah and Bella Instagram (Team pictures and Updates)
Kaylee is the main character of "Our Service Dogs" and my daughter. She has so much energy and spunk! Riley has brought a lot of wonderful things to our lives.
Kaylee was born with cerebral palsy and diagnosed at age 3. She took her first successful un-aided steps at around 4 years old and still needs a bit of help to get around. When we got Kaylee's first walker (age 4), we took her to Costco and let her loose. It was her first time ever getting to walk around in a store and she absolutely LOVED it!! It was a freedom she had never experienced before.
However, it did not take long to realize that the walker and wheelchair had some pretty major limitations.
That summer, we went to a rocky beach with a group of friends. As all of the kids ran around playing, Kaylee crawled around after them trying to keep up and her knees started to bleed. I watched her struggling, thinking to myself that there had to be a better way. That is when Riley's story started. But I'll go more into that on another post.
Riley is trained to walk next to Kaylee and give her mobility support.
As of right now, we mostly use Riley at home and other places where wheels don't make sense, but we occasionally take her to the store or public gatherings if Kaylee feels like walking off the beaten path.
Riley has brought a lot of confidence, companionship, and peace into Kaylee's day to day.
The two of them love to play outside together, train, and just be silly.
I love watching these two learn and grow together and cant wait to see what the future brings!
Find Kaylee and Riley in "Our Service Dogs" available now!
I'm super excited to introduce you all to our littlest service dog and her amazing person, Sarah.
Most of the service dogs in my book do work for people with disabilities that are recognizable from the outside. Bella's work involves helping Sarah with her invisible disability.
Sarah has debilitating depression and anxiety. People with mental illnesses often opt for an emotional support animal (ESA), but Sarah trained Bella to do more than give her support. Bella is trained to take specific action to help Sarah with her disability, making Bella a psychiatric service dog.
Bella alerts Sarah when her heartrate begins to elevate. She also interrupts anxious behaviors. If Sarah starts nervously shaking her legs, Bella gently paws Sarah. Bella is trained to find and alert Sarah's mom, if Sarah needs her. Bella's most common task is to apply light pressure therapy, which sends calming signals throughout Sarah's body.
Bella, has made a crucial difference in Sarah's life. Mental illness can be just as debilitating as any other disability. When I interviewed Sarah for my book, she said, "My favorite thing about Bella is how loving and caring she is. Bella has improved my life a lot. I wouldn’t be here without her..."
Not only does Bella help Sarah using the tasks she knows, she has also helped Sarah in giving her a fulfilling hobby: dog training! Sarah did all of Bella's service dog training and the two have been hard at work learning agility, tricks, stunts, exercising, and passing many training tests, winning certificates.
I really enjoyed getting to know Bella and Sarah for "Our Service Dogs". Not only is Bella one of the cutest dogs I've ever seen, she is also an incredible asset to Sarah's life, and I bet if we could ask her, Bella would say the same of Sarah.
Find Sarah and Bella on Instagram @theservicespaniel
See Sarah and Bella in "Our Service Dogs" Available now on Amazon.
Meet Abri and Oliver!
Abri lost her left leg to Ewing Sacroma, a rare form of cancer, when she was 7 years old. Oliver was meant to be her service dog. He was supposed to grow to be around 80lbs but ended up being much smaller than Abri and her family had anticipated.
He is too small to do mobility work for Abri, but he is perfect for another really important job. Oliver spends most of his time in Abri's shadow, encouraging her on hard days, and giving her lots of love on the good ones.
Oliver may be small, but he is really smart! Abri loves teaching him new tricks and thinks she may end up teaching him some official service dog tasks in the future. For now, the support he gives emotionally is exactly what Abri needs.
I had the opportunity to video chat with Abri and Oliver recently. It was so fun to see how connected they were. Abri was smiling ear to ear while she talked about how smart and loyal Oliver is.
Abri has had some pretty tough experiences but I am so impressed with the way she faces life head on! She has done motivational speaking, been in many news articles, gone on Crystal Maze on Nickelodeon, modeled for Abercrombie kids, competed and won a recent dance challenge, and is using her voice to spread awareness for childhood cancer! This girl is unstoppable!
To learn more about Abri and the amazing things she is doing, follow her on social media @teamabri.
See her Instagram here
Don't miss Abri and Oliver in "Our Service Dogs" available now!
Quinn does a lot of amazing things to help Olivia. But one of his greatest accomplishments is being her partner is clever costumes. Check them out! they have won contests:
Aside from crushing it at costumes. Olivia, with Quinn at her side, won the county wide Quiz bowl without any teammates!
Olivia is unstoppable! She has done some pretty amazing things. However, before having Quinn, it was really difficult for her to interact with other people. Because of her invisible disabilities, she was on reduced hours at school and avoided crowds and other people. Now she is back to almost a full day in school and winning competitions!
Lets talk about Quinn's tasks:
Migraine Alert: Some dogs have the naturally ability to detect when a person is about to have a migraine, Quinn is one of those dogs! He can give Olivia a warning before a migraine so she can prepare as needed. Most dogs alert this by licking their handlers hand or arm.
DPT: also known as Deep Pressure Therapy, is when a dog lays on, or applies pressure to their handler's body. This is used for a variety of health problems, but for Olivia it is to help her body calm down before, after, and during an anxiety attack. Quinn may sense Olivia's high anxiety and apply DPT on his own, or Olivia can ask for DPT when she feels a panic attack coming on.
Blocking: For people with high social anxiety, like Olivia, having a barrier between them and strangers can make all the difference. Quinn provides this for Olivia by stepping in between her and other people if they are making her nervous. This is another task Quinn can do on his own if he senses that Olivia needs it.
Nut detection: Olivia is allergic to nuts, so Quinn is trained to smell them out and warn her if there are any near by. Allergy detection can be done one of two ways. In Quinn's case, he is trained to smell for the allergen--nuts. Other dogs, who's handler has many allergies, are trained to smell for the release of histamine from their handler's body. This can be especially helpful for people with conditions like Mast cell activation syndrome.
Interruption: When Olivia get anxious, she may start picking at or itching her skin. Quinn is trained to stop these behaviors by nudging her hand.
Believe it or not, there are many other things Quinn does for Olivia. He really is her hero. You can read more about what amazing dogs to for people with invisible disabilities here.
There is no question that Olivia and Quinn are better together. Quinn gives Olivia the freedom to go out and be a part of her family and community without having to worry about her medical conditions.
I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Olivia and Quinn as much as I did. I am excited to see what amazing things these two do next!
Here is a sneak peek of Olivia and Quinn in my book "Our Service Dogs" available now on Amazon.
I am so excited to introduce you all to Luke of Ruff (pronounced roof)!
Last year, when I began my search for service dog teams to include in my book, Luke and Ruff were the first to reach out, and I just about melted!
Check out this dodo video of them:
Luke has Downs syndrome. He can easily get scared, confused, or feel the need to run away. Not to fear, Ruff is there for him. Aside from Ruffs presence calming Luke, Ruffs vest also has a handle on it for Luke to hold on to, which helps him to stay close to mom in new and crowded places. He also inspires Luke to try new things. If Roof gets a taste of new food first, Luke is happy to take a bite too.
Ruff is an independence assistance service dog, also known as autism or downs syndrome dogs. Ruff was trained by Linda Donnelly with CCI dogs(Canine Companions For Independence). CCI dogs like Ruff are becoming more and more popular for kids with behavioral and cognitive disabilities. They help children in many ways, but also offer a priceless companionship.
I asked Luke's mom what the best thing about having Ruff was. She said, "Ruff has changed our lives as a family by making it easier for public outings. Less stress for all of us.
What a delight he has been!"
Luke and Ruffs page was one of the most fun to illustrate. Take a sneak peak at it here, and don't miss seeing them in "Our Service Dogs" coming to Amazon March 1st 2021.
Can you spot the celebrity cameo? it was an accident at first, but then it was just too funny to not include. Comment below if you see anyone familiar :)
Ruff was trained by Linda Donnelly with CCI dogs(Canine Companions For Independence).
Amber Diane Hill does not officially endorse or support CCI dogs training company. Please do your own research when choosing a trainer.
Meet Lindsay and her seeing eye dog Quigley. Although Lindsay had already graduated high school at the time I reached out to her about my book, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at age 6 and got her service dog, Quigley, at age 17. Since then, this team has done some pretty amazing things. They have been on the cover of a magazine, given talks on mental health awareness and service dog etiquette, and attended many graduations where Quigley had his own cap and gown (high school, undergrad from Texas A&M and graduate school). I should also mention that Lindsay ran her first full marathon earlier this year!
Needless to say, Lindsay is unstoppable.
Seeing eye dogs are known for being some of the most disciplined of service dogs. The training they undergo is especially rigorous and only certain types of dogs are cut out for it. Seeing eye dogs like Quigley, need to be obedient but at the same time, have the ability to discern what is best for their handler even if it goes against what the handler is asking them to do. Quigley will lead Lindsay around a poll, or construction sites, but he will also ignore Lindsay's commands if they leave her in a dangerous situation. If Lindsay tries to walk forward, Quigley will stop if there is a car coming and will not let her go until it is safe.
It can be difficult for a blind person to feel independent. They are unable to drive, or even walk in unfamiliar places alone. Having a guide dog at their side gives them their independence back. Lindsay says that is her favorite thing about Quigley, that and “the fact that he’s really snuggly”.
“Quigley has been my partner in crime for eight years now and still going strong.”
Don't miss Lindsay and Quigley in "Our Service Dogs" paperback coming to amazon March 1st 2021.
Quigley was trained at The Seeing Eye
Amber Diane Hill does not officially endorse or support The Seeing Eye training company. Please do your own research when choosing a trainer.
Charley calls Eevee her #magicdoodle because she saves her life and keeps her safe everyday.
Eevee is multi-task trained but her main tasks are alerting and responding to an upcoming seizure, bringing Charley her med bag, and performing deep pressure therapy (DPT) which helps her during a seizure.
Because of Charley's medical condition, she does not come out of seizures on her own, so getting the medicine to her quickly is really important. Eevee can sense a seizure before it even happens which allows Charley and nearby adults extra time to get what Charley needs.
Charley loves how soft and snuggly Eevee is. She says Eevee “eats her bad dreams”.
Charley’s mom says, “ My favorite thing about having Eevee for Charley is that it allows her to have an opportunity to be a kid. She has more freedom and safety with Eevee than she would on her own. Charley is a funny, kind hearted girl who loves her magic doodle.”
I loved getting to know Charley and Eevee while writing my book! Charley is so adorable and Eevee is one of the coolest looking dogs I've ever seen! I love her look!
I am always blown away by seizure alert and response dogs! When children have seizures, especially intense ones, like Charley does, parents often have to sleep with their kids to be sure they can make it on time if a seizure occurs. Service dogs often give parents the freedom of sleeping in their own bed, or with their partner again!
Not only does Eevee make sleeping easier, she also helps Charley experience life the way a kid should. Eevee goes to school with Charley and is able to alert teachers if a seizure is coming on. I think, beyond the medical assistance Eevee provides, there is an important emotional role Eevee plays as well. Waking up from a seizure can be disorienting and I'm sure, a bit lonely, so to have a loving, loyal companion who is always there would make a big difference.
For more information about seizure alert and response dogs read this great article from epilepsyfoundation.org it talks about who may benefit from these service dogs, how much they cost and the ongoing research regarding the efficiency of seizure alert and response dogs. Defiantly take a look if you are considering one for yourself or a loved one.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed getting to know these two a bit. I know I did, and I cannot wait to get to meet them over zoom in just a few weeks at my pre book-launch party!
Here is a sneak peek at Charley and Eevee in my upcoming book "Our Service Dogs"
Eevee was trained by Cyndy Smith with Michigan Service Dogs LLC
Amber Diane Hill does not officially endorse or support Michigan Service Dogs LLC or Cyndy Smith dog trainer. Please do your own research when choosing a trainer.