Category Archives: Medical Alert

Update from Inuko

From our dear, dear Inuko who is battling cancer. Luckily, her Service Dog Gadget loves her so very much. We are so indebted to her for continuing to share her battles with us – but she is never alone. We love you, Inuko and Gadget! Keep up the laughter!!!

“Last night was another bad night. I had another one of my infamous headaches and was curled up on the bed, exhausted… But Gadget never left my side. When I was frightened from the pain, I curled up around my girl and her breathing calmed me. Its strange, looking back at it… When did this puppy capture my heart so completely? When did she become such an intricate part of who I am? My day wouldn’t be complete without snuggles from my Gadget. She has helped me immensely. My PTSD is still bad, and I am still very sick, but I am surrounded by the ones that love me.

I am also attaching some pictures from our outing to Petco today. We were being goofballs, and Gadget sat there, wagging her tail and making us all laugh. Its so nice to laugh! So I thought I would share my laughter with my SDE family! I hope it helps your day get better. It sure helped me.

With all my love,
Rain (Inuko)

Chris and SDiT Harley

From our wonderful trainer, Andrew, who is working with Chris, who needs a medical alert dog for her chronic pain and other health issues, and her SDIT, “Harley”.

“During this session, I evaluated Harley for the Public Access Test, as Chris told me when we spoke on the phone that Harley already knew all the commands in the manual. It turned out that Harley was in fact already ready for the test, so we made an appointment for the following Tuesday. The only thing that Harley needed to work on was a bit more focus and being able to listen to Chris when excited. This we went over during the rest of our session.

The Public Access Test went very well – both Chris and Harley passed with flying colors. I followed the Assistance Dog International checklist for all the commands, and they performed each one flawlessly. They are a great team, and I am very proud of them for having all the ground work laid out for Harley to become a fully-fledged Service Dog!

Rita and SD Serene Denied Access

The below was sent to local news networks:  (See the news stories at the end of this blog)

“My name is Laurie Gawelko, M.S., and I am the CEO and Founder of Service Dog Express, LLC, in San Antonio. We train rescue dogs to become Service Dogs for Wounded Warriors and civilians with all disabilities except for the blind. We opened in 2011, and have 21 trainers. We have paired over 300 clients with Service Dogs through professional training since our inception.

I am writing with the hope that you will follow up on this very important news about a restaurant that denied access to one of our clients with several severe disabilities. I have called the restaurant several times to try and get their side of the story, but they have not returned my call. My client actually had to go to Emergency Room after the incident because her blood pressure was raised to extremely dangerous levels.

Ms. Rita Abrego and her Service Dog, Selene, went to Herradero Mexican Restaurant with her daughter and a friend and were ordered immediately to leave by the owner because the owner claimed he is “allergic to dogs and dogs are not allowed in the restaurant”. They actually told her to put the dog in the car. Ms. Abrego attempted to explain that Selena (wearing her clearly marked Service Dog vest) is allowed at any public place according to ADA law, to no avail. The owner also instructed her servers not to serve her.

Ms. Abrego then called the police and filed a report, but the police said there was nothing they could do because it was private property. Police report # 20150164772. The police, who usually know ADA law, did not know this law. The restaurant is not considered private property. Service Dogs are allowed ANYWHERE except military installations and places of worship unless they agree to have them there.

The police did see that Ms. Abrego was getting extremely red in the face and sweating profusely and shaking, and offered to escort her to the ER. She had her friend take her instead, because she was so appalled by the police’s lack of awareness of ADA law regarding Service Dogs.

I would TRULY appreciate it if you would consider doing an investigative story on this, which would include mentioning the restaurant that refused my client.

With my assistance, Ms. Abrego is also going to follow through with trying to sue the restaurant.

Thank you.

KSAT: Woman denied service at restaurant because of Service Dog

WOAI: Woman denied service for bringing Service Dog to restaurant


Assistance in the Rio Grande Valley and more

This is a message from our exceptionally brilliant and compassionate trainer, Jacqueline (Jackie). Her life’s passion is to help Veterans, and she asked us to post this for all Veterans, especially in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), if they need help.

I have been a graduate psychologist at the VA down here in the RGV. After working in 3 different VA health care systems, I have seen the great need for Veteran care and have seen both good (actually excellent) and bad ways VAs are run and treatment is provided. It is with an EXTREMELY saddened heart that I can no longer allow myself to provide a lower level of care to Veterans than what they deserve, nor be forced into functioning in a treatment setting that is providing unethical care.

I LOVE my work with Veterans and see such a huge need for this to continue, but as I leave, I also see several other amazing psychologists leaving as well due to the same challenges. I continue to see a need for Behavioral Health Care in the Rio Grande Valley, with Veterans and Civilians alike. After 11 years of schooling and 7 years providing Behavioral Health (BH) Services, I was completing my licensure requirements as a psychologist to provide the highest and most comprehensive options out there, however, despite the need for services in the RGV, I ran into several dead ends for finishing this last piece. However, I am willing to put my own final step on hold to help two communities (Veterans and anyone in the RGV) in need of BH services.

I hold a Masters Level License in the State of Texas that allows me to practice independently (but with some restrictions from what I would have had with my psychologist license and obviously at about 1/3-1/4 of the pay). I am hoping to make some things come together over the next month or two (and will probably be open to picking up random general labor work as my student loans have gone into effect and I incurred debt moving from Idaho to here), but am hoping to offer TeleHealth (similar to Skyping but in a much more secure system) and/or in home therapy/animal assisted-therapy services here in the RGV at hopefully a fraction of the cost of some other places (most likely on an income based sliding scale fee basis) since I will not be accepting insurance and I am wanting to reach a larger population of those in need.

That being said, minus the in-home piece, I am able to offer this TeleHealth service within the scope of my practice anywhere in the state of Texas. I am most wanting to reach Veterans as I know for many, wait times between treatment sessions is 2-3 months in several facilities throughout the state. However, I am also really wanting to service Civilians in the RGV and throughout Texas. I am NOT bilingual unfortunately, but have a considerable amount of understanding of the RGV culture, the Hispanic Culture, and the Texas Hispanic Culture.

For those of you who may know of people who may be able to benefit from this, please feel free to contact me. I will gladly share my extensive training and treatment experience with anyone who requests this, and am hoping to start this as an option for the community within the next two months.

Please contact me at: Jacqueline Kappelman

Elizabeth and Zoe

I am SO happy to report that our dear, beautiful Zoe, who was found on the streets and saved by two wonderful women in the neighborhood, has found her perfect forever home with client Elizabeth. Elizabeth was diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety since the age of 14. She also suffers from sleep disturbances and sleep walking at times when she is alone and disturbed before sleeping. Despite this, she has managed to work and go back to school now in the last year. She does not get to go out much due to general anxiety and fear.

Well, when Elizabeth met Zoe, the bond was instant!! Elizabeth came prepared for the first meet and greet with all the supplies needed as mentioned in the training manual. Kelly and Lana, the two women who saved Zoe, visited Elizabeth for the first four days with Zoe for hours at a time to make the transition to a new home easier on Zoe. Zoe just loves Elizabeth!!

Zoe already alerts to Elizabeth when she starts sleepwalking by nipping at her heels to wake her up. I went to Elizabeth’s workplace, where she is a supervisor in a company that has large cubicles. Elizabeth brought a blanket for Zoe, chew toys to keep her occupied, and made sure to take Zoe out for potty breaks as often as possible. Elizabeth’s boss and all the employees completely welcomed Zoe, and Zoe’s “performance” at the workplace is stellar. Elizabeth’s anxiety has already decreased tremendously with Zoe in her life. Elizabeth’s boyfriend, who lives in Laredo but comes up as often as possible, and her entire family have been completely supportive of Elizabeth’s decision to have a Service Dog.

We will begin training in other public places next week.


Amy and SDiT Emma

From our trainer, Kendra, who is in Houston. She is working with Amy and her SDIT, Emma. Not so happy news.

“Amy just received the sad news that she has Multiple Sclerosis. She has been falling and getting hurt a lot. So, the family has decided that Amy needs a Service Dog the most right now, because if she falls while her husband is at work, she needs Emma to bring her the phone to call 911. Amy would also like Emma to help open and close doors, and be trained to work alongside a wheelchair for preparation when the MS brings her to that point.

At our session, Emma was not feeling well. We went to Petsmart just to have Amy and Emma get the feel of being in public together. Amy took Emma to the vet right after our session, and they discovered that she needed her anal glands expressed. So she is feeling much better now.”

I suggested to Kendra that Amy get a medical alert button to wear around her neck in case she falls. They have them at any Medical Device pharmacies. In addition, I explained to Kendra the “science” behind anal gland expression, impaction, and possible infection. While it does not seem like a pleasant topic to talk about, it is very important for all dog owners to be aware of this.

If you’ve seen your dog scooting across the room on his bottom, it could be a sign of anal sac disease. Dogs have two small pouches on either side of their anus. They make a smelly, oily, brown fluid that dogs use to identify each other and mark their territory. It’s why they often sniff each others’ behinds. Anal gland oils also help the defecation of hard stool. Anal sac disease begins as an uncomfortable impaction and can progress to an infection or abscess.

Symptoms that your dog needs to have his anal glands expressed are scooting, licking or biting its rear end, a bad smell coming from its rear, or constipation when trying to pass stool.

Normally, when a dog poops, the fluid in his anal sacs is squeezed out, too. It’s when they aren’t completely emptied that problems develop. The fluid inside can become so dry and thick that it plugs up the openings. This is called impaction. Thankfully, impacted sacs are easy to treat. The glands can be gently emptied, or expressed, with your fingers. You may have to do this regularly, and to save a trip, your vet can show you how. Our three dogs – Savage, Bonnie, and Molly, rarely need their glands expressed. But our beagle, Cherry, needs hers done about twice a month. Different breeds are prone to needing manual expression done more often. It is easy to do at home if shown by your veterinarian how to do it.

If your dog repeatedly has impactions, you vet may suggest adding more fiber to his diet. This increases the size of his poop, which puts more pressure on the sacs to empty naturally. If your dog doesn’t have a problem, there is no need for you to empty his sacs.

Left untreated, the impaction will turn into an infection. Look for yellow or bloody pus oozing from his sacs. This painful condition can cause your dog to act fearful or angry. Your vet will wash out the sacs and give your dog antibiotics. An untreated infection will develop into an abscess (a swollen, tender mass of puss) and could break open. Your vet will open and drain the abscess and usually prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Daily warm compresses can help, too.

If your dog keeps having problems, your vet may want to remove his anal sacs with surgery. It’s a simple procedure, but can result in complications like fecal incontinence (when his poop leaks uncontrollably).


From our trainer in Austin! HAGGER THE HUMUNGOUS HAS PASSED!!!!

“I am happy to announce that Lee and Hagger have passed the Public Access Test! We met at Walmart this morning and took a nice stroll with Hagger heeling beside Lee the whole time. Lee took Hagger through some tight quarters and narrow turns and Hagger fit right in!

Hagger does sits and downs on commands just once. He has great stays as well with a shopping cart going by him!

We headed to Subway to eat and settle while Lee and I talked for a bit, Hagger made himself at home on the floor!

Lee has worked and trained Hagger TIRELESSLY to get him ready and he has been more than successful!

I am so happy for those two!”


Sarah and Lacey

From our trainer, Kendra, who is working with Sarah in Houston. Sarah has multiple medical conditions, including blood pressure and heart issues that cause dizziness and panic attacks

“I met with client Sarah and SDIT Lacey today. It was is a joy to work with these two! I did a evaluation on Lacey and she did wonderfully. She let me manipulate all parts of her body with no incident. When touching her teeth, she didn’t like it very much but she did let me, so I advised Sarah to work with Lacey and “brush her teeth” so to speak on a daily basis. Lacey is very bonded with Sarah and is always watching her. Lacey knows sit very well! She will sit on command. She does well heeling on and off leash, and is very treat motivated. She knows stay, leave it and off very well. After talking with Sarah about what she wants from Lacey, we have determined she will help with anxiety, she will get help if mom passes out, and will be able to bring mom her medications when mom isn’t able to get them.

I was able to train with Lacey for a bit after the evaluation and we worked on place. Mom will continue to work on all her basic commands. It was a pleasure to met this wonderful team.”

Warrent and Panther

From trainer Beverly, who began working with Warrant, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and PTSD. He is in a wheel chair and unable to walk more than 4 steps without assistance. His SDIT is “Panther”!

“At our initial meeting, Panther was a bit shy initially, but once he warmed up, we played and he allowed me to hold him and rub him all over. Although he is a small dog – a “YorkiPoo”, he’s smart and a tad stubborn! Warrant has MS, and wants Panther to be a medical alert dog to tell others if he falls or needs help and for his own peace of mind. There is an obvious strong bond between them. You can just see the love Warrant has for his little buddy in the pictures.

At our first training session, we worked on “Sit” and “Down”, then started on “Short Stay” for them to work on through the week. Panther caught on quickly, but he also gets bored quickly. We discussed the need for short training sessions (15-20 mins) a couple times per day. In addition, Warrant should be consistent with the rules for Panther; for him to work with Panther before meals so that Panther is treat-motivated. Warrant should also ensure they have appropriate “pack structure” within the house and that Panther is not allowed to “be the boss.” They both (Warrant and Panther) seemed to enjoy the session and look forward to learning more. I look forward to seeing what this little spunky dog is capable of. He’s very smart, and so is Warrant!”

Travis and the AMAZING SDIT Teddy

From tireless trainer Beverly, who is working with 17 year-old Travis, who has CP and is confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak. He is AMAZING with SDIT Teddy!!!

“Worked with Travis (using the “voice commands” from his iPad) and Teddy on “stay” and “place” (for use at restaurants or other public locations when he needs to go to a specific spot.) Mother Meridan says that Teddy is doing fantastic waiting to get in and out of the van, heeling in public, going to Travis’s school, and attending hospital visits! The family is doing a fabulous job at training Teddy and Travis and Teddy are both amazingly intelligent. We reviewed what Teddy will need to know to pass the Public Access Test with Meridian and Travis.

The family will be on vacation for the next 2 weeks and will return to training once they come back. Teddy will be going with them and even has a “dog house” in their hotel room! We will discuss how it went and any issues that need to be addressed at that time.”