Dr. Megan Stinson provides education for the community in service dog etiquette from a handler perspective, as a business owner, and as a medical professional. During this program she will cover some of their personal story, which includes education regarding the fact that many “disabilities” are not readily visible and that not all disabilities are fully debilitating when the correct tools are in place.
Megan can help businesses, owners, and staff, and she will discuss important information on handling an issue with a dog that is potentially not a true service dog. She’ll explain the differences between a therapy dog, an emotional support animal, and a service animal, as well as the legal ramifications of each.
Gretchen is a 5 year old Giant Schnauzer who has an incredible bond with her owner and an intense drive to work and take care of her family. She was purchased as a puppy by the Stinson family as a gift in 2017 just before Dr. Stinson’s stroke. Due to the typical breed characteristics, the Stinson’s made the decision for formal obedience training. At 3 months of age, Gretchen began to pick up on specific cues and show an aptitude to gauge her family’s status which was odd for a puppy so young. The decision was made to shift her training toward potential service dog work for Dr. Stinson’s oldest son with Autism due to his sensory issues and wandering in public. Upon testing and admission to the service dog program, it was determined within the first 30 minutes that Gretchen was not working for the child, but for Dr. Stinson. After significant hesitation by Dr. Stinson, Gretchen began working to help her increasing needs. By 2018, Gretchen had begun to assist with the children’s safety in public, track the oldest son on their 30 acre farm by his scent, act as a social tool for the son, alert to Dr.Stinson’s blood pressure, perform deep pressure for PTSD, and work for mobility assistance to decrease falls. While the neck surgery did improve Dr. Stinson’s balance and function, Gretchen’s assistance continues to be invaluable to Dr. Stinson, her family, and even Dr. Stinson’s patients proving herself an asset by potentially saving a patient’s life in the outpatient practice. When Dr. Stinson is working in the outpatient facility, Gretchen works by her side. When she is not working, Gretchen enjoys attending schools, businesses, and seminars for Service Dog demonstrations and education. She also enjoys acting as a role model for younger service dogs in training. Gretchen currently holds two AKC titles as an AKC Canine Good Citizen and the more elite AKC Urban CGC. She was one of the youngest dogs ever tested by her service dog program to pass both and begin her work in “the field”.
Watch Gretchen in action on this WATE video: https://www.wate.com/news/
Inspiration: Alan Smuckler; Pledge/Four Way: Alan Smuckler; Fellowship: Christine Clanton; Zoom: Mary Thompson