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Fundraising for your service dog: Let’s get crafting

If you have been reading our series on fundraising for your service dog then you will know how to make money from items you already own to help reach your target donation goal. However, what happens when you run out of things to sell?

There are many types of handmade crafts in which you could partake. Whether you fancy making jewelry or greeting cards; there’s something out there for everyone. When you’ve found a craft that you enjoy, have a few practice runs to hone your talents and then you are ready to start selling your creations to the world!

An important thing to watch out for is your costs. Be careful not to spend more on materials than you can earn by selling the item. Otherwise, you will end up losing money instead of making it. It’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet on your computer (or keep a record in a notebook) of how much you spend on materials and the amount that you use for each product. That way, you can track your costs and make sure you sell the item for a suitable profit.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get crafting!

Crafting for charity ideas

Pet items & accessories

As you are fundraising for a service dog, it seems fitting that one of the ways you can do this is by creating your own handmade pet items and accessories. The internet is full of DIY pet toy ideas. Here are a few of our favorites:

Bracelets & jewelry

From bracelets to necklaces, if you have an eye for fashion then this could be the fundraising idea for you. Whether you prefer stitching, threading, weaving, metalwork, beading, leatherwork, or braiding, there are free online tutorials for every type of jewelry you can imagine.

Clothing and accessories

You don’t have to be an expert to make great looking clothes and accessories. You could even upcycle your old clothes, or find clothes in thrift stores to upcycle. Check out these great tutorials for creating handmade clothes:

Greeting cards

The community for homemade greeting cards is enormous. They are a great way of getting started with your fundraising. All you really need to begin are some blank cards, envelopes, scissors, double sided tape, 3D foam pads, and a template.

If you are struggling for some inspiration, websites such as CraftsUPrint are a great place to start. They offer downloadable craft patterns/templates at a low price that you can print at home and use as many times as you like.

For those that feel a bit more adventurous, here are some greeting card tutorials:

Soft toys & keepsakes

If you know lots of people with young children, making soft toys could be a good fundraising method for you. You should ideally have some sewing experience to make this easier; however you could use it as an opportunity to learn a new skill. There are hundreds of free stuffed animal sewing patterns available. Here are a few we thought were particularly adorable:

If you enjoy a craft that isn’t mentioned above and think that it would be perfect for fundraising, please get in touch to let us know about it. The more fundraising ideas we can share, the better!

Where can I sell my crafting creations?

There are many different ways to sell your handmade crafts, from selling to friends and neighbors to opening an Etsy shop. It’s important to utilize as many selling platforms as possible to ensure you get the highest number of sales on your items.

Next week’s article will focus entirely on how to sell handmade crafts. If you don’t want to miss it, use the form on the right side of the page to join our email list.

Links included in article

Fundraising tips: Have a house clear-out

We recently wrote about the benefits of crowdfunding when you are raising the $12,000 fund for your service dog. While these campaigns can be highly successful, sometimes you need to do additional fundraising to help you meet your service dog donation target.

As part of our series on service dog fundraising, today we are going to talk about the money that you can raise by decluttering and clearing out your house.

Have a house clear-out & sell unwanted items

One of the first places to start when looking to fundraise for your service dog is in your own home. Everyone has items lying around that they could easily live without.

Take some time to clear out all of your kitchen, garage, attic, and shed. You will be surprised at the amount of items you end up with that you would be happy to sell. In addition, you will end up with a nice organized home too!

You could also ask family members and close friends to have a look through their house as well, to see if there is anything they would be able to donate to your fundraising cause.

Use eBay for like-new items

Let’s face it; we’ve all received gifts for Christmas or birthdays that don’t really meet our taste. Whether that’s toiletry sets, DVDs, board games, clothes, or something else entirely, if they are still in like-new condition, the place you are likely to get the most money from them is eBay.

Sell CDs, DVDs, & video games online

Websites such as decluttr allow you to sell your unwanted CDs, DVDs, and video games online. Just enter the barcode of a product and their website will immediately tell you if they accept the item, and how much they will pay for it. They have a handy app you can download to your smartphone which allows you to scan barcodes directly. You probably won’t get amazing prices offered for your items, as the website works by reselling them at a profit. However there’s a good chance it will be more than you would get selling them yourself at a yard sale, so it’s worth trying.

Sell books online

Websites such as cash4books and Book Byte work in the same way as decluttr, but they are for selling your unwanted books. Scan in the ISBN numbers using your smartphone, send off the books and they’ll send you the money – simple!

Garage/yard sale

With the items you have left, try to sell them through running your own yard sale. Make sure you advertise your sale with signs in the neighborhood and post some leaflets through your neighbor’s doors.

If your neighbors are aware that you are fundraising for a service dog, they might be willing to pay a little bit more for items than they normally would at this type of sale, as they know that the money is going to a worthwhile cause.

You could even make some lemonade or bake some cakes to sell alongside your items for that extra fundraising boost. Just remember to take note of how much all your ingredients cost, so that you can be sure you are making a profit.

Have a stall at a flea market

If there are any flea markets in your area, it might be worth setting up there for a day to sell what’s left of your items. Make sure you find out how much a stall costs before you decide to do this, as you need to be confident that you will make at least that much money back.

To help draw attention to your stall, print out some posters with large writing that can be seen from a few feet away (you might need to tape several pieces of paper together) that state you are fundraising for a service dog. This might help to encourage people to buy from you.

What about my leftover items?

There will always be items left after all of your fundraising efforts. There might be a good reason for this – perhaps the item isn’t in great condition or it’s outdated. If so, the best place for it might be in the trash.

However, if you think that there is still someone out there that would enjoy the item, consider donating it to a local charitable organization, either for use by the people they help (such as donating soft toys to a children’s shelter) or for them to sell at one of their organized events.

What else can I do to fundraise?

Over the coming weeks, we will be writing about other fundraising ideas to help you reach your service dog donation target. Use the form on the right of the page to join our email list and get all the latest fundraising ideas sent straight to your inbox.

Links included in article

Crowdfunding campaigns: How to meet your service dog fundraising goal

When you apply for a service dog, you will be asked to make a donation towards the training and care of the dog. At Canines for Change, this is approximately $12,000 and you have about a year to raise it.

This can seem like a large amount of money. However, there are many ways you can fundraise to help reach your goal. In the last couple of years, crowdfunding websites have shot to the top of the fundraising suggestions list, mostly due to the effectiveness of sharing these campaigns on social media, and the fact that you can receive donations from people all over the world.

What is a crowdfunding campaign?

Crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe and IndieGogo allow you to create an online campaign to reach a fundraising goal. People use these websites for all sorts of things, from donations for charities to helping fund medical treatment.

Many people have found success on these websites for crowdfunding their way to the service dog fundraising target.

The basic premise to these websites is that you create a page that tells your story and ask for donations. The website handles the payments and shows your overall total. It also keeps track of the amount you still need in order to reach your goal. People from all over the world can see and donate to your campaign.

It can seem like a daunting prospect – putting your story out there on the internet for the world to read. However, with the power of social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, they can be one of the most effective ways to encourage donations.

Examples of service dog crowdfunding campaigns

  • Hailey from Nashville, Tennessee, raised 100% of her goal of $3,780 and completed her campaign
  • Adam from Texas is currently 50% of the way towards his goal of $30,000
  • Stacie from Florida has raised almost $1,000 of her $2,500 goal for a PTSD therapy dog

Top tips for your crowdfunding campaign

  • Make sure you include as much information as you can about why you are raising the money and why a service dog is essential to your life. The more detail people have, the more likely they are to donate.
  • Include photos! These will help people feel an emotional reaction to your story, which encourages them to donate.
  • It is a good idea to have a family member or friend proof read your campaign before you publish it, to check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Try to find examples of service dog crowdfunding campaigns that have raised a large percentage of their goal. Look for similarities between your description and their descriptions to determine how to present the information on your own campaign.
  • Provide regular updates so that your existing donators can see how your campaign is progressing. Who knows, this might encourage them to donate again!
  • Include links for the donator to find out more information. For example, you could link to the Canines for Change training process so that they can learn about the work that goes in to training a service dog.
  • Think about “perks” you could offer donators. For example, if they donate $20, you could offer to send them a photograph of your service dog once it arrives. To get some ideas, look at existing campaigns to see what other people have offered.
  • When your campaign is published, make sure you share the link on all of the social media platforms you are a part of – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Ask your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ to share the link on their own profiles to help spread the word.
  • Also, send the link out to your email address book, with a message telling them about the campaign and asking them to read your story. Do not specifically ask people to donate when you are emailing, as that direct approach can seem “pushy” and discourage people from clicking the link.

Things to watch out for

  • Make sure you read carefully the terms and conditions of the website you choose to host your campaign, so that you know exactly what terms you are agreeing to.
  • Each website will take a different amount of commission from your donations, so try to find one that takes a low amount.
  • You may be given the option to refund people who donate if you do not meet your full target in a certain amount of time. Think carefully about whether you want to do this or if it would be best to run a campaign where you get to keep the donations, even if you don’t make it to 100%.

Other fundraising ideas

If you don’t like the sound of crowdfunding or want to do something else in addition to your campaign, there are many other ways that you can fundraise to meet your service dog fundraising goal. We will be writing about different fundraising ideas in the next couple of weeks, so check back soon.

Links included in this article

Diabetic alert dogs: Life-saving noses!

Diabetic Alert Dog

Diabetic alert dogs: Life-saving noses!

What is a diabetic alert dog?

Diabetic alert dogs, also known as hypo alert dogs, are service dogs that have been trained to alert their diabetic owner when their blood sugar levels start to become hypoglycemic.

Similar to how a police sniffer dog can detect even the tiniest scent, diabetic alert dogs are trained to monitor for changes in the glucose level of their owner. By reacting in a certain way, they let their owner know that their blood sugar levels need testing. This “warning time” gives diabetics vital time to monitor their insulin levels and perform the remedial steps to get their glucose levels under control in a timely and safe manner.

Although they can help someone of any age, these dogs are often paired with children and accompany them to school. This gives parents some peace of mind that their child will be safe from an attack. The dogs sometimes carry an emergency support pack attached to them, so that if they sense a problem, all the necessary equipment is readily available to be used by the child or a trained teacher.

As hypo alert dogs are trained service dogs, they can be with their owners at all times, including public places such as shops, restaurants and on public transport.

How are diabetic alert dogs trained?

Firstly, the trainer must select a suitable breed of dog. Most typically these are Labradors and Golden Retrievers due to their exceptionally sensitive noses that are capable of picking up even the slightest changes in their environment. Flat-faced dogs such as Pugs and Shih-Tzus are usually not suitable, as their face shape means they have less scent detecting cells and therefore don’t have the same “power of smell” as dogs with longer, wider snouts.

Diabetic alert dogs are trained from a young age to make the most of their nose. Scent-based training helps them become more sensitized to changes that occur around them. They are taught to recognize the scent of the chemicals that are released by a person when their insulin levels are dropping or rising rapidly and to react appropriately when that happens.

How do they react in medical situations?

Service dogs can identify changes in glucose levels far in advance of when the person actually starts to feel unwell.

The way in which a dog lets its owner know that it can sense a problem can vary based on the dog’s specific training. For example, it could start barking, go into a restless, agitated state and try to get its owner’s attention or interact directly with the person by going up to them and placing its paws on their leg or lap.

Are hypo alert dogs effective?

There are some conflicting opinions as to the effectiveness of diabetic alert dogs. Some say that the scientific evidence of dogs’ ability to detect insulin shifts is lacking. However, we disagree. All over America there are stories of where these diabetic alert dogs have saved lives – from a 3-year-old girl in Texas to a man in Indiana.

As long as the dog is fully trained (preferably by specialized service dog trainers such as Canines for Change) then their enhanced nasal abilities are perfectly developed to monitor their owner’s blood sugar levels and provide the support and warnings needed for them to continue their everyday lives with confidence and security.

The benefits of seizure alert dogs for people with epilepsy

Lucy, Service Dog in Training

What is an epilepsy alert dog?

An epilepsy alert dog is a service dog that has been specifically trained and placed with an owner who has epilepsy, in order to respond to their seizures. They are also known as ‘seizures dogs’, ‘seizure alert dogs’, ‘epilepsy dogs’, and ‘seizure predicting dogs’, although some of these terminologies represent different types of service dog.

Seizure alert dogs vs seizure response dogs

These two terms are used to differentiate between different types of seizure service dogs.

Seizure alert dogs are taught to identify chemical changes in their owner’s body that can indicate when a seizure is imminent. This gives them the ability to warn the person of an impending seizure before it happens. Warning methods can include barking in a specific way, pawing at the person’s clothing, or a specific pose/posture that the dog only uses when producing a warning.

The main purpose of a seizure response dog is to act as a comforting presence to allow a person to regain their bearings and refrain from panicking after a seizure has occurred. A seizure can leave the person feeling disorientated and confused; these service dogs try to limit this.

How do epilepsy alert dogs help during seizures?

Forewarning of a seizure can be vital in ensuring a person’s safety. If they are in a public place, or in a potentially dangerous situation such as dealing with machinery, around hot objects (e.g. whilst cooking) or in proximity to stairs/trip hazards/fall hazards, the person has time to remove themselves from that situation and find a safer place.

Advanced warnings give the person time to take medication that may help to prevent or reduce the intensity of the seizure. They can notify family, friends, or caregivers of their situation to ensure they have the support and help needed.

Real-life stories of seizure service dogs

  • A Californian woman who suffers from seizures inadvertently adopted a dog from a shelter that was able to identify when these were about to occur. The early warnings she receives from her dog, Thor, allow her to take medication that reduces the length of her seizures.
    Source: http://www.fox10phoenix.com/story/28718851/seizure-dog

More information about epilepsy seizure alert dogs

If you require any more information about seizure alert service dogs, or would like to talk to us about how Canines for Change could help you on your journey to get your own service dog, please get in touch.

PTSD Therapy Dogs: Service dogs for veterans

Sparty Diabetic Service Dog

What is PTSD?
PTSD stands for ‘post traumatic stress disorder’. It is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person goes through a traumatic experience, such as serving in the armed forces. Sufferers often feel like their life or the lives of those around them are in danger and need protecting. They can have recurring nightmares that make it difficult to sleep, have a loss of interest in life, experience numb or distant feelings, have panic attacks in public places, be frequently irritable and have a lack of engagement with friends and family. Veterans with PTSD can also suffer from other mental disorders such as depression.

A 2012 study found that 13.9% of their sample of US army veterans screened positive for PTSD. A study by RAND states that the total percentage is more likely to be above 20%. Although cognitive behavioural therapy can help to reduce symptoms, there is no definite “cure” to PTSD. However, PTSD therapy dogs have been shown to help reduce the symptoms in veterans to help make their lives more enjoyable.

Visit the National Center for PTSD website for more information on post traumatic stress disorder.

What is a PTSD Therapy Dog?
PTSD therapy dogs have been trained specifically to help with the needs of someone suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The exact requirements of each dog will vary based on the needs of the veteran that they are placed with, but common tasks include assisting in medical emergencies, helping their owner to cope with emotional overload, providing a loving and calm companion and helping the person to feel more secure in their home environment and when out in public.

As PTSD dogs are classed as service dogs (similar to guide dogs), they are allowed in public places such as stores and restaurants.

What training do PTSD therapy dogs go through?
The most important task for training a PTSD service dog is to select a suitable dog to begin with. As one of their most important tasks will be to provide a feeling of security, they are usually large breeds. The dog must remain calm in every situation; therefore Labradors and Golden Retrievers are a common choice due to their laid-back natures, desire to please and good susceptibility to training.

The dogs may be trained to perform tasks such as waking their owner up when it senses they are having a nightmare, creating a “personal space” around the person in public places and retrieving medications. Their ultimate goal is to teach the veteran that the world around them is safe and that they do not need to be afraid or anxious.

Training usually begins as early as possible, when the puppy is old enough to leave its mother and be homed with a dedicated service dog trainer. Most dogs are not placed with a veteran until they are at least two years old. This is partly because of the length of time it takes to train a dog to a suitable standard and partly because dogs under that age are prone to erratic behavior due to their very high energy whilst they are growing.


Autism Service dogs: How do they help children with Autism?


Living with Autism presents a child or adult with everyday difficulties that can make it hard to interact with other people or to live an independent life. The use of Autism service dogs is quickly becoming a popular and effective way to enable those with Autism to interact more with their surroundings and those within them, thus enriching their lives and making their condition more manageable.

What is an Autism service dog?
An Autism service dog is a dog which has been specially trained to assist a person with Autism in their everyday life. They are similar to a guide dog in that they help their owners perform day-to-day activities that they would otherwise find difficult or impossible. Service dogs can help people with Autism to live independently.

How do service dogs help children with autism?
It is most common for an Autism service dog to be placed with a child, to allow the dog and child to grow up together and form a close bond that will stay with them throughout the life of the dog.
The dog will receive training before being introduced to a family to ensure they are suited to the individual needs of the child they will be placed with.

Some ways in which a service dog can help a child with Autism include:

  • Teaching a child to become more aware of their surroundings, and to interact more with them
  • Giving the child a constant companion that they can rely upon, which can help improve social interactions and relationships
  • Improving verbal communication by encouraging them to communicate out loud to the dog
  • Help with soothing the child during a melt-down through having a calming presence nearby that they can touch, pet or otherwise rely upon
  • Aiding with socialization as the child is encouraged by their parents to answer any questions family/friends/strangers have about the dog
  • Preventing them from running away or wondering away from parents/guardians, especially when out in public
  • Making the child feel comfortable to sleep in their own bed with the dog for company, rather than relying on having a parent present or sleeping in their parents’ room

What sort of training do the dogs have?
The type of training a dog receives can vary based on the organization providing the service dog. At Canines for Change, we follow a detailed process to ensure our service dogs are fully trained and capable of supporting their new family.

Training starts once the puppy reaches 8 weeks of age, and continues until they are up to 18 months old. Families are introduced to the training process as soon as possible to allow them to become comfortable and familiar with the dog. Once the dog has completed their training, they are tested and issued an identification badge to show that they have successfully passed.

The family who the dog is placed with is expected to continue training the dog throughout its life. The dog will be tested regularly throughout its live to ensure it is still meeting the needs of its owner and that it is still behaving in an appropriate manner for a service dog.

Are service dogs the future of Autism?
Owning a service dog is a huge responsibility, but also a fantastic opportunity to enrich the life of a child with Autism. These benefits often extend into adulthood, allowing the individual to thrive and live more independently than they perhaps might have been able to without the support of the dog.
If you are interested in a service dog to help support your child with Autism, please read our “getting started” guide and begin the application process.


The Dangers of Fake Service Dogs

dog - no entry

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities”. These dogs are specially trained to cope with daily situations in public and private, whilst improving the lives of their owners in any number of ways.

Claiming that an “ordinary” pet dog is a service animal is service dog fraud. It damages the reputation of trained dogs and can cause immeasurable distress to those with legitimate and life-affecting disabilities if their dogs are treated with hostility or suspicion when out in public.

What is a fake service dog?
More and more frequently, members of the public are falsely claiming that their pet dog is a trained service dog.

There are many reasons for this, such as:

  • Avoiding animal transport fees on airlines (service dogs travel for free)
  • Not wanting their pet to be caged for an airline flight (service dogs can travel in the aircraft with the passenger)
  • Not wanting to risk leaving a dog tied up outside a shop when they enter it
  • A dislike of being apart from their pet for long periods of time, for example when at work or attending leisure activities

Service dog fraud is simple. There are many websites on the internet that sell fake service dog waistcoats and vests that you can put on your dog that wrongly inform members of the public that you have a service dog. For those who fancy creating a deeper deception, fake certification documents can be purchased online for around as $150. back link check As there is no legally-recognized certification for training dogs, these literally aren’t worth the paper they are printed on, but can be good methods of convincing unsuspecting people of your dog’s legitimacy.

The risks of a fake service dog
Passing a pet off as a service dog can have dangerous consequences. “Real” service dogs are specially trained over a number of years to ensure they are comfortable dealing with everyday situations such as being in crowds, traveling on different forms of transport, crossing roads and interacting with other dogs.

The average pet dog does not have the luxury of this in-depth training and can become stressed and frightened when placed in an unfamiliar setting. There have been reports of fake service dogs attacking other dogs, and in some cases becoming aggressive towards and biting people.

However, even a well-trained pet can cause difficulties, especially to those who are legitimately travelling with a service dogs. Legitimate service dogs are exceptionally well trained, but you have to remember that they are still animals, with minds of their own – and therefore not immune to the efforts of another dog trying to get their attention.

Having another animal distract their dog can be extremely upsetting for a service dog owner, particularly those who rely on their dog for sensory abilities (e.g. people with hearing/visual impairments), or for people who might struggle to contain the situation, for example due to autism.

Service dog fraud can damage the public perception of legitimate service dogs and cause their owners to be treated with mistrust. If a store owner has had a bad experience with a fake service dog misbehaving in their store, you can understand their suspicion if another apparent service dog enters their store. People with “hidden” disabilities (e.g. epilepsy) are affected most by this as unfortunately people often make assumptions about a person’s disability based purely on what they can see.

What can be done about it?
Sadly, pretending a dog is a service animal is a not a crime. In fact, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) states that dog owners should be taken at their word if they claim their pet is a service dog. You aren’t allowed to demand proof that the pet is registered.

As service dogs can be any number of breeds and sizes, it can be difficult to know for certain if the one you are looking at is a fake. Registered service dogs are not legally required to wear vests or jackets identifying their status. No universally accepted legal certification documents exist to “prove” someone’s claims.
This can make it difficult to prevent the rise of service dog fraud.

The best method of prevention is awareness. Often, people do not realize the harm they may cause by their pretense, both in terms of their dog behaving unpredictably in a strange situations but also helping perpetrate myths that service dogs are ill-behaved and disruptive.

If you find out someone you know is falsely claiming to have a service dog, gently let them know why they shouldn’t be doing this. Perhaps point them to this article so that they can understand the potential consequences of their actions. Try not to get defensive or aggressive; educate them and hopefully they will see that their actions are irresponsible, selfish and should be stopped right away.

• http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm