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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I'm new here. Hopefully I'm posting this in the right section.

I am 15, and I've been getting migraines since I was about 8 years old. The frequency of them varies from once a month, a few times a week, nearly every day, to a single migraine lasting up to 4 days (although that has only happened once). It's proved to be extremely problematic for me, especially considering I'm still in school. I'll often times get one in school and have to leave because I can't function. I've been on too many medications to name, but none of them help once the pain has started. The only actual way I've been able to get rid of them is to sleep it off, which sometimes doesn't even work. Sometimes I will get an ora (not sure how to spell that...). There will be colored spots clouding my vision or I will get dizzy. But often times there are no signs from what I can tell.

I recently fostered a dog from the local shelter. He was a black...something. Total mutt; his face looked Dobie with maybe some kelpie, lab, pit and shepherd in there. I discovered that he could sense when my migraines were coming on before the pain started. I would be laying on the couch or doing homework; something of that nature, and he would come over, paw me a few times, and lick the side of my head. About an hour and a half later I had a migraine. At first I thought he was just looking for attention, but when it happened two more times, I was pretty sure he was sensing it...Not sure if his intelligence has anything to do with it, but he was a very smart dog.

I planned on adopting the dog, but unfortunately...he was put down last week. It's another story, so I won't go into that in this thread. I don't have a dog of my own...atleast yet. I was just wondering if anyone knew of any service dog programs that trained/distributed Migraine Alert dogs? I have never actually seen one before, but I've heard of people having them. Or is there a way I could get a dog and have it trained or certified myself? Although I suppose there's no guarantee a puppy would be able to sense it like my foster pup could...I've never had another dog do it; unless I just hadn't noticed. I have also heard of people "imprinting" service dogs for diabetics a few days after birth. Maybe something like that could work?

I'm sorry this thread is a bit jumbled up, just curious if anyone has any experience or input here! Thank you!
 

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I'm training a guide dog and have also trained service dogs.

What exactly is the "service" you are looking for the dog to provide? Are you able to completely prevent the migraine if you take medication early?

I have migraines as well (though not as severe, mine are typically 2-3 hrs long 2-3 x a week) and honestly when they hit, the LAST thing on earth I want to do is take care of my dog (potty breaks, feeding, ect) so I'm not quite sure what service a dog would provide.

EDIT: just to clarify about "service," my guide dog for example will be trained to stop and refuse to move forward at a crosswalk if a car is coming that the blind handler cannot see. When toby was in training, he (amongst other things) opened doors and picked up dropped objects.

For a dog to legally be considered an assistance animal, it needs to be task trained. This would be something beyond "sensing" a migraine- for example, the onset of my migraines often coincides with my orthostatic hypotension and cause me to suddenly lose conciousness when standing. A dog trained to then retrieve a phone to call 911/ assist me in standing from a falling position would be an example of a task trained dog.

(I do not have an assistance dog myself, but I do volunteer as a foster parent. Though there are some areas in which a dog could help, I know how much work it is to train/ have a fully trained service dog. I personally would much prefer to just take my migraine medication on a schedule, because as I said, when my migraines hit I'm light and sound sensitive and taking the dog out to pee/ scooping dog food/ interacting with the dog in that time period would be (is) excruciating.)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, if I take my medication early enough, it prevents a migraine. Seeing as I'm 15...I live with my parents still...so even if I had a migraine, there would always be someone to take care of the dog. I have fostered service dogs before as well, and they would attend school with some of the kids & could hold their bladder for 7-8 hrs...honestly the care doesn't seem like a big deal. There would always be someone around and even if I was home alone (at most a few hours..) it's not like the dog would suffer if his food was a little late one time.
 

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Yes, if I take my medication early enough, it prevents a migraine. Seeing as I'm 15...I live with my parents still...so even if I had a migraine, there would always be someone to take care of the dog. I have fostered service dogs before as well, and they would attend school with some of the kids & could hold their bladder for 7-8 hrs...honestly the care doesn't seem like a big deal. There would always be someone around and even if I was home alone (at most a few hours..) it's not like the dog would suffer if his food was a little late one time.
Right, but what task would the service dog be providing? If you already have the ability to take your medication early enough to prevent a migraine, why not just do that?

***Dogs live for 12-15 years. Unless you plan on living with your parents until you're 30, you cannot rely on someone else for care. What would happen if you had another four day migraine???
 

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Well the dog would alert me WHEN to take the medication. I don't think taking advil every 5 hours a day as a preventative every day is very healthy nor practical, do you? I've read some Migraine Alert dogs are trained to fetch the medication, turn lights off, etc...If I had another 4-day migraine, obviously I would contact someone to care for the dog. What exact task are therapy dogs providing? Couldn't a someone just get comfort/therapy from another human?
 

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Therapy dogs are not service dogs. They do not have the same rights as service dogs. They are not task trained.

To have a service dog you must be disabled. Really not being rude, but if you're using OTC Advil to treat your migraines, that does not make you disabled. A disability is something that causes a significant impairment in your everyday life. I would bet that these migraine dogs are being used by people that are having daily unpredictable migraines that render them unable to function in a matter of minutes, necessitating the medication retrieval and turning lights off. If you are having an aura (I get them about 50% of the time as well) then THAT is when you take the medication- I keep my maxalt in my purse and will take two the second I start to notice an aura beginning. If they can be as infrequent as a few times a month, then prevention/ mitigation is really your best bet. There are a TON of different medication classes, as well as diagnostic tools like CAT scans, allergy testing, ect. ect. These should all be your "first resort," so to speak.

Hopefully Xeph will chime in, she has an OT SD.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I take advil right when I get an aura and it usually prevents it. but half the time I don't get an aura. I do have a prescription medication although it doesn't help if the migraine has hit already (which it is supposed to do). The thing is...I..AM disabled. I can't hardly function when I get these migraines. The pain is excruciating, I'm dizzy & disoriented. I can't really do much at all. And when this happens every day of the week, its terrible. I have had cat scans as well as allergy tests done.
 

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I really don't think a dog can know before a migraine hits. If you are only on advil, I doubt you really have as bad of a problem as you make it sound.

I'm sorry, but I've lived with migrains, racing heart beat, dyslexia, twisted spine, and bad joints, I've been on, and am still on more medication than most people my age. My mom pulled me out of school and homeschooled me, so we could work around the doc, and my pain.

I see so many fake service dogs, because people just want to take there dog with them every where. The truth is, it causes problems for people who really do need them.
 

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Right, but what task would the service dog be providing? If you already have the ability to take your medication early enough to prevent a migraine, why not just do that?

***Dogs live for 12-15 years. Unless you plan on living with your parents until you're 30, you cannot rely on someone else for care. What would happen if you had another four day migraine???
The 'service' as I understand would be to predict (or sense) the migraine coming on before the OP is able to detect it. It may be that the dog that was put down was naturally detecting a chemical or blood pressure change that happened before even an Aura. I know I'm not always able to tell early enough to take a preventive medication. I don't htink that function would fully qualify as a service dog under the ADA rules though as (If I remember correctly) the dog must perform three tasks the ahandler isn't able/has difficulty doing themselves.
 

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Here's some stuff you can read:

http://migraine.com/blog/what-can-we-learn-from-migraine-alert-dogs/

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2009/12/29/dogs-provide-more-just-love-their-owners/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-d-shojai-cabc/pets-disease-detection_b_901821.html

http://www.dogster.com/forums/Service_and_Therapy_Dogs/thread/660709

It seems like having a dog that could alert you to an oncoming migraine before you have any idea one is going to hit would be a nice thing to have. I can see the appeal of only having to take medication when you know a migraine is coming rather than every day "just in case." I am not sure if doing that one thing actually qualifies the dog as a true service dog or enables it to go everywhere with you (hopefully Xeph will come along and explain the rules), but it could be useful at home for sure.
 

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http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.pdf

There is a link to some information I got off of the ADA site.

Sorry if my last post seemed kinda cold, but This isn't the first service dog thread in the last month, I've also seen some on a horse forum I'm a member of. Was there some thing on tv or in the news that could have sparked this, or is this just an odd thing?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I appreciate the input! It's really not that I want to take my dog everywhere with me. If I can't then that's that, but it would still be nice to have him be able to detect it at home. I've been able to take service dogs everywhere with me before, and to be honest its a bit of a hassle when EVERYONE in the store asks to pet the dog! Its just missing a ton of school & making it up is really difficult.


ZeroNightFarm- Its ok, I was kind of expecting replies like that! I appreciate your opinions.
 

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In answer to the original question, I do not know of an organization that I personally would consider reputable that provides Migraine Service Dogs. Again, that is MY personal opinion, but I only feel comfortable working with the nonprofit organizations that provide their dogs free of charge to the recipient. Feel free to PM me if you want more information on why this is my opinion as I do not want to bash any organization in a public forum.

The only organizations I could find that provide migraine service dogs do so at a significant cost to the recipient (you), and these are not organizations that I personally would recommend. An owner trained SD would be an alternative and Xeph would know more about that- I do know that it is an EXTENSIVE process and I'm also not sure if you can legally have an owner trained SD under age 18.
 

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I think your best option, is to just go to a rescue, and find a dog that you really click with, and just have a pet. My Old Dog was more help than any thing, just because he was there for me when the pain was unbearable. Grizzly was able to tell my mom she had high blood pressure, and he never had any type of training for that. He would fallow her like he was attached to her, we made jokes about it, till she wne tot the doc and found out her blood pressure was high. Right before we had him put down, he started sticking to every one in the house, I think it was him telling us it was his time.

ANY WAY, I think you just need a pet dog. They are amazing.
 

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I get migraines too and they are bad. But thankfully only once every two weeks. What about Diabetic dogs? Wouldn't they be under the same thing as a "migraine" dog....if they really have those? My grandpa was interested in a Diabetic dog but got a untrained,annoying,PITA dog instead,lol(not part of the system but from someone else,not a service dog Org.)
 

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Although yeah the dog wouldn't technically be considered a service dog, I'm not sure that in essence (obviously not usually in spectacular-ness) the dog's task would be too different from a seizure alert dog. That being said, I don't think it's likely something you can train for ahead of time--especially if you don't even know what, exactly, the dog can pick up on in order to inform you that you're going to have a migraine.

I wonder if your best bet maybe would be just to be a foster home for rescue dogs, and if another one happens to show that propensity... adopt him/her. Yes the dog would be predominately and legally a pet, not a service dog (i.e. you can't take the dog in places dogs aren't allowed), but I suspect a sometime-alert dog might be better than no alert dog at all... and with fostering rescues, you get to help the dogs out anyway too.
 

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I also get migraines like you have. I am 'lucky' enough to get the aura each time so I can bolt for home. But it is soo scary. If i don't take my meds within 15 mins of an aura I lose my sight for several hours so it is serious.

I wish my dog could sense them coming thats for sure.

Unfortunatly for a lot of people who suffer true migraines, hollywood has made it a non issue by having people call normal headaches a migraine.

I am sure that it wouldn't be that hard to get permission to have a service dog for this condition as it is soo dangerous (i.e when I am driving). But i think it must be only rare dogs that can sense migraines coming on, so its so sad about the shelter dog you had that died.

Anyway i wish you all the best and mainly wanted to comiserate with you.
 

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http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.pdf
Was there some thing on tv or in the news that could have sparked this, or is this just an odd thing?
There was big talk on our local news (because the child is here locally) but it was on the national news as well about diabetic alert dogs and they talked about the other alert dogs as well on the newscast. It seems to be a growing trend. I think that the diabetic alert dogs are a fabulous thing but I think that we are going to see a trend of "alert dogs" for everything and anything soon.

I think though if you are in tune with your dog they sense changes in your body. I know Jaxx acts more clingy (if that is possible) when my pain level spikes.
 

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Unfortunatly for a lot of people who suffer true migraines, hollywood has made it a non issue by having people call normal headaches a migraine.
Not sure how Hollywood has done anything to minimize it, but certainly it's been minimized by many people trying to get sympathy for their headache. TRUE migraines are dangerous, the pain is incredible but more dangerous is the effect on vision and hearing. The visual distortions that can come with my Aura make it very difficult to drive and when the actual headache hits I can't tolerate light and 'normal' sounds become unbearable. I've had pain to the point of vomiting (when I feel that coming on, I have someone take me to the hospital), I don't know if anyone else that suffers has had it, but my sense of smell is also magnified and many things I normally enjoy the smell of I can't tolerate.

As far as a dog detecting an oncoming migraine, I'm not even sure what the mechanism would be. Diabetes it's a little simpler, there is a change in a persons smell when the blood sugar rises and/or drops.
 

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I suggest that you try to locate a dog that can detect your migraines. That's a specialized trait that will start the ball rolling. Like diabetes detecting dogs, I think lots of dogs have the ability, but not the personality for follow-thru.

My nephew is a Type-1 diabetic, and their JRT could detect the anomalies... how the JRT wasn't consistent or controlled about creating an alarm... it was more a 'clever trick.'

So, after you find a dog that can detect your migraines, see if you can work with that dog, making his responses consistent and better controlled. I think you can then put a 'coat' on the dog and call it a therapy dog... I don't think that therapy dogs are a protected status. When you are sure that the dog helps you, I suggest that you go to your doctor, the local hospital, a "service organization", or an ADA lawyer to ask about the laws regarding Service dogs...
 
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